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“So much fun it’s addicting!”  Learn step-by-step in a positive & supportive community! 

Safe, structured, and super-fun Adult Royce Gracie Jiu-jitsu (self-defense) classes right here in Palmyra!  

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Free Introductory Class, Free Uniform Rental

DESIGNED Entirely For Beginners!

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Adult Jiu-Jitsu Classes | %%sitename%%

Learn Powerful Self-Defense Skills to Keep You Safe.

It’s not just a workout — it’s a life-saving skill. Our Gracie Jiu-jitsu (self-defense) classes are the secret weapon – truly creating an unfair fight, to give you the most efficient, effective means to protect yourself and your loved ones against a larger, stronger attacker. 

People from all over the greater Quincy, Palmyra, and Hannibal area turn to us for realistic self-defense training.

Gain Confidence And Overcome Your Obstacles.

Learning new skills & improving your overall fitness will give you a boost in your day-to-day interactions & positively impact many aspects of your life!  With just a few hours a week, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!

Discover the program that so many people in the Tri-States area are talking about!

Adult Jiu-Jitsu Classes | %%sitename%%
Adult Jiu-Jitsu Classes | %%sitename%%

Build Discipline While You Get in Shape.

Our Royce Gracie Jiu-Jitsu classes will give you a fun, healthy, challenging, & engaging routine designed to optimize your overall well-being! Lose weight, improve flexibility, coordination, strength, endurance and feel more energetic!

See what makes our Royce Gracie Jiu-jitsu program in Palmyra so powerful…You get RESULTS!

Get Started on a Life-Changing Journey with your first Introductory Jiu-Jitsu Class in Palmyra... COMPLETELY FREE!


"I’ve known Mark for well over a decade and can guarantee there isn’t anyone else with his level of commitment and expertise in what we do in the state. If you want real Gracie Jiu Jitsu this is the place!"

"Excellent instructor, and black belt under the legendary UFC fighter Royce Gracie."

"A great form of exercise and a perfect opportunity to learn something new and challenge yourself at your own pace."

Frequently Asked Questions

Our Mission is to enhance the lives of each of our students by helping them to achieve their individual goals & optimize their physical, mental, & emotional well-being through the highest quality martial arts training focused on the development of realistic self-defense skills in a safe, clean, welcoming, professional, family-friendly environment.

We offer training for students of all skill and experience levels!  Unlike sport ‘bjj’ competitions between athletes, self-defense is focused on improving yourself one small step at a time.  We can take an extremely large person with extremely limited mobility and transform their lives, because we are focused on their small, easy, incremental steps to improve their ability to defend themselves.  We are not focused on comparing them to other students for sport competitions. Even if you’ve never stepped foot in a martial arts class before, our instructors will guide you step by step through our structured program format of organized lesson plans to help you get started with your training. Our entire Fundamentals program is designed for brand new inexperienced beginners, and we have new students – kids, moms and dads, and working adults, joining our program all the time. Everyone trains at their own pace and ability level so you never have to worry about trying to keep up with anyone else! 

Everyone trains at their own pace and to their own capacity learning how to defend themselves. While it is always recommended to consult your physician before beginning any physical training regimen, training in our programs does not require any extraordinary amount of athleticism, flexibility, or endurance. The reality is that most students who want to “wait to get in shape” to start training usually do neither.  You need to get in and start!!  The fact is, whatever your level of fitness when you start, you will increase your capacity and get in better shape through training. Many of our students see significant weight loss and improvements in their overall fitness levels after just a few weeks of consistent training.  Most people find that the classes at Royce Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Missouri are so fun and mentally engaging, they don’t even realize how hard they are working! 

Serious injuries are a very, very rare occurrence! We train self-defense in a very careful, cautious, and particular manner that is candidly easy for anyone to follow.  Of course, as with any physical activity, it is impossible to totally eliminate the potential for injury.  While we practice in a very practical, hands on manner, safety is always one of our top priorities. We make every effort to reduce the potential risks of injuries for our students and provide careful supervision, particularly for our younger or newer students. 

We typically find that more injuries to our students happen in everyday life outside of the academy than on our mats at Royce Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Missouri!

