On Becoming A Better Athlete II

In Which The Jiu-Jitsu Wanderer Gets Slayed By An Atomic Athlete Coach, Then, Subsequently, Finds Himself Unable To Move A Single Part Of His Body Without Groaning.

On Monday, Memorial Day, I decided I would get my workout at Atomic Athlete. While other people are enjoying their time off, The Jiu-Jitsu Wanderer is training!

Stephanie ran class that day. Before I detail the workout, and in the interest of full-disclosure, I should mention that one of the more prevalent stories circulating about her is that she is worshiped as a pagan goddess of exercise, and that her devotees easily number in the dozens. Rumor has it, furthermore, that said devotees have plans to erect a life-sized bronze statue of her – including the customary pagan adornments, like certain evident alignments with auspicious events on both the lunar and solar calendar. “Our Midnight Lady of Jackedness and Injurious Tribulation,” is what I suggested the jeweled placard should read. We’ll see.

To warm up, OMLOJAIT commanded that we start with ten push-ups, ten sit-ups, ten goblet squats, then a set of nine, nine, nine, then a set of eight, eight, eight, and continue to pyramid down to zero, accordingly.1 I actually managed to do all my push-ups, for the first time ever. New personal best: 55 push-ups. My arms were dead, but it didn’t matter!

I was really quite proud of myself, until I saw what she had in store for us next. Eight sets of three Front Squats. The first three sets were to warm-up your legs. Then the next five sets of three were supposed to be done with our three-rep max. “This is a very lofty goal. Do not be too disappointed if you guys are unable to do this.”

[I really wanted a photo of someone who had a grimace on, but was unable to successfully locate one.]

I knew if she, Our Midnight Lady of Jackedness and Injurious Tribulation, was preparing us for our presumed, eventual failure, then this workout was going to be awful. And while I did manage to increase my three-rep max in front squat ten pounds, doing so was fucking trench warfare. Two days later, and my legs still collapse under me when I bend my knees. This, unfortunately, is no exaggeration.

With a careful coat of vernix caseosa and a nice lathering of amniotic fluid, the similarities between the gait of that wildebeest and mine would stun you, my audience.2

OMLOJAIT informed us, before my partner and I had finished, that we were moving on to the next series of exercises. Rope climbing, pull-ups, and some bizarre stretch. I can’t climb a goddamn rope to save my life. Seriously. It’s embarrassing. “Justin,” began She Who Doles Out Torture, “Look at how I grip the rope with my legs.” Lithe as a ballerina, she immediately climbs 15 feet up the rope in three or four magnificent pulls, elucidating detail after technical detail of foot positioning – not an ounce of strain in her voice, either. What. The. Hell.

Two can play at this game! I jumped on the rope, and tried to pinch the rope the way she did. It’s not working. My arms were slowly getting tired from holding my body weight up; they were straightening out. So I started flailing my legs around the rope, spasmodically, hoping that something would catch and secure me to the rope long enough for me to pull, teeth gritted and muttering the whole time “Must. Pinch. Rope.” I’m pulling. I’m pulling with my arms, flailing with my legs, nothing is happening; and I’m only getting more fatigued. Now I’m dangling, legs still trying. How the hell did she do it? ROTC class in college taught me. Why can’t I do it now?! Ten more seconds of the most embarrassing floundering I’ve done in recent memory later, then I surrendered.

“Next time while on the rope, I just want you to work on supporting your body weight with your legs, okay?” There is just no nice way of putting the phrase ‘total failure’ into words, but, to her credit, she did it like a professional. I mean, had the rope been soaked in kerosene then set on fire while I was climbing it, I would have walked away a burned failure.

Utterly exhausted now, I was entertaining the misapprehension that we were finished – having finished five sets of one rope climb (utterly failed), five pull-ups (mostly failed), and 25 reps of bizarre stretch (success!).3 Oh no, She Who Is Unnameable had one more piece of torture for us. And I can’t remember what it’s called. The exercise might as well be called “The Most God-Awful Exercise Ever” – except that my proposed nomenclature would soon become unwieldy, because the name I proposed is appropriate for 90% of the exercises at Atomic Athlete. And while my Spartan friends at the gym are certainly polite enough to listen to what I have to say, I suspect they care first-and-foremost whether an exercise works and not whether it has a pretty, catchy, or honest name.4

We did these for ten minutes. And now my entire body is broken. One hour of exercise brought me to the brink of destruction.  Everything hurts – but my damn legs, especially. I’ve been walking around the past two days groaning “What am I gonna do about my legs, Eddie Murphy?” any time I’ve had to bend my knees.5

This is my story of how I was slayed at Atomic Athlete. The investments I make into exercise off the mats are guaranteed to pay on the mats. Thanks for reading.

