GMA member Rafael Rosendo Dos Santos is the owner and head professor at Alliance Jiu-Jitsu of Greenville in South Carolina. An active competitor, he is also a teacher who prides himself on knowledge. As many say, you never stop learning in Jiu-Jitsu but new challenges in, say, a different martial art is an even bigger step towards gaining knowledge.
Recently Rafael has taken up Judo as a way to extend his abilities on the mat. We wanted to know what it felt like for a seasoned black belt to return to the mat wearing a white belt and what lessons he learned. Check it out:
GRACIEMAG: When was the last time you wore a white belt before this?
RAFAEL ROSENDO: It has been a long time. The first time I wore a white belt was in 1997 when I was just thirteen-years-old and I’ll be 31 this month!
How long have you been a black belt?
I have been a black belt for the past ten years.
What is the importance of remembering what it is like to be a white belt?
When you are a black belt for a long time it can be easy to forget how it used to be. If you keep a white belt mindset you will wake up every day trying to get better each time you step on the mat. When you look back you will see the years of your life pass by, just like my life on the mats. It has already been 16 years and I’m still learning in Jiu-Jitsu like it is my first class! Jiu-Jitsu can be a neverending history if you keep an opened mind! Just as well, it is good to maintain a humble attitude!
What lessons are you learning as a white belt now?
The lessons I’m learning right now doing Judo and putting myself as a white belt, is how to have more patience because as a white belt you want to know everything in the first day. And just like in Jiu-Jitsu it may take some time, so we must learn to understand that in order to be better it will need effort and commitment.
Are you able to use what you’re learning in Judo towards Jiu-Jitsu?
Yes, sure! To be a true Judo and Jiu-Jitsu practitioner I would take the risk of saying that it is the same art applied with different philosophy and one works more on the feet and the other more on the ground. But the principle of leverage and saving energy by using the opponent’s energy to manipulate the body are the same. Definitely balance is something that is helping me a lot by doing Judo!
See some of Rafael’s Judo moves working into his Jiu-Jitsu here: