Friday, March 15, 2013

If Gis Could Talk

Give the Gift of a Gi

My gi donation program has been both heart-warming and eye-opening.  It has brought more than the tangible gift of the [almost] one hundred gis that are in piles on my living room floor; it has brought the intangible gift of shared memories, growth, challenges and glory.  At first I worried that the donors telling me stories would change their minds, and in the middle of handing the gi over, renege. Or that maybe they would suffer from separation anxiety and would want their gi back the next day. But no one did any of those things. Instead they gave me more than their gi, they gave me a part of their jiu-jitsu journey. I want to share some of their stories here.

 “This is my very first gi. It looks more like a judo gi because when I started there were no gis for jiu-jitsu.”

“That is my first gi. When I started I wore the pants backwards. Finally an upper belt pointed out my mistake.”

“This is my very first gi. I dyed it myself [lavender]. It’s been sitting in my closet. I don’t wear it, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I wore this when I got my purple belt and when I had to go through the traditional “Ironman” and roll with everyone in the gym. I feel good knowing it is going to a good cause. This feels like the right thing to do with it.”

“I wore this when I weighed 285. So glad to say it doesn’t fit anymore.”

“This is my son’s gi from when he first started. Wow, I can’t believe how big he is now.”

“I remember when I got this first tear on the lapel. I was so proud. To me it meant I had worked hard enough to, like, earn it … and I’m still going.”

“This is a nice gi. That’s the logo of my first sponsor there on the leg.”

Most of the gis tell stories I will never know. Some are as soft as pillow cases from hundreds of washes and countless hours of wear. There are torn knees and lapels; there are gis that look brand-new (some that are brand-new); some that need drawstrings and some that came with white belts. And I can’t help but wonder about the grips that have held them; the opponents they have viewed; the mats they have rolled on. 

Ahhh, if gis could talk.  I wonder what mine would say. I remember my first gi, my first lapel tear, my first team patch. I remember which ones I took where when I visited other gyms. I remember which ones I wore in every competition. I hope my gis would say that I took good care of them and that the detergent I chose made them smell good. I hope they would say I treated with the respect due a suit of armor and that I wore them with pride, that I deserved them.

Thanks to all who have participated and those of you who plan to participate in Give the Gift of a Gi.

 “No gi shall be discriminated against on the basis of color [I have received white, black, blue, green, purple, brown and red]; national origin [Pakistan, Brazil, China]; gender [male and female styles]; brand [too many to name]; physical limitations [some would not meet IBJJF standards]; team status [many still have their patches]; for participation in any program or activity conducted by this organization.”