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The Bay Area Martial Arts Podcast

Oct 3, 2017

About your host:

Wade Pitts is a Krav Maga Instructor and Financial Advisor. He is inspired to help people, personally and financially protect themselves and build confidence. In this podcast, he interviews Bay Area Martial Arts practitioners who are leaders in business and/or Martial Arts. The podcast provides an opportunity to share the strong culture and history of martial arts in the Bay Area. Ultimately, the goal is to provide distilled understandings of how training in martial arts has impacted personal and professional lives.



Welcome to the Bay Area Martial Arts Podcast! In this first episode, Wade interviews Ben Kovacs of Guardian Gym located in Oakland, California. Ben Kovacs started out small; He began with an interest in sports from playing basketball his whole life but following College, he began to crave a more standardized workout. Initially, he looked into boxing but quickly ended up stumbling into the world of Martial Arts and Jiu Jitsu. Since then, he has practiced Jiu Jitsu for the past 11 years.


While working full-time at Twitter he became inspired to start up Guardian: A nonprofit gym that provides at-risk youth with free Jiu Jitsu training. He believes that everyone needs a positive outlet and community and that’s exactly what Guardian provides. As Ben describes in this episode, it’s more than just offering a free education; It’s about providing an all-around healthy outlet that allows children to express themselves in a safe space, which, in turn, helps them through all aspects of their life.


Wade and Ben discuss how Guardian went from a dream to reality and the difficulties of starting any kind of gym. As Ben says, you need all the pieces of the puzzle to run a successful business. When you function as a group, the business can sustain itself without any one person. Ben provides insight on his partnerships and how Guardian came to be the now very successful business that it is. With 10 instructors teaching boxing and Jiu Jitsu they are providing classes to 160 paying adult members and over 150 children aged 10-18 for free, Guardian Gym is really giving back to the community.


Key Takeaways:

[1:30] How Ben got started

[3:37] The motivation Ben needed to put his plan into action to open a nonprofit gym

[5:35] The importance of having an outlet and community through Jiu Jitsu.

[6:50] How Guardian Gym came to be through a partnership of like-minded individuals

[10:05] The success of Guardian

[12:40] A turning point for the organization

[16:00] The difficulties of running a nonprofit and how to run a well-functioning gym

[19:20] What’s next for Guardian Gym? Expanding the organization and organically growing

[30:42] Being present in the moment; Flow States

[35:05] Future of modern Jiu Jitsu and new gyms

[38:40] ‘Volunteer Socialism’

[42:38] All large companies start with ‘one.’

[47:25] Wade and Ben discuss the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor Mcgregor fight.



Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi