Yesterday a dear student from our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in San Clemente forwarded to me an article from  It’s well worth to share it. Please, read it and remember: BJJ is adaptation. As I always say: a monkey can not fight like an elephant, an elephant can not fight like a lion, an the lion can not fight like a monkey. BJJ helps you to find your strength. AND help you to overcome your excuses.

Article and image from

Jiu-Jitsu shows how it’s possible to ease and turn complicated situations around, whether in the dojo or in life. One of the great lessons on the mat is that, regardless of the obstacle, there are ways to overcome it. Take Helio Gracie, for example, who with the gentle art overcame health problems during childhood, and adapted his game in such a way as to handle much bigger and stronger opponents. Helio, during his day, definitely revolutionized fight techniques and debunked concepts considered solid up until that point.

The keyword is “adaptation.” The thousands – almost infinite – possibilities well-learnt Jiu-Jitsu provides are adapted as best suited to each individual, without regard to weight, strength, age, sex… That’s also the case with Gilberto “Gibs” Moya, a Marcos Barbosinha and Mario Dias black belt.

First, though, let’s recapitulate: In March of this year an on-line magazine published an article about Russell Redenbaugh. Blind and missing fingers, Redenbaugh earned his black belt at sixty-five years of age. Excited about it, he didn’t hesitate to send us the new first hand as the first person with such challenges to make it to the highest order.

It didn’t take long for the newsroom to be flooded by messages asking to correct the error. Brazil’s Giba Moyano, 100% blind due to congenital cataracts, was a black belt before that, and his story deserves telling. Now twenty-eight years old, with fourteen years of gentle art experience, Giba was promoted on July 27, 2008. But Jiu-Jitsu changed his life, definitively, when he was still a white belt.

Giba applying a Triangle Choke

“I was a thirteen-year-old, and I was lost. It’s a phase where we naturally feel very insecure and that was made worse because I couldn’t see. In six months, I already felt a heck of a difference. Jiu-Jitsu provided me the psychological structure to face a lot of life’s other challenges,” Giba tells

He made many advances through the martial arts. Besides participating in major championships, Giba now has Jiu-Jitsu as a profession, a job opportunity.

“I’ve been teaching at an academy in Praia Grande, coastal São Paulo, since 2004. Among so many valuable lessons, Jiu-Jitsu also gave me the opportunity to work. Ten years ago I never would have imagined it,” he says.

The only lament Giba has is that fact that so few challenged people seek the martial arts.

“I’d love to do such work, but there isn’t much demand.”

Whether or not Giba is Jiu-Jitsu’s first blind black belt, the truth is that it doesn’t matter. The main lesson is that whether the hardship is big or little depends, in part, on ourselves and the actions we take to turn them around. And always remember this great friend: Jiu-Jitsu will be your ally at all times!