17 Oct 2006

Rumble in the Green

Whilst I like to think that I possess Meerkat-like speed and grace, I can be a bit dopey sometimes. Not least when, after months of notice, knowing full well that the BJJ gym was relocating to Bethnal Green, what happens on Monday night? I drive all the flipping way to Wanstead on autopilot. Duh! Anyway, I eventually made it to Bethers and it was a really good session. I’m lasting longer in rounds, getting more technical and moving better. Of course, the way BJJ is designed, you never feel like you are good enough as the next person could easily outfox you. But it is encouraging to be able to hold one’s own against one’s peers.

Towards the end, there ensued an extraordinary scene. But first, let me explain a little about the Bethnal Green gym locale. This is a lock-up or works garage located in the heart of the Bangledeshi and Pakistani community of east London. The front door literally opens out into a backstreet off Bethnal Green High Road where social housing estates dominate the skyline. Gangs of youths roam the streets with, well, not very much to do other than smoke, spit and just hang out. This is no vision of racial integration and ethnic diversity, but the kids here are no better or worse than any other poor inner London borough.
So when a couple of heads peered into the gym to see what was going on, we all were aware of them. After a while Eddie went over to see what they wanted. Boys being boys they started posturing and mocking the ‘gay wrestling shit’ that we were doing so Eddie very graciously, like a good host, offered the ring leader a free sparring session. This lad was about twenty and after proclaiming his skill as a boxer of many years who could knock anyone out boldly stepped onto the mat.
You should have seen us. The whole class stopped their own sparring and made way as the young lad entered the Dragon’s den. Up went his fists and as he was shaping up, in dived Ed for a double leg take down. The poor lad never knew what hit him as he crashed onto the ground and basically gave Eddie his arms. Like taking candy from a baby, Ed immediately went for the armbar and somewhere in his muffled moans and cries, we were all shouting, TAP! TAP! YOU BETTER TAP!
Eventually Ed let go of his vice grip and the youth, by now with his head lowered and grin wiped off, sullenly sloped off the mat holding his arm and vowing to call the police. The whole dojo erupted with enormous laughter whilst Ed slapped him on the back and told him he was welcome to come back (I assume as a student rather than a challenger). What was particularly sweet was that Ed used pure jujitsu to silence this guy, no punches, kicks or nasties were necessary. So in many ways, it was a very humane way of using martial arts. The best bit was that it was all done infront of this Asian guy’s mates, who sniggered and hollered throughout. Needless to say, he walks a little less cocky now but hopefully a lesson will have been learned.Those who follow the path of pacifism and the ethic that martial arts should never be used might be appalled at the incident described. But it was not in any way vicious or nasty. It seemed appropriate - and damn funny! Our one regret - no one took a video of the incident to laugh back at!

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.



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