Congratulations to Michael Omay

Posted by Alex Sorensen 7 months ago

A tale of hard work, sweat and dedication is written into the fabric of the four faded and fraying belts Michael Omay holds in his hands. The white, blue, purple and brown belts represent the 11 years he has committed to Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and the prize at the end? The black belt he now ties around his waist.

Michael Omay achieved his black belt following a rigorous grading in Newcastle on December 4.

"A black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a rare thing as it takes so many years of constant and dedicated training to achieve," Michael said.

"It typically takes around 10 years to reach black belt. I spent a bit over year on white belt, then around three to four years on each colour belt before achieving my black belt. Being an active black belt in taekwondo (fifth degree) and holding a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is even rarer. I know of only one other in Australian who is active in both arts at a high level. By 16 I was regularly teaching classes, and had several of my own classes by 18. Until the last decade there was not much Brazilian jiu-jitsu around locally. I started my journey in the early 2000s looking to expand on my martial arts knowledge, adding grappling and ground work. Back then there wasn't any local clubs to learn from so we learnt techniques via videos and books. We would find others with various levels of training and train together."

In 2010 Michael found Professor Gustavo Pinto who operates Gracie Barra Newcastle City.

"He stepped my training up to a much more serious level, progress through the ranks is quite slow and difficult especially under Professor Guga's strict standards. I'm proud to say I have been awarded each rank by Professor Guga from white to black. Only a handful of guys since the beginning are still there and only two of us have made it to black belt so far," Michael said.

In a testament to the dedication required to climb the ranks in the martial art, Omay said he has seen hundreds of people "come and go" through Professor Guga's doors in the past decade.