Guardian was founded in 2015 when former Twitter employees Ben Kovacs & Joel Lunenfeld discovered that they had a shared passion for martial arts, specifically boxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu. They quickly realized that the love of those sports was something that others shared, yet unfortunately the high cost of training was prohibiting so many Oakland youth and their families from participating. It didn't take long to decide to start a non-profit to lower the barrier of entry for interested youth to have an opportunity to fall in love with these great sports, and most importantly to see if that exposure led to a positive impact in those students lives both on and off the mats.
Guardian opened its doors in December of 2015 to a humble start with no students and only two part-time instructors. Not long after opening, Sacha Feinman joined Guardian as the managing director of the gym, taking on a plethora of responsibilities including community outreach, school recruitment, and leading boxing curriculum. Over the next 9 months, Guardian saw a 100% increase in both youth and adult members, and a dedicated and passionate community starting to take form.
Today, Guardian has more than 300 students, with the numbers equally split between free youth students and paying adults. In a short time, a thriving team has been built of men and women of all ages and experience levels, from total newbies to world champions. In addition, In late 2016 the Guardian National Scholarship was launched, which supports martial arts students around the country who are in need of financial assistance.