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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

13 June 2006

13/06/2006 - ZSK, and I had to instruct!

University of Warwick Zhuan Shu Kuan (ZSK), Rod Richardson (who didn’t make it, meaning strangely I took the class!), Coventry, UK – 13/06/2006

This week, I finally ran out of people to delegate and had to take the class myself. I’ve been avoiding that task for a while now, as I’m not fond of responsibility, especially when I’m injured so can’t even do all the exercises/punches etc myself, but it didn’t turn out too badly.

I followed the normal pattern, doing the running round the room thing while calling out numbers to indicate press-ups, leg-raisers, squat-thrusts and sit-ups (only two of which I could do, due to arm). I started with fifty press-ups, then thought that would take a bit long, so only did forty of the remaining three exercises. After a quick facing inwards then outwards sidestepping, I moved on to stretching. Here again I wasn’t sure on timing – my eyesight is fairly crappy, so not being able to see the clock at the back of the room, I counted to fifty thousand in my head instead. Not a very accurate way of doing things, which also meant I couldn’t chat properly, something I like to do during stretching. I’m also beginning to think that this is actually a quite important part of the social side of things; if I take another class, I’m going to incorporate a lot more two-person stretches so some conversations get going (not that I want this to become a social club, but I feel a certain level of talking is healthy and makes people feel included).

I went through a variety of static leg stretches (like right heel on the floor, bend on right leg, while left leg is straight with toes pointing to the ceiling), and probably spent too much time on those. I went faster for the arm, neck and hip stretches, by which point I realised Rod wasn’t going to turn up (the time having reached about 17:45, class starting at 17:00 and finishing at 18:30).

I’ve planned lessons out before in my head in case this ever happened, so I immediately decided we’d do some ‘alive’ padwork, or at least my attempt at aliveness. Pairing up the class with focus mitts (uneven numbers, so one person had to go on the heavy bag), I told people to basically treat it as sparring, but with pads. The person with the pads was supposed to vary strikes by angling the pads, keep moving round to stimulate footwork and break rhythm, and occasionally smack their partner in the head and sides. I’ve always loved this drill, as it feels like a particularly functional way to use pads, but understandably the class was still somewhat stilted and stiff due to unfamiliarity. If we did this regularly, I’m sure they would all loosen up and get the hang of it.

I’d got fed up with counting in my head by this point, so took out my phone and used that as a clock instead. It also came in handy for the next drill, where I got people to simply jab-cross the pads for a minute, then switch over. I probably should have got them to switch leading hands too, but meh; I’ll do that if there’s a next time. This was succeeded by the same exercise (changing the focus mitts for a kick shield), but using front kick off the front leg followed by a turning kick off the back leg, for which I did remember to get them to change legs. I was also getting a little bored by this point, so joined in myself after the first switch of people (after all, it was legs, so no arms needed on my part).

I was now left with about thirty minutes of class, so decided it was long part time we did some sparring. Verity, the president (well, technically its supposed to have shifted to the new exec, but she’s still basically running things – change-over has been very delayed this year) wasn’t sure we were suitably insured, as apparently a registered instructor had to present. I thought that the club was already insured by the membership, not to mention the £30 Sports Federation fee everyone had to pay annually (otherwise, what the fuck is that all for?). However, will need to look into it – at her TKD club, its definitely the case that only the registered instructor can oversee sparring, even though Verity is a TKD BB.

So we went ahead and sparred anyway, as everyone was keen, though I said people needed to keep it light. It also meant I could join in again, first of all going up against a girl who hadn’t brought any sparring gear either, so we both wanted to go pretty light. After her, I partnered up with a tough foreign guy (possibly French, not sure) who clearly knew what he was doing; if we’d been sparring properly, he would have pasted me a few times (though at one point, he completely dropped his guard on one side, then seemed surprised when I kicked him – lightly - in the head. Not sure if that was supposed to be a taunt, but I guess I’ll find out if I ever get the chance to spar him properly. :icon_wink). As I couldn't use my arms, I was tending to focus on just his hips rather than taking into account his shoulders; definitely not a habit I want to get into to. Sparring for first time in ages also meant that I was sporting the usual bruise on my right shin – in seven years, I’ve received that same bump almost every time.

That left about ten minutes, so I filled it with a quick warm-down: jumping, small amount of press-ups, sit-ups etc, bit of a stretch, and finally a minute of shadow-boxing.

So, my first session taking a class went pretty well – people seemed to enjoy the opportunity to finally spar, which has been rather lacking this term, and I was very pleased to cut out all the form/linework stuff in favour of pads. However, I’ll be quite content for someone else to take it again next time! That might not be until the academic year starts again in September, as apparently our last session of ZSK will be this Sunday, which is a shame; I’ll have to check if the room is still booked for the Tuesday. Otherwise, won’t get any classes in until the UK Midlands Throwdown in August (unless my shoulder miraculously heals sufficiently for BJJ).

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