WRITTEN BY JON MATTINGLY | PHOTOS PROVIDED
For centuries, military tacticians and business leaders have been studying the immortal words of Sun Tzu. But what is it about the Chinese generals philosophy that has fascinated the titans of industry? And why are the combat arts such effective and efficient preparation for the business world?
As a small business owner, few things are in your control. You can plan, prepare, and react to changing economic conditions, market trends, and consumer preferences, but at the end of the day, there is only one thing you are truly in command of—yourself. Seasoned business owners fine-tune processes and operations every day to set the conditions for success, but when is the last time you made a deliberate effort to improve yourself? If it has been too long, we have a suggestion: Head into your local Jiu-Jitsu or MMA academy!
Saratoga Business Report sat down with a few local martial arts professors to explore the combat sports and discuss the benefits they offer business leaders. The first thing that stood out to us was the diversity of the clientele. We were introduced to financial planners and business executives, car dealership owners and mechanical engineers. And leading them along their path, were the seasoned instructors. Here are their stories.
CAPITAL REGION COMBAT SPORTS
Martial arts have a strong presence in and around Saratoga. Professor James Bruchac, who runs the Saratoga Kyokushin Dojo & Alliance Northeast Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Greenfield Center with his brother, Jesse, and father, Joseph, explained that the popularity of combat sports in our region has exploded over the past 15 years. Bruchac detailed the different types of martial arts now offered locally, including Kyokushin Karate, Muay Thai, Judo, and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), but highlighted Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as the most popular due to its practicality as a self defense technique. One of the earliest Jiu-Jitsu and MMA academies in the region is the Eddie Fyvie Jiu-Jitsu Academy with locations in Malta and Schenectady. Fyvie’s academy has a thriving youth program as well as a large adult program where they learn everything from basic self-defense and body movement to advanced mixed martial arts techniques and competitive Jiu-Jitsu. “This isn’t just training for combat, this is training for life” Fyvie stated. Rounding out the field is Matt Secor’s Jiu-Jitsu academy in South Glens Falls, and Edward Anthony’s Atlas Jiu-Jitsu with locations in Glens Falls, Albany, and Hudson.
Bruchac took care to mention that martial arts’ audience spans well beyond the “macho” image portrayed in popular media. His academy hosts students and instructors from ages 5 to 79, and his bully-proofing classes—designed to instill a sense of physical fitness, discipline, and respect in Saratoga’s schoolchildren—are some of his most popular programs. Bruchac also emphasized the growing popularity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu among local women, again noting how the sport’s practicality and versatility make it accessible to all.
According to Bruchac, the benefits of training—or “rolling”—with a martial arts academy are uniquely applicable to small business owners. Bruchac explained that combat sports offer the same physical conditioning benefits attainable through other forms of exercise, while adding in a mental component that allows trainees to strengthen not only their bodies, but also their minds.
- Resilience. Training in a sport where you are—quite literally—knocked down continually builds a sense of resilience and mental agility. This clearly can be an asset to small business leaders, helping them overcome the challenges of unpredictable regulatory, economic, and public health environments.
- Strategic Thinking. Helio Gracie, one of the founding brothers of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, is quoted as saying the sport “represents the triumph of human intelligence over brute strength.” Professors like Bruchac, Fyvie, and Anthony coach their students to prioritize skill and strategy over blind aggression; deliberately training yourself to think strategically and anticipate your opponent’s reactions has obvious positive implications for business leaders and can give them a cutting edge in our competitive economic environment.
- Lifestyle. Above all, Bruchac highlighted how martial arts enable practitioners to live a “positive lifestyle,” founded in discipline and goalsetting, and wrapped in a sense of belonging within a community. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven mental health and community support to be a vital part of any business plan, and combat sports offer entrepreneurs an opportunity to build those strengths.
BEYOND THE MAT
Outside of their four walls, martial arts academies extend their influence to be pillars of our community. In addition to being a martial arts Professor, Bruchac is an award-winning children’s author, traditional storyteller, outdoor educator, and Director of the Ndakinna Education Center. Located in Greenfield, the Ndakinna Education Center—which Bruchac runs with his brother, father, and other local leaders—is a nonprofit organization that provides team building, character development, outdoor education opportunities to community members of all ages. Importantly, the Center also shares the stories, experiences, and culture of regional Native American peoples, notably the Nulhegan Coosuk Band of the Abenaki Nation, of which Bruchac and his family are citizens.
Eddie Fyvie also serves as a leader within our local community. This March, he volunteered his time and expertise to provide free Jiu-Jitsu lessons to local U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Cadets. The Cadets—representing an elite group hand-selected from the ROTC unit hosted at Siena College—were invited to participate in an international military skills competition hosted by the U.S. Military Academy; Fyvie offered free lessons and a one-month membership to all 15 Cadets to help them prepare for the hand-to-hand combat portion of the contest. More importantly, these lessons reinforced the physical, mental, and spiritual lessons of Jiu-Jitsu within the Cadets, all of whom are set to commission as Army Officers within the next two years. Fyvie’s generosity demonstrates that martial arts academies are so much more than just “gyms,” and the effects of his magnanimity will benefit our community, state, and country for years to come.
Fyvie, who fought in professional MMA events throughout the United States and Canada, sees Jiu-Jitsu as preparation for the chaos of the business world.
“In Jiu-Jitsu, the practitioner must deal with rapidly changing attacks under pressure. Wrong moves, or panicking, could result in unconsciousness from a well applied submission, and the match is over” Fyvie stated. “Remaining calm and anticipating your opponent’s moves is crucial to survival on the mats, and in the business world.”
When asked if he had any advice for people considering combat sports, but not quite sure if it’s for them, Bruchac responded confidently that “there is a Jiu-Jitsu gym for everybody.” Bruchac encouraged interested individuals to try out a few academies to find one where they feel “welcome and safe.” He added that many programs—including his and Fyvie’s—offer free trials to beginners.
Fyvie’s Academy reinforced that message. According to their website, you don’t need to be experienced in combat sports or “in shape” to start training. They offer programs designed for locals of “all ages, sizes, and genders—the only requirement is effort.”
If you’re a small business owner, you’ve invested time, money, and effort into your enterprise; to take your business to the next level, consider investing those same resources into yourself. Call or click below to take the first step towards becoming the leader your business deserves:
- Saratoga Kyokushin Dojo & Alliance
Northeast Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy | 518-331-9962
- Eddie Fyvie Jiu-Jitsu Academy | 518-588-3134
- Atlas Jiu-Jitsu | 518-362-8527