The Other Side From My Eyes

Forgive the hastily written nature of this post.  It goes against the education and practice grain of my learned professional career (lawyer) to even respond in a public forum, let alone in one that does not involve me.  That however is well over-powered by my innate personal wiring – loyalty, defense, truth.  Especially of others. If you want to start using kratom, it is very important to buy from recognized sellers and with quality products, in kratommasters.com you can find all information that you need to find a good kratom vendors.

I am a nobody for all intents and purposes. These words are my own. They are not endorsed. They have not been requested of me.  The person who I am attesting to and for does not even know I am crafting this piece.

I have been fortunate to have had a bit of an exciting and adventurous life, especially in more recent years.  Such adventures like being on the well-known and long running television show The Amazing Race which then lead to such opportunities like being published (ABA Publishing) in the summer of 2013.   It was the basis of that book that has led me to this article because the only shared item between the two, is the person in which I am covering herein, Nelson Monteiro.

Nelson Monteiro’s name is mentioned over 30 times in my book Jiu Jitsu Jurisprudence.  More appropriately, he is titled and known throughout as Master Nelson Monteiro.

In early 2010 I started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  The ‘why’ of the matter is unimportant but can be found throughout the above mentioned book.  The who, what, and where however is critical.  If you couldn’t tell BJJ has changed my life.

I met Nelson the very first night I walked into Gracie Barra Encinitas.  I was introduced to Nelson by the GBE white belt instructor at the time and given a few warm words of welcome.  Within the hour I was totally immersed in the sport. I had a modicum of grappling and fighting experience (2 years of high school wrestling, 1 year of tae-kwon-do, a handful of years of boxing in college and law school off and on, to be exact) but BJJ was unlike anything I’ve ever known.  I knew almost instantly I would be back. In fact, I signed up that evening, bought my first white gi, a couple of black GBE rash guards, and a pair of white GB board shorts, all after just 1 hour of training.  What followed in the months and years to come were all the benefits that you already understand if you train a martial art and have found that dojo to be your second home.  For me the pinnacle benefit was the camaraderie I found amongst and with my fellow training partners and coaches alike.

That camaraderie extended all the way to the top.  Within my first year and a half at Gracie Barra Encinitas I had received my blue belt, won a gold medal at the Gracie Barra CompNet, and traveled to Barra de Tijuca, Brazil with Master Nelson Monteiro (and a few select others from our school and others) for a 1-week Jiu Jitsu and Rio exposition.

That trip to Brazil with Nelson (I was 34 years old at the time) was one of the highlights of not only my jiu jitsu career, but of my adult livelihood.  Nelson personally (and without a dime of financial gain) sought to introduce us to his own jiu jitsu lineage and the culture more generally, both in BJJ and beyond. Mornings were spent hiking up the famed pedra de gavea waterfall/vista/trail just outside of Barra.  Our days were spent training at the GB home school in Barra and evenings out and about on the town (Barra and Rio specifically).

Nelson chauffeured us around in a borrowed 1970’s-something VW van.  He roomed with us at the barely 2 star hotel in Barra with the rusted linoleum floors, no working or outright missing air conditioning and wash cloth sized bath towels.  He owned property nearby and yet felt it his duty to stay with us, to look after us and generally care for us even though all of us would have understood if he chose the comforts of his own home instead. He introduced us to friends, colleagues, family members.  Activities also included day trips to Christ the Redeemer statute, stop-offs at legendary spots like De La Riva’s gym, high level soccer matches and locking down prime real estate and volleyball games on Pepe Beach.

This was hardly my only interaction with Nelson, but it was my first outside of GBE and the entire time he maintained that same professional yet friendly nature.  He was authoritative yet respectful.  He was always in control.  I don’t recall him having a single drink on any of our evenings out, which included sushi dinners, nightclubs and the like.  This was the same Nelson Monteiro that I knew back home in Encinitas.

Over the next few years, as I’ve advanced (now a 4th degree purple belt) through the GB program, I’ve had a chance to get to know both Nelson better (quantity of time together in addition to quality of time together can offer that) and also my fellow ‘classmates’ and their own storylines and backgrounds, inside and outside the school.

I have created such a strong community within Gracie Barra Encinitas that as I sit here today my fiance and I are working on our own wedding lists and I’ve written down no less than 8 names of persons I feel close enough and deserving enough to participate in our wedding.  Of which we have set a limit of 50 guests.  GBE has been that important in my life.

