Jiu Jitsu and Lollipops: Life Changing Moments

Published on by Dan Dufur

Photo Credit: Zac Fallah


Sometimes we meet people that change our lives completely. Not even by things deemed as an extraordinary or memorable gesture. A little something that may change the way a person feels or looks at the world. Small occurrences that yield big results. These moments are sometimes called “lollipop moments”. I learned about it from a friend, who happened to read about it. It came about during conversation one night about our high school reunion. At the reunion, a kid that was married to one of my classmates told me how he looked up to me when we were younger. He told me how we played on the same baseball team and said that I was “the man”. The strange part about it is this, I have an insane memory about the most random things in life. But, I didn’t remember him from the baseball team at first. As he talked more about it, the memories came back. To me it was an honor to hear him say these types of things. I didn’t go out of my way or do anything that I deemed as special. I just had a positive attitude and cheered for all my teammates the same. It was just being myself that had a positive impact on somebody else.

So, what does this have to do about jiu-jitsu or lollipops? I’m getting there. First the lollipops. So, my friend told me about a story that about the origin of “lollipop moments”. There was a girl that went to Mount Allison University, she was nervous and scared to start college like most kids are. She told her parents that school wasn’t for her and she wanted to quit. Her parents insisted to try the first day out and if she still did not want to stay, they would bring her home. On her first day at school while in line for registration, she encountered a man passing out lollipops. He passed one to the guy next to her. Then he said to the guy, ”You need to give a lollipop to the beautiful woman next to you”. The man turned red as he held out the lollipop for the girl. There was an awkward silence and the man that was passing out lollipops looked at the girl’s parents and said “Look at that, first day away from home and she’s already taking candy from a stranger”. That moment broke the ice. They all laughed. The girl decided to give school a shot. Fast forward four years and the girl ran into the man that was passing out lollipops that day. She told him the story and how he was the reason that she stayed in school. The man had no recollection of their interaction that day. She also told the man that the guy that he embarrassed that was standing next to her was her boyfriend all through college. The man was amazed that one small gesture had such an impact on her life. A few years later he even received a wedding invitation from the couple. So, that is why these small gestures that have improved people’s lives are referred to as “lollipop moments”.

Alright, what does this have to do with jiu-jitsu? Well, here is my lollipop moment. After a few years of doing a little BJJ and MMA training with my buddy at the park, I wanted to do some real training. My buddy had recommended a gym. My wife saw me looking at the gym’s facebook page one night and told me to “just go do it”. I gathered my gear and courage and made the drive to the gym. Even though the fear of the unknown made me want to keep turning around and head home. Little did I know, my wife’s words would change the course of my life. I got there, did a MMA class, meet some cool people, and learned some cool stuff. I was hooked. I told my wife that I was joining, I started training a week later. I arrived to do the wrestling class before jiu-jitsu. It was me, the coach and one other guy. It was fun and difficult, but worth it. As wrestling class wound down, the edge of the mat began filling up with people for jiu-jitsu. I recognized maybe two people besides the two from the previous class, all the others were strangers. We went through the basic and were about to pair up to drill techniques. This is when it happened.

All of the sudden, everybody was paired up but me. I was nervous, a little scared, and kind of wanted to disappear. A million thoughts ran through my head. Should I leave, does nobody like me, am I that bad that nobody wants to train with me? Of course, those things only existed in my head. Then I heard a voice. It was one of the guys teaching the class. “Hey big guy, what’s your name?” “Dan” I replied. “I’m Rick” he said. He had a huge smile on his face. You could tell he loved BJJ. After drilling a takedown a bunch of times, he said, “this is your move, you got it.” It made feel so good. I was calm and relaxed now. Before going to the center of the mat to show the next technique he said “big guys got to stick together”. We continued to train for the rest of the class.

A few months later he moved away to California. I never told him before he left, that he had such a big impact on me. I know now that it is just the way he is. He was just being himself. But he saved me from potentially quitting BJJ after my first class. Thankfully he has moved back home and we have trained together since. I’ve let Rick know how that first jiu-jitsu class changed my outlook. Countless others and I have tried to take newer students under our wings. This art has changed my life in many positive ways, and I know it can help others.

To me, the moral of the story is this. Be kind to everyone. Always lend a helping hand. Your actions may have an effect on somebody’s life that is greater than you can imagine. You cannot know a story unless you open the book. Look for the good in people. Whether it be jiu-jitsu or any other avenue in life, try to be a positive influence. If it wasn’t for jiu-jitsu and those experiences, you wouldn’t be reading this from me right now. I believe that everything in life happens for a reason. You never know when you may create a “lollipop moment”.