Sore

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I stayed in bed way longer than I should have this morning after my alarm went off. I was so warm and cozy under the blankets. Well that and I was completely frozen in fear because I knew that the second that I moved an inch I was going to feel the fruits of last nights class.

My walk to the bathroom looked like something from The Walking Dead. I’m pretty sure I had a limp/wobble with one leg and then a foot dragging behind me with the other. My shoulders were hunched over for fear of standing straight and feeling the full effects. My head was tilted to one side with my ear basically touching the top of my shoulder. My jaw was stuck, (yes, I said stuck) slightly open. There might have even been a little bit of drool and a zombie-esque moan or two as I took each painful step.

I know I have the RNC escapes to thank for the jaw. And, when I say jaw pain, I mean that it’s the whole right side of my face and down the back of my neck. I partnered with my husband and he literally crushed me. Over and over and over. He’s not an ass, I always tell him to just do it, to not take it easy on me. There was a really fun moment were I didn’t quite get my head moved before he crushed me and I inhaled his sweaty neck skin in both my mouth and nose.

And, by fun I really mean gross.

Would you believe me if I told you that I’m still loving (mostly) every minute? I mean I would be straight up lying if I said it didn’t suck sometimes. I mean it can really, really suck. But, I can’t help but to feel like I’m working towards something so valuable that all that sucky part is going to be worth it. All that struggle and pain is going to make me stronger, smarter, better.

I’m already excited about class tonight. Bring on the pain!

Your Choice, Your Journey

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I think I ruffled some feathers with my “self-defense” post a few weeks ago. I figured that was going to happen.

Let’s clear one thing up. I’m not bashing any kind of martial arts. I have the utmost respect for anyone that ventures into any area of martial arts. One thing is clear about martial arts in general, it’s about getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new. It’s about overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t do. It’s testing yourself physically and mentally and pushing yourself to reach your potential. It’s about having the courage to put yourself out there and to be brave. That is something that I can always get behind and applaud people for. I have respect for every single person I see that does any kind of martial arts. Period.

What I have issues with is selling crappy self-defense and having zero standards for advancement. In just a few months, BJJ and kickboxing have both taught me that after 2-1/2 years at a “martial arts” school I still can’t defend myself. My problem is a place using self-defense promises to attract new customers and then teaching them useless crap. It’s irresponsible and it’s deceptive and I see it as shady. Especially when the majority of the students have zero knowledge or experience with fighting. Of course they are going to eat up what is being served when they don’t know any different. It’s hard to be a part of that. And, I just don’t see the reward in progress that isn’t earned. That’s just my personality and the way I am and I don’t expect everyone to agree or even understand that.

Every school has different standards and different ways of doing things. I prefer to go to one that I know is going to challenge me and push me. A school that takes out the fluff and focuses on what is realistic and usable. A school that is going to bring out the best in me. A school that requires me to earn my progress. Is that kind of school for everyone? Nope. Is there anything wrong with that? Nope. Does it mean that I’m wrong for loving a school like that? Nope. You are you and I am I. Simple as that.

One of my favorite quotes (and you know me and my joy for dropping quotes) is “That’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.” – Dave Grohl

I see martial arts and martial arts schools in the same way. You can have 300 people walk in your door to learn from you and give you 300 different reasons of why they are there. After a year they might give you 300 different ways they have grown. After they reach a goal they might give you 300 different ways that martial arts changed their lives. I think that is awesome on any platform.

The best advice I have is do what you do and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. If you are doing something that makes you happy, that pushes you to be better than you were yesterday, that is fantastic. I am proud of you. (Even the haters.) I applaud you and hope only the best for you.

Defeat is Temporary

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Defeated is the word of the day. Capital D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D. Defeated.

I’m so very thankful that I have my husband. Not only is he handsome and sweet to me but, for the most part, the only times he goes into major asshole mode is when he’s hungry. I’m guessing when he was a toddler his mom stood behind him a lot mouthing to the people within earshot, “He’s just hungry.”

