By Felix Rodriguez, Staff Writer
AUSTIN, TX, January 2, 2013 – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was modified from its Japanese roots to compensate for lack of explosiveness and power by emphasizing leverage and momentum. It was designed for the weaker person to neutralize the advantages of the stronger and bigger assailant with the idea that it was a martial art for everybody. This series of profiles highlights the point first emphasized by the successes of Jean Jacques Machado at the highest levels of competition: The only limitations in Jiu-Jitsu are the ones people set on themselves. Ivan Delgado, Wes Covington and Garrett Scott are three incredibly talented, courageous and remarkable guys who have not let their varying physical disabilities stop them from learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and further prove Machado’s point. Jiu-Jitsu is for everybody.
The Story of Garrett Scott
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was an art adapted from techniques taught by a native-Japanese speaking man to Brazilians in Portuguese. Sort of. When the Gracie family proved the art’s effectiveness through the first UFC tournament this helped create a demand for quality instructors in the U.S. that slowly began making their way here from Brazil, some of whom spoke little to no English before arriving. Before these instructors became comfortable with English it is safe to say that students and teachers had to work together in overcoming the occasional language barrier to change a message from Portuguese to English in order to properly articulate an intended message. Garrett Scott is a 29 year-old martial artist born in Katy, TX who is working towards a black belt in BJJ while trying to overcome the language barrier at his academy. Scott is a student of Ronny Lis in Austin, TX. Lis is a third degree black belt from Brazil who teaches classes in a language that his student does not understand. Not Portuguese, English. The only language Garrett Scott is fluent in is American Sign Language (ASL) because he is 100% deaf.
Scott was born with the ability to hear like most other children, but lost this sense after barely surviving a bout of meningitis as a 20-month-old child. When discussing what growing up without hearing was like Scott makes clear that he can’t miss what he does not remember and emphasizes that he has “been doing fine” despite being deaf “for the last 28 years.” Scott grew up as a normal child, who cannot hear, fully immersed in a silent world. He learned to communicate in ASL and studied at the Texas School of the Deaf until 2003 after which he attended the Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf until graduating in 2006. Scott also holds a Plate Welding certificate from Austin Community College. Currently he works as a wrestling coach teaching kids at one of his Alma Maters, the Texas school of the Deaf.
Scott does not speak English and he does not know how to read lips because he grew up in a signing home and all of his education was done through ASL. This makes his ability to communicate with the hearing world a much more difficult and sometimes frustrating endeavor. Scott explained that it is a common assumption that all deaf people can read lips or that they will be able to understand something if it is told to them in a slow and loud manner. This is not the case for Scott who told TXMMA, “sometimes I use a pencil and paper, which helps” because he can read and write English but cannot understand it when being spoken.
Scott began studying combat sports 12 years ago. He started wrestling as teenager after experiencing bullying when he was a student at the Texas school of the Deaf and took up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu five years ago looking to become healthier and more active as an adult. Scott has also been training in Muay Thai and MMA for the past three years and will make his amateur MMA debut in 2013. The effort Scott has put forth in adapting to his circumstances is not lost on his teachers and teammates whom describe him as “a good friend and loyal student with a sense of honor & of right and wrong that has the willingness to never quit, who they can “hang out with for long periods and forget that he is deaf” because he has “the ability to swim in the world of the speaking, a place few deaf people venture.”
According to Paul Nixon,who is one of Garrett Scott’s coaches at Rubicon Fightsport, “Garrett is tough as nails, has strong ideals, and is a through and through patriotic American” that “volunteers his time helping underprivileged youth of the Enlightened Warriors program to be winners in life and on the mat.” When discussing the challenges of teaching someone who he can’t speak to Nixon told TXMMA, “The challenges of teaching Garrett are few but significant. Advanced theories and concepts are hard to relay due to the complexities of the spoken language and emphasis placed with sounds of voice when explaining ideas. I try to spend as much time as possible off the mat typing these complexities out after a session, so that he may learn them. This is my greatest challenge. The other challenge is, when time is running low in a session I sometimes have no option but to rapidly give the information needed to finish strong, when this happens Garrett suffers because I do not have enough minutes to sign to him the specifics, just enough to show him the movements.” Scott’s BJJ instructor, Ronny Lis, also believes that the biggest challenge lies in getting the finer details of a technique across to Garrett because neither person speaks the other’s language. Despite of this obstacle Garrett has excelled in the gentle art with the help of instructors like Nixon, Lis and Britton Wells and teammates like Daniel Jolly.
Garrett who is also known as “The Deaf Grappler” is a one-stripe purple belt under Ronny Lis and an active competitor for Team Ronny Lis Jiu-Jitsu. Scott is currently sponsored by I Love BJJ; he has won 9 gold medals and multiple silver and bronze medals in BJJ tournaments throughout the state of Texas while learning his craft relying mainly on his senses of touch and sight alone. Garrett enjoys the personal fulfillment that comes through embracing the jiu-jitsu lifestyle but is not content with his accomplishments on the mats and his reasons for competing are no longer entirely self-serving. His goal now is to show the world that Matt Hamill was not the Deaf Community’s one-hit wonder and that any person who is deaf or hard of hearing can excel in athletic competition if they set their mind to it. Scott would like nothing more than to prove to deaf children that jiu-jitsu is for everybody and encourage them to step out of their comfort zone and give any martial art a try.
Garrett aka “The Deaf Grappler” Scott is a man of faith, “a follower of Jesus Christ” who lives by a strong moral code and has the heart of a Warrior. He lives and feels just like any other person and enjoys activities like hiking, scuba diving, playing video games, reading about history and the bible. The only difference is he does these things with the mute button permanently turned on. If you would like to know more about him or become one of his sponsors for jiu-jitsu or MMA look him up on Facebook and send him a message. If you would like to learn more about the Deaf and Hard of Hearing or support one of their foundations Garrett recommends the following sites: