Ever had this moment? You happily set off to train at the dojo, eager to go and do your best or learn something new, but as you approach the doors you find yourself thinking, “please can Bob not be there.” Bob being a generic person who, frankly, makes your time on the mat less than pleasant.
There are many types of person Bob can be. Below I list some examples, some of which I have experienced and some of which people have mentioned to me.
The smelly dude. Everyone seems to have a tale to tell of the bloke who has yet to discover the wonders of soap and water. Or thinks washing his gi/training gear is some sort of optional extra. These people I throw with rapid efficiency, the less time near them the better. But these people are hell to be thrown by because it means you end up with your nose pressed against them. Yuck.
The argumentative one. This person feels the urge to argue with everything the teacher tries to show. I am all for a query or two about technique, but I am also someone who feels that you should at least try something before you can really appreciate any short-comings. The arguers set my teeth on edge because they bring a general gloom to the class.
The bully. It doesn’t matter if it is you or someone else. When one person feels the urge to make another person feel small, either through techniques or verbal abuse, then the entire class starts to feel uncomfortable. I have heard sad tales of how sometimes the instructor is the bully, and in those cases I would say run away from that dojo as fast as you can!
The over-keen. I once trained with someone who was just that little bit too trigger-happy with the blocks, distraction attacks and throws for the level I was at. In the end I had to take her to one side and point out my limitations. I was fortunate, she was approachable enough to say this sort of thing to, but that is not always the case. (Actually this entire matter of the difference between pushing your limits versus continually having them over-stepped is the subject of a future blog entry. The first one is good, the other is unpleasant.)
The under-keen. Attacks like they are day dreaming, throws like they are asleep, attempts a lock or pin but the only thing you feel is like yawning back at them. This person is not just having a bad day, they are like a wet blanket every time you train with them. No energy, no passion. Makes you wonder why they come on the mat.
The tall guy when you are a midget. Or as one person said to me, being thrown that extra foot down. This isn’t an issue for me (I’m 5ft 7, so neatly in the middle) but I sometimes watch with amusement when short people actively avoid training with the giants because that difference in height when thrown makes for a slightly more painful experience. The first throw is fine, the second one tender, by the time of the tenth the flinch reflex has set in.
The midget when you are the tall guy. Or as one tall person sadly said to me, “they seem to be extra viscous to make up for lack of height, I get more bruises off them than anyone else.”
The uke’s enemy. By that I mean the one who has no regard for your safety. I’ll never forget the time someone crashed down on both my carotid arteries with full force. Actually, I have forgotten a section of it because I remember the pain and then I remember coming around on the mat with a group of anxious faces staring down at me. Then there was the person who tried to throw head first on to the mat, which would have resorted in a broken neck for me if I had not grabbed his body and slowed the throw. Funnily enough I have never felt comfortable training with either of them since.
Mr No Pants. (In the British sense, ie no underwear underneath their gi). And yes, it is always a man. Why? Just, why?!