The road to a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not exactly what you’d call well-traveled.
In fact, one of the martial art’s most skilled local practitioners said it’s a path almost no one finishes.
“It’s something like .5 or 1% of people who start training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ever receive a black belt,” said Chris Marsh, who owns and operates Titan BJJ at the Larry D. Miller Complex in downtown Marion. “It’s a tough and brutal sport.”
Now, you can count Marsh as one of those who finished the trail.
Marsh recently earned his black belt in the sport. His mentor, Professor Mario Aiello – a sixth-degree black belt who learned Brazilina Jiu Jitsu directly from the legendary Gracie family – flew in from California to present Marsh with his new rank.
It was a huge moment for the former McDowell High athlete and career law enforcement officer.
“It meant a lot,” said Marsh. “I’ve been blessed beyond what my old soul deserves.”
Marsh began learning the sport 13 years ago, and quickly became hooked. He initially trained in Forest City with some N.C. State Trooper friends, but eventually opened a BJJ gym in a barn at his old residence in Nebo. Two years ago, Marsh moved the school into the Miller Complex.
Business was going along swimmingly until the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year. Marsh said the pandemic hurt the school’s numbers, but Titan BJJ is still going strong.
“COVID hit us pretty hard,” he said. “We actually had zero cases in the school, but it still hurt us. As soon as we could, we brought the adult classes back in and then what we call the ‘big kids,’ the 9-12-year-olds. We haven’t even thought about bringing the little kids (ages 3-8) back yet, but we will eventually. We’re just trying to recover from COVID.”
Marsh said there are currently between 25-30 adults and 15 ‘big kids’ in the school, but expects numbers to climb now that more folks are being vaccinated against the virus.
For more information on the school, call 828-803-0523 or visit https://www.facebook.com/Titan-Brazilian-Jiu-Jitsu-1497446277203805/.