Weekend Warrior: Longhouse Media founder Keenan Beavis keeps up the family jiu-jitsu legacy

For Longhouse Media founder Keenan Beavis, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has been 10 years in the making

Credit: Adam Blasberg

Beavis’s competitive nature comes in handy in marketing and on the mat

Getting COVID did a number on Keenan Beavis, knocking him out of any meaningful exercise for almost a month. But as soon as he was able, the Langley native and founder of digital marketing agency Longhouse Media was back in the gym practising Brazilian jiu-jitsu as he has for the past 10 years. 

Competitive in judo and wrestling as a high-school student, Beavis turned to the combat sport when he was 16. Brazilian jiu-jitsu focuses on the art of taking your opponent to the ground and using holds to force them into submission. Beavis has been intrigued since his father (a newly minted black belt) took it up some 15 years ago. 

“It’s hard to explain jiu-jitsu rankings to people—they have this idea of 10- and 12-year-olds walking around Canada Day events with their black belts in karate or taekwondo,” says Beavis, who recently earned a brown belt (the seventh, one below black) himself. “You can get a black belt in those sports in four to six years—there’s cases where karate black belts are created in two to three years. In jiu-jitsu, that does not happen.”

Beavis, now 26, has always wanted to get his own black belt before turning 30. At this rate, he thinks it could happen by age 28, something he credits to the Marcus Soares Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, which has locations in his hometown as well as in Maple Ridge and Vancouver. 

“Marcus is the highest-ranked black belt in North America in Brazilian jiu-jitsu; he introduced it in Canada about 20 years ago,” Beavis maintains. “He’s been doing it for a very long time—the way he can break down the techniques and just invent moves on the spot, because someone asks him a question and he can just use his knowledge of the human body and leverage and joints and  anatomy. He can create a way to answer the question, even if it’s something he hasn’t seen before. And he’s seen a lot.”

When Beavis, a University of the Fraser Valley business administration grad, started Longhouse Media, the gym was his first client. 

“I went to my jiu-jitsu school and said, OK, listen,” Beavis recalls. “I’m not going to ask you for any money, but you give me a $500-a-month budget, I will get you a large number of students.” Beavis helped Soares more than double his business over the course of a year.

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Given that confidence and resilience, it’s probably not a huge surprise that Beavis feeds off the rush and thrill that combat sports like jiu-jitsu can deliver. “When you go to the gym and lift weights or hit the treadmill, your brain can tell that you’re tired, and you can convince yourself to stop working out,” he says. “When you’re in a fight, the body pushes past the mental limit. If you stop, you’re going to get choked. It sucks to lose. The mental and the physical benefits are probably my two favourite things. It’s also something you can always get better at as well. There’s no limit to moves and the different ways you can get out of a situation.”

Though Brazilian jiu-jitsu remains somewhat of an underground activity in Canada, Beavis contends that it’s “definitely growing.” As with most pastimes, there are both accurate portrayals of the sport in popular culture and those that miss the mark. 

“That Nicolas Cage movie that’s titled Jiu-Jitsu has zero jiu-jitsu,” Beavis says with a laugh. “He’s fighting aliens and using guns and stuff, and the moves are so over-choreographed. But if you want to see good jiu-jitsu and good judo in a movie, Keanu Reeves has done an amazing job in John Wick. Every single throw and sweep and arm bar—all the judo and jiu-jitsu in there is phenomenal. I watched those movies again recently—just get a rush from seeing them. It’s so refreshing to see legitimate fighting in a movie.”

Beavis might not be at the John Wick level just yet (who is?), but we had to ask: who wins a fight between father and son? 

“My dad is a monster,” Beavis says. “I won’t say I always lose to my dad, but for a 55-year-old guy, he is tough. I’m probably one of two or three people at the gym that gives him a hard time. He’s a scary guy.”

Warrior Spotlight: Keenan Beavis

Keenan Beavis founded Longhouse Media in late 2016. The Langley-based digital marketing firm, which works with small businesses across the Lower Mainland, has about half a dozen employees. Longhouse prides itself on its video production, web design and search engine optimization (SEO) abilities. “We’re really an all-hands-on-deck marketing solution for any small business,” Beavis says.