Niles martial arts school relocates

Published 1:35 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

NILES — Mark Daley was in his element Tuesday evening.

Daley, founder of Copa Jiu Jitsu Niles, roamed the mat inside the school’s new, spacious home at 2601 N. 5th Street, Niles, observing his students’ techniques while offering advice.

After more than two years of cultivating a strong following at its 111 E. Main Street location, Mark and his wife, Sarah, relocated the school to the 3,200 square-foot building, which allows for 2,200 square feet of mat space for classes seven days a week. Daley and his team of instructors provide lessons in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, muay thai and several other forms of martial arts for children and adults.

“I’m getting more drive-bys,” Daley said. “Since I’ve been here it has gotten huge. It’s bigger than it ever was, so it’s been awesome.”

A Chicago native, Daley and his wife, Susan own property on Diamond Lake in Cassopolis. Two years ago, after being asked to teach private jiu-jitsu lessons locally, Daley – who holds a third-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, decided to open Copa Jiu Jitsu in downtown Niles, sharing the location with a taekwondo school. Brazilian jiu jitsu is a self-defense martial art and combat sport based on grappling, ground fighting, and submission holds.

After a year-and-a-half in downtown Niles, Daley and his instructors felt they had outgrown the space and began the search for a new home.

“The place was fairly small,” he said. “It got to the point where me and (the taekwondo school) both needed more days for lessons. We just outgrew it.”

After scouring the area, Daley happened upon the 2601 N. 5th St. building formerly occupied by the Niles STEAM room.

“The owner has a couple of kids and he said ‘I want to make sure you stay in town,'” Daley said. “‘We want our kids to learn from you and I’ve got just place for you.'”

Copa Jiu Jitsu has been hosting lessons in the new location since March 1. According to Daley, his school has approximately 130 students. Daley’s classes have been a hit with both children and adults seeking a place to belong as well as a means to defend themselves. 

“It’s just a great workout,” he said. “It builds camaraderie and has the self-defense aspect. We’re very self-defense oriented whereas some schools are very sport-oriented. I think now with the world the way it is, the kids aren’t given the discipline they used to back in the day and I’m old school. So I think that’s why these kids programs have taken off.”

For more information, contact Copa Jiu Jitsu Niles at (312) 403-3628 or find them on Facebook at “Copa Jiu Jitsu Niles.