He rises out of bed in unison with the sun breaking the horizon in the distance to make his way for war…His heart begins to pound inside of his chest from fear of the possibility to fail as soon as he gazes upon the battlefront.
Once Senior Airman Collin Eddington, 374th Maintenance Squadron isochronal aerospace maintenance apprentice, steps onto the mat to compete in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament all of the terrifying fears are erased for him to do what he has trained to do: compete!
Eddington first stepped on the mat in May 2015 where he instantly fell in love with Jiu Jitsu, and has passionately continued his training and competed in tournaments.
“The most important thing that I have gained from doing this is self-confidence and fitness while gaining a second family,” Collin said. “Obtaining a feeling of being part of a bigger whole has been the best aspect of my time here. Having more self-confidence and a more tight-knit family in my life has not only helped me improve my skillset, it has helped me grow as a man.”
It wasn’t until he began attending the Jiu Jitsu classes where he started striving to be the best on a team and gain as much knowledge as possible with a desire to be able to help others grow as well.
“The more I grow as an individual, the more that I can help them grow and learn faster to maybe help them strive where I may not have been able to,” Eddington said.
“Contrary to what some people might think of me, I’ve never been really good at sports and I was cut from teams when I was younger since I suffered from childhood asthma,” he explained. “It wasn’t until I joined the Air Force I started to develop myself as a person and start to feel what it was like to be part of a team working towards a common goal.”
Over the past three years, Eddington has competed in approximately 12 Jiu Jitsu tournaments where he faced competitors from various countries, some of whom didn’t speak English.
“When it comes to Jiu Jitsu moves speak louder than words, even if someone doesn’t speak the same language as you,” Collin explained. “While on the mats and facing your opponent, the respect and level of commitment you give to your opponent is felt regardless of the language barrier.”
Eddington has gained a wealth of experience from each match he’s competed in.
“With each match I’ve won, there are a lot of losses and lessons learned,” he explained. “By competing in tournaments, I gained a better understanding of what I can improve on via the mistakes I’ve made. This has helped me expand on my capabilities and know what I need to focus on as I continue training.”
Through the self-confidence and new sense of family, Eddington has used the love he’s gained with his new skillset to pass it on to others. Collin works with other instructors multiple times each week to provide children with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training.
“I truly enjoy helping kids out with anything they’re having trouble with, gaining discipline and being there to tell them that I’m here for them and believe in them,” Eddington said. “That little moment when a kid learns something correctly and is happy, or they win their first match, those moments I get to share with them is something that I always look back on as a proud moment in my life.”
Andy Gonzalez is a coach at Aces Jiu Jitsu Club. He has earned his purple belt under Professor Mikal Abdullah. Follow Andy on Twitter at @GoGoGonzilla
Andy lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Amanda and their 3 beautiful children. Andy is also the father of a Marine who is honorably serving in the United States Marine Corps.