I found out that one of the new guys took Judo when he was a teenager. After class I grabbed him by the collar and started trying to trip him up, and he responded in kind. The scattering class stayed and cheered us on. I’m not sure why this was interesting to anyone else, but it was tons af fun. Our instructor also remained, calling out points as our match progressed. Jay was a black belt in Judo before he took up BJJ. This went on for a couple of throws. Unfortunately the guy was exhausted and ducked out pretty much right away. It definitely brought back memories for him – at one point he disputed my instructor’s refereeing with delight: “All you’re gonna give me for that throw is koka?!I don’t even know what these Japanese words mean. I just love the game. For this guy, it was a flashback to the halcyon days of his teenage chop socky . Those exotic Nipponese polysyllables are magical in the first place. Imagine that on top of the nostalgia of a 31 year old dude getting down with the sport he loved as a kid. He must be so pumped.

Afterward, the guy was glowing. He told me he’d be willing to work on judo whenever I like. (“Any time you want, let’s pull out the crash pad,” he said about eight times.) He left the gym with a huge smile on his face.

A lot of people start training with a friend and end up as training partners. This is super helpful. Lacking this, any new BJJ player should work hard to train with like-minded people. I sharpened my Judo by finding out out who would give into my pleas to practice  stand up with me, and keep practicing for an hour or more. When it’s clicking between you and a partner, you’ll go through drills, which are usually a lot more boring than live practice, with zeal. It’s hard to find a partner like that, though. I’ve noticed half of the people I drill with get bored too fast and just want to roll, and the other half chat and joke around instead of focusing on the training. It’s worth the effort to find someone who will geek out with you over the techniques you want to play with.


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