Becoming a Part-Time Grappler

I have been training jiu-jitsu for nearly eight years now –  for the bulk of that time I was lucky enough to have trained everyday, like most cats who find this wonderful sport, my desire was unquenchable. At the age of thirty I sold everything I owned and quit my full-time job as a high school teacher, to live in Brazil and train full-time.

For the past three and a half years, I have worked intermittently to finance my jiu-jitsu, living on the absolute minimum, refusing to buy anything but the most essential of items. My sole focus was training, traveling and competing, striving to better myself through the art; to say that I defined myself through jiu-jitsu would be an understatement. I have a plethora of hobbies and interests but jiu-jitsu literally changed the direction of my life.

Now, I have decided to take a step back and become the proverbial part-time grappler as I pursue something else that I have always loved.

I had fallen in love with pro-wrestling at the age of six, at the time I had not even seen a match, I became enamoured after stumbling upon a copy of the official WWF magazine at a friend’s house, it must have been just after Wrestlemania VI, as I remember seeing images of the Hulkster and the Ultimate Warrior. To a little dude that loved Superman, seeing two real life jacked superheros on the pages in front of me, meant I was instantly hooked. It wasn’t until Royal Rumble 1991 that I remember seeing any live action. I watched the whole show so many times, I could quote Gorilla Monson and Rowdy Roddy Piper’s commentary verbatim.

Pro-wrestling was something that I had never outgrown and continued to follow through the formative stages of my life, childhood, parental breakdown, awkward teen years, the death of loved ones, university, the breakdown of relationships and fully fledged adulthood. Name an important period of my life and I could tell you exactly what was going on in wrestling at the time.

I had an epiphany during Wrestlemania weekend last year. It occurred to me, how could I love pro-wrestling as much as I do without ever having tried it? As ridiculous as this sounds, pro-wrestling had been my inspiration to start grappling in the first place, jiu-jitsu felt just like the front-room wrestling sessions of my childhood where I attempted to force friends into submission with Rick ‘the Model’ Martel’s Boston crab. I concluded that never having attempted to learn this craft was a sad state of affairs. I made a decision that afternoon that I would need to have at least one match.

This wasn’t to be a complete farewell to jiu-jitsu, I would still be able to get onto the mats a couple of times a week teaching and training no-gi. But, to make a real go of this, I would be spending most of the week in the squared circle learning to ‘bump’, ‘sell’, and get ‘heat’, sadly, this wouldn’t give me any time to throw on the gi.

Ultimately, making this decision wasn’t easy, on one hand this is something that had been a dream since childhood, but, the kimono isn’t just an item of clothing used to facilitate the strangling of one’s friends, it is something that I use as a vehicle to express myself.  The thought of life without it, if only for the short term is thoroughly alien to me, it is something I will miss implicitly as I attempt to acquire the skills necessary to simulate beating people up.

This most definitely isn’t the end, the world-spanning adventures of Tales from Deep Half will continue, albeit on a part-time basis.




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