The day Gabi Garcia got her black belt, and the lessons you can draw from it

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Gabi Garcia in 2011. Dan Rod/GRACIEMAG

A peaceful sea has never made a good sailor, right? And one example of this, applied to BJJ, is Gabi Garcia. In an interview for issue No. 219 of Graciemag, published in May 2015, she recounted the lesson imparted by Fabio Gurgel upon giving her her black belt on a World Championship podium.

“I won my first world championship in 2010,” she said then. “Weight and absolute, still as a brown-belt, which back then was together with the black belt. Soon after the final, I remember Fabio Gurgel came toward me with a serious face. I thought he was going to give me the biggest hug, congratulate me and tell me I was the shit… He, however, said, ‘You need to correct your back-take urgently — it’s full of flaws’.”

Gabi was momentarily sad, although she already knew her teacher’s rigorous style. To lead his athletes to excellence, Gurgel knows it’s necessary to avoid letting wins go to their head. Glory can’t blind champions, who must constantly see what can be worked on. But Gurgel has always had a big heart and, in a way, used the hardline tone to conceal what was coming. She narrates it:

“I didn’t know yet, but, minutes later, when I climbed the podium, Fabio surprised me and made me a black-belt. I think it was the first black-belt promotion done by him on a championship podium, something very rare! It was one of the most important days of my life — receiving the black belt from the hands of the guy who made me the champion I am. Being treated harshly and realizing there are many competitors like me, giving it their best… That made me want to train more and more, and really desire those gold medals.”

To wrap up, 2019 Gabi sang the same tune as her former self, adding another lesson about the relationship of complete trust between student and master.

“Fabio always says: ‘We’re not a confetti factory,'” she commented on @graciemagoficial, our Instagram page. “Today I thank him for every time he put my feet back on the ground. Since that day, there have been many titles, a new career, new projects, my own academy… And every time, the first person I ask whether something is right or wrong is Fabio Gurgel. It’s not always that the words that will keep us going forward are the ones we want to hear, and that’s the importance of having a teacher in our life.”

So tell us, reader, what’s the best advice your BJJ teacher ever gave you?

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