The first name on that list reads: “Nelson Monteiro + 1.”

The backgrounds and storylines I’ve alluded to above also include the other party to this story.  The person who I do not know nearly as well or intimately.  By choice.  In fact in my Facebook friend request folder there sits an invitation to accept her friend request and I’ve ignored it for well over 3 months.

As is common in certain groups (school, work, circle of friends, etc.) stories travel.  Sometimes they are unfounded and are rumor. Sometimes they are well-founded but lacking in authenticity, thus hearsay.  But sometimes you hear and see with your own eyes and they become truth and reality.  In regards to the recent Nelson Monteiro “news”, I offer you my own eyes and ears.

I have never seen Nelson initiate or retaliate with physical force. Beyond the sport that binds us together, it’s almost comical the means in which he practices the arte suave. Always a smile on his face.  Always laughing.  I speak about this in my book but it bears repeating. I have not known a more gentle yet powerful person in my lifetime.  In an instant he could snap my neck.  In over 5+ years and countless hours on the mat together, he has not so much as exerted an ounce of force beyond the normal tight squeezes and slowly applied submissions we train and spar everyday.  Only Nelson has done it all the while with a smile.

I have never heard Nelson raise his voice.

I have never heard Nelson speak ill of another.

I have never been afraid, intimidated, or felt unsafe in any way while with or around Nelson.

I am not Nelson’s domestic partner, I am his student however. I am aware of the importance of that distinction.

On the other hand……

 

I have seen with my own eyes vicious and retaliatory physical and verbal behavior against Nelson by the person presenting herself as the victim.

I have seen with my own eyes unprovoked and highly unstable physical reactionary behavior against Nelson by the person presenting herself as the victim.

I have heard with my own ears inflammatory and derogatory remarks against Nelson by the person presenting herself as the victim.

I have spoken at length with Nelson on multiple occasions when we would sit together for book interviews (I was gathering background data on his very fascinating life story that were intertwined in my own personal BJJ experiences) and would be privy to hellacious text messages sent from the ‘victim’ against Nelson.

On a less direct level, and long before any recent news, it was not uncommon amongst the higher ranking belts at GBE to discuss the relationship between the two as both were main characters in our gym’s own love story.  In most every story, the common theme was the functional-dysfunctional relationship that existed between the two.  The common words included “jealous”, “temper”, “insecure”, “damaged goods”, “ego”, “pride”, and the like.   Is this to say that one of my personal heroes could not have done what he is accused of? No. I am not a fool to think that. But I am also well equipped to answer the question of “what do you think happened?” Or better yet, “do you think she played an equal or perhaps more aggressive role in the matter?” To which I can answer unequivocally, yes.  I believe that the real, raw story involves some level of action and reaction.  An attack and a defense.

Like with anything in life, we can always look to the past for signs of future predictive behaviors.  In looking at Nelson’s past, I don’t and haven’t see any signs of violence, and certainly not on the domestic front.  I have heard nothing exists in any court or police report, at home or abroad.  In fact I am aware of a time many years ago when Nelson came to the aid of his young daughter who had been berated and physically threatened by a stranger/neighbor in their living complex as she played nearby on her skateboard.  He (the neighbor) got physical in some manner with the daughter (and/or her skateboard) and created a reasonable fear of bodily harm in her (Nelson’s daughter). In response she elicited some reaction that warranted help from anyone nearby.  That person was Nelson. Whether he was alerted visually or audibly (I do not recall) he was on the scene and on the aggressive neighbor.  As we all know, Nelson had the ability to end it all right there in whatever fashion he thought the situation warranted.   Legal note: A person coming to the aid of another (even though not the victim directly) is entitled to the same self-defense rights as the actual victim. In actuality Nelson merely attended to the matter relying on a verbal order.   Not exactly the signs of a crazed abuser in my opinion.

For over 5 years of being in Nelson’s classes he has backed up this notion of avoiding physical conflict by using the same sentiment day in and day out when talking about ‘fighting’ or ‘issues on the street’.  Nelson will say things like: “Avoid them”, “walk away”, “it’s not worth it, you cannot win.  You will either hurt this person so badly or you will be hurt by this person and in either case you have not won.”  Any of the regulars at GBE can attest to his preach.  Any of us can attest to his practicing what he preaches.

If there were ever an instance in which Nelson used physical force, then it’s my belief and contention that such was done in a legitimate manner and one that relied on protecting himself against imminent bodily harm. 

