How I got here – part 3

I can still remember the first time I attended a class at Dave Trader Jiu-Jitsu. When I walked into the gym , I was greeted by this goofy kid that worked the front desk. He started by telling me how great he was in both Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. He even “taught” me how to throw a Muay Thai kick. After that day, I saw him in maybe 2 classes. Not surprisingly, he no longer works at the gym.

So anyway, the goofy guy sends me back to the area where they hold most of the classes. I thought I was pretty familiar with the gym – I had done some boxing there before the new owners took over and renamed it Rage Fight Club. I was astounded. There, right in the middle of the gym, was a huge cage! I walked over to the cage, took my shoes off, and walked in.

The first jiu-jitsu guy I talked to was this tall, skinny guy. He didn’t look like he had too much muscle on him; but one thing that struck me was the veins bulging out of his forearms. He asked me if I had trained before, of course I replied with the standard “Oh yeah….I train in my basement with some of my friends.” I went on to further make an ass of myself; I told him that I planned to be in the UFC by the time I was 18. I’m pretty sure I told anybody who would listen that, “since I used to box – my hands are good – all I need to do is work on some ground game for the next two years and I’m sure I’ll make it.”

Class finally started, but not until after I had successfully made a fool of myself to everyone attending it. We started with a basic warm-up – breakfalls, shrimps, army crawls, etc. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do a single exercise properly and still barely made it through the warm-up. Things didn’t get much better when we moved on to the technique portion of the class. That first day the class was working a butterfly guard pass. The one where you reach under and pinch both legs together, drive your shoulder into them, and then come around to side control. Looking back, my attempts at the technique were terrible. I would barely pinch my partners knees together, put almost zero weight on him, and then kinda just flop into side control. Still confident I was destined for UFC greatness, I was blissfully unaware of any of this.

Next came time for sparring. Dave, the blackbelt instructor, told me I didn’t have to spar, but if I wanted to I should watch a few rounds and could jump in when I felt ready. I wanted to tell Dave, “Future UFC champs don’t need to watch a few rounds,” but I humored him and waited a few minutes before jumping into line. Although I don’t remember much of the actual sparring, I know it was a guard rotation and I now realize the few times I managed to spend any significant time on the mat were when the upper belts took pity on me and let me work a little.

After class I talked to the goofy kid at the front desk about the prices. After he finished (and I finished secretly laughing), I told him that I would be back for my second free class.

P.s. I got my clinch gear fight shorts from MMAHQ a few days ago. I gotta tell you guys these shorts are awesome! They have a perfect fit, with stretch material at the groin, they have so much flexibility. These guys have the best deals so check them out. Plus they are very prompt in shipping, I got the shorts literally in two days. Really great site with really great deals, check ’em out!

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How I got here – Part 2

I’m sure everyone reading this can look back on time when they were young and did something that now, in hindsight, they realize made them look at little foolish. Some of you might also remember a time when you rolled around and wrestled with your friends in their basements and thought what you all were doing was something like jiu-jitsu or MMA. I can remember both…..vividly.

Some of my friends had started watching The Ultimate Fighter and soon there after started a basement fight “team”. As you probably gathered from my last blog post, I was always the fattest, least flexible, and slowest member of this group of wannabe UFC fighters. During any given match between me and a “teammate”, I was typically getting choked and arm-barred (and I use those terms very loosely) about every 5 seconds or so. But, convinced we were destined to be future UFC champions, we practiced our poor imitations of the latest techniques we saw used on The Ultimate Fighter and spent a great deal of time beating on each other. Our drilling consisted of jumping onto an unchained heavybag and “moving” from side control to side mount to cross mount to cross body (at this point I actually thought those were names for different positions….so embarrassing). Our conditioning was non-existent. Well…..except for that one kid that tried running on a treadmill while breathing thru a snorkel. And I know what you are thinking, but I swear to you that this wasn’t me.

At some point I guess I finally decided I was tired of being the guy that always got beat up. If I had ever learned anything from Joe Rogan, it was that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was what you needed if you wanted to be able to submit your opponents. So, I googled “BJJ in Manassas”. A few sites came up and I clicked through them trying to figure out which one to choose. One of them offered a free trial period. Since I had no intention of actually signing up, I figured, at worst, I could go there and learn a few techniques which I could surprise my training partners with. So, I asked my mom if I could try it out. I’m sure she figured that my obsession with learning MMA was just another in a long line of passing interests and that I would abandon it a few weeks later. So, playing along, and despite knowing very little about the sport (other than it was something like Pro-Wrestling), she took me to the gym that Friday to start my free trial period.

To be continued…..

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How I got here – Part 1

So….obviously my name is Andrew Babeu.  I’m a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) student and competitor for Team Dave Trader Jiu Jitsu in Manassas, Virginia.   Before I started training Jiu-Jitsu, I was a fat, sloppy, 15 year-old, 265 lb “wannabe gangster” and the only place I was headed was into more trouble.

When I was younger, I had always been a pretty good student and steered clear of trouble.  Things changed quite a bit after my father died following a long battle with leukemia.  Without my dad’s influence,  I developed into somewhat of a trouble maker.  I’m not trying to make any excuses for myself.  I made the bad decisions.  I just want you to have an idea of where I was coming from and where I am headed.  My situation at school deteriorated in my freshman year.  I started hanging out with the wrong crowd.  Don’t get the wrong impression – it wasn’t really where I fit in.  But I wanted to be in with what I thought was the “cool” crowd,  and I paid the price for it.

My mom, a researcher for the Army,  hoped she could straighten me out with some old fashioned military discipline and enrolled me in military school over the summer.  She thought it would be great – I hated it.  After that summer semester, my mom wanted to send me back to military school for the next school year, but when I told her she would have to physically force me to go back, she enrolled me at Emmanuel Christian School in Manassas, VA instead.  Needless to say, “wannabe gangsters” don’t really fit in at Emmanuel Christian.  Although I have to admit I was still somewhat of a troublemaker, I saw a great deal of hypocrisy on display during my time there.

Miserable and outcast at school,  I wasn’t doing much to stay active.   Although I have been overweight for most of my life, things got really bad after I got expelled from school.  My mom punished me for getting expelled and acting out by taking away most of the freedom I had.  Being hard-headed, I just adapted to her rules by staying home and eating, sometimes out of boredom and other times because I really didn’t have much of anything else that I enjoyed anymore.  My mom started to notice and pointed out how much weight I had put on.  She signed me up for a gym; she sent me to the doctor and to nutritionists; I tried every diet out there; and despite playing sports for nearly every season of my life, nothing seemed to work.  I finally just accepted that I would be fat for the rest of my life.

To be continued……

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