* Written by Coach Mike Palladino
I recently had the privilege of promoting Rich Murphy, aka “Murph,” to blue belt. Murph is 59 years of age, a multi-sport athlete, and a lifelong resident of Beacon; he’s old school cool! At age 56, and still in pursuit of stepping out of his comfort zone, Rich walked into EGA at the recommendation of a buddy from Cross-Fit. He was instantly hooked and quickly began training 3-4 times a week.
After several months of training on the mats, Rich tore his Achilles tendon playing competitive rugby (with men many years his junior). Rich went from an active lifestyle of training, lifting, and playing rugby on the weekends, to surgery and rehab. If I’m to be honest, I thought that would be the end of Murph’s BJJ journey. I attended a BBQ with him a few days after his surgery, he sat there with his leg casted and elevated, and told me how bummed he was and that this wasn’t the end of his time on the mats, he was just getting started and loves it too much to stop now. On his road to recovery, Murph still came by the gym to say hello and watch training. Through physical therapy, rehab, and a Positive Mental Attitude, he got back on the mats, and it’s where he’s been, nonstop, for the last year and a half.
You see, many of you know me as a “Coach” or as a teacher of BJJ, but I’m also a student of the art and a student of life. I’ve learned some really valuable lessons through Murph that I’d like to share.
#1 Leave Your Comfort Zone
Most people are content in their comfort zones, but individual growth happens outside of it. Walking into the unknown territory of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at 56 was inspiring to me for many reasons, as it showed me age is a label, created by individuals who are content in their comfort zone… you’re never “too old” to leave your comfort zone, grow, and have some fun!
#2 Setback > Derailment and P.M.A.
An injury or unfortunate life event beyond our control can be viewed one of two ways: setback or derailment. A setback is the positive perspective, that an obstacle has been placed on your path and you’re going to work around it. A derailment is a diversion from the intended course. As Murph sat laid up on his couch, he could have easily succumbed to the inner voice telling him that he’s “too old for this stuff,” and, “its time to relax.” Instead, he had a Positive Mental Attitude (P.M.A.) and realized he just had a setback. Rich decided he would commit to his recovery process and would then return to the mats.
#3 Grit & Determination
Grit is a personality trait based on one’s perseverance of effort in combination with their passion and will in obtaining a long-term goal. It’s a trait that displays strong character. Determination is a positive emotion that promotes persevering towards a goal in spite of the obstacles that stand between you and achieving that goal. As I mentioned earlier about talking to Murph at a BBQ just a few days after his surgery, he was adamant about getting back on the mats and continuing his journey, regardless of what condition he was in at that moment.
In closing this up I’d like to say that the Tribe is filled with individuals like Rich Murphy, and I’m grateful that on a daily basis I am surrounded by so many individuals with incredible character. We often get visitors from out of town or other gyms and frequently they’ll compliment the culture of our academy. I’m always honored to receive such valuable feedback as it’s a demonstration of the community we have all built together.
One of the tenets of Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, was “Jita Kyoei” which means “Mutual Benefit”. The term describes the relationship amongst students, which is symbiotic, achieving a state of trust with one another and assistance in the development of each other. Kano believed this tenet benefited practitioners of the art, and that the spirit of Jita Kyoei would lead to prosperity in greater society as well.
If you turn on the news or go on social media you’ll be lead to believe the world is a terrible place, but if you zoom in and look around you, look within your community, you’ll see that it’s filled with some really incredible individuals. – Coach Mike
Supporting our Community
We have two different opportunities to give back to our community this holiday season! First up is a TOY DRIVE that is running through December 12th. Bring any new, unwrapped toy to drop in our Toy Drive bin at the gym! We are partnering with Downstate Outdoors to help provide at least 100 kids with toys this season.
The second opportunity is to play Santa for a young family in Beacon! We have “adopted” a family of a mom and 3 young kids. Their needs are placed on tags that are hanging on the white board at EGA. Grab a tag (or 2!), shop for what’s on the tag, and then return the unwrapped gifts to the gym no later than December 18th. We will wrap and deliver all the goodies to this sweet family that could use a little love during this time!
