“Jiu-jitsu changed my life” is a phrase that many of us have uttered at some point during our time on the mats, and it can also change the lives of others as well. One of the organizations working to pass jiu-jitsu’s impact on to those who need it most is the We Defy Foundation, which serves to use jiu-jitsu to help veterans who are “coping with military-connected disabilities.”
Tonight, 3rd Coast Grappling will be hoping to raise some serious cash for We Defy in their Kumite IV event, which will be an eight-man absolute bracket with a grand prize of $10,000. The event will feature a charity superfight between 2019 double ADCC champion Gordon Ryan and fellow BJJ black belt Brian Marvin, the match aiming to raise attention and donations for We Defy.
As a veteran with 20 years of active duty service himself, Marvin knows the positive impact jiu-jitsu can have on those who have served in the military. He originally started training following some time volunteering as a wrestling coach for kids at the high school level. His aim was to start competing and find a new hobby, but he ended up getting much more out of the deal. “I found not only that but a tremendous stress relief and huge benefits in fitness as well,” he told the Jiu-Jitsu Times.
Marvin is well aware that he’s going into this match as an underdog, but he’s not fussed about the outcome as much as the cause. “It’s funny, everyone is like, ‘Who’s this guy? What is he, 50?’ Well, I’m 44, and I have no illusions,” he says. “I’m going to put it to the greatest no-gi grappler there is. I’m doing this the same reason he is: To help raise funds for a tremendous organization, the We Defy Foundation. This is an exhibition match. I expect a lot of fun, competitive transitions, while highlighting a lot of Gordon’s best techniques. This has the ability to help a lot of veterans in need.”
Being able to personally attest to the benefits of jiu-jitsu as a veteran, Marvin expresses plenty of gratitude for how BJJ has impacted his life. “From mentally to physically, as well as emotionally — it’s a very rewarding art that allows a ton of personal growth and development,” he says. “Through jiu-jitsu and even the Army, I’ve had the opportunity to train all over the world, even while deployed.”
Marvin is lucky to have heard about and seen the fruits of his efforts with the We Defy foundation numerous times throughout his journey. “There are so many success stories I’ve seen personally through the We Defy Foundation,” he says. “I used to travel monthly around the country to conduct seminars as a method to raise money for scholarships as well as awareness for the program. Each location, it was story after story of how the We Defy Foundation was able to positively support veterans’ training in jiu-jitsu as a form of therapy and fitness.”
No matter what happens tonight in Ryan vs. Marvin, this veteran’s involvement in the match will help carry on the legacy he wants to leave behind. His goal, he says, is to give back to both the military and jiu-jitsu communities “in many ways,” from working with nonprofits to doing his part as a gym owner and instructor at Renzo Gracie Houston to support the growth of BJJ in Texas.
You can donate to the We Defy Foundation on their website, or scan the QR code below to contribute to the fundraiser at any time until the event is over:
3rd Coast Grappling: Kumite IV will take place tonight, July 11, and can be streamed live on FloGrappling.