Grow or die

We're just friends!

Honestly, I don’t know why people think Hoot and I are “an item.”

Let me take a step back: I got laid off last year while I was training for my first MMA fight. I decided to join the Army in September and graduated from Basic Training in December. I’m training for my job now. I still get homesick, mostly for my home Academy, which I consider more of a home than my old apartment. If you made a chart, I’m sure I spent way more of my waking hours training than at home.

When I got here I found a gym with huge wrestling mats rolled up at one end of the basketball courts, gathering dust. I started teaching basic jiu jitsu to a couple of my pals. We didn’t have access to anyone more experienced than me, and I was itching to get on the mat. It’s an awful, helpless feeling wanting only to train, and feeling your jiu jitsu drain away, as if through the soles of your feet.

During a PT session one morning, one of our sergeants told us: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” I totally agree, and I’ve been doing everything I can to keep my jiu jitsu from rotting on the vine.

I feel presumptuous being the only conduit for this precious thing.  Who would grant this responsibility on a twitching retard like me? As a purple belt, though, it’s technically my right to train new students. I’ve watched Hooton go from zero to having a basic understanding of a couple of positions. She’s a handful for inexperienced males who, a month ago, would have smothered her with raw strength. Seeing this, I’m filled with shame and pride. If hooton’s jiu jitsu sucks, it’s my fault.

Hooton evades the breakdance armbar

Friends from home will recognize a familiar scenario: My best friend in Maine was a girl who trained BJJ as well.I don’t know why my best friend once again a female grappler, but there is this: Out of at least ten people I’ve trained with here, only Hoot has stuck with it (Her real name is Hooton. I call her “Hoot,” partly because my phone’s T9 recognizes “hoot” as a word in text messages). She has all the makings of a great student. She never wants to go home from the gym, she rolls until she can’t breathe,  and she doesn’t whine when she suffers bumps and scrapes. She’s at the point now where she doesn’t feel completely lost when she rolls, and now all she wants to do after class is train. I’ve got a training buddy!

Leave it to me to get chummy with one of the few females here – because we both dig jiu jitsu.

Sprawl Choke!

Here’s a picture of me choking the shit out of her!

The Army constantly works against us, though: They have us on a pretty intense schedule: Wake up is at 4:30am and we aren’t released until 5pm. It’s hard to use even the little time we have: At this phase of Initial Entry Training (IET), I have to have a “battle buddy” everywhere I go. Since Hoot and I are opposite sexes, we have to find a third person to bring along to the gym whenever we train. Hoot is the only one who’s stuck with it. So, we’re always dragging some schmo along who isn’t really all that into it. It’s a stupid situation, the kind I was warned I’d find myself in when I joined the Army. The latest dude we’ve been training with seems to be more interested than the rest, though, and when we “phase up” to having the most privileges allowed here – hopefully this will happen within the next couple of weeks – we won’t need battle buddies anymore.

Last weekend, we went off-post and trained at the local BJJ school. Their instructor isn’t there on the weekend, but a couple of guys there are solid grapplers. It felt really good to train with experienced opponents again.

Looking for knee-to-belly against Joe

I’m getting more comfortable with teaching. Today I taught Hoot and our friend Frazier a bunch of cool stuff: A variation of the Sumi Gaeshi where you hold a Kimura grip and finish with that submission on the ground; how to establish and hold a basic knee-to-belly pin; and from there, a move my instructor calls the Nate (If any readers know a more universal name for this, please let me know). I’ve been sticking to basic techniques, but I was feeling saucy today. My buddies seem to have picked this stuff up pretty well.

I miss my gym back home. A lot. I don’t regret my decision to leave – I felt like I needed to bust a geographical move when I got laid off , and I’d always felt a calling to serve my country, at least for one term of enlistment – but I’m really not happy here. Everyone says that once you’re done with training it’s much less confining. I hope I can keep growing my jiu jitsu while I’m doing this gig.

By the way, we start Army Combatives this week. I’ll update with my opinions on this BJJ-derived program.

(Photos courtesy of Angel)


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