Karate Chop Writer’s Block

When I don’t have anything to say, I peruse the internet until I figure out something worth saying, worth writing, worth being read. Though sometimes, just sometimes, I find the bottom of the internet before finding something to say. While I am unsure as to whether this video is worth five minutes of your time, I, for one, could neither turn it off or look away.

Now, having watched that video, I kinda want to be the very model of a modern major-general.  And I don’t even know what that means!

The San Antonio Abu Dhabi Pro-Trials is set to begin next Saturday, November 26th. A sponsor was nice enough to take care of the registration fee for me yesterday. So I am definitely going. No turning back now – despite my desperate longing for turkey and ham and stuffing and mashed potatoes and the like. A man, for pity’s sake, cannot live on pizza from across the street alone.1

Piecing together what happened with the facts, I am almost certain this is what happened to my ankle.

You know, minus the whole me-being-Cro-Cop thing…and my teammate (a) kicking me straight in the face and (b) being Gonzaga thing. It was a bad fall from a single-leg, and a total accident. To borrow a phrase used about jiu-jitsu by a man wiser than I, “It’s not a cooking class.”2

Unfortunately, I must cut this entry short. Sorry my audience, and thanks for reading!  Until next Wednesday!3

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1. Though I am thoroughly testing the limits of that statement.

2. Surprisingly – or not – things can go wrong in kitchens too:

3.  I’m holding myself to the deadline this week, I swear!

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My First Injury

My ankle got mucked up a bit on Tuesday while fighting for a takedown. It got me thinking about my first injury on the mats.

What do I remember?

I remember the old academy in Elsa, TX. For those of you who do not know (most of you, I presume), Elsa is one of the poorest cities in the United States. In fact, I would venture to say that most of my readers have never seen the face of poverty as it can be seen in Elsa.

The school was a white-walled number, small, reminiscent of an old thrift store which had, for one reason or another, gone out of business. Two-thirds of the available mat space we had was covered with tattered, black puzzle mat pieces which had long ago stopped fitting together. The final third was matted properly and, if class was small enough, everyone would try to stay on that side.

My cousin and I had gotten into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu together. He had wrestled in high school and had a certain aptitude for the training. I did not, and could just never beat the guy. All the same, we were competitive as shit.

This was August 2006 – if I remember correctly – and we had both been training for about six months. So we started one of our matches which, naturally, would be fought until the death. What else are two competitive family members to do? And as was nearly always the case, he got top. Then he passed my guard, transitioned into north-south, and secured an americana. Damn it. Back in those days, it was as easy as breathing for him.

But I refused to surrender.

Why? Because I’m a flexible guy. My flexibility is going to save me, as it has so many times before. “Actually, my arm comfortably bends like that.” He’s beginning to apply the submission. “Nope, that submission does. not. even. bother. me.” Twist, twist, crank. “In fact, is it even possible to finish an americana from north-south? Can I get a ruling? I bet it’s not. He’s trying to do something that does not even work.”

Then came a long, sustained wrenching. Wrist pinned helplessly to the mat, the ligaments and tendons in my arm could resist no longer. My elbow gave one last push-against, before relenting and being thrown passed any sensible angle. I heard and felt two very distinct pops, like the snapping of celery. In my arm.

But it did not really hurt at the time, to be honest. The three of us figured, maybe, nothing had happened. Maybe my arm really is made of rubber. Maybe I really am Mr. Fantastic.

Maybe the popping was the sound of my arm breaking the fucking laws of physics.

Well, I woke up in the morning and the whole ‘not injured’ delusion was quickly dispelled. My arm could not extend beyond 60 degrees, and my fingers weren’t working. They just would not. Oh, I’d tell them to extend or move. But nothing would happen. Incidentally, that day was the first day of the fall semester. I still remember having to take notes with my left-hand in my Contemporary Philosophy class. It was awful.

But I was 20 years-old at the time, so the injury healed quickly. In particular, my fingers were usable in a few days and back at 90% in less than two weeks. My arm regained most of its flexibility back in six weeks, and I was back on the mats a microsecond after that.  Why?  Well, the first step was to heal.  The second step?  Avenge the loss!

