More than 55 practitioners, many who study Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the Gracie United Zachary studio under Nathan Lott, attended a seminar Oct. 11 that included the techniques of the Ailson Henrique Brites.

Brites, better known as Professor Jucão, is a fifth-degree black belt under the famed Carlos Gracie Jr., both of whom are well-known in the sport of Brazilian jiu jitsu, according to Josh Detre, jiu jitsu practitioner.

Jiu jitsu was first introduced to the Gracie family in Brazil in 1914, and many who practice believe it’s not a sport but a self-defense system and way of life, said Lt. Roderick Ennis of the Zachary Police Department.

Ennis and his wife, Lynette, a Zachary communications officer, practice together at the Gracie United Zachary studio along with several other Zachary law enforcement personnel who train beyond police requirements and have adopted the jiu jitsu lifestyle, Ennis said.

“They represent just a fraction of the officers who actively participate in the local jiu jitsu classes as a means of learning self-defense and a non-lethal method for apprehending criminals,” Nathan Lott, owner of Gracie United Zachary, said.

In Brazilian jiu jitsu, instructors are referred to as professors, since the word means instructor in Portugese, which is the national language of Brazil, Lott said.

Practitioners of all ages and varied occupations attended the October seminar welcoming Jucão, who holds the title professor and whose list of accomplishments include winning the International Masters Championship four times, Brazilian National Championship twice and the Pan American Championship three times. Jucão was named European Champion and is a three-time bronze medalist in the Mundials Championships.

Those attending the seminar learned some of Jucão’s patented techniques used in competing at a championship level for many years, Detre said.

“His techniques can be used by competitors of all shapes and sizes,” Detre said. “That is the beauty of jiu jitsu, those who are little, those who are big, those who are quick and those who are slow, can be very successful.”

In addition to learning the professor’s techniques, seminar participants listened as Jucão talked about the importance of life-long learning and taking care of family and training partners, Detre said.

“Paying respect to God for giving you the chance to train in such a great activity is a gift,” Jucão said.

Jucão told the seminar participants that even though he has been a black belt for more than 21 years, he still learns from the white belts who attend his classes.