Teaching Spanish classes at Bullard High School is the day job for husband and wife teaching partners Colby and Melinda Reid, helping students conjugate verbs and learn to correctly pronounce the Spanish alphabet.
After the school bell rings to dismiss students for the day, the couple continues to team up, as they travel the short distance to Tyler to enjoy learning and training in the martial art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
According to Colby Reid, the decision to pursue learning jiu-jitsu came as his family of four searched for a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy.
“I was actually looking for something that we could all do together as a family,” said Reid. “We have participated in sports and ended up coaching our children’s sports teams. One reason is because youngest son is basically allergic to everything outdoors, and living in East Texas, that’s hard to live with, while another reason was because we had been to several area gyms but it just wasn’t working for us. We wanted to do something we all would enjoy; I’ve loved martial arts for a long time, myself. I began looking into jiu-jitsu and did some research on it. We came in one day, tried it out, and instantly fell in love with it.”
In her pursuit of being a jiu jitsuka, or a person who practices the art of jiu-jitsu, Melinda Reid said the activeness of the art drew her in.
“Jiu-jitsu another form of exercise, and I was looking for something that really didn’t feel like it was exercise,” said Melinda Reid. “If it’s a fun exercise, it makes me want to go do it more. Running on a treadmill, in my mind, is just torture. Jiu-jitsu is a way for me to release all of my endorphins and adrenaline.”
The Reids began attending classes at Tyler’s Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Self Defense, located at 2641 Park Ridge Dr., approximately a year and a half ago, and have already begun their rise through the ranks of jiu-jitsu’s belt levels.
“One thing interesting about Brazilian jiu-jitsu is that the belt system is relatively a longer process than other martial arts,” said Colby Reid. “Jiu-jitsu takes a long time comparatively, where it’s usually a year to get your blue belt. After that, it’s really up to the instructor but it’s going to be a good two or three years to get your purple belt, then on to brown and black belts. In the past years, there have been red belts introduced, which I think take about 37 years to achieve a red and white belt. Unlike karate and other martial arts, it takes about 10 years to get a black belt.”
After teaching their classes at BHS, the Reid family attends classes at Gracie Barra on average about three days per week and has been interwoven into the family’s fabric of their lives.
“It’s definitely a part of our lives now,” said Melinda Reid. “Some people do it simply as a hobby but we’ve really embraced the lifestyle of it. You can really make it as fun of an experience as you want it to be. We really enjoy learning about jiu-jitsu and spending time together.”
For their sons, Jaxson and Jesse, the Reids have taken advantage of several of the variety of programs offered at Gracie Barra, including classes covering self-defense, self-discipline, and bully prevention.
“They have learned that there are a set of moves for anti-bullying and moves for personal safety,” said Colby Reid. “They do both in the anti-bullying program at Gracie Barra and they’ve learned how to look at a situation and realize how to defend themselves without hurting someone else, as well as how to escape from a dangerous situation such as an attempted kidnapping. It’s really good for our sons to know how to protect themselves because of the world we live in where it can really be scary at times.”
As a married couple studying the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the practice has helped to bring the Reids, as a couple, closer together.
“It’s definitely made us closer as a couple,” said Melinda Reid. “We have a mat at home that we use to practice and we discuss jiu-jitsu at home, too. It’s become a part of our family. The way we approach jiu-jitsu is different because of the way we’re built, in that we compliment from each other. Although it is physical, it’s really mentally tough.”
While attending the classes at Gracie Barra, the Reids practice Brazilian jiu-jitsu from Professor Mauro Soares who has 20 years of experience in the sport.
“Professor Mauro began studying Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a teenager and now has over 20 years of experience,” said Colby Reid. “He’s such a great teacher and all-around guy. The school is owned by Tim Thompson, the vice-president of telephone communications from Suddenlink, who opened the Gracie Barra after moving from St. Louis and realizing that Tyler didn’t already have one. Colin Nichols, the program director, has really been the head of the school. The whole plan behind Gracie Barra in general is that they want a school in every town. It’s a great way to stay active and learn about self-defense.”
In addition to Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Gracie Barra in Tyler has also taken part in Operation Kidsafe, a system created by consultants from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and police officials, collecting fingerprints and photographs of young children in case of an abduction or missing child case.
Gracie Barra in Tyler joins a legacy of over 400 Gracie Barra Brazilian jiu-jitsu schools worldwide providing Brazilian jiu-jitsu instruction in a structured martial arts environment, following the Gracie Barra Code of Conduct and Gracie Barra Etiquette. The school provides Brazilian jiu-jitsu programs, which are fit for students of all different knowledge levels. For more information, visit www.gbtyler.com.