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Jiu-jitsu scores a takedown

Rocklin studio teaches Brazilian version
By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Whether it’s for physical fitness or self defense, there’s a new spot in town that can teach the art of both through jiu-jitsu. 
Specializing in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Synergy Martial Arts & Fitness opened its doors in the summer of 2009. The center not only offers adult and children’s jiu-jitsu courses, but fitness classes such as bootcamp, spin and pilates. 
The studio is affiliated with the Crosley Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Association through co-owner Jeff Correia’s relationship with Crosley Gracie, a member of the well-known Gracie family that created a system of teaching Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
What is jiu-jitsu all about?
Jiu-jitsu translates into the “gentle art,” in Japanese. The traditional Japanese art of jiu-jitsu consists of defending your opponent while on your feet, while the Brazilian form is practiced on the mat. With two people on the mat, it’s all about skill.
“Anybody can learn the technique,” said Jeff Correia, co-owner of Synergy. “Once you learn the technique, it doesn’t matter the size of the opponent.”
Watching jiu-jitsu, you can see the similarities between wrestling, but Correia says “it’s a kind art.”
Dressed in a gi, or loose-fitting suit worn in martial arts, students use their belt color to show their rank – black being the highest.
Get to know the owners
Correia, with a black belt, has practiced martial arts for 30 years. He started out in kenpo karate and made the switch to jiu-jitsu about 10 years ago when a teenager 70 pounds lighter was able to beat him in jiu-jitsu.
“It’s the ultimate art of self defense,” he said.
Shortly after that, Correia said he got interested in the art. He trained and learned under Crosley Gracie and honed in on his skills until opening shop last summer.
The business was a good fit as Jeff’s wife, Marylisa Correia, has a fitness background and teaches workout classes, sometimes with the parents of jiu-jitsu students during class. Four of their five children practice jiu-jitsu and said it’s become a large part of their lives.
“Once you fall in love with it, it becomes a lifestyle,” Marylisa Correia said.
Competitive edge
Watching an hour-long jiu-jitsu class, kids and adults are left with flushed faces and out of breath.
Jeff and Marylisa said it’s obvious that their students enjoy the art. Even if they also excel in team sports, “you get out on the mat and it’s one on one,” Jeff Correia said.
“I really think it’s all about the chest game with the other person. It’s almost like once they learn it … they learn about how their body moves. It works. Part of the beauty of it – it’s pretty much infinite,” Jeff  Correia said.
At a recent competition called Rumble in the Redwoods held in Santa Cruz of approximately 350 competitors, students from Synergy took three first-place medals and one second place. Jordan Mortimer, 21, Jacob Smethurst, 15, and 10-year-old Bryson Correia took gold and 18-year-old Ethan Horton took home silver at the competition.
A group of Synergy students will also be attending an upcoming competition held in Brentwood in May.
Want to give jiu-jitsu a try?
Currently, kids jiu-jitsu classes are held at 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; adult jiu-jitsu classes are held at 7 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Group exercise times vary during the week. For more information, go to www.synergymartialfit. com or call 660-6798. Synergy is located at 4157 Rocklin Road, Ste. E.