Black Widow MMA gym focused on fitness, fundamentals for all students

Black Widow MMA
Black Widow MMA co-owners Jorge Castaneda (left) and Bitsy Esparza (right) first opened their gym in summer 2017. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Black Widow MMA co-owners Jorge Castaneda (left) and Bitsy Esparza (right) first opened their gym in summer 2017. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
Black Widow MMA owner Bitsy Esparza said she emphasizes the basics of muay thai, Brazilian jiujitsu and mixed martial arts to create an environment where both beginners and professionals can participate together. The teep, shown here, is one of the essential moves in muay thai. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Black Widow MMA owner Bitsy Esparza said she emphasizes the basics of muay thai, Brazilian jiujitsu and mixed martial arts to create an environment where both beginners and professionals can participate together. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Groundwork and grappling, important tenets of Brazilian jiujitsu, are taught at Black Widow MMA. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
When Bitsy Esparza, co-owner and head instructor of Black Widow MMA, began taking muay thai classes at other local martial arts gyms, she noticed many men hesitated to spar and train with her. Often, Esparza said, she would be standing alone while men partnered up with one another to train.

It was this kind of experience that Esparza said she wanted to eliminate when she opened her gym alongside co-owner and jiujitsu instructor Jorge Castaneda.

“We don’t do that here. You make everyone feel welcome. If they’re brand new, if they’re a girl, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is going to feel welcome and equal,” Esparza said.

Esparza and Castaneda said they have molded their instruction and classes around getting more people into their gym and sticking with mixed martial arts. As a result, Esparza said the duo has been able to accommodate students of any age as well as students who are overweight or have disabilities.

Black Widow MMA’s instructors have also held self-defense seminars for the LGBT community and are an open gym to gay, lesbian, queer or transgender students.


Between Esparza and Castaneda, Black Widow MMA offers boxing, muay thai and Brazilian jiujitsu classes. Esparza said the instruction of her classes is rooted in drilling down fundamentals and basics, so each class is beneficial to both professional fighters as well as someone who is taking their first class.

The gym also offers youth martial arts for children ages 6-16.

“We focus on all of it—the self-defense part of it and the sport—all of that so the kids feel confident, but at the same time they’re also learning the art,” Esparza said.

Soon, Esparza said the gym will relaunch its women-only mixed martial arts classes.

“We need to get more women into sports,” Esparza said. “Once they learn the power to punch and kick or submit someone, it’s awesome.”

Black Widow MMA is one of a rare few female-owned mixed martial arts gyms in Austin that Castaneda said he has encountered.

“We're under a strong female that is able to represent Black Widow MMA, not just through fighting and martial arts, but also through positivity. [Esparza] can be one of the nicest people ever, but she'll show you how to become a great fighter. She has definitely elevated my training,” Castaneda said.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the gym to close for three months. During that time, Esparza and Castaneda continued classes through Zoom sessions, which are still offered to clients uncomfortable with in-person training.

“We’ve experienced a lot of growth since we opened back up. People tell us often that we are one of the few gyms that makes them feel comfortable,” Esparza said.

Black Widow MMA

2007 Kramer Lane, Ste. 101, Austin

512-665-0468

www.blackwidowmma.com

Hours: daily 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

*Black Widow MMA has a mask and temperature check policy for coronavirus precautions. Sanitation stations are available in the gym. Contact Black Widow MMA for more information.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


MOST RECENT

Romeo's Pizza held its Georgetown groundbreaking April 6. (Courtesy Romeo's Pizza)
Romeo's Pizza coming to Georgetown; Vacancy Brewing opens in South Austin and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Photo of a Moderna vaccine vial
Austin Public Health coronavirus vaccine portal opens to all adults April 12

APH will continue outreach efforts to high-priority groups.

Austin Public Health holds a vaccination clinic at the Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Coronavirus updates from Austin, Travis County; governor bans 'vaccine passports' and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from Central Texas.

Tavel Bristol-Joseph has started a scholarship fund that will provide $6,000 to two Austin Community College Culinary Arts students and give them opportunity to be mentored by Bristol-Joseph and to stage at one of the Emmer & Rye group's five restaurants. (Courtesy Emmer & Rye)
Austin chef starts scholarship and mentorship program for Austin Community College students

Tavel Bristol-Joseph started the scholarship fund, which will provide $6,000 to two ACC students and give them the opportunity to stage at one of the Emmer & Rye group's five restaurants.

Snow and ice cover the pond on the southeastern side of the Mueller development in East Austin in February. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
After winter storm, Austin puts together a plan for better temporary shelters

The locations, which could be schools, libraries or recreation centers, would be disconnected from traditional infrastructure and be able to sustain operations if the city were to experience widespread power or water outages.

Williamson County added more than 200 new COVID-19 cases April 5-7. (Community Impact staff)
Williamson County adds more than 200 new COVID-19 cases April 5-7

Here is what you need to know today about COVID-19 in Williamson County.

Austin ISD is holding community conversation sessions April 12-May 6. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD community conversation sessions continuing through May 6

The series offers AISD families an opportunity to learn about the district’s strategic plan and ongoing budget planning.

Owners Shae (left) and King (right) Magik moved their shop to the Hill Country Galleria in Novemeber 2020. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austinites run creative fashion house at Magik

Magik offers branding, photography services beyond clothing and accessories.

A resident at EdenHill Communities receives their second dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
Amid the struggle to get vaccinated, these Austin moms have helped over 3,900 people get appointments

The women volunteer their time searching for hard-to-find time slots that often become available in the middle of the night.

Photo of Austin Central Library
Austin Public Library to begin resuming in-person services May 10

Austin Public Library will begin reopening branches to the public in May after operating with only digital and curbside pickup services since June 2020.

The upper decks of I-35 that run between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Airport Boulevard were constructed in the 1970s and could come down as part of a project the Texas Department of Transportation is planning for the highway through Central Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
As time runs short to weigh in on a $4.9B I-35 project, Austin community members say they hope TxDOT is listening

The official comment period for community members to share their thoughts on the highway closes April 9.