The Great Escape, Pt.2
I wake up to what seems to be a garbage truck outside, and then some sounds of shouting. Hey Arnold! was pretty spot-on when describing a New York City morning.
I slowly move my body around to get the blood moving and instantly feel my injured rib shift. Just days before flying out, one of my ribs on the right side blew out during an open mat and I’ve been nursing it since, hoping to get some rolls in during my travels. I cough slightly, and the pain shoots through my body again.
“The joys of training” I mumble to myself as I look around the room, taking in the art.
I wasn’t planning on being in NYC for this trip, but that’s how life works. With this new chapter, I decide to jump on the opportunity to Drop IN at one of the local gyms.
I do a quick Google search for BJJ gyms in the area and my jaw drops. So many gyms to pick from, where do I start? Do I make the long trek to Marcelo Garcia’s to meet the legend, or do I find a gym nearby?
One gym in particular that stands out is Clockwork Jiu Jitsu. Their website has this awesome quote: This environment destroys ego and increases one's sense of reality.
I’ve heard the name before, and with it being just a 12-minute walk, my internal compass leads me in their direction. I send a quick message to their IG to let them know I’d be dropping in and to make sure it’s cool to film their class.
As I wait for a response, Sean pokes his head into my room and asks if I would like a coffee. I gladly accept the double shot of espresso, as this is exactly what I need before jumping on GrapplerMag’s weekly call with the boys.
“He made it!” says TK with a chuckle as the rest of the boys jump on. I run them through my rollercoaster plane ride, my stuck bag, my new friend Sean and his badass apartment.
Brandon, GrapplerMag’s co-founder, fills me in on the storm back in Florida. He’s in the process of laying sandbags against his garage door, because he lives close to a river and doesn’t want a repeat of Hurricane Irma, which flooded his entire house eight inches.
Jeremy, our IT specialist, breaks down life back in Taiwan while getting over Covid, and Mikey, our newest member, goes over logistics for our upcoming orders through our website’s store (https://www.grapplermag.com/index.php?route=product/catalog).
During our meeting we discuss upcoming events and brainstorm future plans for the company. TK, being the natural leader he is, keeps everything in order while Brandon updates the social media post schedule. With the boys locked in on their own tasks and the caffeine flowing strong, I say deuces to the team and split to head to Clockwork Jiu Jitsu.
I lock up the apartment, jump in the elevator and make the ride down. It stops on the third floor. As the doors open, a dog wearing an emotional support vest runs straight to me and wraps herself between my legs. A very apologetic woman dressed in festival-like clothing runs in and tries to gain control of her child. I can tell the dog just wants to say hello, so I let her enjoy my energy.
“I swear she doesn’t usually do this,” says the woman, sounding a little embarrassed. I look down at the dog’s two dark eyes staring right back up at me while her tail hits the inside of my calves. I respect the fact that the dog is a service animal, so I don’t get too attached and go crazy petting her. But I can’t help but speak to her in a baby-like tone.
“Aw, you’re nothing but a good girl looking for a new dude to be friends with.”
The owner and I share a laugh as the door opens to the ground floor. I say goodbye to my two new friends and walk out into my first NYC sunshine.
“Nothing like a good omen to start the day,” I say to myself and follow my GPS to Clockwork Jiu Jitsu.
The temperature outside is cool enough for a sweatshirt and shorts, but warm enough in the sun to get away with a tee.
“Turn left onto Broadway and you’ll see your destination on the left.”
I exit my GPS and slide my phone back into my pocket. I open the door and find the directory on the wall. The second floor is where I need to go. Before I can make my way up the steps, I hear a voice behind me.
“Hello, I’m guessing you train?”
I turn to notice behind me a stout bald man, greeting me with a warm smile.
“I do. Are you one of the instructors here?” I say, returning the good energy.
“I am. My name is Kyle,” he replies, reaching out to shake my hand. I explain why I’m here and how I escaped the hurricane that’s battering Florida at that very moment. Kyle was curious to hear about my great escape and was stoked that I decided to Drop IN at his gym.
He asks me if I’ll be training today. I have to take a deep breath and not let my ego blind the fact that my rib is busted.
“Ah, no worries. Totally understand,” says Kyle, still smiling. We both understand that in this grappling world, injuries are common, and if you want to train forever, you must take care of yourself first. Leaving the ego at the door and listening to your body is my new motto.
Kyle tells me the afternoon class wouldn’t start for another hour, so he suggests I grab a coffee across the street and come back at noon.
“Medium Americano is up!” says the barista. I find a spot next to the window and get lost daydreaming. The NYC traffic starts to pick up.
As I dig into my granola and yogurt, I can’t help but smile and think how awesome it is that I’m in NYC doing what I love, living the jiu jitsu lifestyle. I slam back my piping-hot coffee, whip out my camera and start filming as I make my way across the street back to the gym.
Rome Lytton IV
Rome is a world traveler who thrives living a nomadic lifestyle. He spent the last eight years exploring southeast Asia and was promoted to black belt by Dan “Imal” Reid. If you see him on the side of the road with his thumb out, trust the good vibes.