Keith Weber has put up a fight to hone his skills in the art of Brazilian jiu jitsu.
The 39-year-old Invermere resident began grappling in Fredericton, New Brunswick during 2006 when he found a private instructor to train with three times weekly.
“There wasn’t even a club there at the time,” he said. “I found a guy (who) was a blue belt and I convinced him to help train me a little bit for the first little while.”
Now, Mr. Weber is a purple belt and practices at the community hall with others, often twice weekly.
“I grew up liking martial arts so I grew up doing Tae Kwon Do as a child, then I did ninjutsu in high school and then I did six years where I was teaching and competing in kickboxing,” said Weber. “For me, I always like to put myself in the scariest situation possible and try to excel at it, and that’s why I do emergency medicine. That’s why I’ve done trauma, that’s why I’ve worked with the military.
“I’m fearful to ever be in a fight so I want to be good at it if I am.”
He gradually worked his way up through white and blue belts to earn his purple belt, which technically qualifies him to teach others jiu jitsu as a junior level instructor. In the future, Weber plans to train for his brown and black belt.
“There are probably about a dozen of us (in the valley) who really like to get together to grapple,” he said. “The other martial arts have more striking, and that type of stuff. Although judo is grappling, so we all get together to share what we know (every Friday and Sunday night at the Community Hall). We try to learn from each other and practice with each other because it’s one of those sports that you can’t really do alone. You need partners.”
But the road to success has been a long one coming.
“I got my purple belt not too long ago,” he explained. “I changed clubs somewhere in the middle and I had to start again as a blue belt, then I missed a couple of opportunities to get belt promotions… I was a blue belt for a long time — six or seven years.”
He added the norm is to stay in a belt level for roughly two years, depending on one’s progression in the sport.
However, Weber believes that working out through any form of martial arts is the best way someone can develop confidence and stay fit.
“I’m happy to share what I know (because) after nine years, you learn a lot,” said Weber. “Kickboxing is very simple in its movements. It’s kicking and punching, but there are only so many ways you can do that. Kickboxing is like checkers but jiu jitsu has thousands of moves, so I think jiu jitsu is like chess. Each one has its own eccentricity that makes it work or not work.”