Our Black Belt Members

What does it take to reach black belt? Learn from our top members at the Rodrigo Resende Academy in Spruce Grove, Edmonton

Behind every black belt member is a fascinating journey. The Rodrigo Resende Academy is proud to host a strong family of proficient black belts from across the Edmonton Capital Region. Below are a few of the stories from a portion of our black belt members.

Justin Aud, Black Belt

justin-aud-rodrigo-resende-academy-bjj-black-belt-568x579 Our Black Belt MembersHow did you first discover BJJ?
▸ I was interested in trying a martial art, but wanted a grappling type discipline. I literally looked in the Yellow Pages and had to look up what BJJ even was. It sounded fun, so I went and tried it out.

When did you first start practicing BJJ?
▸ Sept 1, 2006.

What are some important lessons you’ve learned on your journey to black belt?
▸ Don’t wish away your time. Appreciate the journey of growth. Show up and work hard, the promotions and improvements will come along.

Did you used to get bullied in school? If so, tell us a story.
▸ I did throughout grade 9, until I stood up for myself near the end of the school year. I grew to over 6 feet during the subsequent summer and never seemed to have any issues after that.

How often do you train per week?
▸ As often as my schedule allows. I had been commuting from Ponoka to train until recently, and I was getting in 1-3 x per week. I’ve since moved to Spruce Grove and I’ve been consistent 3x per week at minimum, sometimes as often as 5.

What is your next goal?
▸ To continue improving as an instructor and leader in the dojo. To keep learning and improving my skills.

What made you choose to learn martial arts from Rodrigo Resende?
▸ When I moved to Alberta, I was already a purple belt. I knew what I was looking for in a dojo and instructor. I tried out several places in Red Deer and Edmonton. Rodrigo was the best instructor and already had a team of experienced students who could push me. Since then he had opened the nicest facility I have ever trained in. I have trained in numerous gyms across North America and his facility is like a palace.

 


 

Hal MacDonald, Black Belt

hal-macdonald-rodrigo-resende-academy-bjj-black-belt-568x319 Our Black Belt MembersHow did you first discover BJJ?
▸ I was training in Muay Thai kick boxing. Some young guys in the gym who were training MMA challenged me to try it, so I did. I could not understand how someone 150 lbs could tie me up and make me feel so helpless. I remember the shocked look on one of the MMA kids when I dislocated my toe on my 2nd class. I taped it back up and continued to train.

When did you first start practicing BJJ?
▸ Nov 2000. I was 50 years old.

What are some important lessons you’ve learned on your journey to black belt?
▸ BJJ mimics life you get out what you put in to it.

Jiu Jitsu is not just a fighting and the self defence system, it is about being a good citizen, to be giving of yourself to others whether its teaching BJJ, to giving in your community. I have seen so many people young and old, from any religion or ethnicity, learn humility, fellowship, and gain self-confidence. I gain great personal satisfaction from watching others grow in confidence and life skills (this includes watching Rodrigo and all our black belts grow from their young years into starting families).

Did you used to get bullied in school? If so, tell us a story.
▸ Once or twice in Grade 10, a couple older guys tried. I was scared but I fought and won. After that I had a lot of space. I have an advantage over most because of my size.

How often do you train per week?
▸ Four or five.

What is your next goal?
▸ My short term goal would be to train and learn Jiu Jitsu, try to not get injured, support our clubs students, travel to different gyms when vacationing, mentor people in BJJ & life skills, and to be an example for younger people to stay fit and active.

My long term goal is Coral Belt, I will have to be 88 years old to be considered. DON’T UNDER ESTIMATE ME WHEN I SAY THIS.


 

Rob Thompson, Black Belt

rob-thompson-rodrigo-resende-academy-bjj-black-belt-568x786 Our Black Belt MembersHow did you first discover BJJ?
▸ I first discovered BJJ almost by accident. For my birthday, a friend bought me a 1 month trial membership and I’ve been at the same gym for almost 13 years now.

When did you first start practicing BJJ?
▸ I started training in 2004 at Elite’s old location under Steve Bartley, who was a blue belt at the time.

What are some important lessons you’ve learned on your journey to black belt?
▸ I’ve learned so many things through BJJ. I’ve learned that you always need to be open to learning new things, to change, adapt and modify over time. I’ve learned about respect, for myself, for my opponents, my teammates and instructors. I’ve learned that belts, like cauliflower ears, are earned not given. But mostly what I’ve learned on my road to black belt is that anything is possible with hard work, perseverance and determination.

How often do you train per week?
▸ I currently train a minimum of 3 times a week.

What is your next goal?
▸ My next goal is to continue to improve myself and others through the study, practice and instruction of the art of BJJ. Do my part to help grow the sport and share my knowledge with another generation of grapplers. (And Black and Red “Coral” belt, when I’m 65 or 70… if I’m lucky)