Thursday, May 19, 2016



Complete involvement in some activity or interest


So it has been for the last several weekends for me in BJJ.

Several truths have emerged.

First of all, it's been an eventful month.  Savageman is home, looking for a new job. My own work responsibilities have doubled, and I've begun the process of obtaining a license to do actual psychotherapy with patients instead of just giving them tests. The Eldest has once again moved back home.  Middle and Little are wrapping up 11th and 7th grade, respectively.

Financial and parenting stress aside, I am blissfully happy.  I'm enjoying all the extra time I have with Savageman, who has been absolutely wonderful to have around, I'm enjoying my time seeing clients at work, and am grateful for the encouragement and support of my employer and officemates regarding moving forward with my career.

And of course... there is BJJ.  These last few weeks in particular, I've been immersed from Friday through Monday morning, in addition to my regular balance of BJJ/Judo and JSD classes during the week.  These last several weekends have consisted of 2 hours of Friday night free rolling, Saturday morning yoga plus 2 hours of no-gi class, then 4-5 hours of technique nerding at the Guru's house.  Sundays have begun with 2 hours of free rolling, a break, then 90 minutes of women's class, an hour of judo, and 90 more minutes of free rolling.  Finally, a couple of hours of training super early Monday morning before I start work and he drives 2 hours back to school.  (Especially nice of him, since I know he values his morning sleep.)

I'm insanely grateful for all the extra guidance and instruction, and it's made a huge difference. This month, I was asked to teach 2 of the women's sport jiu-jitsu classes and one women's self-defense class while my GirlCoach was out of town.  Although I've been helping with children's class for about a year now, this was the first time I've been given creative control over an adult class, and I was happy to have had the chance to plan and prepare both weeks with the Guru's help. I covered arm triangles in the first and gift-wrap/back take in the second, but each technique was preceded by several drills we worked out that illustrate the different positions and elements essential to those techniques - a teaching method I will be sure to employ from this point on.

Another lesson from these last few weeks - I do much better when I am consistent with my training. From Monday through Thursday, I have been doing very little free rolling.  Monday and/or Wednesday evenings I'm at kickboxing and JSD, Tuesday I'm at BJJ, but just teaching kids and women's self defense, and Thursday is childbirth class (although this is my last week teaching that.)  After 4 days of little to no free rolling, I come to open mat Friday feeling awkward and foggy.  The best way to explain it is to liken it to performing a piece of music. I might know the piece, but I'm making mistakes, forgetting things, losing my place, and it's choppy and clunky and not particularly satisfying. As the weekend has progressed, I feel my fluidity coming back, and by the second open mat on Sunday, everything begins to open up and it feels smooth and natural and comfortable again.  This is the gratifying part, and the fact that it's only there some of the time makes it all the more addictive for me.

That's a flow drill, and not me, obviously, but it's fun to watch for the kind of fluid motion and seamless transitions I'm seeking in my own rolling. Even just adding a small amount of flow rolling to my mid-week seems to keep me on track, so I'm going to be more aware of that moving forward.  Grabbing a few rolls before or after teaching on Tuesdays, meeting the GirlCoach on her lunch hour on days I'm done with work in time, getting back in Thursdays - it will all help.

The other important lesson emphasized recently is the need to get out of my head when I'm rolling.  "You think too much," says the Guru, as I'm sure he's been telling me for 4 years now about one thing or another, but he's right. I'm pretty sure he gets it, being a thinker himself, but the key is to know when to use it and when to shut it off.  Thinking is for learning and drilling, but when it's time to roll, much of that needs to shut down.  In the week before I was promoted to blue, he joked that I needed to throw back a few shots before I roll - which would be a bad idea on so many levels - but I got his point - the part of my brain that houses the politeness and inhibitions and self-evaluation needs to switch off for me to roll with confidence. Visualizing that mindset definitely made me more aggressive, more likely to take risks, and less concerned about how I was being viewed by my partner - with extremely satisfying results (and some surprised feedback from my regular partners).  I can't be completely sure if the change in my performance that week made an impression on my coaches or not, but in my own mind, it was this leap forward that got me promoted to blue the following weekend. The important thing is that I don't forget it.  When I realize I'm too much in my head, I say so, and try to find the off switch.

In the same vein, I need to keep my ego out of things and continue to take risks, make mistakes, allow myself to get in bad positions or get tapped, even though I'm now a blue belt.  One of the pitfalls to avoid is to play it safe at blue because you feel you shouldn't be getting tapped out by white belts, but I'm constantly reminding myself to forget the belt.  The white belts I roll with are usually bigger and stronger than I am, most of them are not complete newbies and have a good amount of competence and technique as well, and if I start playing it safe and only doing the things that are comfortable, I will never grow.  BJJ puts you in the position in which you deserve to be - if I'm trapped on bottom, it's because I've allowed myself to be put there, and I have to own that and work the problem.  If I'm dominating, I've earned it, usually with technique and not brute force.  Perfecting the technique takes loads of experimentation, and that's not going to happen without continuing to force myself outside my comfort zone.

So yeah.  Lessons learned, immersion enjoyed.  Thrilled to have had so much time so far this month with my favorite coach and grateful to Savageman and the boys for being so supportive with regard to all the extra training. I think they like to see me blissfully happy, and I've made an effort to show my appreciation and gratitude.  

Life is very, very good.