Tonight in BJJ Fundamentals, there was student attending who I’ve known through casual meetings and from Facebook. DL (name has been changed to protect the innocent), is a young dad, a blue belt and sports some very impressive facial hair. I actually have a bit of beard envy. There are a total of four students this evening so I got to train with DL. Tonight we worked on mount escapes. I’ve done this before so I thought, “No problemo. I got this.” Time to show DL how it’s done. Wrong! I don’t got this. DL started off easy but then worked in some resistance and counters. BJJ moves are so much easier when your partner doesn’t resist. As body weight is put on you or counter techniques applied, it’s a whole different game. DL kept at me even as I was getting fatigued. He pushed me to work on the details. He told me, “Don’t rush. Take your time. It’s not a race.” So we keep drilling and each time he encourages me to do the techniques correctly. Something Sifu Jeff always emphasizes. “Techniques are worthless if they are done wrong.” We do even more reps and DL remarks, “I’m gonna keep you honest.” Huh? What did he mean? Sifu WB also spent some extra time with me making corrections. “Come in tighter… Move that knee higher… Control his arm.”
At last, 8pm. I’m exhausted and I’m dripping of sweat, tears and urine. Class is done. Oh wait; it’s only 7:55pm on Coach WB clock, so guess what… There’s time for a 5 minute roll. I get matched up with DL. We start on our knees, slap hands and it’s on. I was dominated the entire time. I was either wrapped up like an eggroll or face down kissing foam. DL was all business. All of a sudden, this young sweet kid was a bully picking on the fat guy at recess. “Take my money already!” Coach WB shouts out instructions to me; “Head up. Tuck your shoulder in. Watch the triangle. Don’t give up.” I tried but it was easier said than done. Besides, what the hell is a “triangle”? I haven’t learned that yet. Sifu WB finally calls time. Wow! I survived. I thought I was going to black out for a moment. We both get up… me slower than him… and he gives me a big hug, a “Great job, Jim.” and walks away. Sparring is not personal. DL was not trying to hurt me or show me up. He was just doing his job. I catch my breath, take a quick hit from my inhaler and head out.
I see DL in the hallway and thank him once again for his assistance. He replies, “No problem. Whatever I can do to help. I get better, when you get better.” I was a little taken back by his response. It shows a lot of character and reflects on his instructors too. When you plant the seeds of modesty, it will definitely grow within a person. Rolling with DL and others higher belts from Rebellion Academy, you do see a sense of teamwork. It’s not always about taking advantage of a white belt but helping them improve. Throughout the evening, DL kept telling me, “I’m gonna keep you honest.” I eventually understood what he meant. Jiu-jitsu is an equalizer. I’ve met several students who are cops, soldiers, executives or doctors but during class, no one cares who you are as we are all equal. At work, I deal with attorneys, judges and vendors. I’m in the IT field and they bow down to my existence, for they know, I control the internet. However, in jiu-jitsu, it doesn’t matter what I do, who I know or how much money I make. Respect is earned by the work you do on the mat. You don’t have to be the best but you have to “give it your best.” So to “keep me honest” meant that DL wasn’t going to let me give up on myself. DL was going to get “my best” out of me. I was going to be true to myself by not giving up just because I was tired. Pain is temporary. I have to be honest to myself in that I don’t know everything. I need to listen to my instructors and don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is also temporary. Honesty is about leaving your ego at the door and knowing that there is always someone stronger and better than you. In jiu-jitsu, when you hide behind your ego, there will be a blue or brown belt that will see right through it and bring you back down to reality. Let’s be realistic, jiu-jitsu is physically demanding and there is so much to learn. It’s not easy but I think that’s what makes it so rewarding. After each class, I look at my old ass and say, “Today was a good day… I didn’t cry during BJJ.” Ha! Good night, All…