Victories

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My theory is if you look pretty after you roll, you didn’t work hard enough. Or, I need to tell myself that so I’m not scared of how un-pretty I am in this picture.

I told myself that I wouldn’t roll this week so my arm could heal. But, when class turned into open gym and my husband put on the peer pressure, I caved and went for it. I’m glad I did. My arm held up great and didn’t bother me at all.

I had a great night.

Man, I love it when my posts start out with that sentence. It almost gives me the same feelings of excitement and electricity I used to get when I would watch Dexter and the episode would start off with those chilling lines, “Tonight’s the night…”

It’s interesting how a great night in BJJ can be. How to someone just observing from an outside perspective can see something totally different. In jiu-jitsu you definitely can’t judge a book by it’s cover. If someone would have been watching me last night they would have seen me get my ass handed to me several times over.

“WTF, Allison. How is getting your ass kicked a good night?”

Because jiu-jitsu. Dumbass.

I didn’t get a single submission. Hell, I didn’t even get close. But, you know, the further you get into jiu-jitsu the more you realize that it’s not always about the submission. There are so many other ways to get those victories.

I love those victories.

Victory #1 – surviving through some pretty gnarly chokes. Not giving up and tapping when it got tough and painful. One choke in particular I was stuck in for a long time but I had a hand relieving some of the pressure and I could feel myself slipping out of it in tiny, tiny little increments. I wish I could have seen timer to know how long I was stuck in that choke. Little by little the pressure moved to my jaw, then my ears, and holy shit, I wanted to tap so bad at a few points.

I refused.

I refused, not because of ego, but because I really want to be able to handle those uncomfortable moments. To work on pushing pain aside and using patience and persistence to get out of those sticky situations. Especially if I’m going to compete.

Victory #2 – was really trying to concentrate on keeping my elbows in and my hands protecting my neck in certain situations. I can be really, really bad about shooting my arms out and handing people the perfect opportunity to snatch ‘em up. It made a huge difference, protecting myself in that way. I survived a lot of situations that had I used my old, inexperienced methods, I would have been screwed.

Victory #3 – last week in the fundamentals class we were going over side control escapes. One of my favorite things we learned was such a simple move but one I was really excited to use.

I get caught often when someone is trying to get in side control and I am pushing and bracing against their legs. My arms get attacked a lot because they are stretched out and vulnerable. The simple move we learned was as they were coming in, abort the arms out bracing option, get the underhook, and get to your knees. I got to work on this so many times last night and while I didn’t get it all the time, I had success with it a lot. It really saved me from getting laid out a few times. It’s a move I know I will use often and I’m excited to work on it more.

Victory #4 – this one was probably the biggest. My last roll of the night was tough. I got smashed and stuck in side control and crushed and I tapped several times due to just pressure. There was a tiny little moment after the third or fourth time I tapped that I started to get a little frustrated. Seriously, a millisecond of a moment were I let the defeat set in.

It’s funny how the tiniest moment and the biggest physical defeat can hold the biggest victory. It was a victory over myself. In previous moments of frustration, I let it completely defeat me and I would kind of give up for that night.

In that millisecond last night I basically gave myself a mental bitch slap and said, “Knock it off, Allison.” I told myself, you are here to learn. To get better. And, if you want to get better you have to be challenged. I got stuck in side control so many times and I started looking at it as an opportunity to work those side control escapes, to figure out why I’m getting stuck in that position, and seeing what works and what doesn’t. It was also an opportunity to try to relax and deal with the pressure. I didn’t have much success in any of those areas, but in terms of defeat and frustration, I felt strong. Stronger than I’ve ever been.

The other added bonus was that this guy didn’t go easy on me. I appreciated that more than a lot of people will understand. I feel like I learned a lot from that roll because of that.

There may be some pretty rough moments in jiu-jitsu. It’s by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. There are moments that, to put it nicely, really suck. But, let me tell you, the victories, they produce a feeling within that I’m positive nothing in this world can match.

Quieting the voices

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It’s funny how setting a few goals and a simple shift in your ways of thinking can change everything.

I do not feel like the same girl I was just a few weeks ago.

Before I was all about putting my focus on how I was perceived by others, afraid to do something wrong in front of people. Fearing that I would look stupid. Even worrying about my physical appearance and telling myself that I must be a people-repeller. I would start each class nervous. I would watch each technique and drill and an uneasy feeling would creep into my stomach knowing that I would be awkward, emotionally and physically, and struggle to get it right.

