Episode 154: Carlos Alvarez – Blind Warrior of BJJ

Episode 154: Carlos Alvarez – Blind Warrior of BJJ

Overview

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At the age of 16, doctors diagnosed Carlos Alvarez as completely blind in his right eye; the sight in his left eye had deteriorated to 73% as a result of congenital glaucoma. When Carlos was 19 years old, he went through eye surgery — but the operation was not successful. He lost all remaining sight, leaving him with permanent sight loss. A person of deep faith, he constantly reframed this experience of loss into one of abundance, telling himself: “sometimes God removes something you never thought you'd lose, to provide you with something you never thought you'd have.” Before losing his sight, Carlos had responded to school bullying by learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (known as BJJ by those who practice the sport), a martial art with similarities to Judo. Despite the onset of his disability, and at the encouragement of his cousin, he continued to learn BJJ…and now competes (frequently winning!) as a black belt. He also became passionate about teaching others living with sight loss, helping them improve their quality of life and confidence in their abilities. He now provides BJJ lessons to the blind community through Gama Filho Martial Arts in Miami, Florida, and reminds us that he knows first-hand what it's like to live with a feeling of defenselessness after losing one’s sight; with a fear of falling, getting lost, or the vulnerability of potentially being robbed, struggling to find employment, or being abandoned. In his own way, Carlos has given back to his community through his teaching of the Blind Warriors, and inspires others to take their destinies into their own hands, no matter what level of ability they start from.

Takeaway

Transcript

Carlos Alvarez with his guide dog Bowie, a light-colored lab. Carlos is on the mat wearing his uniform and black belt, giving a thumbs up and smiling.

Transcript coming soon!

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