Minot Airmen strengthen bonds with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Written by: Senior Airman Caleb S. Kimmell, 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Airman 1st Class Rachel Chi, 5th Communications Squadron communications security accountant, and Airman 1st Class Keoliani Tran, 5th Bomb Wing Chapel Corps religious affairs Airman, pose for a photo with medals they’ve won in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, June 15, 2023. Through Task Force True North’s Warrior program, 115 Team Minot Airmen come together three times weekly to train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. U.S. Air Force photo I Senior Airman Caleb S. Kimmell

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. —
Through Task Force True North’s Warrior program, 115 Team Minot Airmen come together three times weekly to train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Instead of other martial arts that feature striking, Jiu Jitsu takes place on the ground and utilizes chokes, grabs, grapples, and locks. They say it has changed their lives, and holds enormous benefits not only for the body, but also for the mind.


The Warrior program is open to any active duty Airman or spouse who wishes to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. They often compete in tournaments in North Dakota and Minnesota, and several of their members have won regional awards for their skill.
Airman 1st Class Rachel Chi, 5th Communications Squadron communications security accountant, has been a member of the Warrior program since August of 2022, and has practiced in martial arts such as Taekwondo since she was nine years old. As a communications Airman, she must keep her body in good physical condition. She says practicing and competing in Jiu Jitsu helps her do just that.


“Jiu Jitsu has been amazing for me,” said Chi. “On top of regularly going to the gym, the Warrior club has also boosted my confidence. It feels really great because I use muscles that I didn’t even know existed.”


Chi says Jiu Jitsu and the Warriors club has taught her many other things, such as strength through camaraderie.
“Jiu Jitsu has saved me,” said Chi. “I found a great community who cares about me. It feels amazing to fit in. I kind of see it as a safety net where we all check in on each other, on or off the mat.”


Airman 1st Class Keoliani Tran, 5th Bomb Wing Chapel Corps religious affairs Airman, is also a member of the Warrior club. She has been training in Jiu Jitsu with the Warrior club since September of 2022. Tran says it has taught her countless life lessons, like how to be responsible and accountability.


“It’s a great outlet for me,” said Tran. “I can be myself and feel no pressure or judgment from anyone else. It’s given me discipline, and has shown me that it’s okay to care for myself and my needs.”
Chief Master Sgt. Jason Kornelis, 891st Missile Security Forces Squadron senior enlisted leader, says Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has countless benefits to the body and, potentially, even more to the psyche.


“When the team comes together to practice, it turns Jiu Jitsu into a safe environment to hone the ‘fight or flight’ response,” said Kornelis. “The Warriors program attempts to take the stress from life and work and transform it into something we can use on the mat.”


Kornelis says that the program wasn’t always this successful. He says he had to work very hard with several different agencies for months to get it where it is today, with 115 members and eight instructors.


Strong Airmen prepare for any challenge that may arise, while being able to endure and overcome situations of adversity. For Team Minot’s Task Force True North Warriors, preparation includes rigorous hand-to-hand sparring and grueling training. With the help of Task Force True North, 115 Team Minot Airmen have been enabled to come together to train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. These Airmen have found their passion, and say they have found their home.

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