Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

BHSU alum builds martial arts legacy

Bridget Schneller
Jordan Thomas, a BSHU alum, inside his Spearfish martial arts studio. Jordan opened the studio in 2010.

Martial arts benefit the body, mind and soul and provide the discipline to continue through difficult practices in order to reap the rewards of hard work. They create a foundation to surpass challenges, whether that be a temptation to quit when situations get difficult or to push through physical discomfort and create a healthy body.

One might assume that pursuing these practices is easily attained, but that was not always the case for the Spearfish, S.D., area. For years the nearest martial arts studio was in Rapid City.

Jordan Thomas, a martial arts practitioner noticed the lack of access to proper training in the Spearfish Community while he was attending Black Hills State University as a freshman in 2010 and took advantage of the situation to start his own studio.

“I kind of came to a realization that there were no martial arts in Spearfish whatsoever,” Thomas said. “[I]t was kind of directed to me as I was going through college (to start a martial arts studio).”

To turn his idea into a reality, Thomas utilized his resources and knowledge of martial arts to launch the studio that he named Spearfish Martial Arts.

In 2013, Thomas graduated from BHSU and continued to operate his studio. 13 years later, his decision to become an entrepreneur has led to over a decade of running a successful company that provides martial arts classes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, cardio kickboxing and taekwondo.

A strong passion for martial arts was rooted in Thomas at a young age when he started taekwondo.
“I have been in martial arts my whole life and started taekwondo at age six,” Thomas said. “I have done wrestling, boxing, muay thai, hapkido, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.”

His expertise in years of mastering different forms of self-defense is reflected in the way that he teaches his students and handles his business.

Thomas not only shares his experience in martial arts with individuals seeking to learn or perfect their own skills, but he also encompasses the characteristics of a considerate person who wants to help others.

“Community comes first before business,” Thomas said. “I want to work with people and have them come to this martial arts studio.”

Thomas understood the reality that learning these skills can be a difficult and an uncharted experience. So, to counteract this situation, Thomas shaped his studio to provide a welcoming atmosphere for his customers in order to make a new experience something that is approachable and enjoyable.

“When there is a new student, we want to make sure that it’s a comfortable environment as starting martial arts can be a vulnerable experience,” Thomas said. “We will have the new students have hands-on learning throughout the class time and then at the end of the lesson they will watch other people in the class actually perform jiu-jitsu which they will soon be doing in a couple of weeks or so after starting.”

These martial arts lessons are not limited to one group or goal. Rather, he teaches lessons for all ages, men and women, and individuals who want to have an energetic and engaging workout. He also provides the opportunity to work with individuals who would like to compete in this activity in tournaments and prepares his students appropriately.
To make sure that he can cater to a large variety of people interested in martial arts, Thomas provides discounts to first responders, military personnel and BHSU students.

Thomas has had success reaching out to the BHSU community. One of his loyal students is Lilja McKendry, a senior at BHSU and member of the triathlon team. After learning about Spearfish Martial Arts through word of mouth and then noticing great reviews on social media, McKendry, with some of her friends, tried out classes through a free trial. After the free trial, she continued to attend jiu-jitsu and cardio kickboxing classes.

Not only did the positive reviews on social media lure McKendry into joining the martial arts studio, but she was also impressed by what it offers women.

“I would recommend this place, especially to female students…I’ve been to a few other martial arts studios before, and I don’t think they curate as much an inviting environment as Jordan’s Spearfish Martial Arts, McKendry said. “He does such a good job at making first-timers feel really comfortable, especially women.”

McKendry also believes the welcoming atmosphere for people of a variety of experience and skill levels sets Spearfish Martial Arts apart.

“It is a super, super great inviting environment whether beginner or you have done other forms of martial arts you can delve into like jiu-jitsu or taekwondo or kickboxing,” McKendry said.
Thomas remains committed to providing a martial arts studio where Spearfish citizens can come together regardless of skill level in order better one’s body, mind and soul– and, by extension, contribute to the betterment of the community as a whole.