Clinton Hollett spent the last decade of his life dedicated to teaching and training students in the art of Jiu-Jitsu at Emergent Martial Arts studio in Calgary.
The martial art form is known for being more gentle. No weapons are used and it’s often an effective way for someone smaller in stature to defend themselves.
Hollett was drawn to the practice, having known what it’s like to overcome big obstacles.
“I quickly learned that there’s an easier way through these physical problems. That thought process quickly translated to my real life,” Hollett said.
When he was 17, Hollett was convicted of second-degree murder in a brutal beating in Halifax. He was granted parole in 2006 and since then, has spent his time trying to reach out to people to ensure they don’t make the same mistakes he did.
Emergent Martial Arts was quick to work with Hollett to facilitate his Jiu-Jistu practice out of its studio in northeast Calgary.
“We understand that it may seem like something that would scare people away,” April Houson, manager of Emergent Martial Arts, said.
“But he doesn’t hide his story. He uses it as a tool to reach people. He believes in what he’s doing because it helps people not make the same mistakes that he did.”
The studio is forthcoming with students about Hollett’s past. They, however, were quick to embrace him as a teacher for his talent in the sport.
He helped coach Rebecca Hughes all the way to the World Master Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF Championship.
“It was never a question of what he did 20 years ago,” Hughes said. “It was: ‘what I can get from him now.'”
The acceptance of the Jiu-Jitsu community has been overwhelming for Hollett who said it’s been an uphill battle since being granted parole.
“Most people just want the bad,” Hollett said.
He’s adapted to the backlash and said he’s just very appreciative of the second chance he’s been given.
“I just keep doing good,” Hollett said. “I keep my head out of trouble. This is a case where the system worked.”
When Hollett was granted parole in 2006, part of the conditions are that he doesn’t participate in any boxing event or attend any fights.
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