Paying the Piper in Athens, Greece

As I mentioned in my previous post (here) I had a great first training session with Draculinho Team, Athens. It was a small group and we kept it playful and had a nice, technical-oriented class. The next night, I went in for the evening class and it was a bit different.

The warm-up lasted longer, the drills were more intense, and the class size was considerably bigger. Further, there were more higher belts in the room as well and I rolled with most of them…well, maybe I will say they mostly rolled over me!

Mid-way through the sparring portion of the class I was huffing pretty bad and, if I am honest, at one point I thought I might puke. Aris was being very kind and blaming it on the heat saying that it…”is hard when you are not accustomed to the heat.” But, I had been travelling through Southeast Asia for the past six months and the heat wasn’t any worse here in Athens.

Tuesday night technique. Before the puking....

Tuesday night technique. Before the puking….

I went home after training pretty bummed out.I felt like I was embarrassing myself and my Professors and teammates for putting on such a sad display. I guess my sense of responsibility to others can be pretty high sometimes and I got really down on myself for the poor performances I put on.

It’s not that I got beat, or tapped or even that I got gassed…it was more that I got so gassed, so early, that I could’t even do good jiu-jitsu…I’m sure some of you know what I mean. It usually happens when you’re new or when you have come off a extended break..which, is pretty much what I had been letting myself do for the past few weeks.

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My wife and I keep a fairly strict “Don’t travel like a tourist” rule, which really just means…no spending a lot of money going out to fancy restaurants and paying for all the expensive tours, etc…you know, how you do when you are on vacation.However, since leaving Southeast Asia, running through Italy and now in Greece I had been treating myself to some of those “finer things” like the Pizza in Naples, the Limoncello throughout Italy, and now the Gyros and beer here in Athens… (Hey, the most delicious gyros in the world for $2.00 Euros!)

But the sight-seeing, gyro bingeing and “ALPHA-Strong” drinking ( a Greek beer with an 8% ALC) had caught up to me. I was out of shape, borderline fat, and wasn’t getting the mat time that anyone would need to keep improving (or even plateauing).

My first meal in Athens: Bourlakis...it's all down hill from here!

My first meal in Athens: Bourlakis…it’s all down hill from here!

For the last week of training in Athens before heading of to Austria I vowed to start the change! I trained Monday night, then came back on Wednesday. I spoke to Arish about what was going on and he was super supportive! He was really understanding and told me that I wasn’t letting anyone down, but maybe if it makes me unhappy – I can change it. He encouraged me to keep rolling, even when I was tired but then told me to take a round off after getting absolutely mauled by Professor Niko :-/

This was the second time in my life I thought I might puke on the mats and I even took a walk to the bathroom just in case. It didn’t work out that way but by the end of the session I was utterly spent, wasted and exhausted. I just don’t even know how to explain it.


I walked home that night feeling a little bit better about myself…mainly just because I didn’t give up and sit out those extra rounds like I , kind of, wanted to and that, even though I thought I might puke, I came back out to the mats and finished the night off the best I could. You know – some wins just aren’t pretty…but you take the win!

I was planning on coming back on Friday for the final training session before the gym closed for summer holiday, but one of the other purple belts (who had been putting a friendly trouncing on me all night) said…”No…you have to come back tomorrow…we will train some more”.

So, with that very little nudge of support, I went home, showered and went to bed…with no gyros and no Alpha Strong.

Professor Chris and I, the night I started my journey back to the groove!

Professor Chris and I, the night I started my journey back to the groove!

I went back on Thursday, then again on Friday. I was starting to feel more and more excited about getting back into my routine and back into shape. The guys at GB Athens continued to whoop my ass, and at the same time were really supportive and encouraging for me to keep at it and get back to where I want to be.

We finished the class up on Friday with a small crew. We had trained hard and it felt good to not be running to the bathroom for fear of puking! I really needed the type of support and pushing that I got at GB Athens that last week! Sometimes, you just need others to do the right thing to help get you where you are going.

Last Day Selfie: Professor Aris in the back!!

Last Day Selfie: Professor Aris in the back!!

Giving a big thanks out to Professor Aris and the team at GB Athens – Draculinho team! A great reminder of what Jiu-Jitsu is all about…empowering others to be better and happier human beings – Oh – and then choking the crap out of them 🙂 !

Meanwhile, I am going to continue my streak of training and treating myself right (sensible eating and drinking!), except….next up is Vienna, Austria, – land of “Schnapps and Schnitzel”….FML 😉

Oss! Until next time, good training!

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