I’m getting off track. Back to the topic, my super amazing, awesome husband.

He could clearly see in class last night that I was struggling. The defeat was written all over my face from the second class started. He immediately went for the Allison’s personal motivational coach role, that he sadly has to do probably way too much. I struggle so much with shyness, putting myself out there, and social situations and he’s always there to comfort and support me.

Anyway, the bulk of what he said last night revolved around the fact that he can relate to what I’m going through.

Love you hubs, but as the great douchbag Kanye West would have said, “Imma let you finish but…”

While yes we can relate on certain general “we are both white belts” levels there is so much more that he won’t be able to relate to or understand.

The last few classes the biggest eye opener for me is that I will never be able to overpower someone with my strength. Even if I am rolling with a guy that is smaller than me, his strength will beat mine every time. That’s just genetics and the way the whole male/female thing works.

Right now when I have so very little knowledge of BJJ and the techniques, I feel like strength is the only thing I have. And, I don’t even really have that. I seriously felt like a rag doll that just got tossed around. I couldn’t do shit. The sad part is that I know my husband isn’t coming at me full throttle either. I feel so weak.

My husband is big and strong and while he might not have a large arsenal of technique he can still kind of eek by right now with the strength part. He can at least roll with someone and do something.

I have zero strength and zero technique. I suck.

Okay, pity party over. Suck it up, princess.

I read a great quote that says, “Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” I’m one of those annoyingly persistent people so giving up just isn’t something I do. I typically use frustrations to fuel my determination. I know that simply showing up to class over and over and trying my hardest is how I get past this.

Challenge accepted.

On the positive I do feel like I’m improving however small the progress is. Hey, progress is progress, right? I keep requesting when I roll with my husband for him to just come at me and I will defend as best as I can. I don’t even care about submissions right now, I just want to work on escaping and improving my position.

I will get there. That whole “I suck” thing isn’t going to last forever. Maybe a long time, but not forever.

BJJ Mom

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After each BJJ class I spend, at the very least, an hour or two trying to process what just happened. I’m thinking about what we drilled, what I did wrong, and what I can do to be better. My brain is just spinning with all the new information and I’m just trying to sort it all out.

I had a great class last night. I got to work on a few things I was struggling with – passing guard and sweeps, and I loved the drill we did on taking the back. I felt like I left class with a ton of new techniques to think about, process, and work on.

The second the I leave class and get in my car I turn the radio down and I am relieved to have complete silence. The wheels in my brain start spinning. I’m thinking about all the tiny details that I need to remember when…

Jackson: “Mom! Today we had a leprechaun that left glitter in our classroom!”

This, I’m learning, is the struggle of a BJJ parent.

Me: “That’s so cool!”
Me: (inside my head) Grab under the leg, not over…

Jackson: “Me and my friends tried to catch him at recess and we found some rocks that almost looked like gold. We thought maybe it was a clue.”

Me: “Did you ever catch him?”
Me: (inside my head) So, I have to cut the angle then…

Jackson: “No but our art teacher almost did but he hid in the closet and she couldn’t get to him.”

Me: “Wow! I bet that little guy is just too fast.”
Me: (inside my head) Push the head down, reach to the opposite hip…

Silence for a few seconds.

Me: (inside my head) Awesome. It’s quiet. So, I’ve got to remember…

Drew and Jackson: *hysterical laughter

Jackson: “I just farted. Did you hear it!?”

Me: “I must have missed it this time but I heard you fart a lot this morning so…”
Me: (inside my head) Did he say to use my left leg or my right leg…

This was how the whole drive home went. It’s like when your favorite song comes on the radio and you’re so excited to rock out to it but then you’ve got that friend, we all have that friend, that won’t quit talking. (I may have been that friend. Totally get how frustrating it is now. My apologies.)

Being a present parent and an engaging parent is so super important to me. I want my kids to know that I’m interested in what they have to say. I want to have fun conversations with my kids and I really, truly love hearing about their day.

