My Cup Runneth Over

My Cup Runneth Over

When I first started training, jiu-jitsu was very different. The highest-ranking instructor in Pittsburgh was a brown belt, and there wasn’t a black belt within any reasonable driving distance. Facebook was just becoming a thing, and YouTube was around but video cameras were not as easy to come by as they are now. Most of our instructional content came from books and magazines (and bootleg DVDs).

I tell you all of this to explain why I, a jiu-jitsu newbie at the time, would not understand that wearing a cup is not the norm for jiu-jitsu training. I was training a little bit of MMA, so maybe that gives me more of an excuse, but I was still one of the only people in class who would strap myself in before every session. It felt like the safe thing to do for a combat sport. Today, I look back and whisper apologies for all the times I dug my cup into some innocent training (sorry).

One day, though, I stopped wearing a cup forever.

Here’s what happened:

I didn’t have a car at the time, so I would walk 20 minutes or so to the gym and back. I didn’t mind it, but one night I stayed late for extra rolls and a training partner took mercy on me. I hopped in the cab of his truck and he drove me home.

The next morning, I started to pack my bag for training, but I couldn’t find my cup. I didn’t have very much stuff at this point in my life, so I knew if I didn’t see it in my bag or in my room, it wasn’t there. I told myself I probably left it in the locker room (which is gross), but I could get in early and grab it before too many people saw my equipment hanging around.

I stepped outside to begin my walk to the gym, and I discovered the fate of my cup.

It was laying in the middle of the street. In pieces. It had been run over at least once, a valiant end to a life of protection.

When I jumped out of my ride the previous night, it must have fallen out of my bag. In the mix of darkness and my own social awkwardness, I did not notice. And now, it was dead. It would never cradle me again.

Thankfully, it was early enough that no one was around to see me casually pick a cup up from the road and chuck it into a dumpster. I couldn’t afford to buy a new one, so from that day forward, I trained without a cup.

Typically, I try to pack a lesson into the articles I write, but there is not much of a deeper moral here beyond, perhaps, “securely zip your gym bag.” At the same time, though, I could make the argument that jiu-jitsu gives all of us goofy little stories like these. They might not come with a life-changing insight or change who you are as a person, but we should still take the time to reflect on them and laugh.

Disclaimer: There is nothing wrong with wearing a cup. It may actually be more the adult, safer thing to do, so don’t feel bad if your cup is full.