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Nathan is the type of person that leads by example. His ambitions are real and combined with his dedicated work ethic, I am confident he will reach his goals. From aspiring to being in the army and actually doing it to wanting to improve his jiu jitsu game and achieving his purple belt. Always willing to learn and loyal to both his army brothers and jiu jitsu team. He's a traveler and adventurer with the desire to push the boundaries and rise to the top. Having an army mentality really shows in the way he carries himself. I can relate to him through his passion of jiu jitsu and his love for mental and physical health. Make sure you read through this whole article and pay attention to his message at the end of this. It will really help you get motivated and understand the mentality it takes to be the best version of yourself.
How long have you been doing jiu jitsu for?
Where do you train out of?
Unfortunately my profession does not allow me to train any one place consistently. Some would say I am a BJJ gypsy, but my head affiliate is Fredson Paixao BJJ.
Do you prefer the gi or nogi?
It's a toss up. I come from a wrestling background so I definitely prefer certain aspects of No Gi since it's more ingrained in my style. But there is also positions and submissions unique to No Gi that I absolutely love.
Has your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu jitsu?
Absolutely. I've been extremely fortunate when it comes to the mentors I have had during my grappling journey. Every one of them has taught me something different that has coincided with life off of the mat.
What are some lessons you learned from jiu jitsu that applies to everyday life?
The ability to stay calm and fight through adversity. If you can stay calm while someone is forcibly trying to choke you unconscious, you can fight through just about anything with a sound mind.
I've learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom.
How often do you train?
As often as possible. When I am not traveling usually 6 days a week. When I am traveling I always try and drop into different gyms as much as work allows.
What made you want to start training?
I started wrestling in the 8th grade, and continued on into high school. Wrestling evoked both a fiery compassion for competition and grappling sports. When I finished high school I joined the military and we did some combative type events which continued my interest in BJJ. After a couple years a moving around I settle down in a town and looked into finding a gym. It was there I found Professor Jim Collins. I instantly fell in love with all aspects of the lifestyle and have been doing it since.
Do you plan on training your whole life?
Without a doubt. There's so many physical and mental health benefits to the BJJ lifestyle and there has been multiple examples of individuals, such as Helio Gracie, that continued practicing until a very late age. Also, no matter how long you've been training and how proficient you become, you absolutely never stop learning more about yourself and BJJ, which keeps you constantly coming back for more.
What’s it about jiu jitsu that makes it so addicting?
For me personally its the combination of the intense level of competition, the healthy and balanced lifestyle, and the amazing people that you constantly come across.
What has jiu jitsu done for your physical health?
For me it has made me so much more aware of the proper care my body needs to perform at the highest level. Proper exercise, nutrition, sleep, and knowing ones body are critical pieces and need to be known in order to be successful.
Has jiu jitsu benefited your mental health?
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world” -Buddha
I tell people this all the time. I can get the worst sleep the night before, have a terrible morning workout, an extremely stressful day at work, get my butt kicked and perform terribly at practice, but I guarantee that even on the worst day of my life... I am leaving the mat with a smile on my face. BJJ has a way of erasing all of your pain and stress and I haven't found anything else that beats it.
If you could restart your jiu jitsu journey, would you do anything different?
I wish that I had started earlier!
What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu jitsu before but is interested in trying it?
Stick with it and be resilient! There's going to be days where you feel like you are stuck in place and never going anywhere, but the lessons aren't learned when things are easy. They are learned when you push through whatever is stopping you and overcome adversity.
Do you have any aspirations in jiu jitsu?
Yes. I aspire to do my part in showing people the extreme benefits of the BJJ lifestyle, help BJJ grow as a sport and in popularity, compete at the highest level and become a world champion, receive my black belt, and continue practicing BJJ for the rest of my life.
What’s your favourite move?
In Gi the Bow and Arrow Choke. in No Gi the Triangle Choke.
If you didn’t discover jiu jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
I definitely would not be as conscious of my physical and mental health.
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
Absolutely. I definitely think it's on its way!
Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
I definitely have top notch training partners that are always pushing me to new levels of potential. But I truly believe that my potential holds no limits. I intend on learning new things about myself and BJJ for the rest of my life.
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu jitsu that you had trouble getting?
Changing the angle of my hips from guard in order to set up or better secure sweeps or submissions.
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
Rising to the top
This goes back to attaining our full potential. Every person on this planet is unique and has their own special talents. I think that I have found mine in exploring the realm of physical/mental health and in grappling. They are my passion. And when I am on the mat I have a sense of happiness that cannot be paralleled. I want people to find "that special something" that makes them feel that way. Once people stop focusing on what they think people want them to be and more on what they find passion in doing, the world will be a better place.
What made you want to join the army?
From young age I knew that I wanted to join the military. I didn't know why at the time but I just knew that I wanted to and when I got there I was going to do all of the difficult events it offered. I know now that I love challenges, and am constantly seeking new ones, which the military provides plenty to go around. I was also drawn the aspect of the unmatched camaraderie that is unique to the military and more specifically combat arms. Lastly, where else do you get paid to work out, jump out of planes, shoot guns, blow things up, and receive life skills and education that will further you in later life?
Have you seen any similarities between the community of jiu jitsu and the U.S army members?
Definitely. The bonds of camaraderie in BJJ and the military are extremely similar. I believe that is why members of the military are drawn to BJJ and vice versa.
Has jiu jitsu helped you in your career in the army and has the the army helped you in jiu jitsu?
Yes in so many ways. It has helped me want to better myself physically and mentally, given me a champions mentality that pushes me through any adversity that I might encounter, the patience and tranquility to work through the toughest and most stressful situations, and a level of humility that can only be learned by training BJJ.
It took a bit longer than the anticipated 62 days. I had a bit of a setback and recycled Darby phase of Ranger School during class 5-18. Every year after this specific class Ranger Training Brigade takes a 6 week break to prepare for the Best Ranger Competition.
I won’t go in to a great amount of detail of what that 6 week period entailed but the situation was not what I had anticipated on happening. But in that time the 73 recycles were able to recover, receive more training, and make new friendships that will last a lifetime.
By the time we classed back up for 6-18 we were chomping at the bit. We gave it all we had, June 22 came around and 182 Rangers graduated today. A very large class, nearly twice the size of the average. But at the end of the day we couldn’t have done it without each other. I want to thank everyone who’s supported me throughout the years and present time, both at home and during my time in Ranger School. I couldn’t have done it without you. But the work isn’t over. It has only just begun.
Let’s take a minute to talk about mindset. I believe that true happiness and success isn’t linked to material possessions or untested success, but in the process of overcoming adversity in the face of overwhelming odds. This can be developed and achieved in multiple ways, but the simplest is the daily routine of doing something difficult that may cause discomfort.
For me personally, it’s early morning workouts. That alarm hits me like a bat at 4:30am and the last thing I want to do is go and train. But instead I get up and attack that workout with all I have. I am not only I improving my overall health, cognitive functions for the work day, and fueling a good mood with endorphins post workout, I am establishing a level of discipline. This mindset DOES NOT STOP IN THE GYM. It begins to bleed into everything you do. Apply that same focus, energy and drive into your relationships, employment, leadership, goals and dreams?
True happiness will not be far behind.
So, become addicted to the process, the struggle, the grind, whatever you want to call it. It may not even be physical, find something you’re terrible at and work your ass off to get better! Maybe it’s uncomfortable, embarrassing, and miserable at the time, but soon you will see the positive changes affect your ENTIRE LIFE. And it’s more than worth it.
Thanks for sharing Nathan! I like people like you. The type of people that go through adversity and instead of crumbling and staying down are the type of people that will find success. With that mindset I am confident that you will get your black belt and become a world champion. Keep leading by example, you bring inspiration and show that it is possible to live a healthy lifestyle. Thanks for explaining how important mental health is as that aspect of health is often overlooked. Congratulations on your graduation and recent success. You got me motivated. "The work isn't over, It has only just begun". Welcome to the Submission Shark Community, we need individuals like you.