The Quintanas, Week 30: Christian and the Men
Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge
You cannot imagine his excitement when, on his 14th birthday, Christian was invited to join the Adult No Gi Brazillian Jiu Jitsu class at American Top Team Doral.
I am unsure what I got more of a kick out of: The childlike look on his face that said, "Mommy, I get to play with the big boys!" or the fact that he had to tell them not to go easy on him.
When Christian began the Healthy Families Challenge, he had a one-track mind. He was not interested in many things that did not revolve around skateboarding. He wanted to dress in skate clothes, grow his hair and carry the newest skateboard. Even if he could not master the latest trick, he would look cool trying. He was all things skating.
Mixed Martial Arts has for a while been a spectator obsession for us as a family. We have many times purchased a big fight on Pay-Per-View, and had a bunch of people over to watch. The sport had caught Christian's eye as something that was fun to watch, but it was not something that had crossed his mind as an activity he would be good at.
Within a few weeks of Christian starting his training at ATT last fall, he was like a new person. He still skated every chance he got, but he learned he could be interested in other things, too.
Unfortunately, it was nothing any less dangerous: Skating can (and has) equaled stitches and broken bones, and Jiu Jitsu can equal muscle sprains and tears. But we were excited to see him focus on something other than skating.
Christian's birthday brought two brand new skateboards from friends and family members, but I think that one of his favorite gifts really was being invited to the adult class. He's been doing well from the beginning in the kids' class, when he was bumped up a full belt almost immediately, but he was too young for the adult class. Now he'll take the Kids' Gi class right before the Adult No Gi class. The adult class provides him a new opportunity to challenge himself -- but he wants to continue the uniformed classes, because they are the only ones where he can move up in belts, because the belt goes with the uniform. The color of your belt is what measures your level of expertise, and Christian is currently a yellow belt, and will take another test soon. His goal is to move up in belts and be able to go up against anyone, anytime.
I don't think there's anything unrealistic about that. He made it through the cardio portion of the adult class like a champ. The warm-up exercises were far more intense than those in the kids' class, and add to that the fact that there is only a five-minute break between the two one-hour classes. Everyone was pretty amazed at how well he handled it.
After warm up, the participants learn a new technique, then transition into grappling. Grappling consists of five-minute sessions where two people go toe-to-toe, putting into practice the techniques they've learned, until somebody taps out, a.k.a. gives in, or the bell rings and the coaches make a decision as to who will stay for the next round.
After two slightly more advanced students tapped out, Christian pecked the second gentleman on the shoulder, kicked in the intellect and politely explained that he was hurting the learning process by giving in. Christian is not quite five feet tall and weighs 84 pounds, and in this class he is going up against 20-somethings, all well over him in height, and well over 150 pounds. After realizing that they were going easy on him, he let his competitors know that he was there to learn, and asked them not to underestimate him.
Where did this land him? Not on the sidelines. Christian held his own! He tapped out a few times, but also made it through a few rounds among the men. I'm sure it has a lot to do with his strategic approach -- he studies his opponent, trying to anticipate the next move.
Not only is Christian a threat on the ramps with his skateboard, but if he keeps training, not even the big boys are going to keep him down.
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