Grapple opponents like a mystical beast at Leviathan Academy: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

By COLBY DENTON
Posted 3/13/19

Picture this: you’re walking to your car alone at night. A suspicious individual approaches you and attempts to rob you, yet you aren’t afraid, because you’re trained in jiu-jitsu, which is the main discipline taught at the all-new Cleveland business, Leviathan Academy.

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Grapple opponents like a mystical beast at Leviathan Academy: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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Picture this: you’re walking to your car alone at night. A suspicious individual approaches you and attempts to rob you, yet you aren’t afraid, because you’re trained in jiu-jitsu, which is the main discipline taught at the all-new Cleveland business, Leviathan Academy.

Owner and head instructor Breck Still opened the academy’s doors on July 1, 2018, and has drawn attention since day one.

The name for Leviathan Academy came from a desire to stand out among competitors. While brainstorming for names, Still’s wife propositioned “Leviathan,” and after researching the various Biblical and mythological references of the mythical beast, Still chose this name to mirror the fierce strength and devotion of jiu-jitsu practitioners.

“Just like the [mystical sea monster] Kraken with its tentacles, people who practice jiu-jitsu focus on grappling opponents and preventing movement,” Still said. “It fits in perfectly with the grappling aspect of the discipline.”

True to the brand, Leviathan Academy’s logo is complete with black tentacles emanating outward, the design of which Still says he’s gotten numerous compliments on.

Still opened Leviathan Academy in the previous location of the business, Cleveland Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

The 35-year-old grew up and trained in Cleveland, before going to train under Samuel Braga in Knoxville. Braga is a multiple-time world champion in the discipline. Originally from Brazil, he bought Cleveland Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and offered Still the opportunity to work as an assistant instructor while Braga was also teaching at his Knoxville location called Gracie Barra Knoxville.

Still says he never wanted to open his own gym before he felt ready, and being ready for Still meant earning his black belt, which he eventually did in December 2017. After talking with Braga, who was commuting to Cleveland multiple times per week from Knoxville to teach, Still purchased the Cleveland business and rebranded it along with several of his core training partners.

There were two other black belts, four brown belts and several white belts who transitioned over to train under Still after his acquisition from Braga. Since then, the numbers have expanded to include approximately 20 students overall.

He says the public has taken well to Leviathan, as it only started out with a humble free Google Business website, where he acquired various 5-star reviews from happy customers.

“Nearly everyone who’s stopped in — whether they decided to train or not — said they were very pleased with the experience, even if it was something they just wanted to try out at first,” Still said.

Jiu-jitsu is a martial art and combat sport system focusing on grappling an opponent with a particular emphasis on ground fighting. It is founded on the concept that a smaller person can defeat someone much bigger than them by using technique, leverage and taking the fight to the ground. According to Still, moving a fight to the ground automatically removes 75 percent of an opponent’s dynamic strength.

Ground fighting allows practitioners to learn to control their opponents with leverage, pinning, joint locks and chokeholds, and Still says this is particularly helpful for law enforcement or women’s self defense.

Students can choose to learn Gi or no Gi training. In Gi, you will wear a traditional Gi, similar to a kimono, and you can grab your opponent’s clothing. In no Gi, you only wear shorts and a rash guard and cannot grab your opponent’s clothing.

“I have as many years in the striking background as I do in grappling, but I’m choosing to stick to grappling right now because that’s the kind of atmosphere I want in the gym. I’m not looking to get MMA fighters here. Maybe later on I’ll offer kickboxing if there’s a demand for it, but now I’ll just stick to grappling,” Still said.

Leviathan Academy is a 4,200-square-foot facility with 2,200 square feet of mat space, which Still says is perfect for practicing grappling endlessly. He cited the fact that anyone can throw a punch, or even get a lucky punch in, but a professional boxer who knows no grappling could be incapacitated by a novice grappler if the fight is taken to the ground.

One of the most common reasons a person pursues jiu-jitsu is wanting to continue being active and competitive once a person run out of outlets for these things. A good example is former high school and college athletes, who want to stay in shape, continue being active and compete if they want.

He says the beauty of jiu-jitsu is the sheer diversity of ages present. He even cited working with a practitioner who is 78 years old who is also a ninth-degree red belt.

Leviathan recently competed in the IBJJF Winter Open in Atlanta, which draws the largest pool of practitioners in the region. Still brought six team members, and all but one earned a medal in competition.

When not teaching jiu-jitsu in the evenings, Still works at Miller Industries in Ooltewah. As the program grows, Still is hoping to be able to work with his students more regularly. He also hopes to improve his facility’s infrastructure over time.

Still encourages people to come check out Leviathan Academy, to not only get a good workout and learn to defend themselves, but also to have a great time while doing so.

Those interested in joining can visit the academy in-person and sign up. The first two weeks are free, as Still wants new customers to try out jiu-jitsu for a bit before they make a commitment. Membership is $99 per month, and can be cancelled at any time with no hidden fees.

For more information, visit www.leviathanacademy.com, check out its Facebook and Google Business pages or call 423-322-9984. It is located at 450 Broad St., in Cleveland. 

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