It’s a late Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting in a Nero Café nearby my apartment in South Boston and I finally have the urge to write about some of my passions. One in particular that began just down the street from the café I’m sitting at now on West Broadway. This passion, otherwise known as Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art highly popularized in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, began 7 years ago after I graduated from college. I had gained 10 pounds from working and living a sedentary lifestyle and if you know me you’d know how much this really bothered me. I had little to no motivation to go to gym after getting out of work and I needed to figure out a way to get myself engaged in fitness. I grew up playing competitive sports in high school and I knew that if I could find a way to do a group sport where I was challenged both physically and mentally, that it would be key to maintaining my desired fitness levels. I had spoken to friend of mine who had trained in the ‘Arte Suave’ in the past, she highly recommended the sport to me and so I googled ‘Jiu-Jitsu South Boston’ and low and behold there a Carlson Gracie gym located just a quarter mile from Melcher street where I worked at the time. Overly excite and naïve about the physical torture I would eventually come to endure I called up and booked my first class. Of course, being the stubborn guy that I am, I took a somewhat cocky approach to the whole thing (I highly discourage anyone from doing this) because I had done some wrestling in the past, I thought it would be in line with what a training session with no-gi would be. I walked in and introduced myself to the trainer, John Clark or JC for short, who asked me a bit about my background. I proudly said I had wrestled three years in high school and went on to change and take my place on the mat. I followed everyone’s lead on the mat and tried my best and imitating the motions I saw others performing with ease such as a shrimp and a forward shoulder roll to warm up. After warming up we went ahead and partnered up with each other to drill, wasn’t the worst as I found it a personal strength in the past to perform athletically at new physical challenges. Once all the drilling was over with, we line-up and do a round robin sparring session. Now this is where my eyes were literally opened to a whole new world of pain and rigor. Within a matter a seconds my fellow sparring partner, Camillo, had tapped me in 4 or 5 different ways. I was quickly reminded that I had no idea what I was doing on the mat. It was then time for me to roll with Brendon, he took my back and reach for a choke but in doing so his nail found its way into the retina of my left eye and gently scrapped a layer of my skin off. For anyone who doesn’t know what this feels like, imagine closing your eyes and feeling the stabbing pain of a needle being forced into your eyeball. I screamed a loud shout and was escorted off the mat where I sat on a bench and applied pressure to my eye in hopes of alleviating the pain, this only intensified the pain I was feeling at the time. JC asked if I was okay and I quickly nodded and said its just something in my eye. I remained benched for the remainder of drilling and then stepped on the mat to bow off. I knew it was bad because the pain continued to get worse anytime I blinked and tried wiping the tears that poured from my left eye like a gorge. I got changed and quickly walked out so others wouldn’t see me in my moment of weakness. Thoughts going through my mind were directly related to my ability to work the next day since I use my eyes to stare at computer screens for the majority of the day and it just happens to be my good eye since I was born with a lazy right eye, it was very important for me to ‘fix it’ as soon as possible. I remember the struggle it was to drive home. I could only use my right eye which is shitty vision to begin with and with tears building up from the pain in my left eye it was like driving with pools of chlorine stinging and blinding your sight simultaneously trying to shift in my manual hatchback while applying pressure to relieve my eyes throbbing pain. It was a close call when a cop drove by and tried to keep my cool not minding the fact that I looked like a one eyes pirate with my face all  scrunched up and red from the pain I was feeling. To my relief, he drove off without thinking twice about the strange vibes I must have given off. I got lucky and somehow made it home. I remember laying in bed with the lights off because it was all I could manage, I called my brother upstairs when he finally got home and convinced him to give me one of his pain killers from when he got his wisdom teeth removed. This barely got rid of any of my pain and I had a very light night of sleep waking up with pools of tears and sticky stuff around my eye, it was incredibly swollen. I called out of work and made an appointment at the eye doctor. The conclusion was that I had a hanging piece of skin around the retina of my eye ball which he had to cut off with a small pair of tweezers, he said I was lucky because had the cut been slightly deeper it would had required surgery and possible vision loss. I was given some drops which alleviated the pain and a contact lens to act as a band aid while the skin healed over itself. It took about a week for my eye to heal but it continued to open like a flap whenever I woke up in the morning. The Doctor said explained to me to imagine a pothole which requires constant filling and continuously opens back up when driven over after an extent of time. Here I was sitting and hearing this feedback but all I could think of was when I could get back on the mat to get better at this sport that had just severely threatened my vision for the extent of my life quite possibly. It didn’t matter, I had gotten the bug and after two weeks I showed up at Broadway Jiu-Jitsu and signed up for what would go onto become one of my life’s greatest passions. This is how I came to fall in love with Jiu-Jitsu and how my journey all began. Oss.

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