A purple belt in Dallas, TX has opened up about the emotional and physical struggles he’s faced since his BJJ gym was forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Paul Pearson, who has been practicing social distancing for over a month, told the Jiu-Jitsu Times that he can “physically feel” her techniques slipping away despite years of practice on the mats. “I’ve come so far since white belt,” he said mournfully. “I used to show up right on time and really put effort into the warmups, making sure they served their purpose before we got into drilling. You know, like an idiot.”
After years of making amends to perfect his warmup routine — showing up slightly late, taking extra time to get changed, standing up before getting to the end of the mat while shrimping — Pearson has found that his progress, like that of many other jiu-jitsu practitioners, has sputtered to a halt now that the gym has closed.
“I feel like ever since I was promoted to purple belt, my skills have just skyrocketed,” he said, asserting that he hadn’t properly completed his coach’s warmup routine for at least two weeks before the shutdown happened. “Now, I don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve tried logging in late on my work chat, but it just doesn’t give me the same rush.”
To compensate for the lack of warmups he’d normally skip, Pearson has been asking friends to recommend yoga videos and then making a point to never watch them. “It’s the closest I can get to someone being like, ‘Hey, do this stretch,’ and me just being like, ‘No,'” he said. “Sometimes I’ll think about stretching or walking before going on a run around my neighborhood, but then just take off at a sprint as soon as I open the door. We all have to make modifications to our routine in these troubled times.”
Pearson has even gone so far as to share an online petition begging his local government to consider labeling jiu-jitsu gyms as “essential businesses” so they can reopen early. “What’s the real risk? Coronavirus or the mental toll of having no one looking at me disapprovingly for being lazy?” he asked rhetorically. “The sooner we get back to ignoring our coaches’ efforts to keep us from injuring ourselves on the mats, the happier and healthier we’ll all be.”
When we last checked in with him, Pearson had just got done commenting “Ugh can’t we just roll already” on a YouTube video demonstrating solo warmup drills for BJJ. “It’s nothing personal,” he said. “I just needed to feel alive again.”