Happy New Year everyone ! We want to begin our newsletter by thanking all of our members for being a part of the Lions Den Family! It is hard to believe it has already been 3 years now that we have been open. We love what a tight knit family we have here at Lions Den and again, we are grateful for it. It has made our classes and events truly enjoyable for all of us. We like to use these newsletters to keep you all informed on what has been going on at the Den, our current happenings and since we are beginning 2022- we will give you an update as to what we have planned for this year.
What did we do in 2021?
While these crazy times have made it challenging , we have managed to double our student base in 2021 , expanded our facility, add more great equipment and, we were able to hold some unforgettable events with our members and some of the biggest stars in the UFC and Martial Arts realm.
Just before our expansion project , we held some really fun, interactive Womens self defense seminars for the Girl Scouts. You can see in the video , we had a brave Scout troop leader who volunteered to try to attack one of our instructors while on top of him as he demonstrated a choke performed using her own jacket. The young ladies loved it! They learned some practical self defense techniques and they received valuable counseling on not placing themselves in vulnerable situations. The tactics taught in this seminar provide a great self defense base that will stay with these young women into their adult lives!
Following the expansion , we kicked off some of our special events with really special Seminars with the UFC's Jimmie Rivera in March . Jimmie is ranked in the top 10 in the UFC and has fought some of the best fighters on the planet. He brought with him slew of great new techniques that he shared with us. Rarely do schools bring in talent like this and the best thing about the Den is that we not only bring them in for our adults but also for our kids! This makes for unforgettable memories and learning opportunities while providing top level training. Jimmie put on a seminar for Adults and kids in Grappling , a seminar in striking as well as a seminar in MMA.
In May, we had one of the UFC's hottest rising stars - Mike " Beastboy " Davis in at Lions Den. Mike was one of our first students and comes back once a year and puts on great seminars for our Adults and Kids. He also works with our MMA fighters and is a valuable asset to have in the gym. Aside from the wealth of knowledge he brings with him, he is a great person and makes things fun while he is here with us. Mike went on to win 2 performance of the night bonuses with the UFC following this event and we are super proud of him!
Promotions!!! We saw a ton of Belt promotions in 2021 . So many that it is hard to list them all but in our adult programs, "Big Mike" Ketzer, Jenn Forand, Pete Annello , Colin McLeod and Seville Brooks all received their Blue belts and Caleb received his Brown belt. BIG CONGRATULATIONS to all of these students and the nearly 60 kids I can't all list here! We have a very large group of you who are on track to be promoted in 2022 and we are excited for what is in store for you!
In June, we began preparing some of our Fighters for fights over the summer! We are lucky to be affiliated with another one of the best schools around in Matt Secor BJJ. Aside from coming down every few months and going to visit Matt's school, we were also able to piggy back with Matt to the JT Torres School for some high level BJJ. Torres also ran a seminar at Matt's school in which a bunch of our members attended. Matt comes to our school every few months and not only puts on a great seminar for our students but he also opens his doors to us. Our members can go and train with Matt and his students at his school in Glens Falls for free at any time. He is one of the best competitors in the world today and to have his knowledge as another resource is invaluable. Matt comes down for our promotion ceremonies as well and brings some of his instructors with him to work with our youth while they are here. Our ceremonies end with an awesome pot luck buffet and the food is amazing. These are events we all look forward to!
In June we had UFC Legend and Bellator Superstar Cat Zingano visit for Seminars . Cat taught our kids and adults and we had a great time with her. She is super diverse and was able to put on seminars in Grappling, Wrestling , Striking and MMA while she was with us. She was the first female Superstar we have had in since Rose Namajunas almost 10 years ago! We are already planning to have Cat back this coming year. Members absolutely loved this one!
In July the Den made its way to Cage Wars with coach Trent stepping in the cage. Trent came away with another impressive win after a very good training camp leading up to the fight. His opponent was also a class act and ended up joining the Den after their fight together so this was a win/ win for our school . Steve (his opponent) after switching schools and coming to us, went on to win his Division at the Naga tournament a few months later and is currently preparing for his next fight at Cage wars. More on that later in this piece.
In July we headed down to Wildwood N.J for our annual Den Summer break! This was a great time and our families enjoyed a couple of days at the beach together , a couple of great dinners at night and a fun night on the boardwalk. Oh Yeah, we also competed at Naga and our team did really well as seen in the pics here. 2021 was tough in terms of competition as we could only compete out of state making it hard to win any events as a team, however we came in 7'th out of over 60 schools at the largest Naga ever put on here and if they held this at home we would have taken it. So much fun!
