Twenty years ago, Chris Thring wanted to open his own martial arts gym. It took a little longer than expected, but now he’s done it.
“This is what I wanted to do for a living,” the Selkirk College aviation instructor said. “I felt at the time that I would have to compromise how I wanted the club to be.”
In that sense, he said he would have had to make it very commercial to be successful and he didn’t want to be that way.
Instead, he became a pilot. Working in Alberta, Thring said he built up enough hours to fly for commercial airlines, but a friend told him there was an opening for an aviation instructor at Selkirk College, so he applied and landed the job.
Thring and his family have lived in Castlegar since 2006. He felt that it was the right time in his life to open his own Jiu-Jitsu gym now.
Located in the basement under Mountain FM on 4th Street, Valley Jiu-Jitsu opened less than a month ago. Already, though, classes are filling up.
“There’s no more risk of injury here than there is skiing or hockey,” Thring said. “Everybody can get something out of it.”
Classes range from four and six-year-olds to adults, and Thring said you don’t have to train to compete if you don’t want to.
“I welcome anyone to come by and check out a couple classes,” he said. “If you just want it for fitness, that’s fine.”
Thring’s Jiu-Jitsu studio features both Japanese and Brazilian techniques. He said Japanese focuses on stand-up techniques while Brazilian focuses on ground work.
“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has gained a lot of popularity through MMA,” Thring said, noting there is no MMA training in his gym.
Each student trains at his or her own pace. In fact, Thring himself is still a student.
“I am currently furthering my own training under two Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts: Mario Deveault and Dave Rothwell of Gracie Barra Shuswap/Vernon/Kamloops,” he said.
He holds a brown belt in Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do, a brown belt in Karate and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Classes offered currently are little constrictors (ages four to six), constrictors (ages seven to 13) and adults. A class for women is offered on Thursday nights and there is open mat time on Thursdays as well.
For more information on Valley Jiu-Jitsu, including schedules and more information about Jiu-Jitsu and the studio, visit valleyjiujitsu.ca. Thring encourages people who are researching Jiu-Jitsu to also visit graciebarra.com.