A Deeper Mission

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Realizing you have control to change your life is one of the most empowering feelings. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches important principals that help Airmen both physically and mentally prepare for day-to-day tasks.

If you constantly find yourself struggling to take charge of your life, then perhaps you need BJJ. Jiu Jitsu teaches calmness when you facing challenges and to stay committed to goals through adversity.

As a member of Team Osan, Master Sergeant Christopher Costa, 607th Air Support Operations Group section chief, has taught diverse groups of Airmen the principles of BJJ, a skill and passion he has developed throughout his career.

“When I first started, my goal was to fight professionally. After achieving that, I wanted to earn a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,” said Costa. “After attaining my Black Belt, my new goal has been to teach others what I’ve learned and to unlock their potential.”

In BJJ, competitors find themselves in difficult positions under immense pressure. The training creates a composure and develops a mental toughness to withstand intense pressure.

“When you remain calm, one of two things will happen,” said Costa. “One, we are able to remain calm enough to sort through a decision-making process and clarity. Second, we are calm enough to recognize an opening when it is presented. These are lessons that can be taken off the mats and applied to everyday circumstances.”

Each year, Costa leads hundreds of Airmen and other service members through the BJJ mats.

An annual turnover at Osan Air Base has attracted a wide range of participants there have been from all walks of life. I’ve trained high school students that I taught when they were elementary students at Yokota. U.S. Army combatives champions have come from our sessions. Republic of Korea Air Force service members (ROKAF) and KATUSA have trained and benefited from our training as well.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Korean Nationals would be sign-up on base to join train sessions with us. I’ve trained all branches and with all ranks. From Airmen to Marines, junior Airmen to high-ranking distinguished leaders on the mats at the same time.

“One of my favorite things is the moment it clicks and a student grasps the techniques and comprehend the mechanics of their own body,” said Costa. “The look on their faces when this happens is unlike anything else.”

Jiu-Jitsu isn’t easy.

“I had a student that was claustrophobic. After training under the pressure of a 200+ pound opponent, they overcame their phobia of tight spaces. Another student was almost mugged while TDY to New Jersey. They remembered how to defend themselves and escaped the situation. I’ve seen my techniques work first hand on the SED when town patrol to apprehend an Airman without harming them. This is why I do what I do. Maybe you come to me to get in better shape. Maybe you want to be more confident. Maybe you want to be the next Champion. The potential is yours, I’m here to help you unlock and reach it.”