Following our trip to Wildwood N.J , we came back to put on our annual Summer Camp at the Den. The kids had a great time with Nerf Wars everyday , trips to the Movies ,out for ice cream and a day at Funplex. Wish I had more pics but our hands were full on this one. Highlights were definitely the go carts and bumper boats at Funplex , hopefully they let us come back... lol . Just kidding , we have been doing this for years and they know what to expect when we come. FUN
2021 also saw some of our members achieve goals outside of the Den. Chris is pictured here at one of our UFC viewing Parties with his going away Cake. Chris entered the Marines this year and we have been in contact ever since and glad to report he is doing well and having fun. He went in super prepared and we are confident he will be very successful in his time served. Thank You For Your Service Chris!! In 20220 we saw officer Shaw leave us to go into the Air Force. Upon completing boot camp he received the war hawk award which is given to 1 person in boot camp. Our students always leave in great shape to succeed in the armed forces and we sleep better at night for that.
Rob also achieved a huge goal of his this year in Qualifying for and running in the Boston Marathon. Rob didn't only run in it, he did pretty damn good for his age group. Tons of preparation was put into this and we are proud to have him as part of our Den Family! Coach kat also is an avid runner and has competed all over the country in 2021 in several events.
Coach Jerrick cleaned up in 2021. Jerrick runs the top boxing program around and has for decades now but 2021 was a very busy year for him. Jerrick has been busy and has had 4-5 of his pro's on a big card just about every other month. We got to see him on T.V a bunch this year on Showtime and ESPN and he's still got it. His athletes didn't just compete , they won 90% of their fights this year which is impressive at this level. His classes on Sundays have been packed and everyone loves coming and learning from this man. Thank You Jerrick!
In September we had another one the the UFC 's top stars in with Shane " Hurricane " Burgos ! Shane put on seminars for adults and kids in Grappling , Striking and MMA. He also brought some of his students with him to drill with ours as well as his brother who is another up and coming MMA fighter on the road to the UFC. Shane put on the best striking seminar we have had at the Den and the only one comparable would be the one we also did with Valentina Shevchenko this year (pictured below). Everyone who came out to learn from Shane loved this event and we are looking forward to having him back!! Following this event , Shane was in the main event of the biggest UFC event of the year at Madison Square Garden. He had another impressive win and took home the knockout of the night award. Big thanks and congrats to Shane!!
The fall sent Coaches Trent and Caleb back to college as well as to compete for the NCAA Division 1 Buffalo Bulls! They are halfway through the season at this point and have both already compiled about 10 wins a piece over some of the best schools in the country. During the school year they still pop in to teach and train on their breaks and Caleb just ran some great classes over Christmas break involving some new tricks he has picked up in college. You won't find better wrestling. Keep up the good work guys!
In September we made another trip out of state to compete at the Naga BJJ tournament in Springfield Mass. We had another great showing and our kids took 2nd place as a team and adults 6'th out of over 50 teams. This is a huge accomplishment for a team coming from out of state competing with local schools. In 2020 we consistently finished in 1'st place as a team locally and it was great to see the team be able to place high while traveling like this. We had many students take 1st place in this event , some of them winning championship belts in the expert Divisions. Another fun event!
In October , we had our annual Halloween Party!!! This was pretty cool as the Den was decorated and we kicked things off Carving pumpkins as a family. Each child got a large pumpkin provided by the Webb Farmstand on 9J in Castleton. These guys were nice enough to drop off a truck load of huge pumpkins for us. We had a ton of great food and drinks at the event , a piñata, prizes and games for the kids and it was great to see everyone in costume. The pot luck buffet was awesome as always with lots of great dishes and halloween themes desserts.
In November we had another great training opportunity come to us in the form of Joe Warren!! Joe is a world Champion wrestler and also won the title in 2 different weight classes for Bellator in MMA. He came in and taught seminars in Wrestling as well as Grappling for Youth and Adults. 2021 was good to us !! Not only have we had soo many high level talent into our gym but when they are here they work with our kids as well as adults. This is unheard of and I cannot tell you how happy it makes us to be able to give these kids these opportunities ! With the results we are getting in competition..... it seems to be paying off !
