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Wesley Ephson the first Arlans Siqueira Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt

by Enzo Vullo on February 4, 2015

Today I saw my friend and training partner Wesley Ephson receive his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt. This is an amazing achievement, made even more impressive as he has achieved this in just 7 years.

I have trained with Wes from the start of his jiu jitsu career, so I thought it would be nice to reflect on my time training with him, share a few stories and my highlights from watching his journey from white to black belt.

Just to be clear, I am not a black belt, so my views and opinion are that of someone not qualified to say what a black belt is and who deserves one.

Wes is an amazing athlete both physically and mentally. His strength is his relentless determination and focus on progression. He conducts himself in a way in which everything is possible.

An example of this is how Wes reacts if he is not able to ‘do’ a new technique Arlans teaches us.

Wes will break down the technique into its core elements, drill each part to understand the concept, then he will put it altogether in sparring, initially against lower belts, then move on to successfully execute this technique on higher belts.

Incredibly Wes can do this in one lesson.

I first met Wes at an MMA class in 2008. I had just returned from working overseas, where I had started to train bjj with a judo black belt, a bjj white belt and a MMA fighter.

There was no bjj classes close to me, so I decided to attend this MMA class.

Wes also attended this class with his friend Wes Johnsson. After initially differentiating them as big Wes (Johnsson) and little Wes (Ephson), Wes J became sensitive about his weight and they became ‘Black Wes’ and ‘White Wes’.

These MMA classes were brutal, the conditioning was more than either Wes or I had experienced before, or since, but we bonded in the blood, sweat and discomfort of progression, Just as a side note, Chris Ranger also attended these classes. Clearly, Brett Sizeland, the instructor laid some important foundations for us.

One of the first memories of Wes’ obsession and drive to get technique right was in this MMA class.

Wes was unable to do a triangle choke from his closed guard, so at the end of EVERY class he would not allow me to leave until he was satisfied we had drilled this technique enough.

Physically, Wes is not a big guy but his pursuit of excellence and determination provides an exception role model. Testimony to this can now be seen in how Wes’ son and daughter approach jiu jitsu.

As this MMA classes ended, Wes and I knew our future was with jiu jitsu. We quickly found the club that Arlans was then associated to, which later became the club that he now runs.

Like all keen white belts we immersed ourselves in jiu jitsu. Unlike most white belts Wes has made it to black belt.

As we progressed along our jiu jitsu journey, we started to compete. This is where Wes really excelled.

His only competition loss is at the Europeans when he had just received his purple belt. In every other competition Wes has entered, he has won gold, and completely dominated every opponent in every match.

Although this is about Wes, it is important to note that my competition experience is almost the complete opposite to his. However, Wes has never let me stop believing in myself. Even when he wanted to celebrate his successes he has always made time to ensure that I can see the learning points from defeat. This to me is a measure of his character as a man, team mate and a friend.

Competing in jiu jitsu with Wes has meant we have been on many adventures together.

My favourite story was when we travelled to Holland to compete.

Interestingly, for some reason, whilst travelling to Holland, Wes lost the ability to blink. There was also an incident of ‘airport rage’ when he refused to board the plane until found some cocoa butter.

It was a fun weekend where we laughed a lot.

Wes laugh extra hard at my expense as I competed against a huge 120kg German guy.

I laughed extra hard at Wes as he drunkly took over a student pub crawl and showed me how he was able to ‘negoiate’ with Dutch bouncers.

This trip ended with as we both having a foot pedicure at Amsterdam airport. This was also the first time I noticed Wes’ inappropriately large big toes. The next time you roll with him, check them out. It is weird.

It is also important to understand that although Wes is great at jiu jitsu, he is not perfect. More specifically, his jiu jitsu dress sense is simply awful.

One of my favourite jiu jitsu fashion mistakes was when Wes called me at 1am, to tell me how happy he was that he had just spent over £200 buying a camouflage gi from America, whilst surfing the Internet drunk.

The next stage of Wes’ jiu jitsu journey was teaching.

I know from attending his classes he has the rare ability to be both a great fighter and a great coach.

Under his leadership and teaching Arlans’ kids BJJ program has produced not only medal winning fighters but also martial artists that are disciplined, confident and respectful individuals. This is something that I personally believe is critical in our sport.

So now Wes is a black belt. Again he has set the standard for us all to follow.

I am proud to call Wes my friend and training partner.

I look forward to learning more from him and watching as he continues his jiu jitsu journey as a black belt.

Wesley Ephson the first Arlans Siqueira Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt – an amazing achievement by an amazing guy.

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