Don’t Make me Run and Involuntary Splits: Week 10 of Jiu-Jitsu

This week I forgot I can’t really run anymore, was puzzled by the half-guard and did some more no-gi.

My Annoying Feet

I wasn’t big on running even when I still had a fully functioning spinal cord. After a friendly brain tumour squished all of my cranial nerves in 2016 (long story), I have had a constant feeling of pins and needles all over my body from the neck down. Basically my spinal cord’s ability to send sensory information to my brain is irreversibly fucked. Luckily my condition doesn’t cause me chronic pain, just mild discomfort at worst, but it does add an extra hurdle to exercising.

After losing some sensitivity from the feet, I have only ran after buses, trams, trains or boats I was about to miss. I don’t feel my own legs properly, so running makes me feel like I am not in charge of where I’m going. I’m also more likely to trip while running or just when walking briskly in uneven terrain. Luckily in jiu-jitsu, we spend most of our classes off our feet.

Wednesday was a gi class with yet another instructor. This friendly young man decided to make us run around the gym for warm-ups. So we did, and I stumbled along somehow. Until it was time to turn to the right and run sideways.

I forgot to move my right leg as quickly as the left one, got them tangled together, flailed round a bit and fell to the tatami with an almighty thud. Poor Arttu, the instructor, was probably unused to such clumsy creatures attending his classes and sounded genuinely worried when crying out: “Were you hurt?”

“I’ll explain later”, I yelled back and continued running, a bit more apprehensively this time.

Electric cupboard with pictures of gems with faces on it. Speech bubble to one of the gems: "Shine on!"
What I plan on doing, even if dimly.

I did explain. Told the instructor not to worry if I sometimes fell over, my disability made me a bit clumsy. “It’s when I don’t get up you need to start worrying”, I said, trying to make light of the situation. As a wrote that day on Facebook, I would have been mortified if had fallen over in PE class, say, ten years ago. I am still proud of not worrying about my stupid tumble. I’m going to keep doing BJJ as the person I am, warts and all. Out of sheer stubbornness if nothing else.

The class itself was half-guard practice, and I was added as the third wheel to a real-life couple’s drilling. Luckily both parties are very teaching-oriented and in practice spent the entire class giving me a private class. Didn’t crack half guard yet, but liked the introduction.

Devil in the Details and the Spinning Dervish

At Thursday’s no-gi class, the instructor said something important: don’t worry about learning everything the first time. We practiced attacking the open guard, and he told me to focus on just getting my knee over my training partner’s thigh. Little by little some improvement might even have occurred.

During sparring I encountered my first partner who liked trying all sorts of fancy tricks on me. He spent a lot of time doing incomprehensible rolls underneath me. He also managed to turn me 90 degrees from my mount position and to force my legs apart! Holy hell! “Stop!” I hollered out loud, only finding the wherewithal to tap out after that. The experience did not leave me exactly traumatised but was certainly memorable.

Next class in already tomorrow, no-gi again. Let’s see what happens there.

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