In December we wrapped up our seminars for the year with Robson Gracie. Robson is from the world famous Gracie family whom brought Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to America and opened the worlds eyes to its effectiveness in self defense . They changed the face of Martial Arts forever. After traveling to the U.S they traveled from martial arts gym to martial arts gym challenging other arts in competition and sparring to open the eyes of the world to its dominance . They also put in place what was called the " Gracie Challenge " in which anyone could come and challenge one of their family members in competition at any time. They later created what is now known as the UFC , a place in which one martial art could compete against another to find out which was best and won the tournament over and over.These were not big muscle bound men and you regularly saw a skinny guy in a white uniform battling a larger opponent . Sometimes it was a Sumo wrestler, sometimes a boxer , wrestler or bodybuilder . These were fun times and really shed light to what works and what doesn't in a real life battle. The evolution of this contest has created what is now known as Mixed Martial Arts. With all of this occurring in the last 30 years it has been an exciting time for Martial Arts. Robson is the younger brother of Renzo Gracie who runs the worlds most famous Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym in NYC. Robson is one of the head instructors at this school and also competes for the Bellator promotion in MMA. Robson put on a seminar for our Youth and Adults in BJJ while he was here.
We wrapped up the year with one last Belt promotion and Seminar with Professor Secor. Matt himself was busy this year competing in tournaments and the invite only event called Combat Jiu Jitsu. I cannot tell you how fun it has been to not only have such a great school and classes but also such great events with all of the talent that is in and out of this gym. On any given weekend you can tune in to the T.V or internet and watch a UFC fighter you just trained with , a NCAA wrestler you train with and learn from , a Professional Boxer or Coach on ESPN or Showtime and Matt on UFC fight pass. This was another great seminar put on by Matt and his coaches and we finished up by promoting some of our students and having another great dinner together.
What is going on right now and what do we have in store?
While it is going to be hard to top 2021 we are already off to a great start and we have some awesome things planned for this coming year. We are into the wrestling season and already seeing our youth wrestlers dominating on the mat. We have had 9 wrestlers compete so far and 8 of those wrestlers have finished in first place in their 1st tournament having an absolutely dominant day. We are loving what we are seeing from our youth Competition team and their dedication to practice is paying off.
We are adding a 3rd Muay Thai class to our weekly schedule that begins on Thursday , January 20'th. For 2022 we are also looking to add another BJJ class on Sundays as well as another Boxing class on Saturdays so stay tuned for those additions down the road.
Below is a list of upcoming events and competitions for the coming year.
February 12'th - Field Trip to Matt Secor BJJ- This is totally free for all members. We will be taking a field trip to Matt's school in Glens Falls where we will take classes with his students. Youth from 10am-11am , Adults from 11am - 12:30pm. This is highly encouraged as it is always great to roll with new partners as well as getting a day of instruction in with Matt.
March 19'th - Field trip to t Renzo Gracie Main Academy in NYC. This is open to all adult members as well as youth who have been involved in our Advanced program. Cost is $90 and includes 1 class at the academy from 11am-12:30pm as well as a private seminar from 1:30pm - 3pm with Robson Gracie for our members only. Cost does not include transportation . Location is 2 blocks from Penn station and most of us are taking the train down. Cost is $72 round trip if booked in advance. This is limited to 20 members and we currently have 10 registered. To register , leave a $20 deposit at the front desk.
April 1-3 - University Of Buffalo - Lions Den Exclusive Wrestling Camp - This is a camp put on just for Lions Den Wrestlers. Learn from Head Coach John Stutzman (Maac Coach of the year) and his coaching staff on this 3 day camp which is held right inside the UB Wrestling room. The team will also be in the room helping the kids and you will not find a better camp than this as this will be a small group of kids and a whole Division 1 Coaching staff and Team helping them out. Aside from the insane opportunity to learn from them in this setting , it is also a great idea to expose your child to the college setting and it is never too soon to build these connections with coaches . We will be staying at the Millennium hotel which is conveniently located next to the mall and has an awesome indoor pool area which all of our rooms are connected to. A parent must accompany each child. Cost for the camp is $150
April 18'th - Clinic and Belt promotions with Professor Secor - Professor Secor will be down and doing a clinic for our youth and adult students followed by promotions . All students enrolled in our BJJ program should be in attendance. cost is $10 per person and each family must bring a pot luck dish. Spectators are free and can also eat and do not need to bring anything. There is plenty of food for all.
