Hey buddies, been awhile. Not much to say. But, I saw Stuart Cooper dropped a new trailer for the Goat’s documentary. I wanted to make sure you guys didn’t miss it.
Beautiful quote by the great master, and father of future master.
I enjoyed how Kron described, what he thought would be, a match that was insignificant and easy turn into his worst nightmare and, subsequently, one of the best moments of his career. I also found his non-verbal communication with his father, Rickson Gracie, to be fascinating as well.
While in the middle of a heated match, Kron knew exactly what his father was thinking all the way in the audience by a mere glance at his facial expression.
Kron Talks About his Match Against Garry Tonon
So I’m like, “Okay.” I had been training a lot of one-minute drills. So, in my mind, one minute is a long time. I drilled for hours where I have a fresh guy come in every minute for months. I’m going nuts, I pass his guard and I get his back. I look over at the score. I thought it was 3-3, but it was 6-3; I didn’t know he had gotten the back points twice. So I’m going for the choke, he’s defending well. I’m like, “I’m not going to stop, I’m not going to stop.” I squeezed with everything I had left.
He tapped out with three seconds left on the clock.
So, that was my first day.Kron Gracie
Entire Match – Kron Gracie vs Garry Tonon 2013 ADCC
Eddie Bravo and Joe Rogan Talking About Kron Gracie’s 2013 ADCC Run:
Listening to Eddie Bravo and Joe Rogan nerd out on Kron’s 2013 ADCC run is also very satisfying. In particular, it’s interesting to compare and contrast all the different perspectives about the same event, and the magic that can occur at combat sporting events.
As a black belt, my first student I was honored to promote to blue belt – the infamous Dieselinha aka The Big D. It’s been well over a week since this moment has passed, and yet the artillery of emotions it galvanized has yet to taper off. By far, this was the most epic promotions I have ever been to. Likewise, it was also the most special promotional event for me personally. Because…
I Promoted my First Jiu Jitsu Blue Belt!
Okay, okay… I am being immodest, she was not my bjj student. She is the student of my instructor. I was only bestowed the honor of calling her up and helping tie the blue belt around her waist. But, the honor was unbelievably rewarding to me personally. And, as she has been my main drilling partner for quite some time, it was kind of a big deal. Besides being my main drilling partner, she’s also my main squeeze. So, there’s that.
Tying the BJJ Blue Belt Around D
I am eternally grateful to Yemaso both for his tireless efforts to mold us, his students at Yemaso BJJ, into formidable martial artists and for his communal disposition which leads to collaborative promotional ceremonies of partners. I was so excited, and I had been practicing to tie the blue belt so much, that I almost didn’t give him a chance to finish tying it!
Fortunately, he intervened to make it official. And provide the Diesel with some wisdom as she embarks on a new quest.
Truth be told, when I first saw my friend B tie the belt around his wife & little brother I was overjoyed. We also got to witness Troy tie a purple (and later a brown) around his wife, and that was a special moment too. However, it did not prepare me for how big the moment would be for The Diesel and me.
As Heraclitus reasoned:
No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.Heraclitus
The same could be said about martial art peregrinations. My experience achieving blue belt was not parallel to that of The Diesel. We all have our own set of physical, emotional, intellectual, athletic and psychological capacities which coalesce to govern the development of our martial skills.
For most of us this avocation is prioritized behind educational, professional, and familial matters. As the mountain of life periodically drops boulders at our feet, it is those of us who do not permanently shrink, but rather perceive it as a catalyst for upward mobility that succeed in traversing said mountain.
Most don’t know, but The Diesel was one of the first females to train at Yemaso BJJ while she was still living in Long Beach. True story, she would sometimes drive 5-7 hours from Long Beach straight to the academy to join our Friday comp team sessions knowing she’d be the only female training that night. With time the original fembeast, Celina, came back to train so the Diesel would have another female training partner.
Since then, we’ve grown the largest female bjj group in the Sacramento region. Throughout this time we’ve taken our lumps as individuals and we’ve taken them together, yet the Diesel has remained true.
All of these thoughts hit me at once, like it is said your life flashes in your eyes before you die. This time, these memories with my caramel Khaleesi flashed in my eyes as it was time to lay to rest the Diesel’s white belt. It was a lot all at once, and I was overcame with it all…
I haven’t begun to truly consider my own journey, as I’ve been far too elated to move The Diesel up. People keep asking me what it feels like to reach the black belt, and really all I can think about is how pumped I am for my caramel Khaleesi. I wish I could offer everyone more, but that is just what is resonating in my mind right now. I will address the milestone of black belt, I promise, and do my best to address it with the attention it deserves.
