Martial arts in the Upper Peninsula

MARQUETTE —¬†Many people might not know this but the U.P. is home to a Martial Arts Dojo that has been around for over 40 years.

Practicing martial arts as a sport is a relatively new concept. Before, these skills were used in ancient times in warfare to protect people and their lifestyles, and even used as relaxation tools. Here in the UP, a local dojo is passing on the lessons for other benefits.

Here at the Northern Light Martial Arts Center… Tradition and Culture have been brought back to life for over 40 year’s right here in the Upper Peninsula. So Dane and I came to get a sneak peek of what is happening in the Dojo.

While attending the dojo we learned there were many different styles of martial arts. But we focused on Jiu Jitsu and Judo which originated in feudal Japan.
As always, it came from some older roots, but what exactly is Jiu Jitsu?

“Typical definition for Jiu Jitsu is from samurai open hand techniques for self defense,” said Dojo Instructor, James VanEck III. “‘Jiu’ refers too ‘yielding’ or ‘soft’ and ‘Jitsu’ particularly means ‘technique’ so it is the technique of yielding.”

Later on, we learned that Judo was developed out of that form as a sport-oriented martial art and there were many differences between the two styles.

“So Judo there is no striking and or kicking,” explained VanEck III. “It is just throws, strangulations, pins and that’s pretty much it. There is a set of rules, such as; if they tap you have to release. Since it is more competitive it follows that structure.”

So then where does self defense come in if you are not competing in sports?

“Jiu Jitsu is self-defense,” added Van Eck III. “We kick, punch and if you need to you can bite… But not in practice of course and then we work with the techniques in the confines of how to use it in self-defense.”

Besides learning self-defense, the sport is a great way to develop mentally and physically.

If you’re on the older side, and worried that your chance to grow in the martial arts is over, don’t worry; in fact, the Senseis there say that you are never too old to learn the art and never too young to be introduced.

“We have everyone from young students to Bob over there who is… how old are you Bob?” said Student at Dojo, Gregory O’Hagan.
“74…” (Bob replies).
“74? So there is no age range,” explained O’Hagan. “Any age can come and start… You could be like a 7 year old learning this and it is not age dependent.”

So if you’re interested in picking up a new hobby, the center is always welcoming newcomers.