BJJ Empowered Her Through Childhood Trauma ~ Casee's Jiu Jitsu Story

If you have been practicing BJJ or have been following Submission Shark’s jiu jitsu blogs, I think you will understand how empowering martial arts can be. From aiding in mental and physical health to gaining a new family on the mats, Brazilian jiu-jitsu has the ability to create life long memories and inspiring results. 

Casee Mcknight is someone that has empowered herself through childhood trauma to become a leader both on and off the mats. She proves that no matter what you go through, you can still be willing to help others. By the end of this article, you will learn how Casee thrives through her past experiences and how you can do the same. 

Casee Mcknight in a white BJJ Gi

Instagram: @southerngothicpaladin

Full Name: Casee McKnight 

Age: 28

Belt Colour: White

Professor: Ray Carrillo at Carrillo's Martial Arts 

Short Term Goals: Compete in 2021 at Bowling Green Fuji. 


This BJJ Practitioner Used Jiu Jitsu To Empower Her Through Childhood Trauma 

Brazilian jiu-jitsu empowers. Here’s Casee Mcknight’s story.

How long have you been training jiu-jitsu for?

BJJ group at a tournament

Almost 2 years now.  

Where do you train out of?

Carrillo's Martial Arts in Dexter Missouri

Do you prefer gi or no-gi?

Casee In A White BJJ Gi

I'll always be a pajama girl but I'm building my no-gi game. 

Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu jitsu? 

Of course. Ray is one of those people who will never except talking negatively toward yourself. He always reminds me that I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it. 

What are some lessons you learned from jiu-jitsu that apply to everyday life?

Patience. Jiu-jitsu is all about embracing the suck until you can get into position to strike. It has built inner confidence as well that translates to every aspect of my life. 

How often do you train BJJ?

Four to five times per week. 

What made you want to start training jiu jitsu?

I'm a childhood survivor of abuse and previously I worked with individuals with severe mental illnesses. I ended up in a few very dangerous situations and it made me realize that I needed to be in control. 

Do you plan on training jiu-jitsu your whole life?

Yes definitely. I want to empower individuals of all ages to get out there. 

What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?

Jiu-jitsu has a way of making you realize what's important, and giving you the strength and confidence to follow through with what you truly want. 

What has this done for your physical health?

This year I've lost 28lbs. I was never athletic and Jiu-jitsu made me want to be better physically. So I started counting my macros, and now I'm working out consistently. 

Weight Lose Tomato

Has martial arts helped with your mental health?

I have PTSD related to childhood and workplace trauma. It helps melt all the anxiety away and has been a healthy coping mechanism for me. My team has become my family and I rely heavily on their love and support on my best and worse days. Jiu-jitsu is truly a lifestyle, not just a sport. 

If you could restart your martial arts journey, would you do anything differently?

Never. I would be who I am today without the journey. 

What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?

Get out on the mat, join social media groups and ask all the questions. 

Do you have any aspirations in jiu jitsu?

I'm going to get my black belt someday and I'd love to volunteer my time with woman who want to learn self-defence after experiencing trauma.  

What’s your favourite BJJ move?

I would have to say Americana.  

If you didn’t discover this martial art, where do you think you’d be now?

I think I would have still been struggling with my PTSD and would still be hung up in the bad emotional and physical health habits I had. 

Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?

Jiu Jitsu Competition with friends

Definitely. Jiu-jitsu is so diverse there's plenty for all to enjoy. 

Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?

Casee's BJJ Family

My Jiu-jitsu family always encourages me to give it my all.

When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?

I've noticed a lot of women (myself included) struggle with being afraid that they're going to hurt someone to the point they will purposely fail instead. It was a challenge for me to be aggressive when I needed to be. 

If you could roll with any BJJ practitioner, dead or alive, who would it be?

Oh, that would be Gabi Garcia. I'd love to roll with her and learn all the things. 

If you had to describe Jiu-Jitsu to someone that's never heard of it before in under 5 words, what would those words be?

Combat folding of humans. 

What has been the most memorable moment you've had on the mats so far?

Working with other women and seeing that spark when they fall in love and getting that first stripe. Those moments make me so proud. 

What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?

This sport has given me so much and I want others to feel that as well. 

Was there a difficult moment in your life where jiu-jitsu helped you get through it? If so, please explain.

I was suffering from severe panic attacks and nightmares. I believe that jiu-jitsu gave me the strength to finally seek help and gives me the confidence to fight for what's best for me every single day. 

Do you believe it is important for everyone to know how to defend themselves?

Yes. It's better to be safe than sorry. 

What's it about BJJ that can help survivors of childhood trauma recover and find relief?

Trauma can strip everything from you. You feel like your spinning out of control. BJJ focuses you, reminds you that you have control even in a bad situation and gives you the confidence to face the trial and survive it.  Whatever that may be. 

Is Brazilian jiu jitsu empowering? How so?

BJJ competition with someone bigger

Very. It gives you the tools to stand up for yourself even with a bigger opponent and still come out on top. 

What inspired you to become a social worker and what advice would you have for others that are looking to go down a similar career path?

Due to my childhood, I met a wonderful police officer and social worker who helped advocate for my safety and well being. I wanted to be that person for someone else. 

Casee Mcknight Social Worker

I would recommend that if you want to continue down this field that you should volunteer your time to the organizations that you care about. Social Work is a career that takes a lot of emotional strength and not all are ready for it. 

What would you like to say to everyone that has supported you on your journey?

I can never express in words how much you mean to me and I hope that I can one day pay that forward for someone else. 

When the journey is over, how would you like to be remembered?

Journey's End (Trail0

I want to be remembered as someone who was always there to lend a hand. 

Submission Shark BJJ Blogs:

If you enjoyed this interview, feel free to check out the rest of the Submission Shark community BJJ articles. You can also browse other categories such as martial arts mentality, athletic performance, recovery tips, and injury prevention.

Are you just starting martial arts? 

Learn more at BJJ for beginners and BJJ gear reviews.

You Might Also Like These Related Jiu Jitsu Blogs:

I Honestly Wish I Knew How To Defend Myself That Night…

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I Suffer Nightmares From This, But BJJ Keep Me Up...

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