SAN DIEGO — After 13 years in the US Navy, Max Bloom was searching for a new hobby. Then he found ju-jitsu.
“I’m 37 and I get to start something again. It boosts my energy and makes me want to come back,” said Bloom.
The Oceanside resident keeps coming back to Gracie Barra Martial Arts School, training there four days a week.
“I’ve been out of the military for five years now and you lose something when you get out of the military. Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint, to find out what that is,” said Bloom. “Signing up for jiu-jitsu helped find something I didn’t know I was looking for.”
The white belt added, martial arts has helped other veterans like him.
“Everybody’s going through something, a lot of people are afraid to talk about it. One person can open that door to the conversation,” said Bloom.
The man who started the conversation with Bloom was the leader of Gracie Barra, Douglass Holcomb. A retired US Marine, Holcomb is helping his fellow veterans find a new purpose through sports.
“I get it all the time, Julian, max, everyone. Retirees says ‘wow I miss that. I miss that connection.’ The first language anyone can speak is body language, and that’s what we do here,” said Holocomb.
Bloom wants to see more veterans join martial arts because he knows some of the negative alternatives some people choose once they leave the service.
“Substance abuse, or put on a few pounds — whatever it is — something like ju-juists is a reason to not eat the unhealthy meals or not have that tenth beer to prepare yourself for the next day,” said Bloom.
He’s encouraging all veterans to use athletics to improve mental and physical health for the rest of their lives.
“Create that fight so you have something that’s waiting for you, something that you’re expecting that’s coming up. Don’t make the military the last great thing you ever do, make it a part of the next great thing you do,” said Bloom.