I’ve been having difficulty writing anything with much true “insight” on this blog lately. It seems that my motivation peaks directly after class, which is usually around 9:15PM, and then fades considerably every minute thereafter. I’ve said time and time again (as I did just last night) that I’ll post the hundred or so thoughts I have – in the morning. Thing is, morning comes and I turn into the jitsu zombie. I’m sure you’re aware of what that is. If not, it’s the guy or gal who walks around the day after class, with little or no motivation to do anything, much less express any enthusiasm for what put them into this state. Luckily though, today I was able to muster up something in my soul that told me to, “Sit down and write, Jay. No one wants to hear your complaining.”
So here I am.
We did more guard passing drills last night. For about seven rounds or so, I failed at passing guard. It’s not like it’s easy or anything – I’ll tell you that. With these drills, it just so happens that the guy on bottom doesn’t exactly want you to pass his or her guard. Well, last night, all the guards I attempted to pass were guys, so we’ll leave it at that.
They fought like it was their life’s final chore. And they were good at it. Especially Medium, who always puts up a fight. I have to respect the guy for it because he never says die. Even after he’s dead, he won’t admit the fact that – he’s dead. We had our bouts last night where he won some and I won some. It took a while for me to get into my groove, but I can only take failing so many times. Generally speaking, in the beginning of these drills, my goal is to use the technique I’m able to remember from all my reading and watching. When that doesn’t work and usually about half way through, I just get the job done. I revert back to what I figured out early on with this game and I use pressure and mat sense. I’m not sure if that’s helping my game any, but it feels slightly better than being asked to leave the mat as a loser.
We did mix it up with some half-guard passing and that seemed to be my area to let shine. I’m fairly good at half-guard (apparently) and those who challenged me got swept. I have a decent sweep that I made up a long time ago that’s proven to be quite valuable. It’s a tall guy thing, so I’m not sure it’s worth teaching others.
Which brings me to my next topic – Charles.
We were laughing last night after Charles beat me at something or other. I can’t remember what it was exactly, but I’ll tell you, it was bitter sweet. If I can recall, he really upped his grip game and if I recall again, it was me who had discussed it with him earlier. During last night’s round, Charles, in no way whatsoever, gave me his grips. He also made every true effort to take mine, which was generally successful. I’m not sure what happened, but what I do remember was that he won at what he was after. The reason we were laughing is because he said something to the effect of, “Thank you for the other night’s lesson. I’m sure you have more for me.” To which I replied, “I probably do, but I think I’m going to keep them to myself for a while.” Then I crawled off the mat as he stayed on.
He deserved it though. He’s a thinker and if there’s anyone I’ll spend my time working with, it’s someone who values the same things I value. Learning Jiu-Jitsu being one of them. And not just coming to class either. If I see the level of frustration that Charles had last night after one of his losing rounds – yeah, I’ll give him my time. Because I know it matters in his life. Just like it does in mine.
After class, I sat down with Kevin and asked if we could go over a few back escapes next week. I have some in mind from the two earlier videos I posted. I want to try them out to see if they are functional or if they simply look good on video. I’ve been down the video path before, finding myself, afterwards, sitting in a puddle of disappointment. The wide, bright eyes of, “Hey man, let me try this on you” rapidly disintegrates into something more along the lines of, “Sorry for taking up your time man – I’m not watching any more of those stupid videos.”
Kevin mentioned that he noticed how I picked up my own copy of “Jiu-Jitsu University,” which he called, the Jiu-Jitsu bible. I got a chuckle out of that term because I’ve heard it used before. No one I’ve ever encountered and who’s owned a copy of the book has said anything negative about it. With Kevin not being the exception. He told me that he uses almost everything Saulo teaches and that it’s solid training. Now listen – if Kevin tells me that he’s a fan of Saulo and that he uses what Saulo’s got to say, I’m on board. I’ll double down on that book and be sure to practice the tried and true methodology of what Jiu-Jitsu has to offer. Kevin’s no joke on the mat and if it works for him, hopefully it’ll work for me.
Regarding my request to train back escapes next week, he was very accommodating. He said we’ll dedicate Tuesday’s advanced class to drilling those escapes. I’m hoping he goes over his favorites as well. Perhaps his favorite, almost fool proof one and then a variation after that one. Just in case the fool proof escape fails.
