The Covid-19 pandemic brought challenges to the martial arts industry that have never been seen before.
In my latest series of articles "Martial Arts After the Pandemic," I examined how school owners and organizations had to adapt to the new environment. Even though some school owners managed to find new ways to keep their businesses running, and keep students engaged, many took heavy losses.
While most school owners are clawing their way back from the economic abyss brought on by Covid-19, it will be years, if ever, that they can find a way to pay off the debt and unforeseen expenses brought on by the required shutdowns.
Recently, a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress to help bring back the health and fitness industry, including martial arts schools. The Gym Mitigation and Survival Act or GYMS Act would provide welcome support in the form of a 30 billion dollar grant program to those that had to hang tough during the pandemic.
Q and A About the GYMS Act
To find out how this bill can help the martial arts industry, I asked Helen Durkin, Executive VP for Public Policy of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, (IHRSA) to break it all down.
What is the IHRSA?
IHRSA is a trade association representing the global fitness industry.
Will the GYMS Act help martial arts school owners that have been struggling during the pandemic?
The broad definition of eligible entities means that martial arts studios would be eligible for the grants created by the GYMS Act. The Act defines an eligible facility as "instruction in a program of physical exercise and which offers space for maintenance and development of physical fitness" There are some exclusions but, I don't see that they would apply to martial arts school owners. So yes, if it passes, martial arts studios should be eligible to apply for the grants. *(see definition of eligible entities at end of article)
Where is the bill in terms of the legislative process now?
You and your readers can look at the online dashboard at any time and to see how the bill is progressing. Just look at ihrsa.org/dashboard.
Here's where things stand right now. Currently, there are 129 sponsors in the House. Our target is to get 150 sponsors in the House to send a loud and clear message to House leadership that Congress supports helping out physical activity centers. We have excellent momentum and believe we will reach that target. (With the martial arts industry's help.)
In the Senate, several Senators have expressed support for the bill. We are working with the bills original sponsors to get both sponsors from both sides of the aisle. There is progress and momentum on the Senate side, it's just not reflected in the bill count yet.
What can a typical school owner expect to receive from the bill?
Here's a summary of the bill.
The Grant would cover
- Initial grants are the lesser of 45 percent of 2019 revenue or $20 million.
- Eligible entities with revenue of 33 percent or less in the latest quarter compared to the corresponding quarter in 2019 are eligible for a supplemental grant. The supplemental grant may not exceed 25 percent of the initial grant.
- The aggregate amount of grants to an eligible entity and any affiliated businesses may not exceed $25 million.
○ An eligible entity may use grant funds: for payroll costs, rent, utilities, mortgage interest, interest on debt accrued before February 15, 2020, worker protection expenditures, payments of principal on outstanding loans, payments made to independent contractors (1099-MISC), settling existing debts owed to vendors, maintenance expenses, administrative costs, taxes, operating leases, advertising, fitness equipment, subscription, and software expenses that are within the scope of normal business practice, payments required for insurance on any insurance policy, costs required under any State, local, or Federal law or guideline related to social distancing, and any other expenses that the Administrator deems necessary.
Will the funds be administered similarly to the Payment Protection Program (PPP)?
We revised the administration to align with what was outlined in the Save Our Stages bill that was passed December 2020. The Small Business Administration will make the grants. None of the conditions of the PPP would apply to this grant.
What can students and school owners do to help move this bill along and be enacted?
It's really easy. Use this 1-click campaign and students, school owners and employees can ask their members of the House and Senate to sponsor the GYMS Act. It is great for your elected officials to hear that you too need help.
Is there anything else our readers should know about the GYMS Act?
Go to TheGYMSAct.com to learn all the ways you can support the GYMS Act. If you want to do more than just the one click campaign you can call or reach out to your member of Congress. Help get to 150 sponsors in the House and build the list in the Senate. We have all the materials you need to do that on TheGYMSAct.com. You can see talking points on the bill and more. There is also a link to contact us if you want to do more.
The time to act is now. Let's all do our part and bring back a thriving martial arts industry.
*GYMS ACT Eligible Entities
Eligible entities include fitness facilities providing instruction in a program of physical exercise and which offer space for the maintenance and development of physical fitness.
The following are not eligible entities:
- Facilities for golf, hunting, sailing, or riding;
- Facilities which are part of a State or local government entity;
- Facilities for which the health and fitness components are incidental.
Eligible entities with equity or right to profit distributions of not less than 50 percent, and which have the contractual authority to control any business, are considered to be affiliated with that business.
Barbara Matic became Croatia's first ever judo world champion Thursday fighting off a late choke attempt to defeat Japan's Yoko Ono in the women's 70 kg finals in Budapest, Hungary. Matic scored late with a tani otoshi throw tripping Ono to the mat though Ono got a strong grip on the lapel of Matic's gi going for the choke. But Matic was able to survive until time expired to claim the title.
