Hi Everyone and welcome to our newsletter. We like to put these out every few months to keep everyone informed on what we have coming up at the Den. I am also going to give you a rundown of some of what we did in 2022. 2022 was a great year for us , we continued to grow as a school and that took place in terms of our number of students , the number of classes we offer as well as the experience levels of both our students and instructors . One of our biggest accomplishments as a school has been the addition of our weekday BJJ classes. We now have BJJ on Mon, Weds and Fridays at 11am and are getting a good turnout for those classes. The classes are still small (3-10 people) but that is a good thing and you should take advantage of the small numbers and attention you can get from your instructors while you can. Our instructor for this class is Mike Alessi who was actually one of my first students who started with me back in 2006. I found Mike training in an abandoned Elks club with some other vagrants . I was sent to check them out by someone. I entered the building as 1 kid came out and was puking followed by smoking a cigarette . These guys were actually training for mma fights this way, lol . Many of them had already competed, smh.
I ended up taking Mike from that way of training and he went on to fight 4 times with me going 3-1 in that time . Back then I owned and ran a school in Columbia county where Mike resided but I unfortunately closed that location which forced Mike to train elsewhere for years. This came as a blessing in disguise as now being back with us , Mike offers much of what I have taught him but also what he has learned elsewhere which broadens our curriculum.
( Mike pictured above with an afternoon class)
Another big addition to 2022 has been our MMA team. We have had some fighters prior to this year but in this year we have gone from having 2-3 fighters and having to bring in training partners for them to having 8-9 fighters and to now be a destination for local fighters to come and train. We house the top 3 local amateur fighters in the NYS in Trent , Caleb and El and we are vey excited for the up and coming fighters we have that are making their debut's in 2023. El fought 3 times this year and Brendan once . We came away with 4 wins all ending in the 1'st round and El obtained his first Championship title. The fight events were an excellent time and we regularly had 20-30 of our members at the events and even some of the kids came out to see our fighters in action. Pictured below is El at the last event last week obtaining the Belt.
The next event we will have fighters competing in, will be February 18'th. Caleb will be fighting for the Bantamweight title in Barre Vermont at Donnybrook promotions. Teammate Steve Miller will also be making his debut for us and we are very excited to see the fruits of their labors displayed at this event. They have both worked hard.
You can come out with us to this event on February 18'th or also watch from home via PPV. I will share a link for the event in the days leading up to it on our members only page via facebook ( Left , El brought back his belt to show the kids at the Den ) We have added an MMA class to our schedule this year as well as a fight team practice which is something you don't see at other area schools. This weekend coach Svingala is taking Caleb , Steve and Brendan from our MMA Team down to train with Demetrius Johnson who is pound for pound one of the best fighters in UFC History .
Another thing we have worked on in 2022 is continuing to build our Women's program. This has been an ongoing effort over the past 2 years. We are the only local school that has regularly offered Women's only classes. Coach Kathleen has been steady in her efforts to keep this going and at times things looked bleak. We started out with 2 classes per week , that fell to 1 and we are happy to announce that we are adding a 2nd one back in 2023. Our Lady members numbers are at the highest they have ever been. Most of them are active and we have a few we are hoping we can get back in to help support this group! The more Ladies we have in these classes the more we can offer them and we are not satisfied with 2. We will gladly offer this 7 days a week if the time comes. Another thing we are super excited for is our upcoming Super Seminar Weekend this April!!!!
SEMINARS !!! Seminars are something we highly value here at the Den and they are again something you will rarely see anywhere else. We believe bringing in some of the best coaches and athletes in our sport can be beneficial in a number of ways. Not only are you or your child learning directly from these stars and obtaining knowledge from some of the best but you can ask them questions in regard to preparation , training , you name it. When it comes to the kids , they now see these stars as less of a Star and someone they see on TV and more of
someone they can reach out and touch. I feel it makes them feel like they can better achieve some of their goals in the Sport or anywhere for that matter. . ( Pictured above is Erin Blanchfield who is one of the UFC's top rising stars and to the right we have Heather Hardy who is a World Champion Boxer and Bellator star )
In 2022 we brought in 2 UFC Hall of famers and past champions in Dan Severn and Mark Coleman along with one of my 1'st students who now fights in the UFC , Mike Davis who continues to win and climb the ladder to the title. We also brought in Jake Shields who is another UFC star and one of the best grapplers in the world today as well as Joe Warren who was a NCAA wrestler , wrestling world champion and Bellator Champion in 2 divisions. 2022 was a fun year! Back to our April super seminar weekend and the Ladies!!!! In 2021 I attempted to put on an event like the one we are doing this April. We just didn't have the numbers at the time to make it work. We are proud to announce that on April 14 - 16 , we will be having our first weekend long Seminar Series here at the Den. ( pictured to the left is UFC star Hannah Goldy )This is a huge event and this year it will feature the 6 of the Top Female Combat Athletes in the world today. However, This event is not just for WOMEN !!!!
