Story by: Liam Ring, Photos by: Anna Desmarais
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu may at first glance appear more at home in an MMA arena, but practitioners such as black belt Heejin Lee and blue belt Anna Desmarais are here to tell you different. A style becoming increasingly synonymous with self-defense, it’s also becoming popular as a way to keep fit and to learn something challenging. It can, however, be hard to overcome that initial image of Royce Gracie choking out opponents at the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It isn’t only about escaping from pins or administering choke holds. Exponents of the style often talk about how it has made them stronger as people both physically and mentally, and that confidence on the mat is something that many bring into everyday life.
Running for a year now, the Body & Seoul Women’s Rollathon offers female practitioners the chance to work on techniques and/or spar against each other in what is the only all-women’s open mat in Seoul. Once a month, and ably supported by blue belt Natalie Hallemans, women have the chance to grapple on a different type of Sunday afternoon. It’s free and is an opportunity to meet like-minded people for a challenging afternoon away from any overly competitive or testosterone-fueled environments. Set up with a nod to similar female-only open mats around the world, it encourages a no-pressure environment where women are free to grapple with who they choose, when they choose, or even just to watch if they aren’t comfortable with participating yet. It’s a great way to either hone skills or just to check out what’s involved and can offer a gate-way into one of the most dynamic martial arts in the world.
Location: Body & Seoul Martial Arts and Fitness Center – Itaewon-dong 225-1 #201, Yong-san Gu, Seoul
Date: On second Sunday of every month from 3-5pm (Please contact Body & Seoul for further details)
Contact: 02-749-2485 or firstname.lastname@example.org