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By Whitney Wyatt/The Red River Sun—
CHILDRESS – Matt Halliday feels so blessed Zion Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Childress has survived the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s paying it forward. He’s hosting a Thanksgiving Community Food Drive for Food4U Food Pantry.
Residents can drop off shelf-stable dry goods, like peanut butter and canned fruits, vegetables and meat at the Academy, which is located at 1103 Ave. F NW next door to Catherine’s Flowers, Halliday said. The drive goes through Monday, Nov. 16.
“I thought it would help and be something nice,” said Halliday, who isn’t doing this alone. His students are helping spearhead the food drive. “We want this to be big and the best November and Thanksgiving for the food pantry.”
Halliday is so passionate about this because hardship is nothing new to him. He had to close his Clarendon location during COVID-19.
“It really broke my heart,” Halliday said. “I had a lot of great students there. I was really scared I would lose everything.”
He was scared, because he closed the Academy in Childress on March 13 and didn’t open back up until May 18. Halliday said he closed before the governor’s mandate, because students are his main priority.
“I wanted to reassure parents,” Halliday explained. “Luckily, I had enough loyal students, and they stayed with me.”
While he lost some clients and is going through a rebuilding process, he is seeing a new crop of students. After speaking at Childress High School’s Career Day, Halliday saw a high volume of girls apply to the Academy. Halliday said the girls told him: “I want to do self-defense, so I don’t get sex trafficked”.
This was nothing new to him. It’s why he has a ladies-only kick boxing class.
“I’ve had a student use what she learned in class with a stranger in real life,” Halliday said. “What you are really learning is how to fight. It’s changed their (women’s) lives.”
And his students are changing his life. In addition to being the head instructor at Zion Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, Halliday celebrated his one-year anniversary of ownership in June.
“I’ve been so blessed,” Halliday said. “I’ve seen so much love from the students. Parents tell me it’s the best decision they’ve made. It’s brought their families together.”
Halliday said Zion Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy is a family and Jiu-Jitsu is more than a workout. It’s about self-esteem, self-confidence and self-respect. It’s also a great way for kids to learn patience and control.
“It’s hard being a kid,” he said. “A lot of kids get left out of things. They don’t always fit in.”
This is where Zion Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy comes into play. Halliday said having an inner accomplishment at a young age is important. He offers Little Ninjas classes for ages four to six at 5 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. It is $55 a month.
The next age group is seven to 12-year-olds. The Youth Class meets at 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. It costs $65 a month. The Adult Class meets at 7 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. It is also $65 a month. The Ladies Only Kickboxing classes are at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s $55 a month.
Halliday said Zion Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy is not about him. It’s about his students.
“They go home sore, they go home tired and they may ache,” Halliday said. “But they realize they’re machines. They can do anything. I want everyone to be a champion.”
For questions, please call 940-235-5770 or go to www.facebook.com/ZionBJJAcademy.