A Community of Fighters


Erik Keller dong what he loves. Photo by: Seanne Coates/TU Student

Erik Keller practices his new Jiu Jitsu moves on his friend, and Jiu Jitsu rival David Werd. One stocky, and the other skinny, they try and perfect the moves on themselves before bringing it into the lessons they set up for their students.

The two are practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu moves that will allow them to teach the students at Towson University self defense, as well as to keep each other in shape.

David Werd is the person that got Keller to start teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to Towson students.

“He was like we’re both education majors, we’ll just do it together, and we’ll set it up how we want it to be,” Keller said. “And we’ve never turned back.”

According to Keller Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a form of martial arts that started in Japan and was brought to Brazil. It is similar to wrestling, however unlike wrestling you do not pin down your opponent until a certain time limit is up.

Instead you try to get you opponent to submit. You must lock your opponents’ limbs so it breaks or tears, or you choke them until they black out.

However, when partaking in Jiu Jitsu as a sport your opponent is to tap out when it is getting to the point where they can no longer take the pain physically.  This is how you get someone to submit.

Keller has been training since he was 19, and has been training at the same gym since then.

“I’ve got a really good group of people around me that make training fun,” Keller said.

Class with Keller and Werd follows a scheduled plan and strives to teach a certain amount of moves but still leaves room for modifications depending on how the students feel.

The class is structured with warm ups in the first 30 minutes, followed by detailed instructions on different moves such as different types chokes, and other moves such as the arm bar which involves overextending the elbow joint. These moves are then demonstrated by the instructors. After this the class goes into rolling, or sparring as it is known in other sports.

The last 10 minutes are spent on cleaning up, this includes cleaning the mats and rolling them back up, for future use.

“We are kind of laidback with the way we run things,” Keller said. “A lot of people are building friendships, and we enjoy each other’s company.”

“Jiu Jitsu is a really good experience, and I learn a lot,” said Kareem Land a freshman at Towson University, and a member of the Jiu Jitsu club.

“David and Erik are really good people,” Land said.  “They force me to get better, and I get to learn different things from each of them, while having fun.”

David and Erik laugh in good nature as they leave their Jiu Jitsu lesson, and head to Pho for dinner, with the people they are happy to call their students and their friends.

“We’re just building a community,” Keller said.