Blairgowrie Advertiser

MY CLUB IS FIGHTING FIT

Jui-jitsu trainer positive despite lockdown

- MATTHEW GALLAGHER

The majority of action takes place on the ground – but the sky’s the limit for the man behind a local martial arts club.

From humble beginnings a mere five years ago, determined Steven Gray has put in the hard hours to provide a unique service through Fair City Jiu Jitsu.

And not even a global pandemic is curbing the 31 year-old’s excitement for what the future holds at the club which, although based in Princes Street in Perth, is keen to appeal to people in east Perthshire to get involved.

While his popular Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes are unable to operate as normal currently, hopes remain high that there will be a strong hunger for martial arts when life returns to normality.

“It’s a rapidly-growing martial art,” Steven explained.

“If you imagine judo as mostly stand up with a little bit of groundwork, jiu-jitsu is the other way round.

“It’s submission-orientated fighting, all about position and predicting the next move of the opponent.

“The cool thing about jiu-jitsu is that it’s a martial art where you can spar, almost to 100 per cent, and still be very safe.

“You get a physical workout but also have the mental benefits of focusing on goals and seeing an improvemen­t.

“A lot of people are just nervous to come through the door at times. Even overcoming that barrier is huge for people.

“What I like to focus on is that your phone is away in your bag. It’s a place where you can’t see or hear your phone.

“We’re all on the mat for an hour or two doing the task, forgetting about everything else. People rely on it for the social aspect.”

Adult classes have not been able to run since coronaviru­s restrictio­ns were first brought in March.

But Steven said: “We were able to have the kids classes during certain parts of the year. It was brilliant for the kids and I think the parents were super happy.

“I went from having no work to being able to focus on something.

“When we started doing the kids classes, you felt how important it was.

“You see them getting better at jiu-jitsu and growing up. It’s been really amazing and a nice thing for me.”

Steven is a proud man when he casts an eye over his new city centre facility and would love for it to be a location where champions hone their craft and skill.

He explained: “I worked really hard to move to the new unit we’re at now in the city centre.

“I was planning on the move, but when we went into lockdown, I wrote everything off and had no idea what was going to happen.

“But a lot of the members continued to support us, even though the gym was closed. They knew if it wasn’t supported, it might go away.

“My plan is to get into the top three jiu-jitsu gyms in Scotland on the competitio­n ladder.

“Our new place is perfect for location and everyone can see it. Hopefully we’ll get more people coming in to try. Once we can get past coronaviru­s, I feel like it’s going to explode and we’ll be able to get stuck into it all.”

Pre-lockdown, Fair City Jiu Jitsu had numerous members competing at events across the country.

“Every class has its standout talents,” smiled Steven. “Perhaps those who pick it up quicker or are a little bit keener.

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