The Covid pandemic hit the Jiu Jitsu world particularly hard. Academies all over the world were temporarily closed by government lockdowns and many shut down for good before restrictions were lifted. Drew Weatherhead had a young, successful academy. His academy had been open for about a year and a half and was operating in the black. The academy had a good student base and Drew was even thinking of getting new mats or possibly even a new location. But then the first of many Canadian lockdowns began and Drew was forced to close. He would reopen briefly but then another lockdown, then another. Within the first 16 months of the COVID pandemic, Drew's academy was forced to be closed for almost 11 of them. Drew was forced to close his doors for good, but not only that, he was forced to sell his house to pay the bills.
Drew says the word Pivot was thrown around a lot during the pandemic, but just pivoting is much harder than it sounds. However, Drew had already begun pivoting. He was making as much money as possible with online instruction, selling t-shirts, and other e-commerce ideas that made his pivot possible. Drew and his wife decided to buy a trailer and along with their 4 kids ranging in age from 3 to 10 began living a life on the road. They have been traveling from their Canadian homeland through the United States. Documenting their journey, and visiting Jiu Jitsu academies along the way.
This nomadic lifestyle is often one many people fantasize about but actually making it happen can be a daunting task and Drew has chronicled his undertaking with a youtube series, The North South Chronicles. In this series, you can see everything from Drew renovating the trailer to him visiting the American manufacturing plant Origin USA, Jiu Jitsu academies across southern Canada and the U.S. As well as interviews with academy owners and BJJ legends like Jocko Willink and Andre "Dedeco" Almeida.
Drew Weatherhead has found a silver lining in what many would have found to be a soul-crushing set of circumstances. He now hosts The Social Disorder Podcast from his SUV, one that he jokingly says is a $50,000 studio. Drew is also the owner and content creator of the hugely popular Because Jitsu meme page on Facebook and Instagram. Drew has stated he may never own an academy again but there is no doubt he will make the best of whatever the future has in store for him.
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