Some days it can be hard to find the motivation to go train. We all hear about the blue belt blues, but for one man, the blue belt is just another one of life’s challenges that he intended to conquer. Herschel Davis lost his leg in an accident in 2008 and was recently promoted to the rank of blue belt. We had the chance to talk with Herschel about his experience and what earning his blue belt means to him.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: What happened that resulted in you losing your leg, and how long did it take you to recover?
Herschel Davis: I was hit by a motor vehicle back in 2008. I was on the road doing highway construction. I spent about 5 months in Atlantic City in the trauma center. Then, I spent about 4 months in Magee Rehabilitation in Philadelphia. I spent 5 years in a wheelchair because my legs were too weak to support me. My body weight was about 350lbs. So I started to workout in my wheelchair until I lost enough weight to be able to walk. I lost about 50lbs and was now able to walk with a walker.
JJT: What are some challenges you faced when you started training? How did you overcome them?
Davis: Then I joined a gym. Worked out for about 2 years and went down to about 240lbs. Now I was getting around great! I needed no assistance to walk. I overcame these goals just by having pure determination. I wanted to start “living” again. I was tired of living my life confined to a wheelchair and being stuck in the house.
I joined jiu-jitsu because I felt like a target when I went out into the world. I felt like I couldn’t defend myself if I were ever attacked. Although I knew it would be a great challenge, I accepted it.
I remember my first class. I had a hard time just getting on the mat. And the moves were so hard for me due to the lack of bend and strength in my legs. But I was not going to let that stop me. Now here I am one year later and I just received my blue belt and combative belt. My goal is to one day be confident enough to go anywhere and know that I can defend myself.
JJT: What are your goals for training jiu-jitsu, and how do you stay motivated to accomplish them?
Davis: My goal is to also let others know that as long as you’re breathing, you are still living. You can overcome and adapt to any situation. You just need to find your reason why. This life changing experience has taught me to never to things for granted. Life can change at the blink of an eye.
JJT: What are some things you’ve learned from your experiences so far?
Davis: Now I live my life every day like it may be my last. I laugh more, play more, and live more. We are not guaranteed to be here tomorrow. So try to make the best of it today.
Herschel received his blue belt from John Hassett who is a 4th degree black belt under Phil and Ricardo Migliarese (Relson Gracie black belts). Davis trains at Hassett’s Jiu-Jitsu in Williamstown, New Jersey, USA .