By Andrew Cross
I never thought that the best day of my life would involve getting thrown into a wall. The day started out rather normal. Went to school, read through all my classes, reached third hour, and planned to continue my plan of doing nothing. Unfortunately, today in Newswriting we had to select our story for the month. I made the mistake of starting a conversation about martial arts. Jiu Jitsu was brought up, and it all went downhill from there. I knew that my friend, Athena Blackmon, had been doing Jiu Jitsu for a while. Mr. McCown immediately wanted to get a story on it. His idea was to have a student go to a Jiu Jitsu lesson and get beat up in “funny ways”. Well it turned out that I drew the short straw and received the honor of writing a story about getting beat up for a day. McCown’s vision became a reality. This is the story of how I got pummeled. Enjoy, I guess.
I arrived at Gracie Jiu Jitsu right on time. Thankfully I was saved from having to get started right away. Only Mr. McCown and his friend were there, along with Ashton, the Jiu Jitsu instructor who would be helping out that afternoon. (Yeah, I got beat up in front of my teacher and his friend. Not embarrassing at all). Athena and our photographer, Izzy, had thankfully not arrived yet so I had a few minutes of peace. Seeing as everyone else was running late Ashton launched into the history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Royce Gracie represented the Gracie family in the world’s first UFC tournament. He wasn’t a large guy. Small, just like his dad Helio Gracie, the founder of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Yeah, they had bigger family members who could of entered and been much more sizable in comparison to the other opponents, but they wanted the smallest family member to represent them. The Gracie’s family goal in this was to prove that size was not an issue. Before Jiu Jitsu became a leading style of martial arts, we had mostly striking martial arts, which required a lot of strength, and were seen as the apex of martial arts at that time. Jiu Jitsu however didn’t rely on being strong, but instead relies on timing, leverage, and technique. Emphasizing that Jiu Jitsu is not a striking martial arts, Ashton explained that, “What we do is we control and exhaust our opponent until we find a position of negotiation or submission if it’s necessary. We use joint locks and choke holds, primarily.”
At this point in time Athena arrived at last. Unsurprisingly the first thing I had to was sign my own Death Warrant. Fortunately, I am not 18 yet. That meant that Mr. McCown had to sign off and take full responsibility for whatever was about to occur. RIP. When all that business was over, my death was put off momentarily. Athena and Ashton wanted to warm up before we got started. A couple of the stretches were familiar as I had started to do them in Kung Fu. Most interesting was the movement styles that Jiu Jitsu used. One of the warm up exercises that they did was to practice rolling around while having their hands joined together, to implement teamwork into the drill. Unfortunately the warm up didn’t last as long as I hoped. A fellow newswriter Jackson gave our photographer, Izzy, a lift in his snazzy mustang. It was time to start. My upcoming death was now almost guaranteed.
The first thing we decided to do was flips, (thanks for the suggestion Mr. McCown). I assume that we did flips first because we wanted to make sure that I could do them before I got too injured. Things were not looking up. I was instructed to put Athena in a headlock from behind. Friendly tip. Do not follow that instruction. I was nearly immediately lifted off my feet, flipped over her back, and slammed onto the ground. Have you ever heard the expression “seeing stars”? Well you might of thought that was just an expression. I can now confidently assure you that this is not the case. First flip of the day and I was already seeing sparkles for a good minute. I wisely didn’t say anything though, because I would of probably gotten laughed at (even more, that is). We moved onto some “easier” moves after that. I learned how to roll, although not very well and how to break my fall. That one was really interesting to be honest. As you were falling backwards you bend your knees, put your arms out to the sides, and as your back starts to hit the ground you slam your palms onto the floor and keep your neck forward. This effectively prevents your head from hitting the ground.
At one point I was given a knife to pretend a be an attacker or something (don’t worry it was a fake one). Athena was laying on her back and I was holding the knife at her throat. Within the matter of a few seconds my arm was trapped in a position where Athena could easily break it, she had the knife, and was holding it at my neck. This trend started to happen pretty darn consistently. I would start in an aggressive position and would soon find myself on the ground with one of my various limbs ready to be broken. The most terrifying of these was when Athena told me that she could easily make the front of my shin touch the front of my calf. (Effectively breaking my leg in half). I made sure not to move, because earlier Athena let me know that if I moved to much she might “make a mistake”.
We moved onto a different style of learning Jiu Jitsu which was part of the Women Empowerment program. Athena is actually an instructor of this program. That made me terrified, because usually if you can teach something you are really good at it. We decided to show what to do if you were pinned against a wall. I was instructed to pin Athena which, what do you know, was a very bad idea. She grabbed my arm, twisted it, spun me around, slammed me into the wall, and put me into a headlock. Unfortunately she forgot to inform me beforehand that to submit you have to tap the other person 3 times. So, this headlock lasted quite a bit longer than anticipated.
After good hour of getting demolished, it was time to hang it up. I felt like I had just walked into a nitroglycerin plant and dropped a match. *Boom* I was surprisingly still alive and could still walk in a relatively straight line. Literally everything ached and I was tired but, “That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.” ― Ernest Cline, Ready Player One.