In a wheel chair and paralyzed from the last rib down Max is going to compete in the 2015 IBJJF World Championships. A little background on a great warrior. Photos courtesy of Paulo Bihis and Bathala Apparel.
Maximiliano Ulloa is a purple belt under Leticia Ribeiro who trains at Gracie Humaitá South Bay. He’s 37 years old and will be fighting as a light weight (157) for the first time in his life.
Max became a paraplegic in 2012 after a fall from a second story balcony pinched spinal cord at level T7. With a T7 injury he has lost the use of his abs as well as his legs and lower back.
Before his injury Max was a 1 strip blue belt.
Max spent 2 months in hospital and 2 weeks in outpatient rehab when insurance only provisioned for 1 PT visit per week. He was home alone for 2 months then his brother moved to California to help. Six months after his accident resumed training because of his failing insurance need for rehab. He trains 8-10 hours a week.
Max took several months to travel across the US alone. He visited family and academies along the way. While he was visiting Miami for two months trained at the Rilion Gracie Academy. With Leticia’s blessing Max was awarded his purple belt from Rilion 2014.
Motivated to inspire other spinal cord injury people Max started the non-profit RollingtheWalk.com. He is supported by the great people at Jiu-Jitsu Changed My Life.
Today in the our Rickson Interview Series: What do the belts mean in BJJ? What do you expect from a blue belt, purple belt, brown belt and most of all a black belt?
BJJ Legends: Speaking to that preservation, it's important to manage people's expectations across the board, so that people know what they're getting into. It seems as though you're making a good effort to do that. The belt system is something that I think we use to broadcast to others and within, what you can expect from that individual.
In past interviews, I've talked to other black belts, and I've asked the same question. We can talk about your ranking system within, that you propose within the JJGF, but what I'd like to talk about more is what those belts mean, both to the layperson and to an individual.
I know Royce said... Royce told me once that Helio said, "The belt only covers two inches of your waist. You have to protect the rest." What do we expect from... What do you expect from... What does the Federation expect from a blue belt? A purple belt? A brown belt? And most of all, a black belt? Because you make some distinguish... You distinguish on your website between black belt instructors, of course, and referees, in terms of the expectations you have of them, as opposed to, say, just a normal participant.
Rickson Gracie: Yeah. First of all, and most important, we are not here to divide. So everyone who has a belt in his waist, if he's legit, if he's promoted by somebody, if he has a record, we will validate. So we're not here to say he don't deserve the belt he has on. That's not the case.
We firmly suggest to him to understand the level he's supposed to be, as he has his belt in his waist. So it's more like a reference, a guidance of what you expect from a student in that level, what he's supposed to know. That is the suggestion.
We give them a reference to know because, for me, the black belt... When he comes in, just from a tournament perspective, he can be a very tough guy, but he's just an amateur black belt. If he becomes professional black belt, that means a teacher, he's supposed to have the whole full program of self defense.
If he don't have, I'm not saying he don't deserve the black belt. I will suggest him to open his eyes and see what he needs to fulfill that gap, because his school will be better, and everyone else will be pleased with his work. So if I don't have self defense in my program to teach, I will be no more than 25% than I am, by teaching only competition Jiu-Jitsu.
Tomorrow: Rickson tells us how he choose his executive team, Carlos Gama and Tony Pacenski.
In March 2011, Roger Gracie and Kev Capel promoted me to purple belt. Two months later, I moved to Bristol, where conveniently there was a BJJ academy around the corner. Due to the colour of our belts, in May 2011 the head instructor in Bristol asked the other purple belt and I if we wanted to help out with classes. I jumped at the chance, as instructing jiu jitsu has been a long-term goal of mine for some time. I had some experience leading undergraduate seminars on literature, but discussing poetry is quite different to teaching a physical skill set like jiu jitsu.