Over 200 Easton BJJ students and instructors in gi at the belt promotion 2018.

Belt Promotion BBQ 2018

The Annual Gathering

On June 23rd 2018, the Easton community gathered for our annual all-academy Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belt promotion ceremony at Easton Training Center – Denver. It’s not very often that we are able to get so many of us in one place, and it was a beautiful day and an exciting occasion to celebrate with old friends and make new ones. The day started with a randori, easily our biggest of the year, and almost definitely the biggest in Colorado. We had over 200 people in gis on the mat that morning, and everyone’s family and friends supporting them from the perimeter.

Randori was followed by inspiring, heartfelt speeches by two of our leaders, Professors Amal Easton and Eliot Marshall. They spoke about the value and strength of our community and the wonderful gift that is BJJ.

Professor Amal Easton gives a speech at the 2018 BJJ Belt Promotion.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belt Promotion

During the belt promotion ceremony, students from six Easton locations earned their new belts. They hailed from Denver, Boulder, Centennial, Arvada, Aurora, and Castle Rock, and that day we came together as one academy to celebrate their hard work and accomplishments. You can view the full promotion list here. Almost fifty people were up for blue, sixteen for purple, and ten for brown. Though not everyone was able to be present at the ceremony, those who couldn’t received their promotions in their home academies the following week. We also gained 12 new black belts that day, bringing our total to nearly 80 under the Easton banner. We heard speeches about each of them from their professors before they joined the ranks of professors themselves.

It Takes Blood, Sweat, and Tears

These moments as everyone got promoted were filled with so much joy and emotion, and for good reason. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a sport that requires so much tenacity and dedication. Each of these promotions represents countless hours, and years of blood, sweat and tears shed on the mat. To be able to recognize each of them in the presence of so many who understand the struggles and the triumphs of BJJ was deeply significant.

To quote someone on the internet: “Q: ‘How long does it take for the average person to earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?’ A: ‘The average person does not earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.'” Jiu Jitsu sees a drop-out rate higher than the majority of martial arts, with a huge percentage of people quitting before they reach the level of blue belt. Those who make it to black? Those are the lifers. Most of them have been training for 10 years or more by the time they earn the title of “Professor,” and you can bet they’ll be on the mat until their bodies won’t let them. So cheers to all of you who leveled up! May your Jiu Jitsu journeys be long and fruitful.

Professors Vellore, Nick, Amal, and Matt

Fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Colorado

Following the ceremony, we had a community BBQ at the academy. The event was a BBQ cook-off, and a fundraiser for the Rehabilitation Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado. We had a special guest at the event, a teenager named Trinity, who’s been a direct beneficiary of the top-notch care at the hospital, and she said a few words to kick off the fundraiser.

We had cooking teams from several academies going head-to-head to compete for the title of Best BBQ in BJJ. Our dedicated chefs worked from the wee hours of the morning to prepare enough food to feed everyone, and we are so grateful for their hard work and delicious food. Our heartfelt thanks goes out to Mat Stimeling, Eliot Marshall, Kevin Baughman, Chris Messina, Mina Wahba, Jorge Che, and Chuck Nelson. Our judges were Jeff Suskin, Josh Dinar, and Jason Ganahl. They proclaimed Professor Eliot our BBQ champ! We’re also especially grateful to our hardworking army of volunteers from all the academies, who graciously gave their time.

The event was sponsored by several local businesses, which are owned by members of our community. This wouldn’t have been possible without their support, and we can’t thank them enough for their generous donations. Please check out the bottom of this post to see their logos and visit their websites!

Finally, we’d like to recognize our top three individual grassroots fundraisers, Kevin Baughman, Corey McConnell, and Kim Smith! By reaching out to family and friends, they helped to boost our donation to the hospital. In doing so, they earned prizes including Easton kimonos, tickets to Denver Zoo, shorts from Lululemon, and a gift certificate and growler from Twisted Pine Brewing.

All in all, we were able to raise over $11,000 to donate to Children’s Hospital Colorado, and we are so thankful for the support and generosity of our amazing community. Thank you, everyone!

The judges at the BBQ cook-off

Photo Gallery by Doug Larson Photography

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Thank You to Our Sponsors!

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Logo for Alchemist cycling apparel
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