I’ve never been good at positive self talk. I have always been my biggest hater. With BJJ there is so much up-close, personal contact and I would worry about what people saw in me physically and that my emotional trip-ups would seem ridiculous to them.

I am fat. My ass is too big and my thighs are too thick. I’ve never felt like a pretty girl. I don’t like my face, my nose, my freckles. I hide my smile and don’t like to laugh because I hate my crooked teeth and I don’t want anyone to see them. I am too old to be there. I’m socially awkward. Really awkward. I get super nervous talking to new people. I’m not good enough. I’m too shy. I am a girl. That must mean I don’t want it as bad as the men do.

I would sit over by myself, with my people-repelling shield up, and worry about all these things. I would tell myself that I will never fit in and I will never be good because of all those things. No wonder I struggled remembering all the details in what we were learning. My mind was already covered in a foggy haze of self-hate. I had myself labeled as a fat, old, awkward mom that no one wanted anything to do with.

“The thing about being brave is it doesn’t come with the absence of fear and hurt. Bravery is the ability to look fear and hurt in the face and say move aside, you are in the way.”

I don’t know if I will ever develop positive self talk. Those roots go pretty deep, planted in my youth and now so ingrained in me that I don’t know how to unravel the mess that they are.

What I do know is that BJJ is the first thing that has come into my life that has helped me take steps towards fixing those thoughts. Or at least given me the ability to push them aside and charge forward in new directions. In the last few weeks I have trained with a different intent. My focus is on getting better, not on what is holding me back. This is the first time in my whole life that I have been able to quiet those voices of self-hate and put my focus on something else. Even if it is for only a few hours, it’s a start.

I may be a mess after class and in the days when I don’t do class, but in those few hours that I do jiu-jitsu, I am not the same girl I was a few weeks ago. I am not a fat, old, awkward, mom. I am a person that only wants to be the best that I can be at jiu-jitsu and nothing is going to get in my way of that.

Not even myself.

Where have you been all my life?

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I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that it happened, but somewhere in the last few weeks I’ve discovered that I have developed an almost overwhelming love for BJJ. I can’t quit thinking about it. Every free moment I get, jiu-jitsu is where my thoughts end up. At night I am actually having trouble sleeping because I am playing out rolling scenarios in my head and every time I get to the point of finishing my pretend submission, my body will move and kind of squeeze like I’m getting the finish.

Let me tell you, in my little make believe jiu-jitsu matches, I am much better. I like my little simulated jiu-jitsu world where I always get the finish.

Maybe this stronger love developed because I’ve survived through the muck of the first few months. I have survived what I’ve read to be the hardest part a white belt will go through, the first six months.

I think one (of many) of the hardest hurdles for a white belt, and for really anything that you are a beginner at, is simply being new. Being absolutely clueless to what you are doing. It can really make you feel stupid. Reduced to a baby learning to do the most basic of functions.

You are in class and everything that is being thrown at you is so foreign and often times overwhelming. You are watching demonstrations with multiple steps that make zero sense to you. Then when you go with your partner to drill it, you can’t remember most of it. It drives me crazy. How in the world can I watch the demo over and over and still can’t retain enough to do it? I would go completely blank most of the time, my mind twisted, confused, and blown to pieces.

Now, jiu-jitsu isn’t so foreign and overwhelming anymore. I have a primary knowledge at my disposal and a general understanding of some basic concepts. I have a better grasp of why this goes here and why you move there. What a difference that makes. It makes it so much easier to pick up those details when you understand why you are doing it. Getting past that hump makes it so much easier to focus on the fun and badass-edness of jiu-jitsu. (If you have figured out yet, I like to make up my own words. It’s fun. You should try it.)

I believe the love also took on a new development when I watched my husband compete. It kind of sparked a little something inside of me that wants to compete too. I mean, I knew that eventually I wanted to go down that road, but now I might end up doing it sooner rather than later. Once I realized that, my focus shifted and I found new motivation to train with the intent of getting better at every opportunity that I can. It made all of the emotional trip ups that I have slide to the back burner and become something that I am no longer choosing to focus on.

There is a great quote that says, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

I feel like this is the perfect description of where I am at right now. I feel like I have found some motivation to help push the old me aside and work solely on getting better and to train with a goal to work towards.

Last night, I did two jiu-jitsu classes, back to back and I loved both of them. I walked away from both with tons of basic knowledge that I feel like I can actually remember and apply. It was such a great night and it made me excited and hungry to learn more.

