Chuck Rylant: How Jiu‐Jitsu Led to the Hero of His Story

 
— Written by By Cindy Cyr —

Growing up, Chuck Rylant was driven to become a real‐life hero.

Not having a healthy father figure in his life, Chuck sought out male role models, which ultimately came through the fictional characters he saw in movies. He was naturally drawn to action movie heroes of the eighties such as Sylvester Stallone in Rambo, Bruce Willis in Die Hard, and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, and these heroes were his inspiration throughout a traumatic childhood that was filled with chaos.

In and out of foster homes when he was young, Chuck grew up on welfare and in government housing projects from the time he was born until he was 16, at which point he moved out to live on his own. Continue reading “Chuck Rylant: How Jiu‐Jitsu Led to the Hero of His Story”

Ricardo Liborio: The Sport That Has Given Me Everything

When Ricardo Liborio’s youngest daughter was 1½ years old, she spent three months in the hospital and 15 days in the intensive care unit. Doctors discovered that the soft part of her head had fused together before her brain was fully developed. As her brain developed, it compressed the optic nerve against the skull, which left her permanently blind.

Ricardo’s daughter endured two complicated brain surgeries, with doctors breaking open her skull to allow room for her brain to grow. After the second surgery, she started having seizures.

It was a rough time,” Ricardo said. “I have two pictures in my wallet from when we were in the ICU and my wife and I had to learn to sleep in the chairs. Every time something goes wrong in life, I think about that time. It gives me perspective.”

Ricardo recalled being in the cafeteria of the Miami Children’s Hospital’s neurology wing at 2:00 in the morning with three other fathers.

I talked to these guys every night for three months,” Ricardo said. “I was worried that my daughter was going to be blind, but all three of their kids had brain cancer. Two of them died, and I felt so sorry for their families, but it gave me perspective. My daughter was blind, but when you see what I saw, you think, ‘This sucks,’ but you lived through it.” Continue reading “Ricardo Liborio: The Sport That Has Given Me Everything”

Garth Taylor: A World Champion’s Fight for Self Discovery

Garth Taylor was warming up, preparing for his fight at the Tijuca Clube in Rio de Janeiro.

It was the day that brown and black belts were competing in the World Brazilian Jiu‐Jitsu Championship.

Garth noticed a commotion as paramedics fought their way through the crowd to get to one of the fighters.

It was insane how many people were crammed into that venue,” Garth said. “There was a guy who needed serious medical attention, but the medics couldn’t even get to him because it was so crowded.”

When medics reached the fighter, he was unresponsive.

We were standing there about ready to fight as they worked that guy up and put him on a board,” Garth said. “There was no exit down there, no way to get him out because the crowd was so big and nobody would move.”

Another crew of medics stood on the second tier of the stadium, unable to get to the ground floor.

They crowd‐surfed him on a stretcher and took him out of the building,” Garth said.

Garth stood there wondering what had happened but later learned the fighter died during his match from a heart attack. As Garth watched all of this unfold, he tried to focus on his fight for the world championship. Continue reading “Garth Taylor: A World Champion’s Fight for Self Discovery”

John Marine: The Child is the Father of the Man

John Marine and his friend filled a shopping cart full of booze, but as both were 16, neither was old enough to buy liquor.

We grabbed the gallon jugs of Jack and vodka and ran for the car,” John said. “He cracked a bottle of vodka. I opened the whiskey and we started pounding.”

John had just broken up with his high school girlfriend, and his friend’s girlfriend had just announced that she was pregnant.

That first breakup was traumatic,” John said. “It was devastating, because I had so many other issues from my childhood that I hadn’t made good with. Losing my first girlfriend was just way too much.”

The more they drank, the more they feed off each other’s depression. After enough alcohol, they got ahold of a long rubber hose and then picked up a couple of friends for a road trip to Magic Mountain.

We were out of our fucking minds when these guys hopped into the car with us,” John said. “They could tell something was up, but they were a little nutty too, so everybody could have expected us to be a bit off.”

Before picking up the last two guys, John and his friend had already agreed that after their night of partying at Magic Mountain, they were going to connect the hose to the exhaust and gas themselves. Continue reading “John Marine: The Child is the Father of the Man”

Roy Dean: Creating Art Through Combat

At 16 years old, Roy Dean felt trapped in Anchorage, Alaska, so he left home for Japan as part of an exchange student program. When he arrived at his new high school, students were required to study one of the traditional Japanese arts, such as fencing (kendo), archery (kyudo), or floral arrangements (ikebana).

Steven Seagal was popular at that time,” Roy said. “I was interested in aikido because I wanted to be able to take on five guys in a pool hall.”

Aikido was not available at his Japanese high school, but judo was an available art option.

Initially, I wasn’t that pleased,” Roy said, “but judo changed the entire trajectory of my life.”

The judo program was conservative, so Roy was not allowed to wear a uniform until he first learned how to fall properly (ukemi).

Judo is very tough,” Roy said. “I did hundreds, if not thousands, of hard break falls and ended up with huge bruises on my shoulders.”

After six weeks of falling drills, Roy was finally allowed on the mats and given the opportunity to spar with the judo team captain.

No matter what I did, within seconds I was on the ground, looking up at the ceiling,” Roy said. “I would attack him again, and boom, like it was nothing. He must have thrown me at least 15 times in a couple of minutes.”

Roy was completely outclassed by the smaller and weaker team captain, but Roy was inspired.

It was electrifying,” Roy said. “He was small and not intimidating at all. If I could do what he just did to me, no one would be able to mess with me. I wanted that same power. It was mind‐blowing.”

A lot of Westerners romanticize martial arts in the East, but that experience taught Roy the secret behind the mysticism. Continue reading “Roy Dean: Creating Art Through Combat”