Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Visit to BJJ Heaven...

Its close to one o'clock in the morning and I'm sitting at my computer, waiting for my roommate, who has the only key to the laundry room, to get home so I can wash my massive heap of laundry.
I've never found it so hard to waste time on the internet. No one ever has a problem figuring out how to kill time with the internet. But, the one time I actually want to go to bed before three in the morning, my roommate is nowhere to be found and I'm having trouble finding ways to do nothing.
In hopes that I might get something important done, I click open another tab on Firefox and type in the url to my new found love:
I need to send an email to Micah, the man who runs Ballard BJJ.
Hello Micah,

I was walking down NW Market St. the other day on my way to the grocery store, and out of the corner of my eye I caught a sign that said something about "BJJ" on it. Over the last couple of years I have become a rather large enthusiast of the UFC and so the term BJJ was not unfamiliar to me.
I recently (as in under a month ago) moved to Seattle/Ballard and one of my primary goals has been to find an MMA gym to train at or to at least somehow get involved with the martial arts.
I did a double-take at the sign, surprised that someone was teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Ballard. In all my research of the area, it hadn't come up. Looking around, I tried to figure out what building it was on the second floor of (not yet knowing what the Firehouse was), but couldn't seem to locate anything. I went home, Googled Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Ballard, and was discouraged by what I can now say was misleading information. I thought the place had closed, and so I thought the sign had been misplaced.
However, upon further investigation, I found your website and figured, "they must not be closed if they have such a well-maintained website..."
I stopped by today around 1:30p.m. today to see if anyone could answer my questions and/or show me around the facility. But no one was around.

In short, I wanted to see if there was a good time for me to come by and visit/find out some more about what you offer.

I look forward to hearing back from you,

This ridiculous and unnecessarily long-winded email was what my night time delirium produced. I felt like apologizing when I spoke with him later.

Now, I had this preconception that when I walked through the door, there would be a front desk with a receptionist who would tell me everything I needed to know.


I pulled open the door to find a room the size of a small one bedroom apartment, the majority of its floorspace taken up by a raised blue gym mat. The rest of the floor (which wasn't much) had a futon/couch combo, some cubbies, a fridge, and a small display case.

At this point, I almost chickened out and left. There were groups of people sparring on the mat right in front of my feet and I felt like a total idiot for even being there. 98% of the humans in the room were male...there were a total of three women, two of whom were new as of that day and weren't even sure if they wanted to join the class. At this point, I'm so horrifically paralyzed by intimidation that I can barely walk through the door and over to the empty part of the floor.
This room is too small for me to go completely unnoticed. My brain sees its chance to strike:
"Its only a matter of time before someone sees me standing stiffly in the corner like an awkward kid at the school dance and introduces themself. Maybe if I just stand farther back in the corner...No, wait, there are people back there too. Dammit. Maybe if I stand closer to the wall...Oh crap, crap, crap! Here comes that one guy! What's his name?! I saw his picture on the website--"

"Hello" An outstretched hand reaches out towards me.

"Hi..." brief silence, not long enough to be considered awkward. Smile. "Rita. I sent you an email yesterday about coming and checking the place out."

"Yes, hi. Micah, nice to meet you."

And we're off! Phew! That wasn't terrible. His short response to my lengthy email had lead me to believe he was either really serious all the time, or was just lazy and didn't want to respond in an equally lengthy post on his Blackberry. Thank goodness my suspicions of the first had been denied.
He offered me a gi, told me I could take off my shoes and get comfortable, and was off to mingle with his students. A very mild man, gentle, and personable.
"I could get along with him."

I immediately begin taking off my shoes, being the barefoot child that I am.

At this point, I can't help but be totally giddy. The atmosphere, the people, the energy...are perfect. Its everything I was looking for in a training facility.

A man speaks from behind me, though I don't know he's speaking to me.

"What's you're name?" I ignore him, not wanting to be pretentious enough to think he's talking to me.

"Excuse m--"

"Me? Rita" I reply, realizing that yes, he is talking to me. He points to his ear, letting me know that he can't hear me. "Duh..." I think, realizing that there is no way he could have heard me whispering my name from ten feet away. I get up and move closer, extending my hand for the handshake.

"Rita," I say again, this time so he can hear.

"Ian. Nice to meet you. Who are you here watching?"

"No one--" he cuts me off before I can explain any more.

"So you aren't here with anyone?"

I laugh. What else am I supposed to do? Who asks that kind of question in the first ten seconds after an introduction?

"No, I'm not--" Cut off. Again.

"So what brings you here, then?"

Finally. A chance to answer," I'm actually interested in starting training here, so I figured I would come by and check the place out."

A little bit more useless chit chat, and I learn some interesting things about the place.
Several others come over and introduce themselves, are introduced by others, and by the end of my first ten minutes in the room, I've met almost half the people in it. And they're all amazing!

Several minutes later, everyone is doing warm ups and Ian is teaching the two new girls how to go from side control to a full mount. I had no idea Ian was an instructor.
I'm fascinated by the techniques he is teaching the two women, fascinated by how quickly  they learn, fascinated by the whole thing.

I'm completely sold.

As soon as I can find a job, I'm paying my $65 a month for unlimited training at Ballard BJJ.

1 comment:

  1. wow thats so cool! years ago i wanted my daughter to take karate and it way 25 a session.
    well i hope your laundry is done and your up b4 noonish :)