"The worst is a look you expect - and don't get - from a face you thought you knew."
For the past 10-11 weeks I've been responsible for teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Gracie Barra Seattle two evenings a week while our head instructor recovered first from an experimental knee surgery and then, almost immediately afterward, from a challenging and painful infection of the finger that left him similarly and additionally sidelined.
Teaching classes this summer - fundamental, all levels, Live Training - has probably been one of the most significant experiences in my jiu-jitsu life -certainly since I stopped competing after earning my black belt in late 2011. And while the opportunity to focus on, explicate, and share many of the basic techniques of jiu-jitsu was awesome, the challenge of working with students from a variety of backgrounds and with widely differing skill levels was probably what I appreciated most. I am at root a solver of problems, and there are few greater chances to practice my problem-solving vice than by working to find the simplest way to explain the gentle art to those eager to learn it.
I'm going to leave it at that. I'm looking forward to both continuing to work with students - especially white belts, older students, and those who think they don't have the physical attributes to do jiu-jitsu - as well as working on my own jiu-jitsu game, which has taken a bit of a back seat this summer as the obligations of teaching the best class possible took center stage. I've spent a lot of time thinking very hard about what I want to do with my jiu-jitsu as I enter my 12th year in the art (August 18th, mark the date!). Tonight was the first night of putting some of that thinking to task. Here's to many, many more.