2020 in Review: *Ding Ding... Fight!*

If ever there was a year that we could compare to being in a fist fight, it’s 2020. *Spoiler alert*: we won. At times we might have looked a bit reminiscent of Joanna Jedrzejczyk post-Zhang Weili but, we won. Like any good fight, we prepped and practiced and stood ready for war. We signed the contract for a new building and squelched our apprehension to expand. We had finally reached the point where growth was necessary for survival and so, we gloved up.


The first two months of the year was our “Round One.” A feeling-out process. No bumps or bruises, just maintaining the fundamentals while securing the plan for the next four rounds. Then, Round Two came at us like a spinning back kick to the face courtesy of Joaquin Buckley. Staggering, to say the least. Unlike Buckley’s opponent, however, we managed to scramble and get to our feet. The human’s instinct for survival may be faded by the days of instant gratification but it most certainly is not lost.


As the country shut down and the world seemingly reversed its orbit, we retreated to our corner to adapt the fight plan. And adapt we did. For the first time ever, we offered live online classes on Zoom and held virtual appointments. We kept a business running while building a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility with the unknown of when it could actually host our tribe. Thankfully that tribe was a familiar voice in our corner, shouting affirmations and fighting alongside us. We made it to Round Three.  


Our first days in the new facility were like an ice bag to the chest and with our feet back under us, it was time to get to work. Outdoor classes, individual jiu-jitsu, and a whole new sanitization process kept us in the fight, and we were rejuvenated by the willingness of our tribe to adapt to the circumstances. Classes filled up quickly, and we were positively overwhelmed by the number of new faces in the gym. Martial arts have a way of translating to life and it was time for everyone to take control of theirs. We left Round Three feeling confident that one was ours.


There was a shedding of old skin and a revival found in Round Four. Full classes, jiu-jitsu competitions, and a couple of scraps for the UFC. Over 200 new members were added to our tribe within the first four months of our re-opening, and we feel incredibly proud of the way this community is growing together and pushing each other towards their goals. Our team traveled to six IBJJF tournaments this season, and among several other gold and silver medals from our squad, Coach Roger ended the year with eight golds and a winner of the IBJJF World Master Championship. Both Eryk Anders and Walt Harris went to battle for the UFC this year with fights all the way from Jacksonville to Las Vegas, and even to Abu Dhabi to compete on Fight Island. We learned in Round Four that if you can manage to stay alive long enough, you’ll start to remember why. Sometimes it’s a win and sometimes it’s a loss, but it’s always a fight.


Whether you get knocked down by a leg kick or locked down by a virus, stick to the fundamentals. Our Round Five was one of those where we went back to doing the things that make our community what it is. We collected more toys than we ever have for the Marine Toys for Tots Drive, truly christened the new gym with our annual Ugly Sweater-Karaoke Christmas Party, and had a belt promotion that produced eight new blue belts and a new black belt on our mats. We wrapped up the year feeling grateful for the ability to keep working throughout a pandemic and feeling accomplished having done so with our community surrounding us. When life or a left hook gets you down, listen to the voices in your corner and just keep fighting. Thank you, tribe, for standing behind us through all the ups and downs of 2020. It was a hell of a fight.
















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