My black belt speech.
By: Tyler Bishop
It’s really hard to begin writing something like this, because it’s just as much about recognizing and giving thanks to all of those that made this possible as it is summarizing my journey. I will do my best to be brief, and to describe both sentiments as coherently as possible.
None of this would be possible without JW Wright. I could probably actually stop writing now; however, JW often points out the difference between a black belt and brown belt is that a black belt talks more. So, I will elaborate. I started jiu jitsu in 2006. I was bored working out, and thought the “grappling part” of UFC fights looked like fun. I finally decided to try a class, and I met JW for the first time. My life changed that day forever. All the plans I had about my career, finances, dreams, goals, ambitions shifted n the next few months.
JW took a shine to me and allowed me to help him do all of his private lessons. I can confidently say that I learned more helping him do those lessons than the people that were actually doing the lessons. It’s for this reason, that JW and I have very similar approaches to jiu jitsu -how we roll, how we treat our opponents, just about everything … except technique. You see … I have horse legs, so I like to think my game is exactly like JW’s except with the power of a horses legs attached to my lower abdomen.
I am proud to have been a student that has been with JW since my first day. He tied the black belt around my waste, he welcomed me on the mats for my first class, and everything in between. You can probably imagine that JW has given me a lot over the years (opportunities, insight, etc.), but the most important thing he gave me was jiu jitsu.
Jiu jitsu has been the supplement to my life that improved everything else. Jiu Jitsu gave me a framework for learning and personal character. It made me a better student, son, friend, teacher, and most of all … a better husband to my wife. I believe quite sincerely that God gave me jiu jitsu to teach me about myself. He gave me this gift to serve as a way to communicate with me.
To have made it this far in to writing without mentioning my beautiful wife Jena is a travesty. She has been my biggest fan, my doctor, my teacher, my student, and my best friend on and off the mats. She beat me to black belt, and cheered me on as I caught up to her. She is my entire world, and our relationship is made stronger by jiu jitsu. We are whole together, and our jiu jitsu mimics our relationship. Together we have a dynamic and unstoppable art that I am proud to share with the world through our teaching, personal ministry, and website, BishopBjj.com. I could talk about Jena forever, but anyone who knows me has already heard all the great things I have to say, and are witnesses to our special relationship on a daily basis.
I have been fortunate enough over the past 8 years to have been brought up inside an association filled with great instructors. Several, in particular, have formed and shaped my jiu jitsu and outlook on life. Master Royler Gracie watched JW tie the belt around my waste, stood right next to me as my wife won a world championship, and has cheered me on in my biggest competitions. I feel beyond privileged to have been under his watchful eye all these years.
Master David Adiv met me in 2007 right before my first MMA fight. He showed up when I was dehydrated and tired from cutting weight. Then … he blew my mind. In the hours following my first introduction to David, he taught me lessons in jiu jitsu that still to this day make up my foundation. David is one of the most kind and intelligent human beings I know. To say I look up to him and value his opinion of me would be a massive understatement.
There are so many inside of the association I owe thanks to; however, I can’t continue without mentioning prof. Regis Lebre and Joao Faria. Both of these men have served as invaluable resources for me in the last few years as I’ve desperately refined my game to compete at the highest level. Thank you reis, and thank you Jhonny for all your help!
Finally, I have to thank all my training partners over the years. I’ll try to be brief, and I certainly am leaving out many of you…
– Jon Perrine. You are one of my best friends in the world, and one of my best training partners. Knowing that we get to =share the mats together makes me feel confident that I have the right people around me to make my jiu jitsu better everyday.
– Nick “Moose” Schrock – You’re the best brown belt in the world. That scares me. It’s also a huge blessing. Thanks for all your help over the years.
– Joey Walters – Thanks for rolling to the death with me even when it’s not any fun at all.
– Jared Degroot – You taught me to train without ego, and to be fearless on the mat. When you used to drive hours to our academy and then spend hours letting me try to pass your guard, I developed by leaps and bounds. That was a unique and special opportunity and I feel blessed to have had you around during that period in my development.
– Vince and Krista – Thanks for being fans, supports, and friends
– Phil, Mike, and Josh S. – Thanks for being partners in all my crazy projects.
– Brian Imholz – I met you on my first week of jiu jitsu, and since then you have been one of my best friends in the entire world. I could not be more impressed with your jiu jitsu. I’m very happy we both stuck with it 😉
– Big Brian – Thanks for being my jungle gym for so many years.
– James Wade and Wayne Pittman – Thanks for making sure that when I stepped in the cage many years ago that my face didm;t get punched in.
Finally, Thanks to all my friends and teammates who show up everyday to class. All your words and outpouring of support have meant the world to me. I really view everyone at Gracie Humaita St. Louis as a family member.