Family MATters

 

by Brigitte Cave
Ian Jiu-Jitsu, MMA & BJJ Seychelles

 

If there’s one thing most BJJ practitioners can agree on, it’s that our training partners and coaches most probably started off as strangers, and somehow ended up as family. We spend hours on the mats rolling around in each other’s sweat, and we very quickly realize that sweat can be just as thick as blood.

 

 

But what happens when you start training with a family member? Better yet, what happens when you start training with your dad? After a lot of nagging from my side, I finally got to find out; my dad, close to 50 at the time, officially joined BJJ with me. I promise you, it has been one heck of an experience.

 

During our first free roll, I used the limited technique I picked up in earlier classes to submit him. Repeatedly.

 

We realize that technique means everything, and strength isn’t all it’s so widely praised to be.

 

Naively, I think “Well this is more fun than I expected!”

 

I should have known better. You see I hadn’t reckoned he’d stick with it, or that he’d eventually learn technique. So I enjoyed my days in BJJ sunshine: we rolled, he tapped, the cycle repeated, until one fateful day. Our roll began like any other: stand up, greet, takedown, except this time I was on the receiving end of said take down, and suddenly all hell broke loose. Having 135 kilograms of weight shoved onto your stomach from side control brings about an interesting response; you squirm, you wriggle, you forget that you ever learned how to shrimp, and then you get tired. Here he saw his chance and a few seconds later I with great horror realized I was in a ‘tap now, or forever lose your teeth’ choking situation. The tables had turned.

 

In the spirit of BJJ, we laughed, got up, and went on with our training, but somehow our dynamic had changed; I knew I would have to fight for every advantage I could get when from now on.

 

Two years later, we’re still going strong. Disagreements are settled on the mats, my dad has discovered the wonders of BJJ videos on Instagram, he’s lost over 15 kilograms, we’re both fitter and stronger than ever, and if you mess with one of us, you mess with both of us.

 

Now my dad gets to wake up every morning with a new ache in a new muscle, and I get to annoy him by not having any pains at all (that darn 33 year age gap, he’d say). He gets to wake me up at 5 in the morning to go jogging on off days, and tell me I can’t complain because he’s 50 and he’s doing it, and I get to tell all my friends that my dad trains martial arts, so they better watch themselves. I’m always thankful that my dad came to that first training session, and he never stopped coming after that.

 

 

There’s so much I have to tell; how we got the nicknames Papa and Baby Buffalo, how we listen Portuguese music we don’t understand, how we exasperate my mom with our endless talks of kimuras, triangles, and omoplatas, of our designs for LED decorated gis (because you CAN look like a traffic light, roll, and electrocute both yourself and your partner all at once), of the various injuries we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘he’) experienced, of our plans to compete, and visit Brazil, but those are all stories for another time.

 


 

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