I would like to confirm for some, and clarify for others, that I received by black-belt under Terere, and Andre Galvao played a important role in the ceremony because Terere was not able to participate.
I have only respect for Andre as both a person and athlete, and I do not want to diminish the critical role he played as a teammate at TT and in my belt ceremony. His statements are literally correct, as he did tie the belt around my waist – a procedural role from my understanding, under the direction of Terere. Andre had only received his black belt a few weeks prior, so there was no real possibility, in my understanding, that he was awarding me a black belt in the normal sense.
At the time, Terere, along with my first instructor Mauro Pacifico, were my teachers and mentors in jiu jitsu and life. I left my family and my job to move to Sao Paulo to train and learn from Terere. He helped craft my skills and mold my style as both a competitor and teacher. Of course, it would have been nice for him to literally present my belt, but I understood that he was dealing with his own conflicts, and it wasn’t a surprise that he couldn’t attend. That said, I would not have wanted the belt if I didn’t know and understand it to be coming from him – even in his absence.
I’m writing this clarification only to resolve confusion that some people had trying to bridge the perspectives of Andre and me. Ultimately, what one does with a black belt is much more important than who grants it, broadcasts it, or ties it. Earning a black belt is a journey of dedication, perseverance, and humility for all who receive it. Whether it is from Terere, Andre, or Jane Doe, each of us has the same opportunity to forge a path – in competition, teaching, elevating the art, or improving the world. I hope this puts the question to rest, and we can get back to the important work on the mats, in our sport, and in the world.