Jiu Jitsu Times has done several articles featuring people who have courageously overcome physical disabilities to practice and in some cases truly excel at jiu jitsu. Jiu jitsu however is also very much a mental art, and can be pose unique challenges to people with psychological/mental disabilities or impairments.
Robert Consulmagno is one of the top current competitors in the purple belt division training at Balance Studios under 5th Degree Black Belt Phil Migliarese. He has accumulated 18 gold medals, 8 silvers and 3 bronzes. He also suffers from bipolar disorder as well as PTSD. He has found Jiu Jitsu to be an outlet for his condition and has benefited greatly from the experience thus far. He is also on a mission to spread awareness about the reality of both PTSD and Bipolar Disorder.
“I am gonna be filming a documentary on my life and mission. Also I am going to be in a TV show for NJ DISCOVER and their website. They are huge. I am teaming with NJ’S Bad Boy of Comedy Mike Marino. He used to work for Jay Leno. Me and mike are gonna do comedy skits using BJJ. I will be a hench man choking him out…” A key element of Robert’s mission is to spread awareness using his athletic endeavors.
Robert has experienced different sorts of trauma since he was a child. He was abused by family members, which probably exacerbated existing issues. “I really want the world to know how BJJ and boxing saved me. I do both at high level.” Robert’s issues have caused upheaval in his life, but he is gaining somewhat of a handle on them as a result of his jiu jitsu training.
Robert’s condition can at times be advantageous and at times a hindrance “I have to be honest fear affects my jiu jitsu! To this day I get nervous with higher belts I’m afraid to open up at times. Fear of getting hurt. If I trust them I do extremely well. But at times I back off. It’s the trauma. Fear of repercussion… Bipolar at times to me is a blessing. When I am manic which is a lot I have so much energy and drive and I do things the average person can’t. For example, I plan on setting the world record for ab wheel. From standing. Very difficult.”
The depression side of Robert’s bipolar disorder can be more debilitating “when I am depressed I stay away from people. I drill alone to Zen music I bought high end mats for just this purpose. Some days I don’t wanna go but after I get done rolling with someone I trust I am better. I get nervous. Pee a lot. Like a tourney. I am attacking my fear of confrontation, Like Batman did. He made the bats a part of him. Once he was fearful of them. It’s so bad sometimes I don’t wanna visit other schools. Fear of someone I don’t know. Yes. I am adjusting. Was very hard for me to trust. I have triggers. Flashbacks of my abuse and time in the Marines.”
The ways that jiu jitsu helps Robert are numerous “Jiu Jitsu training helps me get rid of the energy by taking a beating. When I am manic I can go for days and no sleep, but if I over train it slows me down. If I miss class I can make erratic decisions. The mania is the toughest for me. When you’re manic you feel invincible. Jiu Jitsu slows me down and tames me, also Jiu Jitsu is helping me trust more and cope; I don’t trust very easy.”
Robert refers to his condition as a sort of stigma “I will not stop till I end the stigma. The stigma is that people think that I am fit I am ok. My father was sick took his own life. I am going to end that misconception. We only look at physical. The brain runs entire body. Brandon Marshall of the Jets is on same mission. Carrie Fisher of Stars Wars talks to me, she is bipolar.”
Robert has been doing work with various media projects including his TV show with NJ Discover. In November he will be doing an ESPN piece for Veterans Day. He has a website www.supercrazycozmo.com where readers can follow his endeavors.
In closing, Robert wants to issue shout outs to his sponsors, Scramble and Rob DeFazio as well as his instructors Phil Migliarese, Ricardo Migliarese, Frank Ambrifi and Dominic Cosenza.
People like Robert Consulmagno are special to the Jiu Jitsu community as they show us the heights that jiu jitsu can elevate us to, even if we may have difficulties. His story like many of the others we have published highlight the power that focusing on this sport can have on our lives.