So here’s a fun little thing I recently discovered about myself: When things get tough, my default is to quit.
Case in point: Playing pool with Hubby. There have been times where he is simply “on” and I am “off.” In other words, he’s smoking me. I get so discouraged that I only play worse, until I hang up my cue and walk away without finishing the game.
I know it isn’t pretty, but there we are.
This has been Jiu-Jitsu for me lately. I WAS at the top of my class, or so I thought. But it seems being the only one with four stripes on my belt doesn’t make me the best. There are a few three-stripers who are out stripping me.
Take Gym Rat, his own characterization for himself. His shirt sleeves barely hold up against his muscly arms. He, ironically, calls me Killer, which I find funny. He also likes to offer me advice.
I know what you’re thinking, but I find it more kind than annoying. (But still a little annoying.)
Then there’s Tall Guy, who recently reported taking a private lesson because his work schedule prevents him from coming to most regular classes. At the lesson, Instructor said, “Let’s just take the test.”
And he passed. Just like that, without even intending to test yet. And did I mention he only has three stripes?
Those of you have been with me a while may remember “Timmy/Andre the Giant,” the tall guy who was my frequent Jiu-Jitsu partner at the 11 a.m. classes. The one who broke my foot in January. (I exaggerate. It was maybe my toe. And maybe not even, but I was limping and out of class for a while.)
That was the last I’d seen of Timmy until I arrived at an 8 p.m. class where the previous Master Cycle class was winding down.
“Hey there, stranger,” he said with nary a look of shock as I sauntered over.
“You don’t seem surprised to see me still here.”
“Nah, I knew you were hooked,” he said, reminding me of way back when I showed up a few minutes after 11 a.m. and he said, “I was beginning to worry.”
At the time, I told him, “If I’m not here, I’m dead.” Or, as it turns out, if I’m not here, it’s because you broke my foot.
Boy would it have been funny if I had said THAT to him.
I told SD1 that his blog nickname is Surfer Dude. He gave a big, appreciative, smiling nod. “Nice. I like it. It fits,” he said.
“And your little brother is Surfer Dude 2.”
“That’s okay. So long as I’m number one,” he said.
At a recent 8 p.m. class, there were only two students, both newbies. But SD1 and another blue belt, whom I’ll call ‘Stache,’ because he’s always perfectly clean shaven, (Just kidding. He has a mustache.) were also there.
Jiu-Jitsu was canceled Saturday because Instructor’s wife had a baby in the wee hours of the morning. When class did resume, a student, whom I’ll call Thoughtful One, slipped me a card and a pen. Many others had already signed the congratulations on the new baby card before it made its way to me. He was also collecting cash, “No pressure, though,” he said several times, to purchase a Target gift card.
I couldn’t help but feel ashamed of myself for not having been the Thoughtful One. I figured saying congratulations to his face would be enough. And it probably was, and yet… as the lone female, shouldn’t I have been the one to organize a card and gift? Yes, I know that’s stereotyping women. Still, I felt I should do more as the only mom and the student in class the longest.
So, this morning I ordered this for Instructor’s new daughter:
I’ll let you know how it’s received.
While I was shopping Amazon, another shirt caught my eye. (Oh, gosh, not THIS again!) It combines my love of Jiu-Jitsu and cats, as well as what has become my signature move, the Kimura. Last time I did it on Surfer Dude (SD1), he said, “You like that one, don’t you?”
“It’s my bread and butter,” I told him. (I don’t fully understand that expression, but it’s what came out of me at the moment.)
I didn’t buy it, though. I’m not trying to single-handedly finance Amazon’s entire line of Jiu-Jitsu shirts. (Besides, the Kimura requires two hands. Or paws.)
First of all, do you ever experience a flash of emotion that is so fleeting you have to think back on what caused it?
I felt a quick surge of happiness when driving the other day and thought, “Where did that come from?” Then I realized I had passed my Jiu-Jitsu gym and had caught a glimpse of its darkened windows as I motored by.
I brought Youngest Daughter with me recently and got to relive the joy of hearing Instructor’s jokes for the first time through her laughter. She particularly enjoyed every time he said, “Motorcycle grip. Vroom. Vroom.”
There was also, “Walk your foot up like a duck, ‘Quack quack quack,'” and “Feed one hand to the other ‘Nom nom,'” as he had his hand “bite” his other wrist.
