Renowned American martial artist Roy Harris has etched his name in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) history, solidifying his position among the elite as the second non-Brazilian to attain the prestigious BJJ coral belt. Harris, a distinguished member of the “BJJ Dirty Dozen,” the inaugural group of 12 non-Brazilian black belts, made history over the weekend when his instructor, Joe Moreira, elevated him to the coveted seventh-degree black belt.
The Significance of the Coral Belt: The BJJ coral belt, a rare and revered achievement, typically requires a staggering 29 years at the black belt level. The journey to this pinnacle of expertise involves dedication, mastery, and a profound understanding of the art. While the criteria and timeframe for progression vary across the six distinct BJJ belt systems, Harris’s accomplishment places him in an exclusive league of non-Brazilian practitioners who have reached this zenith.
The Rigorous Path to the Coral Belt: The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) mandates that practitioners spend a minimum of three years practicing and teaching at the black belt level before advancing to the subsequent rank for the first three degrees. For ranks 4, 5, and 6, a demanding five-year commitment is required for each promotion. Harris’s journey exemplifies the resilience and commitment needed to ascend the ranks in the world of BJJ.
A Pioneering Legacy: Harris follows in the footsteps of Ken Gabrielson, the first non-Brazilian to achieve the BJJ coral belt in 2017 under the tutelage of Reylson Gracie. Gabrielson, part of the BJJ Dirty Dozen, received his black belt in 1993, marking him as the second non-Brazilian BJJ black belt in history. With a martial arts journey spanning four decades since he began training in 1982, Gabrielson’s achievement serves as a testament to the enduring dedication required to excel in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The BJJ Dirty Dozen: The term “BJJ Dirty Dozen” encompasses the first 12 non-Brazilian practitioners who attained the black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Although many members of this esteemed group fulfill the time requirements for the coral belt, the promotion remains elusive for some. The diverse backgrounds and training experiences of these pioneers contribute to the rich tapestry of BJJ’s global evolution.