Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Never Give Up

This weekend I competed for the first time since last October. I piled into the trail blazer with questionable AC capabilities and packed full of my teammates and hit the road to Georgia for the Atlanta Open. I'm not going to focus on how much I needed that change of scenery, but it was so nice to see a different horizon for a little while and to laugh and joke with everyone without having to worry about work or house hold responsibilities.

But, despite how fun the trip was, I was nervous the whole way there.

It's funny, because before I took such a long break off competing, I had gotten to the point where my nerves were semi-controlled. I still felt a little nervous, but wasn't having the huge adrenaline rush and dump when I'd go to fight. I think it was because I had been competing enough to get desensitized to all the excitement of being at a tournament and fighting with everyone watching.

Apparently, taking almost a year off from competing undid the progress I made in controlling my nerves. I was a wreck. It is embarrassing to admit, but I had to resort to making two lists that I read to myself over and over and over again off my phone memo pad while I was at the venue. The first list was a list of all of my strengths when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu. The second list were all the reasons why I want to compete.

Why I Compete:
To assess my strengths and weaknesses
To challenge myself
To represent my school/team
To have fun with my teammates
To meet new people
To see other fighters grapple and learn from them
To win

Now, I know the last one on the list might give some people pause. It is true, tournaments are more about the experience than the medal. But I do darn it I want to win too!! And I feel you have to make up your mind that you are going to win before you ever see the opponent you are facing.

That mindset really came in handy once it came time for my two absolute fights. The girls I went against were probably the toughest I have fought yet. I'm not just saying that. Not only were they both strong, but they were technical purple belts too. I was behind during the majority of both of my matches. During my last match, there was a point where I looked up at my teammates, and I could see on a few faces that resigned look that said, "She's done. She's not going to be able catch up."

But this was the first tournament where being in a bad position didn't ruin my confidence. Why? It came down to a few of the things on my strengths list that I had been telling myself over and over again all day: I am adaptable. I am good in a scramble. I can push the pace. I am good at escapes.

I regained the upper hand in both of those fights during the last thirty seconds of the fight. I honestly don't even know exactly what I did to get those sweeps and establish those dominant positions. In the last one, I remember clearly thinking, "Am I really going to win this?" I was just as surprised as everyone else. I was still in a state of shock when they raised my hand.

I am not entirely happy with how I did. I could have grappled better. My cardio could have been better. But what I am happy about was that I gave it all I had and was able to make it happen.

Moral of my weekend story: Don't give up until you hear the ref call for the stop.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

New Dream

Hey guys! Hope you are all well!

This past year has been the most challenging year of my life to date. Almost every norm has been broken and remade. But a few things have stayed consistent: God, my family and close friends and Jiu-Jitsu.

We had a friend, Ammara, visit our gym this past week. As a blue belt and talented photographer (all the pictures in this post are hers), she has the lucky job of traveling around and seeing the jiu-jitsu community at large both on the mat grappling and through her lens. 

One thing that she said while she was visiting our Women's Class really rang true to me. Observing how she had been treated in her travels to different places around the country, she said there was a consistent welcoming feeling of family at the vast majority of the places she visited. Despite the different affiliations, there was a common bond that all jiu-jitsu practitioners seem to have, regardless of school and style. 

 This gives me a big warm fuzzy, and I will tell you why. Going through a divorce in the last year, I lost a lot of friends, not to mention the actual family members that I lost by breaking ties with my ex-husband. It was an extremely painful time in my life. 

But I wasn't alone. 

I have been quiet on this blog, but I never stopped training. A lot of times I walked into the gym like a ghost. I felt hollow. Wrung out. Mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. But every time I came into the gym, I had a family of brothers and sisters who were there to make me laugh, to give me an ear to vent into or to hug me when I needed it. Some of them even had to slap some sense into me when I was threatening to get too crazy. 

 More than being a support, though, my gym family was a motivator. The girls and guys at my school would not allow me to give up. Not on the mat and not in my personal life. They pushed me to stay focused and to keep going. To keep fighting. When I made mistakes, they made fun of me, but only a little. ;)  Then they encouraged me to get up, brush myself off and keep it moving.

 Now, I am on solid ground again. I have a renewed vision and passion for my life. I know where I want to go and I am going to fight like hell to get there. And I am convinced that the support I got from the men and women at Fabio Novaes BJJ have a lot to do with that.

When you train Jiu-Jitsu, you share a lot more than just sweat and blood. You share life. I think that is why we feel that over-all sense of community that Ammara was talking about. I am thankful I am a part of that community. Thank you to everyone who has been there for me. You mean more to me than you know!!!