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Curious about martial arts, and about ending hunger in this region

December 25, 2014

By Tammy Showalter Staff Writer
With working long, late hours into the night and covering assignments after the sun has set, one important thing comes to mind, and that’s my own safety. Although, I’ve never had any run-ins that required me to defend myself, an invitation to take a self-defense class sounded great.
The great staff at Calvert MMA Academy Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Lineage BJJ in Sunderland extended the invitation and I’ve always been curious about martial arts and the world of self-defense.
It was great information to have in my tool belt and if you know me, you know that I built my own home with tools from my very own tool belt, so I was all-in to gain more hands-on experience.
Calvert MMA owner Jim Thrift, who is a self defense and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach who has his Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Grand Master Relson Gracie taught the class with Ray Ostenso and Aimee Reynolds, who is a Muay Tai kickboxing instructor. Thrift is certified by the state of Maryland as a law enforcement defensive tactics instructor and has 21 years in federal law enforcement. He’s also a United States veteran, so I felt like I was in good hands, totally.
By the end of the class, I had learned how to take down an aggressor, while breaking their arm in the process, as well as how to get out of a choke hold. I felt empowered for sure. I think enough muscle memory was stored so that I could use the techniques should I ever need. I think I may even look into taking a Muay Tai kickboxing class with Reynolds.
The one thing that was really amazing was just how giving Calvert MMA and its staff was, of their time, talents and out of their prosperity.
All proceeds went to End Hunger of Calvert County, a non-profit organization that serves Calvert County residents. I was inspired to know that 80 families were fed because of the $1,600.00 that was raised by Calvert MMA and the self-defense class.
End Hunger representative Jacqueline Miller spoke to the class. She said that the organization helps not only with food distribution, but with job training and free tax preparation to those who qualify.
“Behind all that is a person that we’re working with and changing their lives.” Miller said. “Aimee [Reynolds] is a captain for our annual dragon boat festival and she said that Calvert MMA was hosting this class. We are like a distribution warehouse. We have a facility on Route 231 in Prince Frederick. We work with the Maryland Food Bank, Capital Area Food Bank and Farming for Hunger.
“How it started was we became the middle person between those food banks and the local food bank, When a big bulk order comes in, we sort it out and the local food banks come to pick it up when they’re ready for it and they distribute it out to families.”
End Hunger also has a culinary arts training school. They offer training to unemployed or under-employed, teaching them the necessary skills to work in a commercial kitchen.
“Seventy percent of our graduates are now employed full-time, some with benefits for the first time,” Miller said. “It’s not only about the food, it’s about getting people back to work. I wake up every day and I love what I do. The most important part is how much this community embraced it.”
Northern High School graduate Ahna Turley participated in the class. She’s also on staff at End Hunger.
“It was great to see so many people come out to support End Hunger and not knowing much about it,” Turley said. “I’ve learned so much about how the community really wants to give.
“I don’t think I’m going to remember everything today, but I think the wrist holds were great, simple. It’s not a multi-step move. I would love to come back for a refresher of the class, because you don’t want to forget but I thought it was awesome.”
Thrift can be reached via Calvert MMA and Reynolds can be reached via AR Studios in Huntingtown.
To contact End Hunger, send emails to
It always makes you feel good when you do something for the betterment of someone else, especially during this time of the year. Hope you find time to learn a new skill, maybe even a self-defense skill or a way to give back to your community this Christmas.

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