Well, I can hardly wait for you to meet this guy I am about to introduce to you, The Second Chance Man… Igi Vasiljevic. (Get a tissue because this is the kind of story that makes an excellent movie.)
Igi teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. (What he doesn't tell you is that he does it like a boss!)
I love the atmosphere, the people, the self-defense techniques, the workout aspect of the journey.
But I especially love how certain principles that we learn here can be applied anywhere in life that we find ourselves. (You can bet this part was important on his journey.)
For example, when we do testing for our belts, as well as when we do our wrestling with higher belts, we are encouraged not to give up, we are always encouraged to find space and moments where you can turn around the situation. (This guy totally knows about this.)
The easiest situation is just to sit or lie on our backs and give up. But the hardest thing to do is to move on forward and that is one of the elements that we are taught while we train.
For a long time I did not have a favourite move per se. Since I achieved my purple belt status, I am trying to get a head start for the black belt, even though I have a brown belt to go through.
And one of the things that you need to have for a black belt is to be proficient and efficient at one particular submission. And for me, I chose to start that submission right away and that is Kimura and how to apply it from any position I find myself in.
And I'm actually at the moment trying to figure out my own curriculum. Making up new moves as I go along. (I hear he is awesome with the hula hoop!)
This is what Brian Bird had to say:
Igi is incredibly reliable, he has been training with me since 2011. He is super positive and fights for what he believes in. Igi is from Serbia–he left behind a war-torn country. He saw some very traumatic situations, it
was a very scary time in his life. He came to Canada to have a safe and different kind of life, however that was not exactly how things were going to unfold. Igi is a social guy and he went to a community event in Calgary. There was a guy there harassing a young girl. It was the kind of harassing you say something about, so Igi stood up for her by asking this fellow to leave her alone (this was done with an exchange of verbal unpleasantness only, nothing physical at all) and it seemed to be finished.
However, this guy had a different plan when he showed up again at the event at the end of the night, with a knife. This guy went after Igi, and stabbed him. This was a totally unprovoked attack. Igi's lung collapsed, and in the middle of major surgery his heart stopped. He was pronounced dead. As miracles go, he did wake up, but he was pretty messed up as anyone who would go through such a traumatic experience would be. The thing that kept him strong was his will and he was motivated by his beliefs in the jiu-jitsu mindset. Then one year later, Igi traveled to Serbia with the FILA World Champion Team as one of the Assistant Coaches for Canada. He also served as our tour guide.
His recovery was totally miraculous. We had a chance to go with the team to his aunt's house for dinner, and oh, can she ever cook! It was amazing to have a tour of where he grew up. It was one of the most memorable trips. Igi is a good friend of mine and a true source of inspiration. –Coach Brian Bird