Deddy Wigraha is considered the pioneer of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Indonesia. Twenty years after its introduction to the country, the sport will feature in the Asian Games this August.
As a student in California, Deddy Wigraha watched, on VHS, an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) involving contestants from different sports disciplines. Among those on screen was Royce Gracie, who has been credited with developing a Brazilian form of the Japanese martial art Jiu-Jitsu. At the end of the programme, Deddy was hooked and decided that he wanted to train in the martial art. 20 years later—and back home in Indonesia—Deddy is a well-known figure in the martial arts field in the country.
Among his many accolades, he is currently head coach of the Indonesian national Jiu Jitsu team.
But it wasn’t as simple as it might seem. “When I returned in 1998 there were no dojos [a space where one learns martial arts] and there was no Braziliian Ju-Jitsu,” Deddy notes. And so he practiced in various gyms and taught at judo clubs and related places.
Then, in 2000, a local TV channel broadcast a UFC game, once again featuring his now-former trainer and mentor Royce Gracie. In a serendipitous twist, Deddy discovered that there was a sudden increase in enrollment in his classes following a spark in interest in the sport. Could history be repeating itself by way of the journey he once took?
Now seen as a method of fitness, weight loss as well as self defense, especially among his female clients, the sport has taken off in Indonesia with aplomb. And Deddy has delivered. An instructor at Jackson’s MMA and at Arena MMA Indonesia as well as part owner of the Indonesian outpost of Alliance Jiu-Jitsu, he has been training several students over the years. This year he has begun appearing on a television channel too, providing sports commentary.
The Brazilian version of the popular Japanese martial art is different in that it uses more leverage when one takes down their opponent, Deddy says. Royce Gracie, who had learnt the art from Japanese immigrants to Brazil, developed this version where participants look for ‘submissions’ from their opponents.
For his part, Deddy has taken teams overseas and has succeeded. Recently the national team of 16 chas been up to Thailand. Later they will travel to Japan and then take a short break before the start of the Asian Games this August.
Recently Deddy opened up his new fitness space Burn 83. The four-floor space which also includes an outdoor patio is currently home to two studios where his daily classes are held. In the months ahead as construction is completed, the centre will have enhanced training facilities which will help serve a greater capacity of students.
From the participation in his classes to the many opportunities for those interested, he has certainly made great strides.
Jiu-Jitsu comes from the Japanese words for gentle technique. Judo is derived from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu with modified moves which have turned it into an effective sport.
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