50/50 Black Belts

Earning a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt takes years of discipline and dedication. No Fifty/50 Belts of any rank are awarded based on the length of time an individual has been training or for any reason other than technical ability and fighting skill. We do not believe in automatic belts. Each new rank must be earned through consistent training and improvement, the Black Belt most of all. Ryan has notoriously high standards for promotion and the following individuals hold the distinguished honor of being the only three people to have been awarded the Black Belt by Ryan Hall :

 
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Seph Smith

Seph Smith was the first black belt to be promoted by Ryan Hall on July 3, 2012. Seph earned his Black Belt 11 years into his BJJ journey, 4 years after beginning his training under Ryan.  He subsequently earned his 2nd degree on July 3, 2018. Seph coached at the main 50/50 academy from 2009-2015 before moving back home to Richmond, Virginia to achieve his dream of opening his own academy Upstream BJJ, an affiliate of 50/50.

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Jen Hall

Jen began her BJJ training in other area academies, but switched to 50/50 when Ryan opened the academy in 2008. She trained and competed for 6 years at 50/50 before being promoted by her soon-to-be-husband to Black Belt on October 15, 2014. 12 years into her BJJ journey, she earned the 1st degree on her Black Belt in October 2017.

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Maia Matalon

Maia moved across the country from California as a purple belt in 2013 in an effort to push her game to the next level. She won the World Championships in 2015 at Brown Belt after tearing her ACL just two weeks prior in training. The 3rd person and 2nd female promoted to Black Belt by Ryan Hall, Maia received her rank on January 7, 2017 in her 8th year of training Jiu-Jitsu.

 
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ADAM BENAYOUN

A long time friend, Adam made the move to 50/50 in Spring 2017, already an accomplished competitor. He earned his Black Belt in the end of 2017, and has enjoyed the opportunity to compete against the best BJJ competitors the world has to offer at Featherweight as he hopes to break into the top ranks himself.

Phil Brown

Phil came to 50/50 as a skilled purple belt under Gustavo Dantas in 2011. A fierce competitor and excellent instructor, he became the 5th Black Belt under Ryan Hall in January 2018. Fifty/50 students enjoy Phil’s high-paced Monday night Fundamentals II class every week.

Tim Koren

The very first student to join 50/50, Tim also earned the first purple belt Ryan Hall gave out in November 2008. A precise tactician, Tim became known in the local BJJ circuit after submitting black belts a mere 2 months into his purple belt. After taking time off to have a family and compete in American Ninja Warrior, Tim finally earned his Black Belt from Ryan in December 2018.

50/50 Brown Belts

The following individuals hold the honor of having received their Brown Belts from Ryan Hall and he looks forward to the day when he can move them along their Jiu-Jitsu journeys by promoting them to Black Belt:

Brian Johnson - Promoted May 2012

German Salas - Promoted November 2013

Kenny Savercool - Promoted March 2014

Harold Van Berkel - Promoted June 2014

Tom Zurita - Promoted January 2017

Will Mulhern - Promoted July 2018

Jeff Brentley - Promoted December 2018

Andrew Draper - Promoted December 2018

Josh Millsapps - Promoted April 2019