——————–

1. Squats where you hold a kettlebell exactly as you would a stupidly-heavy cup against your chest.

2. Disturbing, I know.

3. I will stretch your face off.

4. To frame it in the other direction, I would say I a certain linguistic perspicacity.

5. Soundbite here.  Full clip here.

Micellaneous and Rodolfo Vieira

Someone stumbled on my site by googling the term “bjj purple belt like black belt.” In no uncertain terms, let me say first and foremost that the given statement is NOT true. But, being a curious person, I decided to google the same thing, and see how long it took me to find an entry penned by my hand.

I’m the tenth hit on google! And I have no idea why. The Jiu-Jitsu Wanderer – Struggles For The Top In All Things.1

Anyway, I bring this little incident up to say that I stumbled upon a really nice article entitled “Progression in BJJ” by Roy Harris, a fourth-degree black belt under Professor Joe Moreira. It is really nice to read what a black belt has to say about what it is to be a white belt, a blue belt, a purple belt, and so on, instead of what a white belt thinks about blue belts, blue belts about purples, or purple belts about…well, The Dunning-Kruger Effect, Telomeres and Randy Couture, Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, Jack Kerouac, or the rest of the absolute goddamn nonsense I put on this page.2

Here’s an excerpt which resonated with me, partially because I gave this exact argument to someone over dinner yesterday and partially because I really believe it to be true:

“When you can easily escape the tightest pin (from just about anyone), you will find yourself on top more often. When you find yourself on top, you have more chances for submission. However, you should not jump right into submission just yet because you have not developed the skill to hold someone down with finesse and ease. I have seen too many blue belts begin their journey into submission too soon and often become frustrated because they just can’t finish their opponent. They get so close, but they often fail at finishing their opponent. This usually leads the blue belt to seeking out more and more submission techniques. He thinks that the ‘new’ and ‘sneaky’ techniques will make him more skilled at submissions. However, what he doesn’t realize is that his inability to finish his opponent is directly related to his inability to positionally dominate him. The blue belt feels good when he has escaped a hold down and has landed on top. However, he also feels like he has ONE SHOT at sinking the submission. He knows that if he fails, he will end up on his back and have to fight for top position again. So, he usually stalls, waiting for his opponent to make a mistake so he can hopefully capitalize on it.”

It’s worth a read, if you, my audience, have the time.

Incidentally, did you guys know that Rodolfo Vieira beat André Galvão at the Abu Dhabi last month? I am incredibly curious as to how he is going to do at the Mundials this year.

Did you see the guard pass at 6:00? What about the guard pass at 6:40?! How the hell did he do that? They don’t even look like techniques! It looks like he spots an opening and, with the sumptuous timing of a break-dancing squirrel, just circles around a dazed and confused opponent. While he was not able to effectively pin Galvão, I’ll be damned if that wasn’t among the slickest passing I’ve ever seen. Five minutes just doesn’t seem like enough for these guys. I want to see more, more, more.

And how the hell is he going to do against Roger? That’s what is really on my mind.

I found an interview where he discusses it briefly with Gracie Mag.3 There’s gotta be a subway running in the distance while he’s being interviewed though, because I can hardly make out a damn word he’s saying. I’ll just translate this little bit, which came from the article itself:

“Ainda sobre o jiu-Jitsu, ele não hesita em admitir que vai fazer alterações na sua rotina de treinamento para enfrentar seu maior desafio – manter o título do aberto do Mundial em uma provável final contra o tricampeão Roger Gracie.”4

“Still on the topic of Jiu-Jitsu, he did not hesitate to admit that he’s making changes to his training routine for his greatest match-up yet – to keep the Open Weight Mundial title in the probable final match against three-time champion Roger Gracie.”

Anybody who caught what he said AND is fluent in Portuguese, email me please.  Thanks.  And thanks for reading. See you guys next week.

——————

1. Unless he doesn’t. But when he doesn’t, he anticipates a verbal asswhopping from his jiu-jitsu partners, who yell at him like older brothers against the youngest one.

2. I am dying to write a sequel to my “I Love You Ronda Rousey” entry. Dying.

3. Why can’t I find this damn interview in English?!

Rolling With Tim Kennedy

Summary: In Which The Jiu-Jitsu Wanderer (An Atheist) Finds Himself In A Foxhole, Does Not Pray But Instead Cries For His Mommy.

