In Ancient Greek there is a term called Aristeia. This would be used to describe a dramatic scene in poetry that was warrior based; it would be the pinnacle of a hero’s battle, the epic zenith showing all their glory and prowess. It would be magical.
Sunday this white belt 4-eva watched an open mat session with several much more seasoned practitioners after having her face smashed into the floor and between someone’s knees several times. I was slightly euphoric, definitely sweaty (I prefer the term glowing, but am realistic that this is not the case for me), but Aristeia is what came to mind while holding up the wall too tired to adjust my gi. It was a beautiful battle to frontline view seeing several black belts roll and even more spellbinding that one of them was a woman.
My friend Chris Crosby owns Combat Athletics near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is a BJJ black belt and Pro MMA fighter and whereas I haven’t checked out his gym (going to have to make plans now), I was able to meet up with him in Little Rock and follow him like a monkey with cymbals to check out an open mat session with West Side Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
A discussion (translation- me trash talking) had before class was about whether Chris was one of those jiu jitsu purists that spends a good chunk of his time obsessing and watching professional tournament rounds. Several months ago I was in a restaurant with the Knife Control Concepts class and one of the instructors Eli, was watching one on his phone. I feigned mild interest (pretty sure I was not convincing), but all I could think of is that it was like viewing fishing on TV. Chris however had a different take on its merits that had me reevaluating. He said he watched those verses individual reels of moves on IG because that was real time not just a video of a certain technique with minimal resistance. In the tournament is where you see if it actually works, and he felt he learned more observing that way. I couldn’t argue, I mean, I talked smack of course, but teaching jiu jitsu is literally his job so.....
When writing about training weekends I have noted several times that everyone’s force on force scenarios are ugly. I have videoed countless people with all sorts of backgrounds; military, LEO, special forces, just general bad asses, and when they do their drills there might be some technique, but it is still a giant scramble that is nothing like John Wick. Several are black/brown belts in some form of martial arts, mostly jiu jitsu and it’s still a wild, messy looking ride. In fact, sometimes it is more on the scale of the posh Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver restaurant fight. That is in Bridget Jones Diary for those punch-face people out there too good to watch a chick flick. Youtube it.
It is not going to look exactly like it was practiced. You can hammer technique, and you should, but in the end, what works in the scramble is what works in the scramble. I recently was rolling with a person who, let’s be realistic, likely gave me the submission, however I was so surprised it worked that when he tapped I hesitated to release because I didn’t understand that I had actually succeeded (okay it’s not that bad, but close). I was shooting for a bow and arrow; I am sure what I was doing was something more along the lines of the Nerf version… either way it got the choke.
As I sat married to the wall Sunday, chest dramatically heaving after two awesome rolls with a kid named Emmerson, I got to watch Torrid Gianstbane and several black belts roll and it was an education. I tried to observe from the viewpoint of what Chris had mentioned and was surprised that I hadn’t done this before with jiu jitsu, or even with my force-on-force videos of others. I learned a ton.
Betina Penedo makes BJJ look stunning, not only does she have a beautiful face and accent (she is Brazilian) she also manages to not look like a homeless troll after two hours of rolling. I am serious I was ridiculously jealous when I walked into the bathroom later and looked at my red, veins bulging, not glowy, just plain horse sweaty mug. But watching her maneuver was literally like art to me; I can say that since that was my major in college (obviously it paid off in life… *insert eye roll at myself here). She was smooth and constantly moving in all directions at once. She appeared levelheaded the entire time and always seemed to be calculating several steps forward. I am sure I looked like a Joe from “You” observing from the side. I viewed several of her rounds and was floored, literally because I physically couldn’t get up and figuratively because I was mesmerized. Then I watched several of the others and where I could have just been hallucinating on the endorphins, my brain was likening it to Aristeia.
Okay so in reality that’s not quite how it all played out… I came back home, started typing this up, called my brother and told him I needed a word for how it appeared magical when two beautiful people were fighting each other. I am assuming the nogi MMA fighter that rolled with Betina was her significant other (sorry, I didn’t get your name) and they will make pretty babies someday. I told my brother think Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and he gave me the word Aristeia and a Wikipedia link. So yeah…. #literaryscholar but hey, we all get an education here….
Arete is another Greek term that I ended up bunny trailing on, it means, “excellence” in a most foundational sense. I visit many gyms and do not write about all of them; I am a sweetheart by nature and am apparently incapable of writing negative things unless you are Larry Nassar, he gets negative stars; bars, he gets lots and lots of prison bars. Basically, what I am saying is that if I have attended your class/place and didn’t write about you, well there is your answer on my recommendation and word of mouth…. That being said, Arete is obviously rolling (pun totally intended) at Westside BJJ. To make sure I am not being deficient in why I write these up, I can say with the utmost confidence that they are a place I would recommend to any woman starting out on their martial arts journey. Everyone was welcoming and Betina had a smile immediately when we walked in. Emmerson was a sweetheart and every person I talked to was warm and engaging and that was just an open mat. So check them out if you are in the Little Rock area and looking.
In fighting there are no absolutes, but you can find better and more efficient ways to progress and up your odds. I eat crow and the trash I talk a lot, but I cherish it when concepts that lay separate in my head get pieced together by a person or one good instructor to create a stronger one; that is beauty. And when that concept is in the creation of finding better ways to learn, well then that’s my Aristeia.
#dothejiujitsu #wyattiamrolling #westsidebjj #aristeia #itsallgreektome #whitebelt4eva #knifecontrolconcepts #arete #betinayouneedayoutubechannel #selfdefense #drymop #combatathletics
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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