Nearly 10 years of work in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and I have hit a milestone (or so I have been told). This art has given me so much. It has been the most challenging and rewarding of any martial art I have ever done. Learning and teaching it has been a blast. But I could not have done it alone. I want to take a few lines to express my gratitude to some people.
First, to Jon Friedland, my teacher, whose Jiu Jitsu style and philosophy I find the most appealing. The countless rolls and technical instruction you have provided are invaluable. Thank you for honoring me with this rank and allowing me to be a part of the Neutral Ground association. I will continue to do my best to represent the high standards you have set.
To all my students at Neutral Ground Sheboygan. A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teacher is nothing without students. I am happy you have chosen to walk this path. I will do my part to keep you on it for as long as I can.
To my coaches and assistant coaches. Andy and Josh, my Lieutenant coaches: Without you two helping me teach classes, Neutral Ground Sheboygan would not be as strong as it is. I can always rely on your dedication. Not only have you guys become incredible grapplers but have become top notch teachers as well. A.J. and Chad for stepping up and crushing it with your classes. I’m glad to have you on the team! Jason Fredericks, one of my original students from the ‘old’ days when I was a fresh blue belt. You have stuck with me since 2011. If you had not stuck to it with your fierce smile and wonderful friendliness I would probably thrown in the towel on teaching (or running a dojo at least) a long time ago. You kept the life in the dojo at its weakest point, so now it can be strong and thriving. I look forward to strapping a Black Belt on you someday. John Brigham, thanks for being a good friend and helping me to prepare for “the test.” You took literally hundreds of high falls on my behalf. I will return the favor someday. Tom, for being an outstanding assistant. A great deal of our students came to me expressing how helpful you have been getting them acclimated to BJJ life. I have no doubt a big part of our student retention is because of you. Andrew, for your dedication, enthusiasm and cleanliness. You are always on the mats and you always make sure the dojo is clean! Thank you all.
Most importantly I need to thank my wife, Rachael, without whom none of this would be possible. In the last 10 years I have spent almost 9,000 hours dedicated to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. All this time, you sacrificed for me. You supported and encouraged me. Countless times have you said, “go train” knowing how passionate I am about Jiu Jitsu. You took up all the slack at home when I was away. With a career of your own and 5 children, this wasn’t easy. You have also kept me centered and balanced. Not only does Jiu Jitsu make me a better person, so do you. You are the most wise and humble person I know (or will ever know) and I have learned so much from you. I am so grateful to have you as my partner and the mother of our children. I love you so much.
Black belt. Just a symbol. The hard work continues to discover more about this incredible art. The wonderful thing about BJJ is that the mats don’t lie. There can be no resting on our laurels. It is still, and will forever be, business as usual. See you on the mats!