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Jeremy Hobson: If you want to get a good gauge of the economy without reading the business pages, just head to your local gym. The answers is they’re not doing that well — with one notable exception. Rafael Cohen reports from New York.
Brian Glick: Right hand touches the far knee, right foot to left foot, step, drive and go!
Rafael Cohen: Brian Glick is teaching a takedown to some of his advanced Jiu Jitsu students. He owns four Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools in Brooklyn. All together, he’s got almost 1,000 students. He says he’s found Jiu Jitsu schools like his have thrived through the recession, and they’re doing even better now that the economy is rebounding.
Flick: I spoke to another school owner actually who is in Florida and people were asking him about the recession and he said, we’re not believing in it, we don’t really subscribe to that.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is on a tear. The U.S. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation says entries for its national championship went up 18 percent last year. Chris Fiumano has been studying at one of Glick’s schools for a couple months:
Chris Fiumano: You see this tiny, skinny, nothing guy who if you saw walking down the street you’d be like, “Oh I can beat him up.” But it’s not true.
It’s not just the promise of rock-hard biceps and iron fists that draws people like Fiumano into the gym. The sport has also been helped by one of the most popular spectacles on television, mixed martial arts — or as its better known, Ultimate Fighting.
Ultimate Fighting: Six-foot-five, 265-pound undefeated 11-0 Shane Carwin will have the chance to prove that UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar has met his match.
Glick: Right foot to left foot drive . . .
Glick’s schools don’t train UFC fighters, but he says the sport’s been great for his business.
Glick: There’s definitely an uptick in participation in martial arts. And one of the reasons is because of stuff like the UFC, which is this incredible marketing machine that’s bringing martial arts or MMA to literally millions of people every two weeks or three weeks.
It’s almost free advertising for Jiu Jitsu gyms like Glick’s driving fans and wanna-be masters of the octagon into schools all over the country.
In New York, I’m Rafael Cohen for Marketplace.
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