Sunday, September 13, 2015

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The road to Black Belt ...

Guiding someone on their journey from white to black belt - particularly in the art of BJJ - is a serious and challenging undertaking. It is the furthest thing from a stroll in the park; it is not for everyone - that's for certain; but it is so very worthwhile on many, many levels.
I feel privileged to have been afforded the opportunity to bring so many along that path to date; some have chosen me for that task; others have had me thrust upon them through the association of their own instructors; but I have always done my best and taken the responsibility very seriously. A Black Belt bestowed, is done so in recognition of a transformation; and a many-faceted transformation at that. The journey from white to black (in my opinion) is all about a shifting from one state to another - a shift from ignorance to understanding, from confusion to clarity of thought, from shallow to deep, from narrow to wide, etc. As professor Rigan Machado points out; the Black Belt is never awarded for a great understanding of two or three techniques, and the ability to apply them successfully in competition; it is about so much more than that; it is about the forging of a complete martial artist and a well-rounded and balanced human being. I want my own Black Belts to bring value to the world and to the people that interact with them; I want them to be better human beings than they were before they began their journey. As my friend Dave Meyer has said, 'you don't just 'get' a black belt; you 'become' one'. This becoming takes time; at least with me; often, quite a long time. This is a privileged journey; one that is replete with surprise, discovery, challenge and fulfilment. JBW

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