Forever Fat II; Still livin' life, Still eatin' bulldinkietwinkies
Alright, so, the old thread had gotten fairly large. I figure that it had hit a good stopping place. If you're getting to this thread and wondering what the hell I'm talking about, catch up on my misadventures here:
Forever Fat; A lifetime of bulldinkietwinkies - No BS Martial Arts
And now, without further ado, I'm proud to present:
Forever Fat II, Part One, Act One: I've Been Everywhere
I spent a few weeks wallowing about in my own pity. I liked the other place; why did they have to move?! I mean, it’d be different if this was the first time, but this was the SECOND time this instructor ran out of business and had to relocate beyond my realm of feasibility. The sick hilarity that all of the other shady places I’ve been to are still open while this guy can’t strike up a student base is not lost on me.
Going from training every day to nothing at all was a rough transition. I had too much energy, or no energy at all, my mood was off, I would eat too much or not enough, and just generally felt like crap. To make matters worse, I couldn’t find any place I hadn’t been to already. I searched in a half hearted manner, skimming through the same Tae Kwon Do schools I had seen a million times (who included the words “boxing” “judo” and “mma” in their search engine profiles, which enraged me). If I saw one more Kid Fit or “Get a kick out of life, do Karate!” ad, I was going to gouge my eyeballs out with nunchucks.
My searching intensified after a very vivid dream. I dreamt I was in a grappling hall, and there was an infinitely long line of people waiting to grapple me. I had 7 matches in my dream sparring session, concluding with a black belt. When I woke up, three thoughts descended into my consciousness;
1) I’m a loser
2) I need to find a place to train, otherwise I’ll go crazy
3) I’m glad that wasn’t a wet dream otherwise I’d be really confused.
Through a witches’ brew of Boolean operators and grappling keywords I eventually came upon a Jiu Jitsu school; a Gracie Jiu Jitsu school.
Now, pardon my ignorance, but I personally didn’t know the difference between Gracie Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I mean, the Gracie’s came from Brazil, so it would make sense that the two are the same. I just assumed people who used the term GJJ were guys that got off on branding.
So I called the instructor and gave him the usual line of questioning; what rank are you, from whom did you receive your rank, so on and so forth. This man was a brown belt instructor, had a couple of tourney places under him, and was a generally alright guy. He gave me the shpiel about being safe on the street, and Gracie Jiu Jitsu is the best thing since the toilet, and also that did I know in a street fight you can break your knuckles with a punch, while with grappling you’re safe, oh, and this system was creating by trial and error thanks to Grandmaster Helio Gracie (who was still alive at this juncture), and…
I listened to his speech the way I listen to all instructor speeches. He’s probably practiced it a thousand times, and I wasn’t going to interrupt the sacred ritual of bringing in business. All that crap about being the best street defense was just to draw in the rubes. A few well placed agreements and “Yea, I know what you mean”’s later, I had two weeks to try out his classes.
I threw on my sexy patch-less blue gi, my belt, and headed out.
The main draw to his school was that it was so damn close. I could literally walk there. I mean, I didn’t. I totally drove. But I could’ve walked there. This was a giant plus for me; I could get home from work, do whatever I wanted for an hour, then head to class. None of the rushed oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-miss-half-the-class-because-of-1960-traffic-god-damn-you emotions of yesteryear; I had a one way ticket to easy street.
I arrive, and he has me sign the usual “I won’t rape you legally speaking” waiver. I take notice of a portrait of Grandmaster Helio Gracie. The then proceeds to lead us through a very brisk warm up; lots of running, knee and ankle slapping, squat thrusting push and sit upping mountain climbing and rolling later, we finally get to the techniques, the bread and butter, the…well, the whatever. Let’s do some god damn moves already.
Surprise; break falls. Left, right, and center. I’m not too put off by this; you can never drill the basics enough. This is probably just for the new guys.
We finally finish our falling and move forward to techniques. He pairs higher colored belts with lower colored belts, and I get paired with another guy on the trial two weeks.
The first move is a self defense move against someone trying to strangle you from the side. As in, I’m facing your shoulder, and I’m putting both my hands around your neck for a thorough throttling. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone attack someone else in such a manner, but whatever. The defense is a series of elbows, followed by a trip. He emphasizes not grabbing the gi, because it breeds dependence upon the gi. What if you were attacked in this manner at a beach, he proposes? Your opponent has no gi jacket or gi pants to grab and you would be helpless.
