Grab bag of thoughts
I want to talk about Carlson Gracie, Jr. a little bit. He is my longest-term teacher; I trained under him in Chicago for 6 years before leaving on my journey. In addition to being a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt under his late, great father, he has a black belt in judo as well. He was in a car accident several years ago and has a persistent neck injury because of it. So while I was training under him, he didn’t roll as much as he used to in the past, but when he did, he was as nimble and technical as he ever was. Plus, he would giggle like a little boy when he did roll.
Long before I decided to take my trip, Carlson, Jr, told me about his experiences growing up in Rio, training under his dad. He talked about how his dad forbade him to train at any other local academy, which of course caused him to train at every other local academy. Of course he schooled people at the other academies, and of course I suspect that Carlson, Sr., knew all about it. So I am following in some pretty big footsteps by doing my journeying. I’m not filling Carlson, Jr’s, shoes by any stretch of the imagination, but I guess I come by the compunction honestly.
In an earlier post, I included some pics of me and Carlson in Chicago at his apartment. It was so great to see him. He talked and talked about his son Carlson Gracie Neto, who was born in November and is with his mom/Jr’s wife in Japan. So Jr misses them, needless to say.
One other picture from London, though I have many. When I was in high school, my parents, sister and I lived in Frankfurt, in what was then West Germany, for a year. We took to frequenting a restaurant chain called Moevenpick. I think it’s Swiss. We would go there for Kaffeestunde (coffee hour) many afternoons. My parents would have strong European coffee, and my sister and I would have rich dark hot chocolate, a far cry from Swiss Miss. And we’d have some kind of Kuchen (cake), like a fruit tart or a hazelnut torte.
I have lots of happy memories of Moevenpick; we were homesick a lot of the year, and our Kaffeestunden were very comforting. So here’s a picture for my parents and my sister. Bring back memories, everyone?
(I am unshowered in this picture. That seems to be a pattern of my life. Actually, my friend Marcel, a leading metrosexual, has threatened to turn me into the powers that be at What Not to Wear, that TLC show that saves the fashion-challenged from themselves. If he did, in some ways I would be relieved.)
So other things going on: the US Grappling tournament in Virginia a couple weekends ago. I went out there with 3 huge duffel bags full of gear from Jiu Jitsu Pro Gear to sell for Gilberto. We sold one duffel bag’s worth, so that’s cool. About 6 gis, some board shorts and rash guards, and a bunch of t-shirts. Gilberto also donated a pair of board shorts and a rash guard to each winner of the team challenge the tournament sponsored. People seemed pretty psyched about our presence there, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to be represented at the next US Grappling tournament too.
I had two no-gi matches and a gi match. I won them all, which is exciting, but my opponents were all smaller than I am and I think I have more experience than they do. But as Shawn pointed out, last time I competed I had to fight women much larger than myself, so I guess things even out. And serendipitously, a student of Mike Moses’ who was at the tournament happened to videotape one of my matches. He was videotaping it for my opponent, but he contacted me to see if I wanted a copy. And of course I do! I should be getting it this weekend, and then I’ll figure out how to post it.
I don’t know how other competitors feel, but I rarely remember much of my matches. I’m trying to be more aware of what’s going on while I’m competing, but I’m always surprised to hear that I went for an armbar or that my opponent recomposed the half guard or whatever. So it’ll be good to get a gander at one of my matches.
I also refereed. I wasn’t as happy with my refereeing this time around, but I guess there’s always room for improvement.
And then the next day was my birthday, which I spent doing things I love: sleeping, training, eating, laughing with people I like a lot. So it was a good day.
Tomorrow is a tournament here in Long Beach sponsored by On the Mat. Tomorrow is the gi divisions and Sunday is the no gi. I’ll be competing in both, assuming there are people for me to compete against. I’m so happy that I like competing now. I’ve come a long way from the times when I forced myself to compete. I mean, I still get nervous, but I actively like it now.
So I’ll let everyone know how it goes. Right now I need to wind down and get some sleep. Nighty night.