Chapter 13

21 Oct

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Part 8: Infinite Knowledge, Forever wise

After the World Championships, I took it down a notch. I was competition weary, and my parents weren’t going to shell out a hundred dollars again. I still trained at the same furious rate, but with less competitions. Unfortunately, this meant less promotions, not that I was getting them any more. I sat at orange belt with two stripes for a good long while.

My brother is progressing along as well, about one full belt below me. He and the instructor’s son are great friends; they play both inside and outside of class. I’m glad they get along.

The following is going to sound fake. Having just written it, yes, it sounds fake. But I swear to god almighty that it’s true. Take it for what you will, but by god, all of the following is true.

During the calm period, I decide to show my girlfriend what the hell BJJ actually is. We’ve been dating for a few months, and I’ve talked about it so often she is very curious as to what it is. She’s a smokin hot babe and a full year and a half older than I am. She was quite the catch for me, who was overweight and a BJJ dork. In retrospect, I must have been one hell of a smooth talker.

I’ve shown her the positions (Oh God have I), but she seems slightly concerned about the fact that I’m doing these positions with other men. I bring her to class, and she watches it all, from warm up to the sparring. The instructor walks up to her after class and asks her if she wants to try it. She says it’s ok. He tells her he has a woman’s self defense class he holds privately if she is interested.

This is news to me. I’ve never heard of this before.

She declines again. He tells her the first few classes are free, and that he holds them at his house.


She says she isn’t interested, and pretends her cell phone is ringing to escape the situation.

I may only be 15 at this time, but I felt uncomfortable and angry. It seems inappropriate to say the least. My girlfriend concurs, and tells me she never wants to go back there. I agree. I don’t bring it up that school to her again.

The instructor tries to play it off that he actually does have a woman’s self defense class at his house. I don’t know why he is telling me this, but I just pretend to agree. I want to pimp slap him, but I’m afraid of getting my body parts ripped off.

Coincidentally, I talk to his wife after I leave this school. It turns out he did have private classes at his house; his wife told me that he was also sexing people who attended that class. What a bastard.

One fateful day, the instructor greets me as I walk in, which is unusual. Usually I have to wait 15 minutes for him to arrive and unlock the door. He informs me that not only is the instructor’s master coming to town, but he thinks I should do the seminar. It’s four hours for one hundred dollars, and that he always brings new advanced techniques. This was the answer to my prayers. I had sat in the stagnation of the beginner class learning nothing for far too long; finally, I could improve my BJJ game. He was a black belt to boot, so I couldn’t even comprehend the types of trickery he had access to.

My parents reluctantly shelled out the cash, and I got to the school early. I wait for the instructor, when I see a creepy dirty homeless guy approaching me. I get ready to throw some BJJ on him to teach him a lesson, when he speaks to me.

“Is this [Instructor’s Real name]’s school?”


“Oh, ok.”

We both stand there in silence. He smells like body odor and dirt.

“I’m the guy teaching.”

I’m stunned.

There is no cover up, there is nothing holy. The man was wearing torn up blue jeans with visible patches of dirt, and a yellow shirt which was once white. I am not making this up, or being mean out of spite. The man was visibly dirty, and odorly horrible. I did not envision the black belt that our instructor worshipped to be such a fellow.

Finally the instructor arrives, and for the next 30 minutes, people trickle in. The bum changes into a gi the instructor gave him (he didn’t have his own?), and class begins.

He goes over the right way to pass the guard standing, some minor things on hip placement, and combos. He shows us the standard guillotine escape, and one where you fall back and flip the guy over. We practice the hip throw, and a bunch of other techniques I can’t recall. They were genuine techniques, just not as tricky as I expected. Or new as I expected. Or as unseen as I expected. Actually, I was feeling pretty damn jipped. All of these moves were ones I had seen at least once before, and the man spoke in a nigh indecipherable manner making things corrections impossible. A sample conversation would go as follows:

“asl;dkfjasdlkjf heady next to army laskdjflsdkjflkj leggy.”

“Do what?”

“saldkfjlsdkjf heady next to army sdlkjfsdlkjf leggy!”

“Like this?”


“Show me?”

He looks at you quizzically.

You do a kind of motion of him doing the technique, he sighs, and performs it.

Imagine four hours of this madness. Lunch was not provided, something I didn’t know, so I starved that entire saturday. Feeling like crap and tired, I was ready for the seminar to end. Oh, but there is one last treat at the end of the seminar. I quickly realize why people actually come to these god forsaken things; promotion time.

Many people get belts, and I get promoted to green belt! The instructor is now brown belt with two stripes. I’m confused about how he can be promoted at each seminar without training still.

Before he leaves, he says he’ll see us again in 5 months (I am told this is what he said; I could not understand the man). I’m semi-excited; mostly by the prospect of knowing when I’ll actually get promoted, but also somewhat interested about what techniques he’ll show at the next seminar.

Fast forward 5 months.

It is almost the exact same lead in; I’m early, Grand master shows up homeless looking, instructor is late, blah blah blah. I feel like I’m trapped in some form of horrible twighlight zone episode, where every one hundred dollar seminar is the same. He gets ready to show us techniques, and this is where I know the twighlight zone-esque feeling will be dispelled.

Except it isn’t. He shows us the EXACT same techniques as the other seminar. I am not joking folks. The EXACT SAME. I remember the distinct feeling of being betrayed after each technique; was this actually worth the money just for a promotion? I mean, there were belt tests at the other school after all. Based off of my Kuk Sool Won experiences, I just accepted this as a fact of life. The instructor gets a stripe, I get jack crap. Yes, I paid for essentially nothing this seminar; no promotion, no new techniques, nothing.

I ask the instructor why I wasn’t getting stripes at least; was I doing something wrong?

He tells me it’s because (by this point) I’m only 15, and that it’s going to be a while before I’m 16. He’s going to try and space the stripes long enough so that by the time I’m 16, I’ll be ready for the next adult belt. He almost promises it to me if I can stay in it long enough.


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