It was a lively Saturday in Oxnard with music blasting, grills blazing, and bodies flying through the air with smiles seen in every direction. “Jujitsu at the Beach,” hosted by Professor Geoff Lane, took place for the 6th time and is likely to continue for many successful years to come. More than just a good workout, the event was a refreshing reminder of just how exciting it can be to get together in person and share knowledge, stories and the occasional laugh. The feeling of Ohana, a core binding principle of our system, was felt throughout.


The only flaw with the event was the inability to participate in every class simultaneously. With an impressive lineup of instructors, naturally an equally impressive list of choices presented itself. With a professor on every mat (Professors Congistre, Cross, Lane, Colton, Kaplowitz, Merrill were attending along with many senior instructors) we were guaranteed some good insight. I began with a class taught by Professor Colton and Sifu Graciela Casillas on knife disarms and knife-on-knife fighting. The Kata techniques were shown with some interesting and fun variations, followed by a set of Filipino-based flow drills that were challenging and awesome. It was refreshing to get out of my comfort zone and practice something new and difficult. By the end of the class it was apparent just how difficult it can be to oppose a knife-wielding opponent, which was quite a humbling experience. 


Next was a class on “Connection Games and Drills” headed by newly crowned Professor Merrill. I love these sorts of classes, because the focus and sensitivity developed transfers so well into everything else you do. Not to mention it’s just a great time. Learning from Professor Merrill also gave me some good ideas on how to structure my own classes down the road.


Lunch was provided between classes 2 and 3, serving the ever-loved plate of tacos. I can’t think of a better representation of California than the combination of great weather, beaches, and tacos. 


After a nice refueling and rest, I proceeded to tackle class three which consisted of Oku techniques taught by Professor Lane and Sensei Sean Hummer. I’ve been learning from both for over a decade, but the fluidity and sharpness of their technique is something I could never get tired of. This class was my favorite for an unexpected reason, and that was the opportunity I had to train with a new Sankyu doing Oku for the first time. There is something special that comes along with throwing a log onto the passionate fire of an up-and-comer. 


After Oku, it came time to take a step back to the basics with a Yawara class. I always try to take at least one Yawara course when attending an event, because the little nuggets of wisdom obtained from familiar techniques taught by unfamiliar Sensei always pay dividends down the road. You can never be too good at Yawara, confirmed by Professor Lane who modestly claimed “he’s still learning it.”


By the time class five rolled around, an unfortunate truth had presented itself…I probably should have worn sunscreen. This period of time consisted of me and others (same problem) avoiding the sun at all costs while stories were shared and massages were traded. All in all, a great day. 


One of the great things about these types of events is the bonding before and after the time on the mat. Meals were shared, stories were told, and some of us even got the pleasure of picking the brains of the various visiting professors. Time with the “Wise Ones” as I like to call them is valuable and something to always take advantage of. For myself and others, it was an extra special opportunity in that we were able to listen to stories of Professor Law through Professor Congistre, which were both entertaining and enlightening. At “JAB” I got to see some old faces, meet some new people, and celebrate the unity of our system and organization. I plan to attend again in the future, as do many others I’d spoken with. Thanks to Professor Lane for making it happen! Another special thanks to his lovely wife Monica for being such a crucial piece of the whole process. I couldn’t imagine a better host.