Monday, 1 February 2010

A layman's journey into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Part 2

Obsessive Compulsive

I think men have a natural propensity to get obsessed with their interests.
There are no half measures when it comes to getting quizzed up and equipped for your chosen activity. I can be fairly frugal when I need to be, but when it comes to sports gear I want the best and will fork out whatever it takes. I mean, there was no chance you would have caught me wearing Gola’s back in the nineties before they became ironically cool.

After just a few BJJ lessons I was thoroughly hooked. I needed equipping and bought my own gi straight away. This was essential. I could no longer roll around in a pool of another mans sweat. Also it feels quite ceremonial to have your very own garments of war. Every time I take out my gi I feel like Tom Cruise in the Last Samurai preparing for a final showdown with my life long adversary, possibly never to return to my people. Soon a rash guard, mouth guard and shorts followed, and then anything else I could convince myself I needed.

The real obsession for me though is not buying stuff, but knowing stuff. I would find myself fastidiously researching the history of BJJ and buying books on Amazon that paid homage to the pioneers of my new found art. I have lost hours of my life on Wikipedia and Google that I can never get back, watching fights from yesteryear and eating up copious amounts of random information.
Surprisingly I do lead a normal life and like the everyday man have to work for a living.

I can currently only train 2 or 3 times max a week, but it’s never enough, my white belt is still embarrassingly Daz white. So what I lack in actual mat time and reps I attempt to make up for in developing my Greg Jackson-esq cerebral game plan. This manifests itself in sneaking onto youtube during work hours to watch instructional videos on how to escape side control; which I have been spending a remarkable amount of time trapped in recently.

I also find myself lying in bed at night (in the dark) mapping out mental set-ups for submissions and then unconsciously acting them out against an imaginary opponent, my wife laying next to me thinking I’m having a terrible nightmare about putting the Blair-witch in an arm bar.

To be honest she is the one suffering from my obsession the most.
One night I could not resist turning the ‘hug-part’ of our ritual good night ‘kiss and hug’ into an Ezekiel choke (this is where you use the sleeve of you gi to choke your opponent, in this instance my dressing gown). My wife was extremely irritated at me for allowing my thoughts while hugging her to stray from love and affection to ‘how can I effectively apply this bad boy submission?’ I passionately defended my actions by exclaiming she never tapped. I think I was missing the point. It just becomes so all consuming.

You walk around everyday life with this hidden secret and find yourself on the tube journey to work eyeing up fellow passengers planning how you would take each one of them out if they switched on you.

When you do get the rare opportunity to share your neck cranking pastime with people it is met with either intrigue and suspicion or the office funny guy doing the Karate Kid crane move....’Really?’. It’s more than often the mere mention of that golden three letter acronym ‘UFC’ that unlocks peoples understanding or, on the other hand, their utter disapproval. Consequently you then spend the next ten minutes appeasing people’s curiosity or defending your participation in a martial art that associates itself with such ‘brutality’.

I guess in some senses this has led me to view the doorway of my gym like a portal from the world of the banal and politically correct to a world of excitement, rawness and unpredictability. It’s a world where you are given a licence to be aggressive, to unleash your competitive edge, to test your strength and guile without the fear of ‘hurting someone’s feelings’.

One minute you are swiping your oyster card and avoiding eye contact with all humanity, the next minute you are going toe to toe, eye to eye, with some dude that wants to choke you out. Seriously, Wednesday nights have never been so exhilarating.

By K.G McGlade

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