For the 80’s generation, many of you may remember these lines from the movie Top Gun…
Viper: Good morning, gentlemen, the temperature is 110 degrees.
Wolfman: Holy shit, it’s Viper!
Goose: Viper’s up here, great… oh shit…
Maverick: Great, he’s probably saying, “Holy shit, it’s Maverick and Goose.”
Goose: Yeah, I’m sure he’s saying that.
Monday night fundamentals class is usually taught by Coach R. However, as I was on the mat doing some light stretching before class, I look up and see a black belt. Holy crap, it’s Coach Jeff! Or was he saying, “Holy crap, it’s Jim?” Probably not. This night would be the first time I take a jiu-jitsu class from Coach Jeff. I was now excited and a bit nervous. But I wipe the sand off my vagina… pull up my big boy pants… and put on my game face.
We went over sweeps from guard. First up, the lumberjack sweep. Also, known as muscle or waiter sweep. I surprised myself because I was able to understand the movements and do the sweep. Heck, I know how to hold a tray like a waiter. I even got a few, “Good job, Jim.” from the coach. Yes! So far, so good. The next sweep was the Tomoe Nage sweep which involves flipping your partner. As Coach Jeff demonstrated, I was a little weary about being flipped. Coach saw the apprehension in my eyes and said, “Tuck in your chin then roll over your shoulder. You can do this, Jim.”
Okay. If you say so. So I say a little prayer… I tuck in my head, roll over, and land. Hmmm, not bad. A few more reps and we move on to the next drill. At this point, it’s about 7:50PM, I begin to count down to the end. Coach Jeff mentions “one last technique” for the night and we outta here. I can almost hear the beers pouring… Glug… Glug… Glug. The final sweep was called Omoplata. It can be used in situations when an opponent defends against the lumberjack sweep. For this drill, I was completely lost and confused. It was like I forgot what I just did for the last forty-five minutes. I don’t know if it was a lack of oxygen or fatigue but I just couldn’t do this move.
I was doing everything completely wrong. But no worries, class was almost over. I’ll deal with it next week. Wrong!! Coach Jeff had his radars on and they were hot on my trail. Beep… Beep… Beeeeeep. He got tone. (See Top Gun reference). His attention is on me now. “Jim, just hold the arm. No need to pull. Now kick your leg over. Don’t sit up.” But I heard, “You’re awesome Jim. Don’t change a thing.” Again, coach says, “Hold the arm. Kick your leg over. Don’t sit up.” Still I hear, “Sit up.” So I sit up. “NOOOO… DON’T SIT UP!”, coach says lovingly.
For whatever reason, my body insisted on sitting up. Coach Jeff keeps making corrections and says, “Now do it again. Keep doing it until you get it right. We’ll stay all night if we have to.” So I do it over… and over… and over. Finally, I don’t sit up! Yes!! “That’s it. There you go. You got it! Good job.”, coach exclaims. It is now 8:15PM and class is finally over. I did it. It wasn’t pretty but I did it. Thanks Coach for the push. I begin to realize the importance of a good instructor and how their style of teaching plays in your growth as a jiu-jitsu practitioner. A student should be able to trust an instructor as you will be asked to do some uncomfortable and sometimes risky techniques such as flips or chokes. A student cannot fear his teacher for it may create resentment, however, you must respect them so to create an understanding in his methods.
An instructor is not there to belittle or show you up but to encourage and provide positive criticisms. Fortunately, I get this level of instruction from all the coaches at Rebellion as they fully understand that we are all there to learn, succeed, have fun and go home safe. (… and I’m not just saying that to get out of sparring either.) So to quote Top Gun once more, “And if you screw up just this much, you’ll be flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog shit out of Hong Kong!” Ya, I know it doesn’t relate but what a hell of a line!!