Eddie is one of my CrossFit pals. I always feel weird qualifying my friends (e.g., my high school friend, my grappling partner), because of a TV commercial that used to play over and over when I was a kid: Grandpa and Jimmy are in a fishing boat. Jimmy tells Grandpa that Joey called him prejudiced. Grandpa says, “Who is Joey?” Jimmy says, “Joey is one of my Jewish friends.” Grandpa says, “Well, then you ARE prejudiced, because you think of Joey as your Jewish friend, and not as your friend.”
So Eddie is my friend, generally, but I mentioned the CrossFit connection for context. Also, I am prejudiced. And sneaky: I want him to teach me the secrets of the muscle-up, so I keep him close by. I just spent about 5 minutes trying to describe a muscle-up, but to no avail. So instead, watch this video, which is of a guy, Josh Everett, doing a CrossFit workout called King Kong: http://www.crossfit.com/mt-archive2/2008_10.html
(Search on the page for “Kong,” or scroll down to “Tuesday 081021,” and you’ll find it.) The world is divided into three groups of people: people who cannot do a muscle-up (I am squarely in this group), people who can do a muscle-up but have to use what’s called a false grip (where you curl your hands—imagine trying to touch the insides of your wrists with your fingers—and rest your wrists on the ring), and Josh, who can do a muscle-up without having to use a false grip. He just grabs the rings and hauls himself up there. Oh, and the rest of the workout is a little bit challenging too, as you will see. Good lord. And by all accounts, Josh is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet who can throw your car in the ocean if he wants to, as my friend Chris said.
Eddie is putting together a 2009 beefcake calendar. I want a copy of it. (If you haven’t heard about it yet, you will. One of the only things Eddie is better at than muscle-ups is self-promotion.) He had a birthday party last night at El Cholo in Santa Monica. It was a great party, either because or in spite of the fact that, unlike at other CrossFit parties I have attended, nobody busted out with feats of elite fitness. So, nobody deadlifted anybody, which I did last week at a Halloween party when the human barbell in question insisted, repeatedly. She weighs less than half of my 1 rep max, so the only tricky part was figuring out where to hold her. (I ended up grabbing her on the arm and the leg.) Nobody Tabata squatted or went for a max handstand hold. Maybe next year. By the way, this happens at grappling parties too. I don’t know what it is about CrossFit and grappling, other than that CrossFitters and grapplers love to CrossFit and grapple, so when they get a chance to do so—and when they indulge in a little social lubricant—the inevitable happens.
But anyway, the party was extremely fun. There were some other CrossFitters there, as well as some civilians, and Eddie seemed to enjoy himself and numerous margaritas. I didn’t drink, because I am a lightweight and have to drive all over creation, but I did have a healthy meal of melted cheese, pork, flour tortilla and, I assume, copious amounts of lard. The menu listed it as a “quesadilla.” I experienced it as an edible manila envelope full of exhilaration and regret. Alyssa and Traver yelled at me about how cheese is the devil, but I ignored them and pretty much cleaned my plate. It wasn’t until this morning when I took Jonesy’s class that I realized they were right: the workout turned out to be a particularly phlegmmy Helen (one of the CrossFit “girls” workouts, named the way hurricanes are, because they are designed to wreck you). Ugh. Cheese IS the devil. The delicious devil. Jonesy seemed fine, but then again, he didn’t do the workout; he taught it.
I’ll keep details of the conversation private to protect the socially lubricated. Suffice it to say that men are from Mars and Alyssa and I are from Planet Awesome. In all, it was a great evening. Eddie, happy birthday! Have another one soon so we can do it again!
In other news, I have been watching and feeling the aftereffects of the election, like everyone in the world, it seems. Regardless of whom you voted for, the general sense I get now that the election is over is that people are feeling like we can finally move forward. It felt like that friggin’ election was a Sword of Damocles over everyone’s head, and now that it’s over, we can exhale and move on. Yes we can. (See what I did there?) I’m definitely feeling that. It could be partly because I’m finally getting the hang of this consulting gig, but some of it could be just the inter/national feeling of relief and closure.
