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Never say Never | My Love Story With Brazilian Jiujitsu

Never

Tony, a good friend of mine, showed me a video of him in this gym class he was going to, some kind of foreign fighting thing. All I could see was that he was getting “beaten up” in many different ways. He decided to demonstrate and trapped my head and shoulder between his legs. It was not funny to me!

I had two takeaways that day.

That whatever thing he was doing was:

brutally dangerous, and

inappropriately intimate.

I said to myself: I’ll NEVER do that!

Years went by, and that strange fighting thing didn’t cross my mind for even a second.

(GIF from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)

Until one day

I went to a gathering my friend hosted. I met Andres there for the first time, and then my old friend (tall pale Max) showed up as well. In our conversation it turned out both they and another friend of mine somehow all went to this thing called Brazilian gibberish. Never quite caught the name that night. I thought to myself: ‘They are all pretty cool people and if they’re into the same thing, I should probably check it out! Plus, I might be having a crush on Andres.’

I became friends with Andres, and at some point, I asked him to take me there. Andres had a business trip coming up and I didn’t want to wait a week until he came back. Tall pale Tom was going that Monday night, and he said he could bring me to a trial class.

That was a cool class!

I had no idea what I was doing, but I absolutely loved it. I wanted to “fight” after class. Charlie, who was teaching that night, said the most important thing for me is to go back home in one piece and come back to fight another time.

I knew I loved it right then and there on that mat that regular Monday night. I believe this is what people mean when they say: “Love at first sight”.

‘Wait, I think that might be the weird martial art thing Tony showed me a long time ago…’

(图片来自柔友, Photo by BJJ friends)

Love Transcends

I’ve always believed that love is easy. I am not denying the work that comes with it; the easy part is choosing to do the hard work! I took Charlie’s advice and came back as a member only two days later, despite the fact that I had no answers to my concerns.

I didn’t know how I could re-arrange my time, the gym is kind of “far” from where I live, and I was scared of possibly injuring myself – which are all important factors in my decision making! Some decisions are just so easy to make.

I have a slight “injury phobia” tendency. It started when I injured my lower back pretty bad in 2005 and couldn’t bear any weight for a few years and had to live with a 5-year-long chronic pain, day and night. If after countless treatments, one day, you had to get out of a car at the end of a road, walk through the mud to a village “doctor” in the middle of nowhere, pay hundreds for a few bags of mud to put on your lower back and not shower for days because you were so desperate, you could possibly develop traumatophobia as well.

Somehow, with Brazilian JiuJistu (BJJ), I stood up to my phobia and struck a deal: “deal with it as they come!” I also believe that if you love something, you would choose it no matter how busy you are. Love directs! Love also travels. I have to travel from Sanlitun to Dongdaqiao almost every day! It’s okay! (If you know me, you’d know I arranged my life to work, play and sleep on my watch, for efficiency and commuting stress management. So these daily commutes are kind of a big deal.)

(Image from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)

Why?

Andres asked me one day: “Why do you love it?”

I probably said something along the line of “I love the fact that BJJ uses momentum, finds the path of least resistance and takes an energy saving approach to fighting. This is the same approach that I try to take towards life. It had to do with how cool BJJ moves look, and most importantly, how much respect I hold for the people that I met and train with. They are super cool, blah, blah, blah!”

My mind was trying to interpret the feelings I’d experienced. Does my brain always know what my heart desires? Not always. It tries to work backwards and find out why, but that’s unnecessary.

I love BJJ because when I am on the mat, I am nowhere else.

When I am on the mat, voices of worry in life disappear and even the grand wishes for my future do not exist. I am in the state of “BEING!” I feel at peace with myself and the world that I live in.

(picture from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)

Rolling

So, it’s called Brazilian jiujitsu (BJJ). It took me a week or two to pronounce it accurately. Imagine that I told people I train Brazilian Jijisu/jujiusu/jiujiuzu over dinners for half a month!

I love the social jiujitsu part, where people just fight each other on the mat after class.

“What do you mean, social BJJ?”, a fellow BJJ club-member asked me when I mentioned it.

“Oh, you know, the part where you partner up socially after a class. Like on lindy hop nights, there’s usually a dance class. People stay and dance socially afterwards. We call it social dance. So, I guess social BJJ”, I answered.

“Oh, you mean rolling, or sparring!” That’s the term used for BJJ.

“Rolling”, I replied, ‘yeah, I am feeling it’.

(picture from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)

One World, One BJJ

I became a BJJ person!

Boy, do I bring BJJ everywhere I go! Very soon, I brought my lindy hop friends there, people that I work with, my yoga friends, and occasionally some people I randomly meet in a bar or at a potluck night! BJJ became something I talked about, a lot.

