MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS -- I’ve been practicing mixed martial arts for more than six years and have been dedicated to training in jiu-jitsu for more than three months.
When I was younger I used to get picked on a lot. I was a popular kid but I never really learned how to defend myself.
My uncle inspired me from a young age to join the Marine Corps.
He was in a reconnaissance unit and whenever he would return from a deployment he would tell me stories of all the amazing things he did.
I told my uncle that when I was old enough I would become a Marine, but one day he went on deployment and never came back.
I’m a man of my word and when I graduated high school I was standing on the yellow footprints two months later.
I have been in the Marine Corps for almost three years.
When I got into fighting, I found that I really enjoyed it.
I worked on boxing and American kickboxing fighting styles at my first gym.
Jiu-jitsu taught me humility. It does not require a lot of strength and smaller fighters can make bigger opponents tap out with strategy and skill.
Jiu-jitsu is a self-defense martial art and it takes much longer to master than others. In other martial arts you may see 19 to 22 year-old fighters with black belts. You rarely see a young black belt in jiu-jitsu.
It is a fighting style that can’t be choreographed and you must learn how to deal with real opponents.
Jiu-jitsu goes beyond the physical aspect, requiring egos to be left at the door. Often with jiu-jitsu, your opponent will have an advantage in size. When you go into a fight you have to have a strategy or you’re going to get beat.
Spending time at the gym helps me relieve any built-up stress after a long day and when I leave I feel great.
I have participated in two amateur MMA fights and spent a while coaching other fighters.
Your first fight is always the most nerve-wracking experience. Building up to a fight takes six to eight months of training. It all comes down to that moment, when you look your opponent in the eye for the first time.
When looking for a new gym, the most important thing to me is the people and how they interact. You should be able to go to a gym and feel like you’re part of a family.
The gym I go to, Yucca Valley Jiu-jitsu is also a mixed martial arts gym. We learn everything from ground fighting to karate.
My advice to anyone interested in learning jiu-jitsu, is if you’re going to spend money on it, don’t let it go to waste.
I work to improve strength and conditioning in the morning and immediately after work I go straight to the gym to work on my jiu-jitsu. All-in-all, I put in around four hours of training every day.
Whenever I’m feeling down what gets me back on my feet is competition. Seeing the others training at the gym after having a tough day sparks my competitive drive.
My favorite jiu-jitsu technique is the triangle choke. Once it’s locked in, even on a bigger guy, there’s no getting out of it.
Mastering a move depends on the person. If you come here and you’re not dedicated you will not learn it as quickly. I’m dedicated to training and after four months I have yet to master the choke.
I feel like learning jiu-jitsu helped me advance in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.
During the green belt course, there is a lot of time spent grappling. My experience in martial arts made me more prepared for those parts of MCMAP.
It’s not fun to lose fights but it’s the competition that drives me to become better.
They say if you enjoy something you will never work a day in your life.
Some of the fighters who inspire me are Bruno Malfacine in jiu-jitsu and Ronda Rousey in MMA.
One of my favorite quotes is “In jiu-jitsu you never lose, you learn. Accept your mistakes and work to improve them,” from Rodrigo Munduruca, Canadian mixed martial artist.
At the end of the day, if you’re tired and still put in the effort to go to the gym, that’s the moment when you discover what you’re really made of.