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Matt Leighton: Raising the Bar for BJJ in Iowa

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Gordon Ryan Guard Passing Instructional

Regarded as one of Chicago’s most prominent grapplers only a few years ago, Matt Leighton has left the Windy City to set his sights on raising the bar for jiu-jitsu in Iowa, a state well-known for its wrestling tradition.

Although still an active competitor in the adult black belt circuit, Matthew found his professional vocation in coaching, which he says is not really a career but a lifestyle. “You have to have a deep-seated passion for both teaching, and training,” said Leighton, “This sport is tough. Coaching is tough. There are so many horror stories out there from students who joined a school, their coach made all kinds of promises to them, but then a few years later, their coach gets lazy and stops training, or even worse, stops coaching, and passes the coaching duties onto his lower-belt students; now the lower belt students are put in a coaching role prematurely and ultimately short-changed because of their coach’s laziness and neglect. Happens a lot. Too much.” Dedication and passion for coaching are what the young Chicagoan is delivering at his brand new school Citadel BJJ in Iowa City.

Although Citadel BJJ as only been around for a short period, Leighton’s path as a coach in Iowa City started a few years ago, having gradually grown towards this new space. “When I came to Iowa, the plan was to start a school. The only thing in Iowa City for people to get quality instruction along with good hard training was a BJJ club at the University Of Iowa, that a good friend of mine John Gutta built. John then passed the club on to me after he started his own school in a nearby city here in Iowa.”

“There was such a demand here in Iowa City for a real BJJ school that provided tough training instead of the University-ran club, that I linked up with my friend and training partner James Kelly, who is a top-notch wrestling coach and strength trainer that runs Eastern Iowa Wrestling Club, an extension of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. James understands the business-end of starting, running, and building a school. He’s consulted for MMA and BJJ schools across the country, and he’s an experienced wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach for both kids and adults, so it was a perfect fit.”

The reputation of Leighton and his students has been growing out in the Midwest, but rest assured, the environment is friendly and welcoming of newcomers: “At Citadel BJJ in Iowa City, we provide classes for all types of people, all levels, for the people who want to compete and win, or the people who want to train for life and experience all the benefits that learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has to offer.”


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BJJ class in #IowaCity 🥋

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“So, to anyone reading this who is interested in training jiu-jitsu with us here in Iowa City, know that we’re going to coach you and train with you and push you hard and build you up so you get the results you want. Go to our website, and get yourself on our list to get free reports, videos, tips, and more, or call us now at 319-855-8110, tell us what you’re looking to get out of a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program, and find out more about our free trial.

For Iowa City’s Citadel BJJ Social Media go to:

Instagram: @citadelbjj
Facebook: /CitadelBJJ

Citadel BJJ Address:

Citadel Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
4172 Alyssa Ct Suite A,
Iowa City, IA 52240

John Danaher BJJ Escapes

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