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The fighting spirit: Front Range Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu owner takes on new business challenge

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By AJ Vicens

In feudal Japan, a class of warriors known as the samurai developed methods for combating opponents who were armed or wearing armor. The fighting style that emerged, now known as jiu-jitsu, has evolved over time into several disciplines for sport and self-defense.

This ancient fighting art is now represented in South Jeffco at Front Range Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. At the studio, people can learn the fighting style as a way to stay fit and empower themselves, according to owner Ian Starr. The studio, at West Coal Mine Avenue and South Wadsworth Boulevard, also features CrossFit training, a broad strength training methodology that focuses on all-around strength for a more natural and realistic fitness.

Starr opened his 4,000-square-foot gym in December, but the facility wasn’t quite finished early on. Now it’s up and ready to go.

“It just seemed like a really good opportunity,” Starr said, speaking about why he picked South Jeffco for his new gym. There is one other jiu-jitsu studio in the area, but no other CrossFit gyms.

“I thought it was a real good opportunity to fill that niche down here,” he said.

Starr’s journey to South Jeffco started in Southern California, where he grew up. While in college, he saw a seminar featuring Hiroshi Ikeda, a world-renowned aikido instructor.

“Right away, I knew there was something special about him,” Starr said.

Starr moved to Boulder to train with Ikeda.

“He was a mentor for me, as he was for a lot of people,” Starr said. Starr was in Boulder for three months for the training and returned to California. But a few months later Boulder lured him back, and he’s been in the state now for 11 years.

After training with Ikeda for more than five years, Starr became interested in jiu-jitsu and started training at another gym.

And then he decided to bring the discipline, and his passion for it, to residents of South Jeffco.

“It’s a lot of fun when you start to get the hang of it,” Starr said. “It’s just a really positive thing to do with yourself.”

Starr said he enjoys bringing out strengths in people that they never knew they had.

“I really like helping people,” Starr said. “You just teach people the fundamentals, and once they stick around and bite on it, they take off. It’s just a lot of fun to empower people, and a lot of them don’t know what they’re capable of before they try it.”

He added that his students “grow as people.” And he’s offering free intro classes to acquaint customers with jiu-jitsu and with his teaching style.

Starr knows he’s going to have to get his new gym off the ground in one of the worst business climates in decades. But he says he’d have the same concerns no matter what the overall economic picture looked like.

“It’s scary to go into business, period,” Starr said. “If you’re not worried about it, you’re a fool.”

Still, he thinks he can turn the recent hard times to his advantage.

“Even though there’s a crappy economy, it’s almost as though some kind of physical outlet is pretty much a necessity for people,” Starr said.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.

Front Range Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is at 8250 W. Coal Mine Ave., Unit 10B. The phone number is 720-201-6054; or, visit www.frontrangebjj.com for a complete class schedule.