Saturday, May 26, 2012

Teams Build People

When I first started coming to Fabio's, I thought it would be intimidating and maybe even slightly hazardous to my joints. I mean, you have a mat full of big, sweaty guys who are spinning around and jumping and twisting limbs and choking people. Kind of intimidating.

I was quiet as a mouse for a while after I started coming there. Very shy. I think I said "I'm sorry" even if someone accidentally bumped into me.

But I realized early on that the guys at the gym were not blood thirsty meat heads who might snap my arms off if I offended them. I started noticing how they went out of their way to help me during drilling, correcting little details I was doing wrong. I noticed how most of them were careful with their weight distribution while we grappled. Many of them even instructed me on things during my grapples. Anyone that I asked to help me was more than willing to try to help me understand difficult movements and concepts. I also noticed that these guys were a part of each others lives outside of the gym and were there for each other. And soon they were there for me too.

The team, I realized, was a big family. And it's function was to built people up, not just in the techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but in character as well. People who are lacking in confidence are encouraged and strengthened. People who are prideful are humbled, but then encouraged once they realize their mistake.  People who have trouble dealing with conflict learn how to manage their anger. People who are scared are challenged to face their fears. People who are passionate are given a channel to fuel their energy into.

For me, personally, my team has helped me develop self confidence. When I first came to Fabio's, like I said, I was very much a mouse in the corner. Through competition (which I hated until the past six months or so), through hitting the wall and having to keep going, through trying and failing, I have realized that it is ok to be imperfect. In fact, it is what makes us human. When I understand that it is ok for me to make mistakes, so long as I learn from them--on and off the mat--then I have freedom to try things I would otherwise be too scared to do.

I have learned that I can survive, even when I am being squashed by a giant man. I have learned not to give up, even when it looks like I am going to lose. I have learned that patience and adaptability can beat sheer power. I have learned never to underestimate what my body--and mind--are capable of doing even when I think I have nothing left.

The question I have is, since my team has given me so much, am I paying it forward? I want the answer to be yes.

Thanks for everything, guys. You are like my family and I love you!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Summer Training

It is hard for me to believe how fast time has flown by. Last summer, Stephanie and I started teaching the Women's Class at Fabio's. A few weeks ago, during Women's Class, I was watching the girls grapple and realized that they deserved stripes. 

It is funny, because we don't focus that much on stripes and belt promotions at our school. Fabio tries to get us to think about learning, not about "advancing". So it is not something that is in the forefront of my mind usually. 

But when I was watching the girls grapple, I was noticing things like how they were keeping their base when passing guard, how they are keeping good pressure from top positions, how they are attacking and seeing submissions from different positions and transitioning between positions and submissions. And I realized belatedly that these girls are not brand new beginners anymore. 

They've grown. 

Fabio had taken the stripe tape with him to the Brandon school, but I was too excited to wait for the real tape. So one my friends, Anthony, helped me make stripes out of medical tape. Hahaha. Three of the girls got the most gheto (but really meaningful to me) stripes that night. Congrats to Victoria, Madison and Shelby!! 
There is someone else I need to sing praises to as well. 

Stephanie is the cream filled center of my Oreo. She's not only my best friend, but she has been right beside me since day one with the Women's Class. Starting up a new program--especially one that tries to convince women to come in, get sweaty and fight other women--is hard. We have seen a lot of girls come in and not come back. We've seen some come and stay for a while, then leave. But slowly, over time, we have been built up a core of dedicated women who love the sport. I don't think I would have been able to do it without Stephanie.

 Now, as summer comes, we are getting ready to bring or Women's Class to a tournament in July. The girls are kicking it into high gear and I couldn't be more proud of them. It is so exciting for me to see them growing both in skill and confidence. I love my ladies!!

On an unrelated note, I had the pleasure of going to visit The Armory in Palm Beach a few weekends ago. I went to visit a friend of mine, Marcelo Cohen, who trains there. Everyone at The Armory welcomed me like I was family. I had some awesome training there and, if you're ever in the Palm Beach area, don't miss the chance to go there. You will meet some great people and get some great training. Thanks to everyone there for making my weekend so awesome!