Claude Long has made an impact in Columbus in less than three months.
While work brought the 35-year-old to Columbus, he has made the most of his change of scenery by getting involved as an instructor of Brazilian jiu jitsu at Miller’s Martial Arts and Mixed Martial Arts in Columbus. His work as a coach of younger students allows him to stay in shape and to continue to train for competitions and share his passion for a sport that he “fell in love with” at an early age.
Long’s love for the sport is catching on.
Last weekend, Long and four students won medals for their performances in BJJ at a North American Grappling Association event in Nashville, Tennessee. BJJ is a martial art, combat sport, and a self-defense system that focuses on grappling and ground fighting.
“I really enjoy working with the kids,” Long said. “I enjoy showing them things and watching them grasp what I show them and put it to use. I was really proud of all of them. I had several who won by submission. That shows that what we are teaching they are learning.”
Stacking up golds, silvers
Last Saturday, Long received gold in gi and silver in no gi in the super heavyweight division. Preston Rice received gold in no gi in the 195-pound division. Cornelius Hickman received gold in no gi in 135-pound division and two silvers in gi. Kobe Nell received silver in no gi and bronze in gi in the 150-pound division. India Genise Woods received silver in no gi and gold in gi in the 134-pound division.
Gi and no gi refer to the grappling style with or without the uniform worn by the competitors, which is called a gi. A gi also can be called a “kimono” and features a pair of heavy cotton drawstring pants, a heavy cotton jacket with a thick color, and a belt.
Long said BJJ still is new to the Golden Triangle, so he hopes to help it grow. He said he works with students ages 8 to 18, and has one student who is 25 years old. He said BJJ involves a lot of cardiovascular movements and is intense because it features a lot of “rolling” on the mat.
“You’re able to get out that aggression and are able to think and use calm because if someone is grabbing you and you panic, you are going to lose,” Long said. “You have to learn how to control your breathing and really exercise a lot of restraint. It teaches a lot of discipline to the kids.”
First in three-step process
Oliver Miller, the owner of Miller’s Martial Arts and MMA, said BJJ is one part of a three-stage program for his students. He said ground work is the first step. Taekwondo and boxing will follow in an attempt to develop every discipline from the ground to standing to boxing, so students will know how to use their hands and feet and will know what to do on the ground, Miller said.
“It will enhance their conditioning,” Miller said. “In whatever sport you are in, conditioning is more than likely 90 percent of it. You have to be in shape, and if you are in shape you have an edge.”
Miller praised the efforts of all of the students. He said it was even more impressive considering it was their first national tournament. He said the students’ desire to achieve carried them to a successful showing.
Long, who is from Fort Worth, Texas, has been training since 2011 and has competed in more than 15 tournaments in Texas. Miller said Long is “leading by example,” which shows all of the students what they can achieve if they work hard and stay dedicated. Students start with a white belt and progress through blue, purple, and brown belts before they reach black belt. Long said it typically takes four to six years for a student to become a black belt.
“They are picking it up,” Miller said. “His job (as a probation officer) gives him that kind of drive to make it seem real serious to them. He gets their attention real good.”
Next competition is in June
Long serves as a volunteer instructor for more than a dozen students. He said his students already have started training for their next competition in June in Memphis. He thanked sponsors TriState Security, ComForcare Home Health Care, LeeSykes Funeral Homes, Dawson Bail Bonding Co., and M.J.’s Desktop Publishing for their help securing a van so they could travel to the competition and for their T-shirts. He said his goal is to use his love for the sport to inspire more students to get involved with a martial art that helped him lose nearly 75 pounds and develop a healthier lifestyle.
“It is chess, not checkers, so we have to go over some of the same things or the same moves,” Long said. “I already have planned several tournaments that we’re going to attend. By competing in tournaments, you get better and get ranked a little quicker.”
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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