Saturday, June 11, 2016

One Door Closes and Another Opens...New Academy to Call Home

"Amor Fati - "Love your Fate", which is in fact your life."
-Friedrich Nietzsche 

Where it Began

My beginnings in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu started in February 2008 with North Dallas BJJ (NDBJJ).  I remember the day I committed to this sport and fell in love with it very early on.  Within a couple months of training I remember standing in the gym making small talk with my Professor, Joseph D. Shelley and day I want to be a part of this gym.  I want to be an upper belt, someone who has an impact here in some way.  I kept these kinds of thoughts to myself for the most part outside of my girlfriend at the time (now wife).

About the time I received my blue belt in the summer of 2009 I had the opportunity to begin teaching as an assistant in the kids classes.  As time progressed I was helping assist in adult beginners classes and eventually advanced classes around purple belt.  I just kept grinding away as a student and instructor, constantly trying to learn and evolve.  I found a lot of value in teaching because it kept me honest.  You can't teach with any reasonable level of confidence if you don't have a good grasp of what you are doing.  I was by no means a world champion competitor (although fairly active) but I dedicated myself to growing both as a student and instructor.  I feel now that my commitment to be the best instructor I could be aided in my growth as a student of Jiu-Jitsu in all areas.


As time passed I became more involved with the gym.  I was teaching private lessons on a consistent basis and becoming more involved with the operation of the gym.  It was important to me to be an asset to our academy and aid in the growth of it.  I enjoyed feeling appreciated and someone that could be depended on.  There were times where I sacrificed my own training for that level of commitment but I felt it was worth it in the long run.  I eventually took over the kids program at brown belt and began developing the curriculum and running the gi program.  This is about the time I could finally look around and say..."Well, I finally got here.  Where are all those upper belts and students when I started?  I outlasted the majority of them.  Not because I was better but because I wanted it more and was fortunate enough to stick with my coach from the beginning."  Loyalty and commitment have always been important to me.

My coach, JD Shelley coaching me at purple belt (AGF 2012)
That "Last" Promotion

Fast forward to June 2015 and I received my Black Belt under my first coach (NDBJJ) JD Shelley. That was obviously the highlight of my pursuit in Jiu-Jitsu thus far.  I wrote a blog entry dedicated to this moment almost a year to the day describing how it felt to reach Black Belt. (Link below to this article)

We continued on the same path at our gym for a while despite times getting tough.  I worked hard to try and do my part to grow the academy but unfortunately that all came to an end when we had to close our doors in April 2016. It was definitely a tough time and hard to let go of some of the relationships that were built. In hindsight that "last" promotion was pretty cool.  Myself along with three other teammates were promoted to black belt that day.  There was a core group of us "old guys/girls" that stuck it out to the very end.

New Chapter

Despite all the bad things that happened, losing my original home academy, along with the ability to train with my old coaches, teammates, and students a silver lining was found.   I was able to find a new gym, very close to my own home in Tier 1 Training Facility in McKinney, TX.  Professor Alan Shebaro was incredibly welcoming to me and nothing short of a great guy.  He has given me the opportunity to come on board and assist with his kids Jiu-Jitsu program; a place for me to train; a new place to call home.  The gym is filled with some great students of various levels not to mention a lot of familiar faces.  Some of them are friends I've made along the way and even some old teammates that changed gyms over the years.  Everyone has made me feel like I've been there forever and in light of the sadness of one door closing a new door has opened.

Just a little bit of about Alan Shebaro, he is retired special forces (Army) and had deployments to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He received his Black Belt from Carlos Machado in 2004 (before Jiu-Jitsu was cool).  His Jiu-Jitsu is very technical; a great instructor and still a student of the game pursuing new knowledge.  He is a Shoyoroll sponsored athlete and competes regularly in IBJJF events as well as Pro Jiu-Jitsu events (Respect & FTW Pro).  Last but not least he is very active giving back to the community and helping veterans.  He's probably the busiest guy I know while maintaining a ferocious commitment on the mat as an instructor and mentor.

My new coach, Professor Alan Shebaro
Many of my teammates also came over to Tier 1 to train which has been really nice while making this transition.  It's very weird to train in one place for nearly eight years and suddenly begin training in a foreign place.  Especially when you've only been at one gym your entire time.  Fortunately for me it hasn't had that feel and more like a home I didn't realize I had waiting all this time.

Not a bad group for my first class at Tier 1

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