Will H. is an 8 year old gray/white stripe. Coach Matt was super excited to recommend Will for the Student Spotlight this month, saying, “Will is truly a pleasure to have in class. He has worked hard since day one and rarely misses a class, sometimes even doubling up! Each week he grows a bit more and is evolving into a great grappler!” Will says he loves being at EGA. When he’s not here he enjoys playing soccer and basketball, and is a HUGE Yankees fan! Outside of sports Will also enjoys Roblox. Will, we’re thankful you are here and we thank you for being such a great teammate and determined grappler!
“I was fortunate to cut my teeth as a teenager in a tough and gritty Tae Kwon Do dojo. We gave it our all every class, and departed every class totally exhausted and better for it.
Fast-forward a few decades later, and during my evening strolls along Main Street Beacon I’d see students emerging from EGA looking as if they’d literally just had the workout of their life. I thought to myself, “I know that feeling and I miss that feeling.”Finally, I stopped in one day. Matt came over to talk to me, and bada bing bada boom – here we are several months and many kicks and punches later!
It may come as a shocker to some (haha), but I’m not exactly a spring chicken. Nevertheless, I’m here to give it my all, to be a good tribe-mate, and to progress as far as I can . As a great sensei once told me: Without limitations there are no limitations!”
Gabriella Cefaloni has been on the mats since she was 7 years old! We often talk about how BJJ plays a role in shaping our lives, and this is particularly true for this young woman as she’s been training BJJ for more years of her life than not! The sport has helped her grow into the strong, independent woman she is today. As she has grown in skill and ability, it was only natural to move Gabbi into a coaching role for our kids program which has been a positive experience for everyone! Gabbi enjoys teaching and hopes to inspire the younger generation of grapplers the same way Coach Mike has inspired her. Her teammates, especially all the ladies of EGA, love her and look forward to seeing her at each class. We are grateful Gabbi has become a fixture of the Tribe and look forward to watching her continue to grow, learn, and share the love of jiu jitsu with others!
“I am currently a 2 stripe white belt. I started training at EGA the end of April of this year. I was actually introduced to EGA and the sport of jiu jitsu through my good friend Victor Martinez, who also trains at the academy. He was trying for months to get me in but I was stubborn, also skeptical since I’ve never done anything like this before in my life. Finally, I reached out to Mike, came in for my consultation, took my first few classes and I was hooked. I played lacrosse through high school and college so grappling was completely new to me. So, starting my training with not much experience was intimidating, but with the help of the amazing coaches and students it’s been an incredible experience. If I had to offer any advice for people starting out, just keep showing up, trying your best, and ask questions. As for how it has affected my life outside of the gym, it has definitely been a huge change to my daily routine and overall health. I gravitated towards the morning classes because of work so it has been great to get up and out and get the work in early.”
Annual Holiday Party!
All our adult students are invited to our Annual Holiday Party! Join us December 16th at The Cold Spring Depot for a great night of food and fun. Please RSVP to [email protected]. Cash will be accepted at the door!
Meet Coach Matt
Hello! I am Matt Smith, one of the coaches for the 5:30AM class. I’ve called EGA my one and only BJJ home for just under 5 years now. I started at EGA as a fresh white belt and was awarded my purple belt by Coach Mike on Thanksgiving 2022, a great surprise, indeed. Though I’ve only been coaching for a short while, I’ve enjoyed being intentional about pairing upper belts with the newer folks and encouraging the upper belts to act as mentors, explaining the technique of the day as they’ve come to understand it in their training. In my own training, I’ve recently found myself working on positional control over submissions, both from top and bottom. My hope is that having won the positional battle, I’ll be better set up to find the openings for submissions.
Off the mats, I’m a professional classical musician in one of the Army’s premiere Bands at West Point. I’m that band nerd you knew in middle school that just didn’t quit practicing. I also seem to be fond of learning, as I just finished a master’s degree in organizational leadership & learning a couple of years ago and now find myself attending seminary for a master’s in Christian theology.
I guess I should also mention my family, (my wife, Nickie and my children, Jonathan, Josiah, Caleb, and Sadie) all of whom either currently train or have trained at EGA. To say EGA has been a massive blessing to my family and I is an understatement. EGA has been a big part of us putting down roots in NY and I couldn’t imagine a better place or better people with which to train. A big thank you to Mike, JoePa, Vinny, Chete, and all the 5:30 maniacs for making EGA a truly special place.