rory  |  NEW JERSEY

There’s many challenges to overcome once you leave the theatre of combat. From our formative years in the Marine Corps, we are taught “violence of action”; Kill or be killed. In combat, this is a necessity. Here back home, it’s not applicable to most professions or lifestyles. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the perfect outlet for the displaced warrior. It teaches discipline, endurance, and humility. The same as combat. Because of the We Defy Foundation, I am provided that opportunity once again, to be a warrior, to deal with my physical and mental trauma in a healthy and beneficial way.

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I first started my training here at Fosters BJJ back in March of 2016. I was introduced to Coach Foster by a mutual friend also veteran Coby Parmenter that noticed the challenges I was dealing with being diagnosed with PTSD/TBI. The mentorship and guidance that coach Foster and his highly experienced instructors has not only helped me deal with my daily struggles, it has allowed me a second chance at being a person I never thought I could be again; a father, a husband, a friend and most importantly, myself. I served as a combat engineer and a veteran of both OIF and OEF and I truly am grateful for the opportunity and privilege of both the We Defy Foundation and the Fosters BJJ family for making it all possible. There are second chances and miracles in life, you just have to take the leap of faith sometimes, thank you for all the support.

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Jaramie |  KANSAS

I served in the Army as a Combat Engineer with the 1st EN BN at Fort Riley.  I wasn't a sunshine and rainbows guy before my deployment to Iraq.  While there our platoon had to deal with some crazy things.

When I was medically discharged from the Army things started falling apart.  I no longer had the support network I could rely on.  I started to withdrawal from the few friends I had while at the same time building walls to keep new and old people out.  When I managed to alienate or push everyone away I began letting my health fall apart.  Things were so bad that at the age of 30 I weighed about 280lbs.

A very good friend of mine took me to my first bjj class.  He had given me a warning that a lot of meat heads trained there but overall things would be fun, and they were.  After that class I was hooked.  Within the first year of training I had lost 80lbs.  I started making friends and I started opening up to others.  I also started noticing that my stress and anxiety were lowering.  I was a lot less on edge.  I was able to think before saying things. In general I had found the missing piece that brought everything together for me.  Things at home started improving in such a positive manner that my wife started training.

There are still areas I struggle in but things have been better. I help teach the children's classes which gives me a chance to work on my patience and share what I know to a new generation of athletes.

The support that I have received from my peers and my professors has been amazing. At my lowest I didn't feel like I mattered to anyone.  Now I know that is the farthest from the truth. I could go on and on about how jiu jitsu has helped me.  But I know that if it can help me it can help others.  

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Keith Thompson Tournement 3.jpg


Just wanted to drop you a note to you and the rest of We Defy.  Almost 5 months ago thanks to you and Professor Sam Brown I started Jiu Jitsu.  I was basically holed up in my house and not interacting with anyone except my wife. Sam extended an invitation and got me hooked up with  We Defy.  I suffer from multiple mental health issues and have gone from bad to worse back to bad.  Bad at the time not seeming to awful. 

I've had all types of treatments and just settled into being separated permanently from the rest of the general public.  Starting Jiu Jitsu was not easy.  Dealing with the panic attacks, mental ups and downs were difficult.  Professor Brown and the rest of our team treated me with respect and no different than anyone else.  They took the time to help me deal with all these issues and relax enough to learn and enjoy Jiu Jitsu.

I'm getting out making friends and love Jiu Jitsu.  I recently took third at a tournament over in Tacoma, Wa.  I still take my meds but without We Defy and Professor Brown I would be still be hiding in my house.  I just wanted to take the time to say thank you and tell you things have gotten much better with everyone's help.

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Jiu-jitsu has LITERALLY saved my life. When I started training I was 183 lbs., out of shape, and spending all day in a wheelchair on my way to an early grave. I am now 150 lbs., I train 5-6 days a week, and am I’m in the best shape of my life since my military service. Adding to my physical improvements, my mental state has improved dramatically. I always say that Jiu-jitsu is like playing chess while you are wrestling around on the ground trying not to be choked unconscious. Your body is releasing all of these chemicals while trying to push blood to your muscles; all while firing your neurons in rapid succession. After a good night of rolling when I go home at night I am a better father, husband, and person. Through my experience, I have seen this type of therapy change lives for the better. It is without hesitation that I can say We Defy Foundation has given me back the life I want to lead, and not let my injuries define me.

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