As we throw each other, my partner and I begin to get acquainted. He asks me if I had done any martial arts before this. “Well, I’ve done Jiu Jitsu before elsewhere, and some boxing, but I wasn’t very good.” Interested, he replies “Any Karate?”
I become a little wary of his line of questioning. Did he know me from somewhere? How did he know I did karate? Carefully, I reply with a simple “Yea”.
“Oh cool. Why’d you stop?”
“Oh, you know. The sparring wasn’t that great.”
“What do you mean?”
“Ah, like the point sparring stuff. Not really hard enough contact for my tastes. That, and he spent entirely too much time on forms.”
“What’s wrong with forms?”
“Well, they’re fine and all, but it’s really important to spar, and often. Otherwise how do you know what you’re doing works?”
Silence follows. His face is a little more stand offish. Trying to work on my conversation skills, I inquire into his martial background.
“I’m a karate black belt.”
I look down at his pants. It has the words “Go Kan Ryu” written vertically. Well ****. I feel slightly embarrassed about my little speech earlier, but whatever. Can’t win ‘em all.
We move on to a basic arm bar when someone is in your guard. We’re immediately told “WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T GRAB THE GI!” I question why we’re wearing gi’s at all if we’re not supposed to be touching them, but I continue to listen. “You’ve all seen the arm bars where you grab across, then grab the other side of his neck, spin around, and arm bar.” Why, yes, yes I have. This is the bread n’ buttah arm bar I’ve used for a year. Granted, there were a few more steps he left out, like pulling the elbow across, but it’s probably a basic overview for the new guys.
“This is completely wrong.”
…Well alright then.
“If you do an arm bar like this, I’m going to PUNCH you in the FACE. Instead, always set up your arm bars by grabbing the back of the head, securing the wrist, foot on the hip, and arm bar.”
I was a little shaken by his use of the word “always”, and the fact that the other arm bar was wrong. But I didn’t want to be punched in the face, so I practiced.
Go Kan Ryu black belt comments that “I don’t know about this move. If we’re on the ground, I’m just going to stand up and start stomping.”
“Well, that’s why I’m controlling your head, and why my feet are clamping down. It should at least help keep you from getting all out of control.”
“But what if we start up like this?” He sits in a high posture.
“Well I’d use a different move, or I’d pull you with my legs to bring you down.”
“I dunno. I still don’t think it would work.”
I practiced my arm bars in earnest, while his arm bars were sloppy. I doubt he would be returning.
“Alright guys, that’s it!”
Finally, sparring time. This is where you go from being an awkward newbie to being one of the guys.
We line up. I guess he acts as a match maker? He has us bow to the flags. This is a funny way to start sparring. He has us bow to the picture of Grandmaster Helio.
Everyone gets a drink of water. Then they grab their bags. Then they grab their keys. Then they start leaving.
There was no sparring!?
I’m flabbergasted. Why was there no sparring? We always sparred, even at the penis handed, staph infected Brazilian Jiu Jitsu dojo.
But it was so close to home! God damn it!
The instructor walks up, and asks me how I enjoyed the class. I answer him as I’ve answered all others. “It was great!” He then proceeds to give me a super long speech. “Sport Jiu Jitsu is great and all, but how is that going to help you in life? It’s not. I mean, I used to be into tournaments and all that stuff, back when I was where you are now. But then I started studying Gracie Jiu Jitsu, and realized what it was all about. If you don’t know the self defense, the rest is kind of worthless. But don’t get me wrong. I’ll still honor your belt. It’s just that you’ll have to catch up on all the self defense moves for the promotions.”
But it was SO close!
I don’t show up for the rest of my free two weeks. He gives me a call January 28th, 2009 asking me where I was, and if I wanted to sign up, and the contracts come in either a 6 month long or a year long version. I tell him that it didn’t feel like the right fit for me, and that I was looking for a Sport Jiu Jitsu school. He just says “Oh, well, good luck with that.”
Helio Gracie died the next day.
Next time, Forever Fat II Part One, Act Two: Mean as Hell