Tuesday, March 1, 2011


If you had an illness or an injury that prevented you from training, how long would you wait before you gave up on your desire to train BJJ? I complain if I have to miss one week of jiu-jitsu. But imagine if you were diagnosed with a disease that had the potential to take you off the mat for good.

A friend of mine, Daniel, went through exactly that.

He was annoyed that I took this picture because my stupid phone refused to behave. If you're reading this, Daniel, sorry it took so long. :)

Daniel trained at Fabio's before I even knew what BJJ was. But in June of 2007, Daniel was diagnosed with Crohns disease, a very painful and physically limiting disease. After a major flare up in 2009, Daniel was sidelined for almost two years.

Ever since I began at Fabio's, Daniel has been there. He wasn't grappling, but he always came to class and watched from the wall, supporting his teammates and soaking up the technique as much as he could without actually drilling. For nineteen months he waited patiently, hoping the medicines he was taking would bring him to the point where he could have the surgery he needed to get him back to his career and back on the mat.

A few months ago, he got the news that he would be able to have the surgery. And now, almost two years after Daniel had to stop training, he is back in the gym. He got in his first grapples on Monday night and will be bringing the ruckus again tomorrow. Other than being tired and a little sore from his first day back to grappling, he said he's doing well and is just glad to be able to grapple again.

I asked Daniel if he ever got to the point where he thought about quitting BJJ for good. His simple response was, "Never." When I followed up with the question of why BJJ had such a powerful hold on him, he described the feeling that I and so many of us have had about the sport. He said, "The biggest number one thing was that I just love it. I love the comraderie, the competition. The brotherhood. That it's a lifestyle, a philosophy."

I've had conversations with several of my friends about why BJJ is so addicting, and I can't narrow it down to any one reason. There is something intensely emotional about the sport that keeps us all thirsty for one more class, one more grapple. We all go through so many of the same challenges and are forced to face ourselves when we hit the wall or when we succeed. The team becomes so much more than just a group of guys and girls trying to figure out techniques. It becomes a big, sometimes dysfunctional, always entertaining family.

Anyway, I want to say kudos to Daniel for sticking it out. Glad you didn't give up. And welcome back!! :)


Jiujitsunista said...

I am glad to have Daniel back on the mat if for nothing else, so he can stop trumping him with his time gone from class. LOL He's the only one whos taken a longer break than me, and still make it back to class.

Seriously though, I think it is awesome he never gave up getting back at it. 2 years is a long time to wait!

Woooohooooo Daniel!

Vampire_on_the_Mat said...

I have never had an injury that has kept me out for that long but my career doesn't allow me to train like I used to. I can only go once a week. Even though people are training 3 to 5 times a week and are become gym phenoms I still continue.

I guess it is the equivalent to the older guys (late 50s and above) who continue to train even though the young bucks rule the roost. If it's in you then it is in you.

Others referee, some write, you know how it goes.

Daniel said...

I've never been blogged about, as far as I know, so it's cool that the first time was something nice. This was awesome of you Allie thanks.

slideyfoot said...

Inspiring stuff: well done, Daniel!

Afrorican said...

Truly inspirational. I was about to post about my 4 days of missed training do to whatever funk I am still trying to fight off but this article truly put things into perspective for me. In an arena where we see people quit for every possible reason in the book (most r pretty lame) Daniel stuck with his goal and kept eyes on getting back on the mat. Awesome.

Georgette said...


Welcome back Daniel :)

Megan said...

I absolutely love this. It makes my little bumps and setbacks seem like blessings.

Rollo said...

This is a great post and a truely insoriational story. I have been injured before, but it is minor compared to Daniel. I did the same thing, and came in and watched. To me, BJJ is a total lifestyle choice. It gives us the chance to blow off some steam after work, really let the stress of the day out of your being. Great excercise too, and the mental aspect of rolling is just amazing. I have met a lot of great people from doing BJJ, and never have the desire to stop doing it. Good job Daniel!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. I recently read this and it was so helpful for me. I included it in my post about my herniated disc and my diagnosis and what I was going through.

I'd still love to get his email if possible. Could you send it to me at

julia.johansen at gmail dot com
no spaces