Coach Travis likes to talk about force, catch wrestling, how there-are-no-white-belt-moves-or-black-belt-moves-there-are-just-moves, and the importance of living in your exhale.
One day in class he gestures with his fingers as he describes different types of force in jiu jitsu. I listen. Coach Travis talks about physical force, the kind applied by your muscles, momentum, and gravity. Understanding how to navigate and apply these forces will help your jiu jitsu. I think about how it’d be nice to have a better understanding of force. I know that would help my jiu jitsu. I’ve noticed people who have a lot of jiu jitsu talk about their jiu jitsu like a precious thing they must keep safe and fed.
My jiu jitsu is hungry.
My mind also pings on the word gravity. I put gravity in Volume 3. It’s the last card. The denotation of the bound base <grave> is “heavy,” and the same base shows up in words like aggravated and gravitate. The word grief is a French cousin.
I’m putting that down as proof that truth is both beautiful and heavy.
Force represents as a vector, which means it has magnitude and direction at the same time. The word wrestle is related to the word conversation. And words, Douglas says, often have a certain gravity. You see words cluster, bump into each other, share an orbit. They carry force.
Professor Bill, the head instructor where I practice jiu jitsu, has an enormous amount of jiu jitsu. He says that doing jiu jitsu is like having a conversation.
In the beginning you are an infant with no speech just trying not to die. You can’t say much with your jiu jitsu when you are really new except please-don’t-hurt-me-I-have-no-idea-what-I-am-doing or sometimes HEY LOOK AT ME I’M ROLLING ABOUT HAHAHA AM I DOING IT?! People see you are a baby and they help you, because in the dōjō you are really just playing with friends.
Maybe if you take good care of your jiu jitsu then later you will be able to say something people will want to listen to.
Conversation entered our written record in the mid 14th century but it didn’t mean “informal exchange of thoughts by spoken words” until the 1570s. Etymonline tells us that before the 1570s conversation meant, “place where one lives or dwells” and also, “general course of actions or habits, manner of conducting oneself in the word.”
Turns out the way you talk comes from the way you walk and where you choose to sit. That’s how come you can have an entire conversation with someone without uttering a single word aloud.
Sex is a conversation, by the way, especially etymologically.
The elemental structure of conversation denotes a turning together. That <verse> base element shows up in words like universe, anniversary, version and subversive and lends an inherent sense of turn. The word wrestle comes from the same Proto-Indo European root as conversation, but the best part is that the <wr> grapheme in wrestle, “typically pertains to turning or twisting, and bears an etymological relationship to the Latinate twin base element[s] <vert>~<verse>.” (LEX Grapheme Deck, 3rd Edition)
Once Coach Travis showed a move in class, saw my eyes get wide, grinned, and said, “I know, it’s just wrong.” He has a wry sense of humor and is a huge fan of wrist locks.
Another time he said that wrestling is older than yoga and I disagreed.
Everyone wants to believe their thing is the Original Thing™. Lord knows I sure do.
But it’s hard to argue that people have been trying to discover the path to enlightenment longer than they’ve been trying to kill each other. Especially when nearly every human culture has some kind of folk wrestling tradition. Needing to survive long enough to ponder the reason(s) you exist is a thing.
If you are lucky you will survive because your teachers reach out their hands to you and help you up. If you are really extremely lucky you will survive long enough to write prose about trying to understand all the twists and turns.
And if you are the most lucky person ever you will get to have on going conversations with other humans, conversations about force, conversations about humanity, conversations on vectors with their own unique magnitude and direction.