Meet James Ellison:

On the day James was born he was rushed to hospital as he had too many red blood cells and had to have a blood transfusion when he was less then twelve hours old and spent the first two weeks of his life in intensive care. Not a great start. Since then he has been diagnosed with low muscle tone. All of James’s milestones were a year or two later than normal and his feet were pointed inwards which meant he had difficulty walking.

As he grew up, in his first few years at school, James always avoided sports. He found running difficult, as his feet would become blistered and sore. He couldn’t jump without it hurting, and he felt embarrassed that he couldn’t do what the other kids could do, so he stopped playing any kind of sports unless it was forced upon him at school.

Then he discovered Jiu-Jitsu at the age of seven. Here was a martial art that didn’t rely on his ability to jump or run or be explosive. Here was a martial art that he could do. Here was a martial art where he could feel powerful in. And in Helio Gracie, the spirit of a man he could identify with. James understood and fell in love with the concept that in Jiu-Jitsu the smaller, weaker person can beat the larger, stronger opponent.To see a child develop from thinking he was and would always be weak and sickly and second best, to in one short year, finding out that he can be an athlete and a martial artist, is truly incredible.

He now understands he has potential, and he just needs to fill it.

What sets him apart is, unlike most eight year olds, he is totally dedicated to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. James is never off the mats! He attends every lesson he can and he practices at home on his own mats every day for at least two hours with anyone who is willing to join him; otherwise he’ll drill alone. He studies Gracie videos every day, and is generally obsessed with all things Jiu-Jitsu and works really hard at it. His dedication is something that needs to be seen to be believed; especially in one so young. When it comes to Jiu-Jitsu he has the mindset of a hard working adult. He’s about as good as a student can be,

He also has no fear of being bullied because he understands what bullying is, how to spot it, and most importantly the tools and the confidence to deal with it. ‘Let them try.’ He says. When James was seven he wanted to be a builder. Now he wants to be a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Instructor when he grows up. I think he might just do it. Jiu-Jitsu does change lives, even little ones.

Article written by Sharif Samad

Watch James in action