TEXARKANA, Texas — Guard passes and scissor sweeps were the vocabulary Thursday on Day 4 of a children’s camp at Texarkana Jiu Jitsu.
The 11 students in the one-week camp spend four hours a day practicing various techniques of the Brazilian martial art that focuses on grappling. Texarkana Jiu Jitsu owner/instructor Marc Hagebusch said the lessons are designed to be fun while also enhancing movement.
“So many kids are sitting at home, stuck on social media and video games. We want the kids to be more active,” said Hagebusch, who also is a chiropractor.
Many of the camp participants, who are ages 6 to 12, are regular jiu jitsu students. Hagebusch said their parents see the one week of focused training as a way for the children to stay in shape over the summer.
Parent Norma Bledsoe agreed, but provided another practical reason her son, Joshua, was in the camp: to learn self-defense.
“If you’re that unlucky boy or girl (who is bullied), this will teach them on what to do to avoid getting hurt,” Bledsoe said.
Bledsoe said Joshua only started taking jiu jitsu about three months ago.
“He enjoys it,” she said.
The camp is the first held at Texarkana Jiu Jitsu since 2018, Hagebusch said. He is assisted by three student-instructors — John Forbes, 21, a two-year student; Chance Ferguson, 16, who has almost a year of study under his belt; and daughter Carley, 13.
“She started when she was about 3 years old,” Hagebusch said.
Having young instructors on staff encourages the students by giving them someone with whom they can identify, Hagebusch said. The campers are further motivated by a points system, which is tracked on a large whiteboard lined with each student’s name and a series of hash marks beside the name.
Hagebusch said the students earn points — which can go toward stripes for their marital arts belt — during class and also by submitting video of practices at home.
Along with honing their jiu jitsu skills, campers also test their physical conditioning. On Thursday, the students lined up to see who could hold a wall sit the longest. Sophie Caldwell earned praised for outlasting many of the campers with her one-legged stance.
The students also practiced handstands and planks.
Midway through the camp, which starts daily at 8 a.m., the students got off the mat and headed for healthy snacks of fruit and water.
Hagebusch said bananas are a camp favorite. Almost on cue, as Forbes distributed the fruit, a couple of students gleefully sung, “I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas.”
After the break, the students returned to the mat — but not immediately for lessons. It was a typical playground scene of running, jumping and flipping. Ferguson even got in on the action with a bit of shadow boxing.
“They get tired in class, and then they get a break and start running around,” Hagebusch said.
And that’s just fine with him. He said children need time and space to just be kids.
However, it was soon back to business. For the late-morning lesson, the children sat on the mat as Hagebusch demonstrated a guard pass (that is, a move to get past an opponent’s leg defenses) with Ferguson. The youngsters kept their attention on the exercise, watching as Hagebusch — Ferguson’s senior by 39 years — deftly spun the teenager to break his guard and put him in submission.
After the demonstration, the students paired off to practice the skill.
For Ryder Fear, who partnered with Joshua, the lesson highlighted what the camp is all about.
“Getting to learn new moves every day,” he said before returning to the mat.
The next camp will be July 17-21. For registration information, call Texarkana Jiu Jitsu and Fitness at 903-793-1085, or visit TexarkanaJiuJitsu.com.
(Texarkana Jiu Jitsu and Fitness is at 4025 N. State Line Ave., across from Holiday Entertainment Center.)