It’s all sh*ts and giggles, until someone gets hurt.

This blog isn’t all for the ladies, but I want them to pay very close attention. One martial arts studio in North Vancouver offers the best colour belt of all: a pink belt.


They say a wedding brings people together, funny thing is that’s exactly the scenario for husband and wife, Marc A. James Martins and Liz Law-Martins. A wedding they attended back a decade ago found them sitting at a round table with others with Martial Arts in their portfolio. At that time, Marc had just opened classes along with his partner, renting space from a different martial arts studio. In short: with his high energy and fun-loving nature, Marc was forced to find a new facility fast if they still wanted to offer Ju Jitsu classes under their name.



Let’s go back to the beginning: 1925 to 1990. Gracie Jujitsu is the new form of the four-thousand-year-old Martial Arts, the Japanese brought the sport into Brazil a few hundred years ago, this is why you hear Jiu Jitsu coming in from Brazilian “heritage.”


This non-combative Martial Arts took winning spot time and time again in UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). Yes. In 1993, Denver, USA, the first matches were not like now, they were a test of all the martial arts, Judo, Karate, Sumo-Wrestling, Kick Boxing…. 7,800 people watched on November 12th, as Royce Gracie won, 26 years young from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. “I’m not used to this kind of stuff,” said Ken Shamrock, this was the first time they had met and fought together.




Marc, First-Degree black belt, is half Scottish and half Brazilian, I suppose you could say Jiu Jitsu runs in his blood. Too bad he was unaware of how powerful this sport was until he started at the late age of seventeen. Liz, from Chinese heritage too started in her early 20s but she had come from a previous Martial Art’s background, came into Jiu Jitsu a few steps ahead with her ability to use her knowledge from previous practice, “My parents didn’t want me doing martial arts, that was saved for my brother. I was put in ballet class. When I was old enough to get my own job, I paid my own way through Martial Arts,” said Liz.


Marc’s very calm demeaner is harmonious with the sport, “We have many students here that come from other martial arts, they just want to learn all of it!” Jiu Jitsu is amazing to understand your own bodies leverage and energy to efficiently use techniques in real-life situations.

There are no bowing requirements in Marc’s gym. If you want to bow, shake hands or high-five, he’s all for it. “Martial arts is here to teach us discipline, educate and make us better people. We want to keep everyone calm, relaxed and in at-home state so we can learn as much as possible,” said Marc.


I dropped by at the middle of their kids Bullyproof class. There was a pretty equal number of girls to boys (maybe even more girls) with ages between 5-12. Every month the kids Bullyproof program takes hold of your child’s awareness of common problems they might face in school. The kids are taught how to use their voice to set boundaries and how to defend themselves physically through non-violent techniques. The idea is to respect yourself and others.

The kids were bouncing up and down, shouting “I don’t like that! Give me back my lunch!” and ended off with the best spinoff of dodgeball I’ve ever seen. “Imagine you are rained on with giant gumballs!” Marc said as he tossed 32” rubber balls around. There are six Chapters in program and kids earn badges just like in Scouts upon completing.



If your idea is to build confidence and be level with people outside, the studio offers just this. Their Women Empowered self-defence program is a 17-class graduation, where women can learn to be confident with non-violent neutralization techniques against their attackers.

Reality is, women will be attacked by “known” attackers at least once in their life, NVBJJ puts emphasis on sexual attacks. We asked both Marc and Liz how many of their students in the Women Empowered program have come from a past with already having experienced an attack, verses how many are there to prevent an attack from getting out of their control. As expected: both their answers were different. While Marc had very little of this information, most likely because he is a man, Liz had ample information shared by her students, feeling more comfortable with that she is a woman.

The program outlines attacks with variations like: front choke defence, wrist release, hair grab, rear choke, rear naked choke, trap and roll and many others. Any of those sound familiar? Plus, upon completion students receive a pink belt. 




Has Marc ever needed to use his training in a situation? “Jiu Jitsu means gentle art. It has painted my path because it has made me feel a certain level of confidence and certain level of assertiveness. And be able to play with that,” said Marc.


Has Liz ever needed to use her Jiu Jitsu training in any situation? “Not after I learned steps through this program. It gave me the confidence to know what was happening before it could happen. A common myth is that you should not make eye contact, in contrast, you should assert yourself by giving eye contact. We practice things like this. I used to have dreams about bad things, after my training I stopped having them as now I knew how to get myself out of the situations I was dreaming about,” said Liz.


Two very different answers.



Liz is just as calm as Marc (match made in heaven?), her pink belt looks warn from the years of practice. “No one should ever expect to not freeze up, that’s normal,” said Liz. Stepping into classes like their Women Empowered program builds your confidence for those odds to become slim to (possibly) none.



If you are a woman and felt tingly reading this or reminded you of an experience you’ve been hurt or felt threatened: I urge you to pop by their free class on February 11th. They are also running a 10-day free trial, give them a call for more details +1 604 774 8623.

The Women Empowered program runs on Tuesday and Saturday evenings. You’re not expected to wear a uniform, come straight from work!




250 Esplanade East #206 (enter though back alley), North Vancouver.



Nina @Fueler


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