The Story of our Artwork

Along with our second location, we also updated some of our branding.  Have you noticed the (not so subtle) difference?  
Maybe a little background will help tell this story.  
When founding Heroes Martial Arts in 2009 (actually came up with the idea in 2008) I knew I wanted to do something different than what was normal at the time.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (and Mixed Martial Arts in general) was trending to a more in your face and eXtreme attitude.  Affliction was the hottest brand in the space at the time and much of the imagery from everything in the industry was sort of emulating that, if not flames, barbed wire, pitbulls and anthropomorphic characters.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just wanted to go in a different direction, something more akin to my personality.
I always felt that training Martial Arts (especially Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) was akin to gaining superpowers, and being a not so closet geek I thought about emulating comic books (the name Heroes makes more sense now, doesn’t it).  
We really lucked out on our logo as it happened that the amazingly talented Ken Quitigua was training at the old warehouse at the time and offered to design the logo.  The direction was something that would look perfectly on place the cover of a comic book and I think Ken absolutely nailed it.  
Heroes Martial Arts Brazilian Jiu Jitsu San Jose

I also wanted a sort of comic book character to represent the academy and grab people’s attention in our marketing materials. We were looking for someone to draw Superman, but instead of tights and a cape, he would be wearing a gi. I didn’t actually know any comic artists so I placed an ad on Craigslist with a job description and got well over 100 responses in about 48 hours. Best part of that job was discovering so many talented artists and having them share their work with me. The worst part was having to let down about 99 of them in that only one was required for the job. The artist we chose was Matt Haley, and on his resume he has actually drawn Superman comics for DC before!

Contrary to popular belief in the gym, this character is NOT supposed to represent Gumby, as Matt and I have never met in person and I don’t believe he has seen any photos of me either.

As much as I love this character, it also reflects a different time and attitude.  Truth of the matter was at the time, females training Jiu Jitsu were not the common.  To be fair by 2008 there were even a few dozen or so female black belts scattered about the world, but in my experience women who trained on a consistent basis were rare.  The mascot was a great idea
For the first few years of Heroes we would have one women come in and train, MAYBE we could get two women on the roster but they literally would never be in at the same time.   It’s not that we didn’t want women training at the academy and we certainly racked our brains trying to figure out how to market to get more women to train.  
After YEARS of trial and error we finally came to a novel conclusion:  Women certainly do have a few extra concerns coming into training because of the close contact nature of the art, but beyond that they pretty much want the exact same thing that everyone else:  To train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in a safe environment, to grow and expand their abilities and limitations, and have fun and make friends doing so.  
Heroes Martial Arts has grown in a lot of ways over the last 11 years or so, but the amount of women training now is something I am especially proud of.  Not only are their usually multiple women on the mat on every class, there have been some instances that their outnumber the men!
Honestly, everyone has some concerns and looks for the same thing in a training environment, to be respected, be safe (within reason), to grow and expand their abilities and limitations, and to have fun and make friends.  Not everyone is going to be equal on the mat but we pride ourselves in the equality of opportunity.  
As such, with the opening of our second gym on the Eastside it felt like it was time for an update to our charter as well to reflect our gym and culture better.  So 11 years later we posted another craigslist ad looking for an artist and after wading through a lot of responses we found Brandon Palas, who responded to our without knowing it was for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school, but as it turns out is actually a purple belt and assistant instructor himself!
Heroes Character De La Riva Guard

We’re really happy with the direction of the gym and what the future holds and we think the character update is a small reflection of that. We hope to see all of you on the mats soon at either our downtown or our eastside location in San  Jose!

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