Spitting Up Teeth: Rec Center Rolling

This begins in a place most fighters first learn their craft. Before this sandy town by the beach had foam lined gyms around most neighborhood blocks. If it was not your dad teaching you to use that good right hand, a person usually learns to fight in strip mall dojos or recreation centers found by word of mouth.

Here in San Ysidro, in a room behind air hockey tables, we breathe in accumulated sweat and all the used air we can before a choke sinks in. I’m surrounded not by testosterone driven monsters looking to collect heads and taps. All that’s here is a band of nerds who talk Superior Spider-man in-between tight leg locks. It’s here I spend three hours of my life getting bent into funny balloon animal shapes by these technical wizards, and their teacher who went beyond 10th planet.

Kimura, Armbar, Triangle, Guillotine, Omo Plata and crucifix … none of these moves I used; but they were used on me plenty, anytime my seasoned partners choose to.

What was strange about these lopsided struggles wasn’t the weird angles my arm had been contorted. What’s weird was feeling awe as a submission took hold, then asking to be put back into those moves willingly. It was all to learn — really learn — and although a roll would end fast after just shaking hands, I never had so much fun while losing that bad. Here’s a reenactment.

“Breath … Lock up, grapple-quick transition-He’s got my back. breathe I got his wrist-No he’s got a hook–Choke. Tap! Tap! Tap!”

I’m learning and loving this art I can’t express in a rear naked choke.

Jiu Jitsu is magical, for in the moment a forearm feels the carotid artery. That pulse becomes all life and in an instant one becomes aware of how fragile it is.

What I hold is precious; it’s delicate and if one is noble enough. This is what you learn and must protect. This pulse is what we all have and Jiu Jitsu made people believe that. This is art. This is why there aren’t much egos in gentle art gyms.

Jiu Jitsu is beyond protecting you, it’s protecting you and your attacker and this art builds on sweat, and patience makes men sincere in that intention. That’s why we laugh after this nights practice, because we know we have this to learn and enrich.

Grappling is why we trust and are unafraid of life, for we took the struggle head on in a roll; gi or no gi. That’s why Jiu jitsu men don’t bother hunting heads. Instead, they grow minds after they’ve felt that humbling pulse.

I don’t care that the next day my everything hurt and my limbs felt 10 pounds heavier. Jiu Jitsu, hell the entire martial of arts and even college, too. Whatever is thrown at me, JJ shows a person to adapt to nearly every bit of pressure life tries catching you in. So breathe and roll with it. There’s no profound lesson in life here. Think simple a lot of times, get creative, get beat up and take a loss. It’ll take a whole lot of hurt some of the time; it is after a grappling grind. But If you learned it isn’t a waste of time.

So don’t think Jiu Jitsu, think of the word “life” in place. Then jump into your struggle, if you give it a good try. You’ll be grinning at the end of it. Even if you’re out of breath, words or any given strength.

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Spitting Up Teeth: Rec Center Rolling