"WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ON YOUR FACE MAN?"
That was the cry that greeted me as I walked into training tonight. Well, my learned friends, that thing on my face is the very latest in cool sports eyewear - the PROGEAR EYEGUARD. It is an all polycarbonate pair of prescription spectacles that are, in the words of my optician, practically bullet proof!
I'm not going to review them by testing his claim, that would cost me £300 in shattered glasses but I can at least describe my experience wearing them in BJJ class...
First, I should point out that I am pretty badly short sighted. We're talking -6 in each eye. I wore daily disposables for years but one day I just stopped wearing them. I got fed up with fiddling trying to put them in each eye and wasting time as the class was beginning. It doesn't help that my eyes are very dry and the contacts get very uncomfortable after an hour or so. So I just gave them up. Instead I wore my normal glasses to the class and took them off when practising technique or rolling. On each occasion I would laboriously fold up the specs and pop them in the case, then look around finding a suitably uncluttered shelf to place them. Several times I have forgotten where I put them and had to ask for help. Once 'blind' I really cannot see much further than my own hand. People across the room may be smiling or beckoning to me, but I don't notice it and they probably walk away thinking I am rude.
There are role models aplenty for us myopia sufferers in the fashion, music and film world. In BJJ, there aren't that many, but two very well known exponents of the art of short sighted jiu jitsu are Paulo and João Miyao:
A prescription as bad as mine is really pushing the limits for these wrap around style sports specs. But man, they're tough. Designed for sports athletes to wear while taking part in high impact activities such as squash, basketball, tennis, football etc I wanted to see if they would be suitable for BJJ?
The quick answer is not really. I mean I can wear them while rolling - the velcro strap on the back stops the glasses slipping off my head - but they just feel really awkward and my instinct whenever my partner is cross facing me or using his shoulder of justice is to wince and think Oh my not my precious glasses! So I end up taking them off anyway. Another side effect of the close fitting wrap around shape is that my sweat condenses on the lens inside forming an annoying misty fog.
So were they a waste of money? Well no. I bought them without any intention of actually rolling in them. I wanted a pair of glasses that I could whip on and off in class without having to faff around with my glasses box or worrying someone might sit on them or tread on them etc. Another possibly image enhancing side effect is that they look uber cool and I feel like a rock star or famous Dutch footballer, Edgar Davids.
Edgar wore his protective goggles not because of his short sight (he may have short sight, I'm not sure) but because of his glaucoma. They also made him look badass.
Sadly I suspect my own appearance is somewhat less badass, but hey, at least I can see my instructor now.
What others do
So last week I posted a question on my Facebook page about what other short sighted BJJ folk do when they go training. Here are a select few comments that reveals a variety of solutions and situations to a common problem:
Baz Lewis: I've more recently worn glasses in class, chucking them to the side when rolling because it can become a nuisance trying to get in front of everyone when trying to see drills.
Bertie Pocket Fighter-Pretara: i have the habit of grappling with my eyes closed even though i wear glasses, i just dont have a bad enough sight, blindfolded grappling is the way forward!
Conor Eaton-Smith: [I'm] -11 and -10.5. Have to wear contacts which dry out (not a problem training as they go in 30 minutes before) but they do come out often just rolling. Laser isn't an option, but intra ocular surgery is for me. At the cost of thousands per eye!
Bri Reid: I was short sighted before starting BJJ and while Thai Boxing (loads of fun not seeing all the punches coming lol). Ended up getting wavefront laser surgery and it is honestly the best money I have ever spent :-)
Allen Esp: I'm pretty shortsighted, I don't think it has affected my Jiu Jitsu too much, it is just when people try to make eye contact across the dojo in the "wanna roll?" manner that I don't pick up on it.
Mary Gosnell I was born with ocular albinism. Which means that I have no pigment in my hair, skin, teeth or eyes. With out my glasses and sometimes even with them I have a hard time getting around. But I have also been training bjj for 10 year, I wear my glasses for demonstrations and some times calisthenics but when I am grappling I don't wear them and usually grapple with my eyes closed. Most of my team mates know that I cant see so the will approach me and ask to grapple. Other than that no major issues have come about it ... accept that they wont let me in a cage that is lol ...
Thanks to everyone who contributed on Facebook to my straw poll of comments. Next time you bump in to me at a tournament or seminar, if I am not wearing my funky goggles, then try shouting, VERY LOUD so I know you are talking to me hee hee :)