A Blackbelt In a Strange Land…
Where in the World is Professor Jeff Suskin??
I have been in Miami training for the past couple of weeks at a great academy, “Fight Sports South Beach.” I had read about Robert “Cyborg” Abreu and watched his videos. And although it is very intimidating to go to a new academy, I knew the alternative was to not train. Since I received my black belt last summer, I haven’t really visited many other academies. When I have, I have searched out no-gi classes, that way I wouldn’t have to wear my black belt. I could just wander in and train and not have to deal with feeling too much like a target.
Going to Cyborg’s academy was only the 2nd time I was forced to put on my black belt at an academy outside of Easton BJJ. The first time I went there, was last month and I completely didn’t want to tell Professor Abreu I was a black belt. I seriously was considering lying and saying I have only trained no-gi. I was that freaked out about it!
I actually went to another academy in Miami, it was a no-gi class and I lined up behind the white belts and didn’t say a peep. After class when everyone was lining up the instructor asked what college I had wrestled at and I sort of peeped I had been doing Jiu Jitsu for a long time. At that point he asked what belt I was. He then said “excuse me, I asked you if you had trained before and you said no!” I said “ I thought you asked me if I had trained HERE before and I had said no.” He wasn’t impressed, he felt sandbagged, and I learned that what I did isn’t exactly cool.
I purposely didn’t pack a kimono and went to Cyborg’s hoping I could jump in a no-gi class and ease my way in. Cyborg is a very direct guy and immediately said “How long have you been training?”. My heart sank and I peeped “10 years”. He greeted me with a big smile and a hug, “ahhh faixa preta! Professor I have a kimono for you…and a belt. No problem! “ He lined up class and said “This is my good friend Master Jeff Suskin from Colorado We are honored to have him here with us! Let’s have a great train tonight guys!” It felt like I had on the “Ring” from “The Hobbit”. I looked at the floor and said out loud, but to myself “this thing is like a target”. One of the purple belts heard me mutter and put his arm around me and said very matter-of-factly “that belt isnt a target, that belt is respect, professor”.
It used to be so easy when I was a white belt. I went to academies where ever I would travel, did class and there were no expectations on me. I was just excited to be there, left with new friends and had a great time! As a black belt, there is so much more pressure…so much more expectation..its totally different! Or is it???? At the end of the class I had new friends and a great training. I learned a ton and nobody there could have cared less how I rolled. The color of my belt had affected no one but me! It seems so silly to me now, the way I was thinking. I can’t believe how much my ego had gotten the better of me. Cyborg’s students were excited to have another graduated belt to train and laugh with. I was worried about their ego’s getting the best of them training with me, when in fact, I was the one guilty of my biggest fear!
It’s amazing what cool stuff occurs when you can get over your fears and insecurities and open yourself to a new experience! I am so proud of myself for taking the leap and the benefit to me has been priceless.