I started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in August of 2007 when I was pushing close to 250 Pounds! I met my wife in college when I was well under 200 pounds and we were planning on starting a family. I didn’t want to be an out of shape dad; I knew I needed to do something before it was too late.
I had been going to a local gym for years to lift and do cardio, but I was not seeing the results I wanted. A trainer at the gym put up a flier promoting the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class he was going to be teaching and I signed up. I knew that training in the martial arts would get me into shape faster than lifting weights.
Within the first three-months I had dropped 25 pounds and kept it off. In addition to the weight loss, my cardio had improved, I had more energy, and the stress that was brought on from work was gone. I felt more comfortable and confident going into work because I knew what real pressure was and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu helped me understand the importance of staying calm under pressure.
BJJ also helped keep my EGO in check which made it a lot easier to work with my co-workers. I simply took what I was doing on the mats and applied it to the workplace. I was more at ease and more open-minded when it came to the ideas of my co-workers as well as those individuals that reported directly to me.
Another reason why I train BJJ is that it’s FUN! That’s right; I have fun going to BJJ class to learn a new technique or build upon the self defense skills that I have been working on. I never was excited to go to the gym to lift or run on the treadmill. I am very fortunate to have found a BJJ school where everyone is on the same page of helping every teammate get better.
After my first year as a Blue Belt, I made a trip to our affiliation headquarters in Tampa, Florida. I was on a family vacation, but was able to squeeze in two training sessions. Thinking that everyone would be at work, I went in to the noon class on a Wednesday only to see that fifteen other adults were in the class. I spoke with them afterwards and they all said that they simply arranged their schedules to allow them to train BJJ.
Needless to say, when I returned from my vacation, I too arranged my schedule to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu more, without taking away from my family time. As the year went by, I had put 300 hours of training in, I lost more weight, was having more fun, and I was a happier person.
Now, competing was never a thought, but once I received my 4th stripe on my Blue Belt, I wanted to test my skills against other practitioners of the same ability and in the same weight class. I did fairly well, placing in three of the four tournaments that I entered, winning bronze in one and losing the gold twice. However, it was a FUN experience. Now I go to four competitions a year and I have made new friends with the individuals I’ve met at these tournaments.
Training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become a part of my life and it is also allowing me to set a healthy example for my two young daughters. They have attended many of my classes, they were there when I was awarded my Purple Belt, and they see me eat healthy. They are both in gymnastics, my older daughter (6) has been in Tae Kwon Do since she was 4 and my youngest (3) has been taking classes since January of 2014.
I have dropped SIXTY pounds since I first started training BJJ, went from XXL T-shirts to LARGE, a 38-Inch waist to a 33, and I have the energy to play with my girls.
I owe all of that to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Regardless of your gender, your age, or what you do for a living, once you step on to the mat, you’re all teammates looking to make each other better.
1st Stripe Purple Belt
Trains at Henry Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – Team RMNU, Bloomington, Illinois
Under 1st Stripe Brown Belt, Bill Henry
Under 8-Time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion Robson Moura
President of the Robson Moura Nova Uniao Jiu Jitsu Association