October 4, 2011

Day One

Well, I went back for my first MMA classes today. Due to an injury, I haven't worked out properly in months, so an hour of kickboxing nearly killed me. I was ready to cry five minutes into the warmup. Seriously. But there's no denying that it was the single best workout I've ever had. A few more classes like that and I'll drop the 20 lbs in no time. It was extremely intense but damn effective. Yanitza, the one other girl in the kickboxing class, was kind enough to partner with me and patiently helped me through my flailing and hyperventilating, which was a great thing to have as a first-timer. Then, in spite of initial apprehension, I did an hour of BJJ. I'd never really gotten the hype but it looked fun tumbling around so I figured I'd give it a try. Wasn't expecting much.

Turns out, I love it. And I actually did much better at that than at kickboxing, which really surprised me. I'd assumed it would be the other way around considering I used to box in high school, but it was the exact opposite. I was lost with the standup work yet the instructors seemed to think I did decently with grappling. Being the only girl in the no-gi class, plus the only total newbie, my main fear was that I'd make an absolute idiot of myself but I picked up on it much faster than expected and had a total blast. It took a minute (or ten) to figure out what the hell they were telling me to do sometimes but once I got it, I really went for it.

Bottom line, kickboxing is a great workout but for sheer personal enjoyment, BJJ has definitely won me over. Apparently, rolling around in ridiculous positions with a bunch of big sweaty people is so much more fun than it looks (or sounds, for that matter). By the time the class was over, I was all like...MOAR!! I signed up right afterwards (my hand was shaking so much from the workout that I could barely sign the form...yeah, I'm that out of shape) and am going to start from next week with the fundamentals class for a month or so, 3 times a week. Once I've got more experience, I can come to the other classes as often as I want, both gi and no-gi. I'm thinking I'll try to do kickboxing once a week (build up to 2 times...maybe...it's a really brutal class, all these muscles I didn't even know existed are on fire) and try to do grappling 4-5 times a week.

Side note: Browsing the old interwebs, I'd seen so many discussions making a huge deal about guys and girls training together, and I don't get the drama. I had no problems with WTF is she doing here? looks or people acting like I was made of glass. The guy I was paired up with wasn't holding back on me the way I thought he might, or worrying about girl parts and cooties and whatnot. We were both there to learn and were focused on that. It was great. I think the moment I decided I was totally in was when the instructor working with me went off on a tangent to teach me a move that he seemed to think I was half-doing by accident. In truth, I was just bracing an arm against my partner's shoulder to lessen the weight on the neck. He's got a strong hold and while it wasn't tap-inducing, I did feel the need to try and lighten the pressure a bit at times.

Anyway, the instructor thought I was trying to do something far more thought out and decided to teach me the proper way to do it. I couldn't quite understand what he wanted me to do to finish the move, and then the other instructor came over to see what we were doing and was like "you wanna do this, and like this, YES! YES!! GOOD JOB!" and I just felt that enthusiasm and really got into it. Plus I don't know who I'll end up with next class (I'm sure most people don't want the newbie...I know I probably wouldn't as a fellow beginner) but the guy that got stuck with me was very cool about it. I thought he might find it frustrating or too easy getting partnered with someone smaller and totally lost, but he didn't act put out when I forgot to do something, just reminded me real quick and we kept going, and was very encouraging when I got stuff right, especially since he was learning too. So that sort of attitude from the boys (and girl) there definitely made a HUGE difference to me. Good experience. Good people. Next week can't come fast enough!


  1. Cool - great to hear it went so well! Personally, I love being paired up with beginners, because as I only recently started teaching, it gives me a chance to practice being an instructor.

    There are also people who just like giving advice: this can be an awesome thing, if they're experienced and have a good understanding of technique, but dangerous if they're a fellow white belt who is just a bit over-enthusiastic.

    I was fortunate to have two blue belts take me under their wing when I moved into the advanced class about eight months in, which really helped me. Another reason I like helping out new people, as I know how useful it was for me.

