HOHENFELS, Germany — Two U.S. Army Soldiers on the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Team Hohenfels took home medals at the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation European Championship 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal, Jan. 14-21.

After one week of competing, Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher McMillian won the silver medal in the Super Heavy weight class and Capt. Jeff Linzey brought home the bronze medal in the Ultra Heavy weight class. Both Soldiers are assigned to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany.

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is incredibly effective in fighting conditions. It allows the fighter to take control and most importantly finish the fight without hurting the other person. The technique is so effective that the opponent will either give up or be incapacitated. The overall fighting strategy is designed to equip a physically smaller or weaker individual with an effective method of defending against a larger and stronger attacker.

The many benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu includes not only self-defense, increased flexibility, improved fitness, strength and general physical conditioning, but also stress relief, improved concentration and increased self-confidence.

Nevertheless, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu goes way beyond the mat.

For McMillian, a white belt who has participated in the sport since July, it is a life-changing sport.

“It was a breath of fresh air for me, putting me around amazing coaches, and great people who were overflowing with passion, self-confidence and determination,” said McMillian. “Jiu-Jitsu showed me that you do not need to have an ounce of natural talent to succeed in something, and that hard work and perseverance are the only qualities you need to climb your way to any goal you wish to accomplish.”

He added that the benefits you can’t see are more important to him.

“I’ve learned to push myself further. I have witnessed the power of hard work as I improve bit by bit, made great friends and adopted a healthy, positive lifestyle,” McMillian said.

Linzey, a black belt, started out in High School with wrestling and continued with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in College.

“The sport gives me the confidence to believe I can really accomplish anything I set my mind to,” said Linzey. “No other sport puts you in positions where at full speed you have to overcome size and strength disadvantages, keep cool under stress, use your brain to constantly be thinking of your next attack, deal with fatigue, all while having to deal with your emotions.”

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He added that people who begin Jiu-Jitsu rarely intend to train more than a couple of times a week, but there is so much to learn and so fun that it becomes a lifestyle.

“BJJ has improved my life in many ways,” Linzey said. “BJJ pretty much reinvented me. I got in great shape, developed confidence and kind of found myself you could say. I wake up every day excited to train, learn and grow as a fighter and a person. I couldn’t picture myself in any other lifestyle.”