My journey began officially on April 1, 2016. I put on my white belt and started with the evening class that week taught by coach Sup that day (who would later take me under his wing and mold me for a stellar 2017 competition season). I hesitated to even start the warmup, but my wife push kicked me onto the mat and I was paired up with this behemoth of a man whom I would find out later is a gentle and kind soul (Jerod Huber). I had to switch partners after not being able to lift him during guard breaking drills. That was my first class at halo. Fast forwarding through my white belt journey, my first grappling tournament at Grapplers X 4 months later. I was slotted against a giant, in my eyes, Drew Milczarek, who is a seasoned mma fighter dominating me our only two bouts first by points then second by submission (keylock). Fast forward from there I get to witness my professor receive his black belt and I get to see many of my teammates receive stripes and then one day came, October 31, I received my first stripes along with my brothers, Dennis and Josh G, with Ryan K and Rod Lucas receiving their blue belt stripes. It was a bittersweet day because we tragically lost Rod shortly after. I would compete every month in 2017 and getting on the podium in each, January – All Americas (Bronze), February – Grapple Bowl (Gold), March – Pan Ams (Silver) coached by Professor Angel for over 3 hours, April – American Cup (Bronze). I took May off bowing out of the Worlds to heal up and help my teammates prepare when my professor surprises me today with the blue belt promotion. I was a little disoriented when I received it being under Val’s side mount, knee on belly, and north-south for 20+ minutes. It was truly a glorious moment I want to give all glory to God and I’m glad my daughters were there too to witness it along with my teammates who help me along this journey. I’m truly honored and blessed to train under professors Angel (Halo) and Speedy, and professor Tinguinha. Blue belt for me is another chapter in this journey and I will continue to put in the work, dedication, and consistency necessary to continue to grow and build upon my experience thus far. Thank you to my family, my teammates, my brothers and sisters who have bled, sweat, and worked on the mats with me. This belt is a symbol of all of your energy and time you gave to me as my training partners and I’m truly grateful.
That “welcome home!” feeling I got after arriving back from our east coast trip to Toronto and Buffalo early this morning, was like something out of Wizard of Oz . Running on 5 hours of sleep, I decided to get up and get back into the routine training at Halo BJJ this morning. Arriving after class had ended, I was fortunate to see a foursome of Jiu Jiuteiros still rolling. Wanting to join in on some “flow” rolls, I grabbed my newly-minted blue belt training partner and continued to flow roll for the next 20-30 minutes. This roll is the first in one week and marks the first time I have not at all rolled for more than 3-4 days since my nogi tournament in January. My body feels rested. Thanks to my relatives, I ate handsomely for 5 straight days. Now to train for my first blue belt tournament the la open international in June.