21 Aug 2010

Jiu-Jitsu Saved My Life: Josh Palmer

I've been chatting to Josh on Facebook and the forums for a wee while now. Nothing unusual there as I riff with a lot of BJJ folk most of whom I have never actually met but you can kind of tell when you get along when there are good vibes during conversations. Anyway, whilst online recently, I coincidentally saw a photo of Josh posted by a mutual FB friend. Here it is:

You would not believe it was the same fella would you? I simply HAD to find out Josh's story and luckily, Josh kindly agreed to answer my pestering questions. I hope you find it inspiring, I know I did...

- Dude that photo transformation is amazing - how much weight did you lose?:

The 'before' picture was actually taken in summer of 2005. Right when I left university after my first degree. I was 23 stone and I stayed at that weight up untill right before I started BJJ in June 2007.
So far (August 2010) I've lost 100 lbs (45.5Kg or 7.1st if you prefer). The end goal is middleweight at 84Kg so about another 40 lbs to go.

- Was it all down to training or was it a multitude of programs?:

Virtually all BJJ coupled with cardio sessions and diet.
It was a rocky path though, I got stuck around 18 stone several times and really struggled mentally. I've always made the effort to get a lot of mat time since day one and once my diet got sorted that's when the real benefits happpened.

I started BJJ 3 years ago (no previous experience in any martial art), got hooked (actually I was hooked before I ever even stepped on a mat but that's another story) and I now train every day (generally it's an hour of cardio in the morning and 1-2 hours of BJJ or MMA at night). Currently I'm a 3 stripe blue belt under Wilson Junior at Carlson Gracie.

- Sorry, say again? you were hooked before you started? Tell me more?

What happened is in late 2006 I started watching a lot of MMA and loved the concept that if you were smart and knew BJJ you didn't have to be as physicaly strong - I mean seriously, I was never in shape and got bullied a lot during my school years, then suddenly you get the idea that there's a way of fighting that can negate physical inferiority...that was the spark right there and then.

But being as fat as I was I didn't want to be a burden to anyone else in the class so I spent the next 6 months losing 1.5 stone and the whole time I was watching and reading about BJJ as much as I could, really treating it like an academic subject...all before I ever stepped on the mat.

That first ever session was very nerve-racking for me as I had so much anticipation since this was the thing I'd hinged so much on and I just prayed it lived up to what I'd hoped. I survived the first class intact and the rest is history...

- What were you like as a person before taking up BJJ?:

Sedentary would probably be the best description! As happy as anyone can be at 23 stone, which is to say: not very, especially when you've been severely overweight your whole life.
After I left University and didn't have my friends around me my lifestyle consisted of sitting behind a desk at work during the day followed by sitting infront of the TV/computer all night, heart attack waiting to happen as far as I'm concerned. Not much more to it than that I'm afraid.

- What are you like now? :

Considerably better off physically, mentally and emotionally.
I'm a firm believer that BJJ can have nothing but a positive impact on a person.
I'm almost never at home now from training, to seminars/comps, to doing the cage-side commentary for the UWC, running the judging panels at MMA shows like ECFF, co-running 'GoToTheGround' sub grappling and reffing grappling events like Levos recent in-house comp (I even have one of those shiny IBJJF refs certificates from the recent rules clinic in London). I'm really very lucky to be able to fill all my spare time doing everything I love.

I truly believe there's no other sport that you can immerse yourself in so quickly, make such good friends and reap such good rewards. There is a very real reason why, if and when my coaches see fit to give me that purple, I'll be getting a tattoo over my heart that says 'Jiu-Jitsu Saved My Life' (...and yes, I'm aware it sounds slightly cheesy!)

- Whoah! Thanks for sharing dude, an inspiring story.

I wish to include a thank you to:
Lee Doski, Windy Miller & Wilson Junior at Carlson Gracie, Robbie Olivier & Mark Day at Tsunami/Pro-Am and Nathan Leverton at Leicester Shootfighters. These are the guys I owe everything to.


About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


fenix said...


It CAN be done. I wish every "sedentiary" person would take note and take action.

Well done, Josh. Respect.

Aaron said...

Great story/read

well done Josh mate, keep it going, massive respect.

Two Seperate Gorillas said...

That takes courage and determination. 'Nuff respect as the cool kids say. Or did when I was young.

Meerkatsu said...

A jaw droppingly staggering 2,000 people have tuned in to read this story (in just two days of stats). Looks like real life stories are the way to go...I have more to share from my jiu-jitsu brothers and sisters, watch this space.

Anonymous said...

This is amazing. Very inspiring. I started because I knew I needed some exercise and am still shocked at how active I am now vs how sedentary I was just a few months ago. TV was my hobby and I was serious about it.

Chris Bishop said...

Awesome stuff Josh. Having been squished by you 1) I can't believe you're not a purple belt and 2) how well you move for a bigger guy.

You're a complete BJJ nerd, but that's why we love you when you visit us.

Andrew Deacon said...

Excellent. I thought I'd done pretty well to shed a stone and more since starting No-Gi in February, but this is outstanding. Well done that man.


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