HOHENFELS, Germany -- Hohenfels' Brazilian Jiu Jitsu team kicked-off the 2014 season with seven medals at the Munich Winter International Open IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) Championship, recently.
Winning medals is nothing new for Team Hohenfels, which finished 2013 with a staggering 100 medals from 14 competitions, including 35 first place awards.
"As a coach, I'm so proud of my team, not only for our wins and our numbers, but for the most important success of all, the camaraderie we have developed over the last few years," said coach Jeremy Workman. "For me, it has always been about the relationships more than the sport."
Workman has reason to feel proud.
He founded the team in 2011 with four members, and it has grown to a 50-member competition team with an equal number of students who train but don't compete.
Additionally, the team has recently achieved private organization status, which allows Workman to fulfill his dream of offering jiu jitsu to the community free of charge.
"When I started training eight years ago, the classes were free," Workman said. "I've wanted to give that to the Soldiers and the community."
As prior Air Force, Workman has deployed to Afghanistan and been in and around the military for 15 years. That experience motivates him.
"It's important to me because I see the benefit of learning how to fight, using that in combat," he said. "Money can be one of the obstacles for some people, so I want to give anybody a chance to keep training, all the time, no excuses."
His plan must be working.
Workman said the month after the classes became completely free, participation practically doubled.
"As a private organization, people can walk in the door, sign their waiver, and get on the mat," he said.
Besides his regular classes, Workman also does weekend seminars and meets with units that want to do a combatives class or a grappling-specific class. He recently met with the Joint Multinational Readiness Center Observer Controller team, the Wolverines, to discuss a class on grappling for combat as opposed to competition.
Workman also has a thriving youth program with children ranging from 4 to 17 years old.
"In the children's class, we focus mainly on 4 to 10 years old," said Workman. "It's more games, anti-bullying techniques, and it's a lot of fun."
It may be fun, but it's also effective.
With 12 children competitors between the ages of 4 to 9, Team Hohenfels' "kids" division took first place at an international NAGA (North American Grappling Association) event that boasted 14 total teams.
Another prestigious win for the club in 2013 was the Grappling Games Bavaria Cup Nogi Competition. In a five month race for the Bavaria Grapplers Cup, Hohenfels BJJ won first place as a team at all five events and also earned the overall top team honors.
"Regularly, our small-town club stands toe-to-toe with larger BJJ franchises who will combine with multiple clubs under a joint name to make for larger competition teams at tournaments," said Workman. "Hohenfels stands proudly with arguable the largest overall single-club competition team in Germany, maybe even Europe."
Competitors face four to eight fights in a single day and up to 16 over the course of a weekend. Workman said that many of the Hohenfels competitors often choose to fight in a higher skill category than they are required for the additional challenge.
"At most of our tournaments, we were supported by anywhere from 12 to 27 noncompeting Hohenfels community members who were there to cheer us on and drive our sore and battered bodies back home," said Workman. "It's a better experience when our friends and family travel to support us while we fight."
Team Hohenfels also regularly trains with a German group out of Regensburg, as well as with BJJ teams from Rose Barracks, Tower Barracks and USAG Ansbach.
"As the founder of this club and coach of this magnificent team, I consider myself blessed by my Creator to have an opportunity to interact with and influence so many dedicated individuals who I love as dearly as the family I was born into," Workman said.
Team Hohenfels Brazilian Jiu Jitsu meets five days a week at Building 47 across from post fire station. Children's class (ages 4-12) is from 5 - 6 p.m. Mon, Wed and Fri. Children's class is followed by the Family Class (Teens 13+ and Adults 18+) from 6 - 8 p.m. Adult classes are from noon - 1 p.m., Mon - Fri.
To enroll or for more information, contact Workman at Jeremy.firstname.lastname@example.org or check the team's Facebook page under Hohenfels Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
"My class is totally free to all students," Workman said, "but the experiences we share are priceless."