Some do martial arts to build confidence. Others are in the business to make sure their love ones are protected, in case the situation arises. All are noble reasons, of course. For me, there’s only been one goal since I joined the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Club at work…
I see it in his countenance. The arrogant look he throws around, that stupid grin. It’s been stuck on his face, ever since he pounded on that poor kid in that MMA match. Now, he walks around like he can beat anybody up. The worst part is, it’s true.
His older brothers have trouble sleeping at night, fearing they’ll wake up in the middle of the night to a severe beating after years of torture and teasing from his childhood. You think Ulrich will go toe-to-toe with him? Ha, fat chance. Heck, even Gibson’s scared of him!
Ben Woodward had the gall to talk crap to him once over the phone. I pray to God their paths never cross.
Something has to be done. Somebody has to stand up to him, this… this bully. It’s been on my mind every day for the past 10 years, and I’m going to do it. It may not be this week. It may not be this month. Heck, it may not even be this year. But someday, somehow, I’m going to do it.
I’m going to kick Danny Dahl’s ass.
April 2nd, 2019. It was a solid class, drilling the variations of the Kamara and Americana submissions, followed by nearly 45 minutes of intense rolling. Before we knew it, 6:00 was right around the corner, the end of class for the day. It’s been like this every week for the past 6 months, and slowly but surely, my skills have improved.
“It’s your time,” our instructor Noam told us, as he usually does. “Anybody up for another roll?” Honestly, if someone had asked me, I would’ve gone one last time. But let’s face it, we were wiped, and by all the nods of approval floating about, it was safe to say that we were satisfied with the progress made during this week’s session.
I conceded to the groups wishes, unable to conceal the smirk growing across my face. “Man, I think I’m starting to get the hang of this Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stuff…”
Noam caught on. “Zack?” he asked, peering into me with a growing smirk of his own.
Suddenly, mine disappeared. The hairs on my arms rose, my face snarled, and I won’t lie, I even felt a spike of anger rise within me. Something didn’t sit right. I could see him through Noam’s stare, laughing, egging me on, cracking one of his stupid jokes, and getting away with it. …Danny…
“Hey,” I said, pointing to Noam, my eyes beaming—my face stern. Time was precious, and like it or not, I made a vow to the world. I would train, I would study, I would do everything in my power, day and night to defeat him. “Noam, we’re rollin’. Right here, right now.”
Now, to this day, I swear, the moment I said those words, a strong strain of fear filled the room. I could smell it, permeating off each person’s gi. But he accepted, begrudgingly, knowing full well as the master, he couldn’t back down. The rest of the class gathered in anticipation, wondering if they were about to witness the biggest upset since Brock Lesner over The Undertaker in Wrestlemania XXX. We slapped hands and got down to business.
He sat back, looking to break me with his spider guard. The Zack of old would’ve fallen for his Jedi mind tricks. But not now. I had come too far in my training, and I evaded every one of his attempts to pull me into his guard. And now, it was my time. I made my move.
I swiped past his leg, in prime position to take control of the match. “Man, think of the possibilities,” I thought to myself. “I can go from side control, to mount, set him up for an arm bar, the world is literally at my fingertips!”
I broke his spider guard and posted up, one swift maneuver away from side control. “Alright, just a quick juke, then a bit of a psych out, break the legs away, twist, and—“
“Ahh!!!” I screamed as I dropped to the ground, flopping about like Hogan in the clutches of Ric Flair’s Figure Four, circa 1991.
“Are you ok,” asked Noam, staring at a useless specimen lying on the mat, no better than dead.
“…I think I just dislocated my knee!”
And that was it. It was all over.
The anxiety only grew as the paramedics arrived. Not a single one of them were thrilled about carrying my fat ass down 3 flights of stairs. At least the rest of the class stuck around to see me out ok, providing the necessary resolve for the journey down.
***NOTE: My butt may be big, but I happened think it’s shaped nicely, just like a Kardashian (just to set the record straight)***
“Did you have to get hurt on the 3rd floor?” the paramedics complained. They can take that up with the Moral, Welfare and Recreation department at the Navy Yard as far as I’m concerned. It’s a travesty—the lack of respect us Jiu Jitsu enthusiasts receive. Besides, it’s not my fault they have poor cardio. Derrick Lewis can tell you all about that!
The sweat poured off their brows, and by the time we made it to the bottom, two of the paramedics had curled over in a constant pant for oxygen, but after a couple of rough patches and a near drop or two, they managed to get me onto the stretcher. Noam, to his credit, grabbed my gym bag and sought me to the ambulance, ensuring I was in good hands before leaving the scene.
With limited mobility and the roof as my only source of scenery for the entire ride, I had much to ponder.
“Man, he knew all along that was going to happen, didn’t he? Doing all that trash talking and setting me up for defeat, that cheeky bastard. But, I’m gonna get him. Ohh, just you wait, Danny. I’m gonna come back, stronger than before. I’m going to train harder than before. Then before you know it, I’m gonna sneak up on you and whoop the living—“
“AHH! MOTHER F—“
…Damn those DC potholes.
