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 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; One of the Fastest Growing Martial Arts Comes to Elk Grove

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Registration date : 2009-05-17

PostSubject: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; One of the Fastest Growing Martial Arts Comes to Elk Grove   Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:41 am

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; One of the Fastest Growing Martial Arts Comes to Elk Grove
By Ann Olson-Dupire

I am sitting with Elk Grove resident Derek DiManno, owner of Waza Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Q: Tell me about your martial arts background
A: I started in wrestling when I was a kid about 9 or 10, all the way through high school, and into college at UC
Davis, but early in the season I decided to change paths. Then I finished school, did another two years at cal poly and when I moved back into Sacramento I started training in Jiu Jitsu with Ralph and Cesar Gracie.

Q: How did you get into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ)?
A: Like many of the original BJJ practitioners, I saw Royce Gracie, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in 1993. I was amazed that a skinny, 175 lbs. man could defeat other martial artists nearly twice his size with relative ease. I had wrestled for many years in my youth and noticed that BJJ wasnít that much different from wrestling. After I quit wrestling at UC Davis, I felt there was a bit of a void. I still had the ďitchĒ to train and compete. After I finished grad school in 1996, I moved back to Sacramento and started looking for a BJJ school. The closest one was in Pleasant Hill (Gracie Systems), so I drove an hour and twenty minutes one way just to train there. Iíve been training ever since.

Q: What is your rank and how long did it take to achieve your status?
A: I am a second degree black belt. I started in 1996 and received my black belt in January of 2006.

Q: What are some of the titles you have held?
A: The biggest thing is coming in first place in 2005 and second place in 2004 at the Pan American championships. The Pan American Championship is the second largest jiu jitsu tournament in the world. I was also the first American-born black belt under Cassio Werneck and the third BJJ black belt in the Sacramento metropolitan area.

Q: Who are some of the more recognized names with whom you have trained?
A: I trained with Cesar and Ralph Gracie for about 5 months. I was commuting from the bay area. Nino Schrembri in Sacramento for about 9 months. I got my blue belt under his instruction. I started training with Cassio Werneck and his brother Marcel in 1997, and have been training with them ever since.

Q: How did you start my business?
A: I was laid off at the end of 2009. I was an urban planner and had worked for the same consulting firm for over 13 years. Upon losing my job, my first reaction was panic because it would be very difficult to break back into my field during the recession. My fiancť gave me the idea of opening a BJJ school and teach since I had practiced BJJ for so long (14 years) and was very passionate about it. Since I was at a point in my life where I was more interested in quality of life and not income, I decided to take my chances and open up a business. It turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have ever made in my life. It was scary when I initially opened the gym because I didnít have a student base to start with. However, as more and more members joined, my anxiety quickly died down. Although I still work a lot of hours, it doesnít seem like work because Iím enjoying what Iím doing.

Q: With what names in the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) world are you affiliated today?
A: Scott Smith is a local fighter (Actually training in the gym as we speak). Matt Bingaman, who fights primarily out of Team Carnage in Natomas, I work with him on his ground game.

Q: What is your main goal for Waza?
A: I think part of it is just building a school where I can maintain a decent living. I want success in the business and in creating an environment for people who love Jiu Jitsu. I want a community for people who appreciate the form. I want to help people achieve their goals. Sometimes thatís weight loss, sometimes itís competing, becoming healthy or physically fit. Some people just want to learn self-defense.

Q: Tell me a little about your training philosophy.
A: Personally, right now I am not actively competing, so I am training to keep my skills sharp, stay physically fit, but I am not pushing myself to the max. I plan to compete next year and will begin training harder, pushing myself beyond my limits.

For my students it goes back to people coming in here with different goals and objectives. Some people are just looking for something different or losing weight, or have the fire to compete. I try to help everyone achieve those goals affectively.

I create a friendly training environment, one that is not based on egos or people trying to tear your head off. There are people who want to train intensely, and there are people who want to get a good sweat going and get a good work out. I separate those two groups because it is unfair to the people who just want a good work out, they donít need a conditioning environment or incredibly intense workout partners. I donít want anyone getting hurt or get discouraged and leave the sport.

Q: Who can benefit from Jiu Jitsu?
A: Anyone, regardless of age, gender, or physical ability can benefit from BJJ. Because of BJJ's emphasis on technique and leverage, anyone from the accomplished athlete to the "coach potato" can learn and excel in the sport. In addition, people can develop techniques to fit their particular height, weight, and frame. Therefore, you can never say "I'm too tall," "too thin," or "too short" to try BJJ.

Q: Is there a class for children as well?
A: Yes there is, for ages 7-13.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you face when instructing children?
A: One of the biggest challenges is when I have a group of kids where their ages range quite a bit and I am trying to teach an entire class, when each age group has their own abilities and ways of learning, or attention span. Trying to teach everyone at the same time can be a challenge. I will usually have an assistant instructor with me to help keep the younger children focused.

Q: So if someone wanted to come and try their hand at BJJ how would they go about doing it?
A: Anyone can come in and try one free private lesson or two free group classes. Theyíll need to show up a couple of minutes early to introduce themselves and check out the school. They'll need to fill out an application and sign a waiver.

Although they will eventually need to have a gi to wear during class, it isnít mandatory for the first couple of classes. If they don't already own a jiu jitsu or judo gi, they can show up in a t-shirt or rash guard and shorts or sweat pants. If they need a gi, I have them available for purchase.

Q: Where is the school located?
A: 9105 Laguna Main Street, Suite 135 Elk Grove, Ca 95758 near I-5 and Laguna Boulevard in the Laguna West Plaza. Itís next to the Laguna West Town Hall and across the street from Cal Fit and Strikes.

Ann Olson-Dupire

Derek DiManno
Waza Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Distributed by Paul Dale Roberts, HPI General Manager

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