I just really love where I’m at right now. I am super fired up about BJJ and the road ahead.

Proud

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I know that this page is suppose to be about my journey, but today I’m going to talk about my husband, Mike. We ARE married so technically what is his, is mine and vise versa. I figure that gives me a right to share his story from time to time.

I am so very proud of him.

Yesterday we traveled to Conway, AR and he competed in his first tournament. He won his first match, 7 to 2, and then fought a hard battle for first, almost had it, but in the last minute lost it. I would have been proud of him whether he had gotten second, first, or fifth. That first step on the mat to compete takes so much courage and that alone is something to be proud of.

He has been training for six months and I’ve never seen him work so hard for something. He’s always been a hard worker, but I’ve never seen him put so much into one thing as he does jiu-jitsu. And, it’s not because he wants to compete. I mean that is obviously a reason to train if he is going to compete, but it’s not what drives him. It’s so very clear that what drives him is that he loves it. He wants to spend as much time training as he can because he loves jiu-jitsu and wants to learn as much as he can.

On the drive yesterday, I asked him several times, “Are you nervous?”

“No.” he said, “I’m ready!” He said it with so much confidence that it surprised me a little. I was expecting him to be nervous. I was nervous! He was super calm and ready to face the challenges before him.

“A year ago, would you believe that you would eventually end up competing?” I asked him.

“Never,” he said.

It’s funny how much difference a year can make.

A year ago we were both incredibly unhappy and unmotivated in our “marital arts” training. Involved in a place that only cared about their students if it benefited themselves. A place that handed out false confidence and empty encouragement that we just never could see truth in. A year ago we were just going through the motions, assuming that our life was just meant to be boring and un-challenging. That we were too old to do the kind of training that we wanted.

That whole getting older “can’t do this, can’t do that” is all crap.

Yesterday I watched my just-seven-months-shy-of-40-year-old husband grapple on the floor with other men of the same age. And, they were beasts! After the second match, the other guy’s coach turned around and said in a sarcastic tone, “Oh, you know, just two harmless old guys with white belts.”

Age is just a number, baby.

My husband and those other men proved you can be as young as you want to feel if you are willing to challenge yourself, get out of your comfort zone, work hard, and put yourself out there. It blows my mind that a year ago we were doing some sort of watered down, worthless martial arts that couldn’t even produce the skills to fight yourself out of wet paper bag and yesterday Mike won an actual fight against another man. I believe that it was Joe Rogan who said that you can’t be full of shit when you do jiu-jitsu.

Yesterday, Mike inspired us.

From my perspective, it inspired me to work harder. To train with the intent and focus on getting better in every opportunity that I can. To stop focusing on my fears and letting them drive me away from my goals. To just go for it. To quit seeing my age as a limit.

Both boys watched their dad walk out on the mat and win and then he walked out there and lost. In that moment he proved that you can’t always win but you can always try your best. They saw him struggle and fight for the win and struggle and fight only to lose. He never quit, fighting until the very end. They saw that you can’t win all the time and that failure doesn’t mean defeat. They saw that with hard work you will be rewarded. Those two five-minute rounds taught those boys more about hard work, perseverance, courage, determination, and failure than anything else in their lives.

They are so proud of him. He has always been a super hero in their eyes, and for those little boys, yesterday was like seeing him earn his cape. It’s so cool to see your kids light up like that.

Our youngest son, Jackson, who just a day ago said he had absolutely zero interest in competing told us, “I think I want to do it now.” I almost cried a little. The kid that used to freak out about people looking at him wants to put himself out there and compete in front of a lot of people. The second Jackson said that, Drew said, “Me too!”

This is just another confirmation of what a positive impact jiu-jitsu, getting out of your comfort zone, and the people you surround yourself with has on your life.

I am so proud of you, Mike Davis! Congratulations on your big accomplishment! You are amazing and I am so lucky to be your wife!

Choose

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I learned a very valuable BJJ lesson last night. Armbars suck.

Well, if you are doing them, they are awesome. If you are on the receiving end and you don’t tap fast enough. Welcome to Sucks-ville.

Last night I couldn’t move my arm in either direction without having pain from my fingers to my shoulder. The funniest part was when I got home. It was my left arm so I had to eat dinner with my right hand. That was entertaining. And messy. How in the world do we have one hand that can do everything and one that is like I don’t even know how to hold a fork? Our bodies are weird.

I figured I was going to be typing this one-handed but I woke up today with a lot more mobility in my arm. Still hurts like a motha’ but it is so, so much better.

