Garry Sheriff, managing director of technology company ITPS, has been practicing Ju Jitsu, the ancient Japanese martial art which focuses on skills and finesse rather than brute strength and using the attacker’s own momentum or strength against them, for the past 16 years
I started Ju Jitsu in 1999 when I was 33. I used to have a weekly meeting with a colleague at the Kumi Uchi Ryu club in Springwell Village, Gateshead, while his children trained. The sensei (instructor) asked if we would like to join in so we thought we would give it a go to keep fit. I’m now a sensei myself.
I practice traditional Japanese Ju Jitsu which focuses on standing grappling and involves throwing, joint controls and locks and chokes with the emphasis on striking and applying pressure on certain joints to make the locks even stronger.
I like the control and discipline involved in applying years of learning and practise. There’s also a great camaraderie amongst practitioners.
Achieving my black belt was a real highlight and the culmination of six years of hard work. I’ve broken my wrist and ribs and dislocated my shoulder.
Practicing the martial art has taught me to keep calm and quickly assess a situation before acting in my work life. Ju Jitsu translates as ‘flexible art’, which describes how we approach the delivery of IT consultancy, services and support at ITPS.
I have a great deal of respect for Harry Parnell, Ken Graham and Stuart Hetherington who ran the Kumi Uchi Ryu club when I first joined. They devoted at least four nights a week to teaching and running the club – all in their own time and from their own pockets. I also admire my first instructor Stuart Morrison; I was in awe of him for years.
Ju Jitsu is a great way to keep fit, especially if the gym bores you. It also develops confidence and self-defence skills.
I’m toying with the idea of taking up Aikido, which is a slightly softer martial art and less focused on causing the death or disablement of your opponent!