By Thomas Vallez
After spending four long years of studying (Korean) Hwa Rang Do, on my 21st birthday, I finally decided to jump on the martial arts "bandwagon" by taking my first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class. Although I'd never previously studied any ground-fighting arts, the Dojo I joined provided a good atmosphere for instruction with qualified instructors. The senior students there looked adept and seemed ready to provide encouragement and would assist with any questions too.
As a white-belt, students were required to spend much of our initial class time learning the basics in order to build a firm foundation of knowledge. We were also instructed to work hard on our physical conditioning, which wasn't much of a problem for me at that age.
Early on, I was taught some important specifics. From a mounted position or in Side-Control, I was taught to gain proper body positioning to control my training partners’ movement. What we learned at that point resembled certain aspects of Wrestling. My instructor soon taught me to sprawl in order to avoid basic Takedowns. Finally, I was taught my first submission set-ups.
By the end of my first month I’d never missed a class. I was attending five sessions per week and practicing submissions on my poor little brother. Up to this point, I still wasn’t yet been allowed to participate in any free-form or competitive grappling against my fellow students at the Dojo.
So far, we were only rolling with each other in a rather relaxed manner without much conviction, avoiding any forceful actions. Everything us lower belts did at that level was highly monitored.
From the time I’d started training in BJJ, I had decided to work more on my physical conditioning by lifting more weights and changing my diet to a healthier regimen. I did begin to gain more muscle mass and seemed to have greater energy, thanks to all of the new supplements I’d begun ingesting. I began to feel stronger than I’d ever been before!
At the completion of my second month of BJJ my instructor finally decided to teach us lower belts some of the famous submissions that the system is widely known for…Kimura's, Americana's, Arm-Bars, Knee-Bars, Rear-Naked Choke and more. Still, we were not allowed to display any forceful aggression with each other, always moving slowly in that relaxed manner; in order not to cause each other any injuries. Our instructor explained, “This is to learn precise positioning while devoting the techniques into your muscle memory.”
It was in my third month of training at the Dojo that we were finally allowed to actually kick things up a notch or two; we were informed that we were ready to grapple freely on the mats! I was excited to be paired with my peers to learn how to roll freely without the previous limitations!
However, I had not considered the embarrassment that soon followed…
You see, I had not even considered that my new diet could produce any negative effects on my body that might affect my training. During that first free-form session, with the full weight of my training partners body often laid across my own, I began to feel some uncomfortable pressure building up inside of my stomach. A half an hour into this higher level of training I became distracted when I suddenly felt like I had to throw up! I excused myself from the mats and rushed into the restroom and puked profusely. I sweated harder in there than I ever did while training! After finally returning to my group, I still felt my insides growling, but I made it through to the end.
The next day I arrived for another class and again proceeded to enthusiastically engage in more free-form grappling. However, after only around 15 minutes of training with a slightly heavier partner, I began to feel that annoying pressure within my intestines. I was getting nervous, but decided to continue on without excusing myself from the mats.
Twenty minutes into my session and my stomach was really beginning to rumble. I frequently had the impulse to squeeze my ass cheeks together hoping to better control the small amounts of bubbling gas that was escaping from me.
While I was determined to continue on with the training, I hoped the subtle smell of my farting wouldn’t be noticeable to anyone else in the Dojo. Pretty soon I could not completely control the uncomfortable build up of gas inside of me and accidentally had to let a big one rip!
It could not go unnoticed and all of my training partners looked my way! They all laughed at me and I was completely embarrassed. Fortunately, Sensei was in his office and didn’t hear us.
After a few minutes of being ridiculed, we continued on with the session. As we alternated our training partners, I was fearful of more gas leaks. I was then paired with an aggressive student who was at least 20 pounds heavier than I and even stronger than me. We began to roll on the mats when he quickly secured me into Side-Control with half of his body across my own.
Immediately, I felt as if my groaning stomach was turning inside out and I tensed up. The more my partner and I fought on, I farted small air bubbles into the atmosphere, which smelled to me like a medicinal mixture of the fish oil capsules and wheat grass supplements that I’d been consuming!
Immediately, my fellow students made remarks and teased me about the need to light up a match to kill the horrible scent, I was afraid that if someone did fire one up in there that the place would ignite or explode! My face was red as I excused myself and made for the restroom again.
Everyone smirked at me when I returned to the mats. I felt stupid and highly self-conscious as we continued with our training that afternoon. By the time I got home I had to rush into the bathroom before I crapped in my Gi pants! I must have been in there for 15 to 20 minutes while my bowls continued to evacuate its entire contents, leaving my ass red and sore!
I decided to take the next day off from training in order to reevaluate my current diet plan, thinking it had to be the cause of my internal woes. I ate some bread hoping the starch may soak up and absorb some of the bile fluids I assumed were caused by all those supplements that I’d been ingesting on a daily basis. By the following morning my stomach felt completely settled, so I was anxious to return to the Dojo to attend that evening’s class.
However, my stomach began to audibly plague me once again that night during our training session! As I rolled on the ground with one of my fellow students, I strained to control the bubbling brew leaking out between my tender butt cheeks as everyone else around me started holding their noses and shot serious insults my way. I hated that uncomfortable feeling!
As the toxic fumes filled the air inside the Dojo, I then felt something unwelcome exiting into my underwear. I got right up without a word and raced into the restroom where I proceeded to violate the toilet with my stomach’s nasty contents! I stayed in there for quite a while before I felt sure I could leave its sanctuary. I hastily excused myself from class with a quick bow of respect to the Sensei to make it out the exit and return home before another accident in my pants occurred.
That night, as I washed my soiled Gi bottoms, I really read up on the ingredients, including caffeine, in all the supplements I had been eating and decided to discontinue taking them entirely.
Apparently, this whole scenario was not so uncommon for wrestlers and ground-fighters to experience when experimenting with various vitamins and supplements for the first time. Many times the body needs a certain amount of time to metabolize newly-introduced or exotic ingredients to its system; some cause allergic reactions. Obviously, adding an active type of physical training regimen could potentially cause your stomach to more readily loosen its contents, especially the buildup of methane gas!
I realized this was happening to me. If only I’d read up more on those supplements prior to joining the Dojo I may have saved myself a lot of social grief and spared my fellow students. My training partner’s proceeded to rib me about it relentlessly; it took months before they finally let up on me. They temporarily nicknamed me; “Pigpen” until I became good enough to constantly best them all at BJJ!
I finally received a black belt in BJJ and I am now an assistant instructor at the Dojo.
Now, my fellow students call me; “Boss Hog”.
By telling you of my embarrassment this way, I hope it may serve as a lesson on perseverance. You can reach your goals if you remain focused and let nothing stand in your way.
I would gladly write more about this, but, it seems like I’m outta gas for now.