After 4750 days, 21 hours and 30 minutes Spider became the first Black Belt at the hands of Maciej „De Zoo” Linke. One day, a 15 year old Spider went up the steep, narrow stairs to the attic of an old warehouse by Żołnierska Street in Szczecin, where was martial arts club Berserkers Team Poland. It was one of the first BJJ clubs in Poland, now known due to KSW competitors: Michal Materla or Karol Bedorf. He drifted into Coach Maciej’s classes and started training with him. While after the Linke brothers and Piotr Baginski with Robert Siedziako parted. Linke Gold Team has changed headquarters several times, people came and went. 13 years and 4 days, but Spider is still in Gold color.
Black Belt is white belt who never quits
I was 15 when I got to first BJJ training. I wanted to start judo, but coach told me I am too old to start training and recommended his former students Mariusz and Maciej Linke training „jiu-jitsu something stuff”. It was a time when words „martial arts” and „Brazilian” were always meeting with responses like: „Ahh I know! Those funny guys dancing with drums, right?”. I am proud to say I was first wave of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Poland and Eastern Europe. My coaches were white belts and all techniques we learned came from watching first UFCs tapes (times before YouTube and broadband Internet access. Sounds prehistoric, I know) were Royce Gracie kicked everyone’s ass. Therefore my arsenal consisted basically from triangle, armbar and mata-leo.
I remember getting frustrated all the time when those beefy newbies beat the hell out of me simply by pushing neck with a fist and I was already training for over a year. And then one day huge guy came, 120 kg town-bandit. To tell you the truth, BJJ in Szczecin wasn’t attracting the brightest minds. Maciej told me to spar with him. I managed to submit him with a triangle. What a exhilarating feeling it was! Suddenly small Spider got respected in whole academy.
It was fun times when we had to invent the wheel. However it is impressive how BJJ big progress was made since then. Just to give an example. Biggest competition at that time gathered maybe around 200 people. Latest Polish Championships had over 1200 competitors. It is huge. Thanks to MMA, Jiu-Jitsu got popular. It is also easier to explain what sport do you train: „Like MMA, but no kicks and punches”. Last but not least people don’t confuse it with Capoeira anymore.
Another great thing to observe over those 13 years to Black Belt was how Jiu-Jitsu evolved. I was very active student, coming to training everyday and it took me over 4 years to get a blue belt. I thought: „If it takes 4 years to blue belt, Black Belt must be God. I will never be worthy to get it”. Right now it takes what, max 2 years to blue rank with mediocre attendance? It is not because standards got lenient. 150 years ago learning to read was a lifetime achievement. Right now 5 years old kids can do it. The same is in BJJ – snowball effect. There is more of everything: competitions, coaches, black belts, seminars, sparring partners, etc. Teaching became faster and more efficient.
In an age where speed is more important than durability; we do not repair broken and replace it with new ones; plan for a maximum of a week, a month in advance, it is particularly important to me that all the belts from the Blue to Black have been given to me by the same Trainers: Mariusz and Maciej Linke.
I perceive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as a relationship, a kind of contract. Each teacher has it’s own methods, experience, goes a different path. By acceding to the club you make a choice. When this happens, there is no turning back. As the Coach is for the athlete, the athlete is for the club, for the Coach. Club to exist, grow, needs the commitment of both.
What Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has given me
It is thanks to Jiu-Jitsu that I got a job at Procter & Gamble.
I am filled with joy for several reasons:
- With BJJ I found a set of values. Friendship, loyalty, determination are values that have helped me along the path, both professional and personal life.
- I was able to persevere. I, like everyone, motivation break-downs. When I moved to Warsaw, work engulfed me for three years. But I was not happy, because I wasn’t spending time for self-development. The money was good, but I had no time to spend them whatsoever, and I felt bad in my own body. Despite this, I was able to return to regularity. First 2x a week, then 4x, to date, when I train 3 times a day.
- I have you Chaos Gold Team, a great team. I train with you since the purple belt. Together we have been preparing for the competition, getting to know new techniques, and you came with me to pick up the nomination. To all those who accompanied me, and appeared on the Macaco seminar, thank you. That means a lot to me.
There was a dark period in my life that I’ve been training a little, very little. I moved to Warsaw to study, I developed intensively career path and was getting to know new surroundings. I felt torn. All these people around filled with shit, having brand new car at the top of their life priority list, perceiving as a sign of good taste to show at brunches in the newly opened Warsaw places. Talking about sports, ambitions and other intangible values has met with polite contempt. I do not accept being nice to people, just to achieve their ulterior motive. One day I shared my thoughts with one of the clients at work and she said to me: „You do not look for an athlete.” It was for me a painful twinge advocating change. Since then, in small steps, returned to regularity.
