By Christine Leonard
CALGARY – It may be the fastest growing sport on the planet, unless you count training to be the next American Ninja as a sport. Regardless of passing fads, Brazilian jiu jitsu has a well-documented history as a rising fighting art and path personal fulfillment. It would seem that interest in the competitive activity, and its many benefits, has not waned since becoming synonymous with mixed martial arts some 25 years ago. As evidenced earlier this year when upwards of 600 attendees crowded Calgary’s Genesis Centre for a CBJJF tournament. The appeal is obvious to Tim Blanchard, owner and head instructor at Alavanca Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai.
“In the academy, my students call me ‘Professor,’” says Blanchard.
And, rightly so. The BJJ black belt began his teaching career in 2002, after an upbringing that revolved around motocross, football, wrestling and, of course, martial arts.
“My biggest accomplishment would be getting my BJJ black belt from my Professor André Galvão,” he confirms without hesitation.
By 2011 Blanchard had opened his own martial arts school, MMA University.
“MMAU, as we called it, is where it all started eight years ago. During that time, we have created an amazing group of adults and kids that are like a second family to me. This fall we are moving the academy to a new location on 16th Avenue,” he elaborates. “With this move we decided to rebrand the name of the academy with the new space to Alavanca, which means ‘leverage’ in Portuguese.”
Preparing for the future while honouring the past, Blanchard is steadfast in maintaining close ties to his mentors.
“We are affiliated with two of my biggest martial arts idols; André Galvão, who is the founder of Atos Jiu Jitsu, and Duane Ludwig, who is considered one of the best striking coaches in the world and the creator of Bang Muay Thai. I chose to team up with André and Duane because I believe they are the best in the world at what they do. They are great coaches and amazing human beings on and off the mats.”
He continues, “What makes us a great choice for families and individuals is that we cater to everyone, no matter what your experience or fitness level.
You learn how to live a healthy lifestyle, to be more confident and capable overcoming obstacles and stressful situations. You also gain the ability to protect yourself and family, if something ever did happen, while getting fit and strong.”
In essence, Alavanca aims to build better people, not just winning fighters. Although, that seems to come with the territory.
“We are home to numerous World Champions and Pan Am Champions. All the way from our kids to our adults,” Blanchard acknowledges. “It’s going to get bigger and bigger. Every year there are more tournaments, with larger cash prizes, which means there is potential for young athletes to do Brazilian jiu jitsu as their full-time profession. I can see BJJ eclipsing MMA in popularity the next five to ten years.”
With a freshly renovated facility, overseen by award-winning designer Sarah Ward, as their modern clubhouse, there’s little doubt that Alavanca’s arrival will have an uplifting impact on both the neigbourhood and the individuals who cross the dojo’s threshold.
“It’s going to be something that Calgary hasn’t seen before when it comes to a martial arts facility. Our goal is to make the new academy a place where anybody can come and feel comfortable. You can learn from some of Calgary’s best martial artists, have an amazing workout and the hang out afterwards in our new lounge. I think Alavanca will revolutionize what a martial arts academy will looks like! I don’t want to give away too many details and secrets; you’ll just have to come and try a class when we open to see.”
Sign up for a trial and check out what all the hype is about at: www.alavancayyc.com
Alavanca Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai opens early November at 209 16 Ave NE (Calgary)Alavanca, jiu jitsu, muay thai