Wayne Hester BJJ Blue Belt

I walked onto Geoff’s mats a few months before I turned 64. Yeah. At this point, something gets taken away on a regular basis. That’s the way it is. All you can do is keep moving and keep learning.

It looked interesting. A couple of classes in, a large person was pushing my face into the mat and I heard Geoff say “We’re mammals. Mammals learn by playing”. I thought, I’m going to write that down and tell people I thought of that. That sounds smart.

BJJ is hard. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. You have to move in ways  I haven’t moved in decades. You end up in terrible positions to struggle through. It’s like physical chess. You never get to say “I learned chess, time to move on.” This stuff is going to take decades of practice.

And, it can get addictive. At Meeting on Sunday mornings during silent meditation, I seem to always be thinking of how to trick a large person into letting me twist their arm. I time my meals around practice. My wife loves that. I’ve got a schedule for trimming my finger nails.  I’ve got a schedule to do my laundry so I have a clean uniform for class.

Then you throw in Geoff. He has decades of experience and associations with some of the early practitioners . He has deep knowledge. He’s an interesting guy to talk to. He takes pictures of mushrooms and plays music with his friends. And, probably, I will never be able to pass his guard even though he doesn’t use his hands when we roll. He has created a unique environment for studying the BJJ. Another one of the slogans I’ve heard while under physical duress is “I don’t teach thugs anymore.”

I don’t practice for self defense. I will never compete. It does keep me physically and mentally focused. It’s fun. I enjoy the folks I’ve met in practice. From where I am now, I can see chair yoga and water calisthenics in my future. But not yet.