10 years ago I joined the longest running gym in the Inland Empire headed by Pedro Carvalho. It was a small team and our sister school was run by Pedro’s brother Rodrigo Teixeira. Rodrigo’s students visited us regularly and vice versa. When both brothers were forced to move away for their families the team fell apart.
I have done many different martial arts throughout the years and I don’t keep in touch with anyone I used to train with. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is unique in the bonds it builds. Maybe it stems from the fact that you have to trust your teammates with your well being as you train and practice. Maybe it’s because Brazilian’s in general tend to be open, friendly, and welcoming. Through BJJ I have been put up for a week in Spain by Santeri Lillius, treated to lunch and driven to and from the gym by Luca Caracciolo and his team in Italy, given a bed, food, and unbelievable training on the beach by Abraham Marte in the Dominican Republic, and even gotten glass repair and legal advice from NOLA BJJ in Louisiana. These unbelievable acts of kindness came after sharing the mats as little as a single day. You don’t see that in club volleyball or pickup basketball.
Although small, our team was tight. After disbanding contact became less frequent but never less significant. Members of the team spread across some of the biggest teams in the sport such as: Gracie Barra, Alliance, Checkmat, Atos, Higher Ground, Ribeiro Brothers, and many others. Despite distance, time, and team changes the core feeling of family never faded.
We have suffered too many losses in the last few years. In 2013 the well known MMA and BJJ phenom, Joe Camacho, passed. Ervhins Hurtado, one of the most energetic and loving individuals I’ve ever known, lost his life in 2014. Just a few weeks ago we lost Brian Kim. It was shocking how young they each were and these losses have rocked the BJJ community.
Higher Ground BJJ headed by Rodrigo’s former students Julio and Sean hosted an open mat in Brian’s honor. Over 25 people took time out of their Sunday to train, share stories, console each other, and break bread. Brian’s brother Steven came and it was impossible not to be moved. He is a beast on the mats and rolls with a passion and fury that show his focus, intensity, and heart. He gave a touching speech thanking the team for all of their love and support and telling them how much it means to him and his mother.
Brian had a huge heart. He was a great Jiu Jitsu practitioner, a son, a businessman, a friend, a role model. I can’t imagine the pain his family is going through and it’s hard to find solace in loss. All I find is a salient reminder that life is short. You never know when the last time you’ll see someone will be so take advantage of each interaction. We are truly blessed to be a part of a sport that builds bonds as strong as family. Rest in peace Brian, Ervhins, and Joe. You are missed.
Additional Pictures from the day can be found HERE