Jiu Jitsu changes lives

By Robert Church

“Jiu Jitsu changes lives”

I’ve heard that for years and I now completely understand what that means.  Back in 2004 I was at UFC 48 and I watched Frank Mir submit Tim Sylvia by arm bar and it was the first time I realized that big guysRobert Church Power lifter could use Jiu Jitsu so effectively.


I had been a power lifter since about 1994 I won’t say body builder because I was only concerned with moving massive amounts of weight.  Around 2008 my body was breaking down and I had grown bored with weightlifting.  I needed to change my focus.  I walked into a MMA / kickboxing gym all jacked from years of lifting and the Thai Boxing coach Laughed and said, “Muscles are overrated”.   “You’ll be throwing up in 15 minutes” . He was wrong it only took 10 minutes.  From then on I knew I had to learn a combat sport.

Nogi BJJ, No Gi Jiu Jitsu open mat Oceanside Vista Carlsbad

Robert Church BJJ, Jiu Jitsu athlete Oceanside Vista


Fast forward 2013;  I’m back at a regular gym after the other had closed and started training grip fighting with no mats and kickboxing with Coach Jamar.  I was 45 years old at the time and in between jobs and my new job took me to Las Vegas.  I had in mind to do Jiu Jitsu there but the job did not last and the company did not take off so I returned and  saw Jamar at the gym and he  said, “You need to get serious about  Jiu Jitsu”.   “ I have a place where I teach and you need to go there”.  That place was Excel Jiu Jitsu Oceanside.  It was the best decisions I have made in 21 years.


I had spent a good portion of my life living a destructive lifestyle up to the age of 27 where I turned it around and made a new life for myself.  It’s part of the reason I came to Jiu Jitsu so late.  I work as Robert Church speakera counselor and I run rehabilitation programs for people struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues.  I teach others how to overcome obstacles in their lives.  It’s why Jiu Jitsu is so appealing to me.  Humility, Honor, Respect, Determination, Discipline, Family, Charity, and the fighting spirit are all part of the value system Jiu Jitsu promotes.  It is also very similar to the value system I teach in my work every day.

But I’m 46 and all the skills I learned lifting weights were not serving me well in the Gental Art.  I had to learn to be calm in uncomfortable situations.  I had to learn that I’m going to get submitted and humbled by guys half my size.  I had to learn to be OK with going weeks at the dojo and coming out beat up and not let my pride and ego prevent me from being teachable.  I had to lose the focus on brute strength and focus on Jiu Jitsu strength.  My first year I was injured 3 times as my body was not used to doing a combat sport.  But I refused to quit. I’d take a break and heal and come back.  I got my first stripe from Jamar and it was one of the happiest days I had in long time.  Since that time I have earned 2 more stripes from Professor Michio and my Jiu Jitsu has taken a big leap in the last few months.  I competed in my first BJJ tournament at NAGA on my 47th birthday.  On that day I was in phenomenal shape.  My fitness level is consistently high from Jiu Jitsu.   That was one of the highlights of my life.  I didn’t win but the guy who did win only beat me 2-0. I felt good about my performance and that’s all that mattered to me.  The fact that I did not let myself down was the prize.  The journey is the best part of competing.  I did a mini camp for it where every Saturday I was training two times a day strength and conditioning plus rolling 3 days a week.  All while working 40-50 hours.  I was pushed past limits and shown how strong your mind can become.  I remember I had rolled form 30 minutes one Saturday before my competition.  After I had already done 2 hours of strength and conditioning.  I was smoked I could not go another minute.  I was about to walk off the mat and  Professor Michio said,  “ Robert get back in there.  Do not quit” I pushed through every minute seemed like an hour.  But I did it and when I left the dojo I was overcome with pride in myself.  You can’t buy that feeling.

Age is a factor but only in recovery not in determination.   Am I sore all the time?   Yes, Is it hard to go to the dojo after a 9 hour day?  Yes.  Is it intimidating knowing  I’m going to be rolling with guys in their 20s with youth and aggression on their side?  Yes.  But I have a goal and I learned a long time ago anything easily obtained has no value.

Professor Michio Grubbs with Robert Church, BJJ stripe Promotion


Lastly I need to talk about Professor Michio and all the Excel Coaches.  The team at Excel Jiu Jitsu welcomed me in and the harder I worked the more I was encouraged.  Egoless Selfless instruction from everyone on the team keeps me striving to be the best I can be.  The coaches honestly care about my progress.  I found out later why we have such a good team.  Excel comes from a Jiu Jitsu tree whose roots start at the foundation of American Jiu Jitsu.  We are taught to go hard but protect our partners. When one guy rises we all rise.  We are all stronger because we all train together.  Day one in class you spar and unity forms quick.  We all push ourselves and we form bonds.  I have found Jiu Jitsu people by in large are good solid individuals, who know and show respect.  I’ve trained at a lot of gyms in my life. Not so much of that going on in the corporate gyms.  Egos don’t last on the mat. Jiu Jitsu is honest you can’t pretend.  You are who you are on the mat.  Your true colors come out. Jiu Jitsu has a purity that comes from that honesty that’s hard to find in this world.   I won’t stop as long as my body can put on a Gi and crawl on a mat.  Jiu Jitsu is for everyone young and old.  If you your heart has the determination and you can remain humble and teachable it will reward you with pride confidence and an inner peace.

Team Excel Jiu Jitsu!!!!!!!!!

-Robert Church


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Excel Jiu Jitsu MMA is a family-friendly, full-scale mixed martial arts academy specializing in the art and sport of Jiu-Jitsu. We are about teamwork, friendship and dedication.

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