Saturday, 16 May 2009

Walking Into The Lion's Den--Gracie Jiujitsu

I've been watching YouTube videos of martial arts, lately. Just about anything I can find on Wing Chun, of course. But this week, I discovered a show called Fight Quest. It's a Discovery Channel series showcasing two fighters who travel the world learning different martial arts disiplines and recording their experiences. After watching all the Wing Chun pieces, tonight I found the Brazilian Jiujitsu segments (see the first segment, above). And--


I remember this stuff. All too well.

In college, I dated a martial arts expert. A crazy-ass con artist who still goes by his nickname (but I know who he really is). He was so deeply into Gracie Jiujitsu, he hung out at the home of the Gracie cousins on a regular basis (don't ask me which ones...there were a lot of them in L.A., at the time). I learned a lot, living with this asshole and his sparring partner. It was quite an education. Though I wasn't actually training with them, I was around them all of the time and I couldn't help but learn some of it.

Mostly, the guys found it fun to tie me into knots. That was my training. Practice dummy.

After training in Wing Chun, I'm sure I'd rather know how to keep from getting to the pavement to begin with. But if I was ever there, Gracie Jiujitsu would be the tool I'd want most to use.

Learning it, though? I don't know if I have the mental fortitude to walk back into the lion's den and learn that evil ex's style.

Then again...he still has my high school class ring. He borrowed it once, said he'd lost it at his boxing school. I know it was a lie. Like so many other lies he told, I believed him at the time because I was kind and trusting and loyal. And naive. And just plain stupid.

But I know where he teaches. And I vowed once to someday get that ring back. He took it like he took a lot of things, from me. But this is one thing I can get back. Certainly not with Wing Chun or Jiu-jitsu (I've gained a little bit of wisdom since I was 19). But...

Someday it's going to happen. Someday.


Sunday, 10 May 2009

Momma's Gettin' A Bruise On

So this weekend I gained my first real "battle" wounds, a set of bruises I can be proud of. That's right. I traveled almost 750 miles, round-trip, on Mother's Day weekend just to get beat up.

I'm actually looking forward to showing off when I teach tomorrow. I feel like these red marks might give me some measure of street cred with my students. Don't fuck with the teacher, dude. She's not afraid to get a black eye--and she may take your ass down in the process.

This weekend, I worked hard trying to learn a new technique. And I spent time after class taking down notes on the different styles and suggestions of each of the more senior students that I practiced with during class. "Different partner, different energy," Si-Fu said after each exchange. And he was right. I learned something new from every person I came in contact with.

From Jonathan, I learned to "snap" each move to put power behind the motion and throw my opponent off balance. From Craig I learned to move from a snap to a more fluid combination of one move into another as we drilled bon sau/lop sau/punch combinations back and forth. From a third student I learned to keep my center of gravity low--not because he suggested it, but because he was taller than I was and I kept trying to reach up to him. When I realized I was doing it, I dropped my weight and, though it felt awkward at first, I managed to find the sense in it, as his punches went over my head more often than they came at my nose.

It was a tough class and I was sweating madly by the end. All I could think was, Damn why I can't I just live closer? I'd be a pro in two years flat, if I worked this hard all week! Well...maybe.

I consider myself both lucky and priviledged. I'm not sure what it was that put me in Si-Fu's good graces, but after my black sash class, Si-Fu let me sit in and audit the more advanced gold sash class. He allowed me to do the same the last time I was there and both times I feel like I've pulsed forward further for having been able to sit quietly and take notes. In fact, I think it's been the most valuable part of my training, so far.

It's getting late tonight and I want to post this ASAP, so...I'll share more quotes and stories tomorrow.

Until then, if you're one of the parents I see at my daughter's elementary school drop-off, I promise those marks are NOT the result of domestic violence. No, really. Promise. I actually had a kick-ass Mother's Day weekend.