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Jiu jitsu teaches self-defense skills and a lot more

Unlike stand-up martial arts, Jiu jitsu training does not focus on kicks and punches, but rather getting your opponent to the ground in order to neutralize a bigger, stronger aggressor through submission holds and dominant body positioning.

“A lot of YouTube videos show real athletic types in action, but Jiu jitsu is actually a good way for everyday people to get out of challenging physical situations and use their leverage,” said Michael Katilus, owner and coach at Lake Effect Martial Arts, a Brazilian Jiu jitsu and grappling arts school in Depew.

But takedowns aren’t the only thing you’ll learn at his school, which has jumped from less than 10 students to more than 150 since opening in 2016. Like other martial arts, Jiu jitsu can also increase everything from fitness and concentration to self-confidence and mental fortitude.

Jiu jitsu can help with:

Weight loss

It’s easy for people to get demotivated doing the same monotonous exercises at your run-of-the-mill gym. Jiu jitsu training is exciting and very rigorous—with multiple fat-burning stages and opportunities to get your heart rate up. Best of all, you’ll be learning a valuable life skill while you’re at it.


Jiu jitsu may be an individual sport when competing but success relies heavily on support from both teammates and instructors as you prepare for battle.

“There is a great incentive to be an asset to your team,” said Katilus. “And people develop a desire to improve when around others who are trying to do the same. It creates a positive chain reaction.”

Social skills

Like any organized athletic activity, martial arts programs force you to put down your phone and close your computer, freeing you up to meet people and make new friends. This can lead to improved speaking skills, more confidence and better self-control.

Mental toughness

Jiu jitsu teaches students how to improve through trial and error, as well as how to accept losses and problem solve.

“It’s not an easy discipline, but if you stick with it, you will experience tremendous growth and satisfaction,” said Katilus.

Recent success stories among Lake Effect Martial Arts students include David Schuster, a 61-year-old college professor who has endured cancer and two hip replacements to earn his black belt, and a man who used the training to overcome serious struggles with mental health, earning his blue belt after just two years of training.