Martial arts studio highlights importance of health, fitness

Tom Drotar, 65, of Santa Monica, California works with Brock French, 21, of Monroe on a self defense move as they train at Monroe Jiu Jitsu. Drotar is a former Monroe resident.

For the last several years, Tom Drotar — a Monroe native who now resides in California — would travel back to his hometown to care for his ailing mother. 

After placing a lunch order, the 65-year-old production designer was walking through the downtown district as he waited for his food to be done. 

He came across Monroe Jiu Jitsu at 11 E. 2nd St., a fitness center owned by Todd Williams, a Monroe resident who competed as a runner for Team USA in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. 

Drotar and Nick Musulin of Monroe discuss different Jiu Jitsu techniques.

An avid lover of fitness, Drotar was intrigued by the storefront and walked in, meeting Williams. He immediately joined. And though he recently returned to California, Drotar said training at the facility has changed his life.

“You come here and by the time you finish, you’re on another level,” Drotar said. “… Williams is the best coach I have ever had. He never gets impatient and he always has a smile; he’s just a real leader.”

Williams’s business has been open since 2017. And since then, he has seen the impact his work has had on students, watching as they become healthier and more confident individuals. He’s also watched people progress in their physical fitness journeys, losing dozens of pounds. 

Todd Williams, owner of Monroe Jiu Jitsu, talks about the importance of health and fitness.

“(I’ve seen) people become happier; they’re making eye contact, which is different to the first time when they first walked in,” Williams said. “It’s incredible seeing that change in people.”

Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that is based on grappling and maneuvering, prioritizing the concept of self-defense, Williams said. It’s like a combination of wrestling and Judo, he added.