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I was so excited, thinking that in only a year that I would be in the UFC kicking butt. A few months down the road I started to realize otherwise. By this time things weren’t going so well for me; my grades were in the drain (as usual) so my mom would only let me train twice a week. I also hadn’t lost any weight since I started, I felt a little bit better but it didn’t show on the scale. Everyone kept telling me I was getting so much better than when I started, I still didn’t see it. After 4 months I still haven’t passed a guard and I still haven’t caught a submission. Guys were coming in for their free week trial and totally dominating me. Then one Thursday night it finally happened, I passed the guard, settled in side control, and got the americana. Even though the person I got it on had been training a month and was about 100 pounds lighter than me, it felt good. That night after bragging to Facebook and everyone else I could tell, I couldn’t even sleep. I couldn’t be more excited to train the next day. The next time I trained we had a guard rotation and I actually passed a guard! It seemed like things were looking up for me. After class I decided to ask Dave when I could start competing. He said I should start training for the spring copy nova because it was local and a good place for beginners. With my grades still in the toilet it was hard to train more than 2 days a week. So I started to actually put forth some effort in my classes, within two months my grades were good enough to do jiu jitsu whenever I wanted. The problem was I could only train 4 days a week because my mom would only give me a ride on those days. The gym was ten miles away so there was no way I could walk or ride my bike. At the time I was only 16 so I didn’t have a licence or a car. So I just dealt with that for the time being. It seemed like I was really enjoying jiu jitsu and things were starting to come together more and more. I knew I liked jiu jitsu, but little did I know how much I would give up for it.
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.
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