Saturday, March 19, 2011

Shark Girl Cheats

Usually I’m loyal. Very loyal. But this weekend I just couldn’t help myself. It all started with a work-related trip—a conference if you will. Husband once said, “Anything goes when you’re on the road.” Of course, Husband wasn’t talking about me and my road, nor did he realize that his words would come back at him manifold since the day he uttered them, usually when he was going on the road. But this weekend, Shark Girl went on the road.

Now, as I said, Shark Girl is pretty loyal. I’m loyal to friends, husbands, employers, ideas, clothing styles, coifs, and cars. I’m loyal to this conference, too, and have been going every March for the past fifteen years. Perhaps, in some ironic way loyalty is what drove—no, forced—me to cheat. You see, going on the road meant that I would miss my Saturday morning jiu jitsu. Racing in and out of my mind were all the techniques and practice that my classmates would be getting. I would be sitting with my classicist friends, hiding my bruised shins behind khaki corduroys, nodding intently at orations on how strife between the optimates and populares in late-Republican Rome influenced the literature of the period. What I would not be doing was jiu jitsu. How could I remedy that? By cheating.
            I found a gym near my bed-and-breakfast (which, for you foodies, had an on-site sugar shack—I slathered my Amish pancakes with house-made maple syrup). I found a class that fit my schedule. I snuck out so I wouldn’t have to explain to everyone that I was going to a submission fighting school before meeting them for dinner at a local fancy French bistro. I changed into gear and headed for the school.

It must be surprising to a Brazilian jiu jitsu instructor to learn that the person e-mailing them about classes is a petite, 40-something, high-school Latin teacher. Maybe skeptical is a better word to describe the look on the instructor’s face when I walked in. If I had a thought translator (and I’m probably better off without one) I’d guess the transcript would have read something like, “Ummm, does she know what kind of a class this is? Is she seriously here? What the hell am I supposed to do with her?” I don’t think I’m the usual demographic. There was some awkwardness until other students dribbled in and we settled down to grappling. After a roll or two, the instructor seemed satisfied that I was in the right place. He worked with just me and another student so I got lots of attention. He watched us roll and then chose certain techniques based on what he thought would be helpful. He coached us through the techniques while we rolled. It was great instruction, great fun, and a great workout. Oh, and one more thing. Not only did I cheat last night but it was also with my first . . . woman. Yes, folks! I rolled with a lady!

When I finally looked at the clock I realized it was time to take a shower and find the restaurant. I said my thank-yous, went back to my room and cleaned my dirty, cheatin’ self up. I hopped in the car and in no time at all I was sipping a cabernet blend, listening to the day’s specials, frosting chick-pea spread onto some crusty, French peasant bread, and cooing over appetizers. No one noticed the new bruises on my legs. Anything goes when you’re on the road.


  1. The BJJ demographic seems relatively broad, but it can definitely get broader, especially in terms of gender. Some day, I hope that it becomes just as diverse as judo, TKD and other globally successful martial arts.

    Good to see that in terms of blogging at least, women in BJJ are easily as visible as men, perhaps even more so. :)

  2. What happens on the mats.. stays on the mats...

  3. I've always wanted to do that...pop in to another school. I admire your adventure.

  4. It was a lot of fun! It was pretty much a private lesson and I learned a lot about my skills. It gave me confidence in my BJJ practice. I encourage you to do it if you never have. (But I have to admit I WAS nervous to go!)


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