Meet The Locals: Ellee Beckman From Nova Arte Jiu Jitsu

April 18, 2024

This year, Sunshine Coast local Ellee Beckman and her partner, Rafael Silva Ferreira, opened the doors to Nova Arte Jiu Jitsu.

Rafael is a No Gi Professor and a distinguished black belt in Luta Livre with 13 years of training experience across Brazil and Australia.

We spoke to Ellee about what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is, why they set up Nova Arte Jiu Jitsu in Caloundra, and how people can get involved.

So Ellee, how did you get into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? Why did you decide to set up your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu business, Nova Arte, here?

As a woman, I was interested in self-defence, and when I researched it, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu covered all the bases for me. I’m not very athletic though, so even though I wanted to try it, I was also quite intimidated.

I first started Jiu Jitsu in 2020, just after the first Queensland lockdown had ended. I went to my first class at a local gym, and it was so fun. I felt like a little kid again. It wasn’t intimidating at all, and I fell in love with it.

I actually met my partner, Rafael, through Jiu Jitsu training. It was his dream to open his own gym and so we built Nova Arte Jiu Jitsu from the ground up. In 2023, we spent six months in Brazil, where Rafael received his black belt. While we were there, we met our Gi Professor and black belt, Rian. He is a three-time Brazilian National Champion, and we supported him to come to Australia and work with us.

When we got home, we had to find a building here in Caloundra. It took a lot of time and effort to create the space and we did a lot ourselves and were helped by friends. It’s really fresh, as we’ve only been open since January.

OK, this may seem like a silly question but what exactly is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? And how does it differ from other Jiu Jitsu?

Jiu Jitsu is a combat sport, but it’s often called a martial art. There is also Japanese Jiu Jitsu. The Japanese took it to Brazil, taught what they knew, then the Brazilians adapted it.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more grappling, using submissions and choke holds – there’s no punching or kicking. If you think of watching UFC, anything that goes to the ground where they start wrestling is basically Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. You’re learning with resistance, with a partner. It prepares you for an opponent with resistance rather than just drilling.

A lot of it is learning discipline, respect and teamwork. Those are core values – particularly when we teach kids. When I teach kids, I always talk about self-defence. We only use it if we have to.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is often referred to as chess for the body. You’re always thinking one step ahead of your partner, so it’s not just physically but mentally challenging as well.

What has the reception been to Nova Arte?

Overall, it’s been wonderfully received. We are still building the brand and getting the word out about who we are and what we do.

There’s no denying it’s a niche market, and some people can be put off by the fact that it may seem intimidating. But we have worked hard to create a welcoming atmosphere. The local Jiu Jitsu community has been amazing, and we have had people from different gyms support us.

Does your studio have a particular philosophy or way of teaching?

We use the ecological approach, so rather than drilling students on learning a position, we use task-based games. People have so much more fun this way. You’re discovering how to move your body, creating constraints within games and tasks, and learning the outcome, while getting there in your own way.

I’m a blue belt, but I am also a registered teacher. My background is in Primary and Early Childhood education. So one of our points of difference is that the kids aged 3-15 years are being taught by a registered teacher alongside our two black belt professors.

I can support the kids and understand what they need in terms of gross motor development to be able to do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Most of the time, we’re building skills ready for when they are older. You have to learn the basics first, and we adapt a situation or lesson depending on the child’s level and incorporate teaching philosophies.

Can anyone do it – or do you need to be super fit?

I think that is the biggest misconception people have about it. Everyone can do Jiu Jitsu, even if they get very tired the first time they’re on the mat. I strongly advocate for women to try it because it’s an amazing way to express a different side of yourself. You are in very close contact with people because the grappling is intimate, but you quickly get over it, and it becomes very fun. You also build friendships and a sense of community.

What are the benefits of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

You gain self-defence skills, and the physical movement and exercise is obvious. But there are also many other benefits, including confidence and empowerment. When the kids step on the mats, you can see them start to believe in themselves. And it’s great to see how people, including adults, develop friendships and community through Jiu Jitsu. A lot of students don’t really come for the Jiu Jitsu itself; they come for a place to belong, and that is part of our philosophy. People stay after class, we chat, we have BBQs, and there is a sense of family.

Finally, how long have you lived on the Sunshine Coast, and what do you love about it?

I’ve lived on the Sunshine Coast for around a decade, as my father was born and raised here. I love the beaches and the hinterland. While it has grown busier in recent years, we’re still immersed in nature, and there is a sense of it being untouched. Caloundra still has a lovely sense of community, which is getting harder to find in larger regional areas.

Thanks for the chat, Ellee and good luck to you and Rafael with Nova Arte.

Find out more about a free trial or intro session at Nova Arte Jiu Jitsu on their website, or connect with them on Facebook or Instagram. You can find them at 784 Nicklin Way, Currimundi, QLD 4551.

Photo credit: Nova Arte Jiu Jitsu Facebook page

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