 

That’s Nelson in my eyes and in my opinion.

In the case of the other person, the same may not be able to be said. There *may* be a documented history of orders (restraining and the like) involving this person and not Nelson.  To be clearer, as in other persons in her life with whom she has strife and conflict.

*I only use the terms “may” instead of the less factual “is” or “are” as I do not personally possess those records. I am only aware they may exist.  If they do, I believe it lends significant color to this situation.

So, I look back at all that I’ve seen of Nelson with my own eyes and ears. I look back and think about my own observations and I begin to formulate a clearer picture. But that picture is incomplete.  So I then look at the other party to the matter and using what I’ve seen with my own eyes and ears, and what others have seen with theirs and I formulate another part of the picture.  And this part goes against the grain of what we should believe in as a society, that women are to be treasured and honored. Respected and beyond.  But in the matters of the heart, and based on past performances, there are times when a woman can also do such things (physically assaulting her mate, creating physical conflict in public and in private) that sheds additional light on the underlying circumstances.

“Not considering a victim as a victim because of the gender of the abuser is the ultimate in victimization. Domestic violence, and the control, jealousy, emotional abuse, threats, and dangers associated with it cannot be predicted by gender, race, age, size, or other factors. A person 5 feet tall and 100 pounds soaking wet can still be an abuser. They don’t have to be physically superior to throw something at you, attack you when you’re not looking, get in a hard slap at a bar at a year end jiu jitsu party, while you’re trying to defend yourself, set your car on fire, cut up all your clothes, unleash lies to friends, family, or police, harass you at work until you lose your job, etc. etc.” aardvarc.org

I am not suggesting these are examples of what has happened between Nelson and his accuser.  I am only suggesting that domestic violence is a complex arena in which those of us must be sure of all of the facts before passing any judgement.  Judgment that may not be ours to pass regardless.

What does this all mean?  I think there are relevant questions that should be asked to gain possible insight.  For those that have made their minds up based on the limited and one sided information I present to you these “WHAT IFs” scenarios that may change how you’ve undoubtedly interpreted the situation.

What IF there was a past interaction between the accuser and the accused in which she (via eye witness account) committed an unprovoked (not in self-defense) battery (physically striking) in a public place against the accused? Would you think differently about the current situation knowing this information?

 

What IF as some have suggested there was a financial motivation of sorts at work here? What if there were potential financial incentives for someone that may be facing her own financial demise/collapse/free fall? Could that person be motivated in any sort of capacity when the target is so near and clear, as well as viable in that regards?  Would you think differently about the current situation knowing this information?

 

What IF the person who is building a new venture, one that could certainly gain and prosper on the back of a 6th degree black belts name?  Well, if that business was selling socks or a new iPhone/iOS app, then perhaps that would have no bearing.  But what if that new business was one that was centered on empowering the woman? Does that make for a better story? Does that garner more sales of seminars? appearances? event fees? books and bookings?  Would you think differently about the current situation knowing this information?

 

I have known Nelson Monteiro for 5+ years. I believe I can vouch for his character. He is a fine man.  A wonderful father.  A person of esteemed moral character and values that improves our community and betters our lives.

I only ask that you afford him the freedom to tell his side of the story or at the very least allow for all of the facts to be heard in the proper forum.  That is most definitely not in the court of public opinion or social media.

-Ryan Danz

Winners Announced in the Eighth Annual Solas Awards – Travel Writing

Last summer I was fortunate enough to partner with Exploration Travel Magazine and cover three distinct adventures abroad (“Running with the Bulls”, “Hiking Cinque Terre”, “2 days 2 nights in Budapest”) for their online magazine.  Each of those writings was reviewed and selected for publication in the digital magazine. Then as is the way of the travel writing world, one was so widely read that it got the attention of the well-known Travel Writing committee (Solas) and was nominated for a Solas award last Fall. This past Friday night I learned it was awarded a Bronze Solas Travel Writer Award for the category “Travel & Sports”.

The article (read here:) “Running with the Bulls with Ryan Danz of Amazing Race” generated something like 20k views in one month.  It was a diary-like testimony of my account of Running with the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

I am looking forward to continuing my travels and adventures and being recognized by Solas certainly gives me the confidence to continue my writing as well.  Thank you as always.

List of winners here: http://www.besttravelwriting.com/award-winners-2014/?utm_campaign=Solas%20Awards%20Winners%20March%202014&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=Here%27s%20the%20complete%20list%20of%20winners.

 

-Ryan