A Trifle

Regardless of who is instructing, we go through similar warm-ups at my gym. I’ve documented these before. After stretching, we normally do some variation of takedown drills. I work grips on both sides and try to become as effective left- or right-handed. Obviously, I prefer some throws to others, but I really enjoy this part of class.

Normally, I have the same training partner and we work technique and have a tendency to grow and plateau together. Joe has become a very good friend of mine, but we haven’t been able to connect on the mats as often. Our schedules just aren’t lining up. As a result, I’m drilling with myriad other partners.

On Saturday, I found a detail that I overlooked. It came about because I ran takedowns with someone else. Frank, a very strong wrestler type – one of the guys at the gym I call “a meat eater” – was throwing me and, as soon as I landed, he’d have his knee in my rib, with enough pressure that I couldn’t squirm away before he went for the straight arm-lock. Obviously, this is only going to work for certain judo-based throws, but if it wasn’t done to me, I don’t think I would have caught it.

I’ve since employed it and can attest to its effectiveness.

This is one of the nice things about jiu-jitsu. You can learn by watching, by listening, by asking questions, by doing. But there are also things that you learn because of how they’re done TO you. Those details are elusive until you’ve felt the americana when your knuckles are dragged properly across the mat; when your head is out too far in that double-leg and you get caught in a guillotine choke.

Life is the same way. It’s hard when life’s little details are giving you what for, but you come out so much stronger for it. You learn how to be resilient because you’ve been forced into resiliency.

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