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The grappling fighting style known as jujitsu first came to Brazil in 1914 stored in the hands and mind of Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese immigrant and master of the art. He only stayed a year, but it was enough time to plant the seeds for a new jujitsu academy in Brazil. One of the first students at that academy was Hélio Gracie.

Hélio absorbed the fighting style quickly, adapting many of the techniques to suit his small frame. He discovered methods of leverage that allowed him to execute joint locks, choke holds, and takedowns on much larger opponents, forming the core of his new Gracie jujitsu method. Ultimately, Hélio's son Royce brought the fighting style to America, famously winning UFC 1, 2, and 4 by defeating opponents many times his own size. Suddenly, Americans lined up to learn this newly unveiled Brazilian fighting style, demonstrating their eagerness by folding themselves inside a box and shipping themselves south.

Relson Gracie, Hélio's second oldest son, chose to be an ambassador of his family's fighting style. He was already teaching abroad when his little brother Royce skyrocketed Brazilian jujitsu to popularity. He founded his first school under the name Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Hawaii, and as the art became popular, he opened new branches of his academy all across the United States. Today, he visits more than 40 academies and associations, sharing his knowledge with thousands of students. In his absence, he leaves instructors whom he personally trained to oversee the education of aspiring fighters.

6707 W Ken Caryl Ave
Littleton,
CO
US

UFC Gym?s four fight-centric Denver-area gyms ditch the polished look of wood-floored workout studios for gritty, competitive spaces filled with 150-pound punching bags and intense workouts. Like a baker molding gingerbread men, UFC Gym sculpts six-packs with boxing, kickboxing, and mixed-martial-arts classes. Although instructors and students agree that the gym?s atmosphere may enkindle intimidation in first-time attendees, most experience boosted self-confidence after conquering their first class. Private training sessions further stoke courage with workouts that leave patrons with the exhilaration of having survived 12 rounds in the ring or five minutes in a high-school lunchroom.

8023 S Broadway
Littleton,
CO
US

The W-League Rookie Franchise of the Year in 2010, the Colorado Rush take on all slide-tackling opposition with grace, skill, and determination. Cheer on the Rush as they host their northerly neighbors, the Victoria Highlanders, in a battle of pinpoint passing, fierce shots on goal, and precisely catapulted orange slices. A beverage and a baked-good treat (a $3–$5 value each) provide fuel for enthusiastic shouting and ringing high-fives. Fans should remain glued to seats during the break for the Thunder Team, members of a special-needs program who will perform a halftime show. Seating is general admission (a $6 value each for adults; a $3 value each for children), so arrive anytime after 6 p.m. to stake a claim near the most fetching patch of sod.

8101 Shaffer Pkwy
Littleton,
CO
US

Nestled in a gently rolling valley of the Rocky Mountain foothills, Raccoon Creek takes golfers meandering across 7,045 yards of fairways dotted with scenic water hazards. To compensate for its somewhat sparse tree lines, the course?s fairways and greens are flanked with a multitude of cavernous bunkers that?unlike guessing where the plumber hid the toilet seat?challenges players without sacrificing fun. Glassy waters and sprawling golf-ball beaches wreathe the green at the 17th hole, creating a daunting tee shot that earned it the distinction of the course?s signature hole. For those who prefer to cruise the links in a cozy conveyance, Raccoon Creek?s carts are all equipped with GPS technology, which keeps players abreast of the whereabouts of upcoming greens, intervening hazards, and heist-planning squirrels. A fully stocked pro shop, driving range, and scenic restaurant round out Raccoon Creek?s course-side facilities.

Course at a Glance:

  • 18-hole, par-72 course
  • Length of 7,045 yards from the farthest tees
  • Course rating of 73.1 from the farthest tees
  • Slope rating of 131 from the farthest tees
  • Four tee options
  • Link to scorecard
7301 W Bowles Ave
Littleton,
CO
US

Brad Nicolarsen and Ty Hudspeth have shared the same journey for a while now, first literally as travelers as they made their way through Brazil, learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from various masters. Today, they continue to share the same path as owners of and trainers at The Kompound, their martial arts-focused fitness gym. The duo and their fellow instructors teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, muay thai kickboxing, and wrestling. They also teach a women-only self defense seminar once a month. Recently, they added a P90X workout, an intense training regimen that doesn't require dumping water over your head to make it appear like you're trying harder.

With the guidance of former law enforcement officer and fellow trainer Amir Stephen, the staff also offers a Youth Mentoring Foundation. Through it, they help kids discover the discipline and outlet of the martial arts.

8000 S Lincoln St
Littleton,
CO
US

Diana Olson, a lifelong swimmer and water-skier, began sharing her swimming expertise with younger students early in her career. As her teaching became recognized in the community, she earned the position of Aquatics Director at a prominent swim school, and even received the Teacher of the Year Award from the U.S. Swim School Association three times. Eventually, she wanted to design her own swimming programs, so she founded Colorado Clownfish Swim Club with some help from her family. There she teaches novice water dwellers as young as 6 months old.

8310 W. Coal Mine Ave.
Littleton,
CO
US