TALLAHASSEE, Fl. (WTXL) - This weekend, fifteen Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu athletes from South Georgia and North Florida will head to Atlanta to compete in a competition. Among them will be 28 year old Ian Edge, who by just competing in the sport helps him feel normal.
"I found confidence in myself again," he said. "It just improved my life in a lot of ways."
For Ian, the path to normalcy wasn't easy, as in 2011 while serving in Afghanistan, he stopped on an IED. Ian went through two amputations, metacarpal and knee disarticulation.
"I thought about just my family, my wife and how one of my biggest fears was just letting my family down," he said of the moments right after he realized what had happened. "I knew as long as I kept breathing, I could make it through."
Ian made it, physically. But it was mentally, where he struggled to survive. Enter Zicro Academy in Tallahassee, where Ian signed up for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a sport he'd learned while rehabbing at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
"I came in originally and I had the pants on, and I was like hey, I want to try some classes, and you know, no big deal," said Ian of his first day at Zicro. "Then I was like, by the way, I only have one leg."
Zicro Academy owner and professor Felipe Nato remembers that day too.
"I saw the guy walking in and limping with one of the legs," he said. "At first I didn't know what was about to come."
"I wanted Jiu-Jitsu so I came here," Ian said of his decision to train at Zicro Academy. "As soon as I heard Felipe talk, you know, that heavy Brazilian accent, I was like okay, I think I'm in the right place."
It was the right place, at the right time.
"Who knows where I would be without it," he said. "I would still be going through the ringer with medications at the VA. Try this, give it a while. I come here, and I see what I can still do. That confidence carries me through the day. It's been literally life saving."
"When I saw him come in, I could see that his prosthetic was pretty high grade, so I knew he had come through the VA system," said James Whyte, who also served in the military. "I asked him what was the disability percentage they gave you when you got out of the military. He said, I'm not disabled."
Not disabled, normal like everyone else.