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Sharing the Knowledge – Enrique Villegas Becomes Gracie Barra New Mexico’s Newest Black Belt

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A dream that started over 12 years ago came to fruition on Saturday, April 20,2013 for Gracie Barra’s New Mexico’s newest Black Belt, Enrique Villegas. The prestigious award that symbolizes the end of one journey and the start of another was tied around his waist by Chief Instructor Roberto “Tussa” Alencar. Villegas was surrounded by over 60 students he has helped teach and by his family as his dream came true before all of their eyes.

“This is an honor and a privilege for me,” he said. “The last 12 years has been an awesome journey for me. The people that I have met along and the relationships I have built along the way have been amazing. Being a black belt means you have to show true leadership, inspire other people and give back. I hope to do that going forward.”

Villegas’ dream started back in California. He had tried a handful of martial arts but one day heard of a man that is synonymous with jiu jitsu and whose family brought the Gentle Art to America. He walked in to one of Rickson Gracie’s schools and took the first step towards his journey.

“I fell in love with jiu jitsu from my very first class,” Villegas said. “I started looking around to see who the best was and who the best teacher was. The guy that I saw was Rickson Gracie. He is a legend and no one could touch this guy. At this point I wanted to follow my dream and my passion. That was my vision when I started was to get my black belt.”

The next stop on his path to the black belt would lead him back home to New Mexico and into the doors of Gracie Barra New Mexico. Villegas now studied under the tutelage of Gracie Barra New Mexico Professor Alberto Crane.

“I have a lot of appreciation for Alberto Crane because he brought jiu jitsu to New Mexico,” he said. “Once I came back to New Mexico in 2005 Professor Crane took me in and taught me a lot of cool stuff. Every day he continued to inspire me and teach me.”

During the course of the next eight years, Villegas grew close with Alencar and the rest of the Gracie Barra staff. As time progressed he worked his way up the belt ladder stripe by stripe and belt by belt one day hoping he would earn the elusive black belt.

“I’ve been blessed to have the professors I’ve had,” he said. “I still remember the day professors Tussa and Barata came to New Mexico to visit. They came to make a better life for themselves by spreading BJJ. I always respected that from them because they showed that dreams were possible coming from another country across the world. It has always made me think of having my own GB team and this inspired me during all this time.

“Professor’s Barata and Tussa has always been great mentors and teachers for me,” he continued. “Tussa would always encouraged me to start teaching more and pick up my game. Don is another professor I looked up to. We grew up with each other in Santa Fe and I’ve known him since junior high. A lot of people don’t know that but he has always been successful in everything he has done, which motivates me to do the same. It’s crazy to think but I learned something from professor Waltz, professor Jeff, professor Tammy, professor Don, professor Gustavo, professor Barata, professor Quinn, professor Crane and of course Master Rickson Gracie.”

Now his journey will put him on the other side of the dojo. The student will now become the master or professor in his case and he will take his talents and technique to Tucson, Ariz.

“This has been a blessing for sure,” said Villegas. “I’ve tried to get a different technique or philosophy from not only on the mat but off the mat from every single instructor I was with. Every one of them was different and it’s important that you absorb that from each professor. I truly believe I have a Swiss Army Knife of tools from each professor and I’ve had the honor to train with so many. It’s also an honor to see this many black belts because when I came back to New Mexico it was rare to see one on the mats.

Villegas has put the pen to paper and signed off on a beautiful 2400 square foot, world class facility located at 4374 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson AZ 85712. And as his journey in New Mexico has ended, his journey teaching the Gospel of Gracie Barra has just started in Arizona at Gracie Barra Tucson as Chief Instructor.

For more information on the school in Tucson, feel free to email professor Villegas at evflow1@yahoo.com.

Written and photos taken by Gracie Barra New Mexico Staff Writer Daniel Archuleta – daniel_archuleta1@msn.com

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