As I’ve continued blogging, I’ve decided to steer away from my original intent which was to chronologically blog about past and current events occurring throughout my GJJ Journey. I think that it’s good for me to take a much less organized approach to this blog and simply blog about issues that I’m thinking about, or events that I can vividly recall. So allow me to share with you a rather humbling event that occurred about six months into my training.
As I’ve mentioned, I travel a fair amount for business, and I really do try to find decent academies where I can train when I’m on a business trip. There was a time when I focused all of my energies working in my hotel room every spare moment, and while I may have been productive in the short-term, let me tell you that it’s a sure way for anyone to burn themselves out when they don’t have any sort of outlet to relieve the day to day pressures of work life.
This particular trip took me back to the birthplace of the LTrain, Chicago Illinois. Donald Park, a brown belt under RGDA, and founder of Evolution Jiu Jitsu in Cleveland, was living in Chicago at the time, and encouraged me to check out POW! Mixed Martial Arts, located in Chicago’s West Loop, This is an excellent facility which teaches a variety of Martial Arts. The staff are friendly and the facility is clean. Their Jiu Jitsu program is headed up by Dino Costeas who received his purple belt from Rickson Gracie a number of years ago. While I prefer a little more “gi” in my training, Dino runs a great class, and I was very appreciative for Donald allowing me to “drop” his name so that I could train there, for this Academy doesn’t seem to advertise “mat fees” for visitors to drop in and occasionally train.
So I arrived at the gym and after warming up, I rolled a bit with Dino and a couple of his blue belts. Instruction was light that evening with an emphasis on “rolling”. I remember that we worked a few straight arm-bars from a few different angles, and I was quite impressed at the pace Dino and his team kept. I’ve heard others talk about the conditioning of grapplers in the Midwest and how their cardio is off the charts. Well, Dino’s team proved to be no exception to this rule. He was very helpful to me and offered lots of suggestions to me relating to controlling one’s hips and passing one’s guard. But enough about that, what was really etched in my memory happened after Dino and I were finished.
I was approached by this young lady named Jamie. She’s a Jiu Jitsu player who, at the time, had been training for approximately four years and I believe had either just received her purple belt, or was about to receive it. I would guess her to be in her mid 20s, and she was keeping up with that relentless pace that the rest of the team was setting. She asked me if I wanted to “roll”. I was really taken aback, for I’d never rolled with a woman before, and found the situation quite awkward. She didn’t give me much time to think about it or respond. She just sat to guard as she pulled me down by the arm exclaiming “Come on! Let’s GO!” So here I am in the full guard of a young woman who smelled great, and by all sighted accounts, looked as good as she smelled. I am a huge fan of the opposite sex, and had really never given much thought about training with women. But here I was, in the thick of it with someone who had a very active guard, and, as I ascertained rather quickly, wasn’t there to play games. Within seconds, she had broken my posture and was controlling my right arm. As I tried to posture up, she threw up her hips and extended my arm.
“HOLY SHIT!” I thought to myself. I’m really in trouble here. Jamie just slowly raised her hips, and it was “tap” or get my arm broken. I reluctantly tapped. We rolled again, and by this time, I was quickly forgetting that I was rolling with a woman. I passed to half-guard briefly before she recovered guard and swept me taking side control. I was able to regain guard, but she was able to pass at will. We rolled for about fifteen minutes and I think she tapped me another time or to. Needless to say, the experience was an enlightening one.
I learned a great deal from this experience. The first thing that I learned is that when I step on the mat, I want to be perceived as just a Jiu Jitsu player. I’ve had to really go hard with certain assholes outside of Team Evolution, and even a couple of visitors to our academy, who feel that they need to go easy on me because I’m blind. Respect is very important to me, and disrespect isn’t tolerated by me. I didn’t extend this respect and courtesy to Jamie until she tapped it out of me. To me, she was just a very attractive woman who needed to be handled as such. I really disrespected her as an fellow BJJ player, and I was quite sorry about that. I’ve trained with a number of female BJJ players since then, and have really learned my lesson well, for when I’m on the mat with them, I basically put it out of my mind that I’m training with a woman. My main focus is being the best training partner that I can be for them as well as learning whatever I can from them. Jiu Jitsu really has a way of breaking down some serious stereotypes, for the principles of this art really lend themselves to serving women well because leverage and technique definitely supersede strength and power. In the rare event that she ever reads this blog entry, I’d like to thank Jamie for adding to my growth and maturity as a BJJ student, and apologize for initially disrespecting her
Larry the LTrain