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A journal can be a journey in it of itself. Welcome to my journey everyone. My name is Ric and I am here to welcome you to my life training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at The Jungle MMA and Fitness. I have been training at The Jungle for a couple of years now but my first day in the gym literally changed my whole life. Cliche I know, but no less true. In fact, my first day at the gym I felt I was just fulfilling an obligation to Coach Mike Lee who had asked me to just come visit once for weeks. After a lot of me trying to avoid it, I finally took him up on his kind offer. As it turns out, I should have taken him up on that offer a lot sooner. My first visit honestly went terribly. Well terribly for me personally. I walked into the gym and Coach Mike was there to great me with a big smile and open arms. He took me on a brief tour of the gym and invited me to join the kickboxing class that was about to begin. To say I was massively under prepared for this would be an understatement.


Of course I thought I was going to breeze through my first training session and strapped on my gloves and started working on a heavy bag. After about 10 minutes (or essentially just the warm up) I was completely exhausted and had to apologize and drop out of the class. I was embarrassed, I was ashamed, but as it turns out this would be the most important moment of my training. Why? Because after I excused myself and went and sat on the bench, no one laughed or shook their head at me. In fact, my friend who only refer to as My Coach, come over to check on me and make sure I was okay.

To my surprise Coach was very proud of my performance. He was elated I put on the gloves. He was proud I tried, he was smiling for me, even while I was somber in my defeat. He told me I had “accomplished something!” That was all that mattered, that I tried.

It was in that moment that I understood this wasn’t a “gym” this was a *home.* I had never felt so welcomed in a gym of any kind before. I had played sports my whole life and had to stop do to a back injury in my mid 20’s. I was told I would never run again, or play sports really ever again. Here, in this wonderful environment I found the one thing that I had truly lost, belief in myself. I watched as the class continued and Coach went about his business and welcomed some more new faces to his Jungle. After class ended a number of my new Team Mates came over to say hello and ask me how I was feeling. I had never met these people before this moment but all made sure to check on me and welcome me, regardless of my performance. Now that I was finally home, I knew I could start the next phase of my training. A phase that will never end.

Please join me on my continued journey in BJJ and MMA, as I update this blog with the weekly classes and events that happen here at the best home away from home I have ever known. The Jungle!

“Learning. Growing. Achieving.”


Ric Susman

Downtown Orlando's Top Choice For Martial Arts And Fitness

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