My daughter turns two next week, on the ides of March. Fortunately boys called Brutus are few and far between these days, a name relegated to the junk heap of epithets along with Adolf and Kermit. Albeit for different reasons.
Speaking of strange (but awesome) names I campaigned long and hard (if we had a boy child) to call him Tiberius. My wife used her veto almost immediately. My second option was Ender. And while not vetoed, I was given an arched eyebrow that suggested I should start coming up with more sensible options lest I receive a stern reprimand and have my PlayStation controller locked in the cupboard for a week.
I have casually mentioned to my daughter that given her auspicious birth date she should avoid politics, crossing Rubicons, suspicious Italians called Cassius* and (for good measure) two Gauls, one of whom may or may not be carrying a menhir.
*amusingly I played (a gay) Cassius in our school play version of Julius Caesar. Quite progressive for a Catholic school. (Maybe he was just effeminate… I think outright gay would have been a bridge too far)
As life advice goes I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far. (Joey pats himself on the back). Yay me.
Age two is a big year. It’s when we start training martial arts in our family (since of this generation). I’ve taken to tossing a various assortment of workshop tools (mostly spanners) at her when her mothers not looking. I must be honest… at the moment… she’s not giving me much to work with (in terms of reflexes).
But then earlier while I was closing curtains she snuck up behind me in the gloom, silently padding into the room without me noticing. As I turned I tripped over her, fell over and hit my head on the edge of the exercise bike.
And it suddenly dawned on me…
Ideologically I really like Ninjitsu. Practically it’s a load of shit. Trust me I know. My martial arts evolution went something like this…
1. Tae Kwon do (ages 10 to 15)
2. Ninjitsu (16 to 18)
3. Traditional Japanese jujitsu (18 to 19)
4. Western boxing (19 to 30)
5. Brazilian Ju jitsu (19 to present)
Of those Ninjitsu was the least helpful in terms of any remotely useful techniques. In fact I’d go as far as to say 99.9% of it is a complete waste of time. BUT… it was loads of fun and lends itself well to training montages and a cheese infused 80s soundtrack.
The bo staff training. Day one.
I jest. Obviously. I can’t actually teach bullshit. I find it super unethical.
I think mostly we’ll concentrate on jab/cross combinations and fighting from the clinch. I think that’s a pretty good base. Then maybe move onto to single and double leg takedowns. Maybe the suplex.
As an amusing aside my first black eye was dished out by a girl. (In a ring*)
*as opposed to, for example, on the dance floor of a nightclub.
So realizing after school that Ninjitsu actually offered me zero practical skills I joined a traditional ju jitsu school. This was just as Royce Gracie was cleaning up in UFC 1. I felt quite smug that I’d made this leap before most people.
Traditional ju jitsu was… okay. The class was divided into three core components. Wrist locks or aki-jitsu, throwing (judo style throws) and grappling. I only really liked the grappling element and endured all the other stuff just so I could grapple for three rounds at the end of the class.
Soon after that I entered my first competition. I’m going to say it was a pancrase type tournament. But I’m not 100% sure thinking back now. No closed hand strikes to the head…. hm… that’s pancrase isn’t it? Anyway I remember I was docked a point for taunting. Ha ha.
In any event I broke my foot in that competition. Really badly. Compound fracture where the bone was sticking out through the top of the foot. I went for a shoot and the guy sprawled and then collapsed and somehow my leg got twisted up and when I scrambled up I happened to look down and my foot was all mangled and fucked. I spent three days in hospital and ended up with a three inch stainless steel pin for my trouble. A large part of my foot still has no feeling in it from the nerve damage.
I was out of action for 8 weeks…. so my sensei borrowed me his UFC collection 1 through 10 on VHS and some grainy bootlegged Pride tapes as well, ostensibly because he felt sorry for me.
Weirdly this was my undoing because I suddenly realized I had NO standup game. NONE. I quit soon after and joined what had been up until recently a Jeet Kune Do gym (it would eventually become a part of Straight Blast*)
*I actually rolled a couple of times with Forrest Griffin. I say rolled… but really he turned me into pretzel.
Anyways MMA wasn’t really a thing yet but they were progressive enough to know that something was happening and were fusing Muay Thai and grappling into this weird… something.
I loved it.
I was a pretty good grappler. But my stand up was abhorrent. Like really, really bad.
My first sparring session went like this…
I’d been speaking to this police woman who was sitting on the bench waiting for the class to start. We were talking about mutual people that we knew. She was bandaging her knee up with tape. It looked horrible. It was all purple and scarred and fucked up. She’d been sheltering behind a wall during a shootout and had taken a bullet to the knee. I was impressed she could still walk nevermind fight. We ended up getting paired up together for our first round of sparring.
Damn. I’m fighting a girl. And an injured girl at that I remember thinking.
I would take it easy on her.
Damn…. She came in hard. No mercy. I withered under her onslaught and made a classic rookie error. I dropped by head. Bam! She hit me with an uppercut! (First black eye) then she hit me with another uppercut. Bam! Second black eye.
With both eyes closing up I had to call it. Couldn’t even finish the three minute round.
That was my first experience of boxing.
I got better. In fact my boxing… and especially my dirty boxing eventually surpassed by grappling skills.
Now I’m old(er). My body after almost thirty years of abuse isn’t as spry as it used to be. I used to love hard sparring. It was my favorite thing in the world. You never feel quite as alive as when someone is trying to knock you out. But… I also decided I’d rather quit while I was ahead and keep some level of cognitive ability going. (I suppose you could argue the damage has been done)
So I took up stick and knife fighting instead.
(me in black)
(me in white and camo shorts)
We used to record our fights so we could learn from our mistakes.
Ah. Good times. Its making me a little nostalgic now. Stranger things and the Masters of Doom has recently really given me a hankering for the ‘good old days’. Life was simpler then. Being an adult I’ve decided, mostly sucks.
How cool would it be if my days could be filled with Dungeons and Dragons, grappling, board games, playstation, comic books and reading. Although ideally I’d really like to do these things AND still have a wife and daughter.
Juggling life is harder than you think it’ll be.