We find that most of our youth students focus better when they’re not focused on watching their parents.  We understand, however, that of course you want to supervise and see exactly what they’re learning, so by all means sit, relax, and observe a few classes!  Distractions, however, are very difficult in a children’s program, so we would strongly encourage you to catch up on some much needed ‘me-time’,  simply drop them off, go next store and get in a nice workout, and grab a Black Rifle Coffee in our lobby on us!  The kids will greet you with a huge smile when you return, because they had SO much fun!

We love for our parents to be involved!  And so do their kids.  Even better… join into some of our Jiu-jitsu classes for adults. Your kids will love that you have something in common, and it’s a great way to build a strong family bond!  We even have a special “Family Class” where parents and their kids can train together!

Don’t worry, equipment for Jiu-jitsu training is minimal, and we will take care of everything you need! A white Official Royce Gracie Jiu-jitsu Network gi (uniform) and team rash guard is  required.  Ask how you can take advantage of our limited time signup bonus offer, to save on your complete training uniform! We even provide rental uniforms for the convenience of our students, in case you forget yours, or didn’t have time to launder it between classes.

Yes! Private and semi-private (up to 4 people) Jiu-Jitsu classes are available at Royce Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Missouri in Palmyra.  You can book an individual 30 or 60 minute class, or we also offer discounted multiple private class packages. Private classes are setup on an individual basis, so we can best accommodate your schedule. Contact us to schedule a class! 

We do not believe in using belt promotions as a marketing or retention tool. Everyone progresses at their own pace, based upon the amount of time that they dedicate to training.  

Our youth & adult Jiu-jitsu programs have their own separate ranking structure. Jiu-Jitsu does not have “youth black belts,” as there is a certain level of maturity and demonstrated skill required to hold this prestigious rank.  Once youth students reach age 16, they are graduated into the adult belt system and first eligible for blue belt.  While we generally promote our youth students at a more accelerated rate than our adult students, we believe that training for self-improvement is its own reward.  Students should not train in any manner, shape, or form to obtain promotions.  Promotions are just a side effect of hard work & marker of progress & time that help instructors keep track of a student’s progress and time on the mat. We have general minimum time and attendance requirements, however, every student is promoted on an individual basis, based upon actual demonstrated ability, as well as consistent attendance, personal character, and dedication to the program. Promotions are earned, not given.  

Royce Gracie generally requires a minimum of ten (10) years training as an adult to be eligible to be nominated to participate in the highly selective, closed door black belt testing process. 

A black belt is just a white belt that didn’t quit! 

There are many different “styles” of martial arts out there, and to the average person it can be hard to understand the difference. However, all martial arts are NOT created equal. 

While demonstrations of “kata” and board breaking look impressive to the uninitiated outsider new to martial arts, these demonstrations are not targeted to have any actual effect on a real-life physical confrontation on the street when a much larger person puts someone in a headlock or grabs their hair or clothing or are the target of a bear hug or swinging punch from a bully.  

We train the most common attacks individuals are likely to face.  Knocking someone out on their feet or on the ground certainly has its place, as striking is a fundamental element of our training…but it must be done with a full understanding of its consequences and as part of a full toolbox of options.  Striking alone can lead to a serious, life threatening fall or serious permanent damages – no matter the initial justification, kids are kicked out of school, criminal charges filed, civil suits filed, all because of the serious physical damages caused to an individual. 

Striking to create distraction and create distance and close distance to safely clinch someone and take them down to control them on the ground – without seriously harming them, is generally much safer than knockout blows to a standing individual, although these certainly have their place in that toolbox.  Self-defense mean defending yourself in all facets – before and after the altercation – not just physically.     


The art of Jiu-jitsu was developed over years of trial and error research through actual live combat. The Gracie family spent years constantly testing and refining their art through challenge matches against all comers from various forms of martial arts from all over the world to determine what techniques were most effective and efficient in actual fights. 

Gracie Jiu-jitsu (self-defense) has also developed a reputation for being one of the most effective martial arts for realistic self-defense because of its hands on approach and training methodology. One of the things that makes Jiu-jitsu so effective is the “liveness” of the training. While techniques must be learned first in a controlled environment with a cooperative partner, every position & technique is eventually practiced through live sparring against a resisting opponent. This is the ONLY way to realistically develop the timing, sensitivity, and confidence in the technique. In addition, because Jiu-jitsu focuses on efficiency of movement and the use of positional control and leverage over brute force, anyone can learn to be effective with the techniques of Jiu-jitsu, even against a larger, stronger, more athletic adversary. 

We are very straightforward in our expertise and focus.  Royce Gracie does not believe in the transformation of Jiu-jitsu from a martial art of self-defense into a highly modified and different recreational grappling sport for competitions or sporting matches.  The original purpose of Gracie Jiu-jitsu was a martial art to realistically defend yourself in combat, in a street fight, or in a violent attack, and Royce proudly carries on this tradition of self-defense and his father’s beliefs and legacy. 

So, what’s the difference?  

As Jiu-jitsu it became more popular and progressed in the late 20th century, individuals – particularly within the extremely large Gracie family itself – sought to challenge themselves against each other in Jiu-jitsu grappling matches – so an organized federation was formed to manage tournaments between jiu-jitsu fighters. 

The typical person that attacks someone on the street, of course, is not a well-trained, disciplined, focused individual that regularly trains martial arts and Jiu-jitsu; it is the angry spouse in a domestic violence encounter; the intoxicated individual in a gas station parking lot; the larger bully on the playground that picks on smaller children. 

In and of itself, a Jiu-jitsu grappling match against another well trained Jiu-jitsu student is a very different experience than a realistic self-defense scenario (or law enforcement encounter) where de-escalating and neutralizing and surviving pure violence against the most common angry or emotional person on the street is the entire focus and goal. 

Despite this fundamental difference, Grandmaster Helio Gracie was originally not opposed to the idea of an organized federation to hold Jiu-jitsu grappling challenge matches and agreed to lead the first federation.  

As these competitions developed for sport/recreation between highly trained Jiu-jitsu athletes, however, they continued to evolve and change and took on a life of their own – breeding an entirely different and new form of ‘Jiu-jitsu.’ 

Time limits inadvertently changed the entire self-defense approach and reality of Jiu-jitsu.  Royce Gracie famously stated that he would give up the weight – fight any opponent of any size, so long as he had enough time to defend himself and survive to eventually prevail.  Once artificial time limits were introduced solely for purposes of entertainment and competition, it artificially changed the fight from a realistic fight or encounter to a timed event where fighters must artificially take actions to score points or win or entertain within a designated time limit, which ushered Royce Gracie’s initial departure from fighting after UFC 5.  One competition match couldn’t go on for 2-3 hours – so time limits were introduced. Jiu-jitsu athletes could now make very aggressive, risky movements that might put them in a terrible self-defense situation because a bell would ring and they would be saved by the time limit…or most notably, fighters could expend all of their energy and explosiveness in a very short time period, knowing it would never last longer than the time limit – unlike a real fight where one can survive and defend and wear down the violent attacker until gaining the safe opportunity to end the fight – possibly even hours later as Grandmaster Helio Gracie showcased in many fights throughout the 20th century. 

No striking meant an entire world of fancy positions, transitions, and submissions became relevant, all of which would be a terrible concept in a striking self-defense encounter. 

For example, trained athletes now invented entirely new positions laying upside down on the ground, inverted, to defend and attack their opponents, when in a self-defense situation they would literally get stomped or soccer kicked in the face. Trained athletes could now eliminate all the time they previously spent training and learning how to defend strikes to specialize in sport-only techniques.  

Point systems further created an entirely new ‘sport.’  Athletes could stall and delay a match because they were ahead on points or ‘game’ positions and movements solely to avoid or gain points, regardless of its real life self-defense implications. 

For example, the ability to take down and throw your opponent from standing was largely eliminated by the incentives in sport tournament point systems.  Under most rulesets, for example, if an athlete simply sat down on the ground in a sport Jiu-jitsu tournament, they couldn’t be scored against with a sweep/takedown.  They had no fear of getting kicked in the face, of course, as would happen in real life without striking in the sport tournament.  Many competitors now further specialized to not ‘waste time’ learning or defending takedowns because the points systems allowed them to simply sit down on the ground or ‘pull guard’ without any penalty!  After decades, now many sport grappling matches consist of athletes seeing who can sit down the fastest on the ground against each other!  The athletes scoot around seated on the ground because they specialize in guard training on the ground – a complete abandonment of any self-defense implications.  Why would an athlete waste time learning takedowns (one of the most crucial aspects of a self-defense encounter to control an attacker) when you could specialize even more compared to your opponent that ‘wastes their time’ learning takedowns and throws?   

