FRANKLIN — "It's a human chess move."
Jay Hunsucker talks his daughter through her first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class in a spacious Franklin gym.
"You are making a move," Hunsucker tells her. "I gotta counter it."
As the lead instructor and resident black belt at Franklin Jiu-Jitsu just off I-65 at Exit 90, he knows a thing or two about the art of self-defense.
"We are looking for ways to control our opponent and ultimately submit them," said Hunsucker. "The basis behind Jiu-Jitsu is self-defense."
Hunsucker spent many years teaching martial art as a self-defense course to organizations through Franklin College.
He even worked as an adjunct professor there for nearly 17 years at FC teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as an activity credit class, attracting around 20-30 students each semester.
The move allowed him to use a space at the college where he could meet with others in the community to keep fit.
"I might be instructing, but I have to do this, constantly," said Hunsucker. "I'm 69 years old. I can still get on this mat and do this."
The meet-ups grew and the club moved to a new space off-campus at a nearby church. Then they moved to another building before finding the large facility they are in today.
In June 2021, the Griz Cave as they call it became an academy.
Scott Coxey is a part-owner of the project. He got into the sport seven years ago when he signed his kids up and eventually stepped in to finish out a membership.
"It's a weird sport, hobby. Probably the most intimate," said Coxey. "I mean it's super awkward explaining it to people but it's a great self-defense martial art."
Coxey said for him, the sport has physical benefits as well as mental benefits and it is a confidence boost.
"The mental aspect for everybody when you are in here training, you are out of your own head. You left your problems at the door," said Coxey. "You learn to be comfortable in an uncomfortable position."
When we stopped by the Griz Cave, Coxey was on the mat working with Bargersville Police Officer Justin Griggs. Coxey said they have a number of people in public safety who are part of this community and it translates so well to the mental clarity they need on the job.
"Well I think the better tools for a toolkit, the better someone is prepared for a job," said Coxey.
Griggs agrees. He started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu over a decade ago and said the flexible scheduling here at this facility in Franklin works well for him and his floating 12-hour schedule as a police officer.
"More and more people started showing up, a lot were in public safety," said Griggs. "If you live in the Franklin area, this is the perfect place to start."
Griggs said the physical benefits keep him in shape on the job.
"I can run and run and run and run, feel like I was in great shape," said Griggs. "And come into Jiu-Jitsu class and not breathe after a minute and a half."
But what is even more important for Griggs is the mental piece.
"This training allows me not to panic," said Griggs. "It just allows me to remain calm and when you are calm, you can think clearly."
In Jiu-Jitsu, opponents use a variety of tools and techniques to subdue and submit their opponents without hurting them. Often this can include choke or locks and this can cause a person to tap out, or concede.
In a real-life situation, without this type of training, many people would panic if they fear being choked or restrained in some way. In Jiu-Jitsu, the grapplers overcome that mental barrier and are able to stay calm and think.
Griggs said this type of training is beneficial to the public he serves because it doesn't cost the taxpayer anything, but it gives him confidence that he can take control and de-escalate a situation if it arises.
"We train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu here, but we also dabble in striking. We dabble in kickboxing. So you are going to be exposed to other means of self-defense," said Griggs.
The academy also offers an Adopt-a-Cop program to encourage more members of law enforcement and public safety to give this form of exercise a try. The program allows them to cover a portion of membership up to a certain level of martial art.
Franklin Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has plans to expand programming to more groups in the coming months and is open to new members.
To stay up to date with the club, visit its website.