He explained Gable Grip as “double Queen Elizabeth hands.” He waved like she does, then clasped his hands together.
He also mentioned how a bigger stronger guy figures he can crush you when he gets you in a headlock. “Then you easily get out of it, and he looks confused. You say, ‘I do Jiu-Jitsu. Don’t be confused.'”
Another time, when demonstrating with a guy, he asked, “Who’s stronger, him or me?” Someone said, “Him.” Instructor paused, put a hand over his heart and said, “Too quick, bro. I’m hurt. That was too quick.” (Did I already share that one? If so, sorry.)
At the start of a class last week, everyone stepped away from the wall to partner up, leaving me standing alone. Then Instructor’s standard demo partner, SD1 (Surfer Dude), strutted up to me with his chest out in a “You want a piece of me?” fashion. Ha! 🙂
Later it was taking a while to complete the Americana armlock on him. I said, “If I don’t submit you, I might submit myself from having my nose in your armpit.”
You may have noticed that I’ve had fewer Jiu-Jitsu stories to share lately. I suppose my getting better at it is to blame for my lack of entertainment for you.
We all knew it was bound to happen eventually. Probably for most people, it would’ve happened months ago.
However, I did majorly screw up recently. (Let’s pretend I did it just for you.)
I was partnered with Instructor’s youngest brother, Surfer Dude 2. The last portion of class is Mount Drills, where you try to throw the other person off. I had already successfully thrown SD2 once within the 60 second allotment and was prepared to do so again with a cool new move I learned from a Jiu-Jitsu video, not from class.
Suddenly, I became aware of Instructor, SD1, and another upper belt standing there cheering me on.
I had SD2 locked up and ready to roll left, yet I kept attempting to roll him to the right. In that direction, he wasn’t going anywhere.
“Toward me, Betsy. Roll toward me,” came Instructor’s voice, yet I kept pushing the wrong way. Finally, I gave up and heard a collective, disappointed chorus of, “Ohhh,” from the bystanders. One lamented, “It was all set up,” before they walked away.
I was mortified. What the heck happened?! For the rest of the day, I couldn’t let it go. Several times, I asked Hubby to assure me that they’d forgotten the whole incident. (He dutifully complied.) The next day I dropped a fork or something, and he said, “Did that happen because you rolled the wrong way?” which, though funny, brought the memory of the embarrassment crashing down again.
My next class was a week later. I brought my youngest daughter with me for a trial class. It was an unusually small turnout, with only three other students. So, when Instructor needed a demo partner, he chose the most senior student there, which happened to be me.
I gave a delighted little hop skip away from the wall when he called me up. (Obviously, I was super professional and kept my cool.)
My girls and I are now officially halfway to our black belts in Taekwondo.
I thought it would be fun to jazz up our testing and surprise Sensei by counting off our 25 warm up jumping jacks in Korean instead of English.
I can’t tell you how excited I was to see his face when we began: “Hana, dhul, set, net, daseot…” I imagined him, eyebrows raised, failing to fight down a smile.
And how did he respond?
With nary a flinch. When we finished, he said, “Okay, next drill…”
Zero acknowledgement whatsoever!
I was so disappointed.
During testing of the form itself, two people test at once. Because it’s always been my style to mess something up, I turned right when I was supposed to turn left. Fortunately, I had the sense of mind to course correct and continue unfazed.
On the way out, I said to Sensei, “I trust you were looking at the other person when I messed up?”
“Yes. I didn’t see your 17 mistakes.”
So he CAN still be funny.
“Furthermore,” I continued, “how can we count in Korean and you not react at all?”
“I can react with my ears. I heard you. And was that to earn bonus points?”
“Well, if it helps.”
“Do you know the next number, or did you only learn what you needed?”
He nodded. “Good.”
If anything, I earned points in that moment.
BTW, I was out of town for several days. You know how when you board a plane, there’s that patch of walkway from airport to airplane where there’s no AC? When I stood in that spot, waiting my turn to board, I thought, “Whew! What is this heat?!” So I checked my phone.
One part of last night’s Jiu-Jitsu lesson involved utilizing the triangle choke if your arm bar fails. Instructor emphasized trapping your opponent’s head while doing so. “It’s like a balloon. If you let go, it floats away. You don’t want it to float away because then you have to spend another $50 to get another one for your kid at Disneyland.”