No hair pulling is allowed in the sport tournament, so all hair pull defenses were essentially unnecessary to train and a waste of time – a competitive disadvantage. 

Sport grappling athletes were now training exclusively for sport grappling tournaments and largely abandoned all of the most common self defense scenarios or attacks. 

It is often debated whether this type of sport grappling training even worsens an individual’s ability to defend themselves because trained sport competitors will instinctively fall back on their sport training that can lead to dangerous, devastating results.  Infamous videos, for example, show highly trained sport athletes being choked unconscious by the most common of attacks – like a two handed front choke, because although it is one of the most common types of attack by a violent attacker on the street, it is highly  unusual in a sport grappling match.  In 2016, a third degree black belt was killed in Brazil when he was faced with an armed robbery and attempted to subdue the attacker with a rear naked choke.  

Competitive, trained sport jiu-jitsu athletes, like any other competitive athlete, will be tougher to overcome and handle in a conflict, just like any high school or collegiate football player, rugby player, or wrestling athlete…but that does not mean they are training for ‘self defense.’ 

Unfortunately, most civilians that look into training jiu-jitsu want to learn how to defend themselves – so 99% of modern sport ‘bjj’ schools still advertise ‘self-defense’ or demonstrate a few ‘self-defense’ techniques on occasion to get people to sign up at their school.  

Entire positions were created in sport jiu-jitsu – like ‘turtle’ position or ‘turtle guard,’ that consisted of athletes balling up on their hands and knees with their back to their opponent.  As just one example – this is one of the worst things someone can do in a real fight or self-defense situation, exposing their entire back and neck and spine to devastating attacks, yet it became a ‘niche’ position in modern sport jiu-jitsu for tournament competition.

Headlocks – one of the most common types of attacks in a violent encounter, serve little to no purpose in a sport tournament (without points or submissions generally awarded for a simple pinning headlock) so why would someone that wants to win a sport tournament waste their time on headlock defenses? 

Under most rulesets competitors could not slam each other like in a real fight, so all of the considerations and defenses of being picked up and slammed were eliminated in a sport Jiu-jitsu match between athletes.  Now athletes often ‘jump’ into someone’s arms and guard in the air in sport matches because they know they can’t legally be slammed.  Countless videos now exist of sport jiu-jitsu competitors jumping into the air or getting picked up, and their opponent breaking the rules and slamming them into unconsciousness or serious injury…only for the injured ‘winner’ to get the win when the opponent is disqualified.

Why waste your time training to be very, very concerned against getting picked up when it can’t legally happen in a sport tournament? After all you get the win?? You are now just seriously injured or disabled for life. 

There are no walls in a sport tournament, unlike real life, so the significant time spent dealing with fighting off or against a wall were eliminated.  

Of course, weapons are of zero consideration in a sport tournament, so soon any consideration of weapons were eliminated.  Weapons involved an entire system of philosophy, legal principles, practical applications, and understanding…all entirely abandoned as irrelevant in modern sport bjj. 

Like any activity, disciplined and highly trained, competitive Jiu-jitsu athletes wanted to do everything they could to win.  The best competition teams now realized that they could gain a serious advantage by focusing nearly all their training time on techniques for the tournament rather than for a realistic self-defense encounter.  For someone that wants to win a tournament, these all make complete sense.  Play to the ruleset you are given.  

Soon, now over decades, a real advantage developed by sport Jiu-jitsu competitors in this ‘niche’ expertise of sport, tournament Jiu-jitsu, now commonly referred to as ‘modern’ sport ‘bjj,’ and it took off like a tidal wave in popularity. “Champions” won sport tournaments, advertised pictures of all their successes and medals, and invested heavy marketing campaigns to promulgate children’s ability to become ‘champions.’  Schools refer to themselves as competition teams and exist solely to promulgate and teach their understanding of the only thing they’ve really ever trained – sport Jiu-jitsu for tournament competitions between highly trained athletes, while self-defense is still advertised on special nights, demonstrations, or introduction weeks.   

