The Training Montage…the quintessential, ever-present feature of almost every combat sports movie. From Rocky, to The Karate Kid, to Never Back down, to Blood Sport, we always get to see a streamlined, cool clip of the protagonist explaining why he went from zero to hero. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but we don’t have the training montage for Jacob Mashburn. But rest assured, we can all be confident he spent hours and hours of hard work with his coach Caleb McAllister at Renaissance Academy of Martial Arts (RAM) in Lynchburg, VA to go from an also-ran in previous qualifiers to a serious standout at the second PGF Season 4 Decatur Qualifier, earning him an at-large bid for this season.
At 31, Mashburn isn’t your typical competition-oriented blue belt. Like so many people, Mashburn had wanted to train his whole life but couldn’t find the resources to make it work. About four years ago, he changed his career, moving into buying, fixing up, and flipping properties. Given this new career, when his son asked to train martial arts, Mashburn had the means to give his son the gift of training. At the same time, Mashburn realized he now had the means to make his dreams of training in the martial arts come to fruition. Now, Mashburn finds himself ready to mix it up with serious competitors from all over the country during the Shark Week of Submission Grappling we affectionately call the Professional Grappling Federation.
Now, Mashburn’s journey has had ups and downs just like every notable protagonist. After just about three months of finally starting training, COVID hit and the gym he attended shut down for six months. Mashburn did his best to train, like so many of us, finding time to roll in friends basements, garages, etc. But after the gyms were able to open up again, Mashburn was right back at RAM, yearning to learn from McAllister and his other coach Jeremy Angione.
At 31, Mashburn has the self-awareness to realize he has limited time to make an impact on the competitive scene. According to Mashburn, his “foot’s on the gas pedal in the competitive scene.” Given Mashburn’s palpable performance improvements from the first to the second PGF Season 4 Decatur Qualifiers, one has to believe Mashburn means business.
Not to talk down too much on Mashburn’s first Decatur Qualifier performance, he had a good thing going until he ran into eventual Asheville Qualifier, and perennial PGF qualifier standout, Stephen Dana. To reemphasize Mashburn’s dedication to the sport and his improvements, Mashburn has said the one match he really wants in PGF Season 4 is to run it back with Stephen Dana. According to Masburn, he says “I believe I have what it takes to get the win now.”
Mashburn should be a favorite for all of us dads out there who want to be on the mats or want to turn it up a notch and be competitors. He came to martial arts later in life, but he’s making the most of it now. Like so many of us, Mashburn likely watched Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society – hearing him say “Carpe Diem” – SEIZE THE DAY! Well, Mashburn had done it. He’s devoted the time and sweat and pain into his training to make it to the PGF. Now, we should be excited to see what he does this season.