Ken Van Gilbergen

Ken Van Gilbergen getting black belt from Felipe Costa 2011

I met Ken in 2004. It was my first visit to Belgium and my first time to teach BJJ in Europe. From the very first time I noticed that Ken was talented not only as a BJJ practitioner, but also as a teacher and as a BJJ student.

He was the first person ever who got a belt from me. I remember my hands shaking when on the podium at the International Master in Rio (considered the WORLD Tournament of MASTER division back than)I gave him the belt.

As a fighter Ken had many great results and he was always professional on the mat and in the ring. For a long time he was unbeatable in MMA. Once I asked him how much longer was he planning to do MMA. He said: "I got, to at least, get knock out once, so the day I become a coach and push my student to do something, they know I have experienced all and I'm not just talking without putting myself there." Hearing this from the undefeated guy made me realize that in order to be able to give the best to the ones who decide to be my students, I still needed to learn a lot as a coach.

Ken is a great coach. Even when he was only a blue belt, he already leaded a group of his students in Leuven (Belgium) that would often conquer team trophies in many countries around Europe.

And the reason I say he is good at learning, is because Ken has a real talent to get the most out of me when I'm teaching. He has made me a better teacher and made (and still makes) me notice details that makes a whole lot of difference.

He wasn't the first person who got the black belt from me, but he is my oldest student and I can practically assure that in all those years, he is the one who has learned the most from me.