But, dammit, Mommy needs to think about her BJJ!

Girl in a Boy’s World

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Being a girl in a boy’s world is no piece of cake. I’ve only done a few weeks of BJJ and I can see that I’ve got two things going against me: I’m a white belt and I’m a girl. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pouting or complaining. I’ve been here before.

Long ago my sister and I raced dirt track in the two-man cruiser class. For those of you that don’t know, that means that we both raced in the same car, at the same time. She controlled the steering wheel and I controlled the gas from the passenger seat.

It all started when a guy that ran a towing business offered us a car. It took us about two seconds to say, “Hell, yeah!” and we became the proud owners of an old, beat up Grand Marquis. I think it had closer relationship to a boat than a car. Our dad, who raced almost his whole life, told us that he wasn’t going to help us. That if we wanted to race we had to do it all on our own. I’m sure he thought that we would get a car and expect him to do all the work.

It was no secret that we were a joke to all the men that raced. The first week that we started working on the car there would be men that would come out, drink beer, and watch us all while taking bets on how long we would actually stick with this. Most of them said a week or two. We quickly learned that they weren’t going to take us seriously simply because we had boobs. That’s kind of bullshit, right?

As the weeks went by and we got closer and closer to having a complete race car those bets of how long we would last turned into if we could actually race. I can’t even tell you how many times we heard stupid jokes about women drivers. Most of them thought there was no way that we could be any kind of competition and several thought we would get scared and give up.

When our car was finally finished we quickly learned that women on the track weren’t always tolerated. We had men threaten us and we had men that tried to take us out. A lot of them were not okay with the thought of getting beat by a women. The crazy part is that racing is incredibly dangerous. Sure we take all the safety precautions we can with roll cages and helmets but it’s still very dangerous. People die racing. These man-babies were so caught up in their egos that they were trying to wreck us and potentially physically hurt us just because they couldn’t handle getting beat by a woman.

I’ll never forget the time we had two men who raced in our class ask us for a “favor.” They saw the line up and saw that we were starting right in front of them. They asked us if we could just move aside so they could pass because, “We are here to win.” What the hell did they think we were there to do? Knit scarves? I laughed when the guy said it because I seriously thought there was no way that someone would be that much of an asshole. It didn’t take long to see by the look on his face that he was serious. Long story short, we beat them that night. By a lot. We had a faster car and a better driver.

I’ll also never forget the first time that we won. The whole race was close. We had a hell of a race going on between us and a car that we had never been able to beat. We were coming around the last corner and could see the checkered flag and the other car was in front of us. It looked like they were going to beat us. They were running up high on the track when Stacey took a chance and dropped it down to the bottom of the track, I floored it and we managed to beat them by a nose. We were officially the first girls to win a race in the history of that track. When we did a victory lap we got a standing ovation. What a feeling!

But, the best victory was when we pulled into the pits. (I seriously cry every time I think of this.) We pulled off the track and started driving around the big loop to our pit. We didn’t make it far because there was a line around the whole pits of men ready to give us high fives and thumbs up. I don’t think there was a single man in the pits that didn’t congratulate us. Usually the short drive to our pit took about a minute or two. This time it took over 20.

While the trophy and the feeling of our first win was amazing, nothing beat the feeling of winning the respect of the men at that track. We worked so hard to earn it. From that point on they all treated us so different. We became “one of the guys” to them. It was one of the best moments in my life.

So, I’m definitely not new to earning respect and I am totally game for it. I get that BJJ is going to be a similar experience. None of the men have treated me with any disrespect or anything like that. Everyone I have encountered has been so very nice to me. It’s not at all like the ego driven men at the race track, but I can tell that I’m really going to have to prove myself. I know that white belts come in and out like a revolving door and some give up faster than it takes time for milk to spoil. I know that everyone, EVERYONE has to prove themselves, to show that they aren’t going to quit. That’s a big part of the process.

