(Source: Department of Defense)
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Air Force Senior Airman Collin Eddington eagerly wakes as the morning sun breaks the horizon, knowing his Jiu Jitsu skills will again be challenged on the mat.
Eddington, an aircraft maintenance apprentice with the 374th Maintenance Squadron here, said he first began practicingJiu Jitsu in May 2015.
Since then, he has continued his training and competed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments.
“The most important thing that I have gained from doing this is self-confidence and fitness, while gaining a second family,” Eddington 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.”
Eddington said he enjoys being a mentor to beginners at Jiu Jitsu classes.
“The more I grow as an individual, the more that I can help them grow and learn faster,” he said.
Eddington said he wasn’t very good at sports until he joined the Air Force and discovered Jiu Jitsu.
“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 that I started to develop myself as a person and started to feel what it was like to be part of a team working toward a common goal.”
Over the past three years, Eddington said he has competed in 12 Jiu Jitsu tournaments. Some of his competitors, he said, 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,” he explained.
Eddington said his jiujitsu skills have improved through competition.
“By competing in tournaments, I’ve gained a better understanding of what I can improve on via the mistakes I’ve made,” he said. “This has helped me expand my capabilities and know what I need to focus on as I continue training.”
Eddington said he works with other instructors each week to provide children with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training.
“I truly enjoy helping kids out with anything they’re having trouble with … and being there to tell them that I’m here for them and believe in them,” Eddington said.
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.