I had the weirdest dream!
I dreamed that I along with some of my comrades from Three Rivers Martial Arts Academy were going to a seminar in Cleveland. Except Cleveland was in Tennessee for some reason, and for some other bizarre reason we were leaving in the middle of the night, around 2am. Like many of my dreams, it was storming, but this was an especially torrential downpour with thunder and lightning and very poor visibility on the trip to Cleveland…Tennessee.
We were going to see Royce Gracie, which is not unusual as he is our teacher, but the strange part is that he was also doing the seminar with Ryron Gracie, which because of a division that happened some 10 years prior at the Gracie Academy seems very improbable that a joint seminar of these two individuals would ever take place. But, nothing completely unrealistic has happened thus far; only enough to prove to my subconscious that it was in fact a dream and not reality.
Then it got stranger. We show up to this seminar, and it is at an MMA school, but it is inside a shopping mall – like a store. It was such a vivid dream, in fact, that I can remember seeing a “DEB” store across the hall, and a video game store adjacent. Of the people attending the seminar, there was no discernible cohesive ranking structure. There were belts of every color and practitioners of every style – like a Van Damme movie or something. I began to realize at this point it was obviously a dream, as I began to hear R2D2 noises and saw Star Wars characters playing around in front of the video game store. To ensure that it was a dream, Royce finally walked in wearing a blue belt! What the hell?!
So the seminar went on, and Royce taught some techniques. Good information, but Ryron kept fading in and out of existence as happens with characters in dreams sometimes. Royce came over to me (with his blue belt on), and made a comment to me about my new Royce Gracie Network gi that I was wearing, which I had recently bought. Several others had the same gi, so I was unsure why he spoke only to me about mine until he asked why the stitching on mine was brown and not black like the others’. He then told me he was going to give me my black belt, but since it wouldn’t match my gi now I had to remain brown. Remember, dear reader, it was only a dream.
At the end of the seminar, Royce invited questions from the crowd, with off-the-wall responses from people like “Have you ever fought in a UFC?” and “Remember that time you caught that guy in an armlock” which would’ve been comical, had this not been a dream and been real-life. But the diatribe that followed was anything but comical, for dreams or reality or otherwise. Royce launches into a pontification about the recent generation of Gracies losing the way and spirit of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. He goes on to completely contradict, almost verbatim, statements that Ryron and Rener Gracie had made about how the role of their generation was to disseminate the knowledge created and proven by prior generations. He said that the Gracie family members all had to fight and continue to prove the effectiveness of the art forever. This would’ve made a very uncomfortable and awkward situation, what with Ryron sitting right there, had this not been only a dream. Very awkward.
Craziness of the seminar over, we go eat our lunch inside a Panera bread restaurant, which was delicious, but apparently was being used for an Abercrombie and Fitch commercial that day. We discuss the awkwardness of the seminar and then hit the road to return home, where I can wake from my crazy dream at last. But the dream proved itself to continue as we stop for gas and the attendant informs us that the interstate is closed due to the flood. We go across the street to a hotel lobby and the most surreal image of the entire dream splashes across the screen of the lobby television: there, in living color, was a huge strip of rainbow-hued storm marking a perfect division between us (now in Manchester – not England, but still Tennessee) and our destination back home in Paducah. The way I knew this was still a dream, was by the perfect separation of us and home on the radar map, leaving both areas virtually untouched by the storm but forming a huge monstrous chasm between us. The whole country seemed to be divided in half diagonally.
So here I begin to see the symbolism: Home was Royce Gracie. He is where my jiu-jitsu has come from most my life, and the route from which I have learned the tradition of the art. Our current location symbolized, of course, the evolution of the practitioner, refined through conscious study of the art into not only a warrior, but one whose ambition was peace. We (in this dream) had taken a trip, and seen the pinnacle of what is possible to achieve from a full-circle study of the art. We began in peaceful conditions, road through the storm and into chaos, and came out on the other side, into an even more certain peace than which we had begun. This dream was epic and convoluted at times, but I see from having it that you truly never can go home again. I realized a while back the Zen aspect of jiu-jitsu, in the sense that it is like soap: first, you wash with the soap and then rinse the soap off. What then, is changed? I am. Not the soap. Not the jiu-jitsu. Royce and Ryron may be two different generations, and the division in what they view their purpose is may be vast and unagreeable by both parties, but as long as I keep jiu-jitsu in my heart then my journey will continue through the use of the techniques. Sometimes the teacher is better off teaching the move, and the philosophy behind the move, and not the personal philosophy of himself.
I eventually woke from this dream, but not before the best and most revealing moment came to fruition. Standing in the hotel lobby with my dear friends, discussing the horrific images on the screen and what was to be our plan of action, we decide to let jiu-jitsu dictate what we would do next.
Jason: Jiu-jitsu says wait, and let the opponent exhaust some of his energy.
Eric: True. Can’t fight force with force.
Me: Yeah, but we can’t stay completely still. We are in the bad position, so jiu-jitsu says we make space.
We were all correct in our assessment of the situation, and it seemed at that time, and for much of the remainder of the dream, that we all symbolized different perspectives of the jiu-jitsu practitioner’s consciousness. That is the characters that appeared in the dream were there. Each type of energy and impulse and intellect was represented in this dream.
So visceral was this dream, and so impactful in its message to me, that I had wondered to this point was it possible that it had actually happened somehow? Was it indeed some somnambulism of mine, because it seemed as if anyone on the trip may have experienced it just as likely.
But today I woke up. In a haze, I rise from my bed, and head to my morning lesson, on my way out the door I grab my gi, complete with brown insignia stitching.