When our Arzetta came to us she was three. She had long been known about and prayed constantly over for her safety. According to the state, who had already terminated rights to six of her older siblings (we had just started fostering her one-month-old baby brother who would also eventually be adopted by us too), a well child check had been done and they didn’t know where she was. They had no idea if she was hurt, hungry, anything; the was a court order out to remove her from the home, but she was in the wind.
The night I got the call that she had been found I cried so many happy tears while I drove to Northwest Arkansas to get her. I won’t go too much into the situation she was found in or the circumstances surrounding it, but you would never find a person happier to be picking lice out of a baby’s hair just staring at her in disbelief knowing she was finally safe with us.
She was the most unhappy little girl we had taken care of to date and her adjustment into the home was one of the harder ones. She was incredibly weary of men (sort that one out yourself) and she never smiled. She played well with the kids but lacked a vigor in life that my others had, she just existed.
About a month into her living with us we attended a birthday party at our church. If you know me, you also know I think kids’ birthday parties are right down there with the 7th level of Hell. Sorry not sorry. I was worried for her and was in the last atmosphere I wanted to be, but after 30 minutes she zeroed in on a pink balloon and her entire demeaner lit up. She was finally smiling, and I would have paid an easy 500$ for that helium filled sack; at the very least would have thrown hands just to make sure she went home with it. That balloon was Zetta’s catalyst, her turning point in healing, and I was eternally grateful.
I have written before about how we never know what another person is fighting so we must give grace and be kind. Part of the Ego Injury Report for Virginia Beach Jiu Jitsu has to do with me needing to humbly be reminded of this fact; the other is just the constant realization that I am the physical embodiment of a dry mop for the mats when it comes to rolling.
I met Scott Oates, one of the owners of VB BJJ a year ago while attending Edged Weapons Overview with Shivworks. Scott was Craig Douglas’s right-hand guy for the course and a key person in my survival that weekend. He lends a fun, comedic relief with his trash talking which creates a drive to finish when mentally you are stalling. I find this invaluable in training. He also holds a resume of just insanity that makes me feel lazy and super ill accomplished in life. I had the pleasure of getting to know Scott’s wife, Vanessa and we became friends through shared quirky interests thus leading us to visit them and get crushed on the mats.
Virginia Beach Jiu Jitsu is a rare gem of a gym. Seriously. I cannot speak highly enough of the three classes I attended and those I attended with. They have good full classes, and they are extremely organized. This is straight up one of the places I would recommend anyone who is just starting jiu jitsu. They begin white belts with a fundamentals course, something I find incredibly useful because the first year you literally spend most of your time wondering what your objective is while standing there with your finger in your nose (note I am still in this phase). You are told to roll, but you have no comprehension of the rules, only to hear what you were doing to just survive getting your chest caved in, is such a, “white belt move.” Yeah, I am totally selling BJJ right now… Eventually it gets better when you learn a couple things (more like ten because the first several submissions won’t work on others in the class because they are better than you). #itsprobablyjustme
They also are incredibly helpful with law enforcement, offering a discount up to blue belt. They encourage their health, better movement and control, and several LEO’s were in attendance of all ranks.
At VB BJJ it is not just a bunch of struggling white belts. There are direction and objectives by thorough teachers and instructors. I can say this with the utmost confidence because even though the Daisy Chain of Demoralization drill was, well, demoralizing as usual, the higher belts were still very kind to the lower ranks and that is sometimes not the case in other gyms that I have attended. There were plenty of high-ranking individuals, male and female, making for an intimidating atmosphere on the onset that very quickly wore off with their friendliness.
That being said….. I met literally the most friendly woman I have ever met in jiu jitsu as well as the most unfriendly which leads me into my EIR…
I was able to attend three BJJ classes while in town, one being taught by Becky who is all peace, love, happiness, essential oils, and really good tequila. Seriously I don’t care if you are even into combatives, just go sit and learn from this gal. She is sweet and fun, and her women’s class is the epitome of what I love to recommend for women in jiu jitsu, epic learning and warm welcoming. If you are in the Virginia Beach area ladies and interested in starting, I could not tell you a better class to begin with in the Continental US than her Saturday morning one.
