On March 8, just days away from COVID-19 being declared a worldwide pandemic, Dunamis Martial Arts gym owner and current Lion Fight Muay Thai competitor, Jake Peacock, was on his way back from Ireland. Peacock couldn’t have been more proud, as he was flying back to his gym with a victory at Lion Fight 62.
However, like many other business owners, things began to change fast. Peacock arrived back in Calgary with questions like “Is the gym going to be OK?” “Are we going to be coming back to a gym?” and “How are we going to pay the bills?”
Peacock was going to have to do what he knows best in order to win this fight against the pandemic — think outside the box.
“In tough fights you have to dig deep and there might be pain, but you have to continue doing what you know you can do.”
Peacock’s training to win those tough fights began when he was young, before he decided to make martial arts his career. He opened his own gym in Calgary after getting advice from some of the top combat sports professionals in the world. But battling COVID-19 as a business owner has been one of his toughest fights yet.
Peacock does not have a right hand or forearm, and has been learning adaptive fighting techniques since he was seven years old, initially starting with karate.
“My mom put me in [martial arts] just to learn some self-defense and just for an extracurricular activity. It kind of just took off from there. I really enjoyed it.”
As a child, Peacock used to watch shows such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers. Being able to run around and recreate the moves that these characters performed was part of the initial enjoyment he found in martial arts.
After a few years of training, Peacock eventually began to compete in both national and international tournaments around the age of 10 or 11.
Although Peacock had aspirations to turn martial arts into a career, he eventually ended up taking a brief hiatus from the sport in order to focus on his post-secondary education – a degree in behavioral science from Ambrose University.
“I think I was maybe 18-years-old; I decided to take a step back from the sport as a whole, the first time I had ever done it in my life. I decided to finish school because if anything happened to me or I got an injury, I needed something to fall back on.”
Eventually, Peacock returned to martial arts as a coach.
“I started to train people but I myself didn’t train. My fighters were doing well. I had a passion and a talent with coaching.”
Best of the best
This passion eventually led Peacock to American Top Team, one of the most well-known Mixed Martial Arts gyms on the entire planet.
American Top Team is located in Coconut Creek, Florida, and is currently home to some of the greatest fighters on the planet such as Jorge Masvidal and Dustin Poirier.
“I ended up going to American Top Team to visit my friend King Mo (Lawal). I went out just for a weekend to train with some of their professional and amateur fighters. That was just another step towards realizing that this is what I was good at doing,” Peacock explains.
Some of MMA’s greatest coaches and pioneers such as Din Thomas and King Mo Lawal saw the talent Peacock had as a coach, and their encouragement is what led Peacock to open a gym of his own.
“[Thomas and Lawal] were talking about bringing me down and hiring me as a full-time coach at American Top Team. But that was kind of just solidifying the fact that I wanted to open a gym and develop a community and a fight team and teach kickboxing and Muay Thai to everyone.”
After this weekend of training at American Top Team, Peacock opened his own gym, Dunamis, in Calgary.
“Dunamis is a Greek word used in the Bible to describe God’s power. So, the definition would be: strength, power, and ability. Those three words describe what Dunamis means,” Peacock explains.
Peacock enjoys the environment he has been able to create at Dunamis, and says he really pushes professionalism and respect in the gym.
“The environment is just a different level. It’s a different level of professionalism. My fight team are great athletes and great fighters, but they are also a ride or die team. They look out for each other.”
Dunamis was created with a goal in mind: forming a community that focuses on both skill, and personal growth for all who train there.
“We have always been big on community here at Dunamis. I always wanted a gym that would grow people, and that was more than just the sport, people would develop character and skill. It’s great seeing that happen in the gym,” says Peacock
Dunamis has allowed the individuals who train there to grow as martial artists, and as people.
“We just have so many people at the gym come up to myself and [my wife] Christa and they say the words “changed their life” like it’s quite dramatic, but lots of people don’t have community, or friends, or family and then [the people at] Dunamis become like family to them,” explains Peacock.
Putting up a fight
After opening Dunamis, Peacock not only took on the role of being a business owner as well as a coach, but he also began to fight professionally himself.
“Being a coach, I had to stay sharp mentally and physically and know what I’m talking about, so I started training again. A few local fighters’ kind of encouraged me to start fighting again.”
Peacock is currently competing in Muay Thai under the Las Vegas-based Lion Fight promotion.
“Some of the best Muay Thai fighters of all time have fought for Lion Fight, so to be signed to them and to be fighting for them [is] just surreal,” says Peacock.
Peacock remembers his first fight under the Lion Fight banner on Aug. 3, 2019, where he competed at the legendary Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas.
“We’re in the fight capital of the world fighting in North America’s best promotion. [The venue]was packed and it was a great show, and I finished the fight in the first round against a tough opponent. He kept the pressure on me, but I ended up knocking him out with a headkick in the first round.”
Peacock’s most recent fight under the promotion was in Dublin, Ireland on March 8, where he defeated Lee Walton via TKO in the third round.
After returning from Ireland, Peacock arrived in Calgary to a new opponent — COVID-19. As is the case with most business owners, Peacock’s gym was at the forefront of his concerns.
“When they first announced that gyms were going to close, I thought it might be for a couple weeks, but my wife thought it was going to be for a while,” says Peacock.
Calgary gyms ended up being closed for around three months. This closure forced Peacock to think outside the box, which prompted him to create an online program for his members.
“We offered anything we could online, we did online classes, which was quite tough. It’s different. Lots of people don’t have community or family, so it was good to have something that people could tune in to,” says Peacock.
Although the initial closing of Dunamis was difficult, Peacock believes the gym and its members were able to return a little bit stronger than they once were.
“That’s the only reason that we’re still here. The support of our members. Without that support there wouldn’t be a Dunamis to come back to. Everyone is going through tough times when the world shut down. It’s just about pulling together really.”
Being a devoted Christian, Peacock has relied heavily on his faith during these times, and believes that whatever may happen, a plan has already been put in place.
“At the end of the day, it’s trusting that God has our best interest. God has my best interest, whether the gym closes or stays open and business flourishes, it was God’s plan from the beginning,” says Peacock.
Although the pandemic has been difficult for Dunamis, Peacock knows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“You have to work hard to overcome hard situations, you have to dig deep. [Right now] our gym has never been so busy, and people are just loving the gym. It’s been fantastic, and it just goes to show you that you can do all the planning you want, but at the end of the day, God is the one that does the planning.”