The Zachary studio is located at 2060 Church St. and shares studio space with Zachary Martial Arts, owned by Kevin Hinote, who is a friend of Lott's.
Lott opened the Gracie United studio about two and a half years ago after several friends from Zachary encouraged him to come down South to teach the sport - he currently travels from Hammond to teach.
Simply put, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, whose parent art is Judo, combines martial arts and self-defense moves. It is not solely a martial art but also a sport, a method for promoting physical fitness and building character in young people and ultimately, a way of life.
"Jiu Jitsu is one of the most proven styles of self-defense in the world," says Lott, technically but passionately defining the sport. "It promotes the concept of a smaller, weaker person successfully defending against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique, most notably by applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the other person.
"It sounds rough but anyone can practice jiu jitsu...from 4-year-olds to world class athletes...and they often do," Lott says. His three kids - two daughters and son - also practice. Two of whom are high-level competitors.
Lott himself is a karate kid from early on, having begun classes at the age of 6. He eventually found his way into the mixed martial arts world and began living the lifestyle, practicing the sport religiously. "Jiu Jitsu is a way of life...it's really a lifestyle you choose to live that promotes health, diet, strength and coordination. You become a better parent, a better husband...a better person," Lott says.
Lott is a Brown Belt who learned from the founder of Gracie United, Rafael Ellwanger, himself a Black Belt 2nd degree under Carlos Gracie Jr., the founder of the Gracie Barra Jiu Jitsu schools.
Ellwanger moved to Hammond in 2005, and Lott says he followed his professor to train exclusively with him. "Most people focus on the belts when they should be focusing on technique and knowledge of the sport," Lott says.
In other styles of martial arts such as Taekwondo, Kickboxing and Judo, it takes about 2-3 years to obtain a black belt, but with BJJ it takes 8-12 (years) because it's a complex art to master. "It takes that long to gain an understanding of the sport," said Lott.
Most people who practice BJJ are police officers, military personnel, women, adults and some kids.
Kids Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes are held Mondays and Thursdays at 5 p.m. followed by a fundamentals class for beginners every Monday and Thursday at 6 p.m. Advanced classes are Mondays at 7 p.m., Wednesdays at 11 a.m., Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 11 a.m. "We really step it up in the advanced class," says Lott, who teaches folks from Zachary and around the region.
Lott says anyone can try a week for free before they decide to take his classes. Most people who have taken a BJJ class end up loving it, Lott says. "Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teaches respect for everyone and everything," he said.
Zachary Police Lt. Roderick Ennis, one of Lott's very first students, can attest to loving the sport. Ennis says he began taking BJJ for the law enforcement and self-defense aspects of it, as well as for the health benefits. "It changed my life and my eating habits plus it's a wonderful lifestyle. It's very family oriented," Ennis said, whose wife Lynette Ennis, a ZPD communications officer, also practices.
The couple occasionally holds BJJ self-defense seminars for the ZPD in Lott's studio.
"Many who have trained in other martial arts think they don't have a need for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu," Lott said. "But their first day on the mats they realize they know nothing. If you like martial arts and try BJJ, you'll find that you really love it."
For more information about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, visit GracieUnited.com or Gracie United on Facebook.
For more information about taking a class at Gracie United Brazilian Jitsu in Zachary, contact Nathan Lott at (985)507-2858.