Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the fastest growing forms of martial arts in the world. The primary concept of the art is that a smaller person can defeat a much larger, stronger opponent with technique, leverage and most importantly, by taking the fight to the ground.

Perhaps even more instrumental to its growth is the fact that it is fundamental to the game of most competitors in Mixed Martial Arts.

Marco Aguilera, owner and head instructor of Aguilera Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, loves the art of the fight and believes that it has shaped his worldview.

Aguilera grew up in Chicago where he did the bulk of his training under Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros. In 2014, Aguilera moved to Frisco and continued training under Octavio “Ratinho” Couto. In 2016, at Couto’s suggestion, Aguilera opened up his own school in Prosper.

Uncommonly among martial arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more analogous to a chess match than a contest of strength, so many practitioners consider it a great way to relieve stress, get a great work out and improve critical thinking all at once.

“When you’re rolling, you’re not thinking about your bills, or your job, or your girlfriend or boyfriend that’s mad at you,” Aguilera said. “Professor Octavio always says it’s a form of dynamic meditation. You have to focus on one specific problem, overcome it, and capitalize on the new situation.”

Aguilera also said that within the first month training at his school, a new student can expect to learn self-defense concepts, along with the core fundamentals of Jiu Jitsu, including positions to avoid as well as those to work towards.

For his students’ safety, Aguilera has new students wait two to three weeks before sparring, which practitioners of the art refer to as rolling.

“A lot of gyms have their new guys roll their very first day,” Aguilera said. “Coming into a new martial arts gym can be intimidating, especially to someone who has never trained before. You don’t learn anything getting smashed by someone who has more experience than you before you even know the fundamentals, and neither does your opponent.”

Aguilera also emphasized that because the art is designed to counter a physical size and strength advantage, it is a fantastic self-defense technique for women to learn.

“All our evening classes are co-ed but we also offer a women’s only class Saturday mornings,” he said.

In addition to being great for leveling the playing field with an oversized opponent, Aguilera also discussed the utility of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a real world self-defense technique compared to other martial arts.

“I trained in Hapkido and Taekwondo for two years and many of the kata (techniques) were really hard to pull off on a resisting opponent, Hapkido especially,” he said. “I wouldn’t say Hapkido is ineffective, but I would say it’s less realistic.”

Aguilera believes part of the reason for this is that in striking martial arts, like Hapkido, engaging in a full contact spar with your training partner is less common and much more likely to result in lasting harm.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is much less dangerous, he said. Two opponents can give everything they have in a roll with minimal risk of injury. Being able to safely train without holding back builds more familiarity with positions, techniques and what an opponent will do in response.

“That’s why it was named ‘The Gentle Art,’” Aguilera said, referring to the translation of the word Jiu Jitsu. “It’s a good sport for everyone, whether you’re 5 or 55, there are people who still train at 90 years old. Not only great to stay in shape, but also learn self-defense.”

The benefits of training also carry over to daily life, Aguilera said.

Stamina is tremendously important in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments, so if one wants to compete at a high level, a proper diet and exercise are mandatory, he said. Another benefit, this one more unique to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, is that achieving the rank of black belt commonly is a journey of more than 10 years — 10 years competing, and training with the same tight-knit community means close friendships with people from all walks of life.

Aguilera Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is located at 420 JE Weems Blvd. in Prosper. For more information, call 469-605-0747.