For those who don’t know, our very own Coach Jim Thrift, owner of Calvert MMA Academy, recently received his black belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu from Relson Gracie himself. This is a major achievement for Coach Jim Thrift, both personally and professionally, and one he has worked very hard for.
Coach Jim Thrift’s journey to black belt started may years ago. Coach Jim Thrift initially began martial arts training in the 1980’s, earning a black belt in Tang Soo Do / Tae Kwon Do. Coach Jim Thrift also trained in Kempo Karate, Judo, Aikido, and competed in various martial arts competitions from 1984 to 1995. A friend and co-worker who was training out of Relson Gracie’s garage in Honolulu initially introduced Coach Jim Thrift to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in 1995, but he didn’t start training in it until 1997.
Coach Jim Thrift traveled far to train in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, taking classes in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Virginia. Coach Jim Thrift decided to open his own training academy in 2007 in Calvert County Maryland, after he got tired of having to travel over an hour or more to receive quality instruction in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
In the midst of opening and growing a premier MMA school in Southern Maryland, Coach Jim Thrift also focused on his continued practice of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. In June of 2014 Coach Jim Thrift traveled to Hawaii to test for his black belt with Relson Gracie. Coach Jim Thrift had the honor of being the first person to test for a black belt in Relson’s home.
As he continues to grow in his practice, Coach Jim Thrift has big plans for Calvert MMA Academy (Team Relson Gracie – Lineage BJJ / Carlos Lopez – White Lotus Thai Boxing). Coach Jim Thrift is vary passionate about offering a high level of instruction in Southern Maryland, and he hopes to open two more training academies in the area within the next few years. There are also plans to offer fitness classes and expand the schools schedule as highly trained and qualified instructors become available.
To celebrate this achievement Coach Jim Thrift plans on having a celebration at Calvert MMA during Grandmaster Relson Gracie’s next visit which we are hoping will be in early September. Coach Jim Thrift also plans on doing his first Woman’s Self-Defense seminar as a black belt in the fall and all proceeds / donations will go to “End Hunger in Calvert”.