Last night at the Bay Ridge Dojo in Brooklyn, New York, I was promoted to the rank of Renshi, 5th Degree Black Belt. I was elevated by the Grand Master and Founder, 10th Dan in Vee Jitsu, O’Sensei and a man I love dearly, Professor Rick Riccardi. My instructors, Professor Mike Junsch and Professor Nic Alonso, my two greatest Ju Jitsu mentors were beaming with pride. All three men spoke about me in a way I’m certain I don’t deserve. It was truly humbling. The Dojo was packed with students and well wishers. Of course my wife and children were there as well as my brother-in-law(brother), who is also a Ju Jitsu Blackbelt. It was a special night and one I will never forget. Few things in life truly have meaning, significant others, children and in my case, Niseido Ju Jitsu. Possessions are just that and can easily be replaced. A car, no matter how fancy or expensive, is just a vehicle with four wheels at the end of the day. But loving family and friends can never be replaced.
I truly never thought about rank when I started training. I did it for the love of the Art, the system and most importantly, the people. Niseido Ju Jitsu is a Special Martial Art. We are truly a family more than anything else. We hug and kiss when we greet each other out of love and respect. But anyone confusing our love for each other as a sign of weakness, has never stood toe-to-toe with any of the instructors. Niseido Ju Jitsu is a hard-core, Traditional Ju Jitsu, in a world where law suits take precedent over training. We are not Brazilian Ju Jitsu. We don’t claim to be, nor do we want to be. We simply want to be the men and women who walk away from battle in the street, in one piece, as the attacker(s) or perpetrator(s) seeks medical attention or head off to the morgue. As the handout, which is given to every new student states, “don’t confuse our passivity as an unwillingness to fight because if forced in to battle, our defense will be relentless and unforgiving.” The ability to defend ourselves is what allows us to be passive. Men’s anger and aggression is based on fear. When the fear goes away, so do the aggressive tendencies. It’s that simple. For those who need to no more about the true Martial Artist, study the Code of Bushido. It’s a wonderful and peaceful code to which everyone should aspire. I want to thank everyone who attended for being there and for those who couldn’t, thank you for the kind words. The love and respect in the Dojo could be felt by everyone. There’s a line in the Wizard of Oz, when the Wizard is giving the tin man his heart that states, ‘A heart is not judged by how much you love, but how much you are loved by others”. If that statement has any validity, then I must be the luckiest man on the face of the earth.