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A 22-year-old Eaton Rapids man credits martial arts for giving him a chance to live life to the fullest.

A.J. Baldwin has to work harder than most to master Jujitsu techniques other students might learn in a matter of minutes.

“AJ it took 50, 60, 70 times of him reping it out and doing it over and over again of him to actually see the gains and see it work,” said Barent Bradt, Jujitsu Instructor.

You’d never know by his moves now, but Baldwin has cerebral palsy. A condition that affects the lower portion of his body and some of his fine motor skills. But he doesn’t let his CP hold him back.

“I’m a big fan if they tell you you couldn’t do it, you should do it anyway,” said A.J. Baldwin.

A little more than a year ago he didn’t have the flexibility to handle his opponent. And he couldn’t walk without crutches.

“Now I don’t remember the last time I used them,” said Baldwin.

That’s because a little more than a year ago Baldwin met Barent Bradt, who took the time to make Jujitsu work for Baldwin. When Bradt opened his own place called Lansing Jujitsu he brought Baldwin with him.

“All the aspects of my life really have improved in one way or another from doing Jujitsu,” said Baldwin.

Unlike many forms of martial arts, many Jujitsu techniques are done on the ground. It’s an ideal situation for Baldwin who doesn’t need strength to take control of the situation.

“Being the closeness that Jujitsu has he doesn’t have to have that speed when he’s walking or the ability to run or things like that. He just has to be able to control his opponent and know where to put his weight,” Bradt.

“I’ve progressed more here in the last year than I did my whole life in physical therapy,” said Baldwin.

Right now, he is a white belt working toward gaining his blue belt. Getting it won’t be easy, but he says he’ll keep fighting until he deserves it.