TXMMA – Texas Mixed Martial Arts

Jiu-Jitsu is for Everybody: The Story of Three Inspiring Texans (Part 1 of 3)

By Felix Rodriguez, Staff Writer


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was modified from its Japanese roots to compensate for lack of explosiveness and power by emphasizing leverage and momentum. It was designed for the weaker person to neutralize the advantages of the stronger and bigger assailant with the idea that it was a martial art for everybody. This series of profiles highlights the point first emphasized by the successes of Jean Jacques Machado at the highest levels of competition: The only limitations in Jiu-Jitsu are the ones set on yourselves. Ivan Delgado, Wes Covington and Garrett Scott are three incredibly talented, courageous and remarkable guys who have not let their varying physical disabilities stop them from learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and further prove Machado’s point. Jiu-Jitsu is for everybody.


The Story of Ivan Delgado


531881_10151290863089293_1303096357_nOne of the most exhausting ways of training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is to do so with a hand tied behind the back. Immobilizing an arm during sparring is grueling because compensating for not having both arms to recover positions against opponents takes much more energy. Aside from the physical taxation, fighting one-armed is also incredibly frustrating because not having all four limb makes executing some techniques significantly harder and others altogether impossible to perform. This is what every day is like for Ivan Delgado. The 23 year-old Mexican-American is a congenital amputee born with his left arm undeveloped past the elbow. Having to learn a martial art with only one fully functioning arm would seem like a daunting task to most, but Delgado is undeterred by his own circumstances. When asked if deciding to take up BJJ was a scary process Delgado told TXMMA it wasn’t because instead of being intimidated by the added challenges he “acted “ on his impulse knowing that he had “the will and heart to do it [learn BJJ].”

Delgado began training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Laredo, Texas a year and four months ago “to learn about himself and become a better person.” He is currently a one-stripe green belt under Edgardo Venegas at Sangue Novo Academy and works as an assistant coach for the children’s program at his instructor’s academy. When discussing how jiu-jitsu has changed his life Ivan told TXMMA that BJJ “helped my temperament (become more even-keeled) and also (helped him) become a nicer person and develop a good friendship with everyone. You take out your stress through Jiu-Jitsu and it helps out a lot. I believe that and it has improved my life. I was a troublemaker back then [before training] but Jiu-Jitsu kicked out that old Ivan from my life.”

61345_436182283103572_315176140_nHis courage, dedication and perseverance have not gone unnoticed by his instructor. When describing Ivan’s will Venegas noted, “The first time he walked into my academy, he asked me if he could train Jiu-Jitsu because he was not sure he could do it. I told him yes, I will show you. I put my hand inside my belt and rolled with him one handed. When I submitted him, he only smiled and said when can I start.” Since that point Delgado has been using BJJ as a litmus test to push the boundaries of what he can do and continuously challenge his own limitations as a person, student and competing athlete.

According to his instructors Delgado is “a very humble person who is very helpful and a very easygoing person with big dreams who is also very intelligent and respectful toward his instructor, peers and the academy.” When discussing what’s most impressive about Delgado, his inner-strength was the first thing mentioned by his instructor: “What most impresses me about Ivan is his heart and will to learn Jiu-Jitsu. Since the first day he walked into my academy he has never given up in learning no matter what. He trains just as hard as or even harder than any other student in my academy. He always shows up to train no matter how hot it gets in Laredo or cold. Ivan is a mat rat who is hungry for knowledge and shows no fear when he fights in tournaments.” Ivan’s fearlessness and humility are put on full display when discussing his experiences competing in jiu-jitsu tournaments. He told TXMMA, “I have competed two times, both I lost. But one of my biggest challenges was against a guy named Seth he had same disability as me and I learned that this guy had a bigger heart than mine and he was super strong but although I won by points I considered it a tie for us because we had the will to test our Jiu-Jitsu.”

189997_10151290847694293_867008616_nDelgado’s willingness to turn defeat into a learning experience that leads toward self-improvement is an admirable attitude worth emulating. He approaches life head-on and won’t allow anything to keep him down for long. This positive outlook on life has allowed him to tackle the process of learning new techniques with an open mind in order to modify what he learns and progress as a martial artist. Delgado believes “it is difficult to modify some techniques but jiu-jitsu is like chess; using your head instead of relying on strength. Though I am weak and skinny I always keep modifying my jiu-jitsu making my style.” Ivan’s love for the art of jiu-jitsu is nurtured at Sangue Novo Academy and his instructor doesn’t see many challenges in teaching Ivan over other students. Venegas explained, “Ivan has much strength on the mat. One is he is very strong and smart. He has a tremendous grip in his hand. He is very flexible and has good speed. His attacks and defenses are very unorthodox. He keeps me and everyone else on our toes. In Jiu-Jitsu you always have to adapt your technique. I only adapt or modify the technique so Ivan can learn it. We work on it until he feels comfortable with the technique.” This willingness to confront, adapt and overcome by both instructor and student has allowed Ivan to find the rewards and fulfillment that come with embracing the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle.

When Ivan isn’t perfecting his favorite lapel choke or working on his butterfly guard he does what anybody else his age would; he hangs out with his friends, cooks his own food and takes care of his own laundry and house chores, stressing that he doesn’t want to be treated different than anyone else on or off the mats. Ivan Delgado helps prove that a person can achieve things beyond reasonable expectations if they set their mind to it. He believes that people like him should not be underestimated in their ability to do things independently and would like to invite people with physical disabilities to defy their circumstances and improve their life by trying out a class of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.