Another momentous day for our Future Champions! Sixteen children from our FC (Future Champions) program successfully tested for new ranks in BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) this past July 8th!
Going in you could tell the children were nervous; the usual wide smiles and buoyant demeanors were replaced by a bunch of steely eyes and grim faces!
This test included a new challenge for our colored belts : they not only had to fulfill the technical requirements, but also demonstrate the leadership skills that would accompany their new rank. We tested their Jiu Jitsu AND their capacity to help and be strong role models for their peers. Even though this was a less tangible skill set to display and was the "surprise" of the test, our FC fell back on their martial arts training and came through in spades. The higher belts (yellow belt and up) were asked to run the warmup for the ceremony and later on, instructed to pick a junior student to successfully teach a new BJJ technique. This was presented as a surprise after all other required techniques were tested. All of the kids intently listened as I explained the task. They then calmly and directly chose and taught a lower belt one of their favorite techniques. This was done with an eagerness to help and pride in their classmates.
For our lower ranked and younger students (grey/black belts and below) the most important aspect of Jiu Jitsu - SELF DEFENSE - was the focus of the test. The kids were asked to demonstrate situational awareness, de-escalation strategies, and techniques to control and subdue the most common :bully" and assault scenarios. This included dealing with bullying peers, and bigger, more aggressive, assailants. Besides the crisp execution of the techniques, all in attendance were most impressed by the coolness and confidence with which our FC confronted the scenarios. They trained very hard for this, and it showed.
Unfortunately, not all passed as this was a test based on individual merit and responsibility; a bad attitude and lackadaisical approach to the test cost some the coveted new rank. Alas kids will be kids, and they will be given a chance to re-test.
A favorite adage in our FC class is the quote from Spider-Man, "With great power, comes great responsibility".That was a theme pressed upon the FC throughout the training leading to the belt ceremony. The message sent was that the new belts were not so much a celebration of their achievements, but a bigger shoe, so to speak. A rank of increased knowledge, experience, and responsibility : particularly the responsibility for the weaker, smaller, and less fortunate. This starts with their lower ranked peers in class. These kids are all tough, no doubt, but here at GRACIE BARRA OVIEDO, our goal is not to produce the next GREAT FIGHTER, but foster GREAT MARTIAL ARTISTS. A fighter trains for a fight, while a martial artist trains for LIFE.
Perhaps the most incredible thing to see that afternoon was the throngs of family members nervously braced for the rest, and then, completely jubilant at their kids promotion. Many of these parents and family members train BJJ themselves, and you could see a silent recognition and understanding on their faces for the rigor that goes into training for a new rank in the "Gentle Art" (the direct translation of Jiu Jitsu to English). All in all, it was a great family day for all involved and a celebration of the invaluable life skills our FC are attaining and a toast to their future victories!
- Steven Silva - Instructor at Gracie Barra Oviedo