Pinellas Park, Florida – Lucas Reyes, a 37 year old Press Operator, wasn’t looking for trouble when he signed up for jiu-jitsu classes.  But earning his third stripe on his white belt may cost him some cherished friendships.

Six months ago, Reyes finally agreed to take his first jiu-jitsu class after two friends from work, Jason Rivera and Clint Doswell, talked him into it.

“We were at Buffalo Wild Wings watching the prelims for UFC Fight Night,” Reyes recalled. “I admit I felt a little left out when these guys were yelling things like ‘Shrimp out!  Does this guy not know how to hip escape?’”

After that night of friendly peer pressure and a plate of chicken wings, Reyes decided to take the plunge and start taking classes twice a week.

His hard work paid off. Last Thursday night, Reyes was awarded his 3rd stripe on his white belt by Master Carlos Santos.

“When [Santos] suddenly pointed at me after class I couldn’t believe it,” Reyes said. “I was so proud.  Then I looked over at Jason and I couldn’t believe how bad he was mad dogging me.”

Reyes reported that Rivera didn’t shake his hand after class and that Doswell wouldn’t look him in the eye the next day at work.

“I thought they’d be happy for me,” the 37-year-old prodigy said.

Reyes attributes his rapid ascension through the ranks to his two seasons on the J.V. high school wrestling team.

“Wrestling?” Doswell said. “Wrestling background my ass! That guy only got his third stripe because he kisses Carlos’s ass.  He’s always asking bullshit, ass-kissing questions about proper technique and shit about Brazil.  He even holds us up from drinks so he can ‘get a few more reps in’ and does gay hip escapes across the mat after class so Carlos can see him.”

For his part, Reyes said he had no idea the cost of success.

“I never thought a piece of electrical tape could come between me and my friends,” Reyes said.  “It’s hard to stay humble when a world renowned jiu-jitsu instructor feels you’re worthy of promotion.  Since getting promoted, I’ve become a target from lower belts who want to roll hard now…but I see why those guys want to tap a higher belt.”

When questioned about why Reyes was promoted over other two-stripe white belts, Master Santos said, “I gave it to that guy?  Eyyyy merda… I guess that was my mistake, I mean to give it to the other guy.  With so many students, and some looks alike with a similar hair and a white gi, I guess I give it to the wrong guy.”

Master Santos paused to reflect and added,  “Eh, it’s just a one stripe and no one cares.”