I think I figured out this week just how out of shape I am. If I haven’t mentioned Justin yet, he’s a purple belt training partner of mine who is probably my favorite training partner. He started about six months after I did, and being a 145 pound fighter (walking about 160), we ended up training together almost daily. As time went on, we trained and trained and trained until it’s gotten to the point where we know the ends and out of the other’s game. Training with Justin is something like wrestling a tornado, I’d imagine, because with both of us trying to be one step ahead of the other we end up in a constant state of scramble-slash-rapid-transition until one of us submits the other one out of nowhere.

So, Justin and I have an amazing roll which Roli completely misses as he’s chatting with someone on the side of the mats (we’re like desperate children wanting approval from Dad). I manage to come out on top–barely–and Roli tells us to roll again so he can see it. Well, I’d forgotten about the six weeks of down time. I start heaving, wheezing, and trying to desperately keep going. In one explosion of strength, I attempted to flip Justin over from the double underhooks grip in guard. In one swift movement, I collapsed to the ground. Justin laughed at me, knowing exhaustion had just hit me like a Brock Lensar esque “frate trane” (read the UG to get joke). I stripped my gi off and prayed for the God of Cardio on the cold, tile floor of the lobby to everyone’s entertainment.

Check the Justin Beiber cameo in the back!

Classes in session means tightly organized weekend trips. Endocrinology ended and I bolted to the airport, off to Connecticut to teach a seminar with Roli at C3 Athletics in Stamford. Roli praised Rick’s top-notch treatment for his last trip here (when he should have been at the Worlds…guilt trip guilt trip guilt trip) but I never imagined a quite gangster driver in an escalade at the airport waiting for me. I tried to make conversation, jokes, and then even Thundercats references, but as it turns out he wasn’t in a good mood or I’m just not funny. Sadly, I think it’s the latter.

Roli told me to go to bed soon because Saturday would be a big day. He wasn’t kidding me. The day started with an 8:30 AM private for a middle heavyweight blue belt. As I progress in Jiu Jitsu, I can feel that types of people (like larger blue belts) that would have written me off a few years ago are now open minded and seek my advice. It’s really good for the progression of the sport and really good for me. We worked a few lapel chokes, I corrected his positioning, and gave him some back and forth options. Too often people force one move instead of going through a series of what-if attacks.

I flowed from that series and continued through to my seminar, starting from closed guard and working to side control and finally to mount. It was the first time I’d taught an entire seminar in front of Roli and it was great. He’d offer a tip, I’d elaborate, and we fed off each other throughout the couple of hours.

I rested over lunch while Roli taught a private, and then we dove straight into his nogi seminar. Roli managed to be nice to me for about three straight hours in public–which is without a doubt a world record–but he broke it during his seminar. (In regards to a heel hook defense) “Hillary, I’m gonna use Dominick for this one. You’re a woman, no one would believe you.” Thanks, Coach. Roli taught an amazing leg lock series and I helped until I reached a point where, “Hey, sorry, that was the first time I’d ever seen that!” and I had to sit by and watch rather than help.

I jumped immediately from rolling to a free women’s self defense seminar that the school had advertised. Rather than teach strange takedowns or groin kicks or wristlocks, I just taught standing grip breaks and some basic moves (guillotine, armbar, kimura) from a self defense perspective. I’ll be honest though. There is little I hate more than the term “self defense seminar.” After an hour with the ladies I sat down and told them that what I had just done made absolutely no difference. Nothing that anyone ever performed proficiently in life was practiced for in one one-hour session. Within a couple days they would forget everything I taught. What’s important is repetition. I talked about the great community of Jiu Jitsu and although getting over intimate contact at first is difficult for all of us, you form great friendships with your training partners and have the time to practice to proficiency.

From there I taught another private to a very brand new beginner female and just got her understanding some of the basics concepts of Jiu Jitsu–space, balance, grips, and chokes. She was doing surprisingly well until Rick came over to check her progress. Then, like all of us, she got nervous, haha.

Roli told me that this gym was going to treat us well, but I had no idea. When they took us out to sushi that night, I picked out two rolls and I planned to down some miso soup to kill the hunger from seven hours of Jiu Jitsu. Sean was having what I thought was a lengthy conversation between old friends with the waiter. As it turns out, he was ordering. Several of every appetizer on the menu was presented before us and I could feel myself feeling satisfied. Then the sushi boat arrived, covered in more sushi than I’d ever seen in one time. Sean smiled, “There are three of those coming.”

Everyone, nearly already through, merely dented the shrine of dead fish in front of us–until Roli rallied the troops. “Come on guys, we can do it!” Sure, the skinny kid encouraging eating. We stuffed ourselves–Roli even talked me into eating some sort of salty fish egg thing that I almost gagged on–and managed to wreck the boats, leaving only the sea urchin remaining. I felt accomplished.

I spent the evening hanging out with some friends from the area and it was right back to work in the morning. At 9 AM I had another self defense seminar, same speech, and then a private until noon. I was near passing out from exhaustion at this point, but Rick and Angela are wonderful people and took me to eat before dropping me off at the airport.

Thank you to CeeThree Athletics and everyone who attended to make it a fantastic weekend!