COLUMBIA FALLS — Combat sports have begun gaining more and more popularity, and now Glacier Grappling is one gym in Columbia Falls providing a space for any and all ages interested in mixed martial arts, from Brazilian Jui-Jitsu to kickboxing.
"I think a lot of the times people are looking for in martial arts or Jiu-Jitsu or MMA in general, we're looking for qualities. We're looking for self-defense, we're looking for confidence, we're looking for discipline, structures," said Glacier Grappling owner and head coach Gage Morsette. "There are so many things we can gain through martial arts and MMA and Jui-Jitsu, it's just innumerable, it's hard to say how many there are."
Morsette’s business partner, David Brown, has experienced some of those benefits firsthand and couldn’t be more grateful for how he’s been able to apply them in his everyday life.
"The benefits of emotional discipline and the physical discipline just have far-reaching affects, you know?" said Brown. "That you can take to your workplace, your family, you know, your kids. Those life benefits are tremendous."
The gym was initially founded in Whitefish in 2017 in a shared space, but thanks to the recent rapid growth of their members, the owners needed to expand to a larger space.
"I started out with the women's self-defense class, and I was like, 'Oh, OK. I really like this,'" said member and owner Jackie Smith. "I made friends with a bunch of the girls that were in there, and I just thought it was great.
"I felt really comfortable coming to the class and I was like, 'This is good, I like doing this,' and then I got into the Jui-Jitsu part of it. And I was like, 'This is a really good program.' My son comes to the kids class. You know, I found myself to be immersed in the program, and this is what we're doing now."
Jordan Jetti, 16, has been a member for four years and has also become fully immersed in the community that the gym has to offer.
"Just the people. You know, just getting better for myself and other people around me. I feel like that's what my favorite part is," said Jetti. "And, you know, seeing other people come in and having their mind blown, like, 'Whoa, you can actually do that? That's crazy, I've never seen that happen before.' So I feel like that's my favorite part, just the people in the community."
After expanding from a regular seven members at the old location to now nearly 80, Glacier Grappling hopes the growth only continues as more classes are added.
"You can think of 100 reasons not to do something, right?" said Morsette. "Whether it's, I'm tired, I worked a lot, any of those reasons you can think of, those are also gonna be your exact reasons to come in, get outside your comfort zone, find that growth you're trying to discover."