Coach Natalie Steinacher, Instructor Keith Steinacher, Instructor Jonathan Rosener, and Coach Wesley Komnick

GODFREY, IL – The May 2024 Small Business of the Month award recipient featured under the RiverBend Growth Association’s spotlight is Strategic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Strategic BJJ).

Owned by the husband-and-wife duo of Keith and Natalie Steinacher, Strategic BJJ’s beginnings date back to 2019. Since its inception, it has moved several times and increased the size of the school along the way to accommodate its growing student base and increased program offerings. It is now located at 2248 E. Broadway in Alton, with a second location in Hardin, Ill. added this past year. A Carrollton location opened in April 2024.

“We started Strategic BJJ to create a place where people could learn a useful skill (self-defense), while having a good time and getting a good workout, all in a positive environment. We wanted a culture of continuous improvement through martial arts training,” said Natalie Steinacher. “We have been successful in meeting these goals and replicating what our instructors have done for their students before us.”

“We also hope to be a boon to the community by being a positive force of change, through volunteerism and supporting other local organizations,” Keith Steinacher added. “We partner with several organizations to better our community. We partner with Adopt-a-Cop BJJ to offer affordable training options for our local law enforcement. We work with the USVF out of Jerseyville to provide training opportunities for veterans with PTSD and help improve their quality of life. And, we partner with the ‘Grappling for Gifts’ organization out of Marquette Heights. Grappling for Gifts is an organization that buys gifts for children who are in the Children’s Hospital of Illinois during the Christmas season.”

The Steinachers continue to seek out sponsors so that more underprivileged kids are able to train. “We believe that the martial arts should be for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status,” Keith further noted.

“We started by only offering Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for kids and adults in 2019, but have since added kickboxing for adults, women’s self-defense, training seminars for law enforcement, and a comprehensive MMA program. And we plan to continue this growth and improvement into the coming year,” said Natalie.

Strategic BJJ has been in business for five years now, and they currently have five coaches on staff, along with several assistants. “We try to find outside training opportunities for our instructors that can improve their overall skill level as a martial artist or an instructor,” Natalie added. “We also have instructors come in from outside of our school and team to teach at our facility, providing other perspectives and insights, and moving us toward our goal of continued improvement.”

“We offer a clean and professional environment for both kids and adults. We offer comprehensive programs for men, women, and children. And, we always keep safety in mind when training. Most importantly, though, we offer a training environment that is unmatched in the area. This is done by bringing in the best instructors available to be a part of our team, as well as painstakingly adhering to the values that build a great team and culture,” Keith said further.

“Using the martial arts as a conduit to help others is very gratifying. When we help kids and adults with anxiety, depression, low confidence, or poor health, that is when we are truly fulfilled as instructors,” Natalie added. “That said, we truly want to offer something for everyone, regardless of their age, build, gender, or ability. We have programs for hobbyists, competitors, and those who use these skills as part of their chosen profession. We are not just a gym. We are a team.”

Like any organization, Strategic BJJ has faced challenges over the past five years of operations. They survived as an organization and as a team through the recent pandemic. The Steinachers say they did so with common-sense practices and the consideration of each other’s health.

“We came out stronger for our efforts during what was a difficult time for everyone in the community. For that we are thankful, and that is one of the many reasons we love to give back to the community. The continued support is appreciated,” Natalie noted.

The couple also talked about opportunity, noting a second location in Hardin they have opened in the last year, further extending their service region and their goal achievements. “It is our goal to bring our service to as many people in the Riverbend as possible. There are many choices for martial arts training in the region, but we believe that we are the best equipped to help you benefit from this type of training,” Keith pointed out.

Natalie added, “We offer women’s self-defense, taught by a female instructor. We also offer programs for veterans, law enforcement, and corrections officers that extend beyond the four walls of our school. We can perform seminars on-site to further help educate the community. One such example of this is the seminars we put on at the Calhoun PTO’s request for students at the middle school which focused on anti-bullying. Our goal is to meet you where you are in life and help you get to where you want to be.”

Strategic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s team is always looking for expanded networking opportunities, especially those where they can build connections during the daytime hours. Most of the class offerings at the Strategic BJJ locations take place in the evenings. They also hope to provide self-defense education to more groups within their regional network, including fellow RBGA members, to further increase awareness and fulfill the community’s needs.

For more information about Strategic BJJ, call (618) 328-3428 or send an email to strategicbjj@gmail.com. You can also visit their website at strategicbjj.com to learn more.

The RiverBend Growth Association is the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development organization for the 11 communities known as the Riverbend. For more information about the Growth Association, visit www.growthassociation.com or call (618) 467-2280.

RBGA’s Small Business of the Month Committee recognizes a different member business each month for its outstanding efforts and leadership in the community. Committee members include Brenda Eardley, Vicki Hake, Vickie Hopkins, Adrianna Lock, Amy Roady, Martha Schultz, and Amy Smith.

To learn more about membership in the RiverBend Growth Association and the Small Business of the Month recognition, visit the RBGA website or call their Godfrey office.