The other night we drilled passing each other’s open guard. I practiced with a couple partners, then switched to a third. As I moved in to “attack,” my partner said, “Hey what’s that?” I thought he was trying to distract me—something most easily accomplished.
“Ha! I’m not falling for that!” I replied.
“No, really. You’ve got blood on your gi.”
Blood on my gi? I looked at my left pant leg and sure enough, there it was: a small crimson splatter on the stark white of the canvas.
“Do I have a cut?” I investigated my lower leg, but nothing.
“I don’t think it’s you,” my partner concluded. “Come on, let’s go.”
“Well . . . you should see the other guy,” I said as we engaged for our guard game.
Whence came this blood? Did I scratch a partner in my effort to pass his guard? Memories of my childhood rushed back. My siblings used to call me “The Scrowler.” As the youngest and smallest child, I would shred my brothers and sister with my fingernails when we engaged in the mortal combat of siblingdom. It was almost automatic. Claws came out of their own accord and raked over flesh. “It’s my only defense!” I would cry. I was small, but I was not a quitter, nor afraid. (I was pretty sure Mom had my back.)
The possibility of scratching a partner made me fear: Is my inner Scrowler coming back? Some Scrowler characteristics are good: not being intimidated by obviously stronger and more skilled “fighters,” determination to succeed. They are probably why I started training jiu jitsu. But the part where I unconsciously scratch competitors? I really don’t need that. To be fair to myself, no one said anything about a scratch. Clearly the blood was someone’s but it is unclear whose. Perhaps it was a self-inflicted wound.
After class in the mud room, I commented to one of the guys, “Your wife should come to class.”
“Yeah, I want her to, but she thinks it’s too rough.”
I pointed to my pants blood and shook my head. “Your wife doesn’t want to sign on for this?”
“Shark Girl, there are rules against being too aggressive on the mat,” another guy joked.
That scene from Rambo has been playing in my head.