Guest writer and friend, Felix “the Trap and Roll Masta” Flores, provides us with some thoughts as he continues his journey through Gracie Jiu-Jitsu after his recent move. Enjoy! -J.
Up until this year, martial arts – to me – were essentially a string of combat dances that only guys like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan could pull off. I had very little experience and even less knowledge or interest in MMA or BJJ. This past spring my good friend, Jonny Hall, invited me to the infamously steamy space in his garage where he had placed a recently purchased set of mats and practiced Grace Jiu-Jitsu. Jiu-Jitsu alone was an entirely new world to me as it was, but the art – as made famous by the Gracie family – especially piqued my interest. The most interesting selling point to me was the idea of using a style that contains enough raw power and leverage to overwhelm any opponent but also has so much dexterity, maturity, and strategy infused into it that you can practice this art at its fullest potential without seriously injuring the people training with you. That first lesson in April, 2011 marked the start of my BJJ journey.
Jonny and I have had some great times on those package-taped mats; great sweep-or-submit drills, lots of rolling, and even a guest lesson! We have rolled in another gym, gone through flight school together, and even explored silly juice diets. Alas! My career has brought me to Virginia Beach, VA while Jonny’s has kept him in Pensacola, FL. This also means my BJJ journey has continued onward and into another gym, the LINXX Academy of Martial Arts.
One of the bigger questions that went through my head was, “Am I going to be as good as the people in the next gym?”….Ok the REAL question was, “I wonder if I will be able to school everybody at the next gym I go to.” Hey part of growing is being able to admit when your pride gets the best of you. Since I have been with LINXX I’ve learned that pride must be Brazilian for “broken limbs” because if you cannot tap early and often, your pride will cost you days of good training. I digress.
My first day at LINXX Academy answered the better of the two questions. Honestly speaking, I think I turned out to be better than your average beginner but sloppy, unrefined, and very much a white belt. I am sure our black-belt instructor and color-belts feel the same way. Since my first day I have been learning a lot, not just new techniques but how to begin mastering the ones I already know. I think Jonny will agree that the only thing I may have “mastered” is the trap-and-roll – which doesn’t do so much for me anymore, especially since most white belts here with a little dirt on their belts can hold a gi choke and text at the same time.
The people here at LINXX are great. Everyone has enough spirit to train with great discipline but enough humility to continue learning and to aide others who are new to BJJ. Of course there is always the process of fitting in and getting to know everyone enough to convince them that you’re not an a-hole who will take it too far and try to bring “the octagon” to a BJJ matt just before leaving with a musty tap-out shirt.
Without getting into entirely too much detail, I will say that the biggest message that I have received from my experiences so far is that diversity of training is huge! Rolling in Jonny’s garage was amazing and I have had the opportunity to roll with fellow white belts with great technique, others with raw power, and even the blue belt wonder himself, Jonny Hall. But no matter how often we rolled we were still limiting ourselves to each other’s strategy and knowledge. Since signing up with LINXX I have rolled with fresh white belts and have been rolled by powdery purple belts and I have come to understand BJJ that much better. I am looking forward to the rest of my time here at LINXX Academy of Martial Arts and the rest of my journey learning BJJ. For more about LINXX Academy or my experiences feel free to fire away with questions but please refer to the real experts at LINXX for specific information about their Gracie Jiu-Jitsu or Thai Boxing programs at http://linxxacademy.com/.