While Matic came into the world championships unseeded, Spain's Nikoloz Sherazadishvili was the number one seed in the men's 90 kg class and lived up to the billing winning the gold. Sherazadishvili had to go into golden score (overtime) to secure the title in the finals against Uzbekistan's Davlat Bobonov where he countered Bobonov's outside trip attempt with an inside trip to take the match.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist and three division professional world champion boxer Claressa Shields showed exactly what you'd expect in her much anticipated mixed martial arts debut in Atlantic City, N.J. Thursday night. The most accomplished boxer to ever cross over into modern MMA, Shields displayed relatively weak grappling but powerful punches along with determination in coming back to stop Brittney Elkin in the third round of the PFL 4 main event.
Shields got taken down and mounted for most of the first two rounds avoiding submissions but doing little else from the bottom. The couple of times she did manage to momentarily escape, she showed her inexperience by staying close to Elkin and trying to ground and pound her rather than standing up, which only got her taken to her back again. But toward the end of the second round she was able to scramble out from underneath her opponent and deliver some hard punches from the top position which seemed to stun Elkin. At the start of the third Shields sprawled to defend a takedown and continued to hammer a seemingly spent Elkin with punches from her knees until the referee stopped the contest.
PFL 4, 2021 Fight Highlights
When you think of the name Gracie, likely the most famous family in martial arts, you probably don't also think of coffee, but that may be changing.
When you think of the name Gracie, likely the most famous family in martial arts, you probably don't also think of coffee, but that may be changing. Bean2Bean coffee company based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania recently put the finishing touches on their newest product: Gracie Grounds.
The same family name that has become synonymous with armbars, triangles, and chokes may soon similarly be equated with your morning cup of rich-flavored liquid energy used to start your day of training.
So why Gracie coffee? Who is Bean2Bean? Will this help my Jiu-Jitsu? For the answers to these questions and more, read on.
Bean2Bean is a family business that was started by Obel Hernandez Sr. in 2013. Recently, I spoke to Obel Hernandez Jr. Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, and Olivia DiToro Director of Media to find out the answers to all of the above questions.
There are many coffee companies. Aren't they all the same? Not really. Bean2Bean has a unique edge, aside from the Gracies, in the form of their founder, Obel Hernandez Sr. When it comes to coffee, Obel Sr. literally sets the bar for just about everyone else. Obel Jr. explains, "He's certified by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to grade coffee. He's one of forty people in the world that have that licensing and the only one in the state of Pennsylvania."
What is grading coffee? It is what it sounds like, Obel Jr. instructs, "People send him (Obel Sr.) coffee, to his division, which is called ICE, Intercontinental Exchange, and get it graded. These people have bought coffee in the futures market, or have coffee they are sitting on, and it is sent to his department to be approved or fail. If it is approved, they can command market value or higher for it. If not, they can't." He breaks it down further, "It's kind of like a Beckett's grading system. They look at the beans before they're roasted, in the green state, for any defects. If there are more than eight defects, it's kicked out."
Having such an authority in-house is great for Bean2Bean. Olivia DiToro expounds, "Our quality of beans is so much higher because we have not only someone that cares and understands the quality of the beans, but also is certified to do so professionally for the entire world."
The coffee/Jiu-Jitsu connection makes a lot of sense once you realize that Brazil exports more coffee than any other country. With Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu having flourished and become a popular martial art in America, now is the time, and the next logical step, for the Gracies to make famous another Brazilian export. DiToro tells, "People are loving Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and so they're thrilled and excited to be able to bring coffee into the mix and share that part of Brazilian culture with America as well."
Having the name Gracie on a bag of coffee is not just a branding exercise. A great deal of thought and effort has gone into making the product the best it can be and representative of Brazil and their most famous family. Obel Jr. laid out the process, "We had a sit-down with Daniel (Gracie). Kind of introduced ourselves so he could learn who we are as a business and a family and learn about him and Jiu-Jitsu and the Gracies, where they came from in Brazil. With that knowledge, my dad thought that he wanted to do a blend of natural Brazilian coffee and washed Brazilian coffee." Additionally, Obel Jr. clarified that the Gracie Grounds are a single-origin coffee, meaning, "All of the coffee in the bag comes from one country."
While Bean2Bean has partnered with other organizations from time to time, Gracie Grounds will be around for a while, DiToro affirms, "This project has meant a lot to us, so we will keep it around for the foreseeable future."
So, will coffee improve your Jiu-Jitsu? I'm not sure. However, if the Gracies are drinking it, I would definitely give it a try.
Gracie Grounds — Bean2Bean
Product Description: Jiu-Jitsu and coffee go hand-in-hand when it comes to Brazilian culture. Two of the most influential exports of the country come together as one in this collaborative roast. We've partnered with Daniel Gracie and the Gracie Family Academies to share Brazilian culture with you.
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