I managed to rassle with an old friend who had previously knocked my head back permanently with a rubber knife like 4000 times inside of 30 seconds at the Edged Weapons Overview. After that weekend my chiropractor had to hammer me upside the back of my skull with a bat in order to get me looking towards the horizon again. Bunchy spent the five minutes of our roll not so subtly letting me know I was being submitted multiple times, not even giving me a chance to tap, just moving onto his next move. I was pretty much a grappling dummy at that point. He is an instructor there as well and very much in his element running a kid’s class, it was fun to observe.
I also attended one of Scotts classes and his teaching style is exactly how I thought it would be, humble, funny, lots of trash talk, thorough, easy instruction, then crush your soul. Makes for solid learning. He also reminded me of an important lesson that I have wrote about before.
The first night there, I met the unfriendly individual I mentioned above. I was so put off that while driving home I mentioned to Ryan that though I normally choose not to write about things that aren’t positive or uplifting, I was thinking of writing about her. To be honest my impression was that she would probably take my petty remarks as a badge of honor and sort of figuratively dip her fingers in my literary article blood and rake them across her face…. In a funny twist or irony, I actually used a comment she made in a previous article about not quitting. I had cracked a joke about being a #whitebelt4-eva; she didn’t find it (or me if we are being honest) that funny and said, “the only white belts forever are the ones who quit.” #sheisnotwrong #goodone #iwasobviouslynothercupoftea.
The following night we went to dinner with Scott and Vanessa for my 40th birthday. We were snails and a couple glasses of prosecco in when he asked how the class went. I teased that I was contemplating writing my first ever write-up that had unfavorable snark in it. Scott inquired and I told my thoughts in sort of a brushing-it-off teasing manner; especially when he seemed genuinely concerned that someone from his place had possibly come across as rude. (also marks of a good instructor, one that cares that the gym is welcoming).
So here is the kicker, his concern was for not only for his gym and reputation, but for her equally as well. He responded that he was surprised and stated there must have been a reason for her mood. I said of course there was, she thought my jokes were stupid… I then was ashamed when he asked me to give her another chance; then mad at myself for not automatically making that my plan after class in the first place. I had automatically decided I was put off and wasn’t willing to try again. I had to be reminded that everyone is fighting something, I don’t know what is going on in her life, and regardless I need to be kind.
Mental ego bruised a bit, I attended a class the next day (Daisy Chain of Demoralization) and she told me I was ugly and pushed me down. Just kidding, she was fine. It was honestly one of the more exhausting but fun jiu jitsu classes I have done. Everyone razzed each other constantly, the sound of laughter was everywhere, and all of them heavily encouraged my daughter, Lila, and son, Cole who attended. It was one of the best ways to spend an evening.
Several years ago, at a birthday party I didn’t want to be at, I was likely frowning. Most assuredly I did not have the correct facial expressions for the Chuckie Cheese type aura. My three-year-old was there unsmiling as well. I was flooded with worry over her, whether I was failing her as a mom, and she was just a confused, sad little girl around strangers. And I knew I was included in that. Anyone who would have approached me probably would have received an uninterested or short response; I didn’t have the energy to try and make friends when I was trying to show love to a sweet one who so desperately needed it. I hope they gave me the grace and second chance that I had to be reminded of in Virginia Beach. I hope they brushed it off as a bad day and came back later and found me excited to tell them the story about how a balloon literally turned a baby’s life around that day. I hope they didn’t hold that ugly first impression against me and saw the warm me, the very same warmth I saw that emanated through VB BJJ while people sat stacked in guard watching instruction, piled like puppies as they absorbed friendship.
#everyonesfightingsomething #firstimpressionsarehard #fostercare #adoption #BJJ #dothejiujitsu #virginiabeachjiujitsu #scottdidyouknowyourlogosortoflookslikejimmyjohns?
#gocheckthisplaceout #hippybjj #tequila #goodfriends #stillnottalkingtoyouscott #leo #doingwhattheycanforthecommunity
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Author- Christun Erwin
"Thank you for your words. They make an impact and its important that, human to human, woman to woman, mother to mother... you know that you make a difference, even to those you never knew your words" -Krystal