On June 29, 2014, 8:02pm ET, a user named NooYawkCity made the first of what would become a number of posts on the popular martial arts forum on reddit.com. It was titled “The 58 Year White Belt”:
I’ve been training for about a year, and only recently have I been training hard. From once every few weeks to once a week to almost every day. Now it is an obsession. I’m in bad shape, gas early, and of course, hurt like hell after training. Given the limits of any reasonable expectations, have I lost my damn mind?
Over the course of three years, NooYawkCity has posted on the forum, with the hashtag “bjj” for Brazilian jiujitsu, about 80 times. The writing was colourful, abstract, tattered and modest at the same time.
9 Jul 2014, 10:29 PM
58 and I get gassy during warm-ups, so much so that when we start rolling, I end up sticking my head in a clear guillotine – just to take a break. Totally humiliated class yesterday, yet today showed up in private with 250 pounds of muscle and bone so I could hit like a fried chicken steak. Why do I do this? I do not know. I’m like a stimulant addict at this point. If I can’t train, I start quitting. Wandering, tingling, restless and upset. At least with steroids, you feel fine afterwards. After training, I feel like a rented and unloved mule. All the other (much smaller) white belts seem to be coming back from extended breaks due to injury. Oddly enough, so far so good for me. I may feel like a fragile box of stale breadsticks but I have managed to avoid injury (if not discomfort). I never enjoyed pain. I don’t care if Gisele Bunchen is coming to me in thigh-high boots carrying crop for the ride, I don’t. However I insist I have to squeeze the mats every day and get weary if I can’t. This is not normal. When I talk about BJJ, old friends look at me like I have an arm growing out of my forehead. But I will not stop. can not stop.
Eventually the tone and rhythms, the attitude characteristic of NooYawkCity’s writings, began to be recognized by clever Redditors. They suspected these were the musings of Anthony Bourdain, the famous chef, author and TV star, who died by suicide in 2018 at the age of 61. Equally, it also contains an additional source close to No reservations hosts.
While the world has learned of Bourdain’s unfiltered writing style, his posts on Reddit have brought an extraordinary kind of candor. NooYawkCity’s prose wasn’t going through an editor aimed at a book or television audience. This was the truest Anthony Bourdain, who wrote simply for it, unburdened by his reputation. He previously recorded his passion for food and travel, and now, he needs an outlet to write about his new love: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
March 31, 2015 6:37 pm
The conventional wisdom is that I should allow myself time to recover. This training every day is not wise. I say fuck. The clock is ticking. I’m not getting any faster, more flexible or more durable. I have to get what I can train – learn as much as I can, get as best as I can before I leave this life as it began: diapers and scream.
April 22 2015 4:12 pm
After 45 minutes of stretching and stretching, it’s time for a live roll. Someone puts on Robert Holmes’ “Peña Colada Song” and immediately the 270-pound ex-wrestler whose girlfriend just dumped, furiously runs past my guard, slapping me in side control and sinking my jaw. He’s wearing a new but dirty Atama G jacket. It feels like a cheese grater is on my cheek as it is grinding in my face. I can hear my teeth making terrible noises and I’m pretty sure my crowns are going to explode at any moment. Jabba the wrestler was eating at the Subway. I can smell the decaying, sour, and pre-chopped onion on his breath, which, alas, does little to mask the horrific pestilence of swamp donkey rising from his sweaty thighs. As my teeth decay, the music changes to Don McClean’s “American Pie.” I pray to die but I am already dead.
Bourdain has always seemed exceptional in his ability to connect with all kinds of people. He sat at lunch with an American president sitting in a restaurant in Hanoi, stopped to chat with a fruit vendor at an open-air Senegalese market, and laughed alongside a leather-clad motorcyclist on the side of a Beirut highway. This was Anthony Bourdain’s way. Even his fans felt they knew him – arrogant chefs kept copies of his blockbuster movie kitchen secret bedside, or the avid travel foodie and religiously fitting No reservations And unknown parts.
However, jiu-jitsu practitioners were privileged to have a unique relationship with Bourdain during the last several years of his life. While his romance with the sport has been well documented in the media, those who perspire alongside him on the mats really got to know the man in a personal way. Bourdain wasn’t a celebrity who stuck to tutoring designed to keep faces clear of blemishes and vanities. Just as he was dealing with real people and food, Bourdain sought the unfiltered BJJ experience – “gen-pop” lessons – wherever he went. He wanted to be strangled by a thick-toed construction worker in Dublin, handcuffed to the arm by a gritty-haired hipster in San Francisco, thrown by a tree-stemmed judoka in Okinawa. And this is what he did, although it certainly wasn’t easy:
August 14, 2014 8:56 pm
Rolled in another white belt today. He knew nothing – and that’s fine, because I know nothing. But he was built like a great dump truck, and he was nimble. He is also a wrestler. What kind of wrestlers, I can not imagine. He managed to kick me in the nose, WWE’s elbow fell on my stomach, and generally threw me around his cage – when he wasn’t lying on my leg or trying to crush me with his huge sock. Oh, yeah, he tried to roll my feet. This was impressive. I don’t think he’s even tried a single recognizable jiu-jitsu style that I’m familiar with – bringing up the topic in a meaningful way is tricky because he only communicates in single-syllable grunts and avoids eye contact.