When I travel, I always do some research on local BJJ clubs and go check them out. It’s always fun to learn and roll with people from other places, and socialize with them. I was in L.A. around Halloween in 2019 and joined a training session there with spider webs on the wall! I partnered with Jessica, a purple belt. Never saw a lady purple belt ever in my life (that’s 1.5 months into my BJJ life;)! She was so nice to me and I felt at home there. I do hope to see her in Beijing at my gym some time!

For my most recent trip, I was in Mianyang (Sichuan) and Chongqing. I was so happy to see that my hometown offers BJJ classes. Since it’s a much smaller place than Beijing, one place was coached by a blue belt. Another place, interestingly, was coached by a – wait for it – orange belt! W*F! I would surely tell you that story on a comedy open mic night some time! I had a great time in Chongqing, and was very impressed by how many clubs there are, how good the classes were, and how good people were with BJJ. I very much enjoyed that one class done in Sichuan dialect! I chatted with the owner afterwards and he knew so much about BJJ and Beijing-based big shots! He started his BJJ journey in Beijing, and brought it back home in 2015, if I remember correctly. How wonderful it was to see how everything was connected and blooming.

My trips also brought me a great deal of appreciation for my gym, and I feel incredibly lucky to be trained by our amazing coaches, and roll with people who hold up the BJJ spirit and are also so multi-talented.

This is where I just want to sing: one world, one BJJ!

The Commitment

Few years ago, I was on a date with a guy that I matched with online. He’s a black belt of some kind of martial art. I do remember that he said he’s a black belt, and told me something about it. I remember he paused at the end of the story to kind of wait for my reaction. However, I didn’t know anything about martial art at all, and wasn’t even interested.

All I could say, in all honesty, was: “……hmm, okay.”

Now, after a few years, if you happen to be reading this, I wish I had said: “Oh wow, so what are you doing this weekend?!” That’s so many years of hard work, dedication, passion and persistence. That is something I am drawn to!

Sometimes I hear myself using the word “committed” when describing my relationship with BJJ. I had to auto-correct myself. It’s not a “commitment”. I do not plan to spend the rest of my life with it like it’s something that I have to add to my calendar, but I do feel like I will spend the rest of my life with it. It’s like the heart that beats in my chest. It’s absurd to “commit” to it, it’s a part of me, and an expression of my “self”. I cannot find the right word for it, but when I do, I’ll write again.

For now, I’m gonna get ready for tonight’s BJJ class.

Compass

Life gets busy sometimes, in a way that life was living me instead. Too many times, I was in places where I was struggling to find time for things or people that I recharge me. Not even long ago, there was a month that I stopping going to BJJ class, partly because of injuries, and partly because some elements of life became dominating and threw me off balance. I kinda saw that coming though when I bit off more than I could chew. That’s a pattern that I had, and it’s really hard for me not to do that. Luckily, last year, when I realized I could not make it BJJ classes for a few weeks, I knew that I need to change things. I have been seeing a therapist, which also helped me to re-center myself. That was a close call for burnout. Now looking back, I am glad I could see the momentum of my motions, and how many times I could go to BJJ class became a compass for me. Isn’t that what BJJ is about? Strong base and do get thrown off balance!

(all names were replaced by made up names for privacy reasons, except Jessica)

绝不

有一天,我的一个好朋友,稻,给我看了他“健身”课的视频:一个异域风情的格斗术。我除了看到他各种被“绞杀”以外没发现别的。当时,他防不胜防的给我演示一番,突然用双腿别住了我的头和肩膀。一点也不好笑!

那天,我对这个莫名的格斗术有两个体会:

野蛮级别的危险,还有

也太过分亲密了吧。

我心想,我绝对不会去学这个鬼东西呢!

几年过去了,那奇怪的格斗术我都不曾在我脑海中闪现过。

(Photo from the internet 图片来自网络)

直到一天

我去朋友举办的一个小聚会。我是在那儿第一次认识了Andres,我的老朋友(高大而惨白的Max)也来了。聊天中我发现他们两个还有另一个朋友都去过一个叫巴西什么的课,我也没听明白他们说的这个课程是什么。但顿时我产生了好奇,我自己琢磨着:“他们几个都挺酷的,如果他们对这个巴西什么东西这么着迷,我也得去看看这到底是个什么。”好吧,我也承认,当时我确认对Andres有些好感。

后来我和Andres成了朋友,有次聊天时我就让他带我去看看那个巴西的格斗术。Andres正好要出差,我又不想花一个星期等他回来。 Max刚巧周一当天晚上就去,他说他可以带我去上一节体验课。

体验课酷毙了!