  2. That's great to hear. So far, in spite of what's going on in MY head (ie. no one will want to put up with my total lack of knowledge or I'm holding everyone else back), none of the guys have been anything but extremely helpful and supportive.

  3. A newbie shouldn't be with a beginner - because neither of you know what you are doing, so neither of you can really help one another. Please be concerned if you, as a newbie, get paired with another brand new individual.

    It can FEEL intimidating being the new person, and you can FEEL like "omg no one wants to be my partner" but think of it this way:

    Upper belts can try some of their fancy stuff on you - things they're working on. It will give them an opportunity to see if it works on non-BJJ people, people who don't have BJJ reflexes trained into them.

    Upper belts can keep you safe and they can teach you. Just try not to go AS HARD AS YOU CAN :)

    If you CAN, get with someone a belt or more higher than you.

    I'm really glad BJJ won you over!

  4. Ah well...I technically hadn't joined the gym or signed up at this point. It was just my free trial class so I jumped right into the deep end. Also, I didn't explain how the class actually went down. What really happened is, I went over for the warmups, felt stupid because I was so exhausted from the kickboxing that I couldn't do them properly, and then they demonstrated a move and said to pair up, which was when I sort of drifted off to the front of the room because I had no idea what I'd just seen. Christian asked what I was doing and whether or not I was still joining the class. I told him I wanted to but I had no idea what I was supposed to do and he said "Well get the hell back in there and do it! That's how you learn!"

    So I went back to the mats and the instructor was like oh there you are, where'd you go? I was looking for you! And then he put me with John, who'd had about 6 classes by then and picks stuff up really, really fast, so it wasn't like getting stuck with a fellow blundering idiot. Also, because it was my first class ever, they had another instructor come off to the side with me and John and work with us directly for the entire class, so it was basically like getting a private lesson on half guard and side control. So that made a real difference as opposed to if I'd just been thrown with another newbie and left to figure things out on my own.

    Anyway, that was day one. Yesterday was day 10 and I'm now rolling with anyone and everyone I can get my sweaty hands on, all sizes and experience levels. Not rolling well, mind you, but getting slightly better and less spastic every time. Saturday was the first time I got points (figuratively) for successfully passing guard multiple times, and doing it decently. That was big for me because I'd been really struggling with getting around the damn legs. I also attempted an armbar from closed guard against a higher level guy at one point, but since my only experience with the move was an online video, it didn't work very well. I got halfway there and the next thing I knew, I was tapping out. I got props for trying though lol.

  5. Most of the time I'll try to avoid pairing up beginners, but sometimes that's the only option, if everyone else is much bigger or smaller.

    Like most instructors, I'll also normally say "pair up with someone roughly your own size" after demonstrating technique, rather than pairing everybody up myself (unless there is an obvious massive weight discrepancy which could be corrected by some shifting around).

    Except for sparring, then I'll try to pair people up myself (though hopefully the earlier "pair up with someone your own size" has everyone in reasonable pairings).

    The head coach is quite big on that, as he never puts somebody small with someone big (though I'm not entirely convinced on that, as I think it can sometimes be useful for a small blue belt to go with a massive white belt, as long as the blue is skilled enough to keep themselves safe. Also, if I want to vary the pairings, there isn't always a choice).

  6. Heh yeah, for certain techniques they do say "find someone your size" but so far, most of the time there is no one close to my size. If they think people are totally mismatched then they step in and switch them but it's generally really laid back and, as long as everyone is learning the techniques properly, it's not overanalyzed. We switch around every now and then to get everyone working with partners of different sizes and skill levels too. Personally, I wouldn't want to only train with people my size. I'm enjoying constantly mixing it up, bouncing from smaller guy to giant guy to occasional girl. For me, that makes it much more fun!

  7. "Bottom line, kickboxing is a great workout but for sheer personal enjoyment, BJJ has definitely won me over."


    Totally different reation. HATED grappling - LOVED kickboxing. But I do love you learning good ol' martial arts! WIN!

  8. Aww well many girls dislike grappling because of the close contact. I love it because there's something very enjoyable rolling around like kids, except with the added bonus of trying to destroy each other! lol