Where Jiu Jitsu Can Take You
by Kevin Clink
In 2012 I was half-way through a diploma program at my local college when I discovered there was a Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Club on campus. In the past two years I had made a lot of changes in my life. I learned to skate. I volunteered for an organization that provides social rehabilitation for consumers of mental health, where I became their Artistic Director. I took up Yoga and Meditation – including going on a ten day silence retreat. And, as mentioned, I went back to school – for the first time since receiving a degree in Philosophy over two decades earlier. Oh, did I forget to mention that I am old… really, really old? If you check out my twitter account you will see a photo of me and UFC pioneer Royce Gracie. I am older than the guy who won UFC 1 over 20 years ago. Unlike Royce, I have no martial arts background. I am not an athlete. I am not strong. I am not flexible. I am not “in shape”. I wear glasses. I am the kind of guy who used to get bullied in school. Hell, if I was a jock, I am the kind of guy I would have bullied in school!
However, I was at a point in my life that I was willing to try new things, so I tried Jiu Jitsu. And as you can image, I sucked… really, really sucked! But I loved it. I would go to class covered in bruises. When students would ask what happened to me, I would reply that my boyfriend beat me up. I received a lot of sympathy from the girls in class, which was pretty sweet!
In September of 2012 I began my work placement, so although I had finished my classes, I was officially a student for another year. The faculty advisor for the Jiu Jitsu Club asked me to be the President of the club. I began to recruit new members. I spoke to classes about the benefits of joining clubs – clubs such as ours. I created advertising for the club and made sure we were a presence at all club activities – including club fairs.
At one club fair, we were approached by a government funded group that promotes student fitness on campuses. They asked us to run self-defence classes for women. Then they asked us to speak to students in residence about empowerment and personal safety. I had done neither, but I said yes to both. Both activities were successful and we have made efforts since to connect to other like-minded clubs or organizations on campus. We were rewarded with the Club of the Year award in 2013.
We have teamed with local Jiu Jitsu academies to bring in excellent instructors. We have helped our members prepare for, and succeed at, tournaments. We put in a funding request to our student union that allowed us to buy gis for students who could not afford them. We have worked with our school’s administration – from the Office of the President, to Counsellors (to help students improve their self-confidence), to the Community and Justice Services program which paid for new mats for us to roll on. I even got to demonstrate to our College President and our Federal Minister of Sport some self-defence techniques.
Our club continues to grow. We continue to expand our reach beyond just the students on campus. I have attended symposiums on violence against women. Letters of mine, proposing solutions to these problems, have been published both in our student paper as well as in major newspapers. I correspond with and have shared ideas with experts in this area. We continue to advocate for personal safety. I rebranded our club to Sheridan Jiu Jitsu & Self Defence. I now work in the security industry, including protecting athletes at the recent 2015 Pan Am games.
This is only the beginning. But as with every beginning, there has to be a first step. My first step was attending a Jiu Jitsu class at my local college. And you can see where that has lead me. What will your first step be… and where will it lead you?