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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Teaching Self-Defense and Life Lessons

SONY DSCFor Darrell Taylor, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is more than just a martial art – it’s a lifestyle.


So in May when the South Mountain resident opened his school, Like Minded Jiu-Jitsu, near 40th Street and Roeser Road, he instilled the family values that guide his life.


“My instructor always told me, ‘Be careful of the name you put on your window because those are the kind of people you’re going to attract,’” said Taylor, who started in jiu-jitsu 16 years ago.


His love for the sport happened almost by accident. A co-worker – who was also a professional boxer – invited Taylor to spar at a local gym. After getting hit a few times, Taylor realized boxing didn’t hold much appeal. However, that day he still signed a one-year membership at the gym just to lift weights.


Then one day he saw some guys grabbling in another room. Curiosity eventually led to an invite from the instructor to join the class.


“And basically, the rest is history,” Taylor added.


For years, Taylor commuted to classes in the East Valley while living in Tempe. It wasn’t until he bought a house in South Phoenix that he considered opening a jiu-jitsu school in the area.


At first, the only people who used the facility were Taylor and a few friends for training. Then others started showing up and inquiring about classes.


Before long, a business was born.


These days, he offers classes six days a week and has affiliate schools in Chandler, Casa Grande, the West Valley and Central Phoenix. What’s more, his main instructor is 76-year-old Grand Master Flavio Behring, one of only six living red belts in the world.


“It’s like a family,” Taylor said. “A lot of kids that I teach don’t have families or they come from broken homes … and I also have a lot of working professionals. It’s like a little community or subculture and I wanted South Phoenix to be a part of that.”


Taylor is quick to point out jiu-jitsu’s benefits go beyond just self-defense. The sport helps people experience greater confidence, reduced stress and improved focus on health. It also provides an intense workout that complements skills needed for mainstream sports such as football.


The biggest challenge, Taylor said, is getting people to understand jiu-jitsu is for everyone.


“A beginner has nothing to fear,” he stressed. “You can come in with no experience. We take care of everyone.”


Classes at Like Minded Jiu-Jitsu are open to anyone 5 and older. Kids’ classes are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 5:50 p.m. Adult classes are Monday through Thursday from 6 to 7:15 p.m. On Sunday, Taylor holds a women-only kettlebell bootcamp (for $5) from 8 to 9 a.m., and then offers an open mat for sparring and studying moves from 9:15 to 11:30 a.m.


The cost is $75 a month for adults and $50 a month for kids. New students can try classes for a week at no cost.


Additional information is available at www.likemindedjiujitsu.com or by calling Taylor at 480-227-7008.






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