How Jiu Jitsu Helped Me Cope With Losing My Father To Cancer | Daniel Hernandez's Story
by Submission Shark
Submission Shark Community
Full Name: Daniel Hernandez
Belt Colour: Purple
Short Term Goals: Get my college diploma, Become a name on the sub-only circuit, and succeed in whatever I choose to pursue.
Daniel Hernandez is the definition of a dedicated jiu-jitsu practitioner. His passion for the art/sport is evident and his work ethic can't be denied. Daniel is surrounded by high-level talent at Renzo Gracie's and is an active competitor. His journey was a pleasure for me to learn about because you can see the progression he has had in his career. From smaller competitions to some notable tournaments, he is improving at a shocking rate.
Hearing his experiences with having friends and family members go through cancer made me emotional but I am happy to hear that he found a positive way to cope through jiu-jitsu. Please share his story because you never know what someone is going through and it is surprising how finding your true passion can help you go through difficult times in your life.
How long have you been doing jiu-jitsu for?
I have been doing Jiu-Jitsu for 4 years now and loving every second of the journey
Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu-jitsu?
Congratulations to everyone who got promoted last night. Especially the new professor @stanleyrosa.
Of course, without a question, my instructors help me with other aspects of life on a daily basis. Any questions that I have with life from any jiu-jitsu technique that I'm curious about they are the most significant help with my life in general.
What are some lessons you learned from jiu-jitsu that applies to everyday life?
To never give up under any circumstances because in Jiu Jitsu. We are constantly put under positions that are stressful and hard to get out of but, at the end of it all, there is always a way out of the position to move forward o become the offensive player. So there are times that we are under pressure and are defensive but, the split second we are allowed to perform our offence whether it through jiu-jitsu or the everyday scenario. We have to make the best of our offensive position.
How often do you train?
I train 6 days of the week sometimes I'll get the 7th one in if I have a match or tourney lined up for me. Training will always be a fun part of my daily activities. If I do not train at least once a day it feels like it will be the longest day of my life.
What made you want to start training?
So the reason why I wanted to train had started in 2013.At the beginning of the year in 2013 my mom had told me a cousin of mine had started working at the Bronx location for Renzo Gracie called Bronx Martial Arts Academy so I went to go visit her and after catching up. She said to give it a shot so I took a two week trial but, around that time my dad was having a hard time battling cancer and we found out that he won't be around for much longer. So I was not focused on continuing to try jiu-jitsu and I was doing football later that year but I would never forget how fun it was and I felt pretty good with it. So when football season came I was just focused on football obviously but, jiu-jitsu always came to the back of my mind and I wanted to do it once I was done with football because I hated lifting weights. And I always said I wanted to do jiu-jitsu because I felt like it was right for me even during the football season.
So once the season was over I joined up and the rest is history another main thing that makes me still train is to make my family proud to see that my generation of the Hernandez family can be and will be successful.
CANCER- one of the scariest words to ever be said to a human being. I have lost two close family members to this terrible sickness one being my father and the other being my cousin. Both who fought to the very end but will always be remembered as a hero's in my heart. Right next to me is a great role model Luis Quintana who is currently fighting cancer and kicking ass at it. If you ever get to meet Lou you will always be left with laughter and a smile. He will always give great advice to me for a 20-year-old who is still growing up. Along with the best star wars theories that will make your brain hurt. Even though he is kicking cancers ass by himself I decided to show support to show he is not alone in this fight and it will be finished off very soon. Thank you, Lou, for continuing to be a great role model in life. Let's finish off this fight and the force is strong with and more importantly, may God be with you.
Do you plan on training your whole life?
Yes, I plan on training for my life until my body says it can't do it anymore. This is a big part of my life that has taught me in everyday activities and meet different people from around the globe.
What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?
The biggest thing that makes it addicting is the feeling of putting in hard work and getting the results you want. Whether it is competition or trying to be healthy this sport/art gives you that opportunity. It helps you in every aspect of life so how can it not be addicting.
What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?
It has taught me a lot about my body and how it truly functions for example when I played high school football. My eating habits were so bad with greasy food and McDonalds every other day. Then once I did BJJ and started training along with competing. Eating Mcdonalds and all junk food will not progress your weight nor help you at hard training. So this opened up my eyes to eat better to get better results.
Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental health?
It has benefited my mental health because it is a big stress reliever. When I was a kid I was always having a tantrum when things didn't go my way and throughout my 22 years there was always up and downs. The biggest down part was losing my dad in 2013 and before starting jiu-jitsu I was constantly sad about not having him around so once I found jiu-jitsu.
It just helped me to move forward with it as if he is always watching me so I perform my best as possible. Jiu-jitsu will always take out any mental funk that anyone is going through a rough time this is like a therapy to me and it's more successful than ever. If it was not for this I think I would be a sad dwelling person mentally.
If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything different?
The only thing that I would do differently is when I was a blue belt there was a period where I lacked on competing because I had my first job working and I cared about it yet the job was miserable and I did not enjoy it. So I would tell myself if I can go back. Don't go crazy at this job it is not going to make you into a millionaire. Have fun with competing in jiu-jitsu because this it is what you love, not making sandwiches.
What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?
