“Why did you get into jiu-jitsu?” That is a statement we have all been asked at one point or another throughout our journey. Some of us started to lose weight, some of us do it for our mental health, and others, like Liam Porter of Melbourne, Australia, use it to become a more complete person. Porter, who recently was promoted to blue belt under Tiago Stefanutti, has used jiu-jitsu to lose close to 100lbs while combating his own personal demons. He recently took some time to talk to us about what his journey has been like so far and how jiu-jitsu has helped him combat his demons.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Tell us a little about yourself and your weight loss and self-improvement story through jiu-jitsu.
Liam Porter: I was in foster care, homeless, and a lost soul since 13. I never had the guidance or family most had. I was binge-eating, drinking and self-medicating myself into a hole. I attempted suicide at 18, but was given a second chance at life. It was now my time. Went from 130kg (287lbs) to 78kg (172lbs) in a year and a half. But my demons called me back, and I spent the next four months away from the mats staying at home binging and medicating. Ballooned to 114kg (251lbs), almost gave up again. But something clicked, I put on my rash guard (which was about three sizes too small at this point) and a pair of board shorts and took my *** to the gym. I was unrecognizable to my teammates, ashamed, embarrassed, and uncomfortable. I gassed every round. But at the end of class, sweaty and broken…I felt amazing. I knew from that point, BJJ was my calling. Currently 88kg (194lbs) and better than I’ve ever been. I practice Keto, intermittent fasting, weighing/prepping/tracking my food, and proud to say I’ve never missed weight.
JJT: How long have you been training, what is your rank, and where do you train?
Porter: I have been training over 4 years at Absolute MMA in Melbourne, Australia and was promoted to blue belt on December 22, 2018, under Professor Thiago Stefanutti.
JJT: What, or who, motivated you to start jiu-jitsu?
Porter: I was tired of being bullied, weak and scared. After being jumped walking home one night, the next day I searched for the nearest MMA gym and took a trial class a week later. Haven’t looked back since.
JJT: What are some of the obstacles you had to overcome to get to this point, and what did you do to overcome them?
Porter: I used to be petrified of competition, my first comp was 2015, then three years went by without a competition. In 2018, I made it my mission to compete as much as possible, find strength and growth through uncomfortability [sic] on the mats. I started in the open weight division, and eight comps later I’m at the Pan-Pacs in the medium-heavy division. For 2019, my competition calendar is overflowing. I was never a runner — running is hard, and I thought BJJ was enough cardio. I was wrong. I started small, coughing, wheezing, but pushing myself further each time. Now I do 3km runs three times a week, and am training for my first 3km, 5km, and 10km races this year.
JJT: Who are your biggest inspirations to keep training, and how did you stay motivated to lose all the weight you lost?
Porter: My Professor Thiago Stefanutti, David Goggins and Daniel Cormier. My motivation came through extreme ownership, self-reflection, meditation, a supportive team, and the feeling you get from rolling an hour straight: saturated, looking up at the ceiling, knowing you just pushed yourself. Knowing you’ll be a better grappler tomorrow than you were yesterday. Even when you didn’t want to leave the house that day. You still did and will continue to do so the next day and the next and next.
JJT: What would you tell someone who wants to make a change in their life, but is having trouble getting started, or staying motivated?
Porter: Consistency is key, growth takes time. Life never gets easier, you just learn to adapt and develop the tools needed to handle the sh*t storms. You will fall down, but it’s your choice if you stay there. Start with small goals and incrementally climb that hill. Take progress photos, take measurements, track your food, get to know your body and put yourself in uncomfortable situations. Be prepared to spend a fortune on new gis and gear every couple months as the weight drops. But most of all… GO TRAIN!
Jiu-jitsu teaches us how to not only become physically strong, but mentally stronger as well. Liam plans to compete in ADCC Oceanic, EBI, and Worlds this year while simultaneously training to enter the cage in hopes that he can fight in front of his grandfather, Len Rands, who was an undefeated featherweight boxer in the Irish navy in 1956. Whatever your “why,” it is important to stay motivated and to always keep rolling.