A few more bumps and several swears later and we were at the hospital, waiting for admittance. It was the strangest thing, but every nurse that passed me seemed to give me a thorough inspection. “Well, they seem to really care for their customers. That’s a good sign, I suppose.” But things started to get weird—real quick. They were eying me hard now, really taking the time to check me out. “What’s so intriguing? Sure, I’m a hunk and all, but I’m no John Stamos…”
Lying next to me was my gym bag. I had removed my gi top and stuffed inside moments before, leaving nothing but my super sleek rash guard exposed. I always admired the way it conformed to my Adonis like figure. And now, it seemed that the rest of the world admired it as well. “No wonder Noam encouraged me to get one of these, heheh.”
One of the docs came over to examine my condition, also taking a short moment to take notice of my rash guard. “Ok Mr. Andrews, I’m just going to get a feel of where the pain is,” he said to me in a sinister voice. Something wasn’t right about this situation. My fears were further exacerbated by the excessive touching of the leg and thigh areas. “Does this hurt,” he asked. “What about this… And this?”
“YES! YES, IT ALL HURTS FOR CHRIST SAKE! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CAN YOU PLEASE STOP FINGER BLASTING MY LEG?!?!”
“Ok, ok, hold your horses,” he responded with a wink. “I’ll be back in a little bit to check on you.” Not if I have anything to do with it!
I had to get out of there. In an attempt to remove myself from the situation, I lifted my leg. “AHH C—!” Whoops, a little loud, hehe. “…Crap…” I resettled into a comfortable position as best I could. Damn my busted knee…
But wait, I had an ace up my sleeve. Realizing I had taken it off prior to class, I rummaged through my gym bag and pulled out a gold, shiny ring. “Time to put an end to this nonsense, once and for all!”
He came back for more fun, only to find disappointment. I’m no mind reader, but if I had to guess, it was the wedding ring that delivered the final blow. “Send him to get x-rays,” he scoffed, walking away in disgust. Sorry guys, this one’s officially off the market.
The x-rays were a pain in the butt—or leg if you want to get technical. And it didn’t help that the x-ray tech didn’t understand the concept of April Fools—damn the cultural barrier. Not impressed by the funny meme I had just shown him with a man crying because it was April 2ndand he realized his girl was still pregnant, he wheeled me out to a subpar location at the end of the hallway, all by my lonesome. Judging by my surroundings, they were having a pretty busy night.
Luckily, the wife showed up shortly after and waited it out with me, fending off the rest of the nurses on the prowl. In the room to my right sat—or perhaps “paced” is a more fitting verb, an elderly woman, insistent on cruisin’ around in a hospital gown with her undies fully exposed, no matter how many times the nurses pleaded with her to stay in her bed. In front of me was another elder, this one a man diagnosed with pneumonia, and apparently a bad case of flatulence on top of it. Between the dusty old bird ripping bombs and the granny in the panties, there was little shame amongst us—shame that further diminishing as we waited… and waited… then waited a little more.
“Alright, the results are in,” said the nurse after about an hour and a half of waiting. “The good news is there are no broken bones.” Gee, I could’ve told you that one. “So, we’re going to discharge you with a pair of crutches and get you out of here.” Hold the front phone just a minute here. Discharge me? I can’t even move my stinkin’ leg! What do you mean discharge me? I prepared myself, ready to express my deepest concerns.
“Excuse me, mam? I’d like to consult with the doctor about my inability to move my—“
“Are you kidding me!” the wife busted in. “You’re just going to discharge him, in this state? He can’t get in the car, he can’t go to the bathroom, he can’t move, period!”
“Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Man, the benefits of marriage just keep comin’!”
You could tell she meant business, and she was not to be messed with—not on this day.
The nurse turned pail, her breaths deep and heavy. All she could do was look back, unable to shake the petrified look from her face.
Then, a deluge of brooding thoughts poured into my head. Look at the intensity in her eyes. Her menacing stature, the integrity to take action. She knows what she’s doing, has the intelligence to read her opponents every move… intensity, integrity, intelligence—holy crap, she already has the 3 I’s stressed by Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle! Oh no… What if she starts to take Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? Oh, my God, she’ll destroy us all! Me, Danny, Joe Rogan—everyone!
I took a deep breath, my final plea to the nurse. “Listen, you gotta do something. My knee won’t budge, no matter how hard I try—“
It was a miracle. My knee lifted from off the bed, no pain. Then, I bent it, slowly kicking it back in forth in motion. “I… I don’t believe it.”
Turns out, the old knee settled itself back into place, no butt kicking necessary. The nurse shot me a look like she had just dodged the draft. “Man oh man, did you guys dodge a bullet there!”
In the end, I received a hefty ambulance bill, 8-weeks of physical therapy, and a pair of crutches upon my release. Just a small price to pay for the ultimate prize though. I’ll get there, and I’ll be back, better than ever. And you know what, say I don’t quite make it. Maybe I don’t get strong enough to beat him up. At the end of the day, I’m not sure I need to.
I got a wife. And she’s got my back.
Take that Danny Dahl!