Whether competing as an athlete, learning self defense or picking up a hobby, the Plattsburgh State Jiu-Jitsu club caters to many. The sport is a traditional Japanese martial art steeped in history.
Theoren Thorn, club president and captain, earned his blue belt in 1 1/2 years, an accomplishment that takes three years on average. With no instructor for the program, Thorn has also assumed that role.
Around him in the group activity room of Memorial Hall are his teammates dressed in Jiu-Jitsu gis laying out mats. They dress in the traditional robe and lapel on fridays instead of sweats.
“With what we’ve had to work with, we’ve accomplished a lot,” Thorn said.
He rallied off some of his teammates’ successes with pride–Eric Whitney placed first in multiple divisions, Michael McDonald placed second in his first competition and Mackenzie McGovern and Jacob Jabaut both have placed.
As a competitor, Thorn’s resume is impressive. He has 39 wins to three losses, placing first, second or third in each tournament.
The team has two upcoming tournaments in Albany, the North American Grappling Association grappling championship March 3 and the Good Fight April 21, and will host Grappling Industries April 7 at the Plattsburgh City Recreation Center.
“I expect us to all place very well,” Thorn said.
Thorn and the Plattsburgh team are familiar with most of the opponents likely to compete from previous tournaments. Thorn expects challengers to come from gyms from Montreal to Albany and New York City.
It will be the first official Jiu-Jitsu tournament in Plattsburgh, and Thorn thinks it could be big for the sport in the area.
“It’ll open up a lot of potential,” Thorn said.
There are no dedicated gyms for the sport in Plattsburgh. A few programs exist in the community but lack any formal instruction or certified teachers. Thorn also drives to a gym in Montreal, where the sport, is more popular to compete.
One of Thorn’s ambitions is to open up an academy in Plattsburgh.
“There is not a lot available to anyone out here with Jiu-Jitsu or mixed martial arts,” Thorn said.
One of Thorn’s friends, Bellator MMA fighter Matt Secor, started a Jiu-Jitsu gym in Glens Falls. Like Plattsburgh, there was no gym in the area. Secor’s school became a hit according to Thorn, and the sport grew in popularity. In the future, Thorn wants to bring that success to Plattsburgh.
Thorn eventually wants to get into mixed-martial arts and started his combat sport venture training in Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. He shined in Jiu-Jitsu and decided to focus on it and get as good at it as possible before he makes the step to MMA.
Thorn and his teammates take pride in the club being a nice and friendly environment.
“I know we’re practicing chokes on each other, but we’re very welcoming,” Thorn said. “We’re not trying to scare anyone off or hurt anybody.”
“I’m new this year and made all my friends at school through this,” Lucas Rotz said.
Not a lot of people on campus are aware of the club, Thorn said, which may change as the team continues their success, hosts its own tournament and campaigns for new members at involvement fairs.
Email Ken Bates at firstname.lastname@example.org