MCKINNEY, TEXAS - For one hour, five days a week, Joey Bozik teaches kids to defend themselves against whatever’s holding them down. It’s the lesson that defines his life.
"It’s my therapy," he says, of Jiu Jitsu. "It really is."
Bozik came to the sport by way of Iraq. He was serving with the Army in 2004 when a bomb struck his Humvee. It claimed both his legs, one arm, and what he thought was his life’s direction. He found his new one, years later after bringing his daughter to a martial arts class.
"It started off as just something to do physically, to keep myself active, something to do with my kids," Bowsik said. "But in the end, it became a personal focus as well, getting better both physically and mentally."
He started training at Tier 1 Training Facility in McKinney, then teaching there. He went on to launch the We Defy Foundation to introduce more veterans to jiu jitsu. He began to fight competitively, against opponents with all their limbs. But in three years and seven tournaments, all he had were losses.
Last weekend in Round Rock, a wrist lock in the final minute finally made Bozik the winner like so many know him to be.
"It was really hard not to scream out loud of excitement," he said. "I was happy. I was exhausted, I was overwhelmed with joy!"
All made possible by his hard work and unstoppable drive. The same things he expects from his students.
"I want them to look at me and see anything’s possible," said Bozik.
Kids that are learning from a teacher who won’t be held down.
"It’s an experience in their lives where they can see someone who’s not like them, but they can see how that person perseveres," said Bozik.
There are now 70 veterans across the country training in jiu jitsu thanks to the We Defy Foundation. Forty more are on the wait list. If you'd like to help or learn more, visit the foundation's website.
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