Whatever window of easy training I might have had at jujitsu has definitely closed with a thump.

Typically for me, I’d spent a year (probably two if I’m honest) talking up a storm about how I was going to go back to training any day now.  Honest.  Just, you know, when this busy period at work was over.  When I had this story out of the way.  When the next month started.  When my fitness was that little bit better.  After all this travel coming up.  I’d bumped into my old instructor twice during 2008 and talked about coming back to training each time; I’d told a couple of friends about how even after a decade or so out of it I still thought of myself as “a jujitsuka who hasn’t been to training in a while” rather than “someone who used to do jujitsu”.  The start of 2009 seemed to be the point where I’d stretched all my excuses past the snapping point, and so I promised myself in the January acquittal (more on these another time) that I’d be back there within the week.

There’s no other word for it, being back in the dojo was exhilarating.  Hard work, sure, and did I ever feel it the following morning, but after the session I drove home grinning from ear to ear and drumming on the steering wheel, practically laughing aloud.  They’re teaching it differently these days, at a more demanding level with lots more little angles and nuances loaded into the techniques (which were always there, of course, but which I certainly don’t remember being taught my first time round).

And, well, in the first several lessons I got to coast a little bit.  The muscle memories on how to fall came back reasonably quickly and the techniques are coming back too, although I have to allow for the way they’ve changed while I was away and re-learn aspects of them.  It was fun, but I admit I didn’t have the sense of going all-out.

The first death knell for that happy time came when I changed belts.  I’d shown up in a white belt because hey, I was retraining back up to my old level through the beginner class, so that seemed appropriate.  I got away with that for a couple of weeks, and then I was handed a green one so that I could be my old rank for protocol purposes and so the teachers could expect the appropriate level of training out of me (the phrase “hiding down there among the white belts” was employed).  That was cool though, that just mean lots more of those angles and nuances to learn.  There’s a takedown I always thought was kind of slow and clunky at the old level which I’m now aware evolves into some deliciously evil forms a belt or three onward.

The second was when an old classmate arrived back on the mat on Monday night, someone who’d been away almost as long as me – we remembered throwing each other around back in the old days.  He’s fitter than I am, and had reached a rank higher than my own, but is now in the same boat as me: having to retrain through the old levels to get back to his “actual” belt.  So, no more of the slow, tentative training with the other outright beginners (who weren’t there tonight, probably recovering from their first full lesson of forward throws on Monday).  Now I’ve got instructors and a partner who are all about pushing hard and fast.

Which is good.  I need this.  Pushing hard and fast is something I’m not so good at doing for myself.  It’s why going to a bootcamp with other people and a trainer is the best thing I’ve done for my fitness, and why some of my best friends are the ones I can rely on to show up with the cattle prods when I’ve got something I want to do but can’t seem to shift my backside off the chair.

But, you know.  Ouch.