Mike Vanin

Non-profit combat

Tucked away in the Burnt Lake Industrial Park in a fair-sized office space, a husband and wife team moonlight teaching Japanese jiu-jitsu, but neither of them get paid to do so.

Tucked away in the Burnt Lake Industrial Park in a fair-sized office space, a husband and wife team moonlight teaching Japanese jiu-jitsu, but neither of them get paid to do so.

They operate a non-profit martial arts and self-defence dojo, offering a wide array of classes, called the Alberta Jiu-Jitsu Association.

What started as the brainchild of Kevin Lintott has grown significantly to include about 30 black-belt instructors province-wide. Kevin has been involved in martial arts for about 25 years while his wife, April, has been doing it for seven.

Because it is a non-profit, Kevin and April have day jobs, as a police officer and working with Alberta Health Services respectively, but moonlight with the association. They run two children programs and one adult program, as well as self-defence classes to outside organizations. They also offer a kid-safe program, teaching kids about strangers, staying safe and what to do if someone does try to take them.

Kevin ran a commercial martial arts school in Calgary before becoming a police officer. In 2002 they came up with the idea of offering martial arts the non-profit way.

“The way Japanese tradition was with martial arts was there was never a fee charged for it,” said Kevin. “We wanted to turn it into something people did because they loved to do it, because they enjoyed the culture, discipline and tradition of the martial arts.”

The association runs schools in Okotoks, Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer and Grande Prairie. There are black belts at all of them who volunteer their time to teach. Red Deer’s dojo is called Goshinkan.

“The parents know you’re doing it for the kids and you’re in it to teach them,” said April, adding there are benefits to martial arts including self-esteem and confidence.

“We don’t turn people away,” said Kevin. “If they can’t afford, we’ll ask them to help get more people to come, help clean the facility or recruit people. We usually leave it up to them and ask what they can do to help us because we know they can’t afford anything.”

April recounted a time when one of her students had missed a couple of weeks. She texted the kid’s father asking where the student was.

“He replied ‘honestly I can’t afford it right now,’” said April. “I told him that honestly that’s no reason not to bring him, you can bring him anyway.”

They are a registered non-profit society and are funded through membership fees, fundraising ventures, casinos, donations, sponsors and provincial grants.

“All the money we do draw in is just turned back to the dojos to cover rent or any equipment cost,” said Kevin. “No money exchanges hands and nobody gets paid.”

For more information about the Alberta Jiu-Jistu Assocation visit www.albertajja.com, call 403-342-1771 or email ajitsua@telus.net.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

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