Military News

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Hobby keeps Airman 'fit to fight'

by Gina Randall
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

7/7/2015 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- Many Airmen keep themselves 'fit-to-fight' by working out in the gym before or after work. They may spend hours pounding the sidewalks jogging through their new neighborhood to get fit.

Tech. Sgt. Darell Rudo, 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of inspections from White Plains, New York, uses his passion and his hobby of Jiu Jitsu to stay physically and mentally ready for the mission. When he began his journey with martial arts in 2000, he didn't expect to get so much out of it.

"I took it out of curiosity," he said. "I wanted to see what it was about."

He knows he needs to keep up his fitness for work but wanted a more interesting way to keep fit.

"I don't like running," he stated. "So I took up judo and then later Jiu Jitsu, and ever since then I've been hooked on it."

As with anything in life, Ruda knew he needed to work hard to achieve his fitness goal, but like so many others serving in the military, the mission came first.

"I started with judo in 2000 and I did it on and off for about four years. But injuries and deployments derailed me from it," Ruda explained.

He took up Jiu Jitsu for fitness, but instead found many other benefits from investing hard work and dedication to the discipline.

"For me, it actually has a life lesson, because whatever stresses you have at work or at home, or if you're just having a bad day, you go and train and the only thing on your mind is how to survive. You're trying to push your will on someone and to submit him," he said. "But the other person is doing the same thing, so it's like human chess as you're constantly thinking about your next move. It's a mind game."

The Airman uses the skills he learns at training to help him both in the office and at home. Life in the military can be challenging with the sacrifices people make for their country, and Ruda finds his sport a good escape.

"There is never a perfect path in life. If I'm having a good day at work and somebody throws a curveball at me, I stress out," the New York native explained. "You train to relieve that stress. It helps you learn how to approach things. With Jiu Jitsu, when I go for a submission or defending, I try to find a way to ease the problem slowly one thing at a time. To me it's like life -- if you have a bad day, you train and just for a few hours you don't think about it. That problem that you have has gone. So when you go back to that problem to face it you have a clear, focused mind in order to tackle it."

The discipline is humbling for the Airman. He's currently a blue belt and got there through work and allowing his peers to see his potential.

"It's up to the professor when you get the next belt," Ruda explained. "We don't look for promotion to the next rank in Jiu Jitsu. We want the professor to give it to us rather than asking for it. If you ask for it, he'll prove you wrong that you are not ready."

To help him get ready the Airman practices with a local group and has the opportunity to expand his new family while stationed overseas, to make new friends with similar interests.

"I train in Cambridge and the professor is a British black belt who got his belt in Tokyo," he said.

While making new friends, he never forgets his military family and makes the most out of spending time with his fellow service members.

"There are six or seven Americans who train here," he said. "My professor was a crew chief in the Air Force. He tested me in my skill level. We have social media groups for all military branches to get involved with once we move bases and want to keep our hobby going."

While he reaps the rewards of the physical aspect, he never forgets the reason that first sparked his interest in this discipline.

"We are a close knit group," he said. "If we know you train, then somehow we become best friends right away."

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