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Senior Waylon Abernathy shares his devotion to the vigorous martial art, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Senior Waylon Abernathy shows his jiu jutsu stance before he grapples with his opponent

It’s a cold Wednesday night, the school day has ended and senior Waylon Abernathy heads home eager to throw on his black gi, the thick clothing that Japanese Samurai once wore. He ties his honorable blue belt around his waist, ready to grapple and dominate his opponents with his skills in the Brazilian martial art of Jiu Jitsu. He enters his local Jiu Jitsu academy, Paragon, and jogs laps around the mat to warm up for the battle he is about to face. Other athletes begin to appear for the session.

Abernathy chooses a partner and with him reviews different moves and maneuvers with his instructor. One moment leads to another. Soon Abernathy finds himself rolling with his partner at full intensity in an eight minute battle grabbing, throwing, and strangling each other in an attempt to make one tap out. Abernathy then takes his opponent to the ground and sinks in his favorite move, the “triangle choke.” Like a boa constrictor, he wraps his legs around his opponent’s neck with one arm stuck between them and puts pressure squeezing their own arm into the other with all his might.  With each breath the choke becomes tighter and tighter. As a last resort his opponent lets out a brief tap with his hand, and Abernathy reigns victorious in this round as he releases him. They then resume the battle for another eight minutes. 

The Triangle Choke
Abernathy sinks in his favorite move on his partner: The Triangle Choke

    Starting as a white belt when he was just seven years old and living in Malpais, Costa Rica at the time, Abernathy was influenced to start Jiu Jitsu by his father, Aaron Abernathy who holds an expert level of technical and practical skill in BJJ as a black belt.

“We had a Jiu Jitsu place at my surf shop in Costa Rica when we lived there and Waylon was always on the mats messing around with us and all that. Waylon’s just always been around Jiu Jitsu since he was a kid,” said Abernathy’s father.

Perfecting his self defense technique for around nine years and spending up to 15 hours a month at several different BJJ academies, he now rolls at the Paragon Academy located in Paso Robles. Abernathy has already progressed his way through six of the youth belts (white, gray-white, gray, gray-black, yellow, and yellow-black) where he now holds the blue belt which symbolizes a core competency in Jiu Jitsu and grasp on fundamental moves, philosophy of BJJ, overall knowledge of basic techniques, and strong defense and escape skills. He spends up to 15 hours a month on the Paragon mats.

“When I turned 16 I was finally awarded the blue belt. To get that belt it took many years, and it was a constant fight. Moving up in belts is not about how long you’ve been doing Jiu Jitsu;  it’s about how consistently you do it and progress,” Abernathy said.

Although BJJ is known for its unique self defense style, it is also widely respected for its challenging belt system.

“People reach plateaus in jiu jitsu and they feel they aren’t really progressing in between belts. It takes around two to four years in between each belt which feels like a lot of time since there are only 5: White, blue, purple, brown, and black,” said Waylon’s father. “It’s the hardest martial art to get a belt in and a lot of people reach a certain level and they just get over it and stop. It takes a while, but getting a black belt is really rewarding and it’s a good discipline to learn.”

  With goals of earning the black belt like his father, Abernathy plans to continue the martial art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu throughout his adulthood and master the skills of what it takes to become a true “black belt.”

The Arm Bar
Abernathy sets up a tight Arm Bar against his opponent waiting for the tap

“Jiu Jitsu to me is a way of life. It’s brought up my confidence, it’s really fun, and I feel safe knowing I can defend myself in a life threatening situation at any moment. Everyone thinks you have to be big and strong to be able to defend yourself, but in reality anyone can learn to do so with BJJ.”

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