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I learned how to golf when I was 12.  I started playing volleyball at the age of 14.  I didn’t learn how to play tennis until high school.  Those are the last things (activities) that I have learned how to do.  Nothing new or challenging since then.  That is, until now.

For the last two months I have wanted to do something more athletic.  All I had been doing was play volleyball (after a couple of years of strengthening my pathetic shoulders) and wanted to see if there something else for me.  I have felt the need to challenge myself.

I listen to the Adam (Carolla) and Dr. Drew (Pinsky) podcast.  About a year ago Adam was talking about how he had learned that taking a cold shower (or swim in his case) first thing in the morning was actually quite good for you.  There were some physiological reasons but the predominant benefit was conquering something uncomfortable, challenging, and daunting.  Let’s be very clear, the thought of taking a cold shower never even crept into my mind.  But could there be something else?

Seven years ago we had Joe begin to take Jiu-Jitsu lessons as a way for him to have something in his world that had nothing to do with Trey and his cancer.  What we found there were unbelievable people who not only taught Joe but cared for him.  They were there at the spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Trey.  They were there at Trey’s viewing.  They have been with him through the years.

As a parent, you need someone(s) in your child’s world that can be an objective third party adult without the authority to punish.  You need someone who can be different than you that can say things you wouldn’t (and sometimes shouldn’t) say.  You need someone who doesn’t have to love them…love them.  The folks at Stout Training (an Renzo Gracie academy) have been that and more for Joe.   No matter what, they have always been there for Joe…and me.

So, why not try Jiu-Jitsu?  I didn’t try for years due to the Trey days, my shoulders, and money.  All three of those things are no longer an issue to differing extents.  So what holds me back?  Well, I would be one of the oldest that train there but by far not the oldest (no, I would not be Kramer from Seinfeld crushing little kids as some I know have surmised).  I don’t love the idea of having another man (or woman for that matter) laying on top of me drenched in sweat (ok, that was a big reason).  However, if hundreds of people in that gym and thousands if not millions of others can get past that why can’t I?  I started to debate it in earnest for the past several months but couldn’t pull the trigger.

I hated taking Joe to the adult classes and being the only one in the sitting area.  I started calling it “Weenie Wednesday” when I would be there with him.  “Oh, no, I don’t train.  I bring my son.  I”m just sitting here reading my bible.”  Still, in the back of my mind was, “What if I’m no good at all?  What if it doesn’t work out?”  I talked with every trainer there that I knew.  They were all so supportive, encouraging and yet patient with me.  Finally black Friday came.  Fifty percent off of a years membership.  I spoke with them throughout the day and finally decided to go for it.

I had one more “Weenie Wednesday” before my first class.  Everyone there had heard that I had finally signed up.  They were excited and encouraging.  We joked, laughed, and looked forward to me beginning to train.  My first class (a private one) was Tuesday.

It couldn’t have gone better.  We went over the basic movements and fundamental positioning.  Having watched Joe go through it for 7 years and seeing countless hours of mixed martial arts nothing was foreign to me.  Getting to do it was great.  Physically there was no awkwardness or incompetence.  I seemed to do well and we moved quickly from component to component.  Quite simply, if felt good.

My next step is going to a group class.  I will be with others who are just starting, though none as new as me.  I will learn the fundamental aspects and applying them through drills and live competitions.  I look forward to the challenges that others place upon me and the struggles that I face within.

It has to make me better.  I will be better at Jiu-Jitsu for sure.  I will also be better as a person.  I will be a better coach as I will remember what it feels like to just not know.  I will be a better me than I am today…and there will be no more “Weenie Wednesdays.”


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