By Shelly Cone
Simple curiosity and an analysis of the definition of success in his own life led Central Coast author Chuck J. Rylant on a quest to discover what drives high achievers. He found the answers he was looking for in the sport he has practiced for two decades: jiu-jitsu. Now he has published a book that reveals common traits among successful athletes competing in the sport.
The recently released Motivation tells the story of several jiu-jitsu champions and what compelled them to achieve.
“I was curious about people who reached really high levels in life, and I was curious about the commonalities they shared,” Rylant said.
Specifically, he said that he was curious about whether there are traits people are born with that make them who they are, if they experience hardships that make them pursue at higher levels, or if they follow strategies that anyone can adopt.
“The answer was all of the above,” Rylant said.
Originally he started out by looking at the stories of successful people in various fields, but eventually he settled on just one: jiu-jitsu, a martial art he’s practiced for 20 years. However, he stressed that the book uses jiu-jitsu as a metaphor for the challenges that everyone has to overcome, and in that way anyone looking to rise above can find inspiration and actionable tips.
“If you like jiu-jitsu you’ll connect more deeply with the story, but it’s not just jiu-jitsu,” Rylant said.
He recently signed copies of his book at a Paragon of Santa Maria event that included an arm bar demonstration by jiu-jitsu champion Daniel Camarillo of Bakersfield.
Known as the “Arm Hunter” for his frequent use of the arm bar technique, Camarillo epitomizes the champion who has overcome the odds to achieve. Rylant tells Camarillo’s story in his book.
During the event at Paragon Dec. 17, Camarillo told the Sun that jiu-jitsu has a special place in his life, much like what going to the gym is for many other people.
“A lot of people go to the gym and I find it slow and repetitive. Now I get to stay in shape while learning something useful,” he said.
Camarillo actually started out on a different path. He was competing in judo when he was 6 years old. He enjoyed a 20-year judo career when he discovered jiu-jitsu. He and his brother went to LA to train with the famed Gracie brothers—a name synonymous with Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Initially, Camarillo wanted to learn jiu-jitsu to better his judo, but soon jiu-jitsu became his focus.
He said practicing jiu-jitsu takes someone tough, and it takes someone dedicated to showing up every day and putting in the work. That’s a trait all jiu-jitsu athletes share, he said.
“Not matter what our background story is, we all are pretty tough,” Camarillo said. “It’s like they say, a black belt is just a white belt who refused to give up.”
And though he’s featured in a book highlighting his exceptional dedication, Camarillo admits that his biggest challenge is self-motivation. Now as the owner of Camarillo Jiu-Jitsu in Bakersfield, he’s the boss and a motivating force for others. He also said that having a coach was a lot easier when it came to motivation because he had someone telling him what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. “I miss not having to think about what to do,” he said.
One of the biggest challenges Rylant faced while writing the book was getting athletes like Camarillo to open up and tell him their deeper story, that thing that really motivates them to put in all that hard work.
“That’s when the real answers came,” Rylant said. “I learned probably the single commonality among them was persistence, a refusal to quit no matter what. It sounds simple, but then you hear it over and over … .”
Rylant said he learned quite a bit himself from the athletes he interviewed while putting the book together.
“In my younger years I was driven by trying to be successful on the outside: career status, housing. It was never fulfilling because there’s always another level to reach, another carrot,” Rylant said.
He said now he focuses less on outward measures of success and more on giving to someone else, like with his book. He said he hopes that someone else reads it, learns, and can benefit from Motivation.
“It’s for the average person. If you’re looking for something to inspire you to get to another level or to get unstuck, this book will give you tips to get there,” Rylant said.