It is winter of June 2012, a year after my father passed away. I had not been dealing with his death very well at all. I was 41 years old at the time and while sitting on the couch one Sunday night I suffered sever Vertigo which led to a panic attack and shortly after, Ventricular fibrillation. I spent a week in the stroke and heart attack ward of a hospital until my heart went back into rhythm and another week in the rehabilitation ward before being released. I still suffered vertigo for the following few months and was taking a handful of medication every day to keep my heart in rhythm and my blood thinned.
Approximately five months after my visit to hospital I was invited to go to a friends house to watch the UFC every Pay Per View event. I had a martial arts background from my younger years, training kickboxing, karate and kali, but had been inactive since my mid 20’s. After watching UFC and seeing some Jiu Jitsu used in the fights I developed an interest and decided to start training at the local PCYC under a pro MMA fighter who had moved here just a few years before.
I was hesitant to go to training at first because of a few things I guess… My age! Being almost 42 I felt I was too old to train with younger, fitter guys. My fitness! I was 116kg (255 pounds) and terribly unfit. My confidence! Although I was a professional musician and played to audiences every week, I was not a people person and struggled to make friends or even talk to people! But I pushed myself to go, mainly because I was scared of what happened to me those months prior and felt I needed it.
At first I wanted to do Jiu Jitsu for the fitness and to regain my balance (I was still feeling short bouts of vertigo every day) but in a short amount of time I developed a real passion for the art. It is so much more complex than any other martial art I have ever seen or trained. In the beginning I was overweight and really struggled to move! I felt like a beached whale splashing around frantically trying to get back in the ocean! But the nature of the art was intoxicating and I had to learn more. The Jiu Jitsu bug had bitten!
When a new gym opened in my town about eight months later, all the members I trained with at the local PCYC moved over to keep training in a new location and new instructor. I stepped up my training to four and five days per week where I developed my skills much faster. One year later I was promoted to blue belt, in December 2014.
Skip forward to now, 2017, I am a purple belt and running my own gym. We don’t have black belts within 150km of my town (otherwise I would be training with them!) so when our other gym closed in July 2016 I had a decision to make.. either train in my living room at home with a couple of fellow students or take a responsibility and open a gym! More to come on that subject…
So if you have even been in a bad spot in life with your health, whether it is physical or mental, you owe it to yourself to do something about it. My path was Jiu Jitsu. I would recommend BJJ to everybody regardless of age, fitness level, size, etc for improving both you physical flexibility and fitness as well as your mental health. The time you spend on the mats is a release from those stressful thoughts. You will be so engrossed in the art of Jiu Jitsu there will be nothing else on your mind for that entire time! It will change your life like no other martial art out there. Try it 🙂