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Rising Stars: Meet John Cabay

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Cabay.

Hi John, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I literally started jiu-jitsu to be less fat. My jiu-jitsu journey began at age 36 at a time in my life when I was in need of something to keep me on the right path. At the time, my marriage was failing and I was making poor decisions leading me down a path of poor health and addiction. When I fell in love with jiu-jitsu, it gave me a blueprint for life.

It kept me on a path of self-discovery that still guides me to this day. Everything I currently do outside of training revolves around health, nutritional wellness, recovery, and anything else that allows me to train more and recover faster. Jiu-jitsu saved my life, and I don’t know where, or even if I’d be if it wasn’t for this amazing art form.

Now, after 13+ years of training, many tournaments wins, a world title, and a fight2win pro submission grappling championship belt, I decided it was time to open my own academy and share with others the amazing art form that has added so much value to my life in ways I never even could have imagined. Jiu-jitsu is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and it’s also the most rewarding. One of my training philosophies is, “The lifelong pursuit of unattainable perfection is a beautiful thing”.

I could never master the art in 10 lifetimes, and that’s amazing in itself. I’ll never stop training in an attempt to be the best possible version of myself. And now, I get to teach these same lessons to others. I’m very grateful to be in the position to share jiu-jitsu with people. It’s a responsibility not taken lightly, and I’m in daily study to be the best possible instructor for my students.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I had some injuries along the way which could have easily derailed my process, but I never quit and always came back stronger. There were some pretty dark times in my life when my marriage was falling apart, but I never stopped training. No matter how I felt, I always kept training. I didn’t realize it at the time, but jiu-jitsu was my therapist, my teacher, and my healer all in one.

The journey is different for everyone, but one thing is certain: If you continue to show up and never give up, amazing things will happen. This is of course a lesson for life. Jiu-jitsu also teaches us to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. It teaches us to be calm when we are being pressured. If you can remain calm and focused when someone is smashing you or trying to submit you, you can think intelligently about how to escape or advance to a better position. If you panic, you will lose.

The lessons we learn on the mats can easily be applied to everyday life: Never quit, remain calm in the face of adversity, control your breath, and don’t compare yourself to others, but rather compare yourself to yourself. It teaches us to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we were today.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I specialize in making jiu-jitsu more accessible to people. It can be intimidating just to walk into the academy, let alone the thought of grappling another human.

If we can introduce jiu-jitsu in a way that is encouraging and welcoming while still teaching foundational, not watered down techniques that work at any level, more people will have the opportunity to experience the benefits jiu-jitsu will bring to their lives. Jiu-jitsu for everybody! What sets me apart is how I make people feel when they are in the academy.

We are a team, no one is more important than anyone else, there is no hero-worship, only hard training, and good vibes. I can learn from anyone, even new students. We truly get better together, as a team! The culture and supportive environment of the academy are as important as the training, if not more so.

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