Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Instructor Goes to the Mat to Help Others
Carl Rabideau has an impressive resume, and he’s earned it. He’s also a multiple tournament champion Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt.
The Saginaw Valley State University graduate is a licensed social worker and is a part-time substance use therapist for an organization he feels is doing incredible work – Recover Pathways. Rabideau also has training and certifications from the Beck Institute of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with specialized training in substance abuse, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and personality disorders.
But there’s another side to Rabideau, who at the age of 20 became interested in MMA. While watching the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” he began to think he could step into the octagon.
“I thought, ‘I could beat these guys, this looks easy,’” said Rabideau. “I’m not proud of that mentality, but that was what I thought at the time. I had some friends that trained Jiu Jitsu and went to Flowing Chi dojo where my first instructor, Mike Yelsik, ran classes. Suffice it to say, I got beat up by pretty much everyone, including guys twice my age. I love it immediately and took a deep dive into the art.”
Now a coach and owner of Palm Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at 3365 Freeland Road in Saginaw, Rabideau aspires to show the world the benefits of training at his facility.
“Jiu Jitsu is incredible because it allows us, once moderately trained/skilled, to train at a very high intensity while maintaining reasonable safety,” Rabideau said. “It may seem contradictory, but if people played other sports as intensely as we train, the risk of injury would be very high; but due to the nature of Jiu Jitsu, we can do that. This allows a person to train their mind and body in every way imaginable with little fear of injury, but a key component of this is the environment in the gym in which they train.”
Rabideau said Palm is special because of its passion for helping others.
“We encourage each other in ways that nurture growth as a practitioner and person, but we also push and challenge each other in order to foster excellence in the art,” he said. “We have lawyers, doctors, janitors, general laborers, students, teachers – you name it, we have it … all sharing the same mat pushing each other to greatness.”
While those just hearing of Jiu Jitsu and other forms of martial arts might think the primary reason to train is to learn self-defense, Rabideau believes that benefit may not be the most significant.
“It is much more likely those who struggle with weight, depression, anxiety, stress, confidence or fitness will be the greatest beneficiaries,” said Rabideau, who has witnessed many of his students affected profoundly by the positive changes from training Palm.
“I cannot take credit for this; it is the atmosphere at Palm … the students who make this happen,” he said.
Rabideau remains humble and gratified by changes he’s viewed in his clients, having seen them fix relationships, overcome personal obstacles, and excel at school and work. His goal is to give people the confidence to believe in themselves enough to give their goals another shot.
“I’ve made more mistakes and wasted more shots than most,” Rabideau said. “It wasn’t too long ago I was a high school and college dropout that failed at starting a (Jiu Jitsu) business multiple times. When I got the right people around me to believe in me, which in turn made me believe in myself, it changed my life. Still, I had to struggle to acquire the skills and abilities necessary to accomplish what I wanted. Long before my situation changed, I had to change and grow. That all started with people believing in me. I’d love if Palm could do that for someone else. If Palm isn’t the place, at least use this article in this magazine to inspire you to give your goals another shot.”
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