Oconomowoc Focus

"Open Guard Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to open in Oconomowoc"

  • By Donna Frake October 29, 2015

The loss of a friend and instructor has led two local men to plan a new business in downtown Oconomowoc, Open Guard Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. After a motorcycle accident claimed the life of their instructor, Reese Shaner, owner of a mixed martial arts studio in Waukesha, a group of about 15 people traveled to Oconomowoc to continue their training in a detached shed at the home of Matt Christiansen. "(Shaner) was more than just an instructor; he was a very good friend to a lot of us," Christiansen said. "With that loss, there were a lot of people who didn't have a place to train anymore and no one wanted to break up the 'family'; no one wanted to get 'divorced.' "There was that much of a following, that much of a passion, that they were willing to drive out my detached shed to train every week. Everybody wanted to stay together. So, we said, 'OK, let's open a school.' Jiu jitsu "We're doing it partially in his memory, partially to keep the family together and partially to spread jiu jitsu throughout the community." Christiansen and his partner, Dan La Paz, will open the business at 24 S. Main St. "We're opening it in Oconomowoc, which is a bit farther than Waukesha, but it works better for myself and Dan. I live in Oconomowoc, and he is just west of Oconomowoc," he said. "Dan grew up in Dousman and found the space. He came to me and said he found a spot. I was just like. 'let's make it happen,'" Christiansen said. Early November The gym offers 5,000 square feet and is expected to open in early November. Christiansen, a chiropractor by profession, said his initial introduction to martial arts, at age 16, was with tae kwon do. "I first got involved in jiu jitsu about 20 years ago. It's a lot like grappling, with submissions, but it's also gentle at the same time," he explained. Christiansen is a purple belt, as is La Paz. "Our main instructor is a brown belt, one level below a black belt," he said. The ranking system moves through the colors: white, blue, purple, brown and then black. Self defense Among the classes that will be offered will be cardio classes, classes for children and self-defense. La Paz's wife, Lori, will be the instructor for the women's classes. "At the beginning, women are more comfortable training with other women," Christiansen said. "Women, they need to know how to defend themselves, especially on the ground, and Brazilian jiu jitsu is a ground self-defense." The benefits of jiu jitsu extend to children as well. "They learn discipline and respect and how to defend themselves," he said. "From an overall, general standpoint, obviously there is self-defense involved, there's learning how to do submissions without having to punch, and learning how to use their (opponent's) leverage against them. A smaller person can defend themselves against a larger person, and it actually works." Christiansen said the club's oldest member is in his mid-60s. "We take people from wherever they are. Everyone is respectful of that. It is for anyone and everyone who wants to defend themselves," he said.