From chaos to composure

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Everett is an aircraft maintainer for the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron on Ramstein Air Base, Germany. After the duty day, Everett trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on base to any one willing to learn the art. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Everett is an aircraft maintainer for the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron on Ramstein Air Base, Germany. After the duty day, Everett trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on base to any one willing to learn the art. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Everett, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance craftsman, performs a spinning arm lock on Emir Mulic during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 5, 2017. Everett starts each session with a demonstration on specific moves so the trainees can practice them on each other. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Everett, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance craftsman, performs a spinning arm lock on Emir Mulic during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 5, 2017. Everett starts each session with a demonstration on specific moves so the trainees can practice them on each other. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Everett, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance craftsman, teaches Samantha Lamm and Senior Airman Rashid Edgington, 86th AMXS commander support staff, how to perform a move during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 5, 2017. Everett was showing Lamm how to secure her grip correctly to control her training partner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Everett, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance craftsman, teaches Samantha Lamm and Senior Airman Rashid Edgington, 86th AMXS commander support staff, how to perform a move during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 5, 2017. Everett was showing Lamm how to secure her grip correctly to control her training partner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

Emir Mulic performs the Mata Leão choke while jokingly hugging Giovani Gironda, Defense Logistics Agency contracting officer, during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 5, 2017. Mata Leão, also known as the rear naked choke, means “lion killer” in Portuguese. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

Emir Mulic performs the Mata Leão choke while jokingly hugging Giovani Gironda, Defense Logistics Agency contracting officer, during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 5, 2017. Mata Leão, also known as the rear naked choke, means “lion killer” in Portuguese. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

Giovani Gironda, Defense Logistics Agency contracting officer, attempts to resist an arm lock from U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Everett, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance craftsman, left, during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 5, 2017. BJJ is a grappling style martial art that is designed to teach a smaller person how to defend themselves against a larger person. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

Giovani Gironda, Defense Logistics Agency contracting officer, attempts to resist an arm lock from U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Everett, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance craftsman, left, during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 5, 2017. BJJ is a grappling style martial art that is designed to teach a smaller person how to defend themselves against a larger person. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Everett, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance craftsman, flips Emir Mulic over his shoulder during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 5, 2017. The one arm shoulder throw is a Judo move traditionally named Ippon Seoi Nage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Everett, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance craftsman, flips Emir Mulic over his shoulder during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 5, 2017. The one arm shoulder throw is a Judo move traditionally named Ippon Seoi Nage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

Mike Suttor slaps hands with U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Everett, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance craftsman, during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 5, 2017. Before each match, opponents will slap hands and bump fists as a promise to keep the match friendly and fair in a form of mutual respect. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

Mike Suttor slaps hands with U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Everett, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance craftsman, during Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 5, 2017. Before each match, opponents will slap hands and bump fists as a promise to keep the match friendly and fair in a form of mutual respect. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer/Released)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Staff Sgt. Joseph Everett was spending time in Amsterdam with his girlfriend when a man tried to pick a fight with him. Instead of bringing the man to the ground, the four-year Jiu Jitsu athlete calmly diffused the situation by reacting in a non-aggressive manner.

“Five years ago I would have fought the guy,” said Everett. “But I’ve learned to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations on the mat, so that I can make smart decisions under pressure in my life. Jiu Jitsu turns the ‘volume knob’ of life down for me so that I can see the bigger picture.”

Everett works for the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron as an aerospace maintenance craftsman. By day he maintains aircraft; by night he puts people in chokeholds. But Everett wasn’t always trained in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

In high school, he engaged in a few fights. One of which ended with him on the ground, unconscious.

“For me, I always thought I could fight and I think everyone always does think that,” he said. “From birth we think we’re just gifted with this ability to protect ourselves, but we really don’t know how.”

After watching professional fighters go toe-to-toe on TV, Everett decided he wanted to learn how to properly defend himself.

“I wanted to be secure and knowing that if someone bigger than me wanted to hurt me, I could survive,” he said.

Unlike other martial arts involving striking the adversary, Jiu Jitsu focuses on grappling and teaches a smaller person how to use leverage and technique to defend themselves against a larger person.

Four years of daily training and determination later, Everett now instructs Jiu Jitsu at Ramstein, and the art has a positive influence on his life.

“Military life is full of stress. One of the biggest stressors one could ever face is a near death experience. In training, the ‘tap’ is admitting ‘I don’t have a way to escape serious injury or death. That trust builds strong friendships, and facing this reality regularly makes my ego healthier.”

Everett carries lessons he learns on the mat to the outside world.

“It’s all about survival, adapting and fighting efficiently,” he explained. “It’s triumph of human intelligence over brute strength. I apply countless lessons I’ve learned on the mat to the Air Force and our mission. It strengthens my physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing and ultimately my resilience.”

Preparing for fitness assessments in the military can be grueling for many people, but Everett has his solution.

“Last year I passed my PT test with a 97 percent. No preparation out on the track. You can go to the gym, you can lift weights, but nothing compares to fighting a resisting person.”

Everett encourages all people with access to the base to join him in Jiu Jitsu training.

“We have a legitimate space here to train and a great opportunity to learn some lifesaving skills.”

Whether Everett’s lifesaving skills refers to a physical confrontation or simply his ability to use Jiu Jitsu to overcome daily problems, his resilience stands strong.