14 October 2007

Promised Pictures of the Seminar

I like to make silly faces.

Except when setting up the clock-choke

So...I will spare you alot of narrative about the day. Just look at the pictures and know that I will bore any of you who ask about my big purple belt day.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

What I hope will be shocking to anyone viewing these is Ayaan Hirsi Ali's story as much as her natural presense, poise and skill as a speaker. Her story is one of the more amazing to come out of the dark corners of modern religious experience. It illustrates the deep problems in one of the worlds most shackling religions.
My own experience with Islam is very minimal, but I have a dear friend who has spent the last decade or more in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and the like and she has witnessed much of the mind-numbing effects this particular monotheism has had on people. She works as a conflict mediator for governments and peace keeping organizations and is currently starting her own NGO. Anyway, she and I were talking about the honour killings that took place in England a little while back. I had asked her if this was a common sentiment in Islamic London. She said, with almost no hesitation, yes. A friend of hers, a medical student, a good student of Islam, but seemingly westernized beyond barbarism shocked her with his answer to a similar question.
"How could her father do that to her?" She asked her seemingly modernized friend.
"If it were my sister or daughter, "he said, "I would hate it, but I would have to do the same."
My friend was duly shocked. So am I. So should we all be.
So heres to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the risks she takes to oppose oppression.
(A closing note about the medical student. This clearly isn't the case of all muslim medical students and doctors refusing to take courses on STDs, AIDs/HIV, or see people with alcohol related problems. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/10/09/do0902.xml

The Purple Belt!

Here it is.
Spent almost all day in Indianapolis. It was to be a day of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Marcello Monteiro-my coach-had been planning a seminar for months. He made sure there were two other black belts present, one from Florida named Sergio, the other was one of Marcelo's newer black belts, a guy everyone just calls Uncle Ron. The gym was packed with I don't know how many guys (guys in its gender neutral sense), everyone of them eager to train and impress Marcello. From ten in the morning to 1 in the afternoon we learned and practiced techniques and drills. Then at 1 we broke for belt advancement awards, stripes or new belts. This took forever, but I am not complaining. My blue belt changed into a purple! And that my friends and constant readers has been a long god-damned time coming. The rest of the afternoon was spent grappling. It was interesting and immediate, the change that kind of clicked in my head, like a switch being flipped. One momement I was just a normal blue belt of which the academy has plenty. The next moment I was one of the elite, someone who was expected to win almost everytime against the blue belts, and white belts, and give the browns and blacks trouble. As a purple belt one suddenly becomes the newest target. "If I tap this guy out, I will get the coaches attention." This becomes the thought of every lower belt.
So I was happy that I only lost one match in the post seminar grappling. That loss I am happy to report was from another purple belt who tipped the scales at 296 lbs. That was a weight advantage of roughly 76 lbs. I am also happy to report that it was a helluva match.
I will post pictures of the days events soon. Also, more pictures will be up here at a later date...www.bjjcoach.com