Then what’s the difference between every other white belt and a white belt girl? It’s like a double whammy. A lot of girls venture into a man’s world and expect men to take it easy on them because they are girls. I think that makes it even harder for men to take women seriously in those kind of situations, and I don’t blame them. I would do the same if the roles were reversed.

Right now my biggest hurdle is finding people to roll with. Granted I haven’t grown my lady balls enough to just go up and ask someone so I get that a giant part of that is my fault. I will get there eventually and I’m looking forward to proving that I am a girl that is serious about BJJ.

Struggle

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Struggle is perfect word I can think of to describe BJJ for me tonight. I struggled with everything. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. Here a struggle. There a struggle. Everywhere a struggle.

It probably doesn’t help that my inner critic is a total asshole. Half the time I felt like a fat walrus that couldn’t move the right way. Instead I just oozed or flopped into the position. The other half of the time I just felt off. Like I was having trouble with the tiniest details and kept making super simple mistakes.

By the time we got to rolling I was totally defeated. My inner asshole said, “You suck!” and I listened and agreed. I rolled for about a minute and just felt like I was the absolute worst. I felt so lost and just gave up. Not a proud moment.

It was a tough night but I’ve never been one to give up. The word “quit” is not allowed in my vocabulary. I imagine that there are going to be many nights like this. The important thing is that I learn from my mistakes, push past them, and keep moving forward. I’m already looking forward to the next class so I can work on the mistakes I made tonight. My brain has been running non-stop on the drive home with all the coulda, woulda, shoulda replays.

In the great words from one of my favorite movies, “…tomorrow is another day.”

I can do this.

Own Your Story

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Writing has always been a huge outlet for me. Anytime that I feel like I’m struggling with something I go to a pen and paper or my computer. I pour out my thoughts. I write about what hurts me or what is angering me and about the things I don’t understand. My frustrations fill the pages. It’s like the energy of my troubles slowly seeps from my finger tips into the pencil and out through the leaded end. The paper like a cloth soaking up the spilled mess. Then I let it all go and move on. When I’m done I feel like a new person now that those thoughts, those frustrations and struggles are out of me. I feel lighter, happier.

Writing is my therapy.

I also tend to share my writing with the public. Vulnerability and putting yourself out there by sharing your challenges can be an enormous way to find growth, to improve yourself. I am on a constant quest for bettering myself, physically, mentally, emotionally. I will not hide parts of me that someone hurt to make the situation easier for them.

Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. If life was easy and full of joy every waking minute we wouldn’t grow. It’s those struggles and challenges that we overcome that give us strength and growth. That change us into better people. I am not going to feel bad for sharing those struggles, challenges, and frustrations. It doesn’t make me a bad person or a negative person. I try to live as positive of a life as I can. I know that having a positive attitude is important to leading a happy life. I do my best to find the positive in every situation. However, I would be a fool if I didn’t believe that every life has negative experiences too. I love to share the positive experiences but I’m not going to glaze over the negative and pretend that it’s not there. That’s just not real life.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I don’t need anyone to agree with me. I don’t need anyone’s approval. In all my life I have never been more aware, confident, and proud of the person that I am right this very minute. If you don’t like the things I write, don’t read them. I’m not spouting a bunch of lies. I’m not name calling. I’m not being mean. I’m telling my truths. I’m telling facts. If it angers you, maybe you need to think about why it angers you. If you don’t believe or agree with what I said and are strong in your beliefs, then move on and let it go.

One of my favorite quotes is this: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

Progress

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Last night I felt so much better about rolling than I did my first time. I didn’t gas out as quickly, I wasn’t tensing up as much, and I felt like I had a better understanding of what I needed to do. Progress! It’s tiny progress but hey, progress is progress.

The part I struggled with the most was not being able to react faster. I would get to a certain position and think to myself, “Now, what was it that I can do from here? What was it that we did in Sunday’s class?” There was a lot of hesitation and usually by the time I did remember I was already losing the position I had.

I’m trying not to get frustrated with myself and just enjoy the process. I know that nothing worth having is going to come easy and that the struggles and overcoming the challenges are what, in the end, is going to make this whole process worth it.