I will live to train another day.

I feel awful for the guy that did the armbar too. He’s seriously one of the most genuine and nicest guys I’ve ever met. He’s not the dick type that tries to hurt people and I know he felt bad. I need to know that if a brown belt has my arm, I’m not getting out of that.

Tap. Tap, Allison. So you don’t have to 🎶 ice, ice baby…🎶 (Sweet Jeebus that was cheesy. I apologize. I am my father’s daughter.)

I may have walked away from class with an injury but I also walked away with a victory. There is a part of me that wants to call it a small victory, but I read a post from a wise person yesterday that said, “Be proud of all your accomplished goals, don’t sell yourself short.” It was a big step out of my comfort zone so I’m calling it a big victory.

Last night in class we had a birthday gauntlet. For those of you that don’t know what that is, the birthday guy rolls for 30 seconds or so with each person in the class. Thirty seconds doesn’t sound too bad, but when you factor in that there were 20+ people participating, that’s brutal.

I have been at SFC long enough to see several of these birthday gauntlets yet I have never participated. I was straight-up terrified at the thought of rolling with someone and having the whole class watch.

What if I suck?

What if I look stupid?

What if I am the only one that gets submitted?

What if a boob popped out in front of everyone? (Valid fear. Came about 2 inches from it when my husbands hand went in my bra instead of my gi. Note to self: must invest in higher collar shirts.)

There were so many “what ifs” floating through my head when I found out at the beginning of class that there would be a birthday gauntlet. I shoved them to the part of my brain that has ran out of f***s to give and decided to jump in. To face my fears and just go for it.

Did I suck? Yup.

Did I look stupid? Probably.

Did I get submitted? Sure did.

Did I survive? Yes.

A little embarrassed, but still alive and feeling good. I keep telling myself that it’s okay to suck and get submitted. I am a white belt. If I didn’t suck, I wouldn’t be a white belt. And, it helps tremendously when I remember that everyone in that room was, at one time, a white belt.

As for getting submitted in front of everyone, looking at it now it’s proof to me that he didn’t go easy on me. That’s been one of my biggest worries is that, because I’m girl or because I struggle with shyness and putting myself out there, that people will go easy on me. And, I don’t ever want that.

The struggles that I go through may make me look weak and emotionally fragile (I totally say that “fra-gee-lee” like the dad in Christmas Story does.) but I am not weak and fragile. I’ve gone through some shit in my life that some people might not have survived. There were even a few times that I thought I wouldn’t survive. But, I did. I feel that we can be a product of our choices, not our circumstances. With a lot of help I learned that I can choose to be strong. Choose to be the real me without fear of what others think. Choose to live my life according to my own rules. Choose to be happy. Choose to be brave. Choose to never give up.

I may not be solid and sometimes waver in my choices. I am a work in progress. There may be fear, struggles, and setbacks but I will always choose to move forward. Sometimes with baby steps and sometimes with giant leaps. But, always forward.

What a class. Lessons were learned and victories were had and reflecting back on it this morning, it was a great night.

I just want to be better

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I just want to be better at BJJ.

I think I have proved that by showing up.

Five months and I’ve only missed a few classes.

Even when I feel like it is impossible, I still show up.

Even when I feel like no one will take me seriously, I still show up.

Even when I feel terrified, I still show up.

I work hard.

I put in the effort.

I don’t complain or whine about pain.

I don’t ask anyone to take it easy on me.

I’m not just going to class to goof off with my husband.

I’m not going to just sit on the sidelines.

I am serious about learning as much as I can.

I will keep showing up.

I just want to be better.

My little BJJ Family

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Open mat Saturday is becoming one of my favorite days. It’s the one day that we as a family can train together. Me, my husband, and our two sons, Drew and Jackson, working together to improve. It’s so rewarding to have a family hobby that everyone participates in.

BJJ is so hard. It’s nice for us, as a family, to have people in our day to day life that can relate. That can say, “I know. I understand. I am here for you. We will work together. We can do this.”

For me, personally, it’s extra motivation to know that my kids are watching me. There were a few times that I left SFC wanting to quit and I had to remind myself that if my kids see me quit when it gets hard, what kind of example am I setting for them? What a hypocrite I would be if I told them they weren’t allowed to quit but then I did.

I remember the first time (of many, if I’m being honest) that I left class and cried on the way home. I tried to hide the tears from my kids sitting in the back seat because I was so afraid that it would make them think that jiu-jitsu was too hard. That they would think I was crazy for doing something that made me upset. That they would see me as weak.