Fundamentals class on Tuesdays are our toughest classes. Tuesdays are the day when we play sharp, and fight for inches. And with Tim Kennedy bringing his crew of super athletes, not to mention the three people on our team going to Mundials this year, the second night of the jiu-jitsu workweek has really become an exhausting one.1

Who is Tim Kennedy, you ask me my audience?

Tim Kennedy is one of he top 185-pound mixed martial artists in the world. According to tapology.com, Tim is ranked 18th.2 Fight Magazine ranks him 19th.3 But please, allow me to briefly opine on this matter – at the risk of speaking ‘out of school,’ as it were. I follow MMA closely. And while I haven’t heard of every single person ahead of him on these unoffical rankings, I think quite a few of them could be decidedly beaten by Mr. Kennedy.4 I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he was more realistically ranked in the top 10 in the world at 185 pounds. I mean that sincerely.

So as I mentioned, for the past three or four Tuesdays, Tim and his crew have stopped by our academy for no-gi training. Our instructor divides the mats in half, and then one half gets quartered. One quarter goes to the clutch of students training for the Mundials. Their training partners (several people of approximately the same weight) run full rounds on our aspiring champions, who are not allowed to receive more than a minute’s rest. The other quarter goes to Tim and his crew, along with some select students from our academy. We work on whatever they like, mostly positional sparring and the like. Then the other half of the academy is left to the other students of our academy who wish to have a hard training session, but are not of the appropriate skill level (or weight class) to train with either of the two quarter sections.

Yesterday, I ended up keeping my gi on and working with the general student population. Last Tuesday, I was sick.5 But two Tuesdays ago, I got thrown in with the no-gi group. It was only a matter of time before I found in the group running rounds of positional sparring on Tim Kennedy himself.

Three minute positional sparring with Tim Kennedy. From his back, he allows me to take a grip across his body and sink in my hooks. And…scene!

First of all, he is gigantic. I’m a lithe, somewhat wimpy 193 pounds; and I swear this man’s dimensions are twice mine. “How the hell can he possibly fight at 185 pounds? For the last tournament, I was coming off vacation at a fat 198 pounds, dehydrated down to 185 pounds, and thought several times I was going to die,” I wondered in that split second after I had situated myself, but before we began actually grappling.

The instant we start, Mr. Kennedy has already created an angle with his back which has left me unable to really lock in a rear-naked choke. I can tell he is taking it easy on me. Using a quick straight kick, he pops my hook off his hip, and turns around on me. Mr. Kennedy is now on top, in a full guard, half-butterfly. He must have escaped in thirty seconds or less, and was not even in a smidgen of danger the entire time.

Before we reset and start again, he asks me to scramble with him for a few seconds after the escape, or until a definite position settles. Alright, no problem. Scrambling seems to be an intuitive thing, an organic thing; and as a consequence, I’m okay at doing it.6 I put the seatbelt on him, hooks in again. I’m struggling with my maximum amount of skill, trying to maintain the back position. Somewhere along the lines, I have crossed my feet. He crosses his feet over mine, aaaand I get submitted. While I have him in back mount. BACKMOUNT.

[IMG]

‘This man’ being me, of course. Not Mr. Kennedy.

He escaped at least six times in the three minutes I had him. Dejected and full of self-loathing, my time had expired. I tried my best.  Sensing, I think, that I had taken our rolls as a failure on my part, he was really encouraging afterward.  I have to say: he’s a really nice guy.  Not really what you would expect from someone who used to make their living killing people and could very well kill you with their bare hands.  Know what I mean?  If I get another chance to roll with him, as I’m sure I will some Tuesday from now, the pleasure will be all mine.  This was, more or less, the entirety of my experience rolling with Tim Kennedy.

Thanks for reading, my audience.

——————

1. For those of you who would say to me “Anyone is a super athlete compared to you, Wanderer,” I, first, acknowledge you are correct…and I raise my defiant middle finger toward the heavens above.

4. Chris Leben, Brian Stann, and Wanderlei Silva (who used to be amazing, but is old now – let’s be honest) are examples of people who could be beaten by Tim. This is just my opinion. I mean them no disrespect. Fuck, I’m a writer. What do I know about valor in battle? They put it on the line in such a way I can scarcely imagine.

5. I had been eating moldy rice for about three days before I noticed my brown rice was a little soft, a little furry, and tinged every so slightly with green. In those three days, I found myself getting progressively more sick. Just got over it Monday. The Jiu-Jitsu Wanderer Eats Mold.

