By Jeanie Stephens|The Telegraph
ALTON — Strategic BJJ, downtown Alton’s new martial arts academy, is expanding its programming after just three months, with a kickboxing class for adults as owner Keith Steinacher looks to provide students with a more diverse skill set.
The academy opened in June on the sixth floor of 200 W. 3rd St. Its first Fit-2-Fight Kickboxing Class set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27 features a fitness component combined with technical striking.
“I think it’s really important for people to learn something while they’re working out,” Steinacher said.
“It’s set up in a mode where it’s a fitness class, but you’re not just learning the motions like in other fitness programs,” he said. “This is technical striking, 100 percent.”
Class instructor John Rosner, who has extensive training in striking martial arts, will teach moves students can realistically apply in a fight while they also get in shape.
Steinacher said there are essentially two types of martial arts: striking and grappling. Karate, kickboxing, kung fu and tae kwon do are considered striking martial arts. Judo, jiu jitsu and sambo are considered grappling martial arts, or fighting without striking, hitting or kicking the other person.
“You’re restraining somebody, pinning them or using joint locks or chokes, but there’s no physical striking of the other person,” said Steinacher. “In grappling, if your technical ability is much higher than the other person, it becomes less of a scramble and you can control the other person in such a way that you reduce harm to both people.”
Steinacher’s main focus and area of expertise is Brazilian jiu jitsu which developed from Japanese judo jiu jitsu teachers who migrated to Brazil in the early 20th century.
“This is something I’ve been doing for nine or so years now,” he said. “There’s just no end to the learning, and I’ve never gotten bored.”
Brazilian jiu jitsu challenges a person both physically and mentally, with support offered from other students.
“You’re doing something in an environment where people are helping each other,” said Steinacher. “It’s not just you trying to do it by yourself.”
Overall, he said, there are many benefits to Brazilian jiu jitsu over non-martial arts activities, including increased flexibility and mobility, learning self-defense techniques, and managing stress.
Steinacher, who wrestled in high school, said he found grappling can help a person overcome low self-esteem, bullying and other issues.
“You can sort of challenge your fears and break them, and I did that,” he said. “I was very claustrophobic at one time. It kind of wore it away.”
One of the most rewarding aspects of his academy, he said, is seeing similar transformations in his students.
“It’s empowering. You can see it in their eyes, see it in how they carry themselves, and that’s a victory for me,” Steinacher said. “If I can take somebody that’s not confident in themselves or they’ve been broken by a bad situation and give them a way to heal that and build themselves back up, that’s worth any amount of time I have to put into this.”
Currently Brazilian jiu jitsu classes are Monday and Wednesday, with a youth class at 6 p.m. and an adult class at 7 p.m. Adult kickboxing classes are at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
There is no minimum age for children, but participants should be able to stay focused for a particular period of time and follow directions. Children can learn fundamental motions dealing with different aspects of rotation, bending and flexing that people don’t normally use except in jiu jitsu. They also will work a lot with stability balls, since stronger stability muscles means less chance of injury.
Older kids can expect to get into sparring and learning how to escape different situations and positions.
Steinacher also leads monthly self-defense seminars and training programs for law enforcement. He said that, of the police officers assaulted each year, 80 percent are physically assaulted and 30 percent are injured. If police departments implemened a training regiment centered around the jiu jitsu style, Steinacher said, they would see the number of injuries drop and officer retention increase.
All classes require a monthly membership fee of $80; programs will expand as the academy’s overall membership grows. The cost for a two-hour public training seminar is $10 per person.
Steinacher invited people who may be even slightly interested in taking a class to watch or try a class. There’s no pressure to pay for a membership, he said.
“This is a labor of love for me,” he said. “I can tell people about it. But once you’ve tried it yourself and have experienced the benefits, I won’t have to explain it to you anymore.
”I’m not going to become a rich man doing this, but I want to become rich in helping people,” he said.
The next self defense class is noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, in the Strategic BJJ classroom. For more details, visit strategicbjj.com or visit the academy’s Facebook page.