It's a small, but passionate group in Missoula. The Yama Naka Jujitsu Dojo is teaching people of all ages the art of self-defense, but it's about much more than just the physical aspect.
"It keeps me grounded, it keeps me focused, just makes me more present in general," says Jeanette McGrath, Yama Naka Jujitsu Sensei.
While each martial art is distinctly different, students often take part in more than just one.
"Right now, I'm studying Dan Zan Ryu jujitsu and judo. In the past, I've done Kenpo, isshin-Ryu Karate, I've done Tai Chi, some Filipino martial arts, so I've done a bunch of different things," says Yama Naka Jujitsu Student Noah Visscher.
Noah Visscher is heading to Utah to test for his second degree black belt in the coming weeks. And while we often view a normal black belt as the pinnacle of martial arts…in some cases, first degree black belt is just the beginning."
"Black Belt, that's sort of an English term to describe what the Japanese call the Dan system. So that has ten levels," says Visscher.
While Noah is going for his second level out of a potential ten…he's one of the very few in Montana to reach that feet.
"Just to put it into perspective, I came here in 2002, I was a Sho Dan (First Degree Black-Belt), I started the club shortly there after. It took until 2007 before we had another black-belt, which meant I couldn't progress until I had people close to me to even train with. The next closest club was in Bozeman which is three hours away, and from there it's 8 hours down to Salt Lake." Says McGrath.
In addition to his competing and testing, Noah can often be found teaching the younger generation
"I definitely see myself opening my own dojo some day. I want to teach, I want to spread this art, because it's given me a lot, confidence and discipline," says Visscher.
"I think it gives them a lot of focus, it's not always about the technique for kids, it's just learning how to follow directions, how to stay focused, how to learn coordination drills, and sometimes they are learning without knowing they are learning," says McGrath.