Best of Lawrence Profile: Making Jiu Jitsu available for any age or athletic ability at Ground Theory

Owners Matt and Heidi Thompson began their Jiu Jitsu journey while stationed at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. Once they finished their military service, they moved to Lawrence to be closer to family. They opened Ground Theory just over a year ago and enjoy teaching Jiu Jitsu to students of all ages.

Editor’s Note: This article is sponsored content produced by the Journal-World’s advertising department. Businesses who received a top three award in the Best of Lawrence competition are eligible to participate in the Best of Lawrence Spotlight Series program, which includes a question-and-answer profile. Look for future profiles in the print and online editions of the Journal-World.

Congratulations on being voted the “Best of Lawrence”! How does it feel to receive this recognition from the community?

We were really excited to see that our students nominated and voted for us and how much they support what we do.

The kid’s class focuses on self-defense and personal development. The program uses Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to teach respect, discipline and self awareness.

What do you believe sets your business apart?

We strive to create a learning environment that welcomes diversity and in which everyone feels included and welcome.

Can you provide a brief overview of your business’s history, including its founding, initial goals and how it has evolved over the years?

We’ve been opened for just over a year, and our goal is to teach Jiu Jitsu and Self-Defense to anyone no matter their age or athletic ability.

How has your business evolved or grown since you first started? What key milestones have you achieved along the way?

The majority of our new students come in from the recommendations of current students. It creates a very positive learning and training environment since a lot of our students also know one another outside of class.

Community support is crucial. How do you engage with the local community, and how has this engagement impacted your success?

The local community is very diverse, and our student population represents that diversity to include various ages and backgrounds.

Ground Theory offers a range of adult classes designed for everyone from a beginner looking for self-defense to an athlete looking to compete. Introductory classes and private lessons are available.

Are there any upcoming projects, events, or initiatives that you’re excited about and would like the community to know?

During the summer, we will have several free seminars, both co-ed and women’s only, designed specifically for beginners. We will cover basic techniques and general information about Jiu Jitsu as it applies to self-defense.

The “Best of Lawrence” title often indicates a commitment to excellence in customer service. How do you ensure that every customer has a positive experience with your business?

We believe that the customer experience starts with the first initial contact with the business. As owners we personally meet every customer when they first walk in the door. We believe in open communication with our customers and welcome their feedback.

What does being an integral part of the Lawrence community mean to you, and how do you plan to continue contributing positively?

We really enjoy teaching a martial art to a diverse group of students and feel that the growth that is cultivated through training and learning to overcome challenges positively impacts our students lives and the lives of those with whom they interact.

Reflecting on your journey, what motivated you to start this business, and how does it feel to see it flourish and earn the “Best of Lawrence” title?

17 years ago we both started training when we were medics in the Air Force. We fell in love with Jiu Jitsu, and it’s exciting to see something grow out of what we are passionate about.

Could you share a memorable customer success story that exemplifies the impact your business has on the community?

One thing that we have seen on several occasions is how students who were previously sedentary get in shape and really improve their overall health after consistently training.

What do you believe has been the biggest contributor to your business’s growth and reputation in the Lawrence area?

Our students’ recommendations to their friends and family members has really helped us to grow.

What long-term goals do you have for your business, and how do you plan to achieve them?

Our long-term goal is to continue to grow our student population, and continue providing a welcoming, positive, safe

environment to train in.

How do you ensure that your business remains an inclusive and welcoming place for customers of all backgrounds?

Inclusivity has always been one of our main focuses. We have both traveled and lived in a variety of different communities which has taught us to be more inclusive personally and as a business. We strive to make sure that our school culture represents our focus on inclusivity.

Reflecting on your experiences, what leadership lessons have you learned that you believe have been instrumental in your business’s success?

Having leadership roles in the military taught us the importance of communicating with people from very diverse backgrounds. People sign up to train Jiu Jitsu for a variety of different reasons, and it’s important to understand each unique student and why they are training with you.