Making The Leap | Icon Jiu Jitsu Team Belfast

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Great place to better yourself and make genuine mates.

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A great and welcoming place to train and learn. From day one you are put at ease. You learn something new and provided with a brilliant workout.

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I can honestly say this is the best thing I’ve done in a long time, positive vibes as soon as you walk in the door and all the team are 110% and couldn’t be more helpful and welcoming.
Dave is an absolute gentleman and a brilliant coach, he always has time for u and will make sure u understand what’s going on. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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Great gym, amazing people, wouldn't trade it for anything.

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Great bunch of people to train with. Friendly and welcoming atmosphere. An hour just flies by.

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Making The Leap

When do you make the leap?????


We started small… 8 students on a cold October night, all of whom were brand new to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with zero idea of even what a ‘breakfall’ was!! Let alone the more exciting stuff like arm-bars and chokes!!


These 8 brave beginners turned up to the newest BJJ club in town – Icon Jiu Jitsu Belfast.

One of the very first classes at Icon Belfast after we opened our doors in October 2018


We were conducting our classes on somebody else’s mats, late at night as this was the only time the mat space was available!


Although it was very early days for us, and the class size very small and inexperienced, the atmosphere was already starting to take shape.  The students bonded well, sharing laughs and making friendships that became as important as the training itself.

An early days training session before we had our own mat space

We set the culture very early – no egos and no space for people who were there simply to show off or test themselves.  The point of this new team was to create an team where people could come and train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in an environment where they would be supported and guided to develop themselves in all areas a martial art can give you.  Skills are important, but the confidence, focus, and discipline that come along with martial arts are as important as anything else.




Soon, the number of students began to grow and grow.  The benefits of BJJ are well documented, and word got out about this new club in Belfast.


I needed more space to teach the classes.  More nights and times to fit in the growing number of people.


There was an empty and unused space inside the facility we were using.  I enquired about renting it full time.  At this point in my life, this was a scary prospect.  I was still working full time and it seemed like a huge commitment to me.  Looking back, this paled into insignificance compared to what the future held in store, but I suppose everything we do is relative eh???


I agreed a monthly rent with the owner of the space then the pressure was on!!  Buy all of my own mats and equipment, come up with a full-time timetable, carry on coaching all of the classes and keep delivering the standard we had become known for, and make sure the whole thing ran like clockwork.  Sounds easy right!!!!


THIS WAS A BIG LEAP – But there was more to come!!


Finally on our own mat space after launching a full time BJJ academy. Still inside someones else’s gym though… was this enough??











We did it!  Our small team grew to over 100 members.  Some of these had never even considered BJJ!!  But the ethos of our team managed to cross boundaries and allow safe mat space and a place in a great team to anybody who had the will and the right attitude, regardless of physical ability, confidence, or zero experience levels!


The success carried on… More students wanted to join, and even our children’s programme was maxed out.




It was time to make a huge investment in our Icon Community.  It was time to move.  It was time to take on our own location.  It was time to give first rate facilities, and a cool space for our members to hang out and bond off the mats as well as on.


I was browsing ‘units to let’ on a cold November day – just over 3 years after we first opened our doors in Belfast.  This was a routine I had done several times a week for over 18 months!!  Then I saw it!!


THE MOST PERFECT PLACE, IN THE ABSOLUTE BEST LOCATION.  Boucher Road was my number one choice.  And the unit itself looked like it had been designed for the BJJ academy that I had always had in mind.


And this was it – DO I MAKE THE LEAP???  IS THIS THE RIGHT TIME???  We’re dealing with a global pandemic which has caused so much uncertainty.  It has caused fear and massive disruption for businesses around the world.  Running a small business seemed impossible at times.


So, “When do I make the leap?” – the answer is RIGHT NOW.  The fear would be here with or without the pandemic.  Fear always exists when we level up or get out of our comfort zone.  But this had been a goal for so long.  So, it was time to back myself, see it as a huge challenge, remember my WHY (Maybe the most powerful tool we all have), and get on with making this happen.


Work taking shape in our brand new Boucher Road academy, ready to open in January 3rd 2022

The academy is really taking shape and we’re well on schedule to open on January 3rd 2022.  The interest has been huge and the programmes, training, and facilities will be excellent… But our team was built on it’s community, and that’s what gives me the most confidence about making the leap – Our new academy is the ‘how’ we do it, but the people in the team are the WHY.





Never let fear stop you making the leap.  It’s there to remind you that you’re moving forwards.


I hope Christmas 2021 is whatever you need it to be – and is getting you READY to turn 2022 into whatever you want.


See you on the mats very soon


Dave 🤙