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April 9, 2024

Easton’s Kids Program Director Jordan Shipman: Seeing the Bigger Picture

Tatyana Grechina

Easton’s Kids Program Director Jordan Shipman: Seeing the Bigger Picture

The most recent episode of the Easton Community Podcast features our Kids Program Director, Jordan Shipman, who took over the Kid’s Program in 2023 after launching Easton Longmont during the Pandemic as its GM.

Listen to the full podcast episode on Spotify or Apple Podcasts!

Coach Jordan, who holds a brown belt in Jiu Jitsu, tells us that transitioning out of the GM role to become the Kids Program Director felt like the shedding of a skin. 

The identity we hold in our roles can play a large part in how we show up in the world. Sometimes, these identities start to feel limiting, and that can mean it’s time to expand or shift gears. However, even when you know it’s time to make a shift, it’s not always easy.

Even when the role of the GM identity had begun to feel constricting, Jordan found he struggled with the process of letting go. Handing over the keys to someone else after building a school from the ground up can bring to light feelings of residual attachment, the process of shedding an old identity. 

While the transition began in January of 2023, it wasn’t until April that Jordan could officially begin his role without any remnants of his GM responsibilities. Up until then, he had one foot in both worlds.

“Both worlds were a little half baked,” says Jordan, “because I couldn’t execute fully on either role, having those responsibilities at the same time. When Phil Lietz officially became the GM in Longmont, I was really able to start getting into the groove.”

Easton Open 2023. Image: Forrest Bishop.

Change in daily climate

Depending on the role you hold at Easton, your day looks vastly different – including how you spend your time and how many people you’re accountable to. 

As Longmont’s GM, Jordan was everybody’s go-to man, coaches, students, parents and front desk alike. His day was filled with the daily happenings of a school, in the trenches with his staff, and with front row seats to any problems that may arise at any time.

As a Kid’s Program Director, Jordan’s day now looks vastly different. As someone with a wider scope lens, he’s no longer accountable to any one location, and doesn’t have a lot of people accountable to him. 

Instead, in addition to researching and developing the most up-to-date Jiu Jitsu curriculum for the Kids Program, Jordan spends much of his time visiting schools, building relationships, seeing classes, and getting to know the other Kids Department Heads and staff.

Working on the Kid’s Program means getting to drive the ship’s creative vision, but without a direct link to any one academy, part of the job requires figuring out how best to disseminate and instill it. This often means trusting others on Easton’s team to do their job and trickle the information down to each academy’s staff.

It also means navigating the gap between the frontline, where you frequently have to innovate to solve problems on the spot, and the wider perspective of our organization’s operational direction.

Seeing the full scope from an executive position, you’re not just dealing with your home academy. You’re now acutely aware of the way all eight schools operate together and what success looks like for the whole fleet.

 This changes your understanding of situations, and it can also change your approach to finding solutions, taking into account the full picture.

[How Competing in Martial Arts Benefits Your Kids]

Easton Open 2023. Image: Forrest Bishop.

The importance of competition for kids

One of the biggest pieces of Jordan’s new role at Easton involves redefining the Kids Competition Team. What does that mean? 

Competition doesn’t always get the best reputation. However, with the right approach and mindset, competition can become a staple piece of community bonding and create a bar of excellence to aspire to

This year, Jordan revamped the Kids Comp program as a series of seasons, each season with its own set of unique patches designed by Longmont’s Professor Phil. With a curriculum designed around what the coaches see at tournaments, students get help with exactly what they need to work on.

Easton Open 2024. Image: Matthew Barton.

While for some kids (and adults), simply showing up to class is enough of a push outside their comfort zone, the competition program affords those kids who want more those opportunities.

Even for those who don’t compete, having a robust competition program is important for having a high-quality class on the mats.

“If none of our kids ever competed,” Jordan says, “we’d be a McDojo without battle-tested martial arts. We don’t grow, we don’t evolve, we don’t stay on the cutting edge and we don’t achieve our vision.” 

Vision: to build the greatest Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies through an unrelenting dedication to the students and staff.

Easton Open 2023. Images: Forrest Bishop.

When we have people competing and testing their Jiu Jitsu against the best of the best in their division, they bring what they learn back to the mats in class, and then everyone improves.

To hear the full interview, including Jordan’s favorite part of working with kids as well as some reading suggestions from both Jordan and Mike, listen to the full podcast episode here! 


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