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How I Found Jiu Jitsu

How I Found Jiu Jitsu


Jiu Jitsu and the common man...

I realize that I am not a high level competitor. I do not have a video instructional coming out any time soon. However, one point of interest for me is of the story of the average practitioner. How that person found Jiu Jitsu. How Jiu Jitsu has made life better for the person.

Like most kids, I was interested in martial arts. I remember watching the movie Big Trouble in Little China as a kid. It blew my mind. I am not sure if Jiu Jitsu had made it to the states at that point. It was certainly before any UFCs. If you were interested in martial arts, at that time, you had two choices: Karate and Tae Know Do. The parents of the cool kids chose Karate for them. I was enrolled in Tae Know Do. In grade school, I remember going to a Tae Know Do tournament.  I am not sure what I expected; maybe something out of the Karate Kid move. You know, a little blood, having my will and fighting spirit tested to the max and maybe a wise old Asian guy whispering in my ear. What I got was kicked twice and lost the match. I was not hurt or injured. It didn’t feel like a fight. If felt like martial arts was fake.

As I grew older I got in my fair share of fights. My parents were in the military. Everyone picked on the new kid. I had a pretty high pain tolerance and low appetite for bullies. Most of my moves were things I picked up watching professional wrestling; the WWE not Catch Wrestling.

Jump ahead to college. There were not any Jiu Jitsu gyms around. Even if there was, I had no idea what it was. UFC was around but I had never seen a fight. I had heard of cage fighting but I had assumed it was just a few guys who watched Blood Sport too many times. My parents were determined that I go to college. I thought while I was there I might as well learn how to box. My grandfather was a golden gloves boxer.  He passed before I was born but I thought a shared experience might be a way to connect. There were not any boxing gyms at the time where I lived. So a few of my friends and I started to box each other. The best way to learn was by doing. Right? Eventually we even got gloves. I started looking for ways to beat my friends.  I started strength training. I went to a gym to lift weight with a black eye one day. One of the trainers at the gym was a former fighter and taught me a few things. Eventually my sparring partners and trainer disappeared, but my love for boxing never did.

Neil is one of the most detailed, thorough, and savage grappling coaches in the game today. Learn the unorthodox secrets of the most notorious grappling coach out there and gain an entirely new perspective on the guard, especially for No Gi and MMA.


Jump ahead a number of years. I am in my late 20s. I have a job that I hate. My boss is a jerk. The economy is crashing. I am stressed about money. I am fat.  I go to bed every night with chest pains. I am drinking too much. I am dating a girl way too hot for me. I know I need to get a handle on my life or I risk losing everything. In the last 8 years, the fight landscape had changed. There are MMA gyms everywhere. People are doing something called Jiu Jitsu. I had no interest in rolling around on the floor with a bunch of sweaty guys. However, these same MMA gyms had boxing classes.  I remembered how happy I was in my younger days throwing punches. I was in great shape then. I handled stress well. I thought I would check it out. Yet, when you are older and trying to box it is a bit different than when you are in your late teens and early twenties. At most of the gyms you are either ignored or worse the warm up round for a professional fighter.  Physically I was in bad shape. I didn’t have the cardio to hit a bag for a 3 minute round but somehow I found myself in the ring sparring. I drove home with a concussion on a couple of nights. I changed boxing gyms looking for a better home. But I kept at training.

A few years went by and I got to the point where I would run 20 miles a week. I could jump rope or hit the bag for hours. I wanted to fight; not for money or glory but to test myself.  But trying to find an amateur boxing fight when you are 30 with no real experience is impossible. So I formulated a plan. I would take some Jiu Jitsu. I thought I would learn how to defend a few submissions then get an MMA fight. I knew guys my age who were getting amateur MMA fights. 

Jiu Jitsu changed my plans. The 6 months that I planned on spending training has turned into 6 years. I train religiously. I have become a Jiu Jitsu nerd.  It has transformed my life in so many profound ways. It has made me a better person. I deal with stress and anger comparatively well. It is my reason to drink less. It is my reason to eat clean. I married that girl who was too hot for me. I am a better husband to and father because of Jiu Jitsu. If I hadn’t started boxing in my late 20s or Jiu Jitsu a few years later I would be in a darker place now. Life has thrown me some tough punches over the years; Jiu Jitsu has been one crucial tool to deal with them.

So what is your story? How did you find Jiu Jitsu? How has Jiu Jitsu made your life better?

Neil Melanson is one of the toughest, well-rounder grapplers in the world.  It's not "Jiu-Jitsu" to Neil, it's just grappling.  Neil has a background in Catch Wrestling, but is oddly enough known for his deadly guard attacks.  His guard system is designed for aggressive no gi submission wrestling and MMA.  To learn his Guard System and Methodology check out his 4 DVD Series Called Advanced Guard Systems.



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