The Warrior Wellness Solutions’ Warrior Athlete Program is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Adaptive Sports Program for Disabled Veterans is located in Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, (Triangle) North Carolina (NC).   

Sports as medicine

For many years, individuals with disabilities have been using sports as a therapeutic tool to overcome serious injury or illness and as a means of recovery.  They fight their personal battles on the track, in the pool and on the court to send a very powerful message to themselves, to their families and to the public that serious injury or illness does not have to interrupt the pursuit of a meaningful and productive life.  Many athletes say that participating in adaptive sports boosts their self-esteem, improves their mental and physical health, and makes them stronger and more resilient, generally. But not until recently have scientists begun to specifically and purposefully measure the effects of adaptive sports programs to determine their role in rehabilitation.

A holistic approach to recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration

Adaptive sports and other reconditioning activities help service members come to terms with traumatic injuries or illness by inspiring them to realize what is still achievable by focusing on ability.

Adaptive sports promotes holistic growth and achievement by addressing several factors, including:

  • Being part of a team promotes a sense of belonging and peer support, of knowing you’re not alone in your struggle.

  • The opportunity to renew the power of service to country and strong desire to pursue a higher purpose that have always inspired service members in combat and life.

  • Competition rekindles the sense of passion and determination of the warrior spirit that is part of a service member’s DNA, the courage to move forward despite barriers and obstacles.

  • The chance to be celebrated and recognized, supported by family, friends and people from around the world, boosts self-worth and self-efficacy.

Adaptive sports engages service members and veterans mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and socially – finding hope and strength through their common experiences.


According to the Department of Defense’s Office of Warrior Care, the benefits of physical activity for ill and injured service members also include reduced stress, increased quality of life, lower blood pressure, weight management and enhancement of the rehabilitative process.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of National Veterans Sports Programs & Special Events co-sponsors adaptive sports clinics and competitive events for disabled veterans of all ages and abilities. This includes the Grants for Adaptive Sports Programs, which provides grant funding to organizations to increase and expand the quantity and quality of community-based adaptive sports activities for veterans with disabilities and members of the armed forces. To find out more, visit https://www.va.gov/adaptivesports/. *


 The Warrior Wellness Solutions’ Warrior Athlete Program is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Adaptive Sports Program for Disabled Veterans designed to enhance their recovery by engaging them in individualized physical and cognitive activities outside of traditional therapy settings.   The program supports the physical and psychological recovery and rehabilitation from visible and invisible wounds of war including traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others.  The program hopes to inspire recovery and physical fitness and encourage new opportunities for growth and achievement.  The benefits of physical activity for injured Service members include reduced stress, increased quality of life, lower blood pressure, weight management, and enhancement of the rehabilitative process.  This geographic area has the largest population density in the US for Disabled Veterans entering, participating, and competing in BJJ.  Royce Gracie, former UFC World Champion /Hall of Famer, and BJJ icon from the world renown Gracie family made North Carolina an epicenter for BJJ as he pioneered modern Military Combatives programming.  

     BJJ is a traditional martial art to train one’s mind and body.  Jiu-Jitsu is one of the oldest forms of Martial Arts known to man. It originated more than 4,000 years ago by Buddhist monks from northern India, where a man, known today as Buddha (the “Enlightened One), lived a peaceful life.  As robbers and soldiers began to invade the monasteries, the monks had to create an effective, non-violent form of self-defense technique against their much larger and stronger opponents.  Without kicking or punching, the monks were still able to defend themselves, thus becoming the true creators of the grappling arts.  This non-violent technique traveled to Japan where it evolved to what is now Jiu-Jitsu, translated from Japanese, The Gentle Art.  As an Adaptive Sport for Disabled Veterans BJJ has an extremely low risk for injuries in comparison with other combat sports and competition can be scaled to disabilities.  By practicing BJJ, Disabled Veterans cultivate Post Traumatic Growth and have an adaptive tool to sharpen their Warrior Ethos while earning how to cope with stress, reduce anxiety and boost resilience.  BJJ cultivates the development of certain psychological characteristics such as clear decision-making, confidence, and control along with developing resilient characteristics through controlled breathing and movement techniques, and improves physical and psychological well-being.  Additionally, BJJ increases confidence and teaches relaxation, focus and body control. 

