Jeffrey Mueller had been training in various martial arts styles for 15 years. He can throw ninja stars, kick a samurai off a horse, break a pine board with a ridge hand, and now choke someone out in a technical way. After training for almost eight years, Mueller decided it was time to put his skills to the test at the IBJJF New York Pro a week ago. He fought in the light and open weight divisions in Master 3 blue belt and walked away undefeated with two gold medals.
Before class ended on December 2nd, 2015, Coach Keith Cebula stopped the class and had Mueller complete a 13 man gauntlet. He had to fight every single person in the class back to back without stopping in order to complete the promotion ceremony, and he did. Afterwards, he stood up, pained and covered in sweat to receive the purple belt he earned in more ways than one.
Later, Mueller wrote about the experience:
Okay, so I wanted to take a minute and chat about this whole purple belt thing.
Let me preface this by saying, unless you train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you don’t understand. You might think you do, but you just don’t have a frame of reference.
Now, I am not belittling you, or your loved one’s, martial arts accomplishments. I know getting your whatever-color belt/sash in whatever discipline was an achievement… but this is not the same, trust me!
I have been doing the martial arts thing since I was 15 years old. I have studied Japanese arts, Korean arts, Chinese arts, Filipino arts and have a deep shelf of belts and certificates. And I can say, without a doubt, this was the most difficult martial achievement of my life.
Every day is a fight. Literally. Feeling good, you fight. Feeling tired, you fight. Stressed out from life, you fight. Everyone in that class bigger than you? You fight. Sore and hurting from the last week of fights? You fight.
There is no truer reflection of oneself than when you are faced with that situation. And there is no truer accomplishment than when you keep going and don’t quit. You can’t fool yourself in that environment. The truth is always evident.
I started with Julius Park at Crazy 88 Mixed Martial Arts in Elkridge almost 8 years ago, and now I split my time between there and Crazy 88 Mixed Martial Arts in Owings Mills with Keith Cebula and Aung La Nsang, and let me tell you that I could not have picked a better school (or people) to train with.
I have made it a habit, when traveling or when a friend has an open house, to visit other BJJ schools; and while I don’t want to disparage anyone… I have seen so many schools with lax standards. What I love about where I am is that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I earned this; like everyone that has come before me.
Not too long ago, someone asked me why I was still a blue belt. I shrugged and said “Because Julius doesn’t think I am ready yet… but I would rather be a blue belt putting it to the purple belts, than a purple belt getting killed by blue belts.” That has always been, and always will be, my mindset. Develop the skill, and the rank will just sort itself out; because my growth is the literally the only thing I am in control of. The rest I leave up to my coaches, because I trust them implicitly.
I also, specifically, want to thank a few people who have been instrumental on my journey so far, because they fight me with 100% ferocity and intensity every day on the mats… always pushing me to grow and get better. Nathan Allen, Stephen Riddle, Andrew Carter, Lloyd Piar, Christopher Kim & Dave Zwanetz, thanks for never going light.
I might not be the most athletic, or talented, guy on the mats; but I am the guy who doesn’t quit. Three belts down, two to go. Let the learning continue!
PS – My face and back are wrecked and I’m hunting for revenge. #YouKnowWhoYouAre
PPS – Also, I want to thank Vivian Mueller for putting up with the hours and hours away from home, the complaining about sore muscles and joints, and the amount of sweaty gis I put in the laundry. You are so supportive, thank you.
Three belts down, two to go. Let the learning continue!” Mueller is clearly excited about the future in the sport and does not plan on stopping at purple, but getting all the way to black.