Retired Marine Trains Jujitsu Students


A simple dare was all it took for Wayne Nelson, the head instructor aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s traditional jujitsu class, to start his journey down the road of being a martial artist.

“I used to work for my teacher, I was a sergeant and he was a gunny,” said Nelson, a seventh degree jujitsu black belt. “He dared me to show up for two weeks, so I took his dare and after about 30 days, I was hooked.” 

Nelson served 22 years in the Marine Corps as an ammunition technician and retired as a gunnery sergeant.

Nelson has taught jujitsu for 16 years and continues to share his love and passion for the martial art with his students.

“Jujitsu helps improve my self-defense,” said Nicholas Dowden, a student at Nelson’s traditional jujitsu class.

Dowden also said he believes the class will help prepare him for a future career in law enforcement.

Nelson understands the importance of practicality in martial arts in the everyday world, especially for Marines.

“I can do jujitsu anywhere,” says Nelson. “I can do jujitsu in a phone booth.You can’t do karate in a phone booth.”

Jujitsu includes wrist locks and other close hand-to-hand combat techniques.

The students train with common objects in their daily lives to provide a realistic self-defense learning environment.

Unlike other forms of jujitsu, Nelson teaches a pure style of jujitsu designed to prepare his students for any scenario.

“There are no rules in a fight; people can bite; people can do anything,” said Nelson.

His students include civilians and service members working toward self-improvement.

Nelson’s classes not only teach the physical skills required for self-defense, he also shares the morality and history of jujitsu. He ensures pupils are ready to defend themselves, but not to be the person looking for trouble.

“Being a martial artist doesn’t mean getting into fights to prove your skills, in fact, it’s quite the opposite,” said Nelson.“If you’re a really good martial artist, you don’t get into a lot of fights.”

Nelson recognizes his hard work over the years and sees his achievements through his students.

“My accomplishments come through the quality of martial artist I can put out and how well I can train them,” said Nelson.

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