Here Goes Nothin’

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For about a month I’ve been partaking in a girls only, no-gi class. I was pretty much hooked from day one. Nervous, uncomfortable, straight-up terrified, but hooked. And, I wanted more.

Last week I started the gi BJJ class and I actually rolled for the first time. Let me tell you, this might sound a little cheesy but, it was an absolute eye opening experience for me. I wasn’t really doing kickboxing or BJJ with self-defense in mind. I honestly just like to kick, punch, and choke people. It’s fun, it’s a great workout and stress reliever, and I like pushing my body to do things I never thought would be possible. Self-defense just didn’t feel that important to me. Honestly I think I had a little case of the false confidence. I’ve trained martial arts for a few years, I’m a strong girl, and thought I could defend myself. I thought I stood a pretty good chance.

Until now.

For my friends that don’t know what “rolling” is in BJJ, it’s exactly what is says. You are rolling around on the floor using the techniques you have learned to defend a submission or submit the other person. I rolled with men and let me tell you ladies, if that had been a real life attack situation I would have been screwed. Absolutely screwed. Even though it wasn’t a real situation, I was definitely concerned with the thought that I couldn’t defend myself. The majority of real life fight or attack situations are going to end up on the ground. That’s a fact. Another fact is that if you don’t know what to do on the ground the man attacking you will easily overpower you with strength and there will be little you can do.

So here is my PSA to you: I know this won’t be a popular opinion with some of my friends that I have made the last 2-1/2 years but it just feels incredibly irresponsible not to say something. I have done 2-1/2 years of “self-defense” and not a single bit of it would have saved me in ground fighting. Shit, none of it would have saved me in stand up fighting either. It was all absolute bullshit.

B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T.

Yeah, I might be a little bitter about it but it’s hard not to feel that way when you feel like you have had someone bullshit you for years. It’s hard not to get pissed when you see someone selling “self-defense” and then teach you absolute useless crap. It’s hard not to get pissed when you realize that there were ZERO standards for belt advancement. It’s irresponsible and honestly it’s scary. It’s scary for people, kids included, to be walking around as “black belts” with loads of false confidence because they have had someone tell them that they can defend themselves with the useless techniques they’ve been taught. Because, you know how to get out of a front choke while your attacker is standing there perfectly still, with their arms straight out, and not resisting…

If learning self defense is important to you and that is your main concern and what you want to learn, you absolutely can not rely on places that don’t even consider teaching you defense with take downs or anything about ground fighting. It just blows my mind that I wasted my time for 2-1/2 years. That we have a closet of belts that are basically novelties. Don’t even get me started on when we spent 20 minutes on a self defense drill that involved stopping your attackers punch by punching your attacker in the bicep as they were punching you. Yeah. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that that isn’t going to work.

Ladies especially, if self defense is what you want to learn, do BJJ. Don’t waste your time with crap that doesn’t work, that gives your attacker the advantage because of his strength. I partnered with my husband for 2-1/2 years in self-defense and let me tell you, I couldn’t escape a single self-defense that we learned when he resisted. Not only that but there is no way that your attacker is going to grab your wrist or lapel and then just stand there.

Be smart about it, people. If you are just looking for a good workout then I wouldn’t worry about it. Doing anything is better than nothing. There are definitely positive things that can come out of that. If you are looking for something legit, you might want to do some research. When you are in it, it’s hard to step back and see it for what it really is. I know because we did that. We bought it all hook, line, and sinker for awhile. Being on the outside now and seeing it for what it is, it feels like we were scammed.

Just putting that out there. I’m not trying to hurt anyone. This is just my experience and it just feels irresponsible not to say something. For full disclosure, I did get some positive things out of the experience. I’ll never forget the friendships I made there. I definitely learned how to get out of my comfort zone in ways I hadn’t before and for that I am thankful. I’m trying really hard to look at the whole package as a learning experience.

‪#‎mcdojodont‬