Stardust Jiu-Jitsu: Empowering The Underprivileged Through Martial Arts - Lucas Trautman's Story
Submission Shark BJJ Interview:
The story of Stardust Jiu-Jitsu is one that's filled with hope, love, acceptance, friendship, empathy and inspiration. Lucas is one of the most selfless people I've come across and his story deserves much more attention.
Out of the kindness of his heart, he was inspired to create a place where people can freely express themselves from judgement and be a part of a community that wants to help them grow as people. If a martial artist imagined heaven, I'm sure it would look very similar to Stardust Jiu-Jitsu. He is exactly what the Submission Shark Community represents and it's an honour to be able to share his story.
Stardust jiu-jitsu provides not only a physical place to train but a nurturing spirit within it as well. From accepting refugees and teaching passionate practitioners free of charge to even feeding the underprivileged and helping children do their homework, Stardust jiu-jitsu is a beacon for positivity and healing. He's a very intelligent man with decades of experience as both an addiction psychiatrist and a martial artist.
Learn more about the man that is outrageously full of life. A man that is passionately loving towards his family. And become inspired as he leveraged all the assets he could find in order to make people feel safe, happy, loved, and empowered.
Submission Shark Community | Instagram: @stardustjiujitsu
Full Name: Lucas Anthony Trautman
Belt Colour: Brown Belt with 2 stripes
Professor: Matthias Meister
Short Term Goals: To live a balanced life, and take care of my mind, body, family, team, and community.
How long have you been doing jiu-jitsu for?
Over 30 years Wrestling/Submission Grappling/NoGi, 10 years in the Gi.
Where do you train out of?
NOLA BJJ in New Orleans, and Stardust Jiu Jitsu in Memphis.
Do you prefer BJJ in the gi or no-gi?
In this phase of my journey, I prefer the Gi, because it is better for my body, and I am loving learning the endless depth of learning that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in the Gi offers.
Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu-jitsu?
My instructors (Matthias Meister, Gene Dunn, Rachel Russ) help me immensely in my life! They are there for me to process all of the joys and hurdles of life with me. They help me overcome any personal challenges I face, and they freely share their life wisdom with me, as I navigate life as a sensei of kids, psychiatrist, father, and husband.
Gene Dunn, the titanic force of wisdom in the modern martial arts world, beams bright this weekend, the weekend that he has been inducted into the USA Karate Hall of Fame. In addition to his lifelong practice of Karate, Gene was an early pioneer of Jiu Jitsu in the USA in the ’90s. Gene, John Danaher, and Renzo Gracie marshalled Jiu Jitsu to NYC and beyond, as head enforcers at the Renzo Gracie Academy.
Now, with his history as an apex grappler and striker, Gene has uniquely committed his life to unabashedly spreading love and inspiration throughout his reach as the leader of his network of dojos throughout NYC, and via his international influence through his podcast and social media presences. Cut from the same cloth as MLK, Jane Addams, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Day, and Gandhi, Gene Dunn is a self-actualized human, speaking with a rare and vital voice in the arena that he is a titan in the martial arts community.
His is a voice that calls us to become good people through the practice of the martial arts. I strive in the shadow of Gene’s example, to become like him: wise, insightful, patient, strong, and courageous; so that my life yields the true fruits of a martial arts practice: love, kindness, empowerment, and service to others. Gene Dunn is blazing a path through the sky, and we are all beneficiaries of his existence.
Professor Meister has deep wisdom as a martial artist, with a vision to recognize what each of his students needs to thrive, an empathic view of the world, and an unyielding strength. It is such a vital practice to pursue continued self-improvement in life, and Professor Meister guides Professor Trautman’s journey of growth and improvement as a martial artist. For these reasons, Stardust Jiu Jitsu is a proud affiliate of NOLA BJJ. (📷 by Roddy Orgeron, Pic: Matthias Meister at the Tree of Life, Audubon Park NOLA⚜️)
What are some lessons you learned from jiu-jitsu that applies to everyday life?
Jiu-Jitsu continues to teach me to listen to my body, and give it what it needs to thrive. Some days that is drilling only, some days that is aggressive wrestling with trusted partners, some days that is gentle yoga. My sensei, Matthias Meister, promotes sustainable grappling, with the expectation that we spread the love of this beautiful Art through safe healthy practice.
That mindset of sustainable grappling helps me continue to train and apply the fruits of jiu-jitsu to my life off the mats as well. I am so grateful that my journey is led by Matthias because he has the wisdom and experience to guide grapplers who wish to train for life.
I have found that positive, encouraging, assets-based coaching sets the table for kids to best stay engaged when they are traversing the vulnerabilities they discover through their wrestling/martial arts practice. Keeping athletes engaged is the job of a sensei and coach. We want them to cultivate self-calming skills, a critically thinking mind, delayed gratification choices, and laser focus on the present moment...all qualities that create successful grapplers and healthy lifestyles.
How often do you train?
