How Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Changed My Life

Nelson competing as a white belt

It has been eight years since the time I took my first Brazilian jiu-jitsu class. Deciding to train Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and sticking to it, has been one of the most fascinating and life-changing experiences of my life. My life would be radically different now if I never tied that white belt around my waist. Not only would I be lacking super sweet ninja moves, and not only would my circle of friends and career path be different, but I would never have met my wife. Eight years later I cannot imagine what my life would look like if I didn’t train.

I wasn’t much into sports growing up. I grew up in Chile and during my childhood the only sport that seemed available was soccer. I didn’t have much interest in soccer - my sister being picked before me during our neighborhood games may of have something to do with this.  My family moved to the United States in 2001, opening a world of possibilities. During high school I was part of the football, wrestling and track teams.  Once I graduated high school and decided not to pursue college wrestling, something was missing. I tried rugby, got into Olympic lifting, but nothing filled the gap that wrestling left. One day surfing the net I stumbled on footage of ADCC 2007, which had taken place in Trenton, New Jersey, about an hour from where I lived at the time. I was fascinated. I showed my friend Dave, one of my old wrestling teammates, and started talking about maybe trying that grappling thing out.

A few weeks went by and one Friday night I get a call from Dave at 1 AM.  He was getting out of work, and someone at work told him about a grappling tournament in NJ in about a month.  He gave me the website and the next day we signed up for Grapplers Quest. This was before ever taking a BJJ class.  After visiting a few schools we started training with Dave Ellis who taught BJJ out of the Cranford Judo club. We would train BJJ in the morning then supplement with a few judo classes at night.   After about 4 weeks of training we competed.  Dave won his division and I took third.

After that first tournament I was hooked. Other than injury lay offs I have trained just about every day, sometimes twice a day, for the last eight years. I am truly thankful for what BJJ has given me, and I am looking forward to more training, tournaments, camps and meeting more amazing people through the sport.