This is open to all with seminars for Ladies only , Coed adults and Youth. You can choose between a grappler weekend package that will give you (5) 1 hour long seminars ( 1 with each star ) or the striking weekend package which will give you 4 seminars with 3 of the stars on boxing and Muay Thai. This event is already 2/3rds full and I am urging all students to sign up for this. Half of the people signed up so far are traveling from hours and states away to attend this while you are getting it right here at our gym. To hold a spot all you need to do is put down a $20 deposit . Total cost for the entire weekend long seminar is $110 for youth , $125 for strikers package or $145 for Womens only or Coed Adults. This is dirt cheap and what it normally costs to learn from just 1 of these stars!!!!!!! TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT !!!!! ( Pictured above is 5 time IBJJF World Champion April Parks )
( Pictured to the left we have Bridget Grace, Head Female instructor at the main Renzo Gracie school in NYC ) These 6 women pictured will all be at our school and teaching over the 3 days. Seminars are each limited to 24 people so we aren't overcrowding and you get plenty of time and attention from each star. Of the 6 Women slated to be here the only one not fully committed yet is Heather Hardy whom is fighting next month. She will be able to commit following her fight and if for some reason she cannot do it which is super slim , we would replace her with another female star who would do striking seminars. To continue to offer these once in a lifetime events we need your support to fill the seminars . The Coed one still has lots of room , so guys ...... get signed up. ( Pictured below is Fatima Kline whom is an Invicta MMA star )
Fatima is one of Ladies Im most excited for. She is currently undefeated in MMA and I have a feeling we will see her in the UFC very soon. Years ago we brought in UFC star Pat Barry for a seminar. He brought his girlfriend with him who was an unknown MMA fighter at the time that all of our students got to work with and actually spar with. She later become a well known UFC champion named Rose Namajunas. I see that in Fatima . In 2022 we also did plenty of competing in BJJ . We competed at Tournaments in New Jersey , New hampshire , Massachusetts , New York , Rhode Island and Connecticut . ( Pictured below are El , Eli and Malaki from last weekends Naga tournament) To view what tournaments we plan to compete in this year just go to our events page on the website . The entire year is mapped out.
While we do not push any of our adults to compete , we do require all Youth to compete with us once a year as a team. This year it will be at the Albany Naga on July 8'th. All of our kids should be competing that day and if you are an adult thinking of doing a tournament this year, that would be the one to choose. In competitions in 2022 we came in first place in 2 Naga's in NY and placed top 10 for teams in almost every one out of state which is nuts with 60 - 100 other teams represented. What Malaki is going to do with that sword (pic to the left) he won for 1st place is beyond me. Maybe make a fruit salad?
NEW CLASSES FOR 2023
In 2023 we already have new classes slated to be added in February and April. We are adding 1 more kids class for ages 4-7 , We are adding 1 more womens only class , we are adding another Boxing class and 1 more Muay Thai class. These 4 are already on the schedule with their start dates. We are also planning to add 1 more MMA Class and 2 weekday afternoon classes.1 in Boxing and 1 in Muay Thai. We are hoping to add a 3'rd women's only class as well. I fully expect all this to come to fruition based on the classes we added in 2022.
Annual events at the Den. Prior to 2022 we had our annual Halloween Party which is always a blast . This year we added an annual kids Christmas Party/ Parents night out ( pic to the left ) which was a hit. The kids decorated Christmas cookies and tree ornaments and had Hot cocoa and snacks while parents had a chance to Christmas Shop or maybe just have a few hours to relax. We are making this an annual event so you will see it back in 2023 along with our halloween party. Who knows , maybe we will also have something new in store for 2023.
BELT PROMOTIONS , COACHES BACK FOR 2023 AND ANOTHER SCHOOL !! We got to see some of our adult students promoted to purple belt in 2022 which was pretty cool and a huge accomplishment. We expect many more in 2023 and our next Belt promotion is scheduled for April 2'nd and will be at our Affiliate School - Matt Secor BJJ. We do 1 belt promotion per year at Matt's school and it is fun to get out and meet his students . Members who go also have a chance to get some rolls in with his students following the promotion. At the promotion on April 2'nd coach Caleb will also be receiving his Black belt. Coach Caleb just returned to our school full time from buffalo and we are happy to have him back teaching regular classes. While in Buffalo aside from wrestling at the Division 1 NCAA level , Caleb also attended BJJ and Muay Thai classes at the Buffalo united Martial arts school and has some new things to share with us. Coach Trent is currently attending the NYS Police academy and will be graduating in May. We plan to open our 2nd Lions Den Location in 2023 which Trent will be heading up in Glenmont. Stay tuned for more information on that in the coming months. The best part of all of that is your membership will cover both locations!
We have plenty to be excited about in 2023
See you on that mats!!