Beardman and Dru Phoenix training together. Photo Credit: Andrew Cuthbert

In Fall 1993, a 170 pound Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blackbelt stepped into an octagon to take on the best fighters in the world. He used chokes, arm locks, and unfamiliar movement on the ground; which eventually, led him to become the first winner of The Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC).

Today, the art has become well known, and millions of people are reaping the benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, otherwise known as the “Gentle Art”, is a form of Martial Arts that was derived from Judo, and Japanese Jujutsu. Although BJJ utilizes the standing techniques from both, the main focus of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is ground fighting.

Full interview with Kini Cole and Erica Mohan. Video Credit: Combat Hippies Youtube page. Edited By: Andrew Cuthbert


“If it was legal to walk up to someone in the street and punch them in the face, there would be a lot of people knocked out. That’s not the case so Jiu-Jitsu is a way get that aggression out” said Kini “Grandinho” Cole.


Cole is a Marine Veteran and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. As a Marine that served with 2nd Recon Battalion during the Iraq War, he is all too familiar with the battle of Post-Traumatic Stress.

According to National Center for PTSD, 1 in 5 Veterans are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress and as much as 50% go untreated.

For Kini, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was his treatment of choice and he set goals to become the best. Although he has 3 world championship and Pan-American titles to show, he is most proud of his ability to teach.


“Jiu-jitsu to me, is more therapeutic for the people I teach. I get to share a part of myself with people and know that they go on to teach other people, it’s the greatest gift.”


According to Cole, people talk and hangout before and after class and it is therapeutic. It allows someone to express themselves openly without feeling like they are being analyzed. He also offers free training to any veteran willing and able to train.

A little known fact is that the Department of Veterans Affairs utilizes Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in  89% of their medical facilities.  Examples of CAM include Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, aroma therapy, and martial arts.

The Combat Hippies explore different types of CAM therapies in an effort to bridge the gap between veterans and non-veterans in the community. In the case of Jiu-Jitsu, a local artist and fellow BJJ practitioner shared a piece of her journey.

Photo of Erica Mohan rolling with David Leeman. Photo Credit: Andrew Cuthbert

Photo of Erica Mohan rolling with David Leeman. Photo Credit: Andrew Cuthbert


“I jiu-jitsu because its fun and empowering especially for someone my size …Its like an outlet, a mental, physical and emotional outlet.


Erica holds the rank of blue belt and displays her empowerment by sparring with men much bigger and stronger than her. Rather than fear, she just see’s Jiu-jitsu as a creative outlet. Erica feels as though she grows stronger each time she steps unto the mats and encourages everyone to try it, especially veterans.

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