2018 Distinguished Alumni - Guevara
Bruce Guevara - Class of 2006
In February of 2014, twenty-six year old Bruce Guevara got the keys to his dream: A one-thousand square foot space in Warrenville, Illinois for his very own jiu-jitsu clinic. With help from his mom, dad, and friends, the empty walls were painted, mats laid out, a reception space and office were built, and by April of 2014 the doors to B-1 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & Self Defense opened for business.
It was rough going at first. Guevara kept his 8:00am to 5:00pm job overseeing operations and customer service at LA Fitness, while teaching classes at his new clinic from 6pm to 10pm, sometimes to as few as three students. By 2017 Guevara had gained a following that demanded more space. With 150 students in forty classes over a six day week, Bruce, and three new instructors he had trained, filled up a 5000 square foot space in Naperville, Illinois.
Jiu-Jitsu was first developed in the 1870s in Japan. It is a method of self-defense employed without the use of weapons. Instead, the adversary’s strength and weight are used to disable him or her. With proper training a 150 pound person can successfully restrain a 300 pound person.
Bruce Guevara taught his first classes at LA Boxing and Team Overtime in Naperville. Parents and kids alike saw value in jiu-jitsu’s anti-bullying techniques and concepts of mutual respect. In just three short years Bruce gained the business acumen and confidence to open his own clinic where he challenges students with real life scenarios,
“How do you help your friend? How do you diffuse rather than escalate a situation? How can you feel confident and safe in challenging situations, regardless of your size or physical strength? How can you continually gain knowledge and improve your skills?”
Soon Illinois State Troopers and officers of the Aurora and Warrenville Police Departments signed up for training in safe restraint and escape techniques, all with the goal of keeping others as well as themselves safe.
At West Chicago Community High School, Bruce ran the 100 and 200 meter sprints on the Varsity Track Team and played running back on the Varsity Football Team. He credits coaches Paul McLeland and Pete Martino with instilling in him the importance of fitness and self-discipline. Coach Martino says Bruce was individually motivated to work hard and never let down. Track Coach McLeland remembers Bruce working out and practicing drills even in the off-season.
At Northern Illinois University Bruce majored in economics and started work at LA Fitness between classes. After his 8:00a.m. class at NIU, he headed to LA Fitness in Palatine, then drove back to DeKalb for afternoon classes, and back again to Palatine for evening training toward his Black Belt certification. He jokes that in three short years he put 130,000 miles on his 2003 Subaru.
Bruce is first in his family to graduate from college, but not first to start his own business. To make a better life for their family, his parents moved to West Chicago from California when Bruce was just a year old. His dad worked at a business in town and his mom began creating her own jewelry while raising Bruce and his brother. Soon she opened her own successful jewelry business, which she still runs today.
As a black belt professor in the tradition of Carlos Gracie, Sr., Bruce Guevara believes that the jiu-jitsu philosophy and techniques are lifelong skills and should be offered in all high school programs. In that spirit, Bruce regularly awards several one-year scholarships to youth and families that might not be able to afford the classes at B-1 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He also offers special self defense classes to Warrenville Park District members.
Bruce volunteers at the Court Appointed Special Advocates’ fundraisers (CASA) every year, supports WAGS Animal Shelter, and helps out with events at the Naperville Chamber of Commerce.
West Chicago Community High School and the CHS Educational Foundation are honored to present the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship to Bruce Guevara, class of 2006.