JUNE - Fight Month at the Den - The entire month of June our students will have the opportunity to train with many of the UFC's top stars in our facility as well as abroad. We will be hosting numerous seminars with the UFC's finest , Instructors from the Renzo Gracie School as well as with NCAA wrestling coaches and athletes. Busy month
Aug 5'th - Aug 7'th Annual Den Summer Break - Naga - Wildwood NJ
We head down to Wildwood NJ for Naga's largest tournament worldwide of the year. Kids and Teens compete on Saturday and Adults on Sunday. All competitors can weigh in on Friday . Our Students all stay at the Adventurer Hotel conveniently located at the end of the boardwalk and walking distance to the convention center. You do not have to stay at the hotel or for the entire time to compete or come down. Some families come for the day for the tournament , some stay for multiple days. Either way it is a great time . Kids all play together and parents get to hang and relax by the pool or beach.
Aug 5'th - 10am - Check in at the hotel , then a day at the beach with the team/families . Weigh ins are at 6pm. Dinner at Uries restaurant at 7pm
Aug 6'th - Youth tournament all day .
Aug 7'th - Adult Tournament during day .
Aug 8'th - Raging waters waterpark in the afternoon followed by the boardwalk at night
Aug 9'th - Beach and pool day
August 13'th - Clinic and Belt promotions with Professor Secor - Professor Secor will be down and doing a clinic for our youth and adult students followed by promotions . All students enrolled in our BJJ program should be in attendance. cost is $10 per person and each family must bring a pot luck dish. Spectators are free and can also eat and do not need to bring anything. There is plenty of food for all.
August 14'th - Picture Day at the Den - Would you like a professional Picture done of yourself or your child in your Gi or Fight gear right here at the Den? You can schedule your shoot for 1 person or a group or family. Rates are very affordable with lots of packages to choose from. schedule your slot today at the front desk.
August 15th - 19'th - Summer Camp at the den - 5 Days of fun. Your counselors will be NCAA Division 1 Wrestlers and Coaches . Each day will have 2 practices . 1 practice will be Brazilian Jiu Jitsu each day. The 2nd practice will be Wrestling, Boxing or Kickboxing depending on the day. No experience necessary . There will be a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Brown or Black belt at each practice . Now comes the fun part.... Each day the kids will also have a nerf war as we transform the facility into a war zone with obstacles , barriers with lots of different guns for the kids to choose from.. We will also take 3 field trips during the week to Funplex where each kid will get a pass to enjoy all activities and rides, Regal Cinemas for a movie and east greenbush bowl for bowling. Kids can choose to bring a lunch or buy. If you buy , we bring in food from local restaurants each day including pizza , Mr Subb , taco Bell , McDonald's. We also watch movies and have Ice cream sundae parties.
Limited to 20 kids ( ages 5 and up )
Cost without lunches for members - $270
Cost with lunches for members - $300
Cost without lunches for non members - $325
Cost with lunches for non members - $335
October 28'th - Halloween at the Den - Kids Party will be from 5pm - 7:30pm. Adults can arrive from 5pm on however it will be adult only from 7:30pm on and kids must be out by 7:30pm. Each family will bring a pot luck dish. All children should arrive in costume , adults are costume optional .
Schedule of events
5pm - Costume contest - kids and adults can compete for best costume - Prizes for top 5 costumes
5:30 pm - kids will all get a large pumpkin to carve with their parent followed by a Pumpkin contest - Prizes awarded for top 5 pumpkins .
6:30pm - Piñata
7pm - Pot luck buffet
7:30pm - adult only halloween - each family should bring a pot luck dish . Food and drinks will be served and games played .
November - Wrestling Clinic with university of Buffalo Head coach John Stutzman followed by a NCAA division 1 practice of the UB Wrestling Team. Kids can learn from the head coach and then watch an actual NCAA Team practice in our facility after.
December - Gracie BJJ Seminar -TBA
2022 Tournaments / Fights
January 9'th - Saratoga wrestling tournament
January 16'th - Colonie wrestling tournament
January 23'rd - Guilderland Youth Wrestling Tournament
February 20'th - Hudson Falls wrestling tournament
April 16'th - NAGA - Springfield Mass - BJJ Tournament - pre reg only
June 4'th - NAGA - Albany NY - BJJ Tournament - Pre reg only
July 8'th - Cage Wars - MMA fights
August 6-7 - NAGA Wildwood - BJJ Tournament - pre reg only
September 10 - NAGA - Springfield Mass - BJJ Tournament - pre reg only
Members : Thank You so much for sharing 2021 with us and we cannot wait to see how 2022 unfolds!! Thinking about joining? Now is the time , we offer the best rates of all the local Martial Arts schools by far and you can clearly see what you get with us throughout the year is second to none.
Call : 518-478-3777 to get signed up today !! Come Join the Family