Grandmaster Helio Gracie stated in one private lesson to one of Royce’s (later) black belts that he “wished they would call this thing they are doing (‘modern’ sport ‘bjj’ for tournaments and competitions) something besides Jiu-jitsu…call it something like ‘Brazilian Wrestling,’ Grandmaster Helio stated, because it is not Jiu-jitsu”: it resembled nothing of the martial art of self-defense that he worked so hard to hone and spread throughout the 20th century.  

These sport practices continued to snowball with practices of belt promotions. 

Individual tournament champions that were given black belts began to give out their own black belts based on their own criteria or standards, often based in large part upon an athlete’s sport competition performance. 

Black belts began to publicly call themselves “Professors” of Jiu-jitsu, traditionally a prestigious rank of black belt only awarded upon completion of a professor’s course that evaluated standards of instruction, teaching, the self-defense curriculum, and non-physical attributes. 

Individuals were being awarded black belts with literally zero understanding of any self-defense techniques or teaching abilities and immediately calling themselves ‘Professor.’  

Students often opened their own schools as lower belts (without any real instructor or technical guidance), paid money to these black belts to use their name and train in their affiliate or network, and then often changed affiliates or networks frequently at every belt level in order to get promoted until they could find someone willing to take their ‘network’ affiliate money and give them their black belt.  Black belts awarded their own remote black belts in order to gain ‘affiliate’ locations and secure guaranteed annual seminars – building ongoing revenue streams.

Notably, minimum ‘years’ requirements at each belt level promulgated by major sport federations became the ‘expected/standard’ promotion rate, and black belts jumped in rank as fast as possible – with minimum years now becoming the guaranteed rate of promotion.  

In protest of these widespread practices, Grandmaster Helio Gracie took off and disavowed his Jiu-jitsu rank of red belt, and he disavowed the systems of modern Jiu-jitsu belts and ranking awarded by sanctioning bodies: he completely disavowed modern sport ‘bjj’ and put on the Navy blue belt to take an outspoken stance against these modern practices.

Grandmaster Helio took a stance with the Navy blue belt for the original purpose of Jiu-jitsu as a martial art of self defense – which is why his picture in a Navy blue belt hangs above our blue mats.  Navy was the traditional color of belt wore by instructors of Gracie Jiu-jitsu (self-defense) in Brazil prior to the formation of modern sport ‘bjj’ governing bodies and associations. 

Once his father died, Royce, along with other Professors of Grandmaster Helio Gracie (the Valente Brothers) put on the Navy blue belt to honor Grandmaster Helio and continue his legacy and teachings of Jiu-jitsu as a martial art of self-defense. 

Not at all.  In fact, many students starting in our martial arts classes would describe themselves like that before they started.  So you will fit right in!

Give yourself some time, and you will be astounded at how much you improve!  You’ll find that our experienced professional Jiu-jitsu instructors, are great at making seemingly complex movements and concepts  simple.  You will be amazed at what you can do!

The techniques of Jiu-jitsu are the PERFECT tool to give your child the ability to effectively defend themselves in a physical altercation. Because our youth Jiu-jitsu program emphasizes the use of grappling based techniques over striking techniques, it is also one of the MOST HUMANE ways for your child to protect themselves! Through consistent practice, they will develop the ability to safely neutralize physical aggression WITHOUT the need to inflict any injury to a potential bully. In these days of “zero-tolerance” policies in schools, it is much better to simply immobilize and control a bully, than relying on punches and kicks that are less likely to be effective, may only increase the aggression, and look really bad when a student is left bleeding and potentially injured after the incident. 
However, there is more to the program than the physical techniques.  Often times, bullying doesn’t rise to the level of a physical attack, but that doesn’t make it any less damaging to your child’s psyche. The most common form of bullying is verbal bullying-name calling, teasing, harassment. Our comprehensive system and approach to bullying ALSO gives your child the tools to know how to effectively stand up for themselves verbally, and avoid a physical altercation, using a systematic, step-by-step approach. It will also give your child specific steps to use, as well as guidance on when and how it is ok to use the physical techniques of Jiu-jitsu to protect themselves, should the need arise. 