The biggest thing is trying it out what I mean by that is almost every school gives a trial class for free or a small fee. It gives you a taste of jiu-jitsu rather than signing a contract and now you're stuck at a spot you may or may not want to be out. Take advantage of the trial things that schools have. It does not hurt to give it a try or talk to someone who has experience with jiu-jitsu and ask for their honest opinion.
Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?
I want to be an ADCC champion, EBI champion, and a sub only dominant player. Everyone who competes in jiu-jitsu wants to be the world champion and it's understandable. But I think the main goal from those three is to be the most dominant player because nobody forgets the legend.
What’s your favourite move?
I can't list just one but its gotta be the d'arce, RNC, heel hook, and armbar. A nice depiction of the whole body
If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
I think I would've tried to be a division 3 football player and fail miserably at it. Or try to be an overweight twitch streamer playing call of duty. Just in other words I probably would be at a lifestyle that would be boring but, I would try to make the best out of it. It's something scary to think about because this lifestyle has given me so many opportunities on and off the mat that it cannot replace all the events that happened.
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
Of course, I would love to see this sport hit new levels and especially to the mainstream level. I believe it can hit that level but, that will not happen anytime soon because people want to see exciting things at the moment, for example, the UFC or the NFL. The trend right now that I see is you have to put your body on the line and with Jiu Jitsu, you do put your body on the line but, some matches do get boring due to stalling or not enough submissions.
The biggest help that jiu-jitsu has in order to get to the mainstream levels are the celebrities that are involved with it such as Aston Kutcher, Demi Lovato, and Keanu Reeves who help expose this martial art through their social lives and, the fan base they have makes them become curious of the sport and through little things like that can make it to the mainstream level. So to answer the question of would I like it um, no I would love to see this sport hit the mainstream and I would hope to be a part of it.
Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
My training partners definitely push me but, I feel that I have not reached my full potential at all and I do have room to work. There are days that I get a beating from all of them but, it makes me want to push to the next level and achieve that such as my teammates: Stanley Rosa, Frank Rosenthal, Jon Calestine, and the guys from DDS. I want to be on that high level and the best at it and that's when I'll know I have reached my full potential
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?
Controlling my partner was always a hard thing to understand. When I was a white belt I was so scrambly that my game was based off who has better cardio and the only thing I had to change was to control my opponent when I pass. If you saw how I rolled, in the beginning, you would laugh at me.
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
I want to inspire those who are at a point in their lives when they do not know what they are passionate about to pursue this art. Because I was one of them at a certain point and this art will help you understand yourself. So learning from my success and my story I would hope helps others.
What was your experience like competing at RISE?
The Rise Invitational was a new level of professional Jiu Jitsu for me just because the atmosphere was so electric that the nerves were going and my adrenaline had been pumping through my veins the whole night. I had competed on Rise 3 out in Long Island and the venue was called The Space out in Westbury. For that event, we performed on a stage and the lights were so bright that we could not see the crowd so it felt like it was just us two on the stage for that night I walked away with the W.
When I did Rise 4 we got to see the crowd and hear them nice and loud that you truly felt you were the center of attention and you had to perform the whole night had been almost draw after draw. I was looking for the win against my opponent but, fell into the curse of the night and walked away with a draw. The event is only growing and producing quality matches and I'm excited about the next event and hope to be a part of it.
What is it like training with high-level talent at Renzo Gracie's?
It is so fun to train with the high-level talent at Renzo's because it hungers you to want to hit the levels that they are at because when you're surrounded by success. You just want to become one of them so it's very contagious at Renzo's to want to be a high-level talent. I thank everyone at Renzo's that has helped me along with the way from the city and especially to my family at Bronx and Bayside. For making me want to go to the extra mile to make them happy.
You mentioned Jared "Flash" Gordon as one of your favourite fighters. What's it about him that you like?
One of the best people you’ll ever meet in your life @jaredflashgordon when I first met him he guillotined the life out of me when I was a blue belt and he was fighting at @cffcmma. Now he is a @ufc fighter and starting a new chapter in his life out in Milwaukee. I’ll miss him dearly and he will be a ufc champion.
Jared is a great person and one of those people that you'll meet once in a lifetime and is irreplaceable. I first met Jared back when I was a blue belt and he was training for a bout on CFFC after winning his featherweight title on there. We were able to have a round on a Saturday class in the Bronx and that was our first round together and next thing you know. Heguillotines me into the next oblivion and, it was one of those submissions that you never forget happened to you. The next time I rolled with him I got asked to help him with his title defence on CFFC and doing non-stop rounds with him. Through that training camp, I saw that Jared would never give up no matter how tired he was. He pushed through with every ounce of energy and made it look like perfection.
Since that fight, I have helped him with his camps. Just getting to know him more and seeing his work ethic it's like how can you not be a fan. He is one of the hardest working guys I've ever met and mark my words he will be a UFC champion. He's currently in the UFC and will make his way to the crown.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Daniel. I know talking about your past experiences can be difficult but I truly believe your words can help someone. I'm sorry about your losses in life and I know they would be proud of you because you are doing what you love and excelling at it. The ambitions you have are excellent quality traits and I believe you have the right tools to make it happen. Jiu-jitsu really seems to make you happy and I want everyone to do what makes them happy as long as it has a positive outlook. I am excited to see what the future holds for you and I hope you keep enjoying your passion. Thanks again for sharing, and welcome to the Submission Shark Community :)
I’m glad to see that you are doing something that you love to do and I wish you all the luck in the world.
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