Jump on the other side of the chasm was a phone call from Mariusz:
M: Look Spider, you will open a Gold Team branch in Warsaw.
Q: Coach, I’m not convinced, this is a high risk and I would rather not. I’m afraid of undertaking that.
M: Spider, what belt do you have? Shut the fuck up, and if I say you will open, than you will open.
Thanks to my coach I left Procter & Gamble and opened up my own academy.
A year has passed since I got my master’s degree, and I said that my next goal is a Black Belt. Last Saturday I did it. Me and my BJJ buddy, Energetyk, were admitted to Olympus.
Black Belt’s Worth
I have ambivalent feelings about the Black Belt. It is worthless and priceless at the same time. Worthless, because it does not guarantee the Olympic pension, no special properties that make the athlete invincible, and in the role of the chick magnet doesn’t stand a chance compared to Ferrari. Priceless, because it is a symbol of steadfastness, perseverance, determination. Just as in the acquisition of the mountains is not about finding yourself at the top, because you can get there simpler by helicopter, but about climbing, so Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not about gaining belt promotions, only continuous development. I really liked the view of our Coach Jorge „Macaco” Patino: „BJJ is the only martial art that is developing. In boxing, karate, aikido, all techniques are known for generations. In BJJ every year there is something new that is moving discipline forward. „
I believe that in life it is the same, that’s why every day I’m looking for ways to become better at work as an entrepreneur, for my students as a coach and athlete, at home, for loved ones, as part of the family. In my opinion, we can not give up any of the spheres. Otherwise, we lessen, become crippled. I believe that you can not be fully happy having a great career while being a fat pig. Equally, it is hard to be happy in a relationship when do not have what to put into the pot. Finding a balance is difficult. This is the Jiu-Jitsu: how to attack while defending.
Fills me with unbridled joy and peace of the fact that there are things in my life and the people who always accompany me. Something like these beacons for sailors. My trainers, Maciej and Mariusz, who not only let me, but told me to train when I had no money to pay for the membership.
From the older of the brothers I learned to do things for as long as it takes to get them done. „Could not get the promotion? You have not tried hard enough.”; „You’re a fat pig? Go run, stop the gluttony. „. Although it is difficult to implement, as a natural human reaction is an excuse, justification is the protection of the ego, maintenance of a positive self-image, however the results are surprising. I watched it for years of our friendship: the first Pole who once occupied the first two places in the ranking IBJJF, the founder of the biggest club in Poland, first Black Belt in Eastern Europe, a member of the national team in judo and it can be listed on and on. What I have to admit him – whatever gets it into his head, he gets it done.
From the younger, who was always my direct coach, I learned above all that in life you do not need to be a whore to achieve dreams. I could always count on him. Whether when it came to express transport from the station after arriving from London by Krakow on an exam in math, help with a lesson in humility for my girlfriend ex just before cinema screenings, or mobilization with 3 bitch slaps on my face just before the fight in the competition. He would have preferred to cross half the city, than to buy bread at the baker’s, to whom friend hides a grudge.
My friend Cyclops, who gave me faith in the foundation of the club and runs it with me from the beginning. We knew each other from the first camp in the Stare Kaleńsko and he was by my side at all times until my nomination, Black Belt’s Samurai Test including… He’s like a boomerang. No matter how mad at him I am, he’s somewhere nearby, circling and finally will come back. You can not be angry at him for a long time. As a last resort he will bribe you with casserole. No matter how badly feeling down I was, how very discouraged to our sport I was, he always was setting me straight.
Black Belt means: „Yes, I can”
My beloved Aga, supplier. I am Venom, but she’s my Symbiote. I am glad that I have a girlfriend, with which I was able to stand on the podium 4 times on the European events, carry out 3 of my biggest dreams to date, to lead 2 companies and have a 1 cool relationship where there is no such word as „sacrifice”. There are only mutual passions and dreams, for which we find together ways to get fulfilled.
Finally, let me say that my style of Jiu-Jitsu is for me, and I hope for my students as well, Way of Life. Way to deal with the difficulties signpost on crossings, tool to be better in a relationship, work and for myself. BJJ is a private happiness that no one is able to to take away.
Black Belt is awareness that I can, whatever I want.
Gold Team Heeeeyyyyy !!!
Black Belt Spider
PS Do you think I should change my nickname to „Black Widow” now?