An evening seminar with Carlos Lemos

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Text by Paula Ralph

On November 23rd, Gracie Barra Bath held its annual Seminar with Professor Carlos Lemos Jr [GMA member and leader of Gracie Barra Countryside]. You could feel the excitement was buzzing in the air as 50 students lined up on the mat, ready to begin. It was impressive to glance around the room and see so many students packed in, with only two not being regulars at Gracie Barra Bath. Even with so many on the mat there were still a few of our students who weren’t able to attend, so who knows – soon we will probably have to find a bigger place in order to accommodate everyone!

I digress however – let’s get back to the seminar. It is always special to witness a teacher like Professor Carlos step onto the mat and command respect with a strong inner stillness that immediately brings a room to order. As we stood ready and waiting for the seminar to begin I believe it made Prof. Carlos proud to see so many old faces, so many new ones and a healthy growing school.

Everyone in attendance was there for one reason, to gain just a little bit of the wisdom and knowledge imparted by Professor Carlos. Sure, we were there to gain new techniques and add them to our repertoire, definitely, but more than that, we were there to learn life lessons. To gain wisdom from someone who has been on the journey of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu a lot longer than most of us, is something to cherish. As students we listen to every word, absorb it, digest it, then try to live by it as we strive to be better people and create a better society around us. Learn from those who have been on this journey longer and avoid their mistakes as they teach us the right way. It is obvious at these occasions that we are part of something greater than us, something special that any one can be a part of if they are willing to be the clay that is moulded into something new and outstanding. We are part of a Jiu-Jitsu family that extends world wide.

I love Professor Carlos’s seminars as there’s always a little funky move that can be added into the mix of everything we learn, but more important are the things we learn to help us create a solid foundation on which good, strong Jiu-jitsu can be built. If we do not have a solid foundation the funky stuff can never be set up. It not about the finish, it’s about how you got there. This is not only true during our sparring but in life as well. Professor Carlos called us to sit and listen; as good children we gathered around to hear to the story. He recalled a few tales of a student of his which brought home just how much we must be a united team in order to progress. How we need to be good to each other and help each other to learn in order to grow. That preventing a team mate from learning a move or getting the feeling for a move not only slows their progress down but hinders our own. Allow yourself to be used as an instrument for progress so we can all play a better game of chess.

Each and every time Professor Carlos visits us, I can never stop thinking about what a wondrous path we are on and I honestly can’t wait to see where it leads to. However, there is no rushing this journey, it is not a sprint but a marathon and one that will lead us down many avenues but one thing we must always hold close to our hearts is to be true to ourselves and good to each other. It is called ‘the gentle art’ for a reason.

This evening was not only full of excitement for the seminar but also for the new belts that were awarded that evening. Professor Carlos and Professor Salvatore proudly awarded four new purple belts and our first two brown belts under Professor Salvo. That evening Andy Brown, Harvey Dines, Mark and Callum Siddons were all made purple belts. It is always a proud moment to see a new belt being handed to students who work hard, put their time in on the mats and are dedicated to the sport.

Jason Tripp and Richard Weatherall are our first students to be awarded their brown belts under Professor Salvatore. If these guys weren’t BJJ men, I think tears would have been shed. What a magnificent moment to behold as old belts were shed and new belts were donned. These two have been on this journey from the beginning of Gracie Barra Bath and their loyalty is as strong as ever. Their journey is far from over and there is still so much for them to learn. It will be exciting to watch as they grow into their new belts and see their games develop. Hearing a little bit of where they’ve come from, to the men that stood before us that day made it an honour to know them and from the depths of our hearts we wish them great things for the future.

To everyone who received a new belt that evening congratulations aren’t enough, wear your belts proudly boys and know we are proud of you. To everyone who attended the seminar thank you for your continued support, we have a great team, a great family, and it is always a pleasure training with each and everyone of you. See you on the mats!

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