This blog has been very difficult to write. Not because of emotional content, but because I keep closing the window that it’s in, and it doesn’t auto-save. Maybe the universe doesn’t think that it’s a good one, and keeps wanting me to start over. However, I owe Paulo Guillobel at the awesome https://www.guillobelbjj.com/ a shout out for his hospitality, and it’s overdue!
This one is going to be pretty light on Pacific Crest Trail, because we’ve been hanging out for a rest weekend in Dana Point. We got new boots for Jen, finally! Now, she just needs to soak her feet, let her blisters heal up a little, and let me eat some sushi and do some Jiu Jitsu. Which I did. At https://www.guillobelbjj.com/.
We pulled into this little beach/harbor town on Friday, and I frantically looked for two things. Sushi, and Jiu Jitsu. Stuffed my face with fresh fish from this little hole in the wall, skipped the sake, and grabbed my gi for open mat. No instruction, just some of the students hanging out, rolling for fun, and I got that easy, flow roll I didn’t get on Monday. Another older purple belt and I spent about ten minutes just having fun, grabbing submission attempts, sweeps, passes.
I know it seems a little weird, but this kind of slower, half-assed roll is where I learn the most. Not fighting for every inch let’s you really feel what’s happening, and see the consequences of your choices, and counters, and all that human chess stuff that this sport is all about. I had some other, more intense rolls, with lower belts of course, and had some really good battles with younger, more athletic people who were slightly more intent on ripping my arms off. All in all, a nice Friday evening. I grabbed a poke bowl and a sake, and headed home, where Jen was soaking her feet, eating a pie, and watching Rue Paul.
I headed back the next day for class, taught by the Professor himself. In BJJ, Black Belts are referred to as Professor, not Sensei, or Master, of SiFu. Instructors that are not black belts are called Coach. I don’t know why, but at least I didn’t have to learn to count in Portuguese. Until today.
Paulo Guillobel is a badass. And Brazilian, and his guys can count to twenty in Portuguese, which is what they speak in Brazil. It’s close enough to Spanish so that I knew it was happening, but not close enough for me to join in. The guy obviously knows his stuff, which is great, and you can see by the huge number of stripes on his Black Belt. They’re like rings on a tree, but they’re for every two years, not one.
So,this guy has been a black belt for longer than I’ve been training, by a factor of about two. Of course, some guys are great at doing, but they can’t teach or explain what’s going on. Not so here, he’s got a real sense of how to coach and explain things. We worked on some Judo style throws, and he had some really good insights. My Judo still sucks, but maybe it sucks a little less, and I’ve got some stuff which I can use to work on when I train the take down part of my game, which is whenever I am forced to.
We then went into a standing guard break series, where you stand up in someones’ guard, and instead of hurting your back or getting swept, you actually break the guard and pass. The key takeaways, and I’m trying to remember as best I can, is to create a different angle, and to really focus on the leg the is being attacked. It’s complicated, but I’m leaving this here as a reminder for myself. I hate learning awesome things only to forget them the next day. Ugh, that’s part of training in a sport that is endlessly creative and dynamic. Rote memorization of a few moves is not going to get you anywhere It’s also why a guy can keep training for decades, and keep getting better, like that guy above in the white gi.
I even had a chance to roll with Professor, which was amazing, in the way that you can appreciate how little you know and how much better your opponent is, and really how effective it is in kicking your ass. Plus, his style is very much what I want mine to be. Slow, methodical, subtle. He makes constant little changes to his angles which have big effects on the pathetic little things I’m trying to do. Every defensive move I made seemed to only make things worse. I bump his mount, he gets further under my arms. I try to turn, he moves under my shoulder, trapping me further. I try and shrimp, he gets a better angle on my arm, which until recently I thought was pretty well hidden, but now seems very, very vulnerable. And which is now being slowly moved into an armbar, to which I’ll tap to shortly,
One of the great things about Jiu Jitsu is that you get to interact and train with the luminaries of the sport in a way you don’t get to in other endeavors. Unless you pay a lot in some charity auction, you don’t get to share the court with Michael Jordan, or play catch with Joe Montana. Sorry, I know those guys have been retired a while, but I don’t watch much ball and stick stuff, and I didn’t want to research who was famous in those sports.
But you get to get on the mat, and try your pathetic, hopeless best against world champions pretty frequently. For $20 bucks, which covers instruction and your mat fee. How cool is that?
With all this Jiu Jitsu goodness, and fresh fish and tacos and ocean views, it was a little hard to wrap it up and head back into the mountains, but they were kicking us out. Plus, I left my trailer in Barton Flats, and eventually the raccoons, aka the hobos of the woods, would break in and burn it down, so we had to hustle back up. Plus, Jen, while reluctant to give up her pie and couch, has a trail to walk, and she really wants to do it.
We got back up, where it was threatening to snow again, packed up the still raccoon free trailer, and drove to mile 250, where our little hero began her long march to Canada anew. I duct taped her feet, just in case, shoved her out the door, and turned around, this time headed for Laguna Beach.
She seems to be doing just fine, btw. She just charged a Chinese Food lunch to the card in Big Bear. That means mile 265 or so. I’ll meet her again at Mile 325, where hopefully she’ll tell me all about how awesome her new boots are, and maybe how I was right about those damn leather monsters all along.