Most of America is not aware that the Mid South has a thriving martial arts scene that is only growing stronger. From Little Rock, Arkansas to Nashville, Tennessee as well as from Paducah, Kentucky all the way to the Gulf Coast there many gyms that are working hard and producing great results on the national and international levels. My articles’ goal will be to shed spotlight on gyms, fighters, and companies in this exciting area. I also will be logging my personal experiences at competitions and events in the area.
My first report is a review of my home gym, Memphis Judo and Jiu Jitsu. Memphis Judo and Jiu Jitsu was founded by David Ferguson, Joel Gingery, and Mike Ostrowski in October 2003. In seven years the school has grown from a basement setting in Midtown Memphis to a facility with more than 2000 square feet and a plethora of martial arts offered to all.
The school’s grappling program is one of the best programs you will find anywhere. Memphis Judo and jiu jitsu is one of only a few schools in the country to be affiliated with world renowned grappler and four time world champion Marcelo Garcia. The instructors are Joel Gingery; black belt in both Brazilian jiu jitsu and judo; and Alex Meadows, a brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Together Joel and Alex offer over 20 years of experience on the mat. The judo program is just strong with numerous black belts at the school. Mike Ostrowski, an instructor and a very active competitor, has a black belt in judo and a master of sport certification in Sambo through ASF. Classes are available at 11:30AM and 7PM on Monday through Friday with Gi and No-Gi classes.
The grappling program also offers classes to kids and teens. The kids program is led by Alex Meadows, Nathan Pang, and Blake Smythe. The kids’ classes are active sessions filled with fun games and solid techniques. This environment allows the kids to have fun and learn the important life skills of discipline, commitment, and hard work. Kids classes are available at 5PM and 6PM every Monday through Thursday and at 6PM on Fridays
The muay thai kickboxing program at the school is as strong as they come. The program is led by Jason McDonald under the affiliation of Danish master Brian Talarek. Jason has traveled and trained with some of the world’s best in the art. Classes focus of developing the fundamental techniques needed to succeed at all levels. Muay Thai classes are also known for their intense cardio sessions. The program offers fundamental classes on Mondays and Wednesdays at 11:30AM and 6:45PM, while sparring sessions are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30AM, 7:15PM on Tuesdays, and 8:00PM on Thursdays.
At Memphis Judo and Jiu Jitsu, the MMA team is always working hard with results to show. The team is led by grappling coach Nathan Pang and muay thai coach Jason McDonald. Both Nathan and Jason have years of training and competition experience in the ring. The team consists of some of the best up and coming fighters in the area. In the professional ranks, Austin Lyons holds a 3-1 professional record. Riding a three fight win streak in which he has submitted all opponents, Lyons will fight for his first professional title on October 9th for Empire Fighting Championships in Tunica, Mississippi. Jacob Noe is another pro looking to make his name known in the MMA world. Since joining the Memphis Judo and Jiu Jitsu earlier in 2010, Jacob has working relentlessly to not only come back from a shoulder injury but take his game to the next level. Jacob will also be fighting for Empire Fighting Championships in Tunica, Mississippi on October 9th.
In the amateur ranks, V3 fights Bantamweight Champion Brian “The Law” Hall is running the beat on area’s top bantamweight fighters. At middleweight, Mike Houston is making serious moves up the divisional ladder with a middleweight title already around his waist. Adam Denton is one of the most technical strikers in the lightweight amateur ranks with a rapidly improving ground game. At Heavyweight, Jeremiah Trundle is looking to wreak havoc on the big guys with his athleticism and power. You can find all these amateur fighters on the card at Empire Fighting Championships at Harrah’s Casino in Tunica, Mississippi on October 9th. For more information and tickets go to http://empirefightsonline.com 
Memphis Judo and Jiu Jitsu offer one the best boxing coaches in the Mid-South. Coach Joey Hadley has been boxing since the age of 13. Some Joey’s accomplishments in the ring include an amateur record of 122 wins and only 18 losses, winning 93 fights by knockout. Coach Hadley also amassed a 6-0 professional record including a knockout victory over Leon Spinks. Hadley’s boxing teaches the Peek-A-Boo style, which Hadley learned under legendary trainer Cus D’Amato. The boxing program is open to all people interested in mastering the sweet science, whether you are looking to compete or get in shape. Coach Hadley can be found at the gym at 3pm-8pm on Monday through Friday and from noon to 4pm on Saturday.
The Filipino Martial Arts curriculum is led by Robin Schermerhorn. Robin has won multiple titles and holds a wealth of knowledge in the martial arts. Training with names such as Sifu Steven Fristoe, Dan Inosanto, and Crafty Dog of the Dog Brothers, Robin has developed a system that is progressive and fundamentally sound. Classes teach self defense situations involving weapons as well as hard sparring classes integrating groundwork. Classes are held at 5:45PM on Tuesdays and at 5:30PM on Wednesdays. Sparring sessions are planned for the weekends.
If you peer inside the gym on a week night, chances are you will see the Fitness Kickboxing classing working hard. Participants can be seen doing a multitude of exercises from combinations on the punching bags, resistance band exercises, plyometrics, or isometrics in only 45 minutes. With an efficient schedule, the program also bolsters numerous success stories whether they are health and fitness related or helping our competitors prepare for competition. The goal of the class is offer a new kind of workout that breaks away from the usual gym routine with an atmosphere that is designed to motivate students from all walks of life reach their goals. The fitness kickboxing program holds 23 classes per week on Monday through Saturday with classes in the morning and evening times.
Memphis Judo and Jiu Jitsu is the perfect gym for anyone. From the novice looking to become a competitor to family looking for an assortment of activities, Memphis Judo and Jiu Jitsu has a lot to offer. For more information visit www.memphisbjj.com  or call 901-590-2492.