‘I get to be a better person’

For deputy, Jiu Jitsu is not about the competition

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner
Farrell Dodge, top, demonstrates a close guard position with Jess Simpson at the Durango Martial Arts Academy in Durango June 16.


Farrell Dodge needed a way to escape his bubble.

He entered law enforcement in 1998 and after 15 years, he craved something to get his mind off of the daunting tasks that came with the job.

The now 45-year-old La Plata County Sheriff’s court deputy turned to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

“All of my friends, I worked with them day in and day out. Here, you get this broader spectrum of involvement of people that I normally wouldn’t have if I just stuck with my closed community of law enforcement,” Dodge said. “It’s a physical, emotional, spiritual release in that moment.”

Dodge was introduced to the sport in 2013 by a coworker he eventually trained with. Dodge had a background in wrestling and his friend wanted to become a wrestling coach. They trained together and it led them to Durango Martial Arts and to Dodge picking up the No-Gi style of the sport. He eventually found his way back to Gi and never turned back.

After just one year of training, Dodge decided he was ready to start competing.

“One day, I was watching Youtube and I was watching these bigger Jiu Jitsu schools just compete at this different levels, and I’m like, ‘I can do that, I want to do that,’” he said. “So, I just went and did it.”

In 2014 he won the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation Master’s World Championships in the Master’s Division as an ultra-heavyweight blue belt. And early this year he won his second big title: the 2017 Pan Am Jiu-Jitsui International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation Championships in the Master’s Division as an ultra-heavyweight purple belt. Both tournaments are considered the highest level of competition in the sport.

Dodge said for him, it wasn’t about the win, and instead the principle.

“It’s not about beating on people, it’s about testing your progress, testing your Jiu-Jitsu, testing your skills,” he said. “When you’re grappling, you’re paying attention to what you’re doing at the moment, so you’re not thinking about your house bill, your car bill; it’s an escape. It’s like a little therapy escape.”

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Categories: Wrestling

About Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at sunnie@navajotimes.com or via cell at (505) 686-0769.