Anyone living in the Americas may not realize how lucky they are to have access to a wide variety of gyms, with a full assortment of black belts, offering classes tailored to customers’ tastes.
In Europe there’s also a good offer of teachers. But to the east of the planet, things are quite different. Except for Abu Dhabi, where there’s a huge concentration of teachers hired by the government, there’s still a lack of black belt instructors from Eastern Europe all the way to Japan.
But the tendency to keep surpassing limitations means the art keeps getting stronger. In Lebanon, for example, Ghalia Smith, the first Arab female to earn a purple belt, rents a room each week to teach Jiu-Jitsu in the capital, Beirut. Around twenty people gather every Saturday for three hours so that the Jordanian may teach the gentle art techniques she learned while living in the Arab Emirates.
Although Beirut is quite a modern city for the region, it’s still a surprise to see a woman commanding a Jiu-Jitsu class comprised largely of men. But that’s not even the biggest surprise. Ghalia doesn’t teach the classes on her own. She has been carrying with her an unborn child for the last six months. That’s right, Ghalia is teaching class pregnant.
Although she does have the help of blue belt Daniel Hilal, the instructor is surprisingly persistent in teaching what she knows to her Lebanese students. If on the one hand Brazilians, Americans and Europeans should value the precious black belts they have at their disposal, those elsewhere around the world should value the momentum from these incredible people who overcame great obstacles in order to teach.