Our friends over at the Valhalla Academy have a tradition known as “birthday rounds.” On their birthday, a student gets to spend the entire class grappling non-stop with fresh partners rotated in regularly to keep the pressure on.
Even though we don’t follow this tradition at 4 Seasons, I always thought this sounded like a fun concept. Therefore I decided to steal the idea for the celebration of my 50th birthday. I put the word out: come on, come all for the opportunity to beat up on the old man.
So it was that at 7:00 last night I took the center of the mat and the 60-minute round began. The first 30 minutes wasn’t too bad. At 45 minutes in, I was watching myself for signs of dehydration and thinking “that’s got to be an hour, right?” At 55 minutes, my last grappling partner jumped in fast and aggressive, trying to take advantage of my weakened state. At 60 minutes I would have leaped up in celebration, but that would have required movement and I was done with such frivolities for the moment.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad way to celebrate turning 50.
I did pull out a few lessons for anyone who wants to try this exercise.
Hydrate early and often. I started guzzling water and gatorade several hours before arriving at the gym. If I hadn’t done this there is a decent chance I would have passed out from dehydration.
Relax. I got tapped out a few times during the hour. I tapped out my partners a few times during the hour. That wasn’t the point of the exercise. If I had gone balls to the wall trying to win every time, then I wouldn’t have made it halfway through.
Keep moving. I’m not in great shape. I’m 50 years old. I’m not a natural athlete. I don’t like doing cardio exercises and I tend towards laziness. There were a lot of moments during the hour where I just didn’t have the strength and energy I needed to pull off the movement I wanted to do. That said, I was always able to make myself do something. Sometimes my movements were small, sometimes they were slow, but I made myself keep moving for the entire hour.
This last point is where the life lesson comes in for those who want to look beyond the dojo. Life is a marathon. Sometimes we know what we think we should be doing to accomplish our goals, but we are just too exhausted and worn down to get up and do it all. But no matter how tired we are, it is always possible to do something to improve our position. It may be a miniscule bit of movement and not the dramatic action that we were hoping for, but those tiny, incremental steps can eventually get us out of some bad places