What motivated you to get involved with Brazilian Jiu-jitsu?
For most of my adult life, I was severely overweight and unmotivated to do anything about it. Making excuses for myself was easier than putting in the work to make a change. I finally found the motivation to do something about it in July of 2019 because I didn’t want to live with that mindset anymore. After two months of working with a personal trainer to make sure I could train comfortably without feeling like I was going to pass out after a few minutes of exertion, I walked into Team Renzo Gracie Denville and signed up for a trial class. I knew from the start that Jiu-Jitsu would help me reach my weight loss goals. I never expected to become obsessed with the art, wanting to spend every free moment I have on the mats.
What differences have you seen in your mind and body after over a year of training?
I managed to lose 120 pounds in my first year. The physicality of Jiu-Jitsu training is a wonderful thing because you can go at 100% and still be completely safe. It’s also a very humbling experience because, as I mentioned before, I was huge. Despite this, I was routinely handled very easily by practitioners who were much smaller than me. It was one of the aspects that hooked me to the art.
I understand that you will be serving in our military. Can you tell us more about that?
I am hoping to join the Marines. It has been a dream of mine for a very long time, but I didn’t think I would ever be able to make it. I was motivated by David Goggins. Hearing his story drove me to give it everything I have to make it work. Even though I have only been training for a short period of time, I feel that Jiu-Jitsu has granted me the opportunity to train my body and mind to be better prepared for the intensity of recruit training.
How would describe the training atmosphere at Team Renzo Gracie Denville?
Everyone is amazing. One of my biggest fears when I first started was that I would be rejected because of my weight. No one want to have a body that is in excess of 300 pounds crushing them during drills, but to my relief, no one ever complained about it. Everyone is always willing to help and offer advice from their years of expertise on the mats. And even though most practitioners could easily tie me into a pretzel, there is no ego inside the doors of the academy and no one is ever out to hurt anyone.
Any advice for young people who have been in a similar situation as yourself?
Seize the day. You have to make it work for you, no one else can do that. Don’t make excuses for why you can’t do it. Come up with reasons for why you will do it. It’s a long journey and won’t happen overnight. Have patience and you will be rewarded. You can do anything you set your mind to.