Deployed Airman Gains Citizenship, Becomes Mixed Martial Arts Instructor

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Wisher
  • 435th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

“What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place,” said Winston Churchill in 1908. “We make a living from what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

This mantra about giving back is one shared by many but embraced by Senior Airman Marcio Navarro, 768th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron services technician, who is deployed to Nigerian Air Base 101, Niamey, Niger.

Navarro who once held the championship the International Sport Karate Association (ISKA) Light Middle-Weight World Champion title in 2012 title, now uses his skills to teach the Airmen at Air Base 101 jiu-jitsu.    

Born in Indaiatuba-Sao Paul, Brazil, Navarro was a natural kickboxer and even held the International Sport Karate Association (ISKA) Light Middle-Weight World Champion title in 2012.

“Without knowing any English, I decided to take a chance and came to America,” Navarro said. “I wanted to change my life. I wanted to become a better competitor, a better version of myself, to start a family and build a future.”

After moving to Wichita, Kansas, in 2009 and becoming a U.S. citizen in 2017, Navarro made the decision to give back by enlisting in the Air Force after talking to an Airman about the opportunities afford by the service.

“The United States has afforded me the opportunity to provide a better life for my family. I met my wife in 2009 and we have built an amazing family,” Navarro said.

While deployed to Air Base 101, Navarro took over fitness operations and took his skills of being a jiu-jitsu champion to become an instructor for anyone who wanted to participate.

”I wanted to give back to the United States for all the opportunities they had provided me,” he added. “This was the way I found to pay it forward.”

 Coupling his passion to give back with his expertise in jiu-jitsu, Navarro’s efforts helped other Airmen with both fitness and raising morale with his daily lessons.

“There is no doubt that staying physically fit helps you in the mission,” Navarro stated. “If you are physically fit, you will have good mental health as well.”

The Airman emphasized that overall physical fitness helps anyone be mission ready but also added how jiu-jitsu, as well as martial arts helps with the spiritual pillar and strengthens mental health.  

“Martial arts helps build strong minds, self-discipline, self-awareness and helps you through different situations that you can easily transfer to the mission,” he said. “Dealing with the stress, pressure and adrenaline of training, definitely makes you more comfortable to deal with everyday situations.”

Navarro is currently deployed from the 931st Air Refueling Wing, McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.