I have one rule that I developed since I began writing on this blog again a few months ago. That rule is to write about as much as I possibly can. I was just talking to Laura about this rule a few minutes ago when I mentioned that I randomly wrote about some whiskey around Christmastime a few years ago. Surprisingly, that post got about ten comments. Little did I know that so many folks had an interest in the drink around the holidays. Lesson learned. Now, I write like I did in 2007 – as often as I can.
Last night was an exciting one for me. I earned the first stripe on my Jiu-Jitsu brown belt from the one and only Shawn Smith of the Foundry in Maine. Shawn is a black belt at our school and is the one who awarded me my brown belt one year ago to the day (pretty much). That was a really exciting time for me – one that I missed writing about. I’m mentioning it here because I never want to forget when I got it. Brown belt: December 2015.
The brown belt is a pretty big deal in the BJJ world. Not only does it say that someone has been training for years and years, it says that they have enough knowledge to be trusted to teach in front of other students. It also says that they are good on the mats and can hold their own. I think I fall into all three of these categories. I’ve been training for what feels like forever, have been teaching at the Foundry for a year now and am fairly good at controlling where the game goes when I’m rolling around on the mats. As a matter of fact, one of my most favorite things in the world to do is to test how good I am with newer students or visitors to our school. This type of thing is actually very common. Anybody who’s been doing Jiu-Jitsu for a while absolutely loves it when new blood walks through the door. We all want to roll with this person.
If someone asked me what experience has changed me the most over the past year, I would have to say teaching Jiu-Jitsu. The very first class I taught (officially) was considered my brown belt test. It was last December and I can remember it well. I’ll admit, I was nervous. Far too many people showed up for the event and as I sat in front of them all in an attempt to gather the thoughts that have been flying around my head for the previous three weeks, I nearly froze. I think that’s a natural reaction to something new like that and luckily the feeling passed within a few seconds. After that, I became very comfortable. Since that time, I’ve been working on the content I share with the students as well as my presentation. While I know I’m far from perfect and that I still have a tremendous amount of the actual sport to learn, I try to be as engaging as possible. I like to draw the students into the conversation in an attempt to get them to speak up. I also like to keep them on their toes. I think people learn better when they don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s just a style thing.
Stripes on brown belts don’t come around very often. In my case, it’ll most likely be one per year until I earn my black belt. That will most likely be in 2019 some time. Until then, I’ll continue to learn, enjoy open mat and teach. If someone told me twenty years ago that I’d be doing this for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t have believed them. Now, I can’t even imagine not. Crazy.