- Associated Press - Saturday, July 19, 2014

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Jesse Pulido has been involved with martial arts in one form or another since his father enrolled him in Ninjutsu when he was 7.

“My dad did it, and my dad took Taekwondo and Kung Fu,” Pulido said. “I did martial arts throughout my adult life and growing up.”

Now he holds rank in four arts, including a white belt in To-Shin Do, a blue belt with two stripes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a purple belt in Silat and a brown belt in Judo. He has also studied Muay Thai and kickboxing.

“One of my senseis . he always told me never limit myself to one style of fighting,” Pulido said. “Say I know Judo - Judo has a ground game called katame waza … but it has so much space in it. When you’re doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you don’t have that much space. You know how to move and transition your body with just a little bit of movement and staying relaxed.”

He said for him, Judo is more like wrestling because the objective is to hold down an opponent rather than finishing them off like he does in BJJ.

Because Judo and BJJ are both grappling arts, he said he does To-Shin Do, kickboxing and Muay Thai to understand standing fighting techniques.

“If you’re just a grappler and you don’t have the strength, it’s going to affect you, it’s going to hurt you really bad,” he said. “You’ve got to know how to block a hit, how to counter it and all that, or vice-versa.”

He competes in North American Grappling Association tournaments as well as all-arts tournaments.

“One of my first instructors took me to the NAGA in November 2011 and I placed third in Gi,” he said. “I’d never done a competition like that. I relied on Judo and a little bit of the combatives the Army taught me, and I kind of got a rush from that.”

Pulido said he’s always been a competitive person, but he didn’t really expect to win competitions when he first started.

“It was just like, ‘Whoa, I did that,’” he said. He said it was a similar feeling to what he got when he graduated from Kansas State University while deployed. “It woke me up. I liked it, I’m hooked on it, I’m going to keep at it.”

He said a lot of his friends compete on other teams and they’ll occasionally face off in the ring, but generally there are no hard feelings.

“The friends you make are the ones that are always going to stay there,” he said.

He currently participates in Mixed Martial Arts fights for Harris Holt Martial Arts Academy in Clarksville, Tennessee.

“I love the atmosphere there. They offer different types of martial arts and the way they treat you is if you get knocked down, you have to get yourself back up because . your coach can only carry you for so long,” he said.

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