A black belt is a white belt who never quit

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The saying above is a tidy synthesis of the process of applying one’s self that every Jiu-Jitsu fighter goes through. Embracing such a lifestyle that imposes so much sacrifice and so many daily challenges is indeed an invitation to give up. Starting at white belt, we forgo so many things to pursue learning, but as the old adage goes, “every choice you make is a renunciation of something”.

Here in the Middle East, I’ve witnessed many tales of perseverance in this regard. They’re pretty much the same ones people go through in Brazil or other parts of the world. What really draws attention, though, are the efforts of Arab women. Yes, since the cultural complexity of this region makes such determined women into more than just trailblazers, but heroines.

The Jordanian ladies of team The Source took it upon themselves to "import" a female teacher from Abu Dhabi, like Cassuza Fornari, for a few days. Photos: George Markarian.

We have in Lebanon today a pregnant teacher, Jordan’s Ghalia Smith. Recently Ghalia even struck a deal with the Brazilian embassy to teach Jiu-Jitsu at the Brazilian Cultural Center in Beirut.

In Abu Dhabi, the first activity of the day at the women’s military school is Jiu-Jitsu class. Footnote: the military students there start their day at 4 am.

And last weekend, Professor Cassuza Fornari, who lives in Abu Dhabi, received an invitation from eight Jordanian white belts to conduct a seminar for women in the capital city, Amman. They organized and financed the seminar directly, without any interference from their teacher, black belt Samy Al Jamal. The teacher, obviously, granted use of the mat and supported the idea.

Such endeavors taking place leads one to believe that soon we will be seeing more and more female black belts around these parts. From the look of it, these are women who don’t know what it is to quit.

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