After my last post where I wrote about both the tournament I participated in and my first teaching experience, I noticed a small circle-ish formation on the left side of my neck. I sent pics to my Professor and then showed him later that evening when I showed up for training. My fears were confirmed. It was something that brings dread to anyone who practices the art of the ground game as it puts you right on the bench, I mean, unless you want to have your teammates get it too…
So like a good teammate, I walked away from the mats until I was cleared.
Two of my other teammates, who just happened to roll on the same mat, at the same tournament, got it within the same amount of time as I. And we haven’t had a single case at the school since the doors opened two and a half years ago as Professor Shane religiously cleans the mats. So, as Arsenio Hall used to say, “things that make you go hmmmmm.”
I’ve been off the mats for over seven weeks now. And for seven weeks, I’ve been longingly looking at the mats, like Ralphy staring at that Red Ryder BB Gun for weeks and weeks… just itching to get his hands on it. Yeah, pun intended, Dad jokes… I’m a Dad of four, it’s bound to happen.
At seven weeks, this ringworm had been particularly stubborn despite me doing what I need to do to get rid of it. I was treating it religiously with anti-fungal applications, keeping it clean and dry, changing my bed sheets daily. At week four, when it seemed to be getting worse despite my efforts, I even had Doctor prescribed me some anti-fungal pills plus a steroid cream that she told me to use in tandem with the anti-fungal cream.
It was that stubborn.
In fact it was so stubborn that I was given a new nickname from one of my teammates: “Earthworm Jim”. Teammates laughed, I laughed, Professor laughed, it stuck… the rest is history. I even changed my profile pic to good Ole Jim in good humor… until this week.
This last Tuesday I finally got the greenlight to step back on the mats and train. Getting into my Gi and bowing in as a jitsuka once again made me smile ear to ear.
I felt like old Rose from the Titanic BJJ meme…
But instead of one day, my time in the desert of BJJ was multiplied by seven weeks.
I hit the mats Wednesday and Thursday as well. The team made sure to give me a nice welcome back and some extra love during our rolls. It was really cool seeing how some of the green and white belts have progressed in the seven weeks I was gone.
My daughter said that watching me during those two hours of Gi and NoGi on Tuesday was like watching a kid on Christmas morning.
So that takes care of the “in the desert” part of the post title, now onto “Fight Club”.
Professor Shane has a seasoned background in Dutch-style Kickboxing (a style of kickboxing -to my limited understanding- which draws heavily from Kyokushin Karate) and since the school was opened, he’s offered this training as well. He’s got quite a team, with a handful of them cross training between BJJ and Kickboxing. And almost since I began training, he’s encouraged me to join the kickboxing side of the team. I’ve had other martial arts training but on the boxing/kickboxing side, it has been mostly informal and the foundation there is not solid, at all.
A couple months ago, Professor Shane changed up the training schedule, which made things a bit more accessible for me to potentially join the Dutch side of the school (though he didn’t make the change for me, per se, just to be clear, I’m not that special). When the ringworm hit, it was the perfect opportunity to switch gears and commit to the schedule change and join the Kickboxing fundamentals class and since my daughter expressed interest as well, it was definitely the time to switch. I wasn’t cleared to sweat and roll around on the mats, but kickboxing was still a “go” since we wouldn’t be working the clinch or anything that would pose a risk to contacting my neck where the ringworm happened to be.
Yeah… I know, weird spot for that to be.
Quickly, I began to learn how I had accumulated a lot of bad habits from my prior years of training. For example trying to kick with my instep instead of using my shin, or taking a more side-facing fighting stance compared to the front facing Dutch stance, learning how to move, learning to throw a correct jab, a correct cross, a correct hook… Okay, everything. I am relearning everything.
I may have some mat time and a blue belt on the BJJ side of the gym, but I’m a white belt all over again on this side.
Just as it should be.
Little by little, I’m breaking those old habits. Unlearning and learning. The more senior fighters on the team are more than helpful. They know that they were right where I stand at one point and are quick to help.
My oldest daughter training this with me has been a treat. At 17, and stunningly beautiful, it does this “old man” good knowing that his daughter is learning the sweet science of stand-up fighting as well as getting good at her ground game.
So once again, I’m feeling those post-Jits aches as I wake up the next day.
Once again, I’m in my happy place.
Keep moving forward.