Betsy gets silly


I arrived late to Jiu-Jitsu Monday night, which I don’t mind, as I want to avoid the practice-before-class-officially-starts part. I was not late enough, however. The only un-partnered person on the mat was the only one who scares me. Not because he’s big, but because he looks like a dude who would be typecast as the bad guy. He’s the Danny Trejo of Jiu-Jitsu.

Check him out! He has a book!

The guy in my class is young, though, long haired and with knuckle tattoos. He looks like he’d be one of Chicken Man’s henchmen in Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul.

I was more than happy to stretch out waaaaaay on the other side of the mat from Li’l Trejo until Instructor spotted me and suggested I jump in with this guy. Fine. I greeted him and offered a fist bump. He lifted a hand to shake. We both smiled. He closed his hand for a bump. I opened mine for a shake. We laughed, we smiled, we gave up on a third attempt, and I realized he’s not the classic villain, he’s the family pet, namely, the sweet puppy dog.

I wasn’t paired with him during class but with a guy who had the darkest blue eyes I’d ever seen on a human. He was also a bit rough. When trying to do the move, he made me work for it. I’m used to guys taking it easy on me. Maybe I should be grateful that this guy didn’t treat me as anything special.

He also gave me my latest war wounds:

Long scratch on my right arm.
Harder to see, but a scratch that curls underneath and some old bruise on the left.

Instructor is great about including me. Months ago, when there were more people in the 11:00 class, he was angled away from me as he told a story “to the guys,” but then he turned his head and made eye contact with me as well, bringing me into the group. It was then that I truly felt I’d been accepted as one of them, at least by him.

In our recent one-on-one classes, he’d say, “When you get to Master Cycle…” which comes after this beginners’ Combatives course. Notice the “when,” not “if.”

Tonight he twice said “man or woman.” For instance, “…with your thumb pointed back at yourself because you’re the man or the woman.”

A couple funnies: He was crouched over his opponent, calling it “Spiderman pose.” Then he put both hands out, middle fingers pressed to his palms. This must have been a new one, not only to me, because the literal actual black belt next to me chuckled along with me.

Another time he said, with a completely straight face, “You want to go fast, not only because it’s smoother, but because it looks cool.”

Next he talked about doing the arm bar on someone much stronger. “If you need to, you can grab the top of his hand for greater leverage, but I’ve really only needed to do that twice.” He continued instructions and asked if anyone had questions.

A guy raised his hand and asked, “Was I one of those two?”

Instructor thought for a moment. “You might have been, yeah.”

And in the brief moment of silence that followed, I was feeling comfortable enough to be silly. See if you can guess how.

Without raising my hand, I said, “And I was the other one, right?”

I didn’t hear anyone laugh, but that might be because I was laughing myself, since I’m always the first to laugh at myself. (Right, CM? πŸ˜‰ ) Instructor smiled and said, “Yep, you were the other one.”

Immediately after this, we returned to the mat to try the new move, and Instructor said to me with mock urgency, “You weren’t supposed to tell them that.” Then he gave me a fist bump.

Earlier, I was the last to finish the move with Blue Eyes, who was Instructor’s demo partner. Everyone was already back at the wall. Blue Eyes stayed on the mat with Instructor, so as I made the solo walk to the wall, Instructor put his arm up and said, “High five.” I hopped to reach his hand and smiled on my way to the wall.

In the future, I must remember this: I did not feel up to going to class tonight. It had been a long day. I was tired and unmotivated. Then I reasoned that I shouldn’t miss the opportunity to get classes in. I could stay home and continue feeling tired and bleh, or I could go, have fun, learn, workout, and come back happy.

I’m glad I chose the latter.

Also, just before I left, because I remembered his name and he was near the door, I said goodbye to Li’l Trejo. He wished me a good night.

And that is how you make new friends.

