I am currently a blue belt under Ed Fyvie of Spa City Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, who is a black belt of Ricardo Almeida and Renzo Gracie. I began the journey of learning and competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu around January 2013. My first competition was in March that year as a white belt novice at the North American Grappling Association NAGA in Albany, NY. Although I did not win the Gold Medals in the No-Gi and Gi matches, I gave it my best and raised a few eyebrows. From that day forward I was hooked and have continued training and competing many times. I have had some wins and losses but I have always made new friends and learned some lessons at every tournament and class.
It was a little over ten years ago when my life changed forever. It was a crisp fall Monday morning when a driver that wasn’t paying attention hit me in the driver side of my vehicle. After the impact and subsequent roll-overs the vehicles came to rest leaving me with 3 skull fractures with traumatic brain injury, broken bones, a crushed leg, severe arterial bleeding, and in a coma. Fortunately, I was able to recover with the help of the surgeons and finding a physical therapist who was also an amputee. Since I am a police officer the stakes were high but the support was overwhelming and nearly a year later I returned to duty with no restrictions.
Every year since the crash, I always stop for a moment and count my blessings on the anniversary. I reflect on my accomplishments and then set some new goals for myself in the upcoming year. I have always been active and enjoy physical activities. Being an amputee, running and working out are just the thing to do. Well a couple years ago, being a fan of the UFC, I decided to try Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and also mixed martial arts which my school offers. Now that I am 43 years old, I will admit that sometimes the struggles and pain from learning this art have left me wondering why I am trying this but then I dig down deep inside and fight on.
After my return to work I had many people ask about my leg and the crash, many people would remark that they were surprised I could still be a police officer. I would always explain that a badge and gun don’t automatically make you a cop. You have to have the heart, the heart to do the right thing and fight the good fight. The will to put your life on the line for another person is not something that comes with a serial number or four wheels which you can just sign out for an afternoon shift. For those of us that have the heart to do that, they give us tools to help us and keep us safe. Tools like a badge, gun, and patrol car are a police officer’s tools of the trade which everyone recognizes. In my case I just have an extra tool, a left leg. You Can’t Teach Heart.