MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Japanese martial arts was considered to be a powerful weapon of samurai warriors during the medieval period of Japan, which was characterized by warfare.
Today, the art of selfdefense is manifested as a popular Japanese recreational sport full of camaraderie and support between competitors.
Japan is abundant in its martial arts communities.
Japanese martial artists are disciplined and skilled in a variety of practices, including Karate, Aikido, Judo, Jujitsu and Kendo, which is based on traditional Japanese swordsmanship.
According to Chief Warrant Officer Sergio Esquivel, blue-belt in Jujitsu and second degree black-belt in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, one of the highly supportive communities of martial arts practitioners resides locally in the city of Hiroshima.
Esquivel recently competed in the 8th Annual West Japan Jujitsu Championship tournament at the Minami Ward Sports Center in Hiroshima Sunday.
Wagner Murai, blue-belt in Jujitsu, took home first place in the mid-weight, blue-belt competition.
More than 100 participants were divided among age, weight class and skill level to battle it out against each other.
Competitors applied various Jujitsu techniques, which consisted of skillful mounts, joint-locks and throws in an effort to manipulate an opponent’s energy against himself.
The Japanese sports center, which hosts many martial arts competitions, is open to all skill levels and techniques within the rules of the sport.
Murai said he has been practicing Jujitsu at the dojo for two years alongside friends and regulars who are always welcoming new competitors.
Participation among service members in competitions has been sparse, but martial arts competitions are a prime opportunity for Marines and sailors to get involved in the local Japanese community.
During competitions, many competitors will even shout out advice to competitors to show support, advising movements and recovery tactics.
“Everybody helps each other train,” said Murai. “Everyone improves and moves up in skill.”
Esquivel has been active in supporting junior enlisted Marines during training and competitions.
He has helped train Marines aboard the air station and attended competitions to provide assistance and guidance.
“When you’re competing, you can’t see what someone outside can see,” said Esquivel. “Sometimes it’s good to have someone helping you and telling you what to do.”
Jujitsu translated means gentle art.
Even though Jujitsu is ironic in its meaning, the techniques practiced are considered by members of the dojo to be an effective method of self-defense against an attacker.
“It’s more about technique than size,” said Murai. "Many of the basic techniques in Jujitsu are manifested in the
“Most of the concepts are the same,” said Esquivel. “(Ultimate Fighting Championship) fighters will pay thousands of dollars to train here in Japan. (Service members) have the opportunity to do it here. They should definitely try it out.”
Japanese martial arts provides service members with an opportunity to build confidence and technique, which can enhance performance in MCMAP.
“It puts a person through a particular amount of adversity,” said Esquivel. “It puts them into an unknown situation and they have to figure out how to react.”
Japanese teams and schools travel from various regions of Japan to compete in competitions at the Minami Ward Sports Center in Hiroshima.
The diverse martial arts community here in Japan is a melting pot of skill and technique service members can take advantage of during their tour.