Last night, September 28, 2005, I witnessed my first bjj black belt promotion ceremony. All Relson Gracie Hawaii chapter associations and affiliations were invited to attend. I pm'd a couple sherdoggers who are members and tried to notify who I could because in Relson's 20 + years in Hawaii there was only one other person that I knew that was promoted to Black Belt level, Honolulu Police Department Sergeant Sam Mahi, during my time here. I have since learned that other than Sam Mahi there is only one other person who was promoted in Hawaii. But tonight belonged to Kofi Debrah. It was very emotional and his family was there and the academy was wall to wall with students. Relson began by talking about how Helio Gracie taught him jiu jitsu and how hard it took him to get to black belt level. He talked about how he and his brothers learned, trained, competed and fought others in the ring and on the street. Taking the knowledge of his father, his older and younger brothers, his 22 year straight championships and his street fighting knowledge he came to Hawaii and starting teaching jiu jitsu. He said God has blessed him, his family, and his students. Relson said that he wants all of us to progress to the point that he can feel confident that we are the black belt level of jiu jitsu. He understands that some people here and not associated with us want to "rush" to get the black belt, for whatever reason. He mentioned that you must have loyalty to jiu jitsu and it will come. Relson mentioned that it does not make sense to rush to anything especially jiu jitsu. We have to take things day by day and progress a little by little. He encouraged us to ask him questions about something we can not understand or are having problems with and he will help us. Relson then spoke about the man of the night, Kofi Debrah. I thought I heard wrong but Kofi has trained with Relson for over 18 years. 18! Even though he trained that long he had some pieces missing and for over the last two years as a four stripe brown he finally got those pieces to become a black belt in Relson's eyes. Relson said that Kofi represented what everyone should try to be. Dedicated, experienced, competitive, student and teacher of the art, loyal and a real credit to Relson and Relson's father Helio. Finally Relson said, it is TIME. Relson's black belt, Sam Mahi, read off the certificate letting the world know that Kofi Debrah was awarded a black belt on that date by Relson Gracie. Relson placed the black belt on him and they hugged. It was great. Then Kofi wanted to say a few words. He said he remembered watching the Gracies in Action Videos because dvds were not invented yet (big laugh from everyone) and did not believe in bjj. His wife mentioned that she saw a flyer saying that Gracie Jiu Jitsu (before the lawsuit by Rorion - Relson's older brother) was coming to Hawaii to be taught at UH and he should check it out if he never believed in it. Kofi said actually took the gracie challenge and FOUGHT Relson at UH! I was shocked. After getting his ass handed to him by Relson, he started his training at UH, then Kaimuki, Ward and then at the Main, over 15 years of training to get where he was. He was thanking his family, Relson, and the people that came before him and those that was not even born when he started for coming. He bowed and hugged Relson again. Man, I was touched and vouched right there and then that no matter how long it takes, I am training with Relson at the main academy in Hawaii until Relson feels that I am ready for that black belt, even if it takes 20 years! Other people were promoted with stripes (me - 1st degree blue) others with blue, purple, and brown belts. Relson's son, Rhalan was also promoted to purple belt that night too, so Relson was a happy dad I could tell. Sam Mahi became a 2nd degree black belt. Chris and Mike Onzuka (Casca Grossa - Aiea), Ronn Shiraki (Relson Gracie - Kaneohe), Shane Agena and Todd Tanaka (University Ave) all got stripes on their browns. It looks like Ronn and one of the Onzukas got four stripes on their browns and could be black in a few years! Sorry guys if you read this but I still can't figure out who is who, Chris and Mike are twins. Overall, it was a great experience and if I got anybody's name wrong sorry guys in advance.