The Scary Guys

It interests me that there are certain guys who intimidate me much more than others, despite the fact that they may not be much better, bigger or more aggressive than other guys I roll with. 

It’s kind of hard to put my finger on it, which is why I feel like writing this post. I’m not talking about those super athletic advanced white/new blue belts who are after a new scalp for their collection and have nothing to lose – those guys keep me sharp. And I’m not talking about the heavy beasts who crush you and make you have those thoughts mid-roll (“why do I do this again?”). It’s not the super slick brown/black belt guys who make you wonder if even in 10 lifetimes you could get that good (I LOVE rolling with those guys)…So what is it?

Some guys just have a certain air of menace. Like if they accidentally killed you in training, they’d get over it in 40 minutes. I’m not saying they hurt you (those guys are called “dicks” and can fuck right off), it’s just kind of like you’re rolling with a reptile. If I’m honest, the guys I’m thinking of are quite a lot better than me, and DO favor leg locks (though that’s a very small part of it). They tend to possess something slightly unnerving. My old MMA coach (who I class as a friend), had it – sometimes you just weren’t sure if he was crazy. Another guy I train with has this really disconcerting super-flexibility combined with incredible wiry strength (he’s not a big guy). Another guy I’m thinking of goes for armbars from guard like his life and the lives of all his family members depend upon him getting that armbar. He’s good at them.  

Maybe that’s it…the sensation that you’re fighting someone who’s in some way on the fringes. Something unknown about them, something you don’t quite understand. It’s the feeling that you really can’t predict the way the roll is going to unfold (more so than usual), or that your opponent has a radically different mindset to you. The sensation that you are powerless to stop the unknown from unfolding, or bridge the gap between you. 

Now that I’ve written it down, it makes a lot of sense really. Of course it’s more stressful dealing with the unfamiliar. I guess the solution is to actively embrace, and seize opportunities to roll with guys of all different mentalities, games, and physical ability.

Thanks blog. You are cathartic.

Parting Words from my Jiu-Jitsu Instructor

So last week my BJJ coach, Nic Gregoriades, left London to travel the world indefinitely. Nic has had a very positive influence on my training, been a great teacher, and is definitely the best grappler I’ve ever sparred.

He’s a bit of a hippie, but his students enjoy it. His final words to the class were about happiness, specifically the three things which have given him the most happiness in his life:

  1. Meditation
  2. Yoga
  3. Keeping a record of things for which he is grateful

That might not sound like everyone’s bag, but I must say that since Nic started to introduce yoga movements into our warm ups about six months ago, I’ve really been enjoying them. He actually wrote an excellent post on how yoga benefits your jiu-jitsu here.

Starting tomorrow I will be trying meditation for 30 days to see what I make of it.

It can be sad to see mentors come and go, but Nic is going off to improve himself, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from a great coach. I am grateful for what he has taught me, and excited at the prospect of getting a totally new take on BJJ with the new coaches I will now seek out.