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Teacher Grabs Students' Attention

By knowing how to bend an arm or twist a leg at just the right angle, Daniel Gracie can deftly immobilize an opponent. That is the core of the martial art known as jiu-jitsu, a technique Gracie teaches at an Atlantic Street studio. “This is the only martial art where a weak person can beat a stronger person,” says Gracie.

Devoid of the sharp kicks and stinging jabs that characterize other martial arts, jiu-jitsu de-emphasizes violence, says Daniel, a black belt who studied under Carlos Gracie Jr. His family developed Brazilian jiu-jitsu over generations, he notes. He’s been studying it since age 6. Daniel’s cousin, Renzo Gracie, owns the Atlantic Street studio, and wife, Heather, serves as business manager.

“We have leg locks, arm bars, foot locks, and the most impressive is our chokes. Definitely,” said Daniel, demonstrating with opponent Philip Prior. Daniel locks his feet around Philip’s torso, one leg resting squarely on Philip’s head. Daniel then grabs Philip’s left arm, extending it so that Philip is rendered helpless. Philip raises his right hand to tap Daniel, indicating complete submission.

“I really do like the art form of it, the technique,” says Philip, who just began studying under Daniel. Cliff Kim also is considering study, as is 12-year-old Schmeidy Scutte.

“The thing about jiu-jitsu is you can’t really get hurt doing it, usually, unless you let it happen,” says Cliff, who just moved to Stamford from California. “I think it’s the most effective martial art. It puts you three steps ahead of the other guy.”

“I’m into wrestling and jiu-jitsu,” says Schmeidy. “It has a whole bunch of wrestling and choke blocks, so that’s why I chose it.” In addition to that, he says, “It has a catchy name

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