Saturday, October 15, 2005

Uniontown Grappling Tournament

I competed in the Uniontown Grappling Tournament today.
It was a fun tournament. I decided to wear a gi for the
first match and got totally destroyed in about 20 seconds.
Lost to a back mount choke. The guy was a really quick
wrestler. I was standing one second and he was on my back
on the ground in the next. I did learn my lesson, however.
I won my next match and then decided the gi should come off.
I put another wrestler guy in the guard right away and won
with a triangle choke. Next was a wrestler who beat Randy
earlier in the day. It felt very good making him tap with
an arm bar. I got Zander with a flying arm bar, and then
put up a good fight against the best grappler there, but lost
to an arm-bar after about 3 minutes.

I learned quick to get wrestlers in the guard as fast as
possible. They're just too good at takedowns and
guillotine's. So it was a good learning day. Good to get
soundly beaten once in awhile.

I believe that today is my last jiu jitsu tournament.
It might be my last jiu jitsu period. I've watched so many
people get hurt recently. Our teacher Andrew got his ankle
popped in a stupid ankle lock on Thursday. Randy threw a
guy on his head twice in the same match this afternoon and
he was icing his neck afterwards. Injury stories from the
guys I met today abounded. The worst one being a torn
groin muscle. (ug...)

Moreover, I've hurt two people lately and it feels like
shit. There's this cool guy in the CMU club named Jimmy who
I outweigh by 30 lbs, and I hurt his elbow during our club
tournament. In Judo class last night I was grappling with
this 18 year old kid and, while trying to break his grip,
re-hurt his opposite shoulder which was damaged a few years
ago in a bad fall during a tournament. These two were
particularly disturbing to me for many reasons. One, both
of these people were not as strong or experienced as me.
Two, I was fighting like my life depended on it. I was in
literally no danger, but still some animal nature in me made
me go all out. This is one of the things I've always loved
about Brazilian jiu jitsu, the fact that you can train at
your hardest and feel relatively safe. But I'm only now
learning to tamper that killer instinct with awareness of my
opponent's abilities, strengths and weaknesses. My ego is
so bent on winning, that I easily forget that I can go easy
with these people. At any rate, I'm personally responsible
for causing two really nice people considerable pain.

Granted, I could learn from these experiences, and work
slower and with more awareness with my partners. But I
think this reflection has led me to abandon grappling.
For I have another physical outlet, yoga, that truly heals

My friend Fumei was visiting CMU for a job talk for a couple
days, so she stayed with me. We went running one morning in
Frick Park, and we both complained of having sore knees
afterwards. (Lots of hills...) I did some yoga stuff
with her, (roll behind the knees, forward bend standing on
the blanket rolled up in a sticky mat) and she felt better.
She wondered aloud why more runners don't know about these
stretches. Iyengar yoga is just not well enough known.
It felt so good to help her feel better. Far better than
all the egoic satisfaction I get from winning judo matches.

I thought to myself today, while one of the doctors
at the tournament was working with a grappler that had hurt
pulled a back muscle, how easy it is to hurt people, and how
much knowledge, persistence and care is required to heal
someone. For example, my yoga teacher Sara works with
Parkinson patients. She spends hours experimenting with
ways to get into the person's body and mind, in order to
make their lives easier, less painful, and happier.
It takes about a second to break someone's bone.

Despite all the somewhat negative picture I've painted, I
love grappling. I enjoy doing yoga much less. But there is
a path there which is admirable and noble, and takes all
one's concentration and energy. I don't see such a path
with martial arts. It's more of a selfish pleasure.

I've been thinking about this quote from Albert Schweitzer a
lot lately:

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I
know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are
those who will have sought and found how to serve."

I asked my teammates on the drive home why they grapple.
Jimmy lost 45 pounds doing it. Awesome, no?
Randy just loves fighting. Zander cited the zone feeling
you get when everything is working in a match.

I like it because it's unbelievably sophisticated and
complex. Beautiful, in fact. It can be like an art form.
I love working out at my limit, and the feeling of
exhaustion after a workout. I enjoy the comraderie, and the
learning. But I ask myself, "to what end?".
Of course, there doesn't have to be an end. But my free
time is so short at present, and I'm getting older so
quickly, that it is no longer enough for me to just like and
appreciate something. It's hard to explain, but that's how
I feel. I feel like I must start making sacrifices to be
the kind of person I want to be. I think I've found out
how to serve.

1 comment:

  1. sounds like you had some fun and a real learning experience. I would be interested in your adding your stories to if you are interested. You seem very proficient at writing and may enjoy this field.