Marine takes chance to bond with son through martial arts
Jun 27, 2012 (DEFENSE DEPARTMENT DOCUMENTS AND PUBLICATIONS/ContentWorks via COMTEX) --
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.
Finding the time to bond with your kids in a highly demanding branch of military service, such as the Marine Corps, can be very challenging.
Sgt. James W. Bridger, a combat engineer with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, and a member of the Lejeune Grappling Team since September 2011, figured the way to bond with his oldest son, Christian, was through martial arts.
"It started by just coming home and watching [Ultimate Fighting Championship] fights on TV with my son," Bridger said. "Eventually it came around to where I would come back home and he would be in the room at three years old watching the fights by himself."
Bridger realized his son's desire to do martial arts was the perfect opportunity to improve their relationship.
"I started to introduce him to martial arts with the [Marine Corps Martial Arts Program]," Bridger explained. "He would watch as I would bring friends over to the house to teach them and train then he always wanted to participate.
"He loved training with the pugil sticks and batons," he added. "I taught him the stuff I knew and I trained him myself for a while."
This was a good chance for him and his son to spend time together, as he expressed, but due to family issues and the needs of the Marine Corps, Bridger and his son have been away from each other for more than a year.
"I entered him in a [martial arts academy] up in Virginia, where he lives," he added. "I knew I couldn't spend time with him every day and I did not want him to lose his interest for the sport, so I signed him up."
Although Christian has been attending the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy for nearly a year now, he has never competed before until June 23.
During the tournament, not only did he have the chance to compete in a North American Grappling Association tournament, but he also had the chance to see his dad participate during the same event.
"Seeing my son fight and winning was priceless," Bridger expressed with a sense of pride and joy as he spoke about his son. "To see him grow into the sport from the beginning, to be able to be there for his first official competition was great."
The tournament was held at Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton, Va. Christian placed first and third in both categories in which he competed.
"My son already expressed his gratefulness and his desire to participate in the next NAGA tournament," Bridger added.
While Bridger has been supportive of his son training and learning a martial art for three years, he has also taught him the self-discipline aspect of it.
"This sport is very humbling," he said. "You might be with your best friend and he could make you tap out, so this martial art really teaches you how to be modest."
Bridger expressed on multiple occasions that he is proud of his son and will continue to support him in anything he wants to do.
"Ultimately what I want for my son is to be happy doing whatever sport he wants to do," he concluded. "I am just very lucky that he likes the same thing as me, but I will support him and teach him to be the best he can be."
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