A couple other new students arrived in the club room after a few minutes of bantering with the MMA club. Even while I stretched, I kept my eye on the door, waiting expectantly for the new guy who stole the show during yesterday’s demonstrations to arrive.
But he never came.
After dragging everyone through rigorous stretches and warm-ups, our small group sat down in a semicircle around the captain as he began reiterating the safety information before we started learning actual techniques.
“No matter what, if your opponent taps the mat with their hand, foot, or even says tap, you stop immediately.” Sam continued sternly, not continuing until he was sure we understood. “If anyone here breaks this rule and hurts your opponent, you’re being kicked out of the club. We’re here to learn in a safe environment, not actually kill each other.”
As he ended his speech and began pairing everyone up for the drills, the door creaked from behind me. I turned to see the boy from the demonstration failing to slip into the back of the room unnoticed.
“I’m glad to have you join us today, Cole.” Sam remarked enthusiastically, “but since you were fashionably late, you’re going to have to give me 25 burpees while I show the first technique.”
“I’m already warmed up,” Cole replied dryly, sitting down behind the semicircle of people.
The captain glared at him before sighing.
“I’ll make an exception for you just this once, but you better be on time in the future.”
Cole simply nodded at the captain, allowing him to continue demonstrating the new technique.
The technique Sam showed was from a position called closed guard where his opponent was sitting on their knees and Sam had his legs wrapped around his opponent’s abdomen. To be honest, I would be lying if I said it didn’t look marginally sexual until the move begun.
The captain’s opponent had their hands planted firmly on his hips, leading to Sam spinning his wrists under the opponents’ and compressing his legs, breaking them down and forcing their arms on to the mat. He then quickly followed this movement up by grabbing hold of his opponent’s wrist, spinning on his hips, and clamping his leg over their back.
As Sam held the now twisted arm tightly and turned into his opponent’s side, keeping constant pressure with his clamped leg, they tapped out, ending the demonstration.
“This is what’s known as a Kimura from closed guard. It’s a relatively basic submission which is used in all sorts of situations.” The vice-captain spoke up as the two demonstrating reset.
After repeating and reviewing a couple of times, we split off into pairs to try the moves ourselves. The captain made a point to pair all of the new people with someone experienced in order to ensure that no one got hurt and that they were doing the move correctly.
By some twist of fate, I ended up being paired with Cole, and we separated into a corner of the mat to begin working.
“Hi, your name was Cole, right? My name is Lucas, it’s a pleasure to meet you!” I smiled at him as he sat down on his knees, facing me.
“You can do the move first; I’ll help you along.” He gestured to the space in front of him, inciting me to lie down and put him in guard.
Not one for small talk, huh?
“You know, it’s typically nice to respond to my introduction with one of your own, just saying.” I mumble to myself, still following his directions and wrapping him in guard.
“You already knew my name so why should I?” He replied, standoffish, firmly grasping my hips and basing out his legs.
You think you’re so smart, well how about this?
As he finished his sentence, I attempted to quickly do the beginning of the move, breaking his grips, and pulling him forward. As I did, an oddly familiar feeling rushed through my body. Just like when I tried to open the locked door, his body didn’t budge an inch, causing all the excess force I tried to use in frustration to reflect back into my muscles and bones.
“Now whose being rude?” He turned his head away snootily, ending his retort with a small “hmph.”
“Jiujitsu isn’t about strength, just look at me.” He began again after a moment of silence.
His exceedingly skinny arms obscured by a black and purple patterned rash guard; on his legs he wore a standard pair of MMA shorts and spats. Although the height and length were correct for both the spats and rash guard, they fit loosely on his limbs.
As I looked back up at him, he continued with his monologue, almost as if he wanted to draw attention away from his body.
“The key to this motion is the simultaneous movement of both wrists and legs as well as how you move your wrists. It’s called swimming; think of it as if you’re gliding through water rather than trying to break me down violently.”
With an affirmative nod I tried again, this time keeping his advice in mind. I swam my arms and contracted my legs, attempting to the motions as fluidly and simultaneously as possible. To my surprise, it actually worked!
To be fair, it wasn’t pretty. Like a baby taking its first steps, I stumbled over myself, both literally and metaphorically. Nonetheless, a wall that just moments a go felt insurmountable, I had just overcome!
Before I was able to fully celebrate my glorious accomplishment, my joy was cut short by Cole’s sudden interjection.
“Nice, now do the rest of the move.” He said, smiling smugly at me, his head resting on my chest.
I can’t decide whether I hate him or not…
As I continued stumbling through every step of the move, being lectured by Cole on every motion from how to move my hips to twisting my wrists to properly finishing the submission, it was finally time to switch places.
Towards the end, I felt that I had a good grasp on the move, even feeling a bit confident in myself having done it fluidly a couple times. That cocky feeling lasted roughly ten seconds as Cole got to practice his Kimura on me.
I knew that he was good at jiujitsu, but I thought I could at least follow his moves while fighting him. I couldn’t even reset my position before I was already faceplanting into the floor and having my arm ripped out of its socket. I thought the warmups had me sore but my palm was stinging from tapping the mat so often in our drills together.
I had planned to get to know Cole better during this drill, talking while we practiced the motions, but any time I tried to speak I was overwhelmed by how my body was being forcefully contorted against my will.
When time was up, Cole simply rolled over and casually rejoined the group, leaving me gasping for air like a fish out of water. I awkwardly made my way over to the group to hear them talking about the next move, known as the hip bump sweep, which is done in combination with the Kimura.
This time, I studied the move thoroughly, determined to both get it right and hold an actual conversation with Cole while practicing.
I’ll make you like me whether you like it or not.