"Being that you've never done this before, you may have a sore throat tomorrow," says my longtime friend and new jiu-jitsu teacher.
Sitting on the mat inside his barn-studio, heavy bags hanging from ceiling joists, a pull-up bar on chains, and air conditioner roaring in a fight with the 90 degree weather outside, I'm preparing to be introduced to the rear naked choke (RNC).
My friend -- "P" I'll call him -- slowly explains what the RNC is, and when and how it can be applied. There's much more to the hold than P is covering, but he's giving me the basics, one small bite at a time. Good thing too, because learning jiu-jitsu, like everything else I've done, likely will be best done just so: slowly, methodically, and with detailed, hands-on training. Hands-on is quickly what this lesson becomes.
For some visual aid, P and I got in front of a mirror hanging on the wall next to the double barn doors. P, explaining again the several steps to effectively secure an RNC, stands behind and demonstrates the choke on me as I watch in the mirror.
His right arm snakes over my right shoulder, bicep pressing into my neck; the crook of his elbow setting under my chin; the forearm hugging the other side of my neck. His right hand grasps his left bicep with a monkey grip, where his right thumb, as opposed to forming a "C", is inline with his fingers.
P's left forearm angles up to my face and his left hand sneaks behind my head, his palm facing him. With his head turned left and buried into the back of mine, P shrugs/pinches his shoulders back, puffs his chest, and begins squeezing the arteries on either side of my neck, choking my brain of its blood supply.
With the ticks of a few seconds, I watch my face redden in the mirror, my eyes seemingly bulge, and I entertain a fleeting thought of staying in the choke long enough to experience passing out. Instead, with a mixture of fear and self-preservation, I tap P's arm and am immediately released from my first run-in with an RNC.
It's a trip, man. Choking someone, if only for a moment, and being choked-out. This introduction to basic jiu-jitsu movements is exhilarating and a fascinating new interest. I love learning how to move my body in concert with another -- a dance, of sorts -- filled with the primal urge to survive. It's like nothing else and requires no extra stuff outside of your own body and desire to learn. I love that.
So my throat, indeed, was sore the next morning. While contemplating the minor irritation at work the next day, it dawned on me that my right hand was gripping my left bicep in a monkey grip and my left hand was sneaking behind an imaginary head.
I think I'm gonna really enjoy this whole jiu-jitsu thing.
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