RCAF sergeant battles to Bronze at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Worlds

News Article / October 4, 2016

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By Ruthanne Urquhart

Sergeant Bernie Antle, a volunteer fitness instructor and trainer at the Barrie, Ontario, YMCA, is highly skilled in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – so much so that he represented the Royal Canadian Air Force over the weekend of August 25–27, 2016, at the World Master Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF Championship held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Hailing from Grand Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador, Sergeant Antle has served in the Royal Canadian Air Force for 15 years as an aviation systems technician, and is currently working at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering (CFSATE) at Canadian Forces Base Borden, Ontario. In the past, he has has been posted to 1 Wing Kingston’s 400 and 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadrons. He was deployed to Afghanistan for nine months in 2010–2011, attached posted to 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, and served as section commander in the 2015 National Sentry Program.

At the end of the day in Las Vegas, Sergeant Antle did not come away with the Gold. He lost in the semi-finals, but his training and discipline earned him a Bronze finish.

“I started training in Jiu-Jitsu way back in 1990 in Grand Falls,” he says. “The support from the Forces has been incredible. When I was posted to 400 Squadron, the unit bought mats, and every lunch hour we would train. Usually we would have six to eight people training.”

The result from that unit training was a Bronze at the Ontario Provincial Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships, won by a 400 Squadron member who learned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the squadron.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trains a smaller person to defend him- or herself against a larger person, using timing and leverage. Sergeant Antle believes that everyone in the military should train in the discipline, at least to a blue-belt level, the first belt level for adults. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training develops situational and body awareness, and forces a fighter to think several moves ahead of his or her opponent – much like chess, he says. It’s a great functional workout, and offers the development of skills that all Canadian Armed Forces members need.

“PSP [Personnel Support Programs] has supported both my trips to the World Master Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF Championship,” Sergeant Antle says, “and without that help, it wouldn’t have happened. My lunch times are usually spent at the field house doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the combat corner. We have a core group of about six people who train regularly.”

Master Corporal Blair Hodder, also from CFSATE, and Corey Ing, a PSP staffer, compete regularly and always do well, usually ending up in the top three. “We push each other and make each other better every day,” says Sergeant Antle. “Anyone from CFB Borden who would like to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu during lunch is more than welcome to join us.”

This training has helped him in his military career as well, he says; the most valuable thing it has given him is the ability to overcome obstacles. “During training four months ago, I severed a hip abductor muscle,” he says. “At the time, I thought my competition career was over, but I found ways to train around my injury and I felt 100 per cent going into the worlds this year.

“I am lucky to have a very supportive wife,” he continues. “She is also the supervisor of fitness at the Barrie YMCA. A lot of my conditioning is done there. Most members at the Y know I am Canadian Air Force member, and they love being led by a military member. The Y has given me opportunities to present at provincial fitness training events, which have all been great experiences. I truly feel blessed to be able to lead so many great people.”

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