Jiu Jitsu Journey

 By Jo Mathis

Legal News
When L.G. Almeda became a father, he knew he wanted his kids to learn at least two physical activities: how to swim and how to defend themselves.
Little did he know that the martial art he chose for them would become such a passion of his own, that he would go on to take second place at the 2014 International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Pan-American Championships in California in March. 
He is ranked fifth in his division nationally. 
“It was for my kids, but when I saw my boys doing it, I thought, ‘That looks pretty cool. I’ll lead by example, and maybe I’ll try that,’” recalled Almeda, an intellectual property attorney with Brinks Gilson & Lione in Ann Arbor. “It’s interesting how you find something that you really, really enjoy doing.”
“It’s a passion of mine; I love strategy, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a human chess match,” he said. “The more technique you use and the less muscle, the more you can preserve your endurance during a round or a match.”
After considerable research, Almeda chose to sign his sons up for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a form of traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu martial art based on leverage that teaches smaller persons to defend themselves with strategy rather than strength.
“When kids get in little scuffles, a lot of times a fight ends up on the ground,” said Almeda, who wrestled in high school. “And a lot of people, including kids, don’t know how to handle themselves on the ground.”
The technique focuses on submission grappling—arm bars, joint locks and chokes to submit the offender before getting away. The point is to leverage your body against an opponent’s, and to put yourself in the more dominant position.
He and his family are members of a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy in downtown Plymouth not far from their home. Almeda’s three sons, who are 12, 9, and 8, all take lessons, and his five-year-old daughter will probably start lessons next year—if she still wants to do so, he said.
The typical class structure is 30 to 45 minutes of learning technique, followed by an hour of training with a partner. Several times a week, Almeda meets with other students to practice technique, which includes learning how to control and submit an attacker who is either standing or on their knees in front of them while they are on their back. 
Almeda is amazed at how the training and competition have helped him off the mat, as well.
“When I’m in the office, and something very challenging comes across my desk, I think about the really tough times in competition when there’s 15 seconds left in a competition and I have to dig deep,” he said. “I feel like, if I can get through something as mentally and physically challenging as that, I can take on something like this. So I take a deep breath, focus, and press on to a solution.
“My train of thought is a little more efficient now,” he added. 
Another thing he likes about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that when he’s training, he can go 100 percent without getting hurt. The opponant can call an end to the technique with a simple tap.
 With other sports and martial arts, you can get a black eye that way, he said.
“When I’m on the mat training, it allows me to focus more without getting hurt, knowing my partner is going 100 percent as well,” he said. “I practiced Tae Kwon do as a kid, but couldn’t go 100 percent because of the striking, punching, hitting. You can only go so far; you can’t fully test yourself.
“I’m an intermediate practitioner striving to get better every day just like any other practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and just like in life as well. It’s a journey.”


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