In September 2017, I tested for my 1st stripe on my white belt. In some ways, the real test was stepping on to the mat and saying I was ready.
On January 11th, 2020, I tested for my 4th stripe. For those that don’t know, it’s the final stripe for white belt which makes me eligible for blue belt promotion. And while I drilled probably hundreds of hours with my training partner, John, and ramped up my rolling, the hardest part was simply telling myself it was time to say yes.
OK, so technically there can be sorry in Jiu Jitsu. Just not nearly as often as it gets said. Did you inflict major damage? Say sorry. Did you have a moment and act like a complete dick? Say sorry. But minor bumps and innocent mistakes? STFU and keep training.
No one get excited, I am not saying I’ve got some sort of magic touch in BJJ. I’m not even good at BJJ, much less magical.
What’s on my mind lately is “positive touch” and how BJJ provides that contact we social creatures crave so much. And how much that’s helped me personally in the last year or so. I found myself telling my “touch-starved” story twice recently and it dawned on me just how much BJJ had helped me.
At the end of January, I heard that Team Lawton was hosting the Empower Women Tournament on March 25th – women only, submission only, white and blue belts only. The format was round robin with 3 weight divisions. Each weight division would break out into separate white and blue belt brackets if entries allowed.
I should have known I was in trouble right away. Any other time people had talked about tournaments, I’d nope’d on out of the conversation immediately. No thanks, all set, hell no.
We’ve all heard of the law of unintended consequences. You do something to get result A, result B comes along for the ride. I spent a few weeks doing “focused freewriting” and suddenly noticed that my Sudoku skills had made a major leap forward. I might not have made the connection except that the writing guide I was using mentioned that surprising gains in other areas was a common phenomenon. Recently I’ve realized that my training in BJJ has had a rather interesting, if incongruous, unintended consequence: I’ve started to explore being girly.
Recently I’ve talked to a few people at the gym and how often I train has come up. I don’t know if it’s my history of rowing crew in college (one day off a week, two days a week w/lifting in addition to practice) or just general obliviousness that it never occurred to me until now that I train A LOT.
About a year ago, I was teaching classes for my first major software deployment and newly re-cleared to train BJJ after my hardware removal surgery. I tried to schedule the classes I taught so they didn’t interfere with Academy classes. I needed an outlet for the stress of constantly being “on” for my students.
Despite taking a broken leg and two surgeries within a year like a champ, I was still a bit of a cupcake when it came to pushing myself.
August 31st was my two year Jitsu-versary. The picture of my feet on the mat for my first BJJ class is a Facebook memory that I will always want to “share.” It is the inspiration behind so much of my writing these days that perhaps this blog should be called ‘Grind This Way’ instead.
Over the summer, I had been training in earnest for my first stripe in BJJ. Two weeks ago, I was signed off on all the drills and techniques except one … the sprawl. For a combination of physical and mental reasons, the sprawl is my personal Everest. The mental reason is easy to describe – to perform a sprawl, you essentially throw yourself to the ground and my brain thinks that is a bad idea. The physical part is harder to describe, suffice it to say that some parts tighter than they should be and others aren’t as strong as they need to be.