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“Dear Diary…” Fight or Fit-West Side Academy. Week 2.

May 11, 2011

West Side Academy

Dear Diary…

When Nelson Mandela was young he learned how to be a man from his father.  Not through engaging in dialogue and questions but through reverential observation and emulation.  This is how I chose to enter this session at West Side Academy.  I chose to observe while other students grappled for most of the class.  I watched as people paired up and took turns with different exercises.  First was one (of many) way to break guard.    The guard position is when your opponent has his legs wrapped around your lower torso and they are locked at the ankles.  From here, your opponent can attempt some different submissions depending on their skill set.  Your goal is to break the guard and maneuver into a more dominant position so you can hit, kick, knee, or submit your opponent.  After everyone worked on this move (I practiced a couple times), we were taught some take downs.  One from a face to face position, and another one if you could slip behind your opponent and take them down backwards.

Our instructor was Patrick.  He was skinnier than some other instructors but, after a few demonstrations, I could tell he was a fierce fighter and his size only helped him with quickness.  This is what I have learned to respect about MMA and Jiu-Jitsu:  The winner is not the biggest or the strongest; it is the one who uses the most skill, intelligence, technique, and leverage.  It is not a sport of sheer power and violence like one might guess at first glance.  It involves strategy, experience, and courage (and maybe in some cases a loose screw).

It was helpful to take a class and mostly observe.  Of course, hands-on is always the best way to learn, but it is important to sit back and evaluate what you are being taught.  There is no pressure to do anything you don’t feel comfortable with at West Side Academy.  I also recommend a mouth guard to the beginner and some gloves if you intend to stick with any training.

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