Read the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu here:






     The Warrior Athlete Adaptive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Program is led by Elijah Sacra, a US Marine Corps Veteran, Exercise Physiologist, Human Biomechanics Specialist, Functional Medicine / Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and BJJ practitioner.  Elijah has served on the Executive Roundtable and Vision Sharing Board for Non-Profit and Community Participation in Achieving World Class Standards of Care and Services for Wounded Warriors at the WRNMMC, and as a coach for TEAM Marine Corps for the 2015 DOD Warrior Games.   He serves on the Medical Advisory Board / Director of Functional Movement and Rehabilitation on the Task Force Dagger Special Operations Forces Health Initiatives and on the Veteran Research Engagement Panel – Durham NC VA Center of Innovation for Health Services Research and Development Services Research in Primary Care and as a Subject Matter Expert / Veteran Research Engagement Panel for National VA study: PCORI - Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute in concert with the US Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research & Development for Chronic Pain and Opiate Addiction in Veterans.  Veterans’ Pain Care Organizational Improvement Comparative Effectiveness (VOICE) Trial Minneapolis VA Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research / University of Minnesota. 

     The program is partnered with three state-of-the-art training facilities in Durham, NC.  It is staffed with Military Veterans who are elite teachers, practitioners, and competitors in BJJ, and delivers Functional Medicine and Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching, Rehabilitative Exercise and Human Biomechanics Training, and Mindfulness techniques in concert with Adaptive BJJ.  Our team has over a decade of experience working with disabled veterans the highest level of cultural competence.  Additionally, our program receives referrals from the USMC’s Camp Lejeune, US Army Base Ft. Bragg, USSCOCOM, and the Durham VA Hospital.


  • Adaptive Grappling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Group Seminars

  • Adaptive Grappling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Individual Sessions

  • Adaptive Strength & Conditioning

  • Group and Individual Human Biomechanics and Performance Training

  • Group and Individual Neuromuscular Re-Education

  • Group and Individual Myofascial Release Education

  • Group and Individual Functional Medicine Health Coaching

  • Group and Individual Integrative Nutrition Cooking Classes

  • Group and Individual Applied Neuroscience of Peak Performance Instruction

  • Group and Individual Competition Training

  • Individual Competition Coaching

  • Equipment Acquisition

Collaborative Organizations

  • Task Force Dagger Foundation's Special Operations Forces Health Initiatives Program: The SOF Health Initiatives Program is a Mind, Body, Spirit and Purpose driven program focused on finding the root causes of illness and treating them with Functional Medicine. The SOF Health Initiatives Program offers a full system, patient-centric approach to medicine and creates an environment conducive to healing and recovery.

  • Americas Warrior Partnership (AWP) AWP fills the gaps that exist between current veteran service organizations by helping nonprofits connect with the veterans, military members and families in need: bolstering their efficacy, improving their results and empowering their initiatives

  • Special Operations Forces Health Initiatives Medical Advisory Board

  • Veteran Engagement Panel - Durham NC VA - Research Partnership - Center for Health Services Research Veteran Engagement Panel

  • National VA PCORI funded Study on Chronic Pain and Opiate Addiction - Patient Centered Strategies to Improve Pain Management

  • North Carolina Governor’s Working Group on Veterans, Service Members, and their Families


* Information Obtained from Military Once Source: http://www.militaryonesource.mil/web/mos/-/the-power-of-adaptive-sports?inheritRedirect=true&redirect=%2Fweb%2Fmos%2Fwounded-warriors