I don’t remember the exact moment that it happened but eventually I realized that they should see me struggle and it’s okay for them to see me cry. They need to see that it is hard and challenging and that while I may feel defeated in little moments, I am never done. I never quit. As long as I show up and keep trying I will one day be successful.

As parents, working hard and never giving up are very, very important habits we want our kids to possess. It’s easy to tell them that, it’s better to show them. I love that jiu-jitsu gives us the opportunity to prove to them that the struggles are temporary if you stick with it and that working hard pays off.

I also love that jiu-jitsu is instilling qualities and changing our kids in ways that maybe we as parents would have had a hard time doing alone. Jiu-jitsu provides so many opportunities to teach each other about persistence, perseverance, determination, hard work, and humility. I’ve seen changes in our kids lately that might seem small to someone outside of our family but to us they are monumental.

Jackson just keeps climbing more and more out of his shyness. We watched him struggle with front rolls in front of a class of 20+ kids. No once did he look scared, embarrassed, or frustrated. He even smiled and laughed a little when he messed up. Before he would have been in tears and hiding behind me. I haven’t had to whisper “You are brave” in his ear in a really long time. That is so huge!

Drew is maturing emotionally and he is really starting to notice that the extra work we put in on Saturday is paying off. A couple of weeks ago we watched him really struggle during a game of “pass, sweep, submit.” He couldn’t pass someone’s guard and I could see the frustration and anger all over his bright red face. I thought, “Oh boy. Here we go.” I just knew he was going to come over to me after class pissed and in tears. He shocked me when he came over and said, “Can we work on guard passes on Saturday?” How awesome it was to see him take responsibility for his frustration, keep it under control, and to be willing to put the work to improve where he was lacking.

It’s also great that both boys can come to us with the struggles and we can work together to overcome them. Jiu-jitsu has been such a positive influence in our lives and I am so happy that we are doing it together as a family. We are stronger and closer because of it.

A big thank you to SFC for giving our family a great place to train together and for helping us teach our children valuable life lessons.

People Puzzle

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Another great class last night.

I apologize in advance if I butcher, confuse, or leave out official names of what I am about to describe. Sometimes I am concentrating so hard on seeing the details that I glaze over the names. Forgive me. I am a white belt. That should be apology enough for all my mistakes, right? Maybe I should have “My apologies.” stitched on my belt.

We worked on a sequence that involved your opponent starting in turtle and you are hip to hip with a seatbelt grip around their chest. You put chest/shoulder pressure on their shoulder/back of the neck and rolled to your back to get a hook in. Your other leg was trapped under them so you had to force the knee of the leg that has the hook to the mat while you pull the other leg out, dig your toes in, and lift your hips off the floor. Then you while your hips were up and you still have the hook in you brought the outside knee up to the back of their shoulder/head and rolled them back over and you could slide the other hook in.

Condensed version: To get both of your hooks in you moved them in the opposite direction to get your leg out and then pulled them back to get the second hook in.

I loved this. I loved it because it reminded me of a Rubik’s Cube. To solve a Rubik’s Cube sometimes you have to move the tiles in the opposite direction, away from where you want them to end up in order to get the other tiles where you need them to be. Then you move the original tiles back to where they were and suddenly you have a row solved.

When I was a kid I could never solve a Rubik’s Cube. I tried, failed, gave up, and attempted to peel the stickers off and move them. Apparently I was a lazy cheater in my childhood.

A few months ago my oldest son bought a Rubik’s Cube and I became determined to solve it. To avenge my lazy childhood stupidity. For days I would spend time learning how the cube worked and the patterns you have to follow to solve each row. When I was a kid I thought you just shuffled things around until it was solved never realizing that you have to know how the cube functions and that there is a very specific set of steps you have to follow to solve it.

Jiu-jitsu, to me, follows that same concept. From afar with no jiu-jitsu knowledge, just watching people roll, it looks easy. It’s just looks like two people shuffling around on the floor. How hard could that be, right?

Pssh. Yeah. Right.

Jiu-jitsu is like a Rubik’s Cube. There are very specific sets of steps that you have to follow to be successful. The littlest details can be the difference between making a move work and failing miserably at it. Last night I wasn’t forcing my knee, the one that already had the hook in, to the floor as I pulled my other leg out. When I didn’t do that it made the move almost impossible. I couldn’t get my hips up without forcing that knee to the floor.

