Cool email from a student

I have a student who has been training for under a year but has shown incredible progress and a great work ethic. She often emails me after class to reflect on the techniques and the rolling, and it always leads to interesting conversation.

She just returned from vacation in Hawaii. She said she had an awesome time visiting Jason Izaguirre's school out there (thanks Jason, if you're reading this). While she was snorkeling in Hawaii, she had this observation:

"And now for my more philosophical jj lesson from HI… Once, while snorkeling, we got caught up in a big current and waves that pushed us into a reef. It was dangerous for all of us, as we navigated tricky terrain with limited visibility and amidst waves. (You’ll see some lingering cuts and bruises tomorrow at no-gi). But those who had it worst were the ones who had not spent much time in the ocean. Even though they could swim pretty well, they panicked from the onslaught of waves, which made it almost impossible to think clearly, breath normally, and use the time between waves to get out of the situation. On the other hand, those who had spent a lot of time in the ocean didn’t panic, looked for an escape, breathed as the waves allowed, and made it without too much trouble.

This experience made me understand better the importance of getting beat in jj. It sucks to feel helpless in someone’s mount, just like it sucks to get sucked under by a wave, and it’s easy to feel the same panicked feeling. I need to feel it enough so I don’t panic anymore, and I think that may just take a lot of getting beat up, just like it takes a lot of time in the waves."

very well observed and written

So true, I have always compared jiu jitsu to being thrown be a big wave, going under, curling in a ball and waiting for the wave to pass by. I patiently go with the flow waiting for a mistake. But your always concerned till you can get your breath.

Grappling is like being in the ocean. I am the snorkler and you don't even know how to swim.

^^^ That's not the way I heard it. I heard it was:

"Grappling is like being in the ocean. I am the snorkler and you are a guy standing on the pier eating Funyuns."


On a more serious note, she is of course correct. Her minor revelation is one many people -especially women- fail to have. I think martial arts are so often NOT very useful for women in terms of self defense because they completely want to avoid exactly what she speaks of. Men too, but often to a lesser extent. There is something in the socialization of men that "gets" having your ass kicked in order to improve. That is not typically a feminine belief.

I see a "Letters to Andre" book in your future. Written entirely in a script font. Phone Post

if you are married/have gf, cease and desist extra-class communication. trouble lies ahead.

the question is, "is she hot?"

also, i find it weird that someone would email the instructor to discuss stuff like that. cant that shit wait till she actually sees u, rather than having to talk about it wherever she is.
thats attention whoring at its best, she craves the attention, and ur giving it her

J Flip - if you are married/have gf, cease and desist extra-class communication. trouble lies ahead.

 I think I would break up with my significant other if they did not allow me to email a damn student.

Boy this poor thread got twisted real fast.


Amen ..i just forwarded that email via txt to the three regular attending girls in my class. And I have a live in gf and fuck her if she doesn't like it.

WRESTLENOW - if you wrestled you wouldn't be getting smashed against the reefs in the first place.

Nope, you'd have missed the holiday all together for your court case about finger raping another man.

Great email, and great observation on her part. Thanks for sharing Andre!

Cool email in and of itself, Andre. Thank you for sharing.

But even "cooler" for me as a teacher who is always trying to improve both my teaching methods and my relationships with my students is the fact that your relationship obviously goes beyond chokes and armlocks.

It took me over a decade to come out of the funk that was left from my TMA days. During those 10-plus years I really just studied and taught martial arts as a physical pursuit. I believed that the valuable lessons would come automatically to all people if they just earnestly learned and practiced BJJ, Muay Thai, FMA, etc.

The truth, however, is that many want and need a little more overt instruction and hints to see the larger picture. I lost some potentially good students and taught some bad students with my previous approach. I like what that email implies about your current approach.

HoldYerGround - 
J Flip - if you are married/have gf, cease and desist extra-class communication. trouble lies ahead.

 I think I would break up with my significant other if they did not allow me to email a damn student.

nah man I agree with that; I was partially kidding. but still...
Ridgeback - She wants you Andre.

is the truth, I bet.

Thanks, guys.

Some of you are misreading the situation.

This student is a Harvard Graduate, top lawyer at one of the biggest firms in L.A., and extremely driven in everything she does. She doesnt seem to be training just for fun, although she enjoys it a lot, but also to improve as much as she can.

For example, I mentioned the Saulo Ribeiro book and she bought it the next day and read it cover to cover several times.

Some people are like this and you can tell its a phase they're going through. With her, it's just a really cool love of the sport and a drive to succeed at something she enjoys. She is the ideal student.

The discussion of dangerous e-mail reminds me in a vague way of something I read in Black Belt magazine about 25 years ago when I was a high school kid in karate class :-P

Anyway, the writer (Dave Lowry) was some guy who did a super-traditional sword class or something, and he posted about how his teacher taught him vs. how he taught his students. He was having a BBQ at his house and had several students over one weekend, and they asked him about what it had been like to do the same thing with his instructor over in Japan. He surprised himself by noting he'd never even seen his instructor's house, or even talked to him outside of class/demonstrations/etc., though they had been together 20+ years.

Point being, he realized that he taught better by having more of a relationship with his students...which sounds like what Andre is doing.

Man I can't wait to see the sequel to this thread:

Scary emails from ex-student who won't stop stalking me

Sadly, it is your responsibility as an instructor, Andreh, to tell her she is probably a little "too smart" for BJJ.

Maybe point her towards formally studying the Naginata, Iaido or perhaps BaGua.

Pajama wrasslin' is beneath her.

Tell her to take John Frankl and Danaher with her too. It's for their own good.