Spearfish Martial Arts Academy celebrates 10 years

Three Spearfish Martial Arts students take a break from a workout. Students have the option to study taekwondo or Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Courtesy photo

SPEARFISH — Spearfish Martial Arts owner and head instructor Jordan Thomas could not have really imagined the business he started in 2010 would observe its 10th anniversary.

Thomas was a 19-year-old college student who had participated in taekwondo for most of his life. He had finished lifeguard duties at the rec center when someone suggested teaching martial arts there.

Teaching was initially a month-by-month endeavor for Thomas, who wanted to work in federal law enforcement. His original plan was to teach through his college years.

“When I started at the rec center, I realized that I really had an enjoyable part of it,” Thomas said of teaching. “People really took a liking to it and supported it right off the bat.”

Thomas said the community continues to support the endeavor and help it grow. “It’s been an awesome journey, an awesome business,” he added.

He estimates more than 1,000 people have come through the doors over the years. Some have tried martial arts for a week, with others staying for much longer.

Spearfish Martial Arts was located at the rec center in 2010. It moved to a spot behind Common Cents before relocating to its current site roughly five years ago.

About 115 students study taekwondo or Brazilian Jju-jitsu. Some others take self-defense lessons.

Students of TaeKwonDo are currently between 5 and 40 years of age. Jiu-Jitsu students range from age 5 to 65.

TaeKwonDo is a traditional stand-up art originating in Korea. It is mostly based on strikes, kicking, punching, and open-hand strikes.

Jiu-jitsu occurs on the ground and incorporates grappling. Self-defense serves as the primary focus.

“They really go on a life lesson journey and figure out more about themselves than they thought,” Thomas said in describing what students can learn. “We’ve always said that martial arts is truly mind, body and spirit.”

Thomas said students reaching a certain level of enlightenment in martial arts understand it is more than kicks and punches.

“It’s about becoming a better human, a better citizen, and a better servant to society: being more selfless,” Thomas said.

Other memories for Thomas center on national events and some of the bigger competitions, including a Spearfish tournament in 2018.

Spearfish Martial Arts began its jiu-jitsu program in 2016.

A love of watching jiu-jitsu prompted Thomas to begin a program here. Jiu-jitsu boasts heavy ties to UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) and emphasizes martial arts’ ground concepts.

Thomas started jiu-jitsu training seven or eight years ago. His Rapid City instructor gave Thomas the go-ahead to start a program here.

Ten-year discounts and membership deals will be offered to observe the 10-year anniversary. An awards ceremony is scheduled for the spring of 2021.

More information is available on the Spearfish Martial Arts website.

He sees expansion in Spearfish Martial Arts’ future. Thomas anticipates opportunities to serve the community more widely by expanding classes and being open more often starting in 2021.

The academy is located at 3103 East Fairgrounds Loop, Suite 1, in Spearfish. It may be reached by phone at (605) 430-8106 or by email at spearfishmartialarts@gmail.com

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