Oldham gym has a stranglehold on Brazilian jiu-jitsu

An Oldham gym is hoping to inspire the next generation of Brazilian jiu-jujitsu stars after a recent takeover.

Coach  Arron Cheshire, 32, a freelance graphic designer, got into the 100 year-old sport when he took classes with his son.

He caught the bug, trained as a coach, and along with his friend Matt Burns, decided to take over a Royton-based gym and rebrand it as Strategy Fight Team Oldham.

Cheshire said: “We don’t really take any money from it; we make money and invest it into the coaching staff. It’s all about making it accessible for everyone.”

Cheshire tells me Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is different to Jiu-Jitsu in that it’s less choreographed than the Japanese version.  It revolves around the concept that a smaller, weaker person can defend themselves against a bigger, stronger opponent.

“It’s strategic. I’ve heard it described as a game of chess with your body.”  

The gym has now hired three other Brazilian jiu-jitsu coaches as well as a wrestling coach, and offers classes for children and adults.

“It’s a technical sport so you find the ones that are good at it, are the quieter ones, the more nerdy ones.”

Cheshire and his colleagues work closely with Mahdlo in Oldham, a youth centre providing a range of activities for young people across the town.

“When you’ve been doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for a little bit and you start grappling and sparring with someone and you win, it’s a massive confidence boost. You realise you’re learning something.

“If anyone ever grabs hold of you, you know you can take back control.”

They are looking at teaming up with other charitable organisations who provide alternative opportunities for young people to expand their reach across the community and build strong relationships with other sports clubs.

On of the new coaches is former Team Scotland wrestler, Ross Connelly, who competed at two Commonwealth Games and now leads wrestling classes at the gym.

Connelly has been selected as one of the coaches for the National Potential Squad for under 15’s and 17’s British Wrestling.

“What that means is, if you want to wrestle at the highest level, perhaps in the Olympics or Commonwealth Games and you’re in those age categories, you need to get in front of Ross. His coaching is brilliant.”

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