Paul Walker’s death on Nov. 30 brought his family, friends, and fans closer together. Through his film catalog and numerous charitable efforts, he epitomized how an actor could pay it forward. Motion picture groups and car clubs across the nation have paid their respects, but few know of Walker’s importance to the mixed martial arts community.
Walker was posthumously awarded a black belt by Ricardo ‘Franjinha’ Miller, who coached Walker at the Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy in Santa Barbara, Calif. Miller honors his friend and former student with the prize he sought since beginning BJJ at 31-years-old.
On the Paragon BJJ blog, Miller reminisces on Walker’s love for MMA and his desire to earn a black belt.
“As I reflect back on his life, I remember one of our first conversations. Sitting in our gis on the mat, Paul was like many white belts; he wanted to know about becoming a black belt. I told him that at Paragon we don’t give away black belts. I said that I didn’t care who he was, I was not giving him a “celebrity black belt.” He loved that! He said that he knew that he was starting late (he was 31), but he was determined to become a black belt. He said ‘I will get my black belt, even if I need to get it in my coffin.’ Now in the wake of his death, I would like to reward Paul Walker the black belt that he wanted so much during his life.”
Walker was a brown belt and utilized jiu-jitsu techniques throughout the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise. According to Miller, Walker wanted to be known for more than just fast cars. He wanted to be an ambassador for jiu-jitsu.
“He always wanted to showcase Jiu-Jitsu in his movies. Rather than the punches and kicks so common to many action films, he wanted to use his movies as a stage for Jiu-Jitsu,” Miller wrote in the blog.
While Walker’s funeral has not taken place, the black belt will be presented to his dad. He will be interred at Hollywood’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park.