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Denver Fire investigating arson at Jiu-Jitsu academy

Accelerant was poured in multiple places including a wall of accolades and photos, the owners said.

DENVER — Most of the walls at Colorado Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Satori are filled with photos, championship medals and belts athletes have won and achieved over the years.

But one wall is now empty and covered in burn marks. 

"That entire area was specifically targeted with a lot of accelerant," said Don Westman, who helped create the academy 12 years ago. 

Sean Stewart, co-owner and fellow head instructor, can't help but continue to glance at the burned wall where many of his belts were displayed. 

"It’s difficult to see a constant reminder that somebody tried to take your life’s work away and minimize it," said Stewart. 

The fire burned so hot that it melted championship medals.

"The arson guy said there’s been a lot of accelerant poured, so this is definitely arson," said Westman. "You know, that just kicks you into another gear of what’s going on here. Why did this happen? How did it happen?" 

Credit: KUSA

Denver Fire Department said arson investigators have started building a case, but they haven't released the name of a suspect. 

It will be a while before classes can start again in the academy's location, but in the meantime, another gym has offered their space for them to train on a limited schedule. 

The community has raised more than $15,000 through a GoFundMe for reconstruction. 

As black belts, Westman and the Stewart see Jiu-Jitsu as more than a sport. 

“Without question, Jiu-Jitsu requires you to face the fact that not all days are easy," said Stewart. "You’re gonna have to overcome roadblocks and hurdles in order to progress and survive." 

They know when they're pinned on the mat, if they can still breathe, there's a way out. 

“We have an amazing community here," said Westman. "We’re gonna keep doing what we’ve been doing, and we’ll just fill it up with new more amazing moments."

 

Credit: KUSA

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