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Erich Munis, Worlds Best Colored Belt: “I Was The Worst Blue Belt You Can Imagine”

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Bernardo Faria BJJ Foundations

The COVID19 pandemic has struck society with tremendous force, forcing commerce out of business and crushing countless dreams. One of those with high ambitions for 2020 was Erich Munis, representative of São Paulo, Brazil’s Dream Art project who, last year, matched Keenan Cornelius‘ 2012 purple belt record by conquering double gold in all of the IBJJF’s main tournaments – World, Pan, European and Brasileiro Championships.

For this year, Munis hoped to out-do the American as the best jiu-jitsu colored belt of all-time by repeating the deed at brown belt, something the lapel guard wizard was not able to do. Erich definitely looked to be on his way there in January, when he demolished the brown belt division in Lisbon, Portugal at the European Open.

By his own admission, this career setback frustrated Munis early in the year, yet, the young Brazilian did not stay in a dark headspace for long, as explained in an interview to BJJ Heroes, set on July 2020:

At the start, I was really upset, I wasn’t digesting things well,” Munis said. “This pandemic shut down our sport, but I believe God doesn’t do anything by chance. If he allowed it to happen, it is for us to learn something from it. This down time allowed me to get closer to him and this was very important for me. This proximity to God makes me feel more prepared for the future.

Truth be told, this was not the first test to Erich Munis’ willpower. At the start of his career, Erich saw his older brothers Alex and Anderson take the spotlight, winning numerous international titles while the younger Erich was going through an uphill battle to stay relevant: “I was not a world-beater by any means” said Munis about his early days in this sport, “in fact, I think I spent 2 years as a blue belt without winning a single tournament. I was one of the worst blue belts you can imagine“.

Although overshadowed, nothing would detour Erich from pursuing his grappling goals alongside his brothers, having fought for the same dreams together since the very beginning: “We started training together, influenced by our father. My dad was very sporty and always pushed us to practice. One of his dreams was to have his sons become fighters, so when a jiu-jitsu academy opened up in Panorama [Munis’ hometown] we immediately joined.” Erich explained.

Erich and his brothers on Instagram:

Early on in their careers, the Munis brothers were known as students of Nova União’s Rodrigo Feijão. That initial link to Master Feijão came by way of Erich’s older brother, Alex, who worked with their father in a neighboring town called Três Lagoas where he started training at a Feijão affiliate academy. From that initial link, a relationship was built with the famous coach. and soon after the brothers were invited to stay at Rodrigo’s headquarters in Maringá and train full time. At first just Alex and Anderson, the eldest of the siblings, and 12 months later, Erich, the younger joined.

As he reached purple belt, the Ugly Duckling finally started to blossom – “it was only after winning double gold at the European Open that I started having confidence in myself and more visibility.” the 22-year-old explained.

While advertising a raffle on social media so he could earn some cash to travel and compete, Erich’s luck changed for the better, “someone from Dream Art [a sponsored team with one of the best infrastructures in the sport] saw my post and got in contact with me“. That person was Israel Bahiense, brother of Isaque Bahiense, the project’s leader. “Things were really tough for us at the time, we had to skip important tournaments because we could not afford to go. This offer allowed us to relax a bit on the financial front and focus solely on the fighting.

From then Erich’s career has gone from strength to strength with the Dream Art workgroup, a short career that earned him last year’s double IBJJF Grand-Slam. Everything pointed for a big run this year at brown belt, which would catapult Munis to a serious black belt contender status in 2021, but as we stand, the future is a complete riddle. How does the Munis handle this uncertainty?

These decisions [to compete at black belt in 2021] are up to my professor, they are beyond my control. I keep doing what I always do. I focus on the training, I study and I prepare for the competition regardless of where that will be.

With the world is lying on unsteady ground at the moment, it is nearly impossible to tell where the pieces will fall in the future. We stated “nearly” as some things are inevitable, one of those foreseeable events is Munis becoming a massive player in the black belt division. Stay tuned for more Munis brothers news.

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