For now I’ve chosen to go with the “Greyzed” theme for the blog. It’s described as “a dark and grungy theme” by its creators, who note “while it looks rough on the outside it’s been carefully designed and it isn’t short on features.” After reading the first two sentences of the description, I knew it was perfect for the blog, because it mirrors the jiu jitsu club I train at perfectly.
At first blush it might seem a bit strange – I’m openly admitting that my jiu jitsu club is grungy and dark!
Well, I should probably start by clarifying that the club is certainly clean; the mats get scrubbed regularly, and every effort is made to avoid spreading ringworm or other common jiu jitsu-related infections. But to give you an idea of what I mean by “grungy and dark,” we share space in a big empty warehouse with a Crossfit gym, with big neon lights that buzz when you turn them on. We (currently) only have one big roll-out mat to train on, and it has definitely seen better days. It’s covered in holes and tears, and every class pieces fall off of it. When it gets hot outside, we have the option to turn on giant fans that are so loud that you can’t hear the instructor talking.
It’s a funny thing though – it’s this exact “grunginess” that makes the place so endearing. I imagine this is how the Gracies must have trained when they first moved to the U.S. from Brazil. They didn’t have thousands of square feet of pristine mats, or dozens of heavy bags, or multiple full-size boxing rings to train with – they had a few mats spread out in their garage.
Interestingly, old and run-down gyms have become iconic of the American fighting scene. There appears to be something innately gratifying about avoidance of mainstream, state-of-the-art training facilities, whether it’s Rocky punching frozen pig carcasses in an abandoned warehouse, Micky Ward in “The Fighter” climbing the boxing ranks while training in a scuzzy boxing gym, or the Karate Kid practicing his moves in Mr. Miyagi’s back yard.
To me, the most important thing is the quality of instruction I get, and the dedication of my training partners. If that means training in an old warehouse on the outskirts of town, I’m fine with that.