Saturday 22 October 2016

'It’s a different outlet for me to express myself'- Cork's Eoin Cadogan discusses his passion for Jiu-Jitsu

Tom Rooney

Published 02/02/2016 | 10:17

Cork footballer Eoin Cadogan has been practising Jiu-Jitsu since 2011.
Cork footballer Eoin Cadogan has been practising Jiu-Jitsu since 2011.

Instead of just going through the motions at the gym, Cork footballer Eoin Cadogan has adopted a less standardised means of maintaining physical sharpness during the off season.

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Cadogan, who won an All Ireland football title with the Rebel county in 2010, is an avid practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), a grappling form of self-defence that is widely seen in Mixed Martial arts.

The 29-year-old former dual star was first exposed to the discipline, which is a derivative of judo, in 2011 as a member of the Irish International Rules panel.

Over the course of seven weeks, he and his teammates took classes with a then unknown John Kavanagh at SBG Ireland. Kavanagh, who was the first Irish person to be awarded a black belt in the art developed by the Gracie family, is now somewhat of a household name for being the head coach of UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor.

The Doulas native told The Southern Star that he had an immediate affinity for  BJJ.

“I enjoy it. It’s completely different. No one cares if you have one All-Ireland medal or no All-Ireland. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. It’s a different outlet for me to express myself,” he said.

Cadogan is not the first member of the GAA community to try his hand at the martial art in the testing confines of SBG. Kieran McGeeney is a long time student of Jiu-Jitsu and has even graduated into a sometime coach at the gym.


For anyone who has even taken a cursory look at MMA, the sight of grappling and submissions will not be an unfamiliar one. Chokes, arm and leg-locks and throws are all incorporated in BJJ and, to be an elite fighter, one most be well versed in its fundamentals.

For Cadogan, the transition from BJJ to MMA is most certainly not on his horizon, despite being an admirer of the latter. The enforced humility which accompanies being a novice in the former is another lesson he has taken from the experience.

“I’m an MMA (mixed martial arts) fan but I don’t do the striking side of things, I do the jiu jitsu side of it. I don’t fancy getting the head punched off me by some fella – I get enough of that in the games that I play! I’ll stick with ground grappling.

“If you take the striking aspect out of it completely – which I do – jiu jitsu is on the ground and all grappling. You have to be controlled in a very uncontrollable manner. If someone is choking you, you need to be able to think your way out of it, instead of just gasping for air.

“For guys who are so technically experienced they are very humble. You leave your ego and your shoes at the door going in. It’s humbling to go in there, get continuously beaten and not be as good as you’d like to be, but from a tackling aspect I find it good because you have to use your hands a lot as well.

“It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. There are different perceptions of it out there. It’s just a different avenue for me to explore,” he said.

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