Chris David with Des Moines Jiu Jitsu- The History to 2012

Posted by on Jan 20, 2012 in Articles, Featured, News, Press ReleasesNo comments

Des Moines Jiu Jitsu

Most times, the interviews or stories that surround combat sports such as mixed martial arts or grappling, are primarily focused on its competitors. It makes sense. Fighters and grapplers are those people that create the excitement inside the cage or on the mat, laying it on the line for the entertainment of fans in an attempt to make it to the top of their game.

When you watch a match, whether it’s on television or live, who are the people you’re focused on? The competitors, of course. But what about the guy or team of people that get the competitor to that point? Combat sporting events may seem like an individual sport, but believe me, there isn’t one fighter or grappler out there who’s experienced success on their own.

Meet Chris David. If you are a hard core enthusiast from Des Moines you’ve probably heard his name of seen him around MMA and grappling events. Chris is the founder of Des Moines largest training center; Des Moines Jiu Jitsu Academy. The current facility, located at 841 11th St. in downtown Des Moines houses well over a hundred active students that train in multiple disciplines, but it didn’t happen overnight.

“We became a school out of necessity back in February 2002,” David stated. “Luke Drilling, Joe Brammer, and I were training in my garage for many months, three to four times a week on a wrestling mat we picked up from my old Jiu-Jitsu instructor. This suited us just fine until my wife kicked us out of the garage because the neighbors were frightened and looked very confused at what we were doing.”

So the crew moved out of the garage, said farewell to the neighborhood, and settled into an old firehouse which was home of the now defunct Des Moines Judo Academy. David’s goal, at that point, was to get five students to pay $40.00 every month so that they could cover the cost of rent and continue to train. They picked up a couple students from the Judo club to start. David also put up a website and listed his home phone number as a contact in hopes to pick up a couple more. Paul Dominguez and Ed Spitzer were his first students, and they helped spread the word to make the quota of five.

With over five students in the first month they were able to train three to four times a week opposite of the Judo schedule. It was now an official training center. They continued to train and teach whoever found them and came through the door looking to learn about grappling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). With the gym set up, they started a search for an official Jiu-Jitsu affiliation and instructor. They were looking for credibility; a school versus a club. In 2003 they had found their mentor. They welcomed world renowned BJJ player, Caique after also talking with Pedro Sauer and the Gracie Academy in LA.

By September 2004 they had over 50 students who had trained since opening the school. However, just when things were finally running smoothly the Judo Club decided to move out. Then, the building manager wanted to turn the building into apartments in the budding Sherman Hills area. This caused them to start a frantic search for a new place to call home and continue their training.

They landed on a space in the now vacant Des Moines building on 6th Avenue downtown. David scraped together enough money to purchase mats and materials to make a raised floor at the new location. After some very hard work from his dedicated students they all worked together to help build the new academy in a little under a week.

And the dream lived on.

They continued to grapple in the evenings a couple times a week and still had their signature open mat session on Saturday afternoon. They also started classes on weekdays so that people working downtown could train over their lunch hour (and so could Chris). In 2006 they added kid’s classes into their curriculum which were taught by some of his earliest and most technical students, Ed Spitzer and Ron Ellsworth. Shortly after, in 2007, we added Muay Thai classes a couple nights a week taught by Dub Vang, who is one of the best Muay Thai guys around. They also added wrestling a few times throughout our history to add one of the greatest things Iowa has to offer, taking someone down to the mat.

They continued to grow to over 110 active students by 2009 with over 400 people learning grappling from the academy since 2002. But in 2009, once again, they received notice that the building would be shutting down and put up for sale. Once again, this caused David to start another search for a location.

Perhaps the move was a blessing in disguise.

Their new facility was a significant upgrade in terms of size, equipment, and mats. The location also has free parking during the day which is rare in downtown Des Moines. In addition to tons of mat space, they now have showering facilities with towel service, a sauna, full MMA cage, and tons of weight and cardiovascular equipment. They have two certified Kettlebell instructors, Jiu-Jitsu instructors with over 56 years combined experience, and a fantastic Muay Thai instructor. They have expanded their grappling programs to have classes every night of the week and continue to have an expansive open mat on Saturdays from 11-2.

David stated, “Over the years we have helped Kevin Burns achieve his goal of competing in the UFC with the top players in the game, and we have helped many other fighters, grapplers, and UFC veterans continue their climb to the top. Our focus continues to be in delivering the best possible instruction by learning from the best instructors in the world and passing that knowledge back to our students.”

With guidance from instructors who have taught David and company, such as Helio Gracie and his family, Caique and his son Pedro, multiple time no-gi world champ Ricky Lundell, Rodrigo Vaghi, and many more, they will continue to teach all who are willing to step through the door. And they are positive that they will help you achieve any goals you bring with you.

In fact, Chris David is so confident in what he has created in Des Moines Jiu Jitsu Academy that he would like to offer anyone who reads this story one free week of training at their facility. It’s his way of giving back for the support he has been shown. And, just by mentioning that you’ve read about their history and are looking to see what they are all about, he is willing to help you.

“I hope you will find that we can give you a fantastic experience in which you will learn life changing skills and have a new outlook on life,” David said.

How can you pass up that kind of offer?

  • More Information:
  • Chris David- Owner/Main Instructor

Chris David (right) with Pedro Elias

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