So it's been 4+ months since my promotion at the dojang. As I mentioned in the previous post, it was a tough test, but an easy transition to my new rank this time. I've started working on my next set of material, and I'm enjoying the time I spend there immensely. On Tuesday mornings, I'm back to assisting The Master with the homeschool children's class, I'm taking two adult morning classes, one or two evening classes, and one or two cardio kickboxing classes. Surrounded by the people with whom I most enjoy working, I feel valued and appreciated, and comfortable in my own space there.
My schedule hasn't changed much, but I have been spending more of my Friday nights and Saturday mornings at BJJ/Judo now, in addition to Sunday afternoons, and the weeknights I'm not at the dojang. I assist with two children's BJJ classes per week, which are always a learning experience for me as well. Occasionally, on a Saturday or a weekday (if I'm not scheduled to work), my female coach and I meet up to roll on our own.
On July 22, I received my 2nd stripe. My other coach (her husband) had some nice things to say when he called me up to receive it, which made me feel great. Feeling valued and appreciated there as well.
As far as the rollz themselves, I'm still struggling, especially given the fact that I continue to feel like the smallest and weakest person in there. Even my lightest regular training partners have at least 20 pounds on me, with the exception of my (female) coach. And although she's closer in size, she's a 2 stripe brown belt, so... yeah. Also, I just turned 46 and I'm guessing the median age there is mid-to-late 20s. Despite my other training, and some truly excellent outside coaching, I still step on the mat already at a huge disadvantage.
Given all of that, I do feel like I'm learning and improving. I'm slowly starting to get a few submissions on other white belts, and my defense is a lot better. Tired of struggling while trapped under much heavier opponents, I've focused on not getting there in the first place. I try to stay on top, focus on advancing my position and recognizing and avoiding traps, and I attempt a few submissions if I can. I have two favorite chokes and a straight armbar from side control, the Americana and the spinning armbar from mount, and a choke and several armlocks I routinely attempt from bottom of guard. For now, that's plenty to work on. Simply lasting longer and not being submitted myself is a win at this point.
As always, keeping things in perspective is important. When I lamented my situation to the guru ("I'm being smooshed by beginners!"), he pointed out that, in the grand scheme of things, I'm still a beginner myself, and size really does make a difference. It will be a long while before I have the technical skill to defeat a younger, stronger, heavier opponent, and even then, it won't be easy against one who trains as well and won't likely fall for setups or tricks.
It's hard, both mentally and physically - harder than anything else I've done - but extremely gratifying to see myself improving from one month to the next. It's a bit of an obsession - when I'm not working, training, or engaged in family / house responsibilities, I am learning via books and videos. I have a dummy at home for practice. The complexity of it is overwhelming, which is part of what I love so much about it.
And it's fun. Crazy fun, with some of my favorite friends, both old and new. :)