Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu takes on the form of many distinctions defined by its participants. Some would say it is a hobby, some characterize it as a sport, while others have discovered a deeper context to its design. These individuals view jiu-jitsu as a lifestyle that serves as an instrument to improving lives on and off the mat.

Eighteen years engulfed in the lifestyle, Nick Reding can concur of the impact Jiu-jitsu supplies. Uncovering many rewards, BJJ not only aided in Reding’s evolution as a martial artist but also assisted in shaping his personal identity.

Reding’s journey has always centered on the mission of self-improvement which all started back in 1998. With previous studies in other disciplines in his home state of Texas, Brazilian jiu-jitsu seemed to be the untouched study of his of martial arts venture. Alongside his brother Mark Reding, Nick began his BJJ training under Megaton Blue Belt (at the time) Jack McVicker of Indiana.

In the late 90’s valuable learning resources was scarce. The highest rank in that era was a blue belt which was equivalent to a black belt during the early rise of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the United States. Dedicated to his growth, Reding’s passion for BJJ was quickly exposed. Making countless sacrifices, there were no barriers stopping his aspirations for learning the art of jiu-jitsu.

“My Brother and I would travel to Indiana and bring Jack down to Texas getting as much knowledge and training in while we were with him,” Reding told The MMA Corner. “During the downtimes we were forced to drill and train on our own time and material. We would also travel around the world competing in many different tournaments in Portugal, Japan, Brazil, and of course here in the U.S.”

Everything worth considering in life comes with its share of sacrifices and hurdles. Although a passionate student, Nick’s grappling journey also came with its share of hardships. Personal burdens on and off the mat seemed to be a conflicting task for the Texas native, leaving him with irrational solution to the problem, walking away from Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. However, his illogical contemplation soon dissolved. It was in that moment that Reding understood the role Brazilian Jiu-jitsu was playing in his life.

Nick’s training soon took on a defining purpose. A therapeutic drug or another internal treasure uncovered its influence served as a great support system. Its inspiration would enable Reding in continuing his BJJ journey, but in addition aided with solving the problems poisoning in his personal life. Through this new revelation all became clear, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu was meaningful to Nick Reding.

“There is a definite hard reminder looking back at all the struggles and times I did not want to continue, and quit jiu-jitsu, ”Reding said. These times were extremely difficult to overcome. ”

“Eventually I ended up using jiu-jitsu as my escape and cure for my everyday struggles, and using my Jiu-Jitsu as my therapy. I knew that no matter what happened today, good or bad, at some point I will be training and I will have that time on the mat to completely forget about everything else in my life off the mat,” Reding added.

Hard work always has a way of paying off. Fourteen years of blood, sweat, and tears finally culminated on January 14, 2012 as Nick and his brother Mark, would receive the high honors being promoted to the rank of BJJ Black Bel, courtesy of Yousef Alirezaei, Kenny McClure, and James Brown at Star Jiu-jitsu in Carrolton, Texas. Most practitioners concluded their journey after being promoted to this prestigious rank. Reding’s journey on the other hand had just begun.

A reoccurring case of Déjà vu ,Reding once again found himself facing more challenges as a BJJ Black belt. Determined to overcome these hurdles, the ambitious grappler had no intentions of calling it quits this time around. Converting his way of thinking with the assistance of his instructor, Professor Octavio Couto ,the missing link was exposed allowing Nick to elevate to a new level in his BJJ evolution.

“Awhile back I had a conversation with my professor, Octavio Couto. I told him that I had hit another Plateau and that nothing was working for me,” Reding said. “His reply slightly shocked me. He looked at me and said “good!” Shocked, I asked what you do you mean? His reply was that every structure has a good, solid foundation. You cannot build anything on top of an unstable foundation or base. This is where you are, so take advantage of it and build your foundation.”

Taking Couto’s advice Reding sought out new ways to perfect his grappling craft. From strengthening his takedown game in Judo at East Side Dojo to being an attendant at various BJJ seminars Reding’s uphill battle as a black belt transformed from a negative to a positive experience.

As Winston Churchill would say “To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often,” Reding said. “You have to change things up to stay motivated and keep things interesting; otherwise you will always have an excuse that will eventually turn into a reason of why you quit training.”

The Brazilian Jiu-jitsu journey can undoubtedly have a profound impact on a participant’s life. Through the highs and lows, it’s safe to say Nick Reding has truly embraced the jiu-jitsu lifestyle molding him into the man he is today. His story is a constant reminder of the importance of overcoming adversity and always pushing for self-improvement. Pushing onward, Reding is far from hanging up his kimono as he hopes to continue his training, and also help others improve their lives through this practice just as it has done for him.

When asked what advice he could give to others in their BJJ journey, Nick Reding had this closing statement to offer his readers.

“Face your fears, think outside the box but don’t re-invent the wheel, be comfortable being uncomfortable, invest in your jiu-jitsu, and invest in yourself,” Reding said.

“I have lived my life the past few years off of these mottos and I have grown more than I could have ever imagined. I apply all of these not just to jiu-jitsu, but my everyday life as well; they both go hand in hand. Keep moving forward, and keep focusing on your weaknesses. If you are horrible on escaping certain positions, then start there, and then put yourself there again when you finally get out. It’s the only way anyone will ever improve and stay humble. If you have an issue in life, you don’t just turn your back and walk away. The issue will remain until it is confronted,” Reding said. “This will teach you to face your fears in life, learn from your mistakes, and proceed moving forward.”

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.