I train jiu-jitsu 2 times per week with young hungry adults, I teach and drill with kids 4 times per week, and I do hard hot yoga 2 times per week.
What made you want to start training?
I started training as a wrestler back in 1983 (when I was a 3rd grader) because it was a mandatory part of the Christian Brothers High School (CBHS) Tom Nix All-Sports Camp that my parents sent me to during summers in Memphis, TN. I kept wrestling throughout the years at CBHS, because I was winning my matches against the kids my age, and it made me feel good.
I knew that the more I put into it, the better I would become. Having that type of agency over my improvement was really motivating to me. CBHS in the 1980s is where I learned the takedowns, throws, top control, back takes, and escapes, which are the meat of my jiu-jitsu style today.
Do you plan on training your whole life?
Yes, absolutely, but I will listen to my body, so my training will continue to be something that feeds my body and spirit, rather than breaks it down. Many people see jiu-jitsu as a means to win the next roll. Some amateur jiu-jiteiro say things like “never an easy roll”. This is short-sighted, and most often leads to short jiu-jitsu journeys.
Jigoro Kano intended judo to be a martial art which we practice our entire life. We must all listen to our bodies, honour our training partners’ needs, and engage in the practice of the martial arts in ways that nourish us, as Mr. Kano taught us to do.
I began to learn this lesson in 1990 when I was at a training camp at Oklahoma State Wrestling. The US National Team was also there, preparing for the Goodwill Games. I remember their training looked playful and exploratory. I was shocked. Here were the best wrestlers in the world, Olympic gold medalists John Smith and Kenny Monday, sparring light. I asked Kenny about this later, and he told me that much of the work the team did was drilling and playful rolling.
Of course, these athletes turned up the volume and intensity as nobody else could too, but much of their training was crisp, exceptional, and careful. With their example, under the leadership of Professor Meister, I will train my entire life, God willing.
What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?
I believe people are drawn to jiu-jitsu because of the intimacy of regular human touch. In 2019, most humans get so little physical touch. In jiu-jitsu, we consent to an invigorating practice together, which requires trust, and involves sweating on each other and struggling together.
The ideal exchange produces a mutual benefit. The physical practice produces neurochemicals, such as oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, which relieve stress and make us feel amazing. Also, the Gi is so complex and provides a vehicle for endless learning. There is great personal agency over improvement in jiu-jitsu, and this is very motivating.
What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?
Jiu-Jitsu is the stimulus for my physical health. Being 44yo, and still training hard sessions with young jiu-jiteiro and college wrestlers, I must live a balanced lifestyle that allows my body to endure these rigours. This lifestyle includes 2 sessions per week of hard hot yoga and bodywork, nutrient-dense fuel, plenty of sleep, lower stress level, and laughing/playing with my family.
Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental health?
Yes, immensely. Learning the self-care practices that were necessary to overcome my overtraining history, have caused me to be a more balanced, less reactive person. Practicing the humility and honesty the mats teach us, has made me a more humble and honest person.
Lastly, because I have developed grappling skills over the years, early on I acquired the self-confidence that comes with being able to easily take down the biggest guys on the football team. Thus, I stayed away from typical adolescent street fights that were all too common during my high school and college years.
Grappling gave me the ability to rarely ever feel threatened or in need to prove myself as “tough”. I was a wrestler. I knew I was tough. For an adolescent male with a ton of zest for life, this was an exceptionally important psychological gift that my jiu-jitsu journey has given me.
I wish all adolescent males could experience this self-confidence at a young age. I have no doubt there would be less conflict on a global scale of more young boys trained a grappling martial art.
If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything differently?
Yes, I would never cut weight. Not even once. As a kid and young adult, I would lift more, and compete at my big strong, healthy, fueled, glowing weight!
What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?
My advice would be:
- Know that this process will be tough and humbling, but that bears fruit so stick with it.
- Find an instructor who is psychologically healthy, cares about their students and respects your needs.
- Listen to your body, and do not be afraid to assert your needs to your training partners and instructor. This is especially true as a grappler over 30. If you have an amazing instructor, you will not need to assert any of these things, because your instructor will be skilled and mindful of what your needs are. There are many inexperienced instructors out there, many of whom are black belts, so do your research and choose your instructor/school wisely. When seeking a Professor to lead my continued adult jiu-jitsu journey, I was so lucky to find Professor Meister, who is a Master World Champion at the black belt level, and who shares my values of sustainable training, balanced living, and spreading the Art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to all people.
Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?
My aspirations in jiu-jitsu are to empower kids and adults to love and be loved, have a life-long Martial Arts practice that cultivates their healthy bodies and minds, and to leave a legacy that inspires people to do as much good for the world as possible.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the perfect training ground for these aspirations, because it is a practice that humbles us, builds us up, connects us to our fellow humans (who are sometimes much different than us) and demands that we work together for the common good. The Gracie family has truly given us a magical life tool.
