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The Scarlet & Black

Grappling fights its way onto campus

Martial Arts aren’t exactly prevalent on Grinnell’s campus. Fighting, even organized fighting, is seen as brutal, or a blood sport. But Grappling, a descendant of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, has taken a firm hold over two Grinnellians.

Last weekend, Ian Warlick ’10 and David Paige ’09 competed at the Sasquatch Open, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament in Newton. Paige placed second in the 145 and under weight class, and Warlick placed third in the 185 and under weight class.  

“The goal is to put your opponent on the ground,” Warlick said. “The [goal of] submission wresting is that I want to pin my opponent—I want to move to a dominant position and then I want to find something to make them hurt so bad that they’ll quit or tap out.” 

So, no, Grappling isn’t gratuitously vicious, but it’s certainly exciting. Warlick and Paige entered the tournament without much of an idea of how they would place. 

 “I ended up going 1-2,” Warlick said. “I was really happy with myself, I wrestled three guys and I was able to submit a guy. Both [me and Paige] are pretty happy with how things went.”

Warlick lost his first match to the eventual champion, and was defeated late in his third match to a submission. It was in his second match that Warlick got an advantage against his opponent.

“I was able to get myself back into the second match,” said Warlick, who attributes his success to composure and endurance. “I was really patient, so that went well.”

Warlick and Paige have only been training for two and three years, respectively, and this was the first competition for both of them. 

“I’ve never been to a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school,” Warlick said “I’ve never trained formally. I’ve never taken any formal lessons in any martial arts.” 

Warlick began to learn about Grappling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Paige two years ago. They now work together two or three times a week, running four minute matches and practicing different positions. They draw a lot from online instruction and videos and try out ideas with each other.

“After a while, he became more or less my equal and we started training together,” Paige said. In fact, it’s common for Warlick to beat Paige now, because of his extra height and weight. 

“I think that a lot of this is just us making it up as we go. There’s no real structure, no real teacher,” Warlick said. 

Warlick and Paige both competed at the intermediate division last weekend. The Sasquatch Open was divided into divisions by years of experience and Warlick fell right at the borderline between beginner and intermediate. Warlick said the differences between himself and those with more formal training and experience were clear.  One thing that put Warlick at a disadvantage was not cutting weight—he could have competed in the under-170 weight class, but ended up in the under-185 by three pounds. 

“[At my level] there’s a lot of looking and seeing, ‘Well, what is my opponent doing and where are my hands at.’ I can’t work through things just by feel, I have to look,” Warlick said. “It really is amazing to watch people who are good at this—they won’t look at their opponent they won’t look at what they’re doing. They do it all based on just my body against yours and feeling their way through that. I’m still very much learning in all of this.”

Both Paige and Warlick plan to continue practicing, and will be competing again next spring. After swimming season ends, Warlick might be practicing in a more structured setting. 

“I’ll probably start traveling down to Iowa City once a week to train [with students at the University of Iowa],” Warlick said. 

One of the founders of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Hélio Gracie, trained up until his death earlier this year, at the age of 95. Warlick has the same plan. 

“I’d like to do it for the rest of my life,” Warlick said. “I’d like to do it until I can’t anymore. It’s been fun and I think that’s the biggest thing.” 

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