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“Overcoming Obstacles” by Seth Long

Our students are the most important part of our school. Yes, you who spend hours on the mats. You who make sacrifices just to attend each class. And it’s you who keeps us motivated to bring more innovative ways to be more “Jiu-jitsu.” GB association has created a space on their website where students from any GB school can send their stories and share their life lessons among the Jiu-jitsu community. Seth Long, one of GBSB members, sent his great story about overcoming obstacles and we would like to share it with you. Click on the link below and meet Seth Long:

“My name is Seth Long and I’m 36 years old and currently train at Gracie Barra Santa Barbara.  I began training Jiu Jitsu in San Francisco during the early part of 2010 after watching my mother, who was a blue belt at the time, compete in a tournament.  I figured if she could do it at her age then I certainly could at mine.  Plus, the thought of my mother being able to toss me, a grown man, around like a rag doll was not something I liked and was very motivating.

A couple of months after I started Jiu Jitsu I broke my knee quite severely in a freak training accident.  The top of my tibia, the part that helps form the knee joint, was crushed downward and shattered into many fragments.  My ACL ligament instead of tearing was torn from the bone, taking a chunk of bone with it.  I also had major damage to my meniscus.

After undergoing surgery to repair my knee, which involved screws and bone grafts, I spent many months in a wheelchair and then many more on crutches.  Recovery was very slow and I had to undergo months of painful physical therapy, which I hated.  It was close to a year before I was able to walk any significant distance without the use of crutches or a walker.  My victory was short lived though.  Doctors were unable to fully repair my knee during the first surgery and had to perform a second one after the bones had healed.  This led to many more months of wheelchairs, crutches, and physical therapy.

About two and a half years after the injury, I decided I was going to try Jiu Jitsu again.  Everyone thought I was joking.  I could walk but couldn’t bend my knee much past a 45 degree angle and had a very noticeable limp.  My doctors, physical therapists, family, and friends all tried to talk me out of it.  It seemed like everyone was against the idea of me trying Jiu Jitsu again but I wasn’t going to give up.
I moved from San Francisco to the Santa Barbara, CA area where I met Rodrigo Clark at Gracie Barra Santa Barbara.  I explained my situation and he assured me they’d be able to work around my injury.  I was really nervous at first but Rodrigo and the other students were very careful working around my knee.  After a few months of training, something amazing started to happen.  My knee that I couldn’t bend past a 45 degree angle had improved significantly and continued to do so.  The limp I walked with was also getting less and less noticeable every day.

At just under a year of training with Gracie Barra I felt my knee was finally strong enough to try my first tournament and competed in the Compnet American Nationals.  I didn’t win a gold medal but I still came home feeling like a champion.  After all that I’d been through, being able to compete in a Jiu Jitsu tournament was a huge milestone for me and really a dream come true.  I’m definitely looking forward to competing again.

I can’t even begin to express how appreciative I am to Professor Rodrigo, Professor JP, Coach Ighor and the other students at Gracie Barra Santa Barbara who were patient enough to work with me and my disability.  Jiu Jitsu has improved my life in so many ways.  I truly feel blessed to be a part of the Gracie Barra family.”

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