The martial discipline of Jiu Jitsu is beautiful. And extremely potent. Never more was this demonstrated to me than one lesson with my instructor, Edward Lee Vincent.
After executing a takedown on Ed during one of our many sparring sessions, I landed in his guard. Ed lay on his back, using his legs like hands to keep me from passing his guard and getting to a side position where i could use my superior weight (I outweighed Ed by 60 some pounds). As i attempted to pass his guard, I made the crucial mistake of one arm in, and one arm out. Like a venus fly trap waiting on it’s next victim, Ed snapped a leg triangle choke on me (Sankaku Jime). Literally Ed was strangling the blood from my brain, and I could feel the power of the choke closing in on me.
I was in my thirties at this point in my life. Fresh from the NFL, I still fell prey to the “Might makes right” concept of brutal power can beat any sort of technique. Arching my neck and lower back, I attempted by sheer power to break the hold. Nothing.
I tapped when other countermeasures proved fruitless. Ed was constantly reminding me that proper execution of technique was more important than muscle. And if I wouldn’t learn from his words, then i surely would have to learn the hard way from experience. And Ed was exceptionally gifted at teaching hard heads a lesson. I was the prototypical hard head when i came to the world of Jiu Jitsu.
As I stood up to congratulate Ed on a great countermove, I found myself trying to speak, but no words came out. Then came the “Greying” as the surrounding mat area got blurry (submission specialists and Judokas know of what i speak). Slowly the strength seemed to ebb from my legs, and all of a sudden I found myself unable to stand. As I unceremoniously slumped to the ground, somewhere off in the distance I could hear Ed saying “When are you gonna learn…?