Roy Harris, accomplished American martial artist is often mentioned as a part of the “BJJ Dirty Dozen“, the first group of 12 non Brazilian men to have been distinguished with the rank of black belt in this grappling style.
Harris made history last weekend when he was promoted to the rank of coral belt in BJJ (7th degree on the black belt) by his instructor Joe Moreira. Harris thus becomes the second ever non-Brazilian BJJ coral belt.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coral belt is a prestigious level achieved after typically 29 years at black belt. The criteria and length varies according to the different BJJ belt systems. There are actual 6 distinct belt systems used in BJJ and each one is different.
The IBJJF requires a practitioner to practice and teach at the black belt level for a minimum of three years before progressing to the next rank for the first 3 ranks. Ranks 4, 5, and 6 require 5 years each from the previous rank.
In an inspiring post on social media, Roy Harris explains what blood, sweat and tears really means in Jiu-Jitsu:
Blood, sweat, and tears…
The two belts in this photo represent a lot of blood, sweat and tears in my life! Let me explain…
For many people, the phrase, “Blood sweat and tears“ is nothing more than an expression – a figure of speech used to represent a lot of hard work. But, for those who knows me, they know that so much of my life is done through specific and determined efforts! So, let me take a few paragraphs to help you understand what I mean when use the phrase, “Blood, sweat, and tears!“
I bled a lot with this belt wrapped around my waist. From the brand new tatami mats that tore up the tops, bottoms and sides of my feet and toes to the times when I was knee’d in the mouth, nose, and ears inside someone’s guard or on the bottom of side mount, drops and sometimes pints of blood have found its self on the mats 🤣
I sweat a lot with this belt wrapped around my waist. Whether it was an instructional sparring session with my instructor, a 200 rep Uchikomi warmup session, a slightly-disciplined training session where I focused exclusively on guard passing for two hours (nonstop), or the time I sparred with 61 students in a row – without a break – at the end of a seminar, this belt has seen its share of water screaming as it left my body 🤣
I have also cried a lot while wearing this belt or having it nearby. From the students and instructors who’ve left my academy or organization because of my faults, quirks & idiosyncrasies, to the one instructor whom I awarded a black belt and gave him MY BLACK BELT as a gesture of goodwill and friendship but he’s no longer a part of my association, to the (two-decade-ago) heart felt realization that people don’t leave organizations – they leave people – this belt has seen additional flows of water leave my body through my eyes 😢
All in all, I am thankful to have been awarded this new rank. And, I will do my best to represent it with a greater fervor and passion than I did in all of my previous belts ☺️
Thank you for your time!”