Straight Blast Gym’s Belt Promotion Tradition – The Ironman
SBG Portland promotes a student to purple belt, and six to blue belt!
Straight Blast Gym Portland continued one of its oldest traditions this past week with a graduation ironman event for its promoted jiu jitsu students. For those who are not familiar with the term as it pertains to SBG, the ironman ritual is an event that has been taking place as a part of SBG belt promotions for over a decade. All the attending students line up by rank, and the student selected for promotion is called to the middle. That student then proceeds to roll with every other person present, from the white belts all the way to black belts, without a break, before being presented with their new belt. Unlike many martial arts traditions, the SBG ironman has a special significance. Not only is the task of rolling with all the other students at the gym a great physical challenge and a true test of a student’s jiu jitsu ability, even under a level of fatigue not found elsewhere, it also symbolizes the role every other team mate plays in the promoted student’s success. Rolling with everyone else, from white belts all the way through to black belts with coaches included in the line up, is a reminder of the interconnectedness of the whole tribe; that the team working together as a whole plays a huge role and allows for the individual to succeed.
Last Week’s Ironman
As is often the case prior to such proceedings, in the week building up to it, a ‘special event’ was announced. In this case, for Wednesday at 6.30pm. All students are encouraged to attend this special event, complete with gi. Such is the popularity of these events that, as usual, the line of students attending could not fit on one wall but instead circled around the gym, with white belts, blue belts, purple belts, brown belts, and no less than four SBG black belts all in attendance.
It is testament to the hard work ethic of its students, and the growing reputation and quality of Straight Blast Gym Portland jiu jitsu coaching, that these days an individual ironman event cannot be dedicated to every white belt student being promoted to blue belt. The rate at which SBG Portland’s growing ranks are progressing is such that ‘special events’ would be occurring every week, were this still the case. As such, on this occasion six students received their blue belt, and, as is tradition, each had to roll with all the students in attendance, one at a time, without rest, ascending in rank. After the new blue belts had finished their rolls, they were each presented with their new blue belt, tied around their waist by one of the SBG black belts present. Those receiving their blue belt this past week were Destiny Abbot, Joel Hart, Lauren Candela, Austin Candela, Brian McDougal and Brian Heenan. Many congratulations to them for their years of hard work getting to this point.
Once the blue belt presentation was finished, students were instructed to line up in rank as before… the special event was far from complete! Straight Blast Gym Portland student Eddie Zeigler was called to the middle by head coach Matt Thornton and the second half of the ironman proceedings was soon under way. In the 90+ degree heat of mid-July, Eddie rolled his way through all 40+ attending students, showing fine technique throughout. The last of those he had to face was, of course, none other than Straight Blast Gym Portland head coach and founder, Matt Thornton, and as the two faced off, Matt presented Eddie with his brand new purple belt, tying it around Eddie’s waist as they rolled. Congratulations to Eddie Zeigler on his well-deserved promotion to purple belt. The high standards held by all at SBG means such promotions deserve a graduation process of equal quality. SBG’s ironman ritual fits that billing, creating a memorable moment for the promoted student and a reminder of how the whole tribe lifts that student up to their individual success.