A special class today. A group of blessed little children joined our Stardust Jiu-Jitsu team. With joyful energy, kindness, and exuberant hearts, these new teammates brought their gifts to our mats. These particular children have unique histories because before residing in Memphis, they immigrated to the USA from various Central and East African nations.
Many have experienced refugee camps. We welcome them and their families into the Stardust family with open arms, and we are excited about learning from them and growing together!!
What’s your favourite BJJ move?
I have had much success with the ankle pick, and I love snatching up Kimuras from everywhere.
If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
I use wrestling and jiu-jitsu interchangeably because they are both cultivate the same process/results. There are subtle differences in technique, but both require 2 partners to slap hands, go for the takedown/top control/escape/survive. Both are incredibly challenging grappling arts that push us past our limits, and demand our honesty on the mat at all times.
If I didn’t discover grappling, I shudder to imagine that I wouldn’t be bearing the fruits of a 35-year grappling career, which taught me humility, honesty, a grand belief in my ability to endure and overcome obstacles. Put more simply, my jiu-jitsu journey has helped me become a kinder and more resilient person. I also should mention the difficulties that my grappling career produced over the years.
During the competition phase of my journey, in the 1980s and 1990s, I cut a lot of weight, starved myself to make weight, competed dehydrated, and vastly over-trained my body.
I broke my face in competition, yet I was imbued with the mindset to never quit, so I finished the match and season with a broken maxilla. I wrestled during and after a concussion. Unravelling and unlearning some of these self-defeating practices that my grappling journey imprinted on me was long and tough. All of these fruits and challenges have made me who I am today. They have taken me to highs and lows and ultimately given me empathy for the challenges of others.
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
Yes, if it stresses collaboration and doing good for the world, and helping others.
Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
Oh yes, they are my lifeblood.
Because much of my training is off-the-mat bodywork, which prepares my body for the rigours of grappling, my yoga instructor is vital to my journey as well. Rachel Russ, like all master instructors, has learned my movement styles, needs, and limits, and pushes me past my self-conceived barriers, and onto my strongest physical and mental self. Yoga cultivates flexibility, strength, cardio, and peace of mind.
Rachel knows how to apply just enough heat and frustration to my body and mind, to produce the optimum stimulus for growth. Seek out these wise ones in your home communities. They are there waiting for you.
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?
The most difficult part of my jiu-jitsu journey came in 1989 when I began high school and officially joined the CBHS Wrestling Team. For an entire year as a Freshman, for 3 hours each day after school, the upperclassmen smashed me as hard as they could in our training sessions. Having the ego-strength to endure those beatings, and come back every day for more, was the most difficult part of my jiu-jitsu journey.
If you could roll with any practitioner, dead or alive, who would it be?
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
I want to inspire and motivate others, because all people are children of God, and they deserve to feel the love of God, expressed through me, His servant.
The birth of this special team, Stardust Jiu Jitsu, happened this year, 2018. Of course, as with everything, the roots of this dream took hold many years before, born out of the inspiration and joy of a blessed group of kids who came together in our garage in 2013 to train.
With the steadfastness of these original kids, bolstered by the enormous generosity of a heroic group of friends, this amazing team has sprouted from the ground into a giant cohesion of grappling brothers and sisters. Our team is made up of so many different groups of kids: some from Memphis, some big strong wrestlers from Binghampton, some children who spent their early years in refugee camps, and some kids who have Mexican heritage.
The hearts of these children, who greet the world with love, passion, fun, curiosity, and gusto, are the engines that run Stardust Jiu-Jitsu. They inspire me to keep the heart of a child because truly it seems this is the solution for so many of our world’s challenges. I am grateful for you all, and God willing, we are ready to light this team on fire in 2018. More growth, more love, more fun, more challenges, more acceptance, and more precious children to join our team.
Was there a difficult moment in your life where jiu-jitsu helped you get through it?
What inspired you to open up Stardust Jiu-Jitsu?
The artistic mural is absolutely beautiful at your gym. Who created that and what inspired the elements in that piece?
Why did you name this program 'Stardust'?
"The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust." —Neil DeGrasse Tyson
In your opinion, Is jiu-jitsu/martial arts a great way to break racial, religious, and gender barriers creating a community of common understanding and acceptance despite their physical differences?
Do you believe jiu-jitsu teaches skills and life lessons that go beyond the mats?
Who are the instructors at Stardust Jiu-Jitsu and why do you think they are great leaders for the youth?
As an addiction psychiatrist, what advice would you give to someone that wants to kick their addictions?
Where does addiction come from? Is there an underlying problem with the human mind and societal conditions? Or do the addictive effects strictly come from the substance?
Check out this article from another member of the jiu-jitsu community that found relief from his addictions through the help of BJJ/Martial Arts.
What are some of your philosophies on life that lead you to create such a beautiful, kind-hearted and positive place through a passion we both share? Was there anyone in particular that morphed your outlook on life into the loving nature that it has become now?
Lot of respect and wisdom.
Marvelous you inspire me to train for life too!
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