Today I received my purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’ve had a really tough year both emotionally and physically and it means so much to me on so many levels. I have a long list of people to thank, so bear with me. First and foremost I have to thank my awesome and beautiful wife Danielle and equally as awesome and beautiful daughter Danica. Every time I am at BJJ I am sacrificing time with them, and they have never complained and have been nothing but supportive. It’s tough being away from them so much, but I know BJJ brings out the best in me. It makes me feel so much better physically and mentally I don’t know what I would do without it. I have to thank Master Carlson Gracie Jr from Carlson Gracie Team Chicago and Professor Benjamin Salas from Seamless Progression Academy for the promotion. It was such an exceptional honor to be promoted by the both of them. Training with Ben has been so great. To be a black belt in BJJ is one thing, but to be a black belt in BJJ who can TEACH and INSPIRE is an entirely different thing all together. Ben’s passion and love for the art matches mine stride for stride and I wouldn’t want to train under someone who wasn’t as passionate about BJJ as me. I want to thank 5th Group for getting me hooked on grappling through combatives during my deployment. Shon Diaz for telling me “dude you have to try the gi” and for always being two steps ahead of me. He taught me my favorite choke in the whole world and gives me something to strive for. I want to thankMichael Donvito, my first BJJ instructor, Mike set such a solid foundation for me in BJJ that even while injured and post-surgery I was able to fall back on his training. I lost a big bag of tricks when I got hurt, but because of amazing teaching abilities I was able to rely on what was engrained in my head, and that’s what BJJ is all about. He has made BJJ that much easier for me by setting me up for success. I also want to thank David Jacobs from David “The Rock” Jacobs Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy, I always like to say Dave could wrist lock a Rhino from 20ft away and although I don’t have his slick wrist lock abilities or narly cauliflower ears, he taught me a lot about being a good instructor and a good human being without ever making a point to do so. He leads from the front and teaches by example by just doing the right thing and speaking up when some speaking up needs to take place. He wants to be on the mat and wants you to be there with him. I also want to thank Perry Wirth for getting me out of my slow reactionary bubble and forcing me to act with a sense of urgency. It was a level of physicality I definitely needed at the time I got it. I want to thank all of the kids I taught at Neutral Ground Grafton, their parents and Luke & Perry for allowing me to do so over the last year. Teaching is a reward unto itself and if you’re not already doing it or helping out with it, you should. I also want to give a shout out to some of my favorite training partners of all time Omar Breiz Tony Breiz Christopher Loza, Tarek Dagstani and Steve Hanson.
And as a final bonus I have three shout outs, Firstly I want to thank all of the guys putting out awesome video instructionals for no other reason than the fact they love BJJ. Small guys doing analysis and breakdowns that heighten peoples game to the next level by filling in small details. Your hardwork with little reward does not go unnoticed. BJJ Scouts DLR counters video changed my entire passing game. Secondly, I want to thank all of the people who followed my blogging on GiReviews.net, danofearth.com, the people I’ve collabed with on Gis, tshirts and designs in the past and in the future. And lastly, I want to thank everyone who does BJJ, man, woman, child, old, young or between….everyone. We have an amazing community that knows no limits and is unlike anything I’ve ever experience. We all learn from each other regardless of rank and all go through the same experiences on the mat at some point. Continue being awesome. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it felt tonight. This may be long winded for a Purple belt thank you list, but I had to let everyone know how awesome they are and how much everything has meant to me. #OSS #BOA