This past weekend after 14 years of training I was awarded my black belt from my professor, mentor and best friend Caio Terra. There are so many people to thank but to avoid sounded like some one who won an academy award I'm going to condense it to the 3 people who played the biggest part in my life and journey and thank them in Part 2. Before that though I'd like to tell a story.
Getting a black belt was never something on my bucket list, I never dreamed of being a black belt, and it was never a goal of mine (I do believe strongly in setting goals though).
When I started training it was at the Oregon Pound where we had a tradition that after Saturday practice we would go get coffee. One morning as I was drinking my coffee my instructor, Rylan Lizares, asked me why I never bothered to fill out my attendance card. I told him because belts don't matter to me, I was chasing the skill not the belt and hoped to be a white belt who could catch black belts. At first he didn't say much but after some time he pretty angrily looked at me and called me a coward. I was perplexed, he went on to explain that I was hiding behind my white belt and didn't want the responsibilities of an upper belt. He then asked if I went to another gym today how would they treat me? I said like any other new student. He said exactly, now if I tied a brown belt around your waste how would they treat me? He made his point and from that day on I filled out my attendance card. The following year two months before Professor Pedor Sauer was supposed to come Mike and Rylan got a group of us together to tell us we would be testing for our blues. I was beyond excited, I had the hours, felt I had the ability and knew the curriculum backward and forward.
The day of the seminar I put on my best gi and tied my white belt at home for what I believed was the last time (yes, I drove in my gi to the seminar). I told my wife lets go to dinner tonight to celebrate, I was so stoked to be getting my blue belt. I got to the seminar plenty early, started warming up and was excited about life. As the people started coming in I noticed that some of the guys testing had blue belts on and I was confused. As the seminar started I realized the whole group had blue belts and was beyond upset. I asked Mike I thought we were testing after the seminar and he said no, they tested the night before. I felt betrayed, I told him why wasn't I invited and he said talk to Rylan. When I talked to Rylan he said I didn't test because the last month I didn't come and didn't communicate if something was wrong. If he promoted me to blue belt would I still continue to train? He wasn't sure I would continue if he promoted me and wanted Jiu Jitsu to be a part of my life. I was completely devastated. I remember going home and having to tell my wife who was beyond happy for me that I didn't get promoted.
This experience led me to quit Jiu Jitsu for the first and only time in journey. I still rolled once a month just to see how I was. After a year Dave Hawley got me back into training but that's a story for another time.
If I have any advice to new students it's to NEVER make getting a belt your goal. If you do your journey will probably be filled with lots of disappointment and heart ache. You will question your friends, your professor, and yourself. Be positive, enjoy the journey, chase the skill, set your goals to things you can control and surround yourself with amazing people and your journey will be a much better one!
This past weekend was the 2017 Pan Jiu Jitsu Championships held in Irvin, California. Every year Pans is one of the biggest events on the calendar and this year was no exception with over 3200 competitors.
Starting off the four day event were OSS athletes Andy Tomas Murasaki, and Taylor...
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. " John F. Kennedy
This past weekend would have not been possible without the help of so many people and I'm truly thankful to everyone who has been a part of my journey in Jiu Jitsu and life.