Today marked a new step in my journey on the Martial Way. As you know from my blog, training in Kyokushin Karate has been my focal point for this past seven months, under the tutelage of Sensei Steve Fogarasi, at Contact Kicks Dojo. I am also lucky enough to belong to a dojo that also teaches Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. I have wanted to add this for some time, but with keeping kyokushin my focus, training at the dojo three days a week, plus my own fitness regime on days off, as well, being in my 40s with certain responsibilities, it is hard to find the extra time. However, this week I could wait no more. So, I had my first lesson in BJJ today!
Yes, you could say I am going through bit of mid-life crises, but honestly, even if I am, what better way to express it then through healthy practice? I could be purchasing sports cars and other nonsense, but instead I am getting to know my body, and myself, better than I ever have. I am happier and healthier then when I was in my 20s, and that’s a fact! Though I have always wanted to do Kyokushin and it is my passion, I have always been interested in BJJ, like most people, since seeing Royce Gracie destroy men much larger than him and dominate in the early UFCs.
I have decided to take private classes, so it is more flexible with my schedule. My instructor is Coach Mike Aviado. Coach Mike is very inspiring in his own right. Though he had background in martial arts, he didn’t start his Jiu-jitsu journey until the age of 35. He has become a world-class competitor and amazing coach! 27 Gold – 10 Silver – 16 Bronze medals, and counting.
I was nervous on my way to the dojo, not knowing what to expect. This was going to be a whole new world for me. But, after I arrived Coach Mike was very chill and made me feel super comfortable. We began with break-fall training, which is harder than you might think. Because you take so many stumbles, trips, etc., you have to know how to land properly, with not only knowing how to protect yourself from the fall, but also how to defend against a follow-up attack on the ground.
Coach Mike then starting getting into basic escapes, counters etc. Without getting into the specifics I can tell you it was incredibly exhausting and I felt like a fish out of water. It is amazing how much energy you expel when you are not sure what you’re doing. And, having a body laying across you is a very claustrophobic experience. Damn they make it look so easy in the UFC!
It really was an awesome experience and I’m looking forward to continuing and adding this to my martial journey. I don’t know where this journey will take me, but all I can ask for is to be more aware of my body, my mind and my spirit. I am learning more about myself every week. Kyokushin and now Jiu-jitsu has been a humbling experience.
Sitting on the mats speaking after class, Coach Mike shared with me some of his own journey. He touched on how BJJ has humbled him and enlightened him and softened the ego. It struck me that people like Coach Mike and Sensei Fogarasi know what it’s about and have left their egos behind them, in the tough guy sense of things. There was nothing to prove. It was drawing parallels for some things that Pat Miletich shared with Sam Sheridan in The Fighter’s Heart, which I just finished reading. He said that he used to “walk through the mall and feel like a shark among seals. And that power, in the great fighters, breeds restraint, understanding, wisdom – even gentleness, except when in the ring.”
Perhaps that is part of the reason Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is called The Gentle Art.