LANCASTER – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio Gracie Barra West Lancaster is Senate District 21’s Small Business of the Month for June, Sen. Scott Wilk announced.
“Whether it’s giving back to local organizations or sharing their love of Jiu-Jitsu with others, they do a fantastic job fostering community connections,” Wilk said in a news release.
Gracie Barra West Lancaster was founded five years ago by husband and wife, Nathan and Evelyn Wilcox. The family-run establishment strives to be a safe and inviting location where students can come to learn self-defense. The studio currently boasts 300+ students and offers classes for kids, teens, and adults, as well as fitness and private training classes.
“Patience, kindness, empathy, as well as resilience and grit were things I learned on the Jiu-Jitsu mats before I was able to apply them in any other aspects of my life,” said Nathan Wilcox, a former correctional officer at Lancaster State Prison with more than 20 years of experience in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. “Through our school we are able to pay this forward by doing for others what Jiu-Jitsu has done for us, which is something I have made my personal mission at Gracie Barra West Lancaster.”
During the pandemic, Nathan and Evelyn held classes online through zoom and worked hard to keep the business open, navigating health department limitations. Gracie Barra West makes a point of giving back to local businesses and organizations, especially during the holidays, and frequently collaborates with the Antelope Valley Black Chamber of Commerce.
There are over 700 Gracie Barra schools worldwide, with each one overseen by Gracie Barra certified instructors. It was originally developed by Master Carlos Gracie Jr., and the key values of the discipline are brotherhood, integrity and development. The teachings, practices, and programs have been passed down to gyms across the world to expand Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and to build a culture and brotherhood.
Nathan and Evelyn Wilcox share four kids, one of whom recently joined the U.S. Coast Guard.