From chaos to composure

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Devin Boyer
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
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.