我根本不知道我在干嘛,但是我如痴如醉。下课以后我特想“打架”。那节课的老师Charlie跟我说,我当下最重要的事情就是完整的回去,好好休息,欢迎下次来上课再战。

我那会儿就知道,在这个平凡的星期一夜晚,普普通通的训练垫子上,我真的爱上这个武术了。我想这大概就是“一见钟情”吧。

等下,这怕不就是多年前,岛给我演示的那个奇怪格斗术…”

(GIF from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)

爱,所以“以身相许”

我一直认为爱会让很多事情变得容易。不是否认爱是需要经营的;而是说爱可以让我们欣然地接受拼搏和努力的“苦”!我接受了Charlie的建议,两天后就成为了这个格斗馆的会员。

其实,做决定的那一刻,还有很多我并没考虑清楚的事情。我并不知道怎么重新安排时间,格斗馆离我家有点儿“远”,我也害怕运动受伤——通常情况下,我做决定时一定要先找到这些问题的答案,而对于开始上柔术课的事情上,没有答案并没有阻止我的决定。

我稍稍有点儿受伤恐惧症的倾向。是2005年有一次我后背底部受重伤导致的,几年我都没办法背重物,而且忍受了长达五年日日夜夜的慢性疼痛。如果在无数次反复治疗后,有一天,你还得开车到一条路的尽头,下车,穿过一片泥泊,在荒无人烟的地方寻找一个乡村“医生”,花好几百块买几袋子泥巴放在后背底部,忍受好几天不能洗澡的折磨,你估计也会得上创伤恐惧症。

所以,投入到柔术中,也能说得上是“以身相许”了!

可是对巴西柔术,我突然莫名其妙鼓起了勇气面对我的恐惧症,而且下定决心:“要直面恐惧,逆流而上!”我也深信如果我们真的对一件事感兴趣,不管多忙都能抽出时间来做。随心而动!我差不多每天都得在三里屯和东大桥之间穿梭,但是没问题!(如果你认识我,你就知道我无论工作,疯玩,还是睡觉都是盯着手表的,效率至上,绝对不能浪费时间。所以这些日常来回交通对我还算个挺大的妥协。)

(picture from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)

为什么?

Andres有一天问我:“你为什么这么喜欢巴西柔术?”

我说:“我很欣赏巴西柔术的巧妙,专研的借力,用智慧的方法格斗。这刚好是我的人生态度。而且,巴西柔术在训练和实战的时候,那些动作好炫酷哦。我也真的很尊重和欣赏咱们馆里的这群小伙伴,大家都很有才、超酷的……。”完了还讲了一堆其他我都不记得的原因!当我们去分析的时候,是我们用“大脑”去描述“心”。但,我们的头脑真的可以丝毫不差的呈现我们的“心”吗?其实,我也说不清楚我为什么就爱上了巴西柔术,我只知道:

当我光脚踩在柔术地垫上时,我便“心无旁骛”。

这是一种“只可意会,不可言传”的感受。

只要在垫子上,生活中哪怕是一直死缠烂打的那些烦心事也都消失得无影无踪,甚至对未来宏大辉煌的白日梦都变的没有意义了。我真真正正地活在了“当下”,那一刻的自己和世界是那么的平和。

(picture from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)

实战

如你们所知,巴西柔术的名字是Brazilian jiujitsu (BJJ)。我两个星期才弄明白到底是怎么发音的。原来半个月以来,跟朋友聚会时,说到柔术的名字的时候,我都是自我发挥的:什么Brazilian Jijisu/jujiusu/jiujiuzu…

我真的喜欢社交柔术,大家课后就在训练垫上打来打去的。

“什么叫社交柔术?”一个俱乐部成员听我说到这个名词的时候很是迷惑的问。

“啊,你懂的,就是课后大家自由配对,互相打斗那部分,就好像我们摇摆舞之夜一样,一般只有一节舞蹈课。但是课后大家都留下来继续跳舞和社交。那个环节我们就叫社交舞蹈。根据这个逻辑,我觉得课后打斗就得叫‘社交打斗’。”

“你是说“实战”啊!”巴西柔术里是这么叫的。

(picture from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)

跟随巴西柔术去旅行

说来怕你不信,自打开始柔术后,我走到哪我都情不自禁的跟别人说起巴西柔术!很快,周围跳摇摆舞的朋友,同事,做瑜伽的朋友,甚至在酒吧或者是派对聚餐时认识的新朋友,都被我带过来试水了!我很明白,我的热情真的可能让人觉得我是一个柔术“托儿”,最多一次带了四个朋友过来。

