The Night I Faced My First BJJ Black Belt

A BJJ black belt and white belt shaking hands before a roll

The moment had arrived. After years of honing my skills, I was finally ready to test myself against a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. 

Stepping onto the mats, I felt the usual nerves and self-doubt creep in. Could I survive against a master of the art?

We shook hands and the roll began. Immediately I was struck by his fluid movement and composure. While I was tense and reactive, he flowed effortlessly from position to position. 

I worked diligently to implement all I had drilled – frames, hip escapes, guard recovery. But one step ahead, he seamlessly shut down each attempt and advanced like flowing water.

Suddenly his hand glided to my collar. In an instant the loop was locked in – Ezekiel choke from mount. Frantically I tried to strip the grip and bridge, but it was vice-like. The realization then dawned on me through the fog of war. This was checkmate.

I tapped twice to signal defeat. Winded and humbled, we rose to our feet. I thanked him sincerely for the roll. Though I failed the test today, the experience lit a fire in me. I couldn’t wait to get back to training.

While the belt is just a piece of cloth, it takes immense skill and dedication to reach black belt level. I realized how far I had to go, but the journey is what matters. As Helio Gracie said, “There is no end to perfection.”

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