Brown Belt Promotion

2014-07-01_03-lex-fridman-brown-belt-promotionYesterday, I was promoted to brown belt in BJJ. I’d like to thank Phil Migliarese, Ricardo Migliarese, and all my training partners and friends at Balance and everywhere else in the jiu jitsu world. In some ways it’s just a belt, just a color, but I think it’s a great time to reflect on what I learned from jiu jitsu so far and how grateful I am to be a part of this community.

I’ve grown a lot as a person in the years that I’ve spent on the mat. Jiu jitsu forced me to be honest with myself. It revealed to me my weaknesses and illusions. It made me realize that there are no shortcuts to success: hard work is always required and those who work the hardest tend to achieve the most (in whatever pursuit they take on).


It also taught me the paradoxical fact of human nature, perhaps best stated by Albert Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus:

“There is scarcely any passion without struggle.” – Camus

Happiness is found in the struggle, in the challenge, in the climb. I learned to set difficult goals, but not to dwell too much on them. Life happens in the moment, not in the future. So while “struggle” usually requires long-term goals, happiness is found in the “now”. That all leads to the two things I look for on the mat:

  1. Challenge.
  2. Fun.

My personal goals for brown belt are two-fold: (1) compete, compete, compete and (2) become a better teacher. I don’t think I’ll ever be an instructor, but I do enjoy discussing techniques and principles with people. What I would like to learn is how to better explain what’s on my mind clearly, concisely, with philosophical depth, and a slight tinge of Russian flavor.

I’ve come to a tough spot in my career that requires a lot of dedication and sacrifice. Jiu jitsu for me is a hobby. My life, work, and passion are in my academic pursuits. That is where I believe I can contribute the most to the world, and more importantly, that is what I love doing the most. Still, jiu jitsu is a grounding force, a place I return to time and again to get humbled and to reflect on my place in the world. The challenge is to find a balance: not a lazy balance, but a productive balance.

I will wrap this post up with another excerpt from The Myth of Sisyphus. In this essay, Camus uses the example of Sisyphus, a figure in Greek mythology, who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. This (in a nutshell) is the struggle. It may be meaningless, but still there is fulfillment in it. There is real happiness in it. The essay concludes:

“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain… This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”  – Camus

Congrats to everyone else getting promoted on July 12. I wish I could be there to celebrate, but I will certainly be there to be break in the new belts.


13 thoughts on “Brown Belt Promotion

  1. Tete

    Congratulations, bro! your blog is one of my BJJ motivations out here in kenya (where training is sketchy-ish!)…

  2. George McGinnis

    Congrats, my friend. Shawn Bodio mentioned your blog so I wanted to stop by and check it out. I am glad that I did. You are very well spoken and knowledgeable. Much can be learned from you, and the BJJ community is lucky to have your thoughts and experiences

    George McGinnis – York MMA Academy

    1. Lex Post author

      Thanks George. Shawn is a great instructor and competitor. It’s awesome to know that he mentioned this blog.

  3. Dominique

    Well earned.
    I started to read your blog, when you were a late blue belt. Go well, in your comp’s.

  4. Jim Caruso

    Lex, I just stopped by your blog for the first time in awhile and was happy to see this news! Congratulations on reaching this milestone! I also like your balanced perspective on BJJ being just a hobby, not your career; it is an inspiring reminder that one can still achieve success in a personal avocation such as BJJ while remaining balanced – i.e., not having to become obsessed with it to the detriment of your livelihood.

  5. Dustin

    Congratulations on your promotion, Lex! I’ve been reading and following your blog since you were still a blue belt. Great insights and views in life, judo and bjj. Looking forward to reading your promotion to black!


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