On August 5th, 2012 I received a call from Aaron Cerrone at Mid-America Martial Arts. I had filled out a form on their website expressing interest in learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I had chosen Mid-America because it had a bit of name recognition with me. I’ve been a fan of mixed martial arts for a while, and when Abe Wagner was on The Ultimate Fighter, I learned that he trained at MAMA. It had been a few years since he was on, but the name was still familiar and the gym was a 5 minute drive from my house.
I told Aaron my main concern was to learn BJJ for the sake of learning it, and possibly to get in better shape. I wanted him to know I wasn’t some young kid who was trying to be the next UFC champ (I was 34 at the time, and had thought about taking BJJ for at least 3 years.) More than anything, I didn’t really want to come in day 1 and be a punching bag (so to speak) for the professional fighters they had. He reassured me that about 90% of the BJJ guys were there for the same reason.
So on August 6th, I ducked out of work about 5 minutes early to make sure I got there in plenty of time to sign any waivers etc. I got a quick tour of the gym, bought a gi, paid for a month and was told the intro class was starting in 5 minutes. I went into the bathroom and put on the gi but didn’t really know how to tie the belt. Toby, from the front desk took me back to the intro class (which I think had 2 or 3 other guys in it) and they were just getting ready to start. First things first, the instructor showed me how to tie my belt, and after that we were in to warmups.
Normal warmups included a lot of exercises that were KILLING my abs. Before this I had toyed with going to the gym occasionaly, but hadn’t really done anything physical in about 15-20 years. I was relieved when Charles, the instructor, would walk around and check on everyone because when he was on the other side of the room I could take a second and catch my breath.
Next we moved on to the shrimp drill .
After we did this, I believe we worked on an armbar from guard, paring up with a partner and taking turns, he’d do 10, then I’d do 10.
Next thing I knew, it was 6:30 and the class was over. I changed out of the gi and left completely soaked in sweat. I was already sore from all the ab work and movement that I wasn’t used to. When I got home I noticed I already had scratches and bruises from the class, but that didn’t deter me.
I woke up Tuesday morning and was sore from head to toe. I had to make sure I sat just right at work or I’d be in pain. I had 47 hours between classes, and I think it would have taken my body about 72 hours to completely heal. But what I didn’t want was to be “that guy” that shoes up on a Monday and then doesn’t come back for a week or more. I also didn’t want to give myself an excuse. So Wednesday afternoon, I left work right on time, barely made it to the gym and went through the whole exercise again. The difference this time was I had more time to recover. My next class would be Monday at 5:30.
I continued on that schedule of doing the intro class on Monday and Wednesday nights without missing a night (despite aches and pains) for the first 4 weeks.