Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner Mike McMatthews, 26, has expressed extreme relief over the closure of his local jiu-jitsu academy following his recent promotion to blue belt.
McMatthews, who earned the rank just a month ago, told the Jiu-Jitsu Times that his relief was only due to his fears about the coronavirus pandemic and had nothing to do with his recent promotion. “Trust me, man. I’m not one of those bums who quits as soon as they get their blue belt,” said McMatthews, sweating visibly. “My only concern has been the spread of this virus, and if it were up to me, I’d still be training every day.”
The academy where McMatthews has trained for the past two years shut its doors on Monday to slow the spread of the virus. McMatthews’ roommate, who requested to only go by his first name, Devon, said that McMatthews expressed “extreme joy” upon reading the update on Facebook.
“I had no idea Mike was taking the virus so seriously,” said Devon. “Just Friday, he came home from training, threw his bag on the floor, and said, ‘F*ck this. F*ck jiu-jitsu, I’m taking advantage of those cheap flights and booking myself a vacation somewhere white belts won’t Americana me.’ I had to be the one to talk him down and remind him he should probably be self-isolating right now.”
“I just really took his advice to heart,” said McMatthews. “Come on, I wouldn’t really quit jiu-jitsu. And I think he’s making that part up about white belts and Americanas. First of all, I leave my ego at the door. Second of all, as if there’s a white belt on earth who would be able to submit me.” Here, he lets out an uncomfortably long laugh.
McMatthews says that he hopes the gym is closed for a long time, “strictly due to the severity of this pandemic.” He adds, “Can I also just say, I think the universe is on my side. Like, I know this is dangerous and people’s lives may be forever changed, but this just seems like a really good time for the gym to close. Call it a hunch. I don’t know.”
“Oh, that’s because he wants to quit,” says Devon when we mentioned McMatthews’ statement. “Yeah, he’s mentioned to me a few times that he feels like he may be reaching the end of his journey and that he’s ‘done all he can do’ with jiu-jitsu. Which, I don’t do jiu-jitsu, but I thought most martial arts go all the way to black belt? He seems pretty convinced he’s achieved everything there is to achieve now.”
When asked if he was doing any solo drills or remote BJJ learning at home, McMatthews scoffed. “Nah man, it’s end times. If we survive the apocalypse, I’ll be back, but for now, I’m gonna live my life by watching Netflix and eating ice cream sandwiches while baked out of my mind.”
At press time, McMatthews was reportedly “on Cloud Nine” as he received news that the gym would be extending its closure from two to four weeks.
Happy self-isolation! Please stay home from training until directed otherwise, and remember the mats will be there for you when the pandemic is over.