Ryan Williams is officially Red Deer’s first born and raised Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt.
In a belt testing held last month at Arashi-Do Martial Arts, Williams received his black belt from a man by the name of Mestre (Master) Sylvio Behring, an eighth degree black belt, who was flown in from Brazil to do the testing.
“He grades every single one of our people, so all our of our people get graded by an eighth degree black belt and his lineage is directly traced down from the founder of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it’s really close. In martial arts it’s a big deal,” said Williams’ coach Gary Vig, who is also the owner of Arashi-Do in Red Deer.
“It’s cool being able to directly come from the line through Brazil. It’s pretty neat,” said Williams.
On Oct. 22nd, the testing began with the kids’ gradings and demonstrations before moving on to the adult gradings.
“Basically from purple belt on, when you go to receive your purple belt, brown belt and black belt, you have to do a demonstration for Mestre Sylvio,” said Williams.
He said the purple belt is about showcasing skills through the system they learned at blue belt, whereas the brown belt has a system that is more about their own personal interpretation.
For the black belt, Williams based his demo on an older demo he saw, with the first half being more traditional self defence and the second half being more like sparring, where it included more of his personal flare inside the technique.
He said Red Deer’s Jiu Jitsu community has been very supportive.
“Getting my black belt you never know how much support you have from your local community until something like this happens.”
As far as martial arts goes, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most challenging forms, according to his Vig, who has been coaching Williams since 2002.
“I teach several martial arts and in most martial arts it’s not uncommon for people to get their black belt at around five years. Ryan took a little time off, but he’s put at least a good 12 to 14 solid years of training in,” said Vig.
He added that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a grappling martial art, which means more wrestling and submission holds like chokes and things like that.
Williams first entered the world of martial arts when he was 16-years-old in kickboxing and had been kickboxing for about a year and a half when one of his first instructors was coming through their gym to do a seminar on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which Williams wanted to try.
“I didn’t even have a uniform. I was dressed up in shorts and a t-shirt. It was pretty funny,” said Williams with a laugh.
He then went on to first learn the Rear Naked Choke, which he said is the big move everyone knows.
“Ever since then I was hooked,” he said.
He said it’s his team most of all that has him keep coming back.
“If you don’t have a good team I don’t think it would be a very good atmosphere to go and train,” said Williams.
He added that people call the sport the human chess match.
“It’s playing all the different little games, because everybody has their own unique style.”
When it comes to Williams’ training schedule, he can be found almost every day at Arashi-Do, either teaching or training himself.
He coaches Monday to Friday at least five hours a day, and does about one to two hours of personal training each day.
“He’s a really remarkable guy. I’ve know him since he was a teenager and as a martial artist, he’s a very skillful, athletic, dedicated martial artist,” said his coach.