89th AS pilot brings jiu jitsu conditioning into fitness training

  • Published
  • By Stacy Vaughn
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Adding new fitness routines for self-improvement can be a challenge for some individuals but for one reservist, Brazilian jiu jitsu conditioning is helping him not only maintain a fitness level to conquer the Air Force fitness test, but to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Maj. Eric Palichat, 89th Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot, has been studying and training Brazilian jiu-jitsu for the last six years.

"I work out three to four days a week for approximately one to two hours when I'm in town. The hectics of life limit the amount of time I can dedicate for an effective workout, so I've found Brazilian jiu jitsu as an excellent alternative," Palichat said.

According to instructors from the S&G Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school in Dayton, Ohio, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art, combat sport and self-defense system focusing on grappling (techniques, maneuvers, and counters applied to an opponent in order to gain a physical advantage) and ground fighting.

Palichat has been using BJJ as his primary form of conditioning for his physical fitness test and as an overall life improver.

"The core strength gained is great for sit-ups, the functional strength gained is used toward the push-ups, and the cardio is used for the running phase. The mental strength gained provides the never quit attitude that helps one achieve more even when the body is fatigued."

Unlike running which primarily focuses on increasing cardio endurance, Palichat said jiu jitsu does that plus it builds core, physical, and mental strength with the benefits of learning effective defensive and offensive techniques against assailants.

"In my opinion, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is the most functional and effective martial arts for self-defense and physical fitness. It promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique, taking the fight to the ground - most notably by applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the other person," Palichat said.

The reservist compares BJJ workout with a wrestling. Moving body weight of another individual in a 5-8 minute period improves strength, flexibility, and is excellent cardio. Most wrestlers don't rely on lifting weights or running to gain functional strength or stamina, but instead rely on the actual act of wrestling. Unlike wrestling, however, where the object is to pin one's adversary or gain points, the goal of BJJ is to apply a joint lock or choke, forcing the opponent into submission.

To help with the whole BJJ experience and workout with fellow enthusiasts, Palichat is enrolled in a BJJ school in Dayton, Ohio. In his class, he and his classmates endure 20 minutes of calisthenics at the start of the class followed by 20-30 minutes of instructional techniques then 20-30 minutes of "rolling" (sparring). The class instructor, Jon Stuntzman, guides the class.

"Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is more than an art you learn. It's a lifestyle you live. Everyday spent on the mat is a day becoming not only a better practitioner but a better person," Stuntzman said.

Palichat hopes to see his fellow reservists and their families at one of his classes so they can experience the BJJ lifestyle.

"One of my favorite benefits of jiu jitsu is the uniqueness of training with different demographics, professionals, kids, teens, and fighters which facilitates growth in all aspects of my life. Everyone has a story and each story has a lesson to be learned," Palichat said. "I'm looking forward to seeing you all in class!"