Sometimes it feels weird to look around the beginner class at Lincoln BJJ Center and realize that most of the people who are there never trained back at the dojo with us. It’s the biggest group of white belts I’ve ever seen, and I’m kind of jealous that they all get to begin their BJJ journey together. There are only a handful of people at Lincoln BJJ who I’ve been training with since I started (I didn’t even meet our instructor Greg until about two years in!), and only one person who was a white belt at the same time as me: Adam (The Hulk). He and I earned our blue belts (both the first and the second) at the same time (but you wouldn’t know that by comparing our skill levels!).
Grappling with Adam has always been a little different for me than grappling with anyone else. He came into Jiu-Jitsu with a wrestling background, and he’s super strong, but he has this uncanny ability to use exactly the right amount of force and resistance against me. I know he could smash me (or worse, not take me seriously!), but he’s able to go easy on me without it feeling like he is.
When Adam does submit me, he moves in slow motion, to give me a chance to figure out what’s happening, so I can try and stop it. He also allows me to work on my offense when I roll with him, by not resisting 100% (although to this day, I have never submitted him, not even close!). I can also gauge my own level of progress by how hard Adam rolls with me, because as I improve, he just keeps stepping it up a notch.
Strangely enough, one of the happiest moments for me in BJJ was about a month ago during king of the mat, when I came so close to passing King Adam The Hulk’s guard that he resorted to shoving me, and I landed about a foot away! I jokingly called him out for using strength (he laughed and said “Hey, you do what you gotta do!), but I was actually proud, because for that one moment…for a split second…I was a real threat to Adam, which is something I thought would never happen in my lifetime.
I’ve lost many Jiu-Jitsu bros through the years; because they quit, moved away, or started training elsewhere, so I’m especially glad that Adam is still with me today. Ever since we were white belts together, he’s always showed me respect, treated me as an equal, and been happy to work with me…which is all I could ever ask for. Just don’t make him angry…you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. ;)