79 responses »

  1. ALWAYS be the first to laugh at yourself. πŸ™‚

    I used to tell my students, with complete honesty, I never went to class (as a student or instructor) and left without feeling better. It always had a fantastic effect on me. I’m glad you went. πŸ™‚ AND made new friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The scratches and bruises are a bit rattling, but after a while, I think they become the norm. Right? Who says you shouldn’t go through life unscratched? It happens to you–now–all the time and probably means you don’t over-react when it happens outside the dojo (is that what it’s called?) I actually like the idea.

    But–what’s your husband think of all the bruises?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, Hubby isn’t happy I’m getting hurt, but he knows I’m a big girl. You asked before what my mom thinks. Yesterday she texted that she is in awe of me, so I guess that’s a good thing.

      This morning I was walking around with socks and boots on wondering why my toe hurt. So just now I took my sock off and see that I have scraped off skin there. I’ll put a Band-aid on it to keep it safe. I suppose if I weren’t a person with perhaps an above-average pain threshold, I wouldn’t be doing this. But once you’ve given birth naturally, does anything really hurt that bad? In my experience, not even close. All this is nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “In the future, I must remember this: I did not feel up to going to class tonight. It had been a long day. I was tired and unmotivated. Then I reasoned that I shouldn’t miss the opportunity to get classes in. I could stay home and continue feeling tired and bleh, or I could go, have fun, learn, workout, and come back happy.”

    Keep it up, Betsy! Showing up is half the battle and your mindset is spot-on!

    “When trying to do the move, he made me work for it.”

    This is a pet peeve of mine, for men or women who try to make their partner work for it, especially at the white belt level. They usually have some sort of “train like you fight” thought going through their head and while that is understandable: Crawl, walk, run.

    Certain smaller steps and details in a given technique are there for creating proper leverage, or robbing the opponent of their alignment, posture, structure, base so the technique works effectively with minimal power and potentially devastatingly with increased power.

    When a training partner takes it upon themselves to just make someone work for it, they rob themselves and their partner of the aforementioned details (because they are usually skipped) and they are forced to rely more on strength/power to make the technique “work” during practice, and then they wonder why, in a live roll, the technique doesn’t work at all of with very minimal success.

    Yes, they eventually need to do it with resistance, but let the partner get the technique down first and then slowly increase resistance so they can successfully blend the technique with strength and power.

    There comes a time to straight up slap a triangle or armbar on an opponent, hard and fast, but the devil is in the details.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Tom. Struck a nerve, did I? Sorry about that. I did say to him, “Hey, this isn’t RD. Let me have it.” It being his arm. RD being Reflex and Development that comes at the end of class. I guess he sort of had a point with what he was doing. (And he did let it be easy for me the first few times.) But he may have been pointing out that I needed to put my full weight against his elbow to push his arm out of the way for the Twisting Arm Control.
      Well, it happened, and that guy’s not normally there. WHEN I get to Master Cycle, I’ll truly find out what I’m made of.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, yeah just hit a little pet peeve. No worries, you didn’t offend me or do anything wrong. Rather, I’ve got some sort of “big brother” complex looking out for white belts. lol

        Definitely a matter of when, not if. Keep at it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Tom! Here’s a bit of a peeve of mine: Gracie U changed the belt you receive after Combatives from blue to a “combatives belt,” which is white with a dark blue stripe down the center. It’s not nearly as cool looking, nor does it stand out much. If you tell someone you have a “combatives belt” they have no idea what you’re talking about. Saying you have a blue belt means something. And, most importantly, blue is my favorite color! I guess that’s the price I pay for being at a Gracie U affiliate.

        Liked by 1 person

      • πŸ˜‚ that too! I’ve been training both my youngest and my future step son in the Gracie Games part of BullyProof until I can figure out how to logistically get them to the academy for the kids class. I’ll have to do some digging on their belt system so I understand it better.

