Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area Sports

December 10, 2012

Brazillian Jiu Jitsu offered at the Asylum

CROSSVILLE — Are you interested in a new form of martial arts now in Cumberland County? How about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? If so, you are in luck. The Asylum is the name of the gym, which is on E. 1st St.

"We have the largest martial arts facility and the only Brazilan Jiu Jitsu academy in Cumberland County," said DJ Mackie. "We have been open now for a little over seven months and at the E. 1st St. location, now, for two months. Our Brazilian Jiu Jitsu program comes directly from/through WEC/UFC veteran and BJJ Black Belt Richard Crunkiliton and two time World BJJ champion Ricardo 'Chita' Barros. We are the only Richard Crunkilton academy in the entire state. I am the head BJJ instructor at the school. I am a 2011 Florida BJJ champion and a purple belt in BJJ under Rich. I spent four years under him at The Armory of Daytona Beach, in Daytona Beach, FL, before moving back at the beginning of 2012 to Crossville."

One of the instructors at The Asylum is Jeff Shelton, who is an LPN and corrections officer at the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department.

"I enjoy martial arts, shooting, history, and doughnuts. I started training in Aikido under Sensei Larry Qualls and Kenpo under Sensei Scott Padgett in Crossville,TN. After training with Sensei Dustin Davis in Zanshido, ground fighting became my focus in martial arts. While training under Sensei Davis, I met D.J. Mackie who later became my BJJ coach at The Asylum," said Shelton.

"Jeff has been grappling and in no-gi grappling classes since around 2006, but he has been training actual Brazilian Jiu Jitsu consistently in the Gi for a little over a year now. The big difference in the two is no-gi and grappling are done without the uniform, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is in the gi or kimono, which is the name of the uniform. He has been with me for the last 11 months. He took classes for about four months in Cookeville at a school down there after Dustin Davis retired and was no longer teaching Zanshindo before I moved back and started the school," added Mackie.

According to Mackie, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belt System is a far stricter than in most other martial arts. It can take upwards of 10 years to achieve a black belt. As there are only a few belts, you will spend a long time in each one. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has only five belts (white, blue, purple, brown, black), and they normally take a lot longer to progress through than other martial arts. A person can stay in one belt for years.

"Unlike many other martial arts where you go to a grading and just display some techniques for promotion, in jiu jitsu you really have to earn your belt with hours on the mat. The general time spent as a white belt before promotion to blue belt can span anywhere from six months to two years. Jeff was promoted at around a year's time," said Mackie.

Shelton is the first person to actually be promoted to Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with the promotion actually taking place inside Cumberland County. He is also the first person to be promoted to Blue Belt in Tennessee under Richard Crunkilton and the first person to be promoted at The Asylum.

“As a purple belt, I can promote to Blue and I did promote Jeff, but it had to be okayed by Rich as he is my instructor and is the Black Belt myself and the school is under. I am teaching his jiu jitsu and his style and we do represent him. Jeff being promoted is actually a pretty big deal, because as a white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you are a beginner, usually no experience and absolutely new to the art and still learning the basics of BJJ. Achieving a blue belt is something that takes a while to accomplish and Jeff has done it.  We have one of the most prestigious Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lineages in the state and in the southeast, and because of that and who he represents, it makes his promotion even more special," added Mackie.

"BJJ has given me increased confidence in my professional and private life, improved physical fitness, and is my favorite hobby," said Shelton. “In the next five years, I hope to improve my skills as a martial artist and a medical professional."

The Asylum has Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes every day starting at 6 p.m.

For more information, visit or call (931) 787-0015.

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