Anton’s Purple Belt Essay

Before Anton earned his purple belt, we asked him: How has this training impacted your life? What does committment mean to you in training? In your life? How are you preparing to be a black belt right now?

I have said many times that starting to train with BBJJ is one of the best decisions I have ever made. It is a decision that has and continues to inspire the direction of my life in a positive manner. From training I have lost weight, gained confidence, gained focus and found a deeper well of compassion than I ever knew I had. Yet all of this is really the icing on the cake. 

I’ve always felt a little separated from the crowd and as a result have looked many places to find where my puzzle piece fits. Because of this my life has been one of many interests and experiences that have taken me around the world and through many crazy situations. Throughout all of my experiences though I can definitively say: Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is where I have found a community that I am proud to be a part of. 

These students are some of the kindest and most interesting people I have ever met. Here we can go from working with a three year old taking their first few steps in a gi to working with a 65 year old veteran that is pursuing a new kind of health in their retirement. And there is a lesson in each of these experiences. Some of these lessons teach you how gentle interaction can be. Some teach you that power and strength don’t come from muscles, but from your observation and focused effort. Some just teach you how to give and receive. Sometimes it’s just learning how to let go.

When I think about all of this in terms of commitment and black belt I associate it to marriage. Last summer I was lucky enough to be married to someone that shares, and in many ways drives my passion for physical learning. Sharing the training as we do has brought us closer and provided us with physical and mental tools to de-stress and positively approach most things. In marriage, you can’t just give up because you have a bad day, a fight, or a misunderstanding. A commitment was made to see it through to the end, so the obligation of the committed is to manage that possibility and make it so. The same can be said of training. When we first sat down to talk about the programs at BBJJ I was told “everyone’s minimum goal in the martial arts is Black Belt”. This makes complete sense to me. The black belt is like the wedding band that you wear for life as a symbol of the dedication to who and what you love. But I think of all the belts leading up to it as a courtship. As learning how to be the person that deserves to put a black belt on. 

If I want to be a good partner, both in my marriage and in my training I have to keep one essential idea in mind: I have to listen. BBJJ is beautifully constructed to aid with this as everything we do is focused around how to listen: to the instructor, to the partner, to your own body. We learn better how to mold ourselves to the situation or person that we are dealing with. This ultimately comes from Shihan and all the Professors working so hard to be ambassadors of a cultural shift towards the positive. We are fortunate that this ideology is imbued into the training every day as it reinforces positivity within ourselves and our lives. It is very hard to stay positive in the face of all the criticism, cynicism and doubt cast by much of society, so this community in response becomes all the more precious. 

But I digress. What I wanted to talk about here is commitment and why that is so important within the martial arts setting. There is something lost in the world when learning a trade is no longer valued. When the process of apprenticeship is cast to the wayside in favor of a quick fix or easy dollar. Martial arts training does not let one hide from being an apprentice, an uke, a kohai. Having a Shihan, Professor, or Sensei is far more than having a teacher. It is having a mentor that helps you to become a better you. This process to me is one of the central aims of my life, and thus one of the most important processes to approach intelligently. The commitment to black belt is the commitment to these mentors, to your process of self actualization. I would no more give up on this training than I would give up on being married. You have to be committed to see the real value to what we are doing. You have to be willing to face hardships, doubt and challenges…because on the other side is triumph and understanding. Real value that is immeasurable and immaterial.

So how am I preparing to be a black belt right now? I am taking small measured steps, trying to see where I can give more, how I can better be of help, what I can do to better understand technique and its application, and where it is that I am still blind. I’ve heard it said that “you don’t really deserve your next belt until you have helped someone receive theirs”, and I think that there is some real truth to this. What kind of black belt would I be if all of my effort was just focused inwards? If I never took the time or consideration to work with someone rather than against them? I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out either. Thus far the gains made by learning how to give far outweigh any “gains” I have ever seen by being selfish. Black belt is, to me, about learning how to better be selfless. Every day it is my hope to have given something more than the day before. To have inspired someone just a little bit more on their path to black belt in the hopes that one day I can live up to the responsibility of wearing one around my own waist. 

I thank all of my fellow students and staff members. I thank the Professors. I thank Shihan. I thank this community for inspiring the best version of me to come into existence…and I will see you all at black belt.



Andre’s Blue Belt Essay

When moving on to a new belt level, we often ask students to submit an essay that answers questions about their belt journey. For example, “What is the most significant change you’ve experienced since beginning at Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Why is it important to you? How has it affected you?”

A fantastic graduation essay to share comes from Andre, who recently earned his blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu.

The most significant change I experience since beginning at Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BBJJ) is my blood pressure. My Blood pressure was on the border line of me taking medication for the rest of my life. Two years prior of joining BBJJ I was going to medical for my pressure every six months. More Importantly, after training since April. 2013, my pressure is good. My doctor was very impressed with the weight loss and my blood pressure being normal…it feel really good.

Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has affected my life style tremendously for the better (without question). In August. of 2005 I injured my lower back (three herniated disc) Rating the pain from( 1) to (10) the pain is a (10) I’m always in a lot of pain. Since training at Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu the pain still exist, but a little more bearable from (1) to (10) it’s about a (7) thanks (BBJJ). Physically I’m feeling better, lost over 20lbs since I started training in April. 2013. Making a commitment to Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the best decision I made for myself…You can’t put a price on your life.

Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is very important to me because I always wanted to commit to a school for the discipline, exercise and techniques. Not knowing about BBJJ until I was invited to the school by a friend (Ambrocio) that train at BBJJ…Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a beautiful thing. Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu feeds my soul: physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. It feels really good to be doing something for my well being. Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is what I need today in my life…Ambrocio I like to give you a special thanks for introducing me to Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Yours truly,

Thai Boxing Graduation – Anna’s Essay

As I have been nearing my next belt blue purple stripe, I have seen many ups and downs in my journey to black belt.  I have felt more energetic than I have when I first started. I feel like I can go longer and not get tired as easily. I remember a time when I ran two blocks to catch up to a bus that was coming up to the stop. I made it and wasn’t as breathless as I could have been. My endurance is up. I have felt less anxious in others and more confident in myself. I feel less angry when I go to work and come from work. It is always good to look forward to the class when it’s time to go.

Whenever I go to work, I am always approached by my female coworkers that ask me about my thai boxing bag when I bring it to work. They ask me where I go, and why, and of course if I have seen any results with my training. I tell them that muay thai boxing is so much fun, and I try to go consistently so that I can become a black belt. The girls are interested and I end up giving them the friends and family program cards, so when they are ready the girls can come to class and have a blast with me or like me.

The most important part of my training would probably be the fact that, by training and focusing on my sucess I feel less angry. I feel less afraid to go ahead and do what I want, or to fight for what I want and or need to do. I have seen my organization go up and down in my life, but since I have a schedule that I must keep, it is easier to fall into a rythm than be miserable. Going to Thai boxing makes me happy, and I am happy to make friends. To train with them and have fun with the girls, and my husband is a big treat for me. To be happy with my family inside and outside the dojo is the most important change that I am working on right now.