As I sat there giving my reasoning for wanting to practice back escapes, Kevin seemed to agree with what I was saying. I told him that while I can usually escape my partner while in this position, I’m left not quite knowing how I did it. I wiggle and worm around until I’ve screwed up my opponent just enough to abandon what he’s after. He’ll change his position to something else, at which point, I’m out of back control and I’m onto defending something new. Needless to say, this isn’t the way I want to train. I’d like to know how I’m defending something and watch it purposefully play out as I’m putting it into action. That’s the Jiu-Jitsu I’m after.
At some point during class, my father called my cell phone. I didn’t hear it ringing because I turned down the volume last week. And yes, for everyone who heard that annoying phone going off in the middle of one of last week’s lessons, that was mine and I apologize. It’s much quieter now, so it should be a nuisance no more.
I knew it was my father because he’s usually the one who calls to check up on me. My mother waits for me to call her. I have no idea how that turned out, but what I do know is that my father wants me to “like” it down here very much. Almost too much. I’m about seven hours closer to him in North Carolina now and I suppose that gives him a good feeling. Not that we’ll see each other any more frequently than we did when I was living in Connecticut, but if he feels better, I feel better.
We talked about the stuff we always talk about. We had to compare temperatures, cover people in the family that we’ve recently spoken to and like usual, I let him tell me about his job on the beach. He repairs parking meters now and according to him, it’s a very necessary and exciting job. I have no doubt that it is.
“So, are you still wrestling?” he asked. My father likes to call what I do “wrestling.” He used to wrestle back in high school, so if anyone ever does anything that takes place on the ground, he considers it wrestling.
“Yeah. I just got out of class. That’s where I was when you called.” I replied. Then, I went on to tell him how hot it was and once again, we compared temperatures. I’m not quite sure he gets that fact that I sit in a puddle of sweat after I roll. Sweat that I wouldn’t give up for the world. I’m also not quite sure that he’s ever felt the kind of sweat I’m talking about.
“Are you getting any better?” he asked. He’s had a small problem with me practicing Jiu-Jitsu from the beginning. And ever since he’s moved to North Carolina from New York, he’s lost a bit of his edge. In the old days, he’d send me out to cut down a tree, by myself, in a snow storm. Now, he can’t seem to handle that fact that I “wrestle.” Every single time we talk, he tells me to be careful. And every single time he tells me to be careful, I tell him I will.
“I’m not sure if I’m getting any better or not, Dad.” I replied. And I’m not. Not sure I’m getting any better, that is. Some days I feel like a champ, but some days I feel like I’ve regressed to my white belt days. And it’s those days that I need to make myself feel better by teaching a younger player than me some of what I know. I do know a lot and to pass it on makes me feel good.
The conversation with my father ended with him telling me that he had to get back to the TV show he was watching because my mother was looking at him funny. At almost 70 years old, I gave him a pass and said goodbye.
After our phone conversation last night and as I was driving down 95, I decided to pull off one exit before my usual. Normally, I take the Palm Coast Parkway exit right in the heart of Palm Coast, but last night I thought I should do a bit of exploring. There was nothing too pressing waiting for me at home, so I took the Bunnell exit, that leads to Rt.1 all the way down to who knows where. I’m glad I did this too, because I’ll tell you, driving down Rt.1 at almost ten at night, all alone, is much better than battling for my space in this world against eighteen wheelers. They’re an unforgiving and loud bunch and if I want to get anywhere, I have to wait for them to let me. At night on the highways, they rule.
Since I’ve been down in Florida, I feel like I’ve been on candid camera. I haven’t exactly found any place to hide here and the privacy that the lonely Rt.1 gave my was quite welcome. It’s a different world down here. One that’s full of people, places and things. We have a very organized system of roads, grocery stores and gas stations. If you need anything from any of the above, the system will most eagerly and excitedly bring it to you. Unlike here, I’m used to up North, where you’ve got to work for it. And especially unlike when I used to live in upstate New York, when you really had to work for it. I’m not sure if I like the system yet, but I take it in stride because it happens to be what I’m living in the middle of at the moment. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, as they say.
Funny thing about entering Palm Coast from the other direction – and I’m not sure if everyone was just in bed already or not – but it’s quite peaceful. There doesn’t seem to be as much of the hustle and bustle over on that end than there is near 95. Actually, I was the only one on the road. Almost.
This may just be the route I take home after class from now on.