When Diego Da Costa moved to the area nearly two years ago, he began looking for a place to train. Da Costa is a professional athlete, who has travelled the world and competed in Judo and Jiu-Jitsu competitions since he was a kid, but he quickly found that Becker County, the new place he called home, just hadn't entered the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) scene yet.

"That's when I decided to start teaching Jiu-Jitsu in town," he said, adding that it took him a while to find a space that suited his cause but, this November, he did.

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Da Costa moved into the basement of a building just off Highway 10 in Detroit Lakes and transformed it into a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym, adding a large mat to train on, as well as sprucing up the place to make it more geared toward working out. He also added a little area for people to do cardio workouts, complete with a treadmill and a couple other pieces of traditional gym equipment.

The gym is still getting off the ground, but it's growing slowly but surely. Da Costa says when he first opened, he had one class, and he welcomed both kids and adults.

"After I got, like, five kids, I decided to open their own class because we didn't have a lot of room," he explained, saying now he teaches roughly 20 adults and five kids.

He heads up two separate classes during the winter (one for kids and one for adults) and is hoping to add a third this summer.

Da Costa has a black belt in Judo as well as Jiu-Jitsu. He also has connections on the MMA scene and says he has a friend who will travel up to Detroit Lakes to teach a class at his gym in the summer, if there is enough interest in the community.

It isn't the first time he has owned a gym. Da Costa says he had a gym in California, where the MMA scene is big. The state hosts a number of championship events, and Da Costa says he trained for competitions as well as taught MMA classes and self-defense classes there.

"I used to teach a group of Marines, like, 20 or 30," he said.

And he's hoping to build up his clientele in the area much the same way.

"I think everyone should try it at least one time," he says of Jiu-Jitsu. "It's a great workout and self defense."

Da Costa, hailing from Brazil, is teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is derived from the Japanese. He says it's akin to wrestling, but there are also differences-various choke holds, arm bars, and leg locks.

He is knowledgeable in the sport and says he's been practicing since he was very young, when a friend of his family offered to coach him. After that, Da Costa took off in MMA, traveling the world training for and competing in a number of competitions. He took fifth place his first time in the California World Championship, with 124 people in his division and is a second place Pan America Championship medalist.

Now, his career is all about his students.

"I have to train my students, but it's gonna make me happy because my students already start to compete, already doing great," he said.

Joe Craig, the father of one of Da Costa's youngest students, four-year-old Sammy, says joining Jiu-Jitsu has been "a lot of fun" for his son.

"It's been great. He's learning .... He's building friendships, and it's good," said Craig.

Da Costa's gym, DDC Team, is open Monday through Saturday. He hosts classes mainly in the evenings and plans to expand as the demand increases.