By Alyssa Denard
DETROIT- A new advanced Brazilian Jiu jitsu class may be offered at Wayne State University soon, but only if it garners enough interest from the students.
Mo De la O,42, is the Brazilian Jiu jitsu instructor at WSU with the class being his first at WSU. He is also the president of a nonprofit called Foxhole which provides martial arts to veterans with an aim to give them an outlet to overcome various transitional challenges. De la O is a veteran and had an interest in the Brazilian Jiu jitsu since his time in the Marine Corps. He says he was motivated to continue the sport because it helped save his life.
“We as veterans carry some things with us and I made the decision to find a healthy outlet. I was very lucky to have found something that help me better myself and help others as well. Every time I have a bad day, I go train and by the time I get off those mats I no longer remember what my problem was before I got on those mats,” said De la O.
Kristen Kaszeta, 43, an associate professor of Teaching and program coordinator of Brazilian Jiu jitsu at WSU, shared a similar experience with the sport.
Kaszeta said: “Because you roll with different people, you end up having to really focus and pay attention. I like the mindfulness part of it- it is a stress relief. You cannot just go through the motions. You must be present, and it tends to be pretty intense.”
The Jiu jitsu course currently offered at WSU is an introduction course and is beginner friendly.
Regarding what an average student at WSU can get out the class currently offered, De la O said: “The class is meant to introduce Brazilian Jiu jitsu and how you can use your body, mechanics, and movement to help defend yourself.”
De la O said he enjoys introducing the sport to anyone who cares to try it out.
“If they stick with it, I get to see them compete, I see them evolve and see firsthand how it has enriched their lives. It is very common for Brazilian Jiu jitsu to foster camaraderie and build new relationships,” said De la O.
Kalyyanee Nanaaware, 21, is a WSU senior who is a currently taking the Brazilian Jiu jitsu class.
Nanaaware said: “I joined the class because it looked like a really fun class and an opportunity to learn a new sport while picking up self-defense techniques.”
Nanaaware also had things to say on aspect she liked and disliked about the class.
“My favorite part is being able to spar with others to see my progress in what I’ve learned while also getting feedback from our instructor who goes above and beyond to teach us
“My least favorite aspect isn’t related to the class itself but I do wish more girls too up the opportunity to take this class since there’s so few of us,” said Nanaaware.
The course has the possibility of being expanded if the current class receives enough interest in the winter semester from the students. The expansion will include an advanced jiu jitsu class and introduce students to various aspects of Jiu jitsu.
“An advanced class would require students to know the fundamentals already. The class would be focused on the competitive side of Brazilian jiu jitsu. Potentially, students could wear a Gi and learn how to use the Gi in Brazilian jiu jitsu to their advantage,” said Kaszeta.
De la O shared the same details and remarks on the advanced class but added a hope he had for the possible expanded program.
“My hope is that we have more beginner and introduction classes and then set up a more advanced class,” said De la O.
Regarding the advanced class, Nanaaware said: “I will join it, I would love to continue learning this sport.”
Kaszeta talked about how a student doesn’t have to go onto an advanced course to get something out of the course.
Kaszeta said: “The initial moves taught are the fundamentals, and everything builds off those. So, even if a student doesn’t advance outside of the semester, those fundamentals stay with them.”
WSU students can register for the Brazilian jiu jitsu class for the winter semester in November.