I was wrestling around with my little cousin at a family party when he told me he started wrestling for his school. I did a year of wrestling in high school and when I was rolling with my cousin, it all came back to me and I missed the feeling of strenuous cardio. At this point I was also around 217 lbs and my cardio was nonexistent.
My First Taste
The first BJJ academy that I gave a try was in Redmond, WA. My cousin-in-law, gave me a heads up on the credentials of the head professor. From what I remember, she was a multiple Worlds champion and had some other medals in other organizations. I was blinded by the unknown world of BJJ that I genuinely enjoyed my first night class, but as soon as I reflected over how the class went, I began to seek other schools. I had no problem with anyone at the school or instructors, it was more of the style and atmosphere of the school. I felt like I was thrown into the arena without a weapon in hand, the instructions weren’t very clear and there was a definite skill level difference in the class.
The next day, I went to the afternoon class where a purple belt was the instructor. I have nothing against this because I didn’t know the order of belts at the time and was clueless in what BJJ was and how to roll, I couldn’t even tighten my pants correctly. But the atmosphere of this afternoon class was not as serious as I’d hope it was going to be. A couple of the students were laughing while the instructor was talking and the warm-ups weren’t executed honestly. It wasn’t the place academy for me.
Gracie Barra Kirkland, WA
Luckily, my work was a stone throw away from Gracie Barra Kirkland (GBK). I remember driving by the academy every morning and I seeing the windows fogged up at night as students walking in and out of the door, but never put two and two together. My cousin-in-law had trained with Professor Cindy “The Sleeper” Hales before in MMA and some BJJ so he was fond of her skills and instructions. My cousin told me that her fiance was secretly disappointed that I chose GBK over his academy. Though he is proud that I have come a long way in the year that I’ve been doing BJJ, he wanted to train with me.
Professor Cindy and now Professor Dave are excellent instructors that I have been blessed with their knowledge and friendship. Both them and my teammates were helpful in where I’ve gotten so far in my BJJ journey. From the afternoon, after work, day off, and post-training rolling, there was not a time that we weren’t high on life.
Around my teammates I didn’t want to be judged for smoking, so I would have a cigarette 4 hours before practice, but felt the affects of torturing my lungs. Alcohol was also cut because of the empty calories and I spent more of my time with my teammates and their kids. BJJ has changed me for the better and helped me save money little by little.