But first comes first, I couldn’t possibly be more proud of the moon of my life for reaching this milestone blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
There was one change on this blog that I never addressed, but always planned to address. That is the rebranding of the blog to The Gentle Artist.
Originally, I started this blog both as a means to express a creative outlet as well as to support marketing efforts for the academy I train at.
I wanted to start writing immediately.
To the degree of self awareness I have, I know that one of my weaknesses is that, due to my desire to “do things right”, it can take me a long time to finish projects. I unneccessarily obsess over minute details that, ultimately, don’t make a huge difference. The law of limited returns and what not. This is something that perfectionists are usually unable unwilling to see about themselves. We justify lack of productivity by having exact precision.
I found the first available URL that I could think of BJJ Grappling . com and just got started. Looking back, it was a good decision and I proved myself right. It was YEARS before I thought about the name “The Gentle Artist” as a brand name for the blog.
Sure, it hit all the marks I wanted to hit. And I love the name, but it took me YEARS to get there.
That’s a ton of traffic and value that could have been otherwise lost.
A shit ton.
So, why “The Gentle Artist”?
I want to make this absolutely clear – I am in no way, shape, or means alluding to myself as The Gentle Artist.
Rather, I am referring to us as The Gentle Artists.
On the surface, sure, it is a call that Jiu-Jitsu, by definition, is The Gentle Art.
But, there is so much more to it than that.
To me, it’s also a call to Bushido, a call to the manner in which we aught to conduct ourselves, a call to how we should practice the art, a call to how we should treat our training partners, a call to how we should treat our opponents (if you compete), a call to how we should treat our friends, a call to how we should treat our family, a call to how we should treat those that we don’t call friends, and, even, a call to how we should treat people we genuinely dislike. It is my belief that we can, and should, be kind even to those who we harbor dissaffection for.
including especially me, this is not easy. But, it is worth minding my behavior to reap the reward of feeling like a good dude at the end of the day.
There is a lot of beauty in these ideals and principles. And, I regret that, “western culture” seems to be at odds with this train of thought. I am not a fan of the influence that celebrities like the Kardashians, Kayne, Connor McGreggor, etc. have on pop culture. They are the vanguard that appeals to some of the lowest qualities that humanity has to offer. Of course, that’s not to say that these people are not very hardworking, industrious, and carry plenty of good qualities too. But, anecdotally speaking, these people are typically admired for the more gregarious and outlandish parts of their behavior. I think this is ultimately detrimental to pop culture and devoid of virtue.
So, that’s why I chose the name The Gentle Artist for this martial arts blog.
If you are a long time reader, drop me a line. I’ve missed you.
If you are a new reader – hey, hi, hello there.
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for this blog. I’ve published a review here and there, a quote graphic or two, but haven’t really sat down to write anything of substance. In fact, the last time I wrote anything was when I was promoted to brown belt. And, it’s been over two years since that happened.
I have been meaning to write this for a while, but there is always reticense that holds me back. I wonder if anyone will care. I wonder if it matters any more. I wonder if I am better off doing something else more productive, or something with more utility. I tell myself that I should be more responsible, and study on things that will help me in my career or learn trades that will help me fix up my house with less money. In short, I have found a lot of reasons not to write anything for this blog. But, if I am being most honest with myself, the reason I stopped writing is because I stopped enjoying it. I think I placed too much emphasis on creating content that will be helpful to other people rather than writing something for the joy of writing it. Even my promotion posts were calculated and considerate of my audience.
I started this blog as creative outlet.
I continued the blog because I got good feedback from people IRL as well as on the internet. At some point though, I no longer wrote things that I exclusively cared about. I wrote in the service of others. And, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but, for me, when I lost sight of the reason for this blog, it started to take away from the joy. Little by little it started to become a chore. Eventually, the thought of creating content for this blog was one of the last things I would rather do.
When I read other people’s BJJ blogs, I appreciate that most other people just write and share whatever it is they feel like focusing on at that moment.
I want to get back to that.
Also, I would like to foster community with other bloggers, vloggers, and other creatives in BJJ.
So, for what it’s worth, this is where I am at. One of my favorite training partners reminded me about the blog and how he hadn’t seen anything posted in a while. Which prompted me to wrap up this post and publish it.
If you are still a friend of the blog, drop me a line. Tell me what you’ve been up to. Let’s catch up.
Saturday, December 5th I was promoted to brown belt.
It’s taken quite a while for me to sit down and finish this post for many reasons, but, on the bright side, I think it’s helped provide me more time to reflect on the emotions surrounding this achievement at the heraldry of our academy’s winter promotions.
It was a borderline bizarre experience for me to ascend to the rank of brown belt. One belt away from the end, which is, ironically, consistently referred to as the beginning.
What the fuck.
I took a keen interest in the martial arts since I was but a wee bit lad.
It’s pretty common for most boys to develop an affinity for martial arts movies and the like. Something about innate male behavior or some such, perhaps. Even still, growing up through childhood, pre-adolescence, and through adolescence, I didn’t actually think I would ever become a martial artist.
If I’m being honest, I feel weird describing myself as a martial artist. Although to be fair, I feel weird describing myself in any manner at all, except handsome AF.
I kid, I kid.
Yet, here I am today. A martial artist. One rank away from becoming a black belt. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. A very long, tumultuous, painful tunnel filled with highs and lows and what not, I tell you.
What a ride it’s been.
My goodness, how things have changed on and off the mats from the beginning. It’s pretty fascinating to ponder the periods in your life and how they coincide with each belt rank. For me, it is, anyway.
A lot has changed from when I was promoted to purple belt.
And, that’s just one rank to the next. C’est la vie, I suppose.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Does it Mean to be a BJJ Brown Belt?
A BJJ brown belt is the penultimate rank in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and last of the colored belts. It is fair to say that a brown belt in BJJ is commonly perceived as an advanced Jiu-Jitsuoka (or Jiu Jiteiro).
At this level of rank, one should be able to express technique with an unconscious competence.
That is, your body can react without you thinking. To the layman, or person who doesn’t train in the martial arts, that may sound cooky to you. But, if I had to try to illustrate it for you, I would say, you know those “scare punch” videos you see on YouTube?
Well, that’s an immediate yet unconscious reaction.
Similarly, a brown belt in BJJ should have a number of techniques that have been etched into his brain through a combination of in-numerous repetitions and live sparring, and some of these techniques have become so deeply integrated into this person’s brain that he can access them without actively thinking about it.
Would a BJJ brown belt win any and all street fights he entered? I would hesitate to say yes with absolute certainty, but people would be surprised what is possible. Like Ryan Hall eloquently said, “In Jiu-Jitsu, people don’t think it be what it be. But, it do.”
Against an untrained individual, a brown belt could end a confrontation swiftly and without damage (if they wanted to) even if the person was bigger and stronger. More importantly, though, by the time someone reaches brown belt, they should no longer be attached to any superficial need to prove their might and should avoid a physical confrontation as much as possible.'In Jiu-Jitsu people don't think it be what it be. But, it do.' - Ryan HallClick To Tweet
How Long Does it Take to Get a Brown Belt in BJJ?
The amount of training time required to reach the rank of brown belt typically dwarfs that of other traditional martial arts in pursuit of their respective similar rank. In BJJ there is no black belt for kids like other programs out there. The ranks are clear, few, and difficult to attain.
From what I’ve gleaned, it appears that each promotion is about two to two and a half years for the average person that trains consistently. It is said, on average, it takes ten years to reach the rank of black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Your mileage may vary.
For me, actual training time on the mats, it has been about six years more or less.
If we’re talking about calendar time elapsed from my first day of training until now, it would be eight years.
Yeah, I took a couple of long breaks. I know.
How Long Does it Take to go From Purple Belt to Brown Belt?
At the point receiving my purple belt, I had 128 check-ins to my academy on Foursquare. I’ve been pretty consistent checking in; although, I might have missed some here and there sporadically and I didn’t check in twice when I would train more than once a day. Lastly, this won’t show how many times I’ve visited other academies. I’m too lazy to look that up. But, the day of my brown belt promotion, I had 441 check-ins at my academy.
That’s a difference of 313.
So, looking at it exclusively from a quantifiable standpoint, I had at least 313 training sessions in my transition from purple belt to brown belt.
Conservatively speaking, I put in over 600 hours of mat time to promote to brown belt from purple belt.
However, for a small period of time, I was training all day. In fact, for a period of time, I was doing the morning class, teaching the kids class, doing the pm class, and staying for comp team training thereafter. And a random Judo class, here and there, I would do in between teaching the kids class and doing the adult training class during that period.
Is that a lot? I don’t know. Given that there are 365 days in a year, 313 doesn’t seem like a lot.
