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Davis, California

Friday, April 12, 2024

Jiu-jitsu balances workplace stress

UC Davis alumnus Ryan Danz is set to publish a law book about martial arts called Jiu Jitsu Jurisprudence.

Danz graduated in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in managerial economics and has spent the last 13 years making a name for himself nationwide. He’s competed on “The Apprentice” and the 2012 season of “The Amazing Race”. When not on TV, Danz spends his time studying law and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a martial art primarily focused on grappling and ground fighting.

The book will be published by Jonathan Malysiak of ABA Publishing, the book publishing division of the American Bar Association, which typically publishes legal material.

“I was approached by the publisher after I was on the Amazing Race,” Danz said. “They saw my background in law and in jiu-jitsu.”

According to Malysiak, ABA typically publishes books of a very different nature.

“[Jiu Jitsu Jurisprudence] touches on lawyers and the life of a lawyer but it doesn’t talk about law,” Malysiak said. “It doesn’t talk about statutes or anything like that, like so many of our other books do, it’s just much more of a holistic, very very personally driven narrative.”

Malysiak believes this could be a major stepping stone for ABA publishing as it will branch out to a completely new potential audience.

“I think with Ryan’s book we’re showing a slightly more personal side, that hopefully will attract people to our books who possibly might have never known we existed or that we published books,” Malysiak said.

At the moment, that personal side belongs to Danz. Despite his history in law, he points out that his book is written with much more than lawyers in mind.

“When I say it’s a book for lawyers, it’s really for professionals, it’s really for people, anyone that goes to an office and sits and works at a desk every day,” Danz said. “It’s not really a question of ‘are you a lawyer or not?’ It’s ‘do you work and have stress in the workplace?’”

Danz’s book will focus more on life than law. He stresses jiu-jitsu as a way to cope with his life inside and outside the office.

“They reached out to people that had an audience or platform and asked if they’d be interested in writing a book on whatever it is they’d done to sort of balance their law life with their normal life, and for me that was jiu-jitsu,” Danz said.

The book may be a unique departure in content and style from typical books published by ABA, but its focus on jiu-jitsu was sought by the publisher, and Malysiak is assured that the message will not be lost on the public.

“There seem to be quite a few attorneys these days who are turning to Brazilian jiu-jitsu specifically, but also to other forms of martial arts and other types of meditation to help them both in the law practices but also in their personal lives, their family, their friends,” said Malysiak, who speaks with many attorneys as part of his role in the ABA.

Friendship in particular turns out to be an important aspect of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and part of what keeps Danz active in the sport.

“One of the things I talk about in the book that’s powerful in jiu-jitsu is the camaraderie,” Danz said. “In addition to learning the sport and being taught, the guys create a very powerful environment for people to develop friendships.”

Reading and working with Danz on the book, along with speaking to other lawyers who share Ryan’s interest in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Malysiak has learned how jiu-jitsu and the friendships made in the sport translate to a mechanism for coping with work and life stresses.

“There’s just something about the atmosphere, the whole camaraderie that a lot of people who participate in Brazilian jiu-jitsu experience with their sparring partners on the mat that has a lot of positive benefits, both personally and professionally,” Malysiak said. “It’s kind of a release, I guess.”

Camaraderie may be an important channel for the potential benefits of jiu-jitsu, but Danz’s jiu-jitsu instructor, Rafael Ramos believes the benefits are at the individual level.

“By practicing jiu-jitsu one can gain discipline, lose weight, improve flexibility and, most importantly, confidence,” Ramos said.

Confidence turned out to be essential to the completion of Danz’s book. With his large social media following, writing and being read was nothing unusual to him, but writing a book was a whole new challenge.

“The way of the world now, especially with social media, everything seems to be so condensed,” Danz said. “So I was always fine with kind of sharing things on my blog or in a blog format or 140 characters and making that the extent of my writing.”

His passion for practicing jiu-jitsu and his hard work at writing culminated in a 200-page learning experience.

“I never thought my writing was good enough to write a book and I never thought there’d be an opportunity to write a book, but that obviously wasn’t the case,” Danz said. “I looked back on it and I’m glad I did it. I’m excited for the book to release, but it takes a lot out of you.”

Danz has UC Davis to thank for his ability to write the book. Despite being a managerial economics major, he maintains that one of his best classes was an English class.

“I really developed my writing there … it finally did come in handy and I wish I would have taken more English classes,” Danz said.

Danz has always been in the business of learning: starting a business, traveling the world, practicing jiu-jitsu, writing a book; all in the interest of new experiences.

“I think his biggest quality is that he doesn’t have a big ego,” Ramos said. “He doesn’t care if today he didn’t ‘win’ every sparring session that he participated in as long as he learned something that will help him on the next session.”


NICK FREDERICI can be reached at features@theaggie.org.




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