How Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Helps My PTSD And Brain Injury


by Monica Perez


Hi. Here is what happened to me and how I use Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.


I train at one spirit martial arts Pedro Sauer Academy Headquarters in Herndon, VA. I was a regular student. I even started to do the morning classes also during the summer until I couldn’t. I rented a car from Turo which allowed me to rent a car $20 per day. I would rent a car just so I could train at Pedro Sauer Academy.




















I wasn’t making enough money and spent everything I made on rent and gas so I stopped renting a car. I decided to ride my bicycle to work and home and was even going to ride bicycle to the train since there was a bike trail that led ride to where the academy is.


On July 13, 2016 I was riding my bike home and I was hit by a car from behind.


I was helicopter airlifted to hospital while using a breathing tube. I was unconscious for 3-4 days. Getting hit by the car left me with a TBI, or a bruise in my brain.



I never got any justice from the driver who hit me and they never contacted my family. It’s been almost a year now since it happened and I still have no justice, so I’ve been dealing with a brain injury on my own.








I developed post traumatic stress disorder which I found out by going to emergency rooms because I thought I was having heart attack but it was panic attacks. Months after my accident I went to my academy and told them what happened to me because they thought I just quit and stopped like some people do in BJJ. But not me, I live BJJ. I train BJJ two or three times per week and it helps with my PTSD and my brain injury.


Learning a sweep, etc. helps my short term memory, and I feel my memory is much better because I train BJJ and drill a lot. My PTSD gives me anxiety and when I do class I feel like I’m normal again. It makes me so happy to train because my anxiety goes away.


I do have some bad days like anyone does with PTSD or brain injury but Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu always calms me down and makes me feel like I don’t have a brain injury; like I don’t have a post traumatic stress disorder.


It’s almost the one year anniversary of my accident and my family is poor and I am not able to work with a TBI . I ask my mom and she gives me some money so I can use Lyft to train. I take 2 buses and Lyft to get to class. Most people who have PTSD and a brain injury have doctors and medications that help them. My medicine is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.













Some days I can’t go to BJJ class because my TBI and PTSD gives me bad days but after those days I get back to training the next week. But the thought that makes me happy and calm down most days is I’m going to class. I have to just breathe, say I’ll be okay because I’ll be in class tomorrow. I wonder what I will learn at class or what I need to drill to get better.


My emotions are too much sometimes since my TBI. I always cry because I’m just so happy I can train BJJ again. Without it what would I be doing?


I sometimes break down crying because I almost wasn’t here. I almost couldn’t train anymore.


Me getting hit by that car and surviving was a miracle because car vs a pedestrian on a bike ends up bad. I have three stripes on my white belt and I’m just so happy. I’m getting better with my memory, my TBI, PTSD and in learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.



(Monica Perez)



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