Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Why Aren’t You A Black Belt?

>How many times have I been asked this question? It all started with “why aren’t you a purple belt?” and went from there.

I’ll explain why not....................

1998 brought me into contact with my coach Chris Haueter and trained with him whenever possible when after a couple of years, my wife and I were both awarded our blue belts (Jan 2001 I think). With Chris’s blessing we opened a class where I took the role of coach whilst Helen mainly just trained, this making the big difference as I was to find out later.

Built up a great club and hooked up with SBG Pres Matt Thornton which worked out great because not only being a very knowledgeable and cool guy, was also a student of Haueter’s so we were on the same page regarding training so to speak. After a few visits Matt promoted some of our guys which became the norm, eventually 3 of them being promoted to purple belt whilst I was still a blue, these being Pete Guest, Varqa and Helen, all of them very well deserved purple belts in my opinion.

I then started to have discussions and telephone conversations with various people from outside my gym, that went something like this:

Person: I hear (Pete, Varqa, Helen) got purple belt

Me: Yes they did

Person: Are you a purple belt

Me: No I’m blue

Person: How does that work then?

Me: How does what work?

Person: With them being higher grades than you, who’s going to take the classes?

Me: I will continue to teach class, I taught these guys so I am maybe doing a good job.

Person: It just might look a bit funny if you are taking class and there are higher grades than you training.

Me: I doubt anyone will care.

Fast forward to 2008 and more than a few people have asked “are you a black belt” and when I answer they follow up with “how come Helen is then”

My stock answer is that she is better than I am. Whilst I have always done the gym coach route she has always trained hard and sparred with everyone. That is why she is better than I (and I am a better coach) because that is what we have mainly done over the years respectively. Would I trade places? Not on your life, the amount of satisfaction I have had from coaching is far better than achieving any belt.

One time in the USA at the Machado Academy Helen rolled for an hour straight with 2 outstanding female black belts in Cindy Omatsu and Felicia Oh, only getting caught once in an hour. Could I do that?

She also had an awesome sparring match with Megumi Fuji at our gym where neither lady subbed the other.

On top of that she is 50kg and will train with anyone, the closest guy in weight at our gym is still 68/70kg which is a massive +40% body weight difference. Imagine if everyone in the gym was way stronger than you and everyone outweighed you by at least 40% of your bodyweight, how would you do every session.

She exemplifies Jiu Jitsu, the smaller guy beating the bigger guy and that is why Helen is a black belt!!

As for me...................the short answer is I’m just not ready yet.

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