Quite unlike other martial arts, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) belt progression is very much a tricky and unpredictable journey, and one’s duration to the Black Belt level is quite uncertain. For some, it takes six years. For others, twenty. 53 year old Tomas G. compares it to travelling.
“In your early years as a practitioner, you think that the journey to a Black Belt is akin to taking the train towards a certain local destination - say, Tampines.”
“However, as you journey along, you realise that Tampines is simply the Blue Belt, and your next destination now requires you to take a plane. As you progress higher up the ranks, the flight becomes a long-haul one and never seems to end.”
Well, no one can testify to this as accurately as Tomas, for he was awarded his Black Belt at our bi-annual BJJ Blue Belt Exam graduation ceremony on Saturday, 7 Dec 2019.
Tomas was one of the 14 to retire out of an old belt and advance a rank higher that day. We also welcomed our newest Brown Belt Karim Es Said, Purple Belts Michal Pawlowski, Sebastian Brochet and Sue-Ann Tan, as well as a number of Blue Belts (Brittaney Goh, Carl Chay, Christoph Hannak, Daniel Floerke, Kelvin Ng, Kieran Clark, Lucas Thomas, Terry Tan, Wei Jie Chia) who had to first undergo a ‘gruelling’ exam that day.
Family and friends, including members of FaMA, gathered to watch the exam, which kicked off with the Blue Belt Exam. There, Blue Belt candidates were tested for their application of basic BJJ techniques, including full guard sweeps, submissions from the mount, escapes from side control and mount, and so on. These candidates are picked and invited to undergo the test by our Black Belt professors, based on their readiness, understanding, as well as consistency in class attendance.
After this test, the candidates were paired off with present coloured belts, who ‘welcomed’ them into the coloured belt ‘club’ with a six-minute sparring session. Six minutes is the IBJJF-stated duration for a Blue Belt competition match.
Following this, our resident Black Belts and Professors treated the candidates to a candid ‘self-defence test’ as they donned gloves and threw light punches to test the candidates’ response in a self-defence situation. The crowd was humoured and entertained as candidates gave their all with takedown attempts. Those with an inclination for guard positions, such as our only female Blue Belt candidate Brittaney Goh, had to find creative ways to stop the ‘attacks’, although our professors were happy to oblige her when she went into a De la Riva guard and attempted a sweep! Folks, don’t try this on the streets!
The exam was wrapped up by some encouraging words from our professors.
Professor Robyn Goudy said,
“We’ve never failed a student at a Blue Belt Exam… by inviting you here, we know you have what it takes to go to the next level.”
Following this, the students were given their new belts, to applause and cheers from their friends and family. Two of the nine Blue Belts promoted happened to be our teen competitors Lucas Thomas and Kieren Clark, who had ‘come of age’ and would now be eligible to compete in the IBJJF Blue Belt juvenile division (comprising youth at 16 and 17 years of age).
For most students who were promoted to Purple, Brown and Black Belt, this promotion came as a surprise. Tomas definitely did not expect that this would be his day to become a Black Belt, as he thought he was simply there to help out in the Blue Belt Exam.
“I had already accepted that this journey would take a long, long time,” he said.
Tomas has not only shown an incredible display of knowledge and maturity on the mats, as well as guidance to his teammates. He has also contributed much to FaMA through his assistance in classes on weekday mornings and the Little Warriors BJJ class every Sunday morning. We are truly indebted to his service and agree that this is a milestone to remember for life.
Congratulations to Tomas, and all those who received their well-deserved belts! May this not mark the end of a journey, but the beginning of new adventures and discoveries on a different level.
To see all the pictures from the exam and graduation ceremony click here.
FaMA - Fitness and Martial Arts Established in 2016, FaMA is a world-class martial arts academy located in the heart of the Central Business District in Singapore. Walking distance from Clarke Quay and Fort Canning MRT stations, FaMA’s main goal is to help people improve their lives through martial arts regardless of age or athletic capability. Our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Muay Thai Kickboxing, Kids Martial Arts and Fitness programs are led by experts in their respective fields. So, whether it is weight loss, a fun workout, camaraderie, competition training, or just to break a sweat, FaMA has something for the whole family.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ as it is commonly known around the world, is a self-defence martial art that enables a smaller, weaker person to protect themselves against a much larger attacker using leverage and pressure. Formed from Kodokan Judo in Japan, Jiu Jitsu found its way to Brazil in the 1910s through Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese judoka and no-holds-barred prize fighter. During his time in Brazil, Maeda accepted a young Carlos Gracie as his student. Carlos would later pass on his knowledge to his brothers, most notably Helio Gracie - the father of modern Brazilian Jiujitsu. The Gracie family would go on to spread BJJ through The Gracie Challenge and eventually the creation of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Today, BJJ has grown to be more than just an effective unarmed fighting system. It helps young children deal with bullies and adults live a healthy lifestyle. BJJ classes are offered daily at FaMA under the tutelage of Black Belts Zoro Moreira, Robyn Goudy and Thiago Gaspary.