Basketball fans are used to seeing him leading the Leicester Riders to victory – but now Drew Sullivan is helping people get into a very different sport.
The Great Britain basketball captain, who represented his country at the Olympics in 2012, is teaching Brazilian jiu jitsu at the Waterfront Boxing Academy in Belgrave, offering classes for adults and children on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
He has practised the martial art for a number of years and says it has helped his flexibility and fitness, which in turn has improved his performance on the basketball court.
“From a physical standpoint, I feel the best I’ve ever felt; really strong, healthy and fit. I’m older but I feel like I’m playing the best basketball. That’s down to my coach as well, but also jiu jitsu.”
Drew set up RGA Leicester, an affiliate of the Roger Gracie Academy (named after the 10-times Brazilian World Champion), in March. Now, he is training 18 adults and several children.
“One of the reasons I started this was because for me, there wasn’t anywhere in Leicester I felt comfortable going to train. There are a couple of places, but they are more MMA (mixed martial arts). I wanted pure jiu jitsu. When I started it had such an impact on me, so to be able to do that for others has been even more rewarding.”
Drew says the benefits are more than just physical.
“It’s obviously great for fitness in general but it’s also really good for building confidence,” he said. “You also get a really good understanding of the anatomy and of biomechanics, too. And the psychological part I’d say is one of the biggest benefits. You become very strong-minded.”
Plus, it’s a great form of self-defence.
“And that’s especially for women. Right now I’ve got three women coming to classes, but I’d like to increase that number. This is a great skill to learn.”
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the fastest-growing martial arts and is now competing to be accepted into the Olympic Games.
It differs from a lot of martial arts in that its about grappling, rather than striking, says Drew.
“That’s one of the best things about it, from a parental point of view – you can bring kids and there’s no kicking and punching.”
The plan is to continue teaching around basketball and also in the long-term.
“I’ve got a two-year contract with the Riders, and health permitting I might play after two years. But I’m not getting any younger, so I need to start looking at life after basketball. This is something I love, and would be happy to carry on with.”
Visit our gallery for more pictures: click here
For more information, visit: http://drewjitsurga.com
Follow on Twitter and Instagram: @rgaleicester
By Gemma Peplow