Reflections On Wednesday Morning

The Fight To Win Tournament scheduled for 9/24 was mysteriously canceled a few days before it was to be held. I was a little bummed at first, as I wanted to go Super Saiyan on everyone.1 But the good news was that our second Open Door Seminar, hosted by my instructor and our team to promote fraternity in the Austin BJJ community, was held on that particular Saturday instead.

And what a seminar it was. Though the location only permitted space for approximately fifty, an amazing ninety-five people signed up. We received at least one representative from six different academies – and I’m not sure if that includes the fellow from Colorado who was in town for the tournament and, instead of going home after it was canceled, stayed for our seminar.

I’m going to submit official requests, in triplicate, for permission to cover one of the techniques here on the blog (like last time). For now, suffice it to say that it was an excellent seminar, and I have no doubt that all the attendees learned something valuable.

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Tuesdays are one of the days when we forgo technical training in lieu of sparring. We do six-minute rounds, with a one minute break in-between, for an hour. In case you do not realize, my audience, a one minute break between rounds is just enough time to tie your belt with fingers stupefied by adrenaline, just enough time to realize that you are irrevocably tired, your lungs aren’t working, that your next match is going to be harder than the previous one, that that brown belt is not just trying to beat me but is trying to make my mother cry.

Before the rigor, before the exertions, before the training session (and after) it all makes sense though. We train hard so that it will be easier on the street, and on the competition floors. We train hard because it makes us better. I’m just writing to say that remembering these crucial facts can be, sometimes, difficult – as I wake up groaning in the morning over a squeaky bed, using all the colorful language I’ve learned over the course of twenty-something years, petrified with soreness, and grasping for the water and motrin I keep by my bed, like “Someone. Help. Me. Please. !”

Good training yesterday, friends. Thank you.

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1. It would be really embarrassing if I lost after saying this.  I’m obviously joking.  It’s a joke.

Some Ado About Nothing

A few nights ago, three friends and I were sitting at a Whataburger, when some dude and two of his friends walked in. It was past midnight, around one maybe. I am sure, my audience, that you can imagine the loud and drunken state of these three. “I waaant a Whataburger with cheese,” said the tall, especially-dumb-looking one.

The four of us, lightly chatting and having a conversation about The Rubik’s Cube, change our mind and decide to eat the food here at the restaurant, instead of taking it to go. “Yo, lend me the keys to the car. I want to get my juice,” says the friend sitting immediately beside me. Keys in hand now, he walks to the car and passes the three people who are still busy pottering away, loudly, in their own imbecilities.

And again he passed them on his way back to sit down with us, this time with a gallon of juice in his hand. Not two seconds had passed since we were again all seated when I saw an especially-dumb-looking hand pointing at us, and heard, in an especially-dumb-sounding chirp, “Hey, he’s bringing outside food!” Then he started yelling it. “He has outside food!” And again he chirped. And again, in quickfire succession.

My face was flushed red with embarrassment and Imonlyhuman anger and, more than that, incredulity – what the hell is going on and is this really happening? Is this guy trying to drop the dime on us and get us kicked out of the restaurant over juice? The manager took the time to inform the talking bobblehead that it was okay, that we were neither breaking the rules, or disturbing anybody (very much unlike The Complainer himself). Yet still, he drilled the point a few more times before finally letting it go.

Visions, glorious visions swam before me: a somersault, six feet of air, landing on top of him, Kimura already locked into place. But cooler heads prevailed. Beating someone up in your imagination does not actually count. I probably would not have done it anyway. No, I’m probably not a fighter. I’m probably a lover(ish).

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Anyway, the incident sparked a light conversation at the table about that fight at Whataburger which went viral. A few days later, I found myself doing a little research about this incident and decided, since then, that it’ll be the subject of my next blog entry. In particular, I think what happened speaks directly to the efficacy of jiu-jitsu in self-defense situations.