Back in the day with Backdraft

One day recently in BJJ class when Brian Giles was introducing me to a friend he had brought with him, he said “This is Gina, I’ve been stuck with her for…how long has it been now?” I thought about when I had started Karate and I said “Nine years”, then I thought “Wow, has it really been that long?”.

When we were back at the dojo training Karate together, Giles used to enjoy telling the new students about how much I had changed since I started there. He told them that in the beginning I wouldn’t look at anything but my feet, and then a few years later, I would look people right in the eye, just to see who I could punch in the face!

Brian wasn’t exaggerating. When I started training martial arts nine years ago, I was so shy and overwhelmed by being around the people in class that in order to not freak out and have a panic attack, I couldn’t look at anyone (except the Sensei teaching class). I wouldn’t actually punch or kick people for the longest time, and they couldn’t even get me to kiai for at least a year.

It is truly remarkable how much martial arts has succeeded in bringing me out of my shell. Nine years ago, if someone had told me that one day I would be doing what I’m doing now…training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, rolling around with countless numbers of people, choking and armbarring, competing in tournaments, writing a blog about it…I would’ve thought they were cray cray!

Brian JackI had no idea what was in store for my future when I walked into the dojo for the first time, and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. Actually, another regret is that I’ve been stuck with knowing Backdraft Brian (as they like to call him at LBJJC, because he’s a firefighter) for nine years! I kid, because one thing that not many people know is that Giles is the only person who has ever choked me unconscious. I allowed him to do it (to demonstrate during a self-defense class), and I wouldn’t let just anyone do that, so it’s obvious I have a great deal of trust and respect for him (although I do really enjoy giving him shit!). He’s been my bro for a long time, and I’m glad that he’s now joined me on this BJJ journey. He’s the only person at Lincoln BJJ who really knows how far I’ve come.

“I’m gonna take this right foot, and I’m gonna whop you on that side of your face…and you wanna know something? There’s not a damn thing you’re gonna be able to do about it” -Billy Jack


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