Moorhead Jiu-Jitsu Fighter Grows from World Championship Competition

Justin Lordeman is a Jiu-Jitsu competitor and teacher at Academy of Combat Arts in Fargo


ARGO, N.D. — It was pretty early on that Moorhead native Justin Lordeman knew he would be a fighter.

“It started with my grandfather buying me and siblings and my cousins boxing gloves and making us fight in the basement as eight-year-olds,” Lordeman says.

The now 32-year-old has since ditched the boxing gloves, but has found a different form of martial arts that has given him the world.

“It’s like everything,” admits Lordeman. “I honestly think jiu-jitsu saved my life.”

Jiu-jitsu is a combat sport that focuses mostly on grappling and ground fighting. It provides an endurance-intensive workout, but maybe more importantly for Lordeman, it’s an outlet for dealing with the difficult parts of life.

“Jiu-jitsu is kind of like a therapy for a lot of people including myself and I think Justin as well,” Lordeman’s trainer, Dylan Spicer, said. It’s also a great way to build character and learn how to adapt and overcome a little more easily if you can handle doing this day in and day out like Justin has.”

It’s that mental toughness that has pushed Lordeman to compete at the sports highest level.

Later this month, he will travel to Las Vegas, NV to fight in the Masters of World tournament – one of the biggest jiu jitsu competitions in the world.

It’s will be his third time fighting on one of these stages, and while he has yet to take home any hardware, it’s the challenge that keeps him coming back.

“Going outside your comfort zone a little bit and then feeling a progression where you are getting a little bit better at doing that, it’s pretty cool,” Lordeman explains. “And then afterwards when it’s all done, its like ‘That was miserable, that sucked but, I learned something about myself.’ I pushed through some adversity and a horrible situation and maybe made it good. Going out there and failing has gotten me a little bit better every year. ”

That kind of attitude hasn’t just made Lordeman a strong athlete, but also a great leader.

About a year ago, the martial artist added to his resume by becoming a jiu-jitsu teacher, inspiring a new generation of fighters

“The kids are coming out of their shell and they are learning this cool stuff and working against strong kids,” says Lordeman. “They are having fun and playing games and the games are designed to teach them techniques and then – boom -they are live rolling and wrestling and they are doing some high level stuff.”

Aside from the fun he has watching his students grow physically stronger, he hopes that what they really take away from it are some of the same life lessons he himself has learned as a student of the sport.

“Sometimes they bump heads and cry and it’s gets really brutal but sometimes it’s like there is growth in that,” Lordeman says. “They learn a lot. It’s socialization. We put them in the fire and they become friends and work together, become good partners, good training partners.”

When Lordeman competes at worlds, he’ll be representing those same kids and an entire community of fighters from the academy of combat arts as the gyms sole representative. He hopes to show them it’s not entirely about winning, but more about continuing to push yourself.

Although, if he really wants to impress his students, he’s going to have to bring home something to show for it.

“To come back and tell the kids class I won, that be pretty cool. They only care about gold medals though so they’re kind of brutal,” Lordeman says with a smile.