BJJ Black Belt Promotion at Relson Gracie Main Academy September 28, 2005 - long read

jjmuaythaiguy

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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.
 
Wow. I'd love to experience one of those. Amazing events they are.
 
If he took the Gracie challenge after watching UFC and Gracie in Actions and THEN became a student how does that work out to 18 years? Last I checked UFC happened in the early 90's. Is my math wrong, or is this description wrong?
 
Stoic1 said:
If he took the Gracie challenge after watching UFC and Gracie in Actions and THEN became a student how does that work out to 18 years? Last I checked UFC happened in the early 90's. Is my math wrong, or is this description wrong?

Probably my description. My bad. It was a long night and I just summarized it. I'll correct the thread.
 
Other Relson Black belts that you didn't mention: Scott Devine, Jeff Hudson, Steve Maxwell, Phil Migliarese, Ricardo Migliarese
 
Bolaojj said:
Other Relson Black belts that you didn't mention: Scott Devine, Jeff Hudson, Steve Maxwell, Phil Migliarese, Ricardo Migliarese

No disrespect intended. I was just referring to bb promoted and teaching at the main academy. I even missed Sam's promotion ceremony. Scott is a legend here, the SS guy right?. Everyone else I don't know but don't doubt their credentials at all.
 
i have trained with some of relsons guys in texas, the blue belts are very good, relson awards belts when they are deserved and he seems to do it the old school way, you have to be able to wear it to represent it.
 
guardpasser said:
i have trained with some of relsons guys in texas, the blue belts are very good, relson awards belts when they are deserved and he seems to do it the old school way, you have to be able to wear it to represent it.

Yeah, Charles it was awesome experience. My first time witnessing a bb promotion. It was pretty moving too, Relson's and Kofi's speech. I'll send you some pics when I get my computer back.

Yes, the Austin school ROCKS!!! Hell all the associations are up to par no doubt. Too bad no one makes my size shirt I would love to collect one from all the associations. Rhalan was wearing an Austin association shirt at the bbq and it was nice. Relson got to recommend some big Hawaiian sizes to the associations for me.
 
Interesting read jjmuaythaiguy. So has Kofi Debrah trained steadily over 18 years, or off and on? Steadily to me would be twice a week. Off and on would be about the same weekly but with chunks of time off here and there, maybe even for months at a time. Or was he training ALL the time for those 18 years, as in everyday, all day?

I have to say that 18 years seems like an awfully long time, especially if he trained steadily. But if that's the route that some people want to go, more power to them.
 
Bubble Boy said:
Interesting read jjmuaythaiguy. So has Kofi Debrah trained steadily over 18 years, or off and on? Steadily to me would be twice a week. Off and on would be about the same weekly but with chunks of time off here and there, maybe even for months at a time. Or was he training ALL the time for those 18 years, as in everyday, all day?

I have to say that 18 years seems like an awfully long time, especially if he trained steadily. But if that's the route that some people want to go, more power to them.

I have only been training with Relson for two years so I can only speak for the last two years but from what I saw it was definetly off and on as you described, in the last two years I was here.

He has been more off than on because he also is a instructor in Kempo Karate and incorporated bjj into his school's curriculum. I never rolled with him but I have seen him roll and he is super slick. He trained or taught a lot of the browns that have their own associations from what they say.

He probably took some time off before I got here and then got serious again when I was here for the black belt in bjj.
 
Congrats to Kofi Debrah on his Black Belt and to everyone else that was promoted!
 
hoppfactor said:
Congrats to Kofi Debrah on his Black Belt and to everyone else that was promoted!

It was nice to Rhalan promoted to purple. That Gracie is competitive! Not only is he awesome in gi but no gi too. He also has won some awards for quickest submissions. I am anxious to see how he will do now at the purple belt level after doing so well at blue. He got a lot of competitions to enter, Gracie Nationals, etc., I wish him and everyone else competing the best of luck.
 
Did you seriously resurrect a 3 year old thread to say 'cool'?
 
I think I will forward this to a mod, see if I can't get his post count locked :icon_twis
 
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