Passing The Guard on Monday June 3 2024

Many moons ago I started down this path of practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which led to an adjacent road of practicing Arnis de Mano, which led to superhighways of competition, belt promotions, seminars, and then I stayed put for a spell. 

I remember my first promotion, that tiny piece of tape on the black end of a very very white belt. I had started with low expectations for myself and after my first few classes, reaffirmed those low expectations but decided I was going to keep training anyway. That tape gave me hope. I can do this, I realized, and maybe it was time to readjust my personal expectations.  Perhaps, I am improving. I was. Improvement in jiu jitsu is a slithery creature. You won't see it, but it's there, lurking in the tall trees.  

"Are you ever going to teach?" 

hmmmm....I wasn't was trail I was not sure if I wanted to follow.

Years ago, my tattoo artist suggested a trade, jiu jitsu lessons for work. How could I say no? Gemma Pariente was my first student. I took a few steps on the rough hewn dirt.

A few others followed, ladies from work who wanted to brush up their defensive tactics skills for the job, one of them has continued training. Awhile back I assisted with Fabio's kids class. To anyone who has ever taught a kids class, you are a superhero.

Teaching was never a goal, but as I progressed the past few years the trail took on the appearance of a clear path. I'll admit, that path was chomping on my toes for a long time and I pretended not to notice.

"Are you ever going to teach?"  My husband, David, inquired many times.

The path was becoming loud and raucous and now it was a well marked fire road.  As I signed my papers that designated my retirement date from law enforcement in October 2027, the path became a highway. People inquired, will you teach after you retire from law enforcement? Will you teach at the police academy?  You have something to offer.

Frank Califano, a colleague from Fabio's academy called me in February. Frank runs Alpine BJJ in my hometown and had a position open for an instructor for his ladies class. The path-turned-highway, was now a freshly paved, 8 lane freeway with a bright yellow sign that said FREEWAY ENTRANCE.

I called David. What do you think? I've never been aching to teach, but I could do this, I have something to offer. By this time in my life, I had attended many types of classes in many types of subjects, between martial arts, law enforcement, seminars, and training schools, I knew the difference between good instruction and other types, that could use improvement. I had been on the receiving end of some fairly poor instruction on a few occasions, and always said...."this could improved if the instructor"

We talked about the logistics, scheduling, and then he said, "Deb, You have to do this." And I knew he was right. Occasional private lessons are one thing, taking on a regular weekly class was my next step. The guard that needed passing was my own. It's time to pass on the skills. I called Fabio and obtained his blessing. 

I taught my first class on Monday, February 26, 2024. 

Today, I passed another guard. I had the absolute honor to award a first stripe on a white belt to a woman whose game has gone from slightly reluctant to an all-in, lifer, we're doing this, GAME, the past couple months.       

The surfaces are changing. In 3 1/2 years the untraveled dirt roads ahead will be freshly paved and ready for new steps and tires to deposit their patterns. More freeways, more guards to pass.     


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