Just over a year ago, Chad Robichaux was an undefeated fighter and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt running two successful schools in Texas, while working his way towards a major promotion like the UFC or Bellator.
Now with an 11-2 record and over 700 students enrolled at his academies, Chad Robichaux is walking away from fighting.
Typically when a fighter retires from MMA it’s because they aren’t getting what the want out of the sport any longer, be it wins or simply just because time has caught up to them and they walk away.
For Robichaux however it was a calling that started more than a decade ago as the Marine veteran went on 8 tours of duty throughout the world, including time spent in Afghanistan and other parts of the Middle East.
When Robichaux returned home from active duty, he started exhibiting signs of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a common psychological disorder experienced by many veterans that have come back from war or active duty in the field.
Over time, Robichaux was able to get past his bout with PTSD, but as he saw more and more of his brothers and sisters in the military come home from overseas, he noticed that many of them were going through the same issues, except not being treated or even being diagnosed by professionals.
He also saw so many of his fellow veterans come back to the United States and go months or even years without jobs or gainful employment. Robichaux started working with a group called ‘Soldier’s Angels’ and as he promoted his last couple of fights, he generally spent more time talking about helping veterans than he did promoting himself.
“If you followed my last few fights, you noticed I became a real advocate for Soldier’s Angels and some other charities than even trying to promote myself. It’s something that’s been pulling on me for a long time,” Robichaux told MMAWeekly.com.
What was pulling at him was a need to help his fellow veterans. So with that, Robichaux decided to call it a career, walk away from fighting as well as the day-to-day duties of running his gyms, and forge a new path instead.
“I knew one day I’d have to retire from competing, and I was like that’s going to be really hard cause I love it so much. With 700 students, I didn’t compete for the money, I competed for the passion. Competing was something I did for me,” Robichaux said.
“So that the fact that I’m leaving something that was just for me to do something for someone else, gives me a real peace about it.”
What Robichaux is doing instead is a program in Colorado where he will take veterans that have come home and that are dealing with PTSD, put them through a recovery program, and then teach them something he’s all too familiar with.
“We’re going to take them through a treatment called the combat training healing manual, it’s a faith based program to help them overcome their PTSD, and then we’re going to train them in a skill set to help get them a job. That skill set of course is what I’m good at, jiu-jitsu,” Robichaux revealed.
The program will take veterans and teach them the art of jiu-jitsu, but obviously not every soldier or veteran will want to take on the physical side of teaching so there will be more to the program than just earning a belt from Robichaux.
“I have an MBA also, so we’re going to be giving them business classes as well. We’re going to be using the Gracie-Barra franchise as a manual to teach them the business side of jiu-jitsu, how to run the gyms and all the marketing and different things like that,” Robichaux commented.
“We’re going to help get them healed, trained and employed.”
Robichaux’s program called ‘The Mighty Oaks Foundation’ will be a 12-month program, and he will kick off the first class in Jan 2012. His hope is to give back to the veterans coming home from overseas that are dealing with some of the same issues he had just a couple of years ago.
If it means walking away from fighting, then Robichaux is happy to give up his passion for competing for the passion of helping his fellow veterans.
“I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to walk away from fighting and focus on this, something I’ve been passionate about for a really long time. I had an epiphany to just drop everything and just 100% focus on this. That’s what I’m doing,” said Robichaux.
“There’s a huge need for it, and I don’t think there’s enough people stepping up and taking care of these guys. I went through it myself after 8 deployments and came back with severe PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and overcame it with my faith and my family and my friends. I’ve accomplished so much since then I just feel compelled to give it back.”
Giving back is what Robichaux is doing, and he hopes that he can set an example for others to step up and help out the veterans coming home that need jobs or the education necessary to get better jobs.
His new dream is watching a soldier that was once diagnosed with PTSD, open their own jiu-jitsu academy, and flourishing under a business of their own.
With that kind of dream, Robichaux doesn’t feel like he’s retiring from fighting. He’s just helping others reach for the sky like he was able to do once upon a time.
For more information visit the Mighty Oaks Foundation website