Three of Longman Jiu-jitsu’s martial artists recently received their black belts, after 13 years of hard work. Ryan Eneim, Aaron Moeller and Jarred Espina were given their black belts at a ceremony led by Longman founder Bruno Ewald.
They are the first to be promoted to Gracie black belts on Kaua‘i.
The ceremony started with the history of the Gracie family, the family who pioneered a specific style of jiu-jitsu. The dean of Gracie jiu-jitsu, Relson Gracie, was on hand to congratulate the three. Gracie said that “outside of Brazil, Hawai‘i represents some of the strongest competitors in the world.”
There was tension in the air at the ceremony. None of the candidates knew if their names would be called to be promoted.
Eneim, who is also a Longman instructor, always claimed that one day he would achieve the black belt status, but when his name was called, he was shocked.
“I can’t believe it,” he said.
For Pan-American finalist Moeller, who was handed the worn-out belt of his instructor, it was like a dream come true.
“This is the way I always imagined it would look,” he said.
Espina, who is the nephew of Kali grandmaster Ben Largusa — who taught Bruce Lee the nunchucks — was emotional.
Moeller’s father, Terry, observed the progress of Longman Jiu-Jitsu and its three recipients. He remembered when the three were “skinny white belts taking on anyone who walked through the door.”
“It was obvious, even at that stage, that they would one day be black belts,” he said. “They studied the sport like a science and developed their own style, like an art.”
Longman plans to send a team to the Pan-American Championships in the spring and the Mundial World Championships this fall in Los Angeles where Ewald will defend his world title. This is the first time the Mundial will be held outside of Brazil. Among the names representing Longman will be Ewald, Luke Hacker, Jake Scovell and Nick Arnold. This “dream team” recently returned from the North American Grappling Association, each winning first place in their divisions.
For the three newly promoted Longman black belts, the upcoming events represent a rare opportunity to test their mettle. Individually, they each have had experience in world class competitions. But, this marks the first time they will be competing at the highest level as a team.
Longman Jiu-Jitsu will be sponsoring a series of fundraisers in anticipation of the Pan-American Championship and the Mundial World Championship. To support the Longman team, call 645-1265.