In jiu-jitsu a student’s ultimate goal is get their BJJ black belt. Accomplishing this goal is not an easy task. One must dedicate years of training in the gym and competing. And even when that goal is reached a new journey begins. In this interview Lovato Black Belt Ben Baxter, discusses the component of reaching this goal and being a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Black Belt.
When you think of the rank black belt what comes to mind?
Ben : the things that come to mind when I think about the rank of black belt is strength of character. I think to be a black belt you should act like one, take responsibility for your actions, be accountable for the things you do in and out of training, and never make excuses. There are plenty of tough grapplers out there, a lot of them grapple at a black belt level but that doesn’t always mean they should receive that rank you need to conduct yourself like a black belt.
When you first started bjj was your main goal to become a black belt?
Ben: when I first started training I was doing a lot of self-defense oriented training so bjj was just one part of it. I never thought I would be a black belt.
What are some of the things you had to undergo to reach the rank of black belt ?
Ben: I under went many hours of training and competitions nothing to out of the ordinary, no moving red hot caldrons of coals with my forearms or snatching flies with chop sticks.
In your experience why do your feel a black belt is so important to get (from when students first start off)?
Ben: I think it is a great goal for people to have. It will give people something to work for and keep them focused for a long time.
There are different ranges when a person received their black belt some 4 years , some 7, and some even 12. What are some of the factors that contribute a person getting their black in a specific length of time?
Ben: the biggest factors are going to be time put in the art, focus, desire things like that. A big help is spending time around other people who have achieved what you wish to achieve. If you have someone around who is willing to coach you that is a black belt then it will really help. When I started training my coaches were blue belts so it took some time to get the ball rolling but I had a strong desire to improve and put in as much time on the mats as I could.
When you got your black belt how did it feel?
Ben: it was strange, unreal, I knew I would really have to step my game up if I wanted to be successful at a black belt level. It was a load of pressure to represent well.
As a black belt do you sometimes find yourself as a student?
Ben: As a black belt I am more a student now than ever I am always trying to find new information to pass on to my students or to help fill in a hole in my game plan. I feel a personal responsibility to my students to show them as many different ways to improve their bjj as possible.
As a Lovato affiliate, how is your instructor Rafael Lovato Jr. helping you to become a better black belt ?
Ben: Rafael has been the biggest help I could have ever asked for. He is a great leader and has accomplished so much it would be impossible to not look up to him. He is on the cutting edge of bjj today so to have access to his knowledge is an incredible experience. Without him things would be much harder.
What are some of the hurdles you have to deal with as a black belt?
Ben: As a black belt I am always trying to find the most efficient way to train myself and my students. I personally don’t have any time to waste so my training has to be as effective and streamlined as possible to get the results I want.
Speaking of students, as a black belt, what role do you take as an instructor toward helping your students?
Ben: For my students I try to be a positive role model and lead by example. I always want to help guide all of my students to reach their goals whether it be in competition, fitness/health, or just to have fun.
Do you have any advice to bjj practitioner out their chasing the dream of becoming a black belt ?
Ben: My advice to someone trying to achieve the rank of black belt would be to get with a qualified instructor who can help you reach your goal. Do lots of technical training, more than sparring. I try to use the 8020 rule. 80% technique/drilling and 20% positional sparring. Also make sure you set goals daily, weekly, monthly, and long term goals as well. Try to get 1% percent better every day.
Finally do you have any advice for people who are just becoming black belts?
Ben: Always set new goals for yourself to keep yourself interested and continually learning.
Well that wraps thing up thank you for your time Ben, do you have any shout outs you would like to give?
Ben: A big shout out to Rafael Lovato Jr. , Saulo Ribero, my girlfriend for all her love and support , and James Puopolo the best training partner I could ever ask for, watch for him on the mat he will be doing damage.