6. I used to be a purely organic player. I had no idea why I did one move, or another. Some moves just “feel” appropriate at time time I execute them. Others do not. It’s hard to explain. And in any case, these past 18 months have been spent changing my approach to jiu-jitsu. I am now 2/3rds organic, 1/3rd algorithmic.

7.  And here is the YouTube video to “Boo this man!” in case anyone wants to see it.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76p_ncbffCE

Sam Harris, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Sam Harris is an ‘outspoken’ critic of religion, author, neuroscientist, and hero of mine. Perhaps what I like most about him is that I have neither read anyone nor heard anyone else speak who was so decidedly gifted at being able to express their own thoughts with absolute clarity. You read what he writes (or listen to what he is saying) and the logic, the reasoning is absolutely straight-forward. And to the extent that I can, I model my writing on this blog after his.1

Let’s suppose for argument’s sake that you’re dealing with someone who defines god as “The intangible creator of the universe in whose presence a human being can live, and according to whose dictates or will a human being can live in this world.” That’s a pretty good one, right?

Boom.

Or maybe you know someone who is against stem-cell research…:

That was a karate chop.

Or Sam Harris bringing it like Danny Trejo in Machete…:

So this intellectual hero of mine wrote an article about the principles of self defense.2 After posting said article, he was apparently inundated with emails. Let me briefly say that one of the reasons I have a deep admiration for Mr. Harris is because he is abjectly intellectually honest. If he is wrong on a given topic, he is the absolute first to admit it.3 Among the presumed litany of criticisms he received, he claims to have been unable to find anything of substance enough to merit amending his original article. A valid criticism he does mention, however, is that he does not know enough about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

About three months later, he posts a blog entry about his thoughts on training in Our Beloved Art.4 Among his more eloquent are…:

“…BJJ offers a powerful lens through which to examine some primary human concerns – truth v. delusion, self knowledge, ethics, and overcoming fear.”

“I can now attest that the experience of grappling with an expert is akin to falling into deep water without knowing how to swim. You will make a furious effort to stay afloat – and you will fail. Once you learn how to swim, however, it becomes difficult to see where the problem is – why can’t a drowning man just relax and tread water? The same inscrutable difference between lethal ignorance and livesaving knowledge can be found on the mat: To train in BJJ is to continually drown – or, rather, to be drowned, in sudden and ingenious ways – and to be taught, again and again, how to swim.”

Who the hell has written a more eloquent paragraph on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from the perspective of an outsider?

“To study BJJ for self-defense, therefore, is to prepare for the worst-case scenario – but the worst case remains a high probability in any sudden encounter with violence. If you are ever attacked by a bigger, stronger person, there is a very good chance you will find yourself on the ground, wrestling in some form. The difference between knowing what to do in this situation and merely relying on your primate intuitions is as impressive a gap between knowledge and ignorance as I have ever come across.”

—————-

I think I can stop here. This entry seems like a much more sensible introduction to Sam Harris + Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

I should mention, briefly, that I did make it to Atomic this morning. Out of sheer mercy, the instructor today did not utterly crush my soul. He just completely exhausted my arms.5 I wrote this entry without using a single muscle in the arm responsible for locomotion – I swear. When I sat down to write today, I decided I would wait to write about my workout until the next time they emphatically slayed me, until the next time they dragged me under the bottom and threw me over the top and turned me inside out and made me want to cry and made me want to die.

Instead, my audience, you received the definitive introduction to Sam Harris. I hope you enjoyed it. Have a good Thursday.

——————

1. The problem is that I have allegiances to other writers, the most culpable of whom are the Beats perhaps, which pull my narrative voice this way and that. I also heavily dip into whimsical matters.

3. It’s something I try to model in my own life. Results are mixed.

Sam Harris recently wrote an article in defense of profiling during airport screenings, located here. Then, given the uproar it caused, he allowed a prominent critic of profiling to post an article on his website, located here.

4. The Pleasures of Drowning by Sam Harris.

5. It took 30 push-ups, 14ish pull-ups, and 30 goblet squats with a preposterously large kettlebell.

On Becoming A Better Athlete

I had planned on posting about my workout at “Atomic Athlete.” Though I hate exercise, I know that it is going to very directly improve my performance on the mats, competition or otherwise. I’m also a bit of an anti-hero in this regard, as I have the athleticism of a slightly bruised, anemic kumquat.1

Their workouts take me from my sweet child-like innocence, believing everything under my father’s roof, and consistently deliver me unto wretchedness, miserableness, poverty, blindness, and nakedness, and with the visage of a gruesome grieving ghost I go shuddering through nightmare life until the soreness is gone.2 Last Friday I learned, for example, that I only need to do 200 box step-ups and run a mile before my irises leave a yellow imprint in my vision, before I nearly keel over from heat stroke.3 That was an interesting lesson.

