Being stricken with turmoil is a tough ordeal for anyone to experience.

Nevertheless, there is always a solution to conquering any problem. U.S. Army Infantryman SSG Andrew McLauchlan’s life testament is the prime example of one’s determination and will to overcome the war from within.

March of 2007 would mark an altering moment for McLauchlan. Originally living life as a union carpenter, McLauchlan longed for a more challenging lifestyle similar to his days as a high school wrestler. It wouldn’t be long though before his wishes would be fulfilled from an advertisement commercial on television promoting McLauchlan to join the United States Army.

His later enlistment in the service would find the new recruit in the beginning stages not only pushing greatly in his advancement as a solider, but also assisting his teammates’ growth in the process.

“As Basic Training continued and I pushed myself to excel, I realized the greater picture,” McLauchlan told The MMA Corner. I might be strong as an individual, but the unit needs to be strong. My goal then was not only to push myself, but instead help my battle buddies excel.” This was substantial to me, because I had to put myself aside at times to worry about the larger picture.”

Performing at the highest standard in his role as an infantryman, McLauchlan’s military travels have taken him to many places across the globe including the dangerous enemy terrains of Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan, McLauchlan would undergo some of the most grueling trials of his life that would consequently have an everlasting effect on him for a very long time.

“As I deployed to Afghanistan, being new to the area the procedures was different. While in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan with Battle Company 2/503, we had gotten in upward to 8 to 10 engagements some days. Mostly small arms and RPGs. Tension was always high, and everyone was extremely close. Unfortunately during our time there we lost a lot of friends and loved ones,” McLauchlan said. “Everyone deals with things differently, but for where we were you had to grieve briefly, and continue with the mission.”

Weighed with the burden of his fallen comrades and stained memories of his time on the battlefield, McLauchlan would be forced to bear a lot of pain inside of him. Even in the comfort of silence or partying activities, the outlets provided little assistance. Miraculously, during this dark period, an influential force would make its way into McLauchlan’s life giving the solider a more positive focus and escape from his troubles. It was through his participation in the Army Combatives program where he would discover Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

A sport that offers the ultimate physical and mental challenge for its participant, McLauchlan instantly became attracted to this appealing grappling discipline. Constantly pushing for improvement in his skills, studying techniques, and testing himself in competition Brazilian jiu-jitsu has given McLauchlan a new lease on life, directing his attention toward growing as an athlete and as a person.

“Once the opportunity arose to attend Combatives level 1, I jumped on board,” McLauchlan said. “The Combatives NCOIC noticed my interest and informed me of all the BJJ places in the surrounding area. I believe at the time he saw my difficulty with coping and in an attempt to give me an outlet, helped me get into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu frequently “From there I was hooked. I stopped partying and was more focused on my performance than blocking things out. I truly believe without it I would not be who I am today.”

Currently a black belt under the Alliance banner, triumphing over his personal demons has also opened the door for major success in McLauchlan’s nine year jiu-jitsu exploration. Even in the mist of being active serviceman, family life, and other personal obligations these hurdles have done little to slow the grappler’s training thus showcasing his dedication for reaching his current and future ambitions.

“I hope to win the world championship at brown belt and black belt,” McLauchlan said. “I hope attend and successfully compete, in every major BJJ competition. My end goal is to be the best training partner in BJJ, that people from around the world request me to work with them. If you don’t win the championship but high level people still request you to help improve their game that speaks much higher of you. Overall my goal is to not only progress as an individual but instead spread the knowledge I have learned that most don’t know.”

A breath of fresh air is always a smoothing sensation after a grueling ordeal. Through the assistance of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, McLauchlan has transformed into a man of strength, determination, and clarity. Analyzing his story teaches one to not only reflect on life, but also be celebratory of it while constantly pushing to reach the highest plateaus in whatever one hopes to achieve.

About The Author

Monta Wiley
Staff Writer

Monta Wiley is an aspiring sports journalist that has covered the world of MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has been a regular contributor to US Combat Sports. Monta has a Bachelor's degree in Aviation Administration from California State University-Los Angeles. Outside of his writing, you can find Monta at the gym honing his BJJ technique.