Sunday, February 27, 2011


What do black belts normally do when it is time for them to get a stripe? I have only ever been a part of one school, with one black belt and all I know is that his recent promotion to third stripe left an impression on me.

Fabio been a black belt for 9 years now. As I understand it, you get one stripe every three years for the first three degrees after you get your black belt. Then it bumps up to five years for a while and then seven, I think. Stephanie was telling me all the details last night and it is more complicated than I care to process in the pre-coffee hours of a Sunday morning.

Last week, Fabio hit his 9 year anniversary of becoming a black belt. He was standing around in the office with some of the guys from class and he just put on his new stripe. No fanfare. No announcement. Not even in front of the school. He just put it on and went out to teach class like normal.

Of course, the guys didn't let him get away with that. They cheered for him and congratulated him when people were lined up after class. He said thank you and that was pretty much it. I wouldn't have even known about it if some of the guys who saw him put the stripe on hadn't told me. I don't know if part of the reason there wasn't more done about it is because his teacher, Marcelo Saporito, lives in Brazil and isn't around to stripe him. But I think it goes deeper than that.

I want to brag about my instructor for a minute. I can do that without being a suck-up on here because I know Fabio doesn't read this blog. lol.

He always tells us it isn't about the belt or the amount of stripes on it. He doesn't just say that, though. He really doesn't make that his focus. I am sure he is proud to have earned his third stripe.

But for him, jiu-jitsu is about his team. He lights up when he talks about his students. He puts tons of hours outside of his regular classes into the people who are a part of his school. He is not just our instructor. Everyone knows that he will be there in a heartbeat if we need him for anything, Jiu-jitsu related or not. At the school, he doesn't let us call him sensei or master or anything like that. He just wants to be called Fabio, because he doesn't want to make it about him. It's funny because I think the guys in our school respect Fabio more because he doesn't demand respect. He earns it from everyone he meets. On top of that, the bjj that he teaches is top notch.

I have heard stories about schools where that black belt doesn't even grapple or when he does grapple he just submits the garbage out of everyone. When Fabio grapples, he doesn't destroy us and submit us a thousand times (though that is a little different when he is training for pan ams). He moves and lets us try stuff--then catches us off balance and dumps us over on our butts.

My point is, Fabio's gym is one of the most relaxing places I can go because of the humble, family-type mentality that he demonstrates both on and off the mat. So, even though you won't see this, congratulations on your third stripe, Fabio. I hope I will have the privilege of seeing you earn many, many more.


Dev said...

Awesome post. Awesome. I hope someday I can visit your gym, because that's the kind of guy I want to learn from.

Anonymous said...

OMG, I really want to come train at your gym now and meet your instructor. Oh yeah, would love to train with you, too. :) said...

Congratulations to Fabio! sounds like a great instructor. He promotes an environment very similar to the one in our school.
"The led must not be compelled; they must be able to choose their own leader." ~Albert Einstein

Jiujitsunista said...

Fabio is the best. =)

Liam H Wandi said...

I echo all that's been said here. Sounds like you guys have got a great deal going for you :)

A.D. McClish said...

@ Dev and Combat: Anytime you guys want to come visit, you are more than welcome!!

@Jen: Thanks!

@Steph: Indeed, madam! lol

A.D. McClish said...

Thanks Liam!!