But I did not make it today. And my half-pint of Black Label before bed had nothing to do with it.4 I’m scheduled to attend class tomorrow. If I do make it this time, I promise to give a general description of the workout, the ways in which it will almost certainly help my jiu-jitsu; and, most amusingly, I will write about my mental states while working out.

If I should not make it, however, I’ll post something about Sam Harris. As it happens, a fair amount of traffic directed to this site is a result of Google searches related somehow to Sam Harris’s experiences with Our Gentle Art. Barring his own site, I managed to somehow corner the Google search market for “Sam Harris [BJJ-related term].” So that’s sorta been on the agenda for a while.

Happy Wednesday. I’ll post something tomorrow.

————–

1. What the hell do you call a hero who is neither a hero nor has any of the qualities traditionally associated with a hero? An anti-anti-hero? No, no, I got it! The Jiu-Jitsu Wanderer.

2. For those who recognized it, that was a wholesale lift from Kerouac. The original quote is found in On The Road, “Isn’t it true that you start your life a sweet child believing in everything under your father’s roof? Then comes the day of the Laodiceans, when you know you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, and with the visage of gruesome grieving ghost you go shuddering through nightmare life.”

3. I didn’t keel over. In fact, I kept going. But at some point, with my vision in sepia, I made the decision that I would rather fall over and die than stop before anyone else did.

4. You’re not an alcoholic if you’re a writer.

Texas State Championship 2012 Results

Synopsis:  In Which The Jiu-Jitsu Wanderer Utterly Fails And Has Some Reflections, Not All Of Which Revolve Around A Scorsese Flick.

I lost the first round this past tournament. Let me just say that right here up front.  Refusing to make any excuses for myself, I have to confess to you, my audience, this past tournament I was beaten on points, and then submitted my very first match. Writing even this much about it is enough to make my stomach turn. Even the footage of my match is enough to make Angry Birds and Angry Words percolate in my guts, begging me to loose them on somebody.1

I’ve actually sat down to write this blog entry several times over this past week – forget about updating the Wednesday after the tournament – but every single time I would start to write about what I thought and felt after my loss, I would flip out, turn into a raging bull, and then go looking for someone to whom I could be justified in giving the ol’ Jake La Motta treatment. Well that’s not quite right, is it? No, I’m an aspiring writer. What I would really do is put my hands on this keyboard in front of me, then try my hardest to lay into this goddamn Short Story (I’ve been trying to write it for a few weeks now) like I had to break down the restroom door to get at it, only to listen to it tell me it slept “with everybody else on the street, too.”

“Jake, you’re my brother…but that’s really not the same thing at all.”

Don’t push it, Pesci. You were implicated in this matter.

Okay, that very strange joke (which came from nowhere, as they always do for me) aside, what happened? As I said before, I absolutely refuse to make excuses for myself. The reason is abject intellectual honesty. The reason I refuse is because excuses play a crucial role in why some people never get better. And I never want to be one of those guys, some years down the line, who stops improving – even some miniscule fraction of a percent – each day. The reason I refuse is because whatever I might volunteer, valid or not, is irrespective of the fact that, on some level, I should have had a better understanding of precisely what it was that I had gotten myself into.2

“Hopefully my record, since I began competing in the purple belt divisions, will remain unblemished…” now reads stupidly flat, and flatly stupid. Arg. My opponent almost swept me immediately. Then I stood up with a single, took him down, and passed. From side-mount, I tried to mount. He reversed, while I went for an armbar.

He escaped the armbar and immediately passed. Now on bottom in side-mount, I suddenly found myself exhausted. What the hell? He moves to mount and I can hardly muster enough energy to struggle at all.