The funny visual aside, I was reminded of the triangle choke class where I kept forgetting to trap my opponent’s head. He’d pop it up and say, “Your balloon is getting away.” Then I realized my partner from that class was standing next to me. I looked at him to find him looking at me, clearly thinking the same thing. We quietly chuckled.
Another nice thing: the guys greeting me by name and with a smile. One such gentleman I hadn’t met, but he still said, “Hello, Betsy,” with a friendly smile. Yes, I know his name now. It’s an uncommon one, so that makes it easier to remember. There are three pairs of people with the same name, and one name being utilized by three people. One of those is Li’l Trejo. Maybe I should just call him that instead to vary things up. Do you think he’d mind?
Quick martial arts lesson: Rolling is to Jiu-Jitsu as Sparring is to Taekwondo.
Quick blog lesson: Instructor is to Jiu-Jitsu as Sensei is to Taekwondo.
I’m now at the point of my Jiu-Jitsu journey where I get to attend Reflex and Development class. Your opponent gives indicators like step back, push away, post a leg up, etc., to let you know what move you need to do.
Often I ask, “What do I do?” because I’m not very good at this. The answer is usually Arm Bar or Elevator Sweep or Americana.
“Oh, right, yeah,” I’ll say then do the move.
At the start of 99% of the regular classes, we practice The Clinch. It’s a standing move that leads to getting the bad guy on the ground. We do this so often, I could sleep through this part of class.
Then in Reflex and Development, Instructor stood in front of me.
My Jiu-Jitsu instructor explained how to trap someone’s arm when they go for a punch so you can more easily roll them over and get on top of the fight. Someone asked, “What if the other person doesn’t try to punch you? How will you trap their arm then?”
“You can say something like, ‘You hit like a kid!’ That will make them want to punch you.”
He didn’t say “like a girl” because I’m here.
Then Instructor added, “I would’ve said, ‘You hit like a girl,’ but Betsy’s here and she hit me once and it wasn’t fun.”
The guys on either side turned to look at me, but I kept my face forward and smiled. I’ve never hit Instructor! But it was funny.
Also funny: when Instructor leaned sideways to demonstrate something and said, “I didn’t have my V8 today… That used to be a thing.”
One guy on the other end of the line stuck his head out, looking at the rest of us with a giant grin that bit back a laugh. Everyone else ignored him, but I caught the smile and sent it right back. Seeing other people enjoy Instructor’s jokes is almost as much fun as the jokes themselves.
The Return of Surfer Dude
Remember when I named my first practice partner Surfer Dude because he had the look of one, not because I knew he surfed? Another guy was talking to him about his big yellow van. After class, I saw the van. There was a wet suit hanging to dry over a side mirror and these stickers on the back.
Relating to Li’l Trejo
Thanks to Mark reminding me of a Disturbed song, I was able to say to Li’l Trejo, “Guess what song I heard on the way here. I’ll give you a clue… maybe. ‘Oh-wa-ah-ah-ah.'”
“Oh! Down with the Sickness,” he said immediately.
“You got it! I wasn’t sure I could do that well enough.”
“No, it was great. That was the song that got me into Disturbed. When I first heard it, I said, ‘Mom, Dad, you gotta get me this CD.’ They got me the clean version. I had to wait until later to get the real version.”
How young IS this guy?
There was a moment after a class when I could’ve said something to Instructor about ET’s extra attention, but he was intently working at his computer, logging our classes, maybe. Lots of room for human error there. His expression carried with it an invisible “Do not disturb” sign around his neck, so I let it go.
At the start of the next class, everyone moved away from the wall to partner up except for me, ET a few feet to my right, and Lopez a few feet to my left. I gave ET an apologetic smile as I stepped toward Lopez. ET threw his arm up in a “what the heck?” gesture. But because there were an odd number of people and Lopez is an upper belt, Instructor pulled him from me, put me with ET, and had Lopez roam the room, assisting as needed.
I’ve realized a few things about ET: 1. He’s harmless. He did make some comment about how something would make me “just a little bit prettier.” I missed the first part of what he said. I ignore half of what he says anyway. But clearly there was only one response I could give to this: