Hello all. If you know me, I’m glad to see you’re reading my post. If not, you might be wondering: Who is this guy? No one special really. I’m no tournament monster, though I’ve competed and won some medals (in Italy and the US). I’ve been doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since I graduated college in 1997. It’s been a really long time to say the least.
I wanted to take a moment to write an endorsement of Daniel Beleza, not so I can brag how he made me the best Jiu Jitsu player, or try to sell you on his credentials. He doesn’t need me to do that. You can research for yourself and see that he’s the real deal. The reason that I wanted to write is to endorse him personally. In my 16 years of training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I’ve never trained with anyone that has cared about me as much personally as Daniel does. On or off the mat, you always know that he’s there to support you.
I had the pleasure to begin training with Daniel about two years ago, long after I began training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. At that point in time, I was about to hang up my gi for good. I had the displeasure of meeting a number of different jiu jitsu “masters,” but all I ever found was that I was paying money, but I wasn’t getting better. I ended up training myself with friends, DVD’s, books, YouTube, whatever I could get my hands on. I committed myself and did get better, but I never knew if what I was doing was the right thing to train. You figure this out when you go against well-trained practitioners and fully realize that your training wasn’t as good as you may have thought. It worked against some lesser trained individuals, but not against people that were as experienced as you were. Sure, I did some things well, but there were always glaring holes in my own game that were never exposed because everyone around me was in the same proverbial boat.
I’m from Baltimore, Md. and there are only a handful of BRAZILIAN instructors within an hour’s drive. This is an important distinction because there are good American Jiu Jitsu black belts, but there aren’t that many that are regularly placing highly at the national tournaments where I can drive an hour and get good training. That’s not to say that Americans aren’t good at Jiu Jitsu. There are very good instructors out there. However, few have been doing Jiu Jitsu as many years as a comparable Brazilian Black Belt. Also, when learning an art, do what you can to learn from the source. The further you travel from the source, you have to be assured that what you’re learning is comparable to what you would learn in Brazil.
As I mentioned, I was at a crossroads two years ago. My Jiu Jitsu skills had plateaued for a long time, and I was spending a lot of time training new students, so my abilities weren’t being tested regularly. I was, quite honestly, bored because I wasn’t learning any more. That changed when I met Daniel. He understood my dilemma, but he taught me to get past it. He taught me to see the possibilities for me. Of course, at 37 years old, with a wife and two kids, I might not be able to commit the time to Jiu Jitsu that others could. That didn’t mean that I couldn’t be the best that I could be. It wasn’t for me to measure myself against others. That’s never the way to see how well you’re progressing. It was to measure my skills against myself. How much more could I push myself? Where do I want to be?
After two years, I’m fortunate enough and proud to be a Daniel Beleza Brown Belt. Maybe with enough effort and commitment, I may actually reach a Black Belt level. There was a time when that was all that I would think about. Now, I’m just proud to have an instructor that I know is there for my development. I still have a goal to reach a Black Belt, but I know that when I get there, there will be no questions on whether I’m good enough to deserve it. Daniel’s support will be the reason that it happens when the time is right. I hope that by sharing my story, others will see their own possibilities. Consider visiting Daniel’s school if you’re at your own crossroads. You’ll be glad that you took the time to pay him a visit.