Martial Arts Inspiring Story - Stan White III - Midsouth LCCT BJJ

By Created: July, 2017 - Modified: September, 2017

My name is Stan White. Like most people, I was drawn to martial arts for the typical reasons.

In my case, a friend wanted to join karate classes back in 1992 and did not want to try it out by himself. He pestered me for weeks to try a class with him until I finally caved in and tried karate out for the first time. I always was the skinny nerdy kid in school who never played sports, and was certainly not athletically inclined, but in a strange turn of events, I loved it. My friend dropped out after the first few weeks, and I remained enthralled and went on to receive my in 1996. I continued to practice karate, and dabbled in judo until 1999 when I was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune muscle disorder called Polymyositis.

Polymyositis is a chronic disease in which your own immune system attacks the muscle fibers of your skeletal muscles as if they were an infection to be eradicated. These muscles include the ones in your neck, upper arms, upper legs and hips. I dropped so much muscle mass that I went from 185 lbs. at 6'3'' tall, to 135 lbs. when they admitted me to the hospital. I was unable to raise my arms over my head, stand up from a sitting position, or even get up off of the toilet without assistance. My legs were so weak that if I bent my knees, I would immediately fall, as my muscles were not strong enough to hold my body weight standing, even at a mere 135 lbs. I wasn't sure I was going to live, much less ever do martial arts again.

The disease does not have a known cure; however, after years of steroids, chemotherapy, and blood infusions, my doctor was able to treat it to a point that I began improving. Slowly, but surely, I went from bed ridden to being able to stand without falling. As time went by, I was able to lift a glass of water without using a straw, and finally walk, and move about freely without the assistance of a walker. Although my muscles would never return to 100%, weekly doses of chemotherapy were keeping the condition in check to a degree that I could return to some measure of normal activity.

In 2009, after 10 grueling years of slow improvement, and constant weekly chemo treatments, I asked my doctor if I could try to return to martial arts. His response was to do what I could, but that I would never be strong enough to break boards or spar with any degree of success. However, the movement and stretching would be good for my muscles, and I should do what I felt I was able to do, but to understand that I would always have some limitations. One such limitation that still plagues me to this day is the inability to run. I can walk at a good clip, but the legs will just not move me any faster than a slow jog.

I contacted my karate instructor about trying out class again in a limited capacity, and he suggested that I look into training Jiu Jitsu instead of Karate due to my physical limitations. He indicated that Jiu Jitsu used more leverage and technique than strength, which gave the smaller weaker opponent a chance against the larger more athletic ones. I was very skeptical at first, but it sounded like something that I could at least give a shot so I signed up.

It was a very different world. My karate experience, much to my disappointment gave me absolutely no advantage on the ground. I was thrown, crushed, smothered, choked, and every moveable joint in my body was contorted to positions which they were not meant to move. It was incredible!

I told my wife, ''I have never had so much fun paying money to get beat up in all my life!''

My muscles were becoming more flexible, and I could feel my mobility improving almost daily. I even seemed to be regaining some strength in my upper arms and neck. But the most amazing part was yet to come.

Over the next few years, I began to learn the techniques. I learned how to use leverage to my advantage, and even though I was still taking weekly doses of chemo, I was starting win a match every once in a blue moon.

After several years of training, I was introduced to a Rickson Gracie black belt named Luiz Claudio. Luiz is a small fellow, maybe 140 lbs. soaking wet in a gi, but I had never experienced pressure and technique like he used from anyone previously.

I was amazed by the ease in which he moved, the fluidity, and pressure he could apply to me. He destroyed guys twice as big as him without even breathing heavily. He had such a command of the concepts of Jiu Jitsu that it appeared he used absolutely zero strength when he rolled, even when others were using every ounce they had. I knew then that there was hope for my game! I had to learn Jiu Jitsu from him.

I began traveling from my home town in Memphis, TN, to Schaumburg, IL, several times a year to take privates from Professor Claudio. A few close friends and I would practice the techniques and concepts in my garage, and then try them out during open mats. My game, mobility and health skyrocketed. After training with him for a year, a friend of mine and I opened an affiliate gym under professor Claudio so we can continue to learn this amazing art and pass it on to others in the community. I know the saying is very cliche these days, but I truly believe, ''Jiu Jitsu saved my life!''

Today, I am 48 years old and a purple belt under professor Claudio, and continue to train 4 to 5 times a week. Martial Arts, particularly Jiu Jitsu, has had an incredible impact on my life for the better. I have learned to push forward when things are at their worse. I have learned that one can be successful without being the most genetically blessed person in the room, and the comradery and community is second to none. I would not trade or give up my martial arts journey for all the money in the world. Ossssss!

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Stan White III
Midsouth LCCT Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy, LLC
Atoka TN 38004