For the past 15 years, mixed martial arts has been steadily gaining popularity but has never received more attention than it does today, still Honduras had yet to hit the main stage. Eddie Cruz, owner of the Fight Club Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Jackson Plaza changed all that on April 3rd at The Beach Bar in Flowers Bay with the first organized public mixed martial arts event the country had ever seen.
Mixed martial arts fighting is now an internationally recognized sport and is seen in a positive light, a far cry from its beginnings as a “barbaric blood sport” to determine which fighting style was the best. Its popularity today in the world is second only to soccer.
Eddie’s academy focuses on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which consists of ground fighting and submission holds though he has a strong background in Muay Tai, known as “the art of eight limbs” which focuses on strikes utilizing hands, elbows, knees, feet, and shins. Though Jiu-Jitsu has its roots in Japan, it was the Brazilians who made it into more of an art form allowing smaller opponents to conquer those larger and stronger using timing and leverage. Eddie was introduced to the sport when he was 14 and getting into trouble as many teen boys tend to. His father’s best friend, John Machado, an ex Navy Seal, took Eddie under his wing, introduced him to Jiu-Jitsu, and changed his life. Eddie went on to graduate from Florida State University with degrees in Computer Science and Philosophy and began teaching martial arts in Miami. After being invited to Costa Rica to guest teach at a school, his return flight took him through Roatan and the familiar story for those of us who have migrated here began. Eddie met a girl, stayed in La Ceiba for awhile until Dale Rickman, the owner of the gym Flexappeal in Jackson Plaza, gave Eddie a deal he could not turn down, his own school on Roatan.
According to Eddie, Jiu-Jitsu is not just a sport, but rather a way of life. Diet and discipline are critical to build a fit dense body necessary for success in the ring. If you consider yourself lazy, this is not the sport for you, Eddie points out. Students range from as young as 4 years old to adults, though Eddie pays special attention to the teenage boys on the island. For Eddie, the goal is to teach the boys to control their energy through Jiu-Jitsu to avoid trouble on the streets and in school. He will only accept and teach boys who maintain good grades and requires teacher reports for all of his students. Eddie is very strict in his belief that Jiu-Jitsu is a sport and only to be used for self defense outside of the ring, not to provoke violence. If a student uses his skills to start any kind of fight, they are removed from the sport permanently.
The event in Flowers Bay was made up of 4 separate events including one boxing match and four mixed martial arts matches. The crowd was entertained and awed. Certainly, Roatan will want and see more of such events. In addition to bragging rights, prizes included six months of free training, a free cell phone and a gym membership for the winners. Those who were defeated also were awarded a prize of two months of free training. Eddie promises more for the island and plans to take on the mainland next.
The Fight Club Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Jackson Plaza has only been open for 3-1/2 months and already has 57 students. Membership fees are reasonable at 450 lempiras per month for students up to fifteen years old, and 800 lempiras per month for adults. Required equipment is a Gi gear uniform at a one time charge of $70 USD.
When asked why Jiu-Jitsu has had such rapid growth and popularity both on the island and in the world, Eddie smiled and remarked that it is one of few things manly things that a guy can do away from his wife or girlfriend for a couple of hours and not get into trouble! [/private]