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First Degree Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Since, apart from my Mom, only about two other people read this blog, I won’t consider myself too pretentious in announcing that last night I was awarded the first degree of my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt, by Gracie-Barra black belt instructor Alexandre Albuquerque, here in Marbella, Spain. That means, two more degrees and it’ll be time for a Purple Belt.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was made famous in the mid/late 1990’s when Royce Gracie dominated the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as an expert in this relatively unknown martial art. He was beating — not just beating, dominating — people much bigger than himself, and without hitting or kicking. He systematically took his opponent to the ground, and proceeded to choke or arm/leg-lock his opponents into surrendering.

In the years that followed, BJJ and grappling martial arts have so thoroughly dominated all No-Holds-Barred (NHB) fighting competitions, that practically every combative martial art has today incorporated ground techniques, tending towards a common discipline known as “Mixed Martial Arts.” Even having trained in BJJ for nearly four years now, it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is, through the application of just a small set of fundamental positions and moves, to utterly dominate new students who are much bigger, faster and stronger than myself.

For those with a bit of knowledge in martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu would appear to be a fusion of Judo and wrestling. Whereas in Judo and wrestling, the objective is to pin your opponent, in BJJ, the objective is to force your opponent to “submit” (give up, via tapping the ground or you). You achieve this generally via arm or leg locks, joint locks, or chokes. In BJJ sport competition, you also can win by gaining points for things such as improving your position.

The things I like so much about BJJ include the fact that it’s totally reliant on technique, as opposed to physical qualities like strength, speed or flexibility. (However, at the highest level of BJJ competition, physical qualities can certainly provide an edge.) A BJJ match is really very much like a chess match, you generally win by implementing a solid strategy and then catching your opponent in a mistake. I also like that sparring (fighting) in BJJ can be done at almost full effort, with little risk of injury. This aspect makes BJJ a great physical exercise and is one of the reasons it’s so effective as a self defence. A real fight is hardly different than training. (At least that’s what I’m told. I’ve never been in a real fight, and don’t intend to.)

Published inBrazilian Jiu Jitsu


  1. Narayan Narayan

    I would be the other person, I guess.

    Congrats on your blue belt, Matt…I know it has been a long time coming. Soon you’ll be able to turn rolling around floors with your face in the crotches of sweaty guys into a profession!

  2. michel michel

    Looks like your were pessimistic, Matt. I can count 3 people now, and your mom didn’t appear yet … or maybe hidden behind on of the guys above 😉 Congratulations anyway!

  3. Guy Guy

    I deny ever having read this blog.

    How about an update on how you use Daylite?

  4. Flavio A m Gutierrez Flavio A m Gutierrez

    Favor solicitar ao Prof Alexandre Albuquerque entrar em contato comigo pelo e-mail. Fui aluno dele em Belo Horizonte – Brasil. SaudaÃ?ıes.

  5. "Gimli" "Gimli"

    congrats, I got mine yesterday from ATT. Feels good, don’t it

  6. Matt Henderson Matt Henderson

    Oh my goodness, my mom’s going to be proud!

  7. JV JV


    It looks like more than three people have read this. Keep it up. I have earned a black belt in two other martial arts. I too am a blue belt with hopes to stay with it and one day earn a black belt. Good luck.

  8. Funboy Funboy

    Congrats on the blue.
    I have a grading for mine in a week or so. So hopefully all goes well. Just got back from a BJJ camp in Barcelona with Mario Sperry & Minotauro, so that definately helped in getting me ready for the test.

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