One of the things I love about SFC is if anyone sees you struggling they don’t hesitate to help you. Someone noticed my struggle and came over and walked me through it and when that little detail was added in, it all worked, almost with ease.

Details are where it’s at, yo.

I love looking at jiu-jitsu as a puzzle to solve. I’ve said it before, I’m a puzzle lover. Picture puzzles, acrostic, crosswords, Sudoku, anagram, cryptograms, and my recent favorite, the Rubik’s Cube. I freakin’ love puzzles. However, those are all are fun but if I had to choose, I think a human puzzle that involves choking your opponent sounds a lot more badass.

You are a fucking lion

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Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.

Last night was one of the best classes I’ve had yet. It was just a fun night. I got in lots of rounds of rolling. I pretty much got submitted left and right, but I feel like I walked away with new knowledge to help me improve. That always puts me in a good mood. I left class sweat-soaked from head to toe with a giant smile on my face. Great, great night.

I kind of tried a new approach to class that I think helped me a lot. I did a little mental ground work beforehand. So many times before class even starts I’m in my head and doubting myself. I’m worrying and stressing about things before they have even happened. What a waste of time and energy that is!

Last night, instead of walking in there and laying the ground work for defeat by focusing on negative thoughts, I did the opposite. How can you be motivated when you are basically betting against yourself. Those negative thoughts are the perfect foundation for failure and defeat.

“You create your thoughts, your thoughts create your intentions, and your intentions create your reality.”

I focused on positive thoughts. On putting my efforts into learning and growing. Channeling my inner Wonder Woman. Connecting with my spirit animal.

Yes, I just said spirit animal.

I like to think that my spirit animal would be a lion; vicious, courageous, take no shit, I will eat you for dinner and not think twice about it. But, if I’m going to keep an honest vibe here, I can’t tell you that I’m a lion with a straight face.

At best I’m probably more house cat. The cat that just wants to chill, eat, hide under the bed to avoid people, and knock random shit off counter tops just because I need to prove once in awhile that I can be an asshole for no reason at all other than it pleases me.

But, I can’t be inspired by telling myself, “You are a house cat!”

That doesn’t make you want to walk in there and conquer your fears. That doesn’t make you feel brave and do the things you are afraid of. I needed a stronger phrase than that to get me out of my shell.

“You are a fucking lion!”

Now that, that sounds feisty. An I-am-not-scared-of-anything kind of statement. Not afraid to try. Not afraid to learn. Not afraid to be wrong. Not afraid to put myself out there, good or bad. Lions are the bravest of the brave. That’s what I needed, so that’s what I told myself.

I used to use this phrase a lot and had kind of lost the habit of it. It really does work wonders for me. It is my fake it ‘till you make it strategy. Maybe if I keep digging in and bringing out my inner lion, I will just naturally evolve into this brave individual that doesn’t let anything hold her back. Maybe one day I won’t have to fake it anymore. I will just be.

Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t but I am determined to conquer the parts of me that I don’t like and I am willing to keep trying until I find something that works. The shyness, the anxiety, the social fears…they gotta go. I don’t want to live in a prison of my own thoughts and worries.

Lions don’t do that and so neither will I.

Persist

The victories may be small and they may not happen often but when they do what a grand feeling it is.

Especially when that victory is an armbar.

A newly learned armbar.

A hard five-minute fight to wear them down kind of armbar.

An armbar on someone stronger than me.

It was literally an arm tug of war for what felt like an eternity. The clock might have said something more like five minutes, but who’s keeping time? Five minutes? Eternity? Close enough.

My left upper arm and shoulder were screaming louder than they ever have. I was so close to finishing it and wanted it so badly that I had to grit my teeth and tell my brain to ignore the obnoxious whining from my body.

Persist. Wear him down. Don’t let go. Keep fighting.

After a five minute struggle for position and the arm with the help of some great coaching, I got it straightened out, my leg on top of it, and finished it.

The best part about victories like that isn’t so much about outdoing my opponent. The biggest joy of defeating someone is really the joy of defeating myself. The old me, the me of yesterday. The one that, just a few days ago, thought these kind of things were impossible.

I didn’t want to go to class yesterday. I was in a major funk and really down on myself. I was second guessing my capabilities, giving into my anxieties and letting them take control. I was trying to talk myself out of going to class all day. But, I knew from previous experiences that if I wanted to crawl out of that dark hole, I needed to get my ass to class and get those endorphins flowing.

There are times that I think jiu-jitsu might save my life in more ways than one. Self-defense is great and will definitely be