“You’re a natural, Betsy!” -My Instructor

“You’re a natural, Betsy!” -My Instructor

All you with gentle sensibilities, please forgive me, but from the rest of you can I get a “Hell, yeah!”?

Seriously, as much as Jiu Jitsu is fun, it is also flippin’ difficult. I enjoy everything except the frustration of not remembering the various steps involved in each move.

Today we learned the elbow sweep. I think. Even the name I’m not sure on. But I’ve found that saying the steps out loud as I perform them helps. Instructor, witnessing my success, said the words in this post title, adding, “That’s one of the two hardest moves to learn. The other is [insert several words that were nonsense to me], but you haven’t learned that yet. [Enter mental sigh of relief that I wasn’t supposed to have understood whatever the heck he just said.]

“Wow, thanks,” I responded, and tried not to beam too brightly.

For reals.


Photo by cottonbro from Pexels. (Not the elbow sweep, fyi.)

This was Day 5. I don’t normally go on Saturdays, so it was mostly a new cast of characters, and more of them. Most notably, two older gentlemen. One with experience, one fairly new. This one I will call “The Commentator.” When Instructor demonstrated something, it would frequently elicit an “Oooh,” “Ohhh,” and even, you guessed it, “Ahhh,” from The Commentator.

After one of these, Enthusiastic Teen next to me snickered.

He was also enthusiastic in trying to help me out by adding his own instructions in stage whispers while Instructor did his thing. Was it irritating? Oh, yeah, you betcha. “Let me listen, punk!” [More internal monologue.]

Enthusiastic Teen jumped in to partner with me, apparently not bothered that I’m likely his mom’s age. He’s been doing this for years, and was decently helpful. We sort of razzed each other, which was fun and different. At one point he made me laugh, so I chided, “Knock it off. There’s no laughing in Jiu Jitsu!”

Toward the end I was seriously flagging and felt like my brain was shutting down. I told him as much, since I couldn’t even remember the first step. He told me, “Take a breath. … Now think.” Unexpected good advice from someone so young.

At the end of class, Instructor said, “Everyone clap for Greg on his first class.” I was irrationally irritated that there was no “Everyone clap for Betsy” after my first class, but I got over it. I’m amused by the fact that, though still a newbie myself, I can already spot the newer members.

At the start of this class, “Greg” sat off by himself, not making eye contact, while others warmed up. In the previous class, a similarly furtive-looking student who reminded me of a very young, even skinnier Adrian Brody, shifted uncomfortably. I wonder if I looked so incredibly out of my element on my first day.


In that previous class, Day 4, the only other student besides Adrian and myself was Sweaty Man, who still lived up to his name.

When I entered, he first asked me how my ear was doing, which was kind of him. We made small talk about our daughters and Taekwondo, which was also nice. Though initially known as Indifferent Man, Sweaty Man may be the first one I befriend.

That was all before he dropped me on my head.

Another photo by cottonbro from Pexels. (Also not the move I described, but you sort of get the idea.)

He and I were paired so Instructor could work with Adrian. The move should not have ended with my skull bouncing against the floor, but SM got a little excited, apparently.

I could not help but yell, “Ow!” and rub my head as I stood up. My first thought was, “This mat is not nearly as soft and squishy as it appears.”

I assured SM that I was fine, and we continued. But after that, Instructor gave a speech about going slowly and taking it easy. He mostly looked at me as he said this, and I nodded along like I was taking it to heart. Then I realized he was only looking at me so as not to embarrass SM. From then on, he sicked SM on Adrian and partnered with me. When we got into position, I said to Instructor, “Don’t worry. I’ll take it easy on you.” I think he smiled, but he seemed more interested in whether or not I was genuinely okay. I was, and I appreciated his concern.

Let me end with a special welcome to Tom. I discovered his blog, Tom Writes and Rolls, (brilliant title!) via a link at the bottom of my last post. Tom’s been doing Jiu Jitsu for 4.5 years, as opposed to my 4.5 minutes, and his virtual encouragement is, well, encouraging. Hi, Tom! I’m really glad to have met you!

*Regarding my last post title, “Blood, sweat, and a tear,” how many of you caught on that I meant tear as in a rip and not salt water falling from one’s eye?

Also, I know I’m spending more time writing than I am reading these days, which is selfish of me. I gotta get these stories down before they get knocked out of my head, perhaps literally, but I really do want to get caught up on what all is happening with my BBBs. Thanks for your patience!


97 responses »

  1. Hi – your classes sound tough and I can feel your determination through your writing – and I guess one thing to note is to remind you how great all of this is for your brain health – anytime we do these kind of exercises or body movements I think we tend to forget the brain improvements and cognitive enrichments – and so I try to remember that when I give my all to a power yoga class.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Prior, I’m so grateful to read your words. I definitely feel as though my brain could use a tune up, and my short-term memory these days sometimes seems lacking for sure! If this exercise will improve that, all the better! And gosh, I do want to try yoga. I’ve gotta stop forgetting that! Haha! πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi – well good luck finding yoga that works for you! I stayed away for years and years (seriously way too long) because I never had a proper introduction –
        In late 1990s my mother and I snuck out of a class because we were getting sick from the up and down and rigor.
        I took various classes and they pained me! Ha.
        I then found Adrienne Reed yoga on discovery fit and health – 30 minute episodes with her astute teaching – she is from Tampa Florida and I hope to meet her one day! Her yoga on TV came when I needed it lost and helped me strengthen my core and overall body but it also helped me channel stress out of my body so my adrenal system (energy station or chakras) could fire better (I saw that layer of course)
        Then we joined a local gym and I realized more about the different types of yoga (asanas or poses vary) and every teacher is different – and so I tell people to try at least a dozen teachers before they walk away from yoga

        And that reminds me — your Martial arts is also helping the hair as and all that in your body –
        Oh and there is a famous YouTuber that has “yoga with Adrienne” that so many people enjoy – I used to follow her but never did one of her classes – but her approach always seemed great as she reminded folks to yield into a pose or readjust .

