We did it! Over the past weekend, 30-40 of us at Gracie Barra Bristol managed to roll over a 24 hour period and in the process, raised funds for Meningitis UK.
Slidey (real name Can Somnez) kindly hosted me at his home the Friday night so I was able to join the gang at Gracie Barra Bristol pretty much at the beginning of the event at 9am Saturday morning. I stayed on site for the entire 24 hour period clocking up 60 rolls each of duration of 6 minutes, thus totalling a rolling period of some 360 grappling minutes give or take.
Right now, I'm seriously aching all over, but the whole event was an amazing experience. Throughout, I got to roll with most of the gang who turned up and I had a great laugh. I also learned a heck of a lot from everyone. The major thing I will take away with me from the experience is the wonderful camaraderie and collective spirit of our endeavor, plus the super friendly vibe that the academy has in general.
Slidey has a detailed write up about the Grapplethon on his blog here - http://www.slideyfoot.com/2012/09/22092012-meningitis-uk-charity.html
but below, here are a few thoughts I wanted to share about the whole experience.
When you love something as much as BJJ, it seems like you could train all day everyday. But the Grapplethon was a real test of that commitment to the sport. Twenty four hours is a very long time period in which to indulge in your passion and I'll be honest, there were times where I felt my body was going to implode from the physical task. But the main thing that did keep me, and everyone else going, was the amazing spirit from those who did participate. There were rolls I had that were gentle flow-roll drills, there were tough rolls with some seriously good players and there were some big laughs midway at random moments. The kind of laughs that wake you up and make you want to do it all over again for another six minutes...and another...and another.
Don't get me wrong, I took a lot of breaks. 60 rolls over a 24 hour period is a very well paced sequence. But compare my paultry efforts with that of fellow charity grappler Maeve who grappled non-stop for six whole hours and clocked up 60 rolls in the process, earning her the coveted Grapplethon and Meningitis UK t-shirts.
But by hour 20, my mind and body gave in. I looked around to see if we had enough people on the mats to cover our commitment to ensure at least one pair of grapplers were sparring at any one time, and then I created a little nest out of my spare gi and my body just shut down for three hours.
I woke up with a jolt when I heard Can shout out, JUST 30 MINUTES TO GO PEOPLE! So I jumped out of my gi nest, drank a cup of tea (ahhh never has a brew tasted soooo goood!) and leaped into a series of rolls with some very tired bodies. Before my impromptu nap my tally stood at 57 rolls. I wanted to hit the big 60 and in the end I actually made it 60.5 rolls, as Can added 3 minutes to the clock so 'Geezer' (Nicolai Holt - owner of GB Bristol) could get 0.5 more rolls than Donal, one of his instructors.
One interesting observation from my 24 hours of grappling is how I lost use of certain parts of my anatomy and had to rely on other things. For example the first function I lost was the power of my grips, my finger gripping ability soon gave way after a few hours so I had to rely on very loose grips or cupping around people's joints - much like one would during no-gi sparring. This was actually very useful as I adapted to sparring without relying on my grips. Another function that gave way was, bizarrely, the skin behind my neck. All that pulling on my gi by my opponents caused my gi collar to chafe my neck so much that it began to become incredibly sore and painful.
Other BJJ things I noticed as the hours passed by was that playing top game was a lot better then playing bottom guard. It was just so much easier on my joints to attempt guard passing than to fight for position and maintain guard from the bottom. Having said that, because it was so painful to close guard, I ended up using mostly butterfly guard when I did choose to play from the bottom.
I want to thank everyone at GB Bristol for their warm welcome to their academy and for giving me, at times, a deserved pasting on the mats. Thanks to Slidey (who despite his meek online persona, is actually a beast on the mat and gave me a thorough beating!!) for inviting me down and to instructors Geezer, Donal and Miles for their intelligent and informative sparring. Most of all, thank you to everyone for supporting and commenting over our live feed of the event and of course, for the generous donations to our cause.
Finally, we're all still open for donations. My fundraising page is: www.justgiving.com/meerkatsu
and I will keep it open for several weeks.