New Exile gym is bringing Brazilian jiu-jitsu gym to Millfield with Sunderland fighter Cal Pacino at the helm

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A new gym is bringing the skill and discipline of Brazilian martial arts to Millfield.

Sunderland fighter Cal Pacino, real name Cal Ellenor, is well versed in martial arts and has fought for the world’s biggest MMA promoters.

Now, he’s sharing his passion for jiu-jitsu with a gym that teaches the ground fighting art to all ages.

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Cal, from Roker, set up his Exile gym in Pennywell earlier this year, which is affiliated with North East Jiu Jitsu (NEJJ), but it soon outgrew the premises and has now taken over a former woodwork factory unit in Rutland Street, Millfield.

MMA fighter Cal Pacino has opened his new Exile Jiu Jitsu gym in Rutland Street.MMA fighter Cal Pacino has opened his new Exile Jiu Jitsu gym in Rutland Street.
MMA fighter Cal Pacino has opened his new Exile Jiu Jitsu gym in Rutland Street.

It’s proving a real community hub, teaching daily mixed adult classes, as well as classes for teens who are benefiting from the discipline and confidence boost of jiu-jitsu, with plans in place for a female-only class.

Dad-of-three Cal said: “When I first set up the gym in Pennywell, I had no idea how popular it would be. I hadn’t even advertised it, but 25 people turned up for the first class and it’s grown from there. I knew it was important to get the consistency right at first, but we soon needed to move to larger premises.”

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a self-defence martial art and combat sport based on grappling, ground fighting, and submission holds – and it’s a skill that Cal says is transferable to all forms of fighting.

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"I’ve fought in all aspects of fighting, from boxing to MMA, but ground fighting is a real foundation skill. It’s the most legitimate form of fighting, about control and submission."

Exile gym hosts daily adult jui-jitsu classes, as well as classes for teensExile gym hosts daily adult jui-jitsu classes, as well as classes for teens
Exile gym hosts daily adult jui-jitsu classes, as well as classes for teens

Although it’s still a male-dominated sport, more and more women are getting involved in jiu-jitsu and there’s plans in place for a female-only class at Exile – although because it’s not as dependent on size as other combat sports, women can take on men on the mats.

"More and more women are getting involved and there’s some world class female fighters out there,” said Cal. “Jiu-Jitsu is designed so that you can take on people bigger than you. Because of that, it’s also a great form of self defence.”

He added: “Gyms can sometimes be an intimidating place, but we have a real community here. Families come along to watch the competitions and everyone is welcome.”

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The Exile team has already competed in the Empire Grappling: County Durham Open, bringing 17 medals back to Millfield, with plans for more competitive events.

*Mixed adult and teen classes are held daily, with a mixture of morning and evening classes, at Exile, Rutland Street. For more information you can follow their Instagram page @exilejiujitsu

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