Gracie Humaitá Austin: Tuesday Class

Tuesday and Thursday are the days for hard training at our academy. It’s the day we set aside all the worries of the world, warm up, then wholly and honestly come at one another with the best of our abilities. “You gotta have your mind right when you come to these classes,” said a new addition to our team after class, a purple belt from another academy. He threw up the first time he attended this class. Off the cuff, by my count we have had at least three people throw up from Tuesday/Thursday class.1 The “I think I’m going to throw up” sentences are always met with “Do what you gotta do, but make sure you come back” by someone in our team.

After 45 minutes of hard rolling, we spend the last 15 minutes of class working on takedowns. Separated into over 160 lbs and under 160 lbs, I noticed a lot of action on the other side of the mat. This gritty, Space Cadet of a white belt was struggling for the top in a takedown battle with Donald, our instructor.

And though relative to us – his students, I mean – his technique is essentially infinite…:

And at any moment, he could probably do one of these to us:

“Gracie Humaitá Austin: A Shaolin Temple-style beating so bad, you will honestly espouse the belief that you are Uma Thurman afterward.”

But for the briefest of moments, it seemed like this Space Cadet might actually win this tussle. Takedown, both of them land on their knees and struggle to stand again. Sacrifice throw, but our little hero does not let his back touch the mat and again struggles to his knees. He shoots and grabs a single. Donald’s leg in the air, he executes the takedown well. But Donald turns around at the last second, and only his hips touch the ground AND they’re up again! They are up at it again! Donald again throws him to the mat. They both scramble for a moment – and it suddenly looks like our Space Cadet has an anti-gravity patch on his gi – then D finally establishes his position on top.2

The serious looks in the two combatants faces immediately melted away. It was serious; but it was also in the spirit of friendly competition. Their struggle made them, in some infinitesimal way, a little bit better than they were before. I immediately began clapping, and would have clapped my hands raw – because displays like that inspire me – if more people had joined along with me.


I was supposed to write a blog entry today.3 But I ended up writing a novel of an email to a friend of mine about the Origins of Morality instead. It was meticulously researched, and ended up taking most of the damn day. What I really want to do is write a science entry.4 Consider that on the agenda sometime in the near future.

Just to be clear, ahem, the Shaolin Temple-style beating was a joke – I’ve entertained my belief ‘I am Uma Thurman’ years before I joined the team!  Thanks for reading!


1. As I typed that, I realized that I work on Thursday nights for the past seven months or so and really have only been attending the hard training on Tuesday. Assuming equal distribution, we might actually have had six people throw up.

2. I suspect that I’ve got the order of these series of takedowns wrong. In my defense, I was in the “Over 160 lb” section.

3. Technically yesterday now.

4. I’m writing that on the whiteboard I keep by my bed right now. OH! Or maybe a travel entry. I really haven’t written one of those yet. Maintaining a blog about my interests turned out to be more difficult than I initially imagined.


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