Tuesday, March 24, 2015

First Stripe

So this happened.  Emboldened by my extra training last week, I approached Sunday's Freestyle Judo class and BJJ open mat with excitement and confidence.  Awesome classes, both of them.  90 minutes of open mat flew by, and I was more disappointed than exhausted when it was over.  

It was still extremely challenging, but it was an enjoyable challenge.  The people I worked with were fun and supportive, and quick to point out ways I have been improving and things I'm doing right.  I got many lessons and suggestions, and my only frustration is that I don't remember all the cool stuff people were showing me. 

My JSD cardio partner is out of town this week, so I took the opportunity to go to BJJ / Judo yesterday as well, and was rewarded at the end of the class by being called up for a stripe.  One of my fellow students on the sidelines whipped out his phone and took a picture for me. He expressed disappointment that my coach's head was in the way, but I actually like it, as my hair was probably sticking up all over the place, and I might have had a truly dorky expression on my face.  This way, I can imagine that I looked awesome as he was adding that piece of tape to my belt.  

At JSD, we test for belt ranks.  Also in Judo - I was asked after class last night to test this Sunday for my yellow belt.  But for BJJ, stripes and belts are given out spontaneously, based on attendance and performance.  At the end of class, before we bow out, students receiving a promotion are called up, presented with their new stripe or belt, and after thanking the coach and shaking hands, the student runs along the line, high-fiving everyone before finding a place in the new rank.  It's crazy and fun and very different from our more formal tradition at JSD.  

Pictured along the line are some pretty impressive BJJers - and those are just the white belts.  The blues, purples, browns and black belts are farther down the line.  In this particular class, I had the privilege of working with one of my favorite training partners for the learning part of class, and then rolling with all higher belts, which was a great experience.  Again, I wish I remembered all the cool things they showed me.  The guru texted me later and reminded me that it's okay to forget those details at my level.  My job is to survive and escape. Which is plenty to think about for now. 

This morning, I was back at JSD to teach and learn.  I was happy to get some good feedback on my open hand and sword forms, and there was Indian Buffet afterward, which I am still digesting 8 hours later. (So, so good.  And so, so sick afterward from eating too much.)  It's a little awkward with The Master right now, as he's also a good friend.  He knows I'm cross-training, but we don't really talk about it.  Other students have left JSD for BJJ and it might be a sore point with him, even though I have been one of his most dedicated students and have done my best not to let my new pursuits interfere with my current training there.  If anything, I am hoping that expanding my knowledge will make me better instructor and more of an asset to the school.  

I had two really good conversations with two of my closer friends from JSD over the last few days.  One, like me, is hoping to test for his 2nd degree in June, and wants to do a really good job with it.  We talked about how different this time feels from when we were preparing for our 1st degree test two years ago, and identified some of the reasons we were having a harder time getting motivated for this one.  On the positive side, our home lives are much happier now, so we don't feel the need to escape to to dojang for our sanity time.  On the negative side, we aren't feeling particularly inspired there lately and are needing to find ways to motivate ourselves and each other. We made a pact, and will hopefully get into a new routine together starting next week.

My other friend tested with us as well, but I think she's done.  It's a shame, because she has invested probably 8 years of her life there, and I really enjoyed her company and I think she was an asset to the kids' program in particular.  She has a lot of patience and some very good ideas, but it hasn't been enough to keep her coming.  It can be a difficult place if the politics and interpersonal crap gets under your skin, and sometimes I think the main thing I have going for me there is that I no longer worry about what anyone thinks.  

This is marked change that my guy training buddy (from the first conversation) has noticed about me over the last two years. And it's true.  Things that would have bothered me then - people's opinions or criticisms about how I do things or why - make no difference to me now.  It's a place I never thought I'd see, but lo and behold, I'm there.  True friends are true friends and haters are going to hate, and changing anything I'm doing to please anyone else isn't going to change that.  

All I can really do is my best on any given day.  

So it's been a good week, overall.  Hoping to keep this momentum going as I prepare for my Judo test and start focusing more on my 2nd dan material at JSD.  Little has his first BJJ tournament in Baltimore on Saturday, so I have a road trip to look forward to as well.

Grateful for all of it tonight, as I settle in to get the *!#*$! taxes done.

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