Brazilian jiu-jitsu has the ability to create incredible changes in many of its practitioners. Here is a story of how BJJ inspired Tony Alford to pursue a healthier lifestyle. As a healthcare hero in his profession, he has used BJJ to calm down under intense pressure. If you are struggling with anxiety or need a lifestyle change, Tony proves this art form can potentially be the answer for you. Learn how this martial art can save your life and why you should begin training or continue to train.
Submission Shark Community | Instagram: @tla91
Full Name: Tony Alford
Belt Colour: 2 stripe white
Professor: Anthony Mitchell
Short Term Goals: Become a full-time SS sponsor, medal in AGF New Orleans in June.
How long have you been doing jiu-jitsu for?
Where do you train out of?
Do you prefer gi or no-gi?
Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu-jitsu?
Yes, he has given me and other students advice on things outside BJJ if he has been through similar situations.
What are some lessons you learned from jiu-jitsu that apply to everyday life?
Patience and how to remain calm under pressure. It takes patience to set up a triangle choke or a scissor sweep on an opponent. In jiu-jitsu, you also have to remain calm under pressure if you are in a bad position or getting a lot of pressure from your opponent.
How often do you train?
3-4 times a week normally. Before competition 6-7 times in a week.
What made you want to start training?
I was interested in learning self-defence and wanted to do something to help myself to get into better shape.
Do you plan on training your whole life?
Without a doubt. I've paid for a year already and do not see myself losing the drive. There is always more to learn and accomplish. Even if by fate I’m unable to train physically for my entire life, I’ll always be a part of the community in some fashion.
What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?
The constant mental and physical battle that is being waged each second of the role. Drilling a new move over and over and finally hitting it during live rolls. Seeing your body transform and seeing yourself progress in something that seemed like an impossible task.
What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?
It gave me my physical health back. I started training in March of this year and weighed in at 249 pounds. Through going to jiujitsu I not only got an excellent workout but I discovered that by doing all the things I did not like to previously do such as lift weights, eat right, drink water, do cardio that my jiu-jitsu got better from these activities. That was like throwing gasoline on a flame, my dedication to living a healthier lifestyle flourished, all because of BJJ.
March to today. 6 months of jiu-jitsu, intermittent fasting, stretching, cardio, and weights. 249 to 188. More agile, fast, more endurance, stronger and more confident. Jiu-jitsu will always be the key to success, the catalyst for change.
Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental health?
It has. I work as a Registered Nurse in a Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit. BJJ has enabled me to remain calmer under pressure when you are trying to keep your patient alive. It also helps me decompress and keeps me grounded and humble.
If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything differently?
Nope, I believe everyone who is on their jiu-jitsu journey is right where they need to be.
What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?
Go for it! You never know how something will impact your life until you try it. BJJ completely changed me as a person, for the better.
Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?
Naturally black belt one day. Other than that, just being a good teammate and ambassador for the art.
What’s your favourite move?
Kimura or Americana.
If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
Still 249 pounds or more. Out of shape, depressed, bitter.
Check out this story from another Submission Shark Community member and learn how BJJ helped with his mental and physical health.
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
Yes and no. Yes for the reason that I believe that bjj can change people’s lives for the better. No, in that a lot of times when something becomes more mainstream it becomes more watered down.
Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
We push each other every day, every second, every round. We are only as strong as the man beside us.
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?
Relaxing during rolls and not blowing through all my gas at the beginning of a match. Letting subs come to me instead of making mistakes trying to make them happen.
If you could roll with any practitioner, dead or alive, who would it be?
Me, because I am my the biggest competition. If I’m busy, Keenan Cornelius will do.
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
The fact that I have seen that bjj can change your life. It changed mine in less than a year. I can’t even remember myself without bjj.
Jiu-Jitsu saves lives. If you've been following this blog, you will find many examples of this. Here's another amazing story from someone that used BJJ to help her get through some difficult problems and hard times.
Mirella Atallah was inspired by her instructor in Lebanon to bring more jiu-jitsu to the middle east. She is now sharing her story with others in hopes that It will inspire more people to give it a try.
Click the image above to read the full article as we discuss the importance of the art for self-defence and how empowering this sport is for women struggling to find their confidence.
What made you want to be a part of the Submission Shark community?
The more than just a clothing company mindset. Motivational content, techniques. I believe you guys are true ambassadors of the art and that is a team I want to be a part of.
Was there a difficult moment in your life where jiu-jitsu helped you get through it? If so, please explain.
My whole lifestyle pre bjj was a difficult moment. I was out of shape and constantly adding to my weight. BJJ gave me my health and pride back.
What would you like to say to everyone that supported you on your journey?
Thank you. To my training partners see you on the mat. To my wife, thanks for all you do. Thanks for believing in me and taking everything in stride. You are amazing and I love you.
When the journey is over, how would you like to be remembered?
As an all-around good guy. An ambassador of the sport, who used my passion for bjj to impact lives around me for the better. As a good teammate and as a role model for younger generations.