What is the polite thing to do here? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to mess around with a Killdozer again. Do I approach the other side of the rug when he approaches? Talk to the professor and beg him to bring Godzilla back to Monster Island? Shoot him an arrow of tranquilizer so we can track him back to see if there are others of his kind? What is the appropriate response to this?
May 1, 2015 10:49 AM
I travel a lot and visit many different academies. And I honestly don’t care which image I’ve been asked to bow to: Helio, Carlos, Carlson, Maeda–or whether I’m expected to bow every time I enter or leave the mats, bow to the coach, bow to my classmates…I do it. It is their home. I am fortunate enough to somehow benefit from the hundreds, if not thousands of hours of painfully learned experience that those traditions represent, however absurd they may seem. I play by the house rules. interval. If you don’t like your rules? I don’t come to your house.
December 23, 2014 4:41 pm
Planning a business trip to Budapest and I hope to keep up with my training. Privates, GenPop, or both. Anyone have any experiences/suggestions there? […] I’ve read an honestly horrifying account – describing huge obelisk-shaped concrete arms piercing the walls between the neck muscles but I hope this is all nonsense. anyone?
Bourdain’s dedication to coaching has paid off: In 2016, he participated in the Open Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition in New York and won the gold medal in his group. Meanwhile, NooYawkCity occasionally ventured into some other forums on Reddit. As an ex-addict himself, he slapped an unscrupulous troll who suggested the addicted ex-celebs take part in a reality show where they are given drugs to relapse: You are a terrible person. You deserve so badly to lose control of your sphincter and seep slowly, steadily and smelly in your My Little Pony underwear for the rest of your life.
He reaffirmed his love for Vietnam by publishing his favorite films set in the country: The three seasons… Also scented with green papaya. Both give a real feel of modern Vietnam.
He commented on Steven Seagal’s questionable combat prowess: Seagal is a “deadly mofo” if you fall between it and the all-you-can-eat noodle bar. Hair is definitely deadly though. A piece of Dynell’s weave retracts during a fight with the Lightning Chunks of Death and could suffocate.
Participate in a discussion about whether Joe Rogan could beat Wesley Snipes in a fight: I can tell you from personal experience that you don’t want Rogan’s arms anywhere near your neck. It is the cranks. Difficult. And he enjoys it while he does it. He would have destroyed Snipes. Like destroying a hospital.
And after two years of rolling around anonymously, NooYawkCity has begun hinting at his true identity. On an addiction forum where a user mentioned one of their infamous all-night drinking sessions unknown parts, he wrote: Perhaps it should be noted that One Night in Chiang Mai was painstakingly filmed, with numerous settings, green screen, and lighting schemes, over the course of an entire week. TV does not happen in real time.
In 2016, Bourdain responded to a question about a photo he posted on Instagram of his newly deformed cauliflower ear: It was big, it was full of fluid that kept refilling after being drained by a syringe…it was as painful as damned. He also touched on a rumor that Otavia had jokingly bribed Vicodin to come with her to BJJ’s class: That would be a reasonable assumption. Also the fact of the matter.
Bourdain’s last post on r / bjj It was January 5, 2017. His last reference to jiu-jitsu in an Instagram post, an official photo of him in his military uniform, came two days later. But Boscia confirmed that he continued his training even after he stopped posting about him, with his last session arriving on May 31, 2018, just eight days before his death. It was clear that BJJ had a positive impact on Bourdain’s life. As with many practitioners, the sport has replaced a host of addictions it had previously acquired:
December 12, 2014 3:16 am
For over 40 years, my life has largely revolved around drugs. Drinking wine and cigarettes is almost the background music for the drugs of my choice (heroin and cocaine). Drug free but a drinker until BJJ started – at which point the inevitability of crashing every day made alcohol a less attractive option and cigarettes out of the question. Honestly, BJJ as an addiction has replaced my previous addiction in many ways. If I am away from my home academy I find myself looking for somewhere anywhere to train like a stimulant junkie looking for a methadone clinic. My emotional state when I was denied training, in various circumstances, would be called “drug seeking behaviour.
But it was also clear that Anthony Bourdain hadn’t trained for a healthier lifestyle. He did not train to replace bad habits. He had not trained to live any longer or cast off his demons. Bourdain practiced BJJ because it was another way to take advantage of a raw culture, just as he did with food and travel earlier in his life. When his fame was at its height and he couldn’t walk a street on this planet without recognizing him, jiujitsu gave Bourdain a new, uncharted world to traverse, as he was just one of us.
Oct 24, 2014 12:41 AM
I love all of it. The soreness, the carrot toes, the burning mat, the ego-destroying ass kick, just when you think you’re getting somewhere. I’m hooked. I know I’ll never be young again. I am well aware that I am becoming slower and more fragile over time. I will probably never live to see a black belt or win any competitions. But I’m sure I’ll suck a little less each month. Although I will never master this skill, I hope at least I can get better at it. And every now and then I’ll sweep up some young upper belt, or maybe grab a belt in a triangle. This makes me happy