There are three reasons I decide to go to a Brazilian jiu jitsu class this week:
1. I’ve been spending too much time in bed and not enough time going to new exercise classes so it’s about time I pulled my finger out and tried something different for the 52 Exercises challenge.
2. There’s a jiu Jitsu parent and child class nearby and I’ve been having
a few endless struggles with Kiara aged eight recently. Maybe sensing my weakness (read depression) she’s responded by becoming a tireless tyrant who bombards me with 400 questions a day and generally drives me nuts. I don’t want to tell her the truth but I’m hoping a mummy/daughter bonding session might help.
3. The therapist says I need to get in touch with my anger more and, although I don’t like feeling angry and am angry he seems to find it so good, a martial arts class might be a good place for me to vent my rage.
But first I have to make sure my daughter’s up for it so I broach the topic over breakfast:
“Kiara, would you like to try jiu jitsu with Mummy?”
“What’s jiu jutsu?”
“I’m not really sure but it’s a type of martial art and this is a special class for parents and children.”
“But what do you do in the class?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll get to beat you up.”
“Yeah, I bet all the parents take their naughtiest children with them,” I say “and then they push them around and kick them and beat them.”
I start pushing Kiara around, pretend fighting and she laughs. I stop and she pretends to look annoyed but brightens up and says.
“Yeah, and I’m going to kick you.”
She starts kicking me surprisingly hard for someone with her match stick legs. I’m annoyed but I keep calm, put on my stern voice and pull her off.
“Okay Kiara, that’s enough. Good kicking though.”
She fights back a bit but I hold on tight until she gives up.
“I think you’ll like jiu jitsu. Do you want to come along?”
“Sure. When is it?”
So on Saturday morning we spend 45 minutes under careful instruction from “world-class Japanese black belt” Yoshi Haswegawa who one of his jiu jitsu friends describes as a “very talented grappler” which is definitely something I aspire to.
Yoshi explains that this class isn’t like a regular jiu jitsu class so we won’t get an idea of what jiu jitsu is really like. Never mind I think, as long as I get to beat up my little girl I’ll be happy.
Proving that you can’t judge a book by its cover Yoshi has a disarming smile and looks as if he wouldn’t hurt a fly. He guides us through warm ups including stretching, jumping jacks and sit ups. Kiara looks cute with a high pony tail and a glittery bow in her hair and she’s trying so hard. My heart melts a little.
We move onto racing each other across the room while moving like a snake, scorpion or monkey. This is challenging but fun, even though I lose all the races except one. I struggle most with the scorpion where we have to crawl across the room with one leg in the air, but prove to be an impressive monkey impersonator winning that race easily thrilled to find a previously undiscovered talent. By now we’re all laughing and out of breath.
Thoroughly warmed up we move on to the long-awaited wrestling. I’m instructed to kneel on the floor while Kiara climbs on my back and grips me as tight as she can with her arms and legs. I then do the “crazy horse” where I buck violently and roll round the room trying to free myself from my persistent persecutor.
Kiara hangs on tight and I can’t throw her off so Yoshi give a demonstration and bucks around the room with Kiara on his back for a while before skillfully throwing her off. I have another go but still find it hard to get her off my back. I can see it would be a useful skill and wonder if I should get into jiu jitsu more seriously.
My back’s killing by now but Kiara is loving it so I buck away more because the other parents are (all dads with their sons) and it seems like the right thing to do.
Secretly I’m dying to climb on Kiara’s back and see how she feels trying to buck me off. But since I weight three times as much as her and would squash the living daylights out of her I restrain myself.
Next Kiara is given a small ball which she grasps under her body then I roll her around the room trying to get it off her. I enjoy the challenge and eventually get the hang of it, swiping the ball off her. She looks annoyed but can’t fuss because we’re in the class. Phew.
Then I get a turn and am impressed by the way she manages to roll me around the room and make me drop the ball. She maybe a light weight but she’s tough and it’s great to be in this padded room where we can wrestle without hurting ourselves.
To wind down we practice balancing by sitting, kneeling and standing on a giant ball which is fun although Kiara gets way more turns than me. I’m annoyed she’s hogging the ball and even more annoyed by my own childish thoughts.
Finally we play dodge ball with the parents against the kids. Chucking balls at Kiara, and even at the other children who’ve never done anything to annoy me in their whole life, is wonderfully therapeutic.
I’m in a bad mood a lot of the time recently but jiu jitsu classes might a good place for me to vent my anger as long as no innocent children are hurt in the process.
The reality is Kiara and I both get in bad moods and feel angry sometimes which is something I’ve been trying to stamp out. But maybe guess getting angry is perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Just as long as we recognise our anger and don’t take it out on each other.
When the class ends Kiara turns to me and asks:
“Can we go again, Mummy? Can we go every Saturday?”
It’s the type of question that irritates, annoys and eventually angers me but it doesn’t bother me now and she doesn’t ask again. Maybe we both know better now.
I put my hand on my lower back, stretch it gently and hobble towards the door.
“Maybe darling. Maybe.”
Jiu Jitsu Exercise Review
Cost: You can get one free trial lesson like us – Infinity Martial Arts have studios on the Sunshine Coast and around the Brisbane area.
Time Exercising: 45 minutes
Average Heart Rate: I couldn’t wear my heart rate monitor watch because it might have scratched Kiara but we got a good workout.
Fun Factor: 7/10 – I think I’d enjoy it more next time now I know what to expect and that it’s really all about the kids, not the parents.
Fear Factor: 4/10
Post-exercise Glow: 7/10. Pretty good apart from the back ache but that was nothing a few good hip swivels couldn’t fix.
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