This hidden gem offers top-quality all-ages Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instruction close by in Smoky Hollow.
By Maureen Kingsley
Tucked into the Smoky Hollow District of El Segundo, at 118 Sierra Street, is a small, brightly lit Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy bustling with energy. Torse House, founded in 2017 and led by Black Belt Professor Thiago Rodrigues, offers morning, daytime, and nighttime classes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at all levels for both children and adults. On the day I visited, a children’s class was underway, and a handful of cheerful young girls and boys dressed in traditional gi were working with Professor Thiago and his assistant, Britney, on the mat. Local resident Melissa, seated next to me watching her eight-year-old son, August (pictured), work with Professor Thiago, said to me, “Jiu-Jitsu fills August’s soul more than any activity he’s done so far.” August was pure focus and determination on the mat, executing various maneuvers with skill.
Another spectator on the afternoon I visited, Ana, a Torse House student herself as well as parent of Belen and Colette in the kids’ class, said her husband began taking classes three years ago, then both she and her children enrolled. Belen, who recently completed fourth grade, competed in her first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament in February of this year. Ana says the sport of Jiu-Jitsu is humbling: “There’s always going to be someone better than you,” she explains. She enjoys the learning element of Jiu-Jitsu and seeing the progress both she and her children make. Professor Thiago is friendly yet firm, and says his classes offer instruction in fundamental techniques, movement, positioning, and body control. “Jiu-Jitsu is a growing sport here in the United States,” the Brazilian native says. “It builds kids’ confidence, teaches them to defend themselves, and provides them opportunities to follow directions and practice discipline.” He emphasizes that Jiu-Jitsu is accessible for families, which is one of the reasons he offers classes for different age groups at various times, including a new 7:00am adult class on Saturdays.
Adult student and competitive athlete Tyler Swanson explains that for him, Jiu-Jitsu “clears his mind,” helps him focus, and “serves as a healthy outlet for aggression.” Both Tyler and his children take classes at Torse House and are deeply invested in the sport. He encourages anyone interested to give it a try. “Day One is the hardest,” he says. “Just show up. Just try it.”
This story appears in The El Segundo Scene's July 2019 issue.