I have also been teaching the beginner gi class for the past couple weeks while Johnny is holding down the fort at the New Breed in Oregon. Eben, the normal instructor there, was out of town. It’s getting easier, and I think I am getting better at it. The feedback I’m getting is positive, too, so that’s gratifying. I think I am finally starting to claim respect. When people see my brown belt, they kind of reflexively respect it, because it is brown. But then they tend to make me demonstrate that I have earned the respect that the belt affords. I don’t mind this, because everyone seems to do it to everyone; it’s not that people look at me and wonder whether this WOMAN deserves her belt, it’s that people look at me and wonder whether this PERSON does. Once they roll with me and get a sense of what I know about grappling, they seem to trust that I have earned my belt.
It definitely helps that the upper belt guys obviously respect me. So even if some of the newer students don’t respect me, they are likely to take a cue from the upper belt guys they respect, all of whom respect me. And what I mean by starting to claim respect is that I’m starting finally to believe that it’s deserved. I am not going so far as to get an attitude about my grappling, but at this point in my development, especially as a teacher, it’s important for me to own what I know, not only conveying what I know to the students, but conveying that I am confident in what I know.
And the other thing is in controlling the class—getting them to listen when I want them to pay attention. It is difficult sometimes to get people to quiet down, and to get them to stay quiet when I am talking, so much so that some of the upper belts have told me they want to smash the culprits when we get to the rolling part. That’s tempting, but I need to figure out how to handle it myself.
Frank had a unique suggestion for me: when he was big into tae kwon do, AKA “the dark ages,” he taught a kids’ class. There was one kid who was particularly disruptive, and scolding or punishing him didn’t work. So one day, Frank took him outside and threw a glass of water on the front of his pants so it looked like he had peed himself. Then he sent the kid back inside. The kid, obviously, did not want to go. But he did. And the other kids were merciless.
Frank is a lawyer. I asked him if he thought he’d be able to get away with that nowadays, and he said, “Hell, no.” As it was, the kid’s parents were really upset with him. But as he explained, the kid wouldn’t pay attention, and after this episode, he was much better behaved.
So if you are in the beginner gi class when I am teaching and you insist on yammering while I’m trying to talk, protect your pants. You never know how I’m going to decide to claim respect.
Another thing going on is not exactly a teaching thing, but is definitely an exercise in claiming respect. Saturday I get to be the Big Kahuna! There is a master class at Petranek Fitness on Saturday mornings. It’s by invitation only, and I was honored to be invited. I am invariably one of the slower, weaker students in the class, but I love it because it makes me better and the workouts are crazy concoctions of movements and mental gymnastics. Plus, it forces me to believe I belong there, to be aware always that I have so much more to learn, but also to value what I can do at this point in my development, which I don’t always. The class is sort of self-organizing, unlike regular classes, but there is a Big Kahuna, who chooses the workout and takes care of logistics. That person runs the workout by Andy first to make sure it makes sense, so I’m thinking about what to have us do on Saturday. I’ll let you know what happens.
Maybe I’ll reward myself for my gumption with this: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6842543
. The holidays are coming, after all, and I deserve presents too. On Thursday, when Traver, Alyssa and I were running at 6am to warm up for our CrossFit class, we smelled bacon in the air. This prompted Traver to mention the Bacon of the Month club, which Alyssa could not fathom. She didn’t realize that there are multiple types of bacon, so I rattled off a few: Canadian, peppered, thick-cut, extra salty. She is at the beginning of her bacon education, and Bacon of the Month is probably a good way to start her off on the right cloven hoof. I mentioned the Bacon of the Month Club to my friend Chris, and he did the important research you see above.
Oh, and I forgot to mention to Traver and Alyssa that my friend Eric discovered that you can get your popcorn with bacon in Rio, when he went there for a tournament recently. Sadly, Eric is a committed vegan, so this discovery was useless to him, though to me it sounds incredible.
I have much more to share, like getting a play-by-play from Steve72 and Seph—on into the wee hours—about their trip to Orlando for the Grappler’s Quest, which included supporting players like a patient Pat Miletich and a game Sean “The Muscle Shark” Sherk. Also that I got to meet and roll with Alaina, a blue belt under Felicia, who came to town from Toronto for the week. But I will save that for later.