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24-hour Brazilian jiu-jitsu world record attempt raises funds for suicide prevention

The Advertiser 2019-02-12 06:55:00

Damian Todd has been a Royal Marines Commando, survived a bobsleigh crash which almost left him paralysed and ridden a hand-powered bicycle from New York to Los Angeles.

But the martial arts expert reckoned his upcoming world-record attempt might be his toughest challenge yet.

Todd will spend 24 hours in continuous Brazilian jiu-jitsu bouts with 228 different opponents at Prospect on Friday, February 22.

The gruelling test aimed to raise funds and awareness for R U OK?, which helped people, such as Todd, overcome mental health battles which might lead to suicide.

“I’m a firm believer in individuals having goals, because then you have a reason and a purpose,” said Todd, who turned 48 the day before the event.

“I’m trying to do something ridiculously hard which is going to debilitate me for a day, but I will always have mental health issues.

“I address those by waking up in the morning and giving myself a reason to live.

“Of course it (the record attempt) is going to be physically horrendous.

“But I’ve got to just dig in and get the mind over matter when my muscles are cramping and I’m in pain.”

Englishman Todd, widely known as ‘Obi’, would grapple for five minutes each with adversaries from across SA and interstate.

He would have a 12-minute break every four hours to change his uniform, ice and take on a liquid meal, before returning to the mats.

“As most people will tell you, if you have a hard roll for five minutes you’re absolutely done,” Todd, of Greenwith, said.

“But I’m thinking about this in six blocks of four hours.

“As the time goes on, my jiu-jitsu is going to go out the window so it’s going to be that mental toughness that will get me through.

“But my motivation is to support a charity which allows people the means and method to stand up and say ‘hey, I’m not OK, what can I do, who can I seek advice from?’

“Mental health is the most crippling thing and it takes lives in a heartbeat.”

It would be the latest test for Todd, who had a mental breakdown after spending 22 years in Marines postings throughout the world.

In 2010, he snapped his achilles tendon but still completed a 5680km trek across the US on a hand-crank bicycle to raise $250,000 for wounded soldier charities.

Two years later, he lost all feeling in his arms and legs as a delayed result of crashing while travelling 130km/h at the British bobsleigh championships.

“It was kind of scary,” said Todd, who had two discs surgically removed and a metal cage inserted around his spine to fuse his C5 and C7 vertebrae together.

“But the alternative (without surgery) was I’d be a quadriplegic now or, if not, dead.

“When I lost the feeling, I thought I couldn’t do jiu-jitsu any more and I hit a flat spell again and had those dark thoughts.

“I didn’t want to be around any more and I wanted to take my own life again.

“But I took charge of myself, got some help, sought advice and got to a place where I could kind of work with it.”

The world record attempt, which will be filmed and timed for Guinness verification, will take place at Chau Kaizen, 262 Prospect Rd, from noon.

Donations will be taken on the day and online at or