For the past thirteen years 31-year-old Alex Perez has practiced Jiu-Jitsu six days a week, earning the title of Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt.
Just weeks ago, Perez turned his lifelong passion into a profession, opening his first gym and the first Jiu-Jitsu school in Turlock – The Turlock Academy of Jiu-Jitsu.
“It’ll be nice for students who think that there’s not much to do in Turlock to have a place to go that is right down the street from their own house,” said Perez, a Turlock High School graduate. “Over the years I’ve received a huge amount of interest for me to open a school here in Turlock, in my hometown. I’ve taught everywhere else, but not here. Since I started Jiu-Jitsu, this has always been my dream to come back and share my knowledge with the community that I grew up in.”
Jiu-Jitsu is an art based on the principle of self-defense. The concept of Jiu-Jitsu is to defeat a bigger, stronger, and more athletic opponent by means of leverage and redirection of momentum.
The grappling-based art gained fame in the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners routinely defeated brawlers twice their size. Learning the technique offers myriad physical benefits for its practitioners, Perez said.
“Physically, it gets you into shape, develops coordination and increases situational awareness,” Perez said. “You’re going to develop motor skills, balance, and agility. You’re going to learn how to control your body, and how to move your body around in the right ways.”
But the mental benefits of Jiu-Jitsu may be even greater, building confidence and problem-solving skills, Perez said.
“You’re going to deal with adverse situations on the mat, whether you’re going against a bigger, stronger person, someone that is flexible, or someone that is really athletic – you get used to dealing with adversity and that can translate into your daily life,” Perez said. “Whether you’re dealing with a stressful situation at work or anything – things just become easier off the mat or vice-versa.”
Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu combines Judo with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and is considered the most aggressive Jiu-Jitsu style in the world. Black belt Dave Camarillo, whom Perez was a student of, developed Guerilla Jiu-Jitsu while training world-class Mixed Martial Artists like UFC fighters Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck.
Perez comes from a strong Jiu-Jitsu lineage, as Camarillo was a student of Ralph Gracie. Gracie, a Brazilian martial artist who has competed in various MMA championships, is a member of the Gracie Family who created Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was developed when Judo Master Mitsuyo Maeda visited Brazil in 1914 and taught Carlos Gracie. Gracie then adapted his knowledge of Judo and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu to create Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with his brother Helio Gracie. Since then, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has become an internationally prominent sport and a staple component of MMA competition.
The Turlock Academy of Jiu Jitsu offers a high-level of Jiu-Jitsu instruction by an experienced black belt, in a fun yet challenging environment that is open to all levels of experience, Perez said. Local wrestlers are encouraged to sign up, as many skills are transferable between the arts.
For more information about the Turlock Academy of Jiu Jitsu, or to sign up for classes, please visit www.turlockjiujitsu.com
The Turlock Academy of Jiu Jitsu is located at 120 W. Main St. in Turlock, and can be reached at (209) 416-2327.