Today, Savarese Jiu-Jitsu celebrates 10 years of being open!
I just wanted to take a few minutes to explain why this is such an important day for our academy.
The Dream Comes True:
The 10 yr Anniversary is much more important to me than the 1 yr because today I feel like I am living the dream I conceived as a bluebelt: running a successful BJJ Academy. However, it is more important than that. I wanted to create a school that had a
positive effect on my students and in our community for years and generations to come.
As a white and blue belt, doing something like this seemed like a pipe dream, a goal that seemed almost unattainable. These 10 years have had their trials and tribulations and some personal injuries to overcome.
In 2001, I faced a complete tear of my ACL, PCL and LCL. The doctors told me that my athletic days were over and even my family was urging me to give up BJJ. It was hard to walk without pain and my dream seemed completely out of reach.
I didn’t know it at the time, but overcoming these injuries strengthened my mindset for a much harder battle years later with my heart surgery.
The first step in my dream coming true was the grand opening. Looking back, I had no clue what I was doing. I had no plan for success and my first two years were basically a waste. I was lucky to make it through those days.
Behind the Scenes:
Few people truly know how difficult it is to run a successful academy and how much work goes on behind the scenes. Developing the culture of the academy is key and important to maintain every day. Sometimes difficult decisions are made to maintain that culture.
Cultivating a structure and a process for student and school growth, writing a solid curriculum and monitoring progress weekly are also keys to success. You must find ways to reach individuals and the group alike.
One of my former instructors, Renzo Gracie, used to say “we are in the confidence business.” This includes imparting your philosophy and message as well as undoing years of a student believing that he or she can’t, that they are weak, that they are a victim because of things that happened in their lives. In part, our job is removing this detrimental crutch. Only then will the student see success.
It is the most difficult and challenging job I’ve ever had, but I wake up each day passionately ready to do it again. This is my life’s work and I truly believe that all the years of my dad teaching me sports, driving me to and from practices, and every coach who taught me something, prepared me for this role. I believe I was put on this earth to do this.
Proud is the word I’d describe about the way everyone treats each other. Honestly, the atmosphere in our academy is what I am most proud of. No drama or rivalries. Just a group of people who stand by each other every day in pursuit of a bigger picture, leaving their problems and ego at the door and trying to become better martial artists. The academy is a place for personal growth, not just fun, fitness, fighting or medals. It is a place where character, accountability, loyalty, and purpose are more than words.
First, I would like to thank all of my students. You play such important part in the success of our Academy.
Now for the very long list of thank yous. A special thank you goes to David Adiv, who for years tried to get me to open a BJJ academy. Adiv was patient enough with me to let me do it when I thought I was ready. The Savarese BJJ Academy would not exist without him.
Another thank you goes to the many instructors and training partners who helped me develop the skills and knowledge I get to pass on to everyone today. Most notable are David Adiv, Renzo and Royler Gracie, Rafael Lovato Jr. and John Danaher. Between the five of them, my instruction has improved and I have grown. Each aspect of my jiu-jitsu features something I have learned from these instructors.
I also would like to thank Master Lloyd Irvin, whose advice at a BJJ tournament years ago changed my life and the fate of my academy. At the time, I was working a full time job and trying to run my academy and struggling mightily. Lloyd urged me to quit my job and focus on my academy.
I told him “Lloyd, you don’t understand, I need that job to pay the bills at the Academy.” He simply laughed in response, “No, Sav, I understand, YOU don’t understand. If you treat your business like a part time business, it will pay you like a part-time business. Treat it like a full time business and it will pay you like a full time business!”. It was the best advice anyone ever gave me. I quit my job that Monday and haven’t looked back since. So a big thank you to Lloyd from me and everyone at Savarese BJJ.
Also a big thank you to my dear friend, Justin “Master Chim” Garcia, who spent countless time and energy on his own dime in an effort to help me become a better school owner and businessman. I owe a lot of my academy’s success to you.
Also to my friend Marco Perazzo, who spent a lot of phone time with me as a new school owner.
Finally, special thanks goes to Professor Sean Bermudez. He has had a great role in the academy’s growth over the last five years; successfully running our kids program. Because of him, our kid’s martial arts program is one of best in the country. We would not be in our new academy without his help.
The past 10 years
In 10 years, we went from a 850 square foot hole in the wall on Stuyvesant Ave to our 5000 sq ft, 2 room facility on Park Ave. I would like to thank all my students, parents, friends, supporters and the township of Lyndhurst New Jersey for all their support over the years. I look forward to many great years together as I am confident that our team and family will grow larger, stronger and wiser in the future. Love you guys!
Professor Chris Savarese