Tradie swaps tool belt for brown belt to follow MMA dream

Gold Coast panel beater Alec Parker swapped the tool belt for a brown belt to build his own Jui Jitsu academy.

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
3 Min Read

When it approaches the time to knock-off, most tradies can’t wait to drop the tool belt, kick off the boots and park themselves on the sofa back home.

But for Gold Coast panel beater Alec Parker, his day is just getting started as he trades the tool belt for a brown belt and opens up his new Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school.

However, teaching mixed martial arts all evening feels like anything but work for the 26-year-old after making the scary decision to follow his MMA coaching dreams.

In fact, despite often working 15-hour-days, coach Parker says he now has twice the energy since launching Gold Coast’s Australian Jiu-Jitsu Academy.

“If you are truly passionate about something, it doesn’t feel like work. You’ll always have that extra bit of energy,” he told BuildIT.

“I like working with cars, but my true love has always been MMA – to be now coaching in the sport I love has been worth every late night and every cent I’ve spent.”

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is recognised within the MMA community as the most difficult combat sport to learn – despite being less violent than other martial arts such as Muay Thai, boxing or karate.

Its mentally challenging methods mean even the most athletic students take years to master the sport as decision-making, force management, and technique perfection culminate in the fight style’s effectiveness.

Coach Parker says that extra mind-stimulation makes the sport so appealing to tradies.

“Understanding and applying the required steps to escape an uncomfortable hold in Jui Jitsu provides tools that are translatable to the job site,” Coach Parker explained to BuildIT.

“Its high-pressure nature profoundly affects concentration, memory, speed of thought and emotional control.”

“Many of our long-term students say training Jui Jitsu has had a positive knock-on effect on their focus, patience and problem-solving skills while at work.”

Coach Parker said the same lessons in patience and problem-solving showed him a way to transition from tradie to BJJ teacher, with the plan to move into the MMA world full-time.

“People wrongly think you have to go all in at once, but training BJJ has taught me patience and making the right moves at the right time will allow me to achieve my goal,” he said.

Australian Jui Jitsu Academy offers free one-week trials to all tradies looking to try the sport.

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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.