Internalise - By Leon Comino

“It was like a movie, everything was happening, but I didn’t know the next scene, I was already there”
— Leon Comino

This is a recounting of a fight.

A feeling that changed the angle of the lens I view life through.

Infectious, stomach churning feeling.

Looking back, it was, and always will be, a happy and emotional, splinter of a memory.

In the lead up, nerves hit. 

Sleep became visualisations, visualisations became affirmations;

I’ll just meditate, I’ll just breathe I said to myself…



“Nothing can fully prepare you to step in front of a stranger and strangle them”


When John Smallios, spoke of surreal fight moments, stars glistened in his eyes.

I listened, curiously, observing him.

There are things in life that spark an interest; this was one of them.

Pedro Sauer calls it a seed;

Daily watering and nourishment is needed for it to grow.

In my mind’s eye I grabbed the bucket of water.

I was changing my life to support this seed, guiding its growth, giving it light.

I started training more.

Jiu Jitsu captivated me, vines of anatomy and positions entangling my heart;

Disconnection plagued my thoughts.

“Relax” said my body, “spaz out” said my mind as sleep trickled in,

I walked my figure to bed.


“When we are not afraid to sleep, now we are more awake”


The sun gazed, rejuvenated, I acted like nothing was about to happen.

My body looked at me bewildered,

Calmly I took it to the balcony and sat, eyes closed, mind blank,

Listening to the soundtrack of the universe.

Driving in felt like I was tracking towards a tornado,

I could feel the wind, the energy, heat, and nerves, my body hummed.

Entering brought excitement,

Elegance and bison-like art was displayed on the mats before me.

First I saw my uncle, then my Gi family,

I had plenty of time, it was 11:35am, and I was on at 12pm.

They called my name,

I was on, dressed in my jeans and shoes, surely ready to go.

Changing quickly I ran over,

Thoughts fluttered like a ruptured heartbeat, and I hadn’t even felt the floor beneath my toes,

Gravity, the ground, was my greatest ally.


“You cannot rush sole connection, for it is soul connection, it is harmony”


A quick warm up, some mobility,

Like a window my mind opened, concepts were discarded like clothes hurled out by a crazed ex-girlfriend.

Ideas, moves, techniques,

Splattered on the pavement some three floors below, but I couldn’t see that far down.

The past two weeks of drills,


Grigor Novakov forewarned me about this, and he was right. All that is internalised was long ago.

I walked to Mat 3.

Tattooed, stern, the man looked at me, my match. “He looks nice” I said, reassuringly to my brain, it was of no matter.

We shook hands, the ref yelled, and it was on.

I looked at him, and heavy lead hit me, a comet, drilling me into the earth, all feeling lost.

My body hit the eject button, my mind was driving me forward.

My heavy arms dived for a leg, as I stepped, I grabbed, I pulled, and the hinge clicked. Leverage prevailed.

I slid my hand into his collar,

Like a magician’s trick, a hidden card out of a jacket sleeve, he stepped forward, it worked!

Thoughts of thanks sent to Nouran.

I picked up his ankle and drove him down, but it felt like he expected this, as if it was a trap. Mid-air we stayed still;

The world turned,

A hand slid across my throat,

Instinctively I tucked my chin, dread enveloping me, but I wasn’t going down like this.


We hit the mat, full guard.

I sat up, people yelled, but I could only hear my heart.

Drumming, pounding,

I started to work, releasing stagnant thoughts through movement, and remembered what had been drilled.

‘Posture’, ‘breathing’, ‘calm’,

It was too much, I felt overloaded, overtired and hyperactive, he wrapped me up.

First one leg, then the other,

Warm, silent, darkness enveloped, encompassed by the man, my mind contemplated, captivated by the happening.

Escape? Nada.

I made the hand gesture, Light came in, breath came back, and something magical happened.

“My ego dissolved, a huge weight lifted from my shoulders”

A dissolving, shedding of old skin, peeling back the layers.


The other man’s hand was raised, and I thanked him. I brought my attention into the now.

I felt strangely complete. Despite having lost, I was so happy, replete.


“For everything we lose we gain something else”


My second match soon followed,

And I was back on the mat again.

I touched the mat, it felt good and I accepted all that was to be, opposing nothing that might occur.

Ten seconds, same takedown, same exact position,

This time happy, warm, passionate, my heart whispered, creativity blossomed and I became liquid.

He pulled me down, I let him, I knew.


“In the spaces between things, creativity lies”


Wrist movement and woven fingers led my foe into the forest, fist slicing into his throat, he gasped,

I felt a touch, it was done.

My corner was making their way over to watch, but I had been present, it was already over.

A change of pace,

My hand was lifted, and I was, once more, happy. I lost the first, it felt great,

I won the second; it felt the same, the moments of presence mattered most,

Gratitude, acceptance, love and creativity had remembered me,

I embodied stillness.



Two more matches passed, those flowering moments all cherished.

From the seed leaves spawned,

With happiness, and courage I had stepped into the unknown spaces that we embrace, love disguised as fear.


And one day,

When my hair changes to the colour of my belt, and back again, I will recall all that which passed,

Smiling in remembrance.

This is a story of a fight coming from our child selves,

Authenticity and creativity surface beneath walls of muscle and strength,

But the fight never ends.

Jiu Jitsu transforms the battleground of our consciousness into a playground.

Our emotions become physical,

Thankfully there is a place where you go,

You listen,

The soul beckons this intimate place.

“And in stillness, I find my true self”



By Leon Comino