BY NICOLE KATO
Nuzzled in the heart of Kailua lies Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Kailua, located in suites 103 and 104 on 35 Kainehe St.
Jason Izaguirre, head instructor and founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Kailua, was born and raised in Kailua focuses on self-defense, which is something he aims to instill in all of his students.
“I’m a huge traditionalist,” Izaguirre said about the fundamental of jiu-jitsu. He explained that jiu-jitsu has grown so much over the past years, but his style is not that of MMA or street fighting. His style is for anybody from the 4-year-old to the person who wants to be in better shape.
“We take anybody,” Izaguirre said with a smile. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Kailua has classes for kids ages 4-9 and 10-17, as well as adult classes. It’s evident the students both admire and respect Izaguirre. I was fortunate to catch the tail end of one of his kids (10-17 year olds) classes at which all the students stood straight with rapt attention. Upon the completion of the class, many students stayed after to give high-fives to their instructor.
Izaguirre and the academy specialize in the original Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Self-Defense System, which has proven to be effective for not only the general public, but also for police and military officials, as stated in the academy’s handbook.
When he turned 18, Izaguirre moved to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, where he was introduced to the art of Gracie jiu-jitsu. Carlinhos Gracie and the Machado brothers trained Izaguirre at Gracie Barra, and he received his blue belt from Rillion Gracie. Izaguirre also trained under legends like the late Marcello Behring and world champion Royler Gracie.
Those who take classes at Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Kailua can rest assured they’re getting the best instruction possible as Izaguirre’s passion and dedication to the art shines through.
Upon his return to the islands, he continued his training under Relson Gracie – Izaguirre also returned to Rio De Janeiro three times to continue under Royler Gracie at Gracie Humita. After years of training under Royler Gracie, Izaguirre received his black belt, and he could then look forward to his dream – opening an academy in his hometown of Kailua.
Izaguirre follows the strict teaching methods of Grand Master Helio Gracie, and founded the academy to ensure students are able to defend themselves as well as possible.
For his classes, Izaguirre makes sure his younger students get their cardio in, as well as stretching. He also includes time for take-downs in the style of judo or wrestling, has them practice one or two positions on the ground, and gives them 15-20 minutes of sparring at the end of the class. The adult classes are a little different, as Izaguirre puts a little more focus on the fundamentals of jiu-jitsu in the art of self-defense, and he once again explains that jiu-jitsu is not just a sport.
Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, who celebrates its 10th year in November, also offers private lessons, and Izaguirre is hoping he can hold women’s self-defense classes again in the future.
The academy is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 3-8 p.m., and on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
For more information on Gracia Jiu-Jitsu Kailua visit graciejiujitsukailua.com, check them out on Facebook or call 261-4290.
Um. Dois. Tres. Gracie!