- June 2013 Promoted to Purple Belt
- December 2013 – Competed in the first tournament as a purple belt (Bronze Medal)
- Early January 2014 – Separated Shoulder (off the mats for weeks)
- March 2014 – Back to Light Training
- Early April 2014 – Back to Normal Training
- Late April 2014 – ACL/MCL Injury (completely off the mats for months)
- October 2014 – Back to Very Light Training
- December 2014 – Back to Normal Training (modifications made)
- January 2015 – San Francisco IBJJF Open (Division Gold, Absolute Silver)
- December 2015 – Promoted to Brown Belt
For those of you purple belts that want to explore the transition to brown belt, Roy Harris has some great thoughts on the transition from purple belt to brown belt. I think it’s a good read. However, that’s his perspective. And, I’ve come to learn, there’s more than one way to skin the cat. You or your instructor may not necessarily agree with him.
What Was Your Jiu-Jitsu Brown Belt Test or Exam?
Most BJJ academies do not test, but I am aware that some do. Ultimately, it’s up to the instructor’s discretion to decide whether testing is something he’ll want to do. However, at our academy, we do not do any formal testing. I’ve rolled with my instructor 99.9999999999999% of my training days.
And If I happened to go to training twice a day, guess what shawty, I rolled with my instructor twice.
The universe conspired against me a handful of times where I rolled with him three times in one day. I don’t know about y’all, but we only do ten-minute rounds.
Real hustlaz. All day. Just me. By myself. On the mats. Held down. Belt on my waist. Grimaced face. All day. Not a game. Guard passed. By myself. All of a sudden, woke up. Went back to sleep. Took a nap. You ever go night night!?!?
Sorry, last promotion post, I referenced Chappelle. This time, Hart gets the nod.
Anyway, if I am arriving at any line of reasoning is that my instructor gauges progress by rolling with us directly, watching our rolls with our training partners, and, for those that compete, assessing competition performance.
What are the IBJJF Requirements to Promote to Brown Belt?
Finally, an easy question.
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must have spent a year and a half, minimum, at purple belt.
You’re a Brown Belt Now so, What Now?
I have no illusions that I’ll be a world class elite top brown belt. If I am being honest, I don’t have any desire to make the sacrifices it takes to make that happen.
I know what it takes.
I’ve witnessed my instructor put in the work; he is the epitome of diligence towards skill acquisition, refinement, and overall progression.
For a very short period of my relatively short training history, I even lived it. People don’t understand what the elite do to get where they are. Besides the obvious physical demands, there is a lot of monotony in the life of a “full time” bjj athlete. There’s a lot of sacrifice.
So much sacrifice.
It’s not for everybody, but, if you ever have the opportunity to try it for a while, I suggest you give it a go. It’s a wonderful experience to learn about yourself, as well as mold parts of your character that otherwise wouldn’t be challenged. Although short lived, I had a blast living it up truth be told.
I’m in uncharted territory now, as I don’t currently have any goals at brown belt (not long term at least). At blue, I had a lot of goals (maybe too many). At purple, I definitely had goals. Right now, I’m spread too thin between all of my responsibilities. I’ve developed an endearment towards minimalism. As less is more, it may be time to take a step back and reassess everything.
Time to evaluate what matters most and put all my time and effort into that. My health matters a lot to me, exercise is necessary for optimum health, so BJJ fits right into that. 😉
Truthfully, I just want to enjoy this journey for what it is.
I want to be more present in every class, more appreciative of my training partners, more welcoming to new students, more mindful in my analysis of the art, get lost in every round, and, well.. you get the idea.
If there’s anything in my mind right now, that is akin to a goal, I’d like to see how I could join, and, maybe, add a little of my perspective into the global perception of Jiu-Jitsu and the Martial Arts at large.
How I did regarding my Purple Belt goals:
- Improve my wrestling – Check. Still mediocre, but much improved.
- Improve my judo – Fail. Did not attend the classes or put in the work.
- Improve economy of movement – Check. Huge improvements in this.
- Master the purple belt curriculum – Fail. Too much stuff. Not enough work.
- Curate an individual style – Eh. Not sure on this one.
- Learning how to teach bjj – Work in progress.
I’ve also had the long-term goal of winning a gold medal as well as medaling in an absolute division. I was able to knock two birds with one stone coming back from the big knee injury. I was quite proud for a brief moment until I rolled with my teammates the following Monday and had my ass handed to me.
Thanks for keeping me grounded, guys. Haha.
Well, that’s it. I’m quite exhausted from pondering all of this and putting the proverbial pen to the pad. By now, if you’re still reading this, you’re probably sick of me too.
I don’t blame you. But, thanks for reading. Really, I mean it.