Do you jiu-jitsu?: Martial arts expert trains adults, kids, first responders at Zionsville studio


John Parson has practiced jiu-jitsu most of his life. Now, the Zionsville resident is combining his expertise and business skills after opening his new instructional gym in Zionsville.

In October 2023, Parson purchased the business formerly known as Endurance BJJ and changed the name to Bushido Jiu-Jitsu, a training facility for adults and children interested in learning that martial art.

“I had been teaching (at Endurance) for about three years,” Parson said. “Because it was not my academy, I didn’t make the curriculum, which had been severely overrun by me. I have put in a curriculum where students have to learn Gracie fundamentals, which is how students start and end up in jiu-jitsu. That was how I learned, and I took over with that curriculum.”

Bushido Jiu-Jitsu, at 5078 W. 106th St. in Zionsville, offers training Monday through Friday and has open mat time on Saturdays. Parson said the most significant change he made to the gym, which has been undergoing renovations but has been open throughout, was introducing new training equipment.

“The biggest investment was for a Fuji spring subfloor,” Parson said. “When we’re doing takedowns, we’re going from standing to the ground, and the mat is now way more instrumental in preventing injuries. I spent a considerable amount of money on redoing the whole facade of the inside with the mats.”

Bushido Jiu-Jitsu will hold a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. April 13 to celebrate the completion of renovations.

“We’re going to have some first responder and jiu-jitsu seminars following the ribbon cutting with food,” Parson said. “We will also collaborate with some local departments in town and Indianapolis. It is quite a big event to look forward to.”

Parson said his depth of knowledge and experience in jiu-jitsu is what sets his training facility apart from others in the area.

“My experience is unlike anybody else around here,” Parson said. “Most have only trained in Indiana, and they just trained in jiu-jitsu. I first trained for self-defense, then mixed martial arts and then jiu-jitsu. I’ve traveled nationally and internationally extensively, practicing and competing. So, it’s considerably different than anything within 250 miles of here.”

Part of Parson’s goal for Bushido Jiu-Jitsu is to train military service members and first responders.

“I have trained with every walk of first responder up into the highest branches of the military,” Parson said. “My goal is to bring that full circle to Zionsville, teaching first responders like police officers. If you have a police officer who’s more trained, they will be able to deescalate situations much easier without having to resort to some sort of bad encounter first. They’ll be able to control a situation verbally and physically. We teach first responders like police officers, firefighters and corrections officers in prisons and jails how to deescalate situations with jiu-jitsu.”

Daniel Wallace, who has worked for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office for five years, has practiced jiu-jitsu at the Zionsville facility for three years. He said the training has helped him on the job and with his mental health.

“I started jiu-jitsu after I got into a fight at work,” Wallace said. “At that point, (the training) was needed not only to protect myself but the people I am interacting with. If I can successfully execute the techniques I have learned, it limits my probability of getting injured. It makes me more confident and is great for my mind when working under stress. Bushido Jiu-Jitsu is a great community with a lot of great people.”

Drew Warner, a Carmel resident who has trained at the facility for two years, said practicing jiu-jitsu has also been beneficial in several areas of his life.

“I played basketball growing up, and I forgot what it was like to have camaraderie and practice teamwork with a group of people,” Warner said. “It is a game-changer compared to working out by yourself.”

Parson, who lived in Massachusetts and Connecticut before moving to Zionsville, added a kids’ program to the curriculum when he bought the business. His three children, Dean, Jane and Gus, all train in jiu-jitsu at the facility.

“My kids have all trained jiu-jitsu with me from the time they were little,” Parson said. “Training kids in jiu-jitsu is an important part of the curriculum. At the academy, we have quite a big kids’ program now and are able to train kids and empower them to be what we call ‘bully proof.’ It gives them self-confidence and teaches them to be responsible for their actions.”

Parson eventually wants to visit local elementary schools and provide programs and opportunities for kids to get involved with the academy.

A former collegiate runner, Parson hopes the Zionsville and surrounding communities can foster the same “sense of belonging” that he has found with jiu-jitsu.

“You’re celebrated in jiu-jitsu. Whether you are big or small, slow or fast, there is no hindrance,” Parson said. “You can still be good no matter your physical size or athletic ability. I am infatuated with that. It has become a way of life for me.”

For more about Bushido Jiu-Jitsu, visit

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Adults training at Bushido Jiu-itsu. (Photo by Jessica Todd)

If you go

What: Bushido Jiu-Jitsu will hold its grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony followed by first responder and jiu-jitsu seminars.

When: 10 a.m. April 13

Where: 5078 W. 106th St. in Zionsville