12722210_10153434848538015_1469854363_oIt was 2005 (I think). My chronic pain issue was as bad as it was gonna get. I was tired of missing out on things. I didn’t know if I could do it. But I started BJJ.

Fast forward 10 years. It’s hard not to focus on the 10K hour rule / 10 year rule. Enough time has passed (I haven’t been training those 10 years consistently, though) and yet I haven’t reached mastery….I’m still not a Black Belt.

Some who roll with me find that hard to believe. Others find it hard to believe I’m not better. It just depends on the match up. That’s really the theme: how well things match up.

To be honest, BJJ isn’t really my style. I don’t like the Gi and I certainly don’t like the mythos (and pathos) around it. But I love grappling without the Gi.

Because of that, I was never able to find a school or really an instructor that shared a similar viewpoint. Not to be overly dramatic, but I was a grappler wandering in the wilderness.

I always learned something visiting other schools and am very grateful for what those instructors gave me. But I was going in a different direction. Not many agreed with my direction. I’m sure “Creonte” was said more often than “Ronin.”

Much of my time was self directed going to open mats and drilling with buddies. While my drilling partners were great, I was usually at a higher skill level than them. And I was only solving the problems I was presented with.

But something always stuck with me. There were certain guys who gave me the most problems. In fact, two kinds of guys.

Guy #1: The Leglocker
I came up in a school where leg locks weren’t practiced that often, so defense wasn’t developed. When I went up against guys of my experience level or greater, they took advantage of my ignorance. I have to patch this hole.

Guy #2: The Wrestler turned Submission Wrestler
I’ve written about this many times before but I’ll summarize here. When good high school level and above level wrestlers came in to train BJJ in the Gi, they often dominated the blue belts and most of the purple belts. Once they developed submission defense, they dominated most of the brown belts, too, as well as putting black belts in trouble sometimes. When they took off the Gi, they dominated nearly everyone…including me.

Being susceptible to a leg locker is a big hole in one’s game. But not knowing wrestling is a far bigger hole. And for every BJJ player I could ever beat, I knew those two categories of guys had my number. It made me very insecure.

Fast forward to August 2015. I’d moved to Utah and was looking for a place to train. I do my research and find “The most dominating and effective No Gi Submission Grappling program ever created.” Very bold claim. And that is exactly what I have found it to be.

On my first day there, we train takedowns to leg lock series. I had found my school…and my instructor. At some other point in the future, I’ll write my love letter to University of Grappling and my instructor…but for now I have an announcement.

While I may not be a Black Belt, I am a Brown Belt…a very new Brown Belt. It would be fair to say I’m more green than brown. But I’ll put in my time and grow into the rank as best I can.

I’m more proud of this Brown Belt from Marc Brewer at University of Grappling than I would be a Black Belt from anyone else. What happens at UoG is a level above what I’ve been exposed to (in person or online). There is simply no comparison for what is being taught, who is teaching it, and with whom I get to drill and train. I hope I can do the belt, the instructor, my training partners, and the school that same honor that was bestowed upon me.

March 17th, 2016

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