Enter The Danny: Round 2


"When the time comes, there is no moment for reasoning.  And if you have not done your inquiring beforehand, there is most often shame."  From The Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai

In all seriousness, I don't know if I can complete this project.  I know I'm only two lessons in, but it is seriously kicking my butt.  I went to the gym tonight, and I kept having to grab the rails on the treadmill to keep from falling, because the muscles in my thighs are so blasted that I can't run in a straight line...  Courtney thinks that I will see it through to the end, if for no other reason than because I have committed to it on the blog.  We'll see.  She does know me pretty well after nine years of marriage.

Blackbelt Universe was closed on Monday for, as Tony put it, "another Yank holiday."  (Have I mentioned he's from Australia?  That bit of context probably makes that statement funnier.)  That worked to my advantage, because my legs still hadn't fully recovered from Friday's lesson.  I woke up yesterday feeling good, though, and ready for lesson two.

Before class, I spent some time talking with some of the other students.  There were two main things I learned about most of them.  First, that I am at least 10 years older than most of these guys.  Second, almost all of them have trained in other martial arts disciplines in the past, and have been studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for a while.  One of my fellow students, a senior at Texas Tech, asked how long I'd been studying, and smiled widely when I told him that it was my second lesson.

"Your second lesson EVER?"
"What made you decide to start?"
So I explained to him about my blog, and how I came to be taking this class.
"Is this like something you're getting paid for?"
"Nope, I just do it for fun."
"Nice.  Well, if I can help you with anything, just ask.  Most of the guys who've been here a while are happy to help."

First Lesson I Learned Last Night: I have grown really good at inadvertently stepping on people's toes, as evidenced by the great Century Egg Fiasco.  Before my first lesson, I asked another employee of the school if I could set up my video camera to record myself during class, and was told that it would be fine.  I set it up again, and about 10 minutes into class, Tony walked past it, noticed it, and was not pleased.  I apologized, deleted the footage, and turned it off, but I could tell that he was still upset over it.  Lesson learned - ask the dude in charge.  I really felt like a jerk, upsetting him like that after he'd been cool enough to let me do a month of lessons for free.  I apologized again after class, and he said we were good.  All of this is to say that there will be no more videos, I'm afraid!

So far, both of the classes I've attended have focused on starting from the butterfly guard position.  Here's a picture of what that looks like.  The mannequin on the right is in the butterfly guard position.
One thing I'm finding out is that these techniques are really hard to describe succinctly.  What we mainly worked on in last night's lesson were techniques for the person in the left position to control the legs of the person in the butterfly guard.  It's still amazing to me that some relatively low-force movements, using only your body's weight and the natural mechanics of your opponent's body can completely immobilize somebody!

Second Lesson I Learned Last Night:  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a lot like chess; one of the best strategies you can employ is to try and control the inside.  Something that Tony comes back to again and again when he's demonstrating techniques is that if you can get the inside position, you have a real advantage over your opponent.  Conversely, you want to try your best to keep him from getting inside.  There's a real mental discipline in this, to be completely aware of your position relative to your opponent's position at all times.

Third Lesson I Learned Last Night:  The third thing was more of an insight into my own mind.  I'm hardly unique in this, but I feel completely off my game in situations where it seems like everybody except for me knows what's going on.  You know how sometimes you'll be visiting at a church you haven't gone to before, and maybe there's a certain song that they sing every single week, so they don't bother to print the lyrics or the hymn number in the church bulletin?  Everybody around you is belting out every word, and you're just kind of mumbling along?  That is how I feel in this class.  The maneuvers that Tony shows us are all really effective, but once I get two or three moves into the sequence, I feel completely lost.  This is the same reason that nobody has ever been able to teach me how to do the Texas Two Step, the single easiest dance in the world.  I'm not sure yet how to overcome this one.  I look around me at the other guys in class, and they all seem to know just what to do, and I feel like I'm really slowing down my training partner by not being there along with everybody else.

My training partner last night was named Jason.  He took things much easier on me than AC did last Friday!  When we reached the end of class, instead of dismissing us, Tony told us to practice and wrestle.  I just stood there dumbly and stared at Jason.  "What do we do?" I asked.

"Have you never wrestled before?"
"No, man.  I was on the swim team in high school."
And then we both laughed at how ridiculous that sounded.

Fourth Lesson I Learned Last Night:  I'm having to retrain my mind into a mentality that is entirely new for me.  I've almost always been the biggest kid in class, the biggest person in the group, the tallest guy in the room.  Because of this, I learned early that if any kind of physical trouble went down, I would always draw the blame, simply because I was the biggest person there, so I've always really consciously tried to avoid physical confrontation, and to use the least amount of force possible.  For the first time in my life, I'm in a situation where grappling with somebody is not just accepted, it's expected.  It seems sterile when you're just running the moves in a drill, but to put them into practice is something completely different.  I must convince myself that this is not just OK, it's what I need to be doing.  This is going to be hard.  I really don't know if I'm going to finish this month!


Nate said...

Danny. Enhance the violence!

Ali said...

i'm pretty sure those manequins are doing something dirty.

and, if you don't finish this project, i will call you a pu$$y for the REST OF YOUR DAYS.

Danny said...

Fair enough. But if I DO complete the project, you must call me Sensei.

Ali said...

no deal. i will counteroffer with Dumb Ass.

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