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  • Writer's pictureMarcus Kowal

Bigger than fighting

Last weekend, Systems Training Center had 3 more fights (we've had six in the past 3 weeks). I love watching the next generation of Systems fighters emerge.

On Saturday, it was my own turn to step back into the cage but this time, it was not for an MMA fight but a super fight in grappling. Richard Arreola, who is the head of CSUF's BJJ program, USKO Anaheim and one of the top competitors from One BJJ, trained under the legendary Giva Santana. Me and Richard had a great match, which ended in a draw, since it was submission only. Here's a quick highlight of the match:

His wrestling and top control was heavy, as I knew it would be but none of that really matters. What matters is that Richard managed to raise over $1,000 for Liam's Life Foundation. You see, Richard is a true martial artist, both on and off the mats.

This wasn't the first time we faced off. We once competed against each other in the finals of the All Americas, where he beat me for the gold. Afterwards, Richard told me how he would someday like to do something to raise awareness for the non profit. He also told me his story. Richard's wrestling is one of the highest levels I've gone against in BJJ. The reason is because he used to be a really high level wrestler. In fact, he was so good, he was going to go to a D1 school on a full ride scholarship. Then, on the 4th of July, the summer before he was going off to college, a reckless driver hit him and left him so badly injured, he couldn't wrestle. No scholarship.

A dream taken from him.

He told me how the woman (and her husband) that drove the car never apologized or showed any remorse and how angry it made him. I know such feelings.

Richard told me how it made him very angry for many years. That's something I think many can relate to.

However, he decided to do something about it. He found BJJ and is now actively competing at the highest level, doing and sharing what he loves the most: the grappling arts. He told me two things that really stood out to me:

Firstly he said that he's now happy that it happened to him, because it helped him find BJJ and he has grown so much as a human from it. In other words, he has taken a terrible thing that happened to him and turned it into something good. The second thing he told me was that he's was glad that the car hit him, because the woman was traveling at around 40-45 miles per hours when she hit him and approximately 10 feet away from him, some much younger kids were playing. He said had the woman not hit him, she would have most likely hit the younger kids at that speed and he said he didn't think they would have made it.

He was glad the car hit him, so it saved the other children's lives. That, is a real warrior and a true martial artist. #rememberLiam #BJJ #BeTheChange

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