        Liked by 1 person

      • They are going to be so ahead of the game when they do get to go. That’s awesome. I’m hopeful that the girls I [do my best to] train at school will eventually take classes on their own and amaze their instructor. All the better if it’s my instructor. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • For sure! Gracie games are great for introducing jiu-jitsu movements and concepts and making them fun. Gotta tip my hat to them for it. Spider-kid is exceptional for showing a young one top mount control. Crazy-horse is great for helping them understand back mount/back control. My son loves “tackle the giant”, just a straight old school double leg take down. It’s a thing of beauty.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, a quick glance at the GJJ U stuff and from things you’ve mentioned, I’d take an educated guess at a couple things: you are at an official Gracie JJ School (you’d mentioned a black belt) that has some junior instructors (blues and purples – standard at many schools) looks like your instructor is a blue from the stripe pic you posted – plus those green mats, thats definitely a GJJ thing – and those junior instructors use the Gracie U/Gracie Combatives curriculum to keep track of your progress.

        So, it looks like the new belt is just their internal marker for progress of the student. The internal belt wouldn’t mean much if you competed in a tournament, you’d don your white belt and compete with other white belts. It is similar to the Green belt in a few JJ organizations, mine included, so that makes sense to me.

        That blue & white belt is roughly a “halfway” mark to a blue belt. So in a more traditional school, it’s roughly the equivalent of a two stripe white belt (halfway to blue).

        When it all boils down, belts really are both indicators of skill/knowledge/competency (well, they should be at least) as well as an over glorified time card (because, it kinda is lol).

        Hope that helps. Just keep training, belts and stripes come and go, but definitely enjoy them and hold your head up each time you earn one!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah! That’s better than I thought, then. When I see blue belts, I thought that just meant those guys earned it before the switch-over. A halfway belt makes more sense. Maybe the blue comes after completion of Master Cycle. I’ll figure it all out eventually.

        Thanks for taking the time, Tom!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. LOL chuckled to myself at the “Danny Trejo of Jiu-Jitsu! LOL Funny, I’m sure most ppl knew exactly what you meant by that… Whenever I think of a bad guy in a movie, it’s pretty much always Danny Trejo🀣 I love when people surprise us like that… prove us wrong about our misconceptions πŸ™‚ and glad you made a new friend! πŸ˜ƒ

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As I often say to myself after reading your posts, “and that’s how you do it, in Betsy-style!”

    Such a great attitude – go even when you don’t feel like it, because there are always (well, more often than not) good things that happen just by showing up! And who doesn’t want endorphins (and scratches and bumps and bruises) from a workout, right? I wonder how many of your mat-mates are silently fist bumping & high five-ing you … decorum & seriousness, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I honestly don’t know how the guys feel about me being there. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them secretly thought I didn’t belong. To that I would say, not my problem. They’ll have to deal with it. I have as much a right to be there as they. Hopefully anyone feeling that way has or soon will get over it.

      Then again, maybe the higher percentage think it’s cool I’m there. No idea. Doesn’t matter.

      Remembering that it was worth it to go even when I didn’t feel like it will hopefully push through the next time that happens. Thanks, Ju-Lyn. I’m gratified by your support. 😊


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  7. Your Dojo classes tales always make me smile and remember my old Dojo training years.
    By the way I used to see Mr. Trejo hanging in Venice beach frequently, before he become a celebrity way back somewhere in the late eighties, he was quite a character always with his bare chest showing his tattoo at the beach promenade. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, what a story! It’s funny how many of my blog buddies have seen the celebrities I occasionally mention. (I think this is the third time.) Also, glad you enjoy these stories and they help you reminisce, BH. πŸ™‚


      • Well living in LA for many years until I retired, and working on a business in Santa Monica near the beach, for many years I met a lot of celebrities, just because they live there, and you run into them, and even talked to them when they will drop at the place I worked, it’s very common, and not a big deal, my brother just today told me about a producer of movies that died at the beginning of the month, I wouldn’t say he was my friend, but he chatted with me often, just because he was a customer, and patronized the place I worked, and he liked to chat, and so many other well known actors, yes they are famous, but most are just like anybody else.πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

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