first: We all have our own reasons for walking in the door for our first jiu jitsu lesson, but the reasons that keep us COMING BACK inside that door day after day, year after year are more interesting to me. Of course we all seek skills and improvement in the kingly of jiu jitsu – but I sincerely believe that the single biggest reason is the unusual strength of friendships that we form as we work at our varied speed towards common goals. Our experience as we make that journey has so much in common with our peers – so much desire, frustration, happiness and sadness that we become very close over time. Whilst every match you have, whether in competition or in the dojo, is an individual affair; almost all your for those matches is a group affair among like minded who probably know more about you than anyone outside your family. Every day I see remarkable stories of sacrifice and camaraderie among partners that are rare outside the training hall. When Craig Jones got notice to take on Rousimar Palhares, his friend Mikhael Yahaya came all the way from Melbourne Australia to help and corner him if necessary. Such a massive journey to help a friend with no prospect of reward. He trained alongside Mr Jones every day with the squad in the lead up and helped in every way he could despite having the of his own match to prepare for. He was there in the warm up room and cornering Mr Jones on the night. After training with the squad it’s back on the long long flight back to Melbourne. I am always so impressed by this kind of selfless help that I see so often among jiu jitsu athletes. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part, the positive effects of shared experience, sacrifice and goals makes for human relations that I don’t see much outside of combat sports. I am certain all of you have many similar experiences of people around you that you know you can count on – cherish those people – in a world of superficialities and image they are among the most substantive and real gifts that we have.