July 11th is my birthday and I will be 30 years old. That means I have been doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for 9 years. It has been a tough road but I am happy with all of the progress I have made as a martial artist especially in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I remember when I got my blue and felt this world of accomplishment because of how hard it was to get there. My boss said I should get all my old belts together and hang them on the wall in the gym to show my progress. But I have decided to not do that.
Wednesday June 24th was a very special day for me as an Instructor. Will became my first kid’s Jiu Jitsu student to come through the program and test for his blue belt and pass. I wanted to mark it as an extra special day by passing down my personal blue belt to him.
Dennis, a black belt at me academy, mentioned in passing what a big deal it was for me to give Will MY blue belt. “There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears on that belt.” I guess I forgot that there were. To me it only seemed natural to give my first blue ever as an instructor my own belt. Your legacy as an instructor is not to be great yourself but to have your students outshine you. I joke with my students all the time and say that I’m always teaching them so they can put me out of a job one day.
Its not that I don’t appreciate my blue belt or what it took to get it. I just realize that it is a step in the process in becoming a complete martial artist. I think that its better to have the legacy of the standards I have always held for myself, respect, discipline, character, technique, and confidence, passed on to a student that exemplifies them so well. I am so proud of Will and to see him grow up into a young man even though I might not be as big of a part of his life now. I hope that the blue belt around his waist is a reminder that we as martial artist are not just about getting better but being better people.
So even though I will never see all of my belts on a wall to show my progress, I will have all of the lives I have touched through teaching. To see my belt around someone else’s waist not only shows my progress as a martial artist but as a person.