Sunday, April 09, 2017

Leaps Forward


Apparently, the work has been paying off.

Much to my surprise, at the end of class Wednesday, I was called up by the Coach and the Coach's Coach to receive a stripe.  GirlCoach was downstairs teaching kids, and there was some speculation that she would be pissed that they did it without her, but I was fine with the timing of it. I was having a really good night - hell, I was having a really good week, and those are hard to come by.  Getting promoted on an "up" phase is awesome, and you never know how long those phases will last.  I have no idea if they promoted me because they noticed the change or not, but I'll take it.

It was a big week overall at our gym - on Saturday, the Coach and GirlCoach both received their black belts.  While it takes 3-4 years to get a black belt in my other style, a BJJ black belt takes about 10-12 years.  So, huge accomplishment for this amazing couple (who already both have black belts in Judo).  They are an amazing inspiration to all - especially my GirlCoach, who is the only female BJJ black belt in our part of the state.  Watching her regularly handle bigger, stronger opponents with ease gives me hope that someday I'll develop the technique to make up for my own lack of size and strength.

The next day, we had a news crew visit our women's class and report on our self-defense program in general.  Nice to get the media attention, and good to be involved in such an important effort.  GirlCoach is away today and will still be away Tuesday, so I'll be covering both women's classes for her.  Grateful for the opportunities I get to teach there, and for the trust they put in me.

In other news, Middle has officially chosen to go to Penn State, and he's leaving in June.  Very, very excited for him, but wow, it's going to be weird not having him here this summer.  Needless to say, I'm taking as many hours as I can at work, with the goal of having him graduate with as little debt as possible.

Between work and training, life is busy.  Good busy, happy busy.

Enough writing.  Off to teach some badass BJJ to some awesome women.

:D


Monday, March 20, 2017

Digging Out

Both literally and figuratively.

After one of the mildest winters I can remember, including a week of temps in the upper 60s in February, we finally had a big snowstorm this week. We had one day of Trapped Inside and another day of shoveling out of 2 feet of snow.  Now it's starting to warm up and melt everything, just in time for the first day of Spring.

In the figurative sense, I'm digging my way out of what feels like a deep training hole.

I'm a one-stripe Blue Belt, and have been for a very long time.  It's probably an appropriate resting place for someone who (in my own self-assessment) has a lot of very good technical knowledge, but can't put most of it into practice during a competitive roll. After about 6 months of taking it easy, choosing the safest options, teaching instead of training, and generally not taking risks, I feel weak and shitty, I've been stuck under stronger and heavier opponents (all but 2 outweigh me), and I've spent too many months now squirming around at the bottom of a bad position.

Blue Belt Blues is a Thing, and it's worse when you're trying to bounce back from an injury. The drop out rate between Blue and Purple is dramatic.  Injuries play a factor, of course, as do work, financial issues, and family responsibilities.  But a big part of the Blue Belt Blues is the fact that you feel like you should have enough knowledge and skill by this point to deal with lower belts, and this isn't always the case.  Eventually, this becomes frustrating; you feel like you're not improving, people are catching up to you, you're tapping to less experienced people, and generally feel like you're making backward progress.

It's hard, but knowing that this is a Thing actually makes it a much easier thing to deal with.  It's part of the process, everyone has been there, everyone understands the frustrations involved at this stage. Many of the lower belts are stronger, younger, and more athletic, Branching out beyond your most comfortable techniques and experimenting with new stuff is going to get you swept, passed and tapped - a lot.  It's the only way to grow, though, and it's crucial to check the ego at the door and not beat yourself up for getting tapped.

So says the conventional wisdom, anyway.

All of this is true, but I'm getting tired of being here.  And I'm not inclined to quit.  It's time to get off of this endless plateau.  So I'm doing that. My coaches have been wonderful, giving me increasing levels of teaching responsibility this year, inviting me to seminars, and being generally accepting and supportive. This week, they both encouraged me to start lifting, but not in a general way.  Download this book and this app, says the Coach.  The Girl Coach walked through each of the items with me, showing me proper technique and tips on using the app.  They've both been working with me on the trouble spots in my rolling. I'm eating more carefully, torturing myself with foam rollers and lacrosse balls, maintaining my 3 days / week PT regimen, and reminding myself that I'm an athlete and need to behave as such.

Hoping this all makes a difference and I get back to where I was.  So much easier to maintain than to dig my way out of a hole.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Since November....

I spent a bit of time reading through some old stuff here this weekend, appreciating the fact that I had been recording the goings-on of my family, my training, and life in general throughout the years.  It was disappointing to see the large gaps, and I wondered what I would have written during those phases.  Realizing that I was currently creating one such gap, I am taking some time to catch up now, and hopefully be a bit more conscientious about putting something down from time to time that I can look back upon later.

So, currently...

I'm still training at both schools, but the balance has shifted very far over to BJJ.  Some weeks, the only time I get into JSD is Monday night with my CardioPal, who also recently started taking women's BJJ with me on Sundays.  We've been spending more time together this last year, which has been nice. I've done another 2 months of PT for the shoulder, and I competed in our in-house tournament in February.  I lost both my matches, but this time on points and not by submission.  Small successes. Competing at blue belt level is definitely tougher and I'm still a "young" blue belt with a crappy shoulder. In any case, I'm there at least 4 days per week, and at JSD for cardio and sometimes morning classes. I also started taking a spinning class Friday mornings.

The family has been busy.  Middle has spent this year as the Communications Chair for the high school's Mini Thon program, which has been a huge undertaking, on top of his schoolwork and job at the new hipster wine bar.  This weekend was the actual event, and they raised around $300,000 this year - more than they had expected.  Savageman and I were there as parent helpers and stayed up all night so we could be there for the big Reveal at the end.  It was exciting to see all the hard work paying off.  Super proud of the kid, and excited to find out what's next for him.  So far, he's been accepted to Pitt and Penn State, main campuses for both, and VA Tech, where I did my graduate work.  Waiting now on the others.

Little is enjoying his 8th grade year in public middle school.  The academic part has been a struggle, but we're working on it. He's still doing BJJ and has some nice friends from there.

Eldest is working full time at a local cafe and just spent a week with the girlfriend, who was home from PSU for spring break. She'll be graduating this year, so it will be interesting to see what's next for him (them) as well.

Savageman has taken up yoga, and does that 2-3 times per week. Netflix and chill every evening together is a nice way to end the day.

Which I should do now.  Goal is to write more consistently