The Jiu-Jitsu Wanderer is lame. Seriously. He’s in mount, grabs my left wrist, and my will to fight utterly wilts. I’m under water now, yet distinctly hear one teammate yell “Come on Justin, you have to get out of that.”3 It infuriated me. “You escape then, if it’s so easy!” I wanted to yell back, but I could hardly breathe with him on top. If I could have stopped the match for five seconds, had a gun (I don’t), and knew how to use one (I don’t), I would have tried to shoot him.4

No no, I’m getting sidetracked.  Like I said, right around 4:41, he grabbed my left wrist (you can’t see it because of the angle from which the video is shot), and my will to fight any longer completely wilted. I had nothing left. It was pathetic. My instructor is practically within arm’s reach, giving me encouragement and directions. And what was I able to muster? Not even the slightest iota of an escape. After crushing me for what felt like an eternity from beneath, he got a little overzealous and went for an armbar. I escaped but, after a few mini-battles in transition, caught me in a triangle and finished with a reverse armbar. It’s difficult to make out because the ref, Chris Westfall I should mention incidentally, is standing in front of the camera’s view. 5-11, then subbed. The end.

Here’s the match.5

I wanted to lay down and die right there on the mats. But I didn’t. I got up, Westfall raised the other guy’s hand, and I walked away. Then I sat down and felt the stupendous misery of loss envelope me. That guy was going to go on in the tournament; and I was done. I didn’t even have the cardiovascular endurance for one single match. What the hell is wrong with me? And what the hell was I thinking registering for the absolute as well?

I could go on and on about the “ubiquitous shit-feeling of loss.” But I won’t, partially because I would hate to bore an audience who so unfailing indulges in my various writing whims. However, it is also because I discovered something worse! Then I ended up having conversations with people who knew I had competed, and were expecting typical results…..:

An acquaintance of mine, purple belt: Hey, you were competing today?

JJW: Yes.

AMPB: I guess you just destroyed everybody as usual?

JJW: No, I lost.

AMPB: No…[palpable silence as he swallows gallon after gallon of incredulity]… Really?

JJW: Yeah.

……….

God, or the conversations I had with my coworkers were among the worst:

Bouncer A: So I’m guessing you just won this past tournament no problem?

JJW: No, I lost. First round, actually.

BA: Did you lose on points or something?

JJW: No, I was winning at first. Then he began to dominate positionally, and then submitted me.

BA: Really?

JJW: Yeah.

BA: Well…[same stupid silence]…that’s okay, brother. We were all starting to think you weren’t human, anyway.

………

Bouncer B: Hey man, how did you do at the tournament?

JJW: I lost.

BB: No…[the goddamn silence]…you’re shitting me, right?

JJW: I’m not, no. I lost.

BB: No…[again]…you didn’t!

[We literally go back and forth on this three more times.]

JJW: I SAID I LOST! I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP! THE GUY WAS BETTER THAN ME!

BB: Well shit man, what the hell happened?

……

So I had perhaps ten of these types of conversations, each more heartbreaking than the last. The faces. I’ll never forget the damn look on these peoples’ faces. It was like they had just watched someone stomp on a puppy with a jackboot. And listen, my audience, I had written something much more explicit but decided against loosing those verbal slings and arrows on The Internet, where human decency goes to die. It was bad, suffice it to say.

“It was bad, and I was sad.”

Those conversations made me realize that embarrassing myself is a relatively small price to pay.  Hell, I probably do that all the time.  Don’t get me wrong.  Sitting on the sidelines, sweating, exhausted, knowing that the day was over after one single match was absolutely awful.  Seeing the guy go on to his next match practically killed me. BUT (and I would put this in 72 pt. font, if I could)  what was really, truly, honestly injurious about loss is disappointing your team, the people who expect more from you.  The look on peoples’ faces I will never forget, as long as I live.

In the grand scheme of things, I am a nobody in jiu-jitsu.  But there are people on my team who look up to me, who expect me to go out and prove that our team is worth its salt on the competition floor.  And seeing the strange mix of incredulity, awkwardness, and honest-to-god sadness and “What do you mean Christmas isn’t coming this year?” disappointment in their eyes was something I don’t have the heart to describe here on the page.  But I had to mention it, because it’s honest and also is what is on my mind.

I’m going to come back stronger, though. Well, I’m going to try. Thanks for reading.

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1. To help offset that problem, I set the match, partially at least, to one of the happiest-sounding songs I know.

2. Not ending that sentence in a preposition obfuscates the meaning some. “…better understanding of precisely into what I had gotten myself.” Still feel the pang of a pet peeve though.

3. Or something along those lines.

4. Admittedly, I would have likely failed. I was exhausted at the time, and have an actual fear of guns.

5. Part of the reason this update was delayed is also because my video editing software completely crapped out on me. So I’ve been navigating the vast sea of free video editing software in search of a replacement. This is completely aside from The Raging Bull Factor.