How BJJ can save a life.
My First BJJ Experience and how it changed my life.
One day my 17 year old self was driving home from school. I was 350lbs with very little knowledge on physical fitness, nutrition or even how weight can fluctuate from day to day. I thought that you could step on the scale at the beginning of the month and stay the same weight until the end of it. Boy was I wrong. Up until this point I was a regular kid that loved video games, movies, eating and hanging out but on my drive home one day in 2003 I made a decision to myself. I decided that I wanted to be alive at the age of 30 and be able to play with my kids and experience all that life had to offer.
With this decision I was still a bit lost, I didn't know where to begin. In 2003 boxing, karate, tae-kwon-do, and Muay Thai were popular. No one had really heard about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu yet. So I decided to check around, there was no big Yelp presence and Google was just good for directions in my small town so I picked up the yellow pages and found only boxing and kick boxing. That was until one night when I was at a friends house and a bunch of people were crowded around the computer. Naturally curious I went over to watch as well. What I saw as "Faces of Death - Worst Knockouts" and it was all the highlights from the first 4 Ultimate Fighting Championships. I remember watching a HUGE guy get caught in the crucifix and repeatedly elbowed into submission. I remember the feeling of shock and awe that it created and from that day forward I had to find out just how to do that.
I'm not sure if the planets aligned or what but I was talking to my good friend at the time Seth Best, as I explained to him what we had watched he looked at me and started to explain BJJ. I had no idea what he was talking about, it sounded just like wrestling. He invited me to come and check out a class.
I was decidedly nervous as hell... I didn't know what I was getting myself into nor did I have the physical attributes to do anything other than play video games. He came to my house and picked me up. We drove downtown and entered an alleyway, it was dark and we were not in the best area and finally we drove behind an old shopping center, parked and went into its basement. What I saw then had me thinking "What the fuck did I get myself into??" I saw 4 huge guys rolling around on the mats beating the crap out of one another. Where I had them in weight they had me on size and strength. Back then in the south you didn't see grown men interacting with one another like that at all, let alone in a dark basement late in the evening. I pushed that aside and watched as they transitioned brutishly from the take-down to the guard to arm bars and sweeps. They went from side control to mount exchanging submissions for submissions. I was enthralled. I had to try it. Excitedly I walked up to our coach - a brown belt at the time - and asked if I could try it out. He said "Not until I sign a waiver." I looked at him and then I looked at the waiver and at the bottom it said something about needing a parent to sign. I rushed home as fast as I could, got it signed and came back.
It was my turn to "roll" and they put me up against one huge SoB that took me down, controlled and dominated every part of my being, smashed my face into dust and made me tap like a dying fish fresh out of water. I was in love.
This is where my journey began and where the weight decided to fall off. For the sake of internet space I'll summarize the rest. I lost around 80lbs and then went to work at the worst prison in Texas. Had some adventures there and decided to Join the USMC. Through sheer determination, discipline and willpower I cut all the weight I needed to get into boot camp. Needless to say they did the rest.
BJJ lit the flame, through determination I was able to keep it kindled and bright. It literally saved my life.