旅游的时候,我也开始去当地的柔术馆打卡。能够在别的馆体验柔术,跟世界各处的人摸爬滚打,聊天,是件挺有意思的事儿。2019年,我去洛杉矶的时候,刚好是当地的万圣节。我打卡了当地的一个格斗馆,墙上都是装饰的蜘蛛网,挺有意思的!那次课,我和一个叫Jessica的女生搭配,她是紫带。当时(一个半月的巴西柔术生涯),我那一辈子里还没见过一个系着紫带的女性,额,其实到现在都没见过耶!她人特别好,很友好的欢迎我这个小白来馆里串门,对我特别耐心,给我很多指导。我很有一天能在咱们北京馆里再跟她揉,希望那个时候我不在是个小白了。

最近一次旅行,我去了四川绵阳和重庆。回到家乡以后,还能找到巴西柔术课真的让我喜出望外。绵阳是个四线城市了吧 (但是我们独一无二的特色“米粉”),我只找到两个馆有柔术课,一个馆是个真正的格斗馆,老师是蓝带,我在他的课上学会了很多新招数。让我惊吓到爆笑的是另一个馆,一周只有一节柔术课,场地和设备都还不错,教练就绝了,那个缎带——怕是你猜也猜不到——是“橙带”!什么鬼!那趟课就更可怕了,老师各种开天辟地的“自由发挥”,我觉得这个笑料包可以拿到喜剧现场去抖抖了!家乡市中心就这么一个地方有柔术课,我也很担心这样“柔术”教学会不会让来体验的新人这一辈子都不想接触柔术了,我给他们的客服反应了我的课程体验,完全都不理我的,我也是醉了。

我在重庆玩儿得很尽兴,而且重庆俱乐部数量,课程质量,人的热情好客都让我叹为观止。而且,我终于上了一节四川话的柔术课,太巴适了!我后来和这家格斗馆的老板聊了聊,才知道他对巴西柔术了解很深,对驻扎北京的柔术大家也十分了解!他给我讲了自己的巴西柔术之旅,又是怎么在2015年(如果我没记错的话)将巴西柔术带回重庆老家的,能看到这一切都是紧密相连,生机勃勃的真的让人欣喜又欣慰。那天,我还看见他给自己两个学前年纪的孩子上私教课,代代相传的画面记忆尤深。

在老家的柔术打卡一行,也让我更加珍惜京城咱们格斗馆和柔术课,我有机会受训于如此优秀的教练们,和这么多才华横溢且热爱巴西柔术的人一起上课实战。我觉得自己十分幸运。

巴西柔术,把世界无缝链接起来了。

承诺

几年以前,我和一个约会软件上的男士去吃晚餐。他说他是一个什么格斗术的黑带,然后讲了一些关于他在格斗方面的经验和成就。他讲完以后停顿了一下,似乎是想看看我有什么反应。可是我那时对格斗毫无概念,也丝毫不感兴趣。

一向秉持诚实的精神的我,能很尴尬的说了句“噢噢。”

现在,几年以后,如果你正好在读这篇文章,我可以如下替换掉当年的回答吗?“哇真的吗,那你这周末有什么计划吗?!”一条黑带,传达的是十年如一日的激情与执着,刻苦,专心地训练,这些精神真的让我很着迷!

有时候我听自己用“承诺”这样的词来描述我和巴西柔术之间的关系。 我得“自动纠正”下我自己。不是“承诺”, 如果用“承诺”去描述心脏在胸腔中的跳动,听着会很奇怪吧。我不打算把巴西柔术像是工作会议一样都加到我的日程表里。柔术像是我的生命发动机的一部分,它是“我”的一种表达方式。

指南针

有时候生活变得很忙,忙的呼吸都不自由了。以前,我经常找不到时间去做给自己充电的事情、或者给自己身边亲的人留出足够的时间。其实,就在前不久,有一个月,我也忙到一节柔术课都没上了,一半是因为受伤了,一半真是忙的不可开交。不过这个真得赖我自己,干了件吃不了兜着走的事情,总是告诉自己忙点可以应付。这不是我第一次这样了,我经常给自己找事,非得把自己忙到不可开交才罢休,我知道这样不好,但似乎又重蹈覆辙。还好,这次我把几周没能去上柔术课的事情当成了预警,再加上我正看着心理咨询,刚好帮我梳理了头绪,经过不小的努力,把生活重新安排了下,终于避免了精力”弹尽粮绝”的下场。

如果我们生活中都没有时间做给自己充电的事情,毕竟会被生活消耗掉的。柔术这个指南针可在这次真的救了我一命啊。这不就是柔术的格斗要点吗?扎实的根基,别让别人把你扫番了!

(出于隐私原因,文中除Jessica外,所有人名均为化名)


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