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New Black Belts At Kyuzo

It’s a week from Christmas, so first off let me tell you that next Monday there WON’T be a blog or email. Don’t miss me too much on Christmas Day.

Last week we had our yearly promotions, and I gave out lots of new belts. I say it every time, the weirdest thing about martial arts is belts. Someone tying a coloured piece of cloth around your waist. To an outsider, it must seem ridiculous, but like anything intangible all that matters is the meaning you attach to it.

Maybe it’s akin to a Christmas tradition you might have. We’ve a few silly ones around my way that might seem odd to others. For example, my entire family have a rubber snake on their Christmas tree. There’s just always been a rubber snake on the tree since we were kids in our grandparents’ house. No one can tell us why. But we must have a rubber snake.

In that light, maybe attaching meaning to a small coloured piece of cloth around your waist isn’t so difficult to understand.

I gave out two new Black Belts, the pinnacle of Jiu Jitsu belts, last Wednesday. Two very different guys got them.

Adam Kearney got his. He’s been here since he was a teenager, and is 26, so he’s one of my youngest Black Belts. He’s grown up on the mats over time and has been a competitor and a coach here.

Alan Fennelly got his too, he’s in his mid 40s and found Jiu Jitsu about a decade ago after training martial arts of all kinds for many years. I actually organised the event for a Wednesday night just to give it to Al. He can't usually make it on the usual Saturday and I wanted to make sure it was a surprise.

They’re very different guys, in very different circumstances, but both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black belts since last Wednesday. Both dedicated and willing to stay the course, that’s the one thing I’d say they have in common. Just keep showing up.

And then at the end of the night, I was surprised by everyone. It’s my 20th year coaching, and the guys had some gifts for me, including a lovely photobook chronicling the last 20 years. It’s taken pride of place on my bookshelf.

A nice end to the year. I hope you have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2024.

See you on the mat,


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