Since I have begun wrestling I have found myself grappling in all sorts of settings. It has mostly been in either my home that I host in or someone else's home. This has included many basements, mancaves, living rooms, bedrooms, and even an outside deck. I've also wrestled in a couple private rings, one in a converted warehouse, one in an opponent's basement. In my college days I wrestled a few friends in various places because at that age, it was almost expected for us to do so. I've also done some wrestling under the banner of "grappling" in a self defense class that I took for a couple years, though we didn't grapple enough there, and more recently at a BJJ class I have been taking for the last couple months. Then there's the endless parade of hotel rooms that I've wrestled in. Most of the time, those are pretty decent. We all know what those are like. Anyway, last night I had a "grappling" or "fighting" experience (for some reason the term "wrestling was shunned) I had never had before, at least not in this setting. I "fought" AT MY CHURCH OF ALL PLACES.
Now getting into some sort of brawl at church actually is not new. There has been a young man at my church who is 2 years younger than my youngest son who thinks he can take me on. I've had no choice but to prove him wrong a few times. I've also rough-housed with several boys at my church. But this was nothing like that. A police officer who belongs to our fellowship requested use of the church to host "fight night" every other Tuesday evening. I had found out about it about a month ago and finally got the chance to attend last night's session. It was very structured and focused on first exercising then doing the fighting....so none of the liberties that we often take in our own private matches.... no stakes, no negotiating on gear, no making up your own rules. It was much like being at a dojo, except it was in the kindergarten Sunday school room at my church. The worst part for me was the long warmup drills. I found out that I am absolutely NOT a runner in any sense of the word. I pulled a hamstring attempting to do a sprint. (Sorry Rassle4fun and Pecs44) I also had a couple of muscle spams trying to do some of the other warmups. I guess at my age one needs to be careful.
Then after a period of time with these warmups, he let the "fighting" begin. He began with the 3 children that showed up. They went at one minute rounds with each other while him, myself, and the 2 teenage boys that showed up each stood at a corner of the mats where the kids were grappling and we lifted weights that were placed at the corners. After a minute the bell rang, we switched corners, the kids switched parters. After 4 rounds like that, it was the big guys' turn! I didn't go first but watched the first couple one minute rounds. I noticed how aggressively the officer and the teens wrestled. I had never wrestled any of them before, so I wasn't sure what I was in for, even after watching a couple rounds. Then came my turn to take on the officer in the middle. I was quite nervous, but we started. He always had us begin standing upright, whereas I always preferred starting on my knees, but I adapted. The struggle began with our hands around each others necks and taking swings at each other..(no headshots). When I saw I couldn't get him to the ground because he was so tall and gangly, I used my own strategy. I let him take me to the ground and then the tables immediately turned. Next thing I knew I had him pinned in similar pins that I regularly do to Twisterman and Kevinj8664. I was like "What the hell??? He's an officer!". But I made him submit. I couldn't believe it. Throughout the fighting we went back and forth in one minute rounds with each other, then the kids took over the mat again, then the big guys. While sparring with the officer and the 2 teenage boys, I was stunned to find myself constantly on top of them or having their heads caught in my grasps. I was just as surprised at how I fought as they probably were especially after they would take me down, then I spring to life and nail them. It was so sweet! While the kids were grappling, us older guys tried to coach them a little. The very last one minute round I did, I was spent, so I let the 18 year old I was fighting with have that one. Anyway, the officer asked me if I enjoyed it and if I would be back in 2 weeks. I said "absolutely". He told me that others have said the same thing, but have yet to return. I can understand what he's saying, but he doesn't know ME very well. I told him about taking BJJ and Systema. AND I told him about having a network of wrestling buddies. But whenever I reveal that so someone on the outside, I know they're not grasping what I'm saying. Oh well.
So now, of all places, I can add my church to places I've wrestled at. But wait, my former church affiliations, when I was in the young adults group, I wrestled with a few buddies every now and then, but that was before I was serious about it. It will be interesting to see what direction this bi-weekly session turns into. Hopefully others will join in and find out what joy this sport can bring. Peace out!