Interview with Tarjei Hass: Why Jiu-Jitsu?

There’s no denying that Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) is one of the fastest growing marshal arts in the world. Much of its popularity stems from the fact that the benefits you can gain from BJJ are both physical and mental.

Goal of the project “The First Guild”  is developing strong, healthy identity in young people while theaching them a sustainable trade. Our first group will target foster youth (ages 14 +) who are on their way to exit foster care and are not sucessful in traditional educational system. Most of them have anger.  Jiu-Jitsu is a great tool to help them to suceed. 

Tarjei Hass will assist Gerson Sanginitto, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu master,  in training our students at Gerson’  BJJ Academy in Culver City. which is one of the premier schools in the Los Angeles Area for pure jiu-jitsu. Below is the interview of Tarjei and TFG co-founder, Lana David.

April 28, 2018: At Gersen’s Jiu-Jitsu studio, Culver City. Tarjei in white uniform.

Lana: how Jiu-Jitsu was first introduced into your life?

Tarjei: We were at a barbecue and my budy wanted to wrestle with me. He studied marshal arts and did some cage fighting. It was four years ago, I was 27 then. He wasn’t able to tap me out.  After that he brought me to his gym and I’ve been training ever since. 

My gift comes in where I can just adapt to the energy and the movements. Jiu-Jitsu is a manipulation of joints and choking, controlling them and making sure we don’t hit anybody. Nobody hits each other. 

Gerson Sanginitto's BJJ Academy in Culver City. Tarjei in white uniform.

Lana: How Jiu-Jitsu is helping you?

Tarjei: I’ve come from a traumatic background. I’ve seen a lot of physical abuse in my home. I can get aggressive sometimes, you know, and upset and frustrated. Putting myself in this environment totally transformed my aggression into a controlled, focused attitude. And that’s why I train so much.  

It’s almost like an exercise, but it’s also a discipline. So I go there to discipline all those chaotic feelings that I get. I’ve learned so much, I’ve learned about different types of personalities, and I’ve gained so much respect as well  because it’s not about tapping somebody out, there’s so many different levels you can climb and master.

At 2018 Jiu-Jitsu American Open. Tarjei in the center.

Lana: What attracts you in Jiu-Jitsu?

Tarjei: It’s never ending. There’s always gonna be somebody that’s greater or less than you. But,  at my gym, I’m kinda like the Enforcer.

Gerson puts me with guys, who are coming off the street or  from another gym right away, so that I can humble them. I’ve been called the Humbler and I think it’s because I’m very humble. 

I can roll with the lightest people, you know, and not show my dominance, and I can roll with the toughest people and I can show that  I can compete with the toughest guys. So it’s really cool.

Lana: How can you apply Jiu-Jitsu in the real world?

Tarjei: Jiu-Jitsu showed me lots of different ways of handling the outside world. There’s a fight everywhere, you know, but not necessarily like a physical fight. It could be a mental fight, could be a spiritual fight, could be just a conversation you’re having with somebody. You learn these different techniques and you can apply them in the real world anywhere, like finding a job, like you gotta keep pushing you, you gotta persisting, and keep going, you can’t give up. It just gives you that drive and it’s really cool and people really like respect you too.

Lana: You said that Jiu-Jitsu transformed your aggression into a controlled, focused attitude. How?

Tarjei: Most people that I roll with not in control of their mental, they breathe way too much, they exert themselves way too much, and they’re so much in the idea like, oh, I gotta tap this person out. They lose focus of the technique and a tap out is a consequence of not using technique.

There’s a saying in Jiu-Jitsu, “you wanna use leverage, you don’t want to use strength” You know, when you’re using strength, you’re not focusing on the technique. And so that’s why I, sometimes take my hands or one hand and I’ll put them inside my belt and lock, I’ll go like armless, like a handicap. But when you do that, you can actually focus. So if the person is able to get you in the choke, you just move in a different way. And when you do that, you’re able to hone in and target the movements better.

It just makes your brain work in a different way. You’re able to see or feel. You’re feeling where to go, cause you can get lost. And it’s really in your frontal lobes because if you’re breathing too hard, you’re not able to focus. And what happens is your focus goes completely away and then you’re on pure instinct, like trying to survive, and you’re losing track of the moves that you’ve gone over, all the technique, all the training that you’ve been doing.

When you focus on the breathing, it’s like focusing on the subconscious mind, because the subconscious mind takes control over the breathing. And so when you tap into that subconscious power, it can really transform your game, because it’s the most powerful thing, that I’ve noticed when I focus on my breath.

Calm yourself, calm the mind, slow the breathing, focus and then you move and you just flow. It’s not about overpowering someone, it’s good to have strength. There is nobody in Jujitsu who’s not strong, who hasn’t lasted. 

Gerson BJJ
Gerson Sanginitto Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Culver City

Gerson Sanginitto Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Culver City is owned and operated by 30-year Jiu-Jitsu black belt and master instructor Gerson Sanginitto.

Located In the heart of Culver City, GSBJJ has quickly become one of the premier schools in the Los Angeles Area for pure Jiu-Jitsu.

Although Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is easily the most effective martial art on the planet, Gerson’s focus is to make the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner a better person both inside and out. In every class, he strives to bring out his students’ greatest potential through martial arts.

Gerson believes Jiu-Jitsu is a vehicle for personal development (both physically and mentally) and, when taught correctly, helps you quickly become stronger, more flexible, disciplined and confident.

Self-Confidence Boost Like No Other

BJJ will allow you to achieve a confidence not only in your training, but in every avenue of your life. You’ll start to value your overall health, both in mind and in body.

The art will push your limitations, urging you to not give up when things get tough. It will show you how you can effectively stop an opponent that is physically larger and stronger than you are, teaching you to truly Feeling good about yourself is an excellent step to gaining self-respect and improving overall self-esteem.