        Sorry to ramble – but love yoga so much

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s great that you’re so into yoga! And I appreciate the advice and tips. Maybe I should “warm up” with an online video. I have a friend who does “yoga in the park.” When it warms up (in the weather sense!) I hope to join her. You are totally welcome to ramble about yoga since I clearly enjoy rambling about Jiu Jitsu! πŸ˜›


      • Well let’s ramble on then!
        And not just saying this – but I believe yoga is going to help me do well in my older years – and so each class is a long term investment in me as well as a help for right now!
        Keep me posted if you get to do some yoga πŸ˜ŠπŸ’š

        Liked by 1 person

      • I will definitely let you know! The friend I mentioned is retired. She’s also talking water aerobics for older women and some other things,including water boxing! She’s an inspiration to me. (Gosh, I should really get together with her again. It’s been a while…)

        Long term investments in yourself always pay off well. Good on you, PH. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve actually been doing Taekwondo with my three daughters since July. That is LOADS of fun, but not nearly as challenging or blog-worthy, I guess. Jiu Jitsu came about because a friend started a self-defense class for students at the school where we both send our kids. He was going to teach Jiu Jitsu. Since it’s co-ed, I asked if he’d like help teaching self defense to the female students. So I began teaching them the self defense moves I’ve learned through Taekwondo, but those girls and I were all distracted by what the other teacher was doing with his students on the mat. It looked like fun. I decided that if I was to help the girls learn that as well, I would first need to learn it myself. It took off from there. What little I can remember, I pass along to them. Otherwise, I fill in the gaps with Taekwondo knowledge, of which I have much more. Thanks for asking, Neil! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a fascinating subject, and I find myself coming back to see how you progress. I can’t imagine doing this, so a vicarious moment is entertaining. Yes, the tear was ambiguous, but I guess there is no crying in Jiu-Jitsu, as well as no laughing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, I did catch on to the previous title, as unpleasant as it was! Ha! I love that you have pseudonyms for your classmates. That is how I roll as well . . . back in the day, we had Hoss, Superman, Foreign Dude and the like. Congrats on the praise and the gumption to learn a difficult skill.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love hearing your experiences. Both of my kids became black belts in shaolin kempo so I spent years awash in martial arts. I love the energy, positivity, work ethic, never-quit attitude of these folks. Which now, dear efriend, includes you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My goodness, Jacqui. I already knew your kids were superstars, but that’s amazing. Is there anything cooler sounding than “Shaolin kempo”? Well, maybe shodikahn, however you spell that, and whatever that is! The more wild the name, the cooler it sounds, haha. I used to think Jiu Jitsu sounded especially cool, but now I’m so used to the name, it’s less exotic feeling. Anyway, thank you for enjoying this journey with me, Jacqui!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well, one such neighbor gave me the name of another Jiu Jitsu studio I could check out. Her friend, a female, owns it and teaches there. So, what will the neighbors think? Probably, “Rock on with your bad self,” as your other daughter would say.

      And for the record, to all my now-scandalized Blog Buddies who may be reading this–I never before “wrestled with boys”!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the nicknames you come up with for everyone you meet. And I’m glad the ear was spared this time though getting dropped on the head doesn’t sound like much of an improvement. Congrats on being a natural and double congrats for no blood this week!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Good for you to be practicing Jiu Jitsu, on my younger days also practiced Karate, a little bit of Judo, and and Aikido, for quite some years, now retired and moving away from LA, walking everywhere, and doing errands not using a car, my only form of exercise.

    Happy holidays! πŸ˜ŠπŸ’–

    Liked by 2 people

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  8. One thing I do remember about karate class all those many, many years ago was trying to remember the moves and the order in which they’re done. I think they’re called “kata”, but who knows. My aunt did Taekwando in college, and ended up using it one time when someone was bullying my uncle (her husband). Impressed you started doing it so you could expand your knowledge for your students (heck, kudos for teaching self-defense stuff!) (double kudos for teaching teen girls πŸ™‚ ) And thank you for sharing your adventures–especially the humor! And if you ever do decide to quit and move over to something like yoga (you know, goat yoga, hot yoga, hot guy yoga, whatever πŸ˜‰ ), I know you’ll share your experience with us in a way we’ll be able to chuckle with you πŸ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Julie. For all of that. (Hot guy yoga. Haha. Snort laugh.) Cool about your aunt defending your uncle. Reminded me of Paul saying, “She’ll fight my battles for me.” I hope I don’t have to.

      (But then a small part of me hopes I do.)

      Liked by 2 people

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  11. “Just breathe” isn’t that the key to everything, being still and remembering…kudos to your courage and determination girl!!! You are an inspiration, have you don’t any other martial art forms?

    Liked by 2 people

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