A lot has changed in the last couple months. I have a lot to write about. I need to catch up, and I will. I will start with the latest news first, and work my way back over the coming weeks.
I am excited to announce that I was awarded my blue belt last night by Master Carlson Gracie Jr. and my coach, Orlando Alonso!
I am beyond excited about this new stage in my Jiu Jitsu journey, and can’t wait to get on the mats!
After getting promoted last night, I can’t help but reflect on the last year and this wonderful journey that Tony Perez convinced me to take.
I have changed my life style, and it has affected my entire family in a positive way. From the way we eat, to the way to take care of ourselves through exercise, there has been a positive influence from Jiu Jitsu.
What I find amusing is I have now competed in an individual sport in which 2 years ago I swore would always be a spectators sport in my life. I am not a medal chaser, but I am proud to have earned four medals in four competitions, including gold at the 2014 IBJJF Las Vegas Spring Open, and Silver at the 2014 IBJJF Worlds.
Lets be honest, no one thought I would last longer than the free trial week last summer with Orlando! I was an overweight, former 2-pack a day cigarette smoker who’s idea of exercise was playing slow pitch softball on Friday nights over a few pitchers of beer and shots of Fireball. I am now ranked 5th in IBJJF rankings (Male / Whitebelt / Masters II). Say what?
In about two weeks, I reach my anniversary of quitting smoking. That was really the first step to better health, and I felt every bit of pain smoking can cause short of disease or illness when I first stepped on the mat. I seriously felt like I was dying at first! In fact, I couldn’t even do simple arm bar drills without losing my breath, sometims to the brink of putting myself to sleep. I certainly couldn’t finish a full class without feeling like vomiting (or actually vomiting)!
To date I have lost over 60 pounds. Quite frankly, I have reached the healthiest state in my life! It only took me roughly 36 years of life. It’s hard to explain how great I feel. The energy is crazy, and I don’t know why I waited so long.
All these things I am talking about are not even mat related, at least not directly, but I think it’s important to note what an impact this wonderful sport can have in your life. It affects your entire life, specifically your every day way of thinking. It spawns healthy thought and action.
I have had the opportunity to train under a great coach, Orlando Alonso. Orlando owns and teaches at Carlson Gracie Menifee. I am honored to have received my blue belt from Orlando, and I am very excited to see what the future brings for the team he has built!
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Thomas Cronin. He has helped me mentally and has been there by my side through tournament battle. He was there along with Orlando, Tony, and Joe Herbrandson when I needed support!
If you ever have the chance to get on the mat with them, you will know how awesome they really are. They are honorable practitioners, and sentinels of the game! They have guided me, taught me, and motivated me. With little effort they embody the true essence of the art, and certainly the Carlson Gracie Team!
I think one of the main attractions for me is that I get to train with such an amazing team. We drive each other, we learn from one another, we go to battle together! I would like to give special thanks to the entire Carlson Gracie Team, it would be a challenge to name you all, but rest assured, I am absolutely honored to call you all team mates! There are so many people that have helped me shape this journey, and I am proud to know and train with each and everyone of you.
I can’t end this longwinded post without mentioning Carlson Gracie Menifee specifically. It will always be the place that I earned my blue belt. I have left a lot of blood, sweat and tears on the mats in Menifee, and I am proud to have started my journey there!
Carlson Gracie Temecula also has a place in my heart, and no doubt houses some of the biggest and baddest beasts in the game! I am honored to share the mat with you all!
To the Menifee Mat Rats, I owe you a lot! Alfred, Caleb, Amy, George, Jarrod and the rest of the team, a sincere thank you! I learn from you everyday, and I wouldn’t have turned blue without you!
In ending, I go out expressing how excited I am to step into the Menifee Blue Crew. I am ready to do work. After all, the NABJJF 10th North American Tournament is coming up in August, good a time as any for my first blue belt competition.
The new leg of my journey starts today, and I can’t wait to give you all BJJ hugs!
Great writeup! Great accomplishment!
I’ll admit I was one of those naysayers, “yeah he won’t make it past the trial week.” I’m also one of the most excited to see that you pushed through it and have stuck to it this long.
Way to do work!!
The last picture brings about a lot of nostalgia, oh how the team has grown!! Look a that sea of blue!!! I have find some time to go play…
Finally got a chance to read. I’m really proud of you Dre! Every memory I have of you on the mat is you putting your all into each minute of training. The advancement has been long expected. I can’t wait to compete with you again!