Royce Gracie Jiu-jitsu (self-defense) is the singularly best tool and system to deal with the epidemic of childhood bullying across our country. 

We are very honest in our expertise and focus.  We are not a gym that you can simply visit and pay a facility fee to visit our gym and use our facilities.  We offer highly specialized, highly personal services to personally train children in the original self-defense techniques of Gracie Jiu-jitsu (self-defense) directly from Royce Gracie. We strive to maintain the highest end and nicest facility in the area for these highly specialized, highly personalized services.   

Our instructor is the only Royce Gracie black belt in the entire State of Missouri and personally teaches every kids and adults class.  Candidly, there are much cheaper programs and schools and we are not the lowest priced or cheapest.

What value, however, would you place on having the confidence to know that you can effectively defend yourself or your family, get in great shape, and develop greater self-confidence? What would you pay to know you are learning the absolute most legitimate, effective, and direct Jiu-jitsu techniques from Royce Gracie?  Training in a reputable Jiu-jitsu program is making an investment in yourself!  

We typically charge a weekly fee and offer a variety of membership plans and payment options suited to meet your individual needs and budget. We generally offer 3 options: weekly memberships to attend 2 classes per week, weekly memberships to attend 2 classes and attend a personal, 1 hour private lesson with our black belt, or paid, up front memberships for fixed periods of time with paid up front discounts for either private lessons only or group classes. We offer significant family discounts for each additional household participant and major discounts for teachers and law enforcement/first responders with agencies that don’t contract with us for regular training! 

But, you can get started today for FREE!  It won’t cost you anything more than a little bit of your time to come in and see everything our program has to offer and see if it is a good fit for you!

Fill out the form on our website or contact us directly to schedule your first FREE introductory class!

We have new students joining our community all the time, so we’ll be glad to show you first hand everything our program at Royce Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Missouri in Palmyra has to offer and how we can help you reach your goals!  However, spaces are limited, so contact us today to reserve your spot!

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!  We will take care of everything you need for your first class!  We will provide you with a clean training gi (uniform), so you’ll be right at home on the mat from day one!

You may want to bring a water bottle, and some flip flops/sandals for off the mat, but other than that just plan to come in a few minutes early and we’ll take care of everything!

Our instructor and black belt, Mark Kerkhoff, is a huge advocate and proponent of wrestling.  He wrestled throughout high school, and his own children participate in the sport of wrestling.  Mark does everything he can to support the phenomenal wrestling programs in the area!

It is important to note that wrestling is a sport.  It has a very unique ruleset. It is also very hard.  It is very tough.  It is a bumpy, suffering grind, sometimes with injuries and setbacks, just like life.  Candidly, it is not for everyone.  We strongly believe, however, that wrestling is the single best recreational sport in the world.  

If children want to test themselves, engage in competition, and try out competition, we STRONGLY encourage children to participate in wrestling!  

Parents of children that wrestle often find that kids develop a tremendous advantage training Gracie Jiu-jitsu (self-defense) and wrestling together because they are so complimentary.  Kids are exposed to takedowns and throwing techniques that are not commonly taught in traditional wrestling curricula.  They will literally develop an entire arsenal of takedowns, throws, and attacks most wrestlers have never seen.  

Kids learn a comprehensive system of self-defense escapes that actually include many of the most common pinning techniques in wrestling – headlocks!  Kids also learn how to fall safely and how to protect themselves when falling or rolling over their arms and necks. 

Kids develop a very unique Gracie Jiu-jitsu (self-defense) mindset and philosophy of the 7-5-3 code – emotional balance, a clear mind, and respect, loyalty, and honor, to name just a few: vastly important philosophical concepts that can assist in their wrestling development. 

There is a huge amount of overlap and benefits to be gained from wrestling and Gracie Jiu-jitsu (self-defense). While we do not promote or encourage the transformation of Gracie Jiu-jitsu (self-defense) into sport tournaments or competitions (see FAQ’s!), we strongly encourage different sports, and we believe wrestling is the best developmental sport in the world! Gymnastics is another phenomenal sport for children along with striking sports like muay thai or boxing.  

We routinely encourage and recommend children that train Gracie Jiu-jitsu (self-defense) and want to test themselves, that want to compete, to try out the sport of wrestling!!!

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