The Master Within: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Big Waves.

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

Un Cuento en pocas palabras:

He was fit, young and able

when granted a black belt.

He was technically skilled

and worked harder

and longer than the rest.

So when the master cinched

the black top knot

The boy thought

he’d earned something greater

Than a tie that binds

to hold up his pants.

His master said, "Your journey is just beginning."

Renan Pitanguy.  La Silueta.
Renan Pitanguy, Brazil. Maestro de Maestros. One hand concealed. If you can’t see it. You can’t see it coming.

For the next 5 years

he cinched his black belt

and sparred and won all his bouts,

but that didn't help him.

There was a myth

of a master on a mountain

On the afternoon of the Vernal Equinox.

The boy was 21

when he took his first journey.

He arrived and found

a seated silhouette at sunset,

staring over the horizon.

"I'm looking for a master,

I’ve come to spar and learn.”

He hitched two thumbs

into a coal black belt.

"You've already found him."

The boy sat but failed

to bring the figure into the light.

He could only make out greying hair

that matched a grey peasant belt.

"I'm looking for a Black Belt Master.”

"Again" said crossed legged figure,

"You're confused,

you’ve already found the master...

You came with him.

And as for your belt,

You’re the only one here

with a black one.

But if it’s a sparring partner

you're after… That I am."

They sat and watched

the shadows play.

"Are you ready?" asked la silueta.

They both smiled and stood.

After 15 minutes

the boy hadn’t touched the figure

but was wet with sweat

from effort.

After 40 minutes he lay on the ground

and la silueta had yet to raise a hand

or clench a fist.

The boy looked up

from there down below

and said, "You win.”

"Not the point,”

said the voice from above.

He rose to his knees

and put his head in his hands.


“Come back in five years,”

said la silueta and walked away

down the mountain (following a goat trail to water).

Walking Man. Giacometti. Bronze.

Five years passed.

The young man returned.

And was yet to touch the shadowy figure whose belt had gone to oyster.

Another five years past

and the man returned

and his belt too

was turning to grey but by then

he no longer cared.

It was simply a tie that binds

to hold-up his pants.

He endeavored on his spiritual journey.

After 20 years the man arrived

and la silueta was breathing shallow

but still sitting in the same spot

at sunset.

They did not spar.

They stretched.

And as the sun set

they sat lost in silhouettes

and shadow.

"I think I understand."

“I think so too,” said la silueta.

And they never saw each other again.

The boy's hair turns grey

and then white

and his once black belt

does the same.

But now his pilgrimage is yearly

on the Day of the Vernal Equinox.

And now he stretches and sits alone.

One day on the rise a girl arrived.

She was young, fit and able

with a black belt cinched at the waist.

"I've come to find a master, to spar and to learn."

He looked down at his white belt

and in the shadow of la silueta,

the corners of his mouth rose.

The End.


The story is dedicated to

Renan Pitanguy, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Coral Belt, Big Wave Surfer.

An original Brazilian Nut,

in his own words:

”I believe that my prominence in Hawaii came from the self-confidence I acquired over the years, especially thanks to Jiu-Jitsu.”
Renan Pitanguy at Pipeline, Hawaii. Early 80’s.

On this particular day at Pipeline

no man was in the water

and he decided to go.

”I was alone but sure of myself.”

The story was inspired

by Gabriel Sodre.

A Brazilian Big Wave Surfer

whose Black Belt

is going grey.

Big Wave Surfing

and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are exercises

in understanding The Body in relation to Momentum and Center of Gravity.

And the reckoning with Fear...

The by-product of which

is Humility and Confidence.

Gabriel Sodre. Puerto Escondido, Playa Zicatela. Photo by Miguel Diaz Westside.

La Silueta of Gabriel Sodre...

Video by @miguellopezsapito

Gabriel Sodre rides and is supported by Shaper Gustavo Kronig @kronigdesign

For a Day to Day look at Puerto Escondido check out Migeul Diaz Westside @migueldiaz.westside

232 views0 comments