- Associated Press - Monday, July 31, 2017

WINONA, Minn. (AP) - Learning the art of jiu jitsu takes years of patience, hard work, humility and adaptability.

Adam Board has been training in the martial art of Brazilian jiu jitsu for the past six years and has been instructing others in Winona for the past year and a half. He is currently ranked as a purple belt with one stripe.

“Didn’t have a place to train so I had to build it,” Board said. “Built a little place in my backyard, otherwise I would’ve had to quit.”

About half a dozen grapplers can be found rolling around in the downtown Winona Area Youth Wrestling Club, each clad in the traditional uniform known as a “gi.”

“The hardest part about jiu jitsu is walking through that door,” Board said.

The professor that Board learned from is Josh Haynie out of Doc’s gym in Minneapolis, where they train as part of Team Wolfpack.

The Winona Daily News reports that the rank system ranges from white, blue, purple, brown and black to coral and red, and it often takes longer to become a black belt than it does to become a doctor.

Though teaching at purple belt is unusual, the bond between Board and his students is evident.

Riley Schmitz began training in January 2016, and said he has stuck with it because Board is dedicated and understanding.

“He’s always willing to work with his students and really wants to see a student succeed,” Schmitz said. “I’ve not only learned a lot about jiu jitsu, but it’s taught me a lot about patience and how to really work hard at something.”

In August 2016, Don Bakken jumped into it and has seen healthy results in his own fitness and weight loss.

Bakken describes Board’s teaching style as “very relaxed, involved,” adding that he “takes it easy, watches what you’re doing, gives you guidance, and lets you build your own style.”

During a sparring match, Board moves fluidly around his opponents defenses while coaching technique and encouraging good efforts.

He maneuvers to a point of dominance with grace before applying a potent submission until the adversary taps out.

“It’s not about being better than anybody else, it’s about you being better than you were yesterday, so every day is a step forward,” Board said. “And not just on the mat, but out in life. I never thought I’d be where I am right now mentally.”

The stress of everyday life gets choked out on the mat, allowing the competitors to slow down and focus on the task at hand.

Between takedowns, submissions, side control, mounts and guard passes, there are plenty of situations to train for and skills to hone.

After finishing high school, Board lived in Florida for 10 years.

“When it was good it was great,” Board said, but he returned to Minnesota after the economic recession hit the country.

He now works as a bricklayer for Darold Burger Masonry out of Waukon, Iowa, traveling as far as Owatonna, Minnesota, for jobs as they come up. The day can be 12 hours long before Board makes it into the gym to start training for another two hours.

By testing the body’s limits through “involuntary yoga,” Board stays limber.

He builds a strong structural foundation through his bricklaying as well as his technique on the mat.

He met his wife in Florida, and his children were born there as well. Board has three daughters - Ava, 12 going on 13; Olivia, 7; and Anna, 6.

They hate the winters, but Board’s family enjoys staying close.

For Ava’s curriculum, Board has “really pounded home wrist locks” to help with stranger danger, on top of calling for help and backing out of dangerous situations.

Adam Board turns 36 today, and plans to keep training and teaching for the foreseeable future.

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Information from: Winona Daily News, https://www.winonadailynews.com

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