Marine Vet Says Jiu Jitsu Changed His Life
For one local Marine, life was a series of setbacks, disappointments and obstacles. It was a constant struggle to overcome physical and emotional damage until the martial arts gave him an outlet to cope with his mental illness and helped him rebuild his life. Robert Consulmagno is 42 years old--fit and intense--looking at him now it's hard to tell how much trauma he's seen since he was young. Robert's childhood wasn't pretty. His father committed suicide when he was just 10 and his stepfather beat him and his mother relentlessly. "I have one vivid memory of him beating my mom because she couldn't open up the door--the front gate to park the car because the Rangers lost," said Robert. "He would throw TV's down the stairs, punch holes in the wall. My brother was beat. That went on for about 13 years." Robert joined the Marines in 1991 to escape the abuse and find a purpose, but sadly, things got worse. He was always getting into fights and couldn't get along with others. He was honorably discharged in 1996. Next, he tried college; however, he was always fighting with professors and unable to maintain any healthy relationships, so he went looking for answers at a VA Hospital and learned he had PTSD. "Thoughts would go through my head. My father was schizophrenic that is genetic," he said. Robert also learned he was bipolar. "Bipolar really rocked me because that's whoop, whoop," said Robert. "The medications made me a zombie, made me a different person." But 3 years ago, Robert found Brazilian-jiu-jitsu and it has done what medication can't. "It's an endorphins thing. Now, I have balance. I feel grounded. It's great man. I'm not gonna stop," he explained. Robert trains at Princeton Jiu-Jitsu. He trains 5 or 6 times a week and the work has paid off. He's a a Purple Belt already and is currently ranked 3rd in the world. Jiu-jitsu has truly changed his life. "It's got a lot of therapeutic qualities to it," said co-owner of Princeton Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Emily Kwok. "When they step through the doors of the school it's almost like they go into auto-pilot and every fear and worry and crazy thing stops at the door." Robert says jiu-jitsu also gives him a sense of camaraderie just like when he was in the Marine Corps. "Its' kind of a family thing. You have to trust these people because you're placing yourself in a situation you could get hurt. It's the same thing in the Marine Corps-- if you don't trust the person behind you something can happen,"he said. Robert isn't just excelling at jiu-jitsu. He also wants to inspire other veterans. FOX 29 caught up with him recently where Robert was talking with vets in the rehab center at the VA Hospital in Philly. The disabled vets look up to him and just seeing his energy, passion, and what he has accomplished puts a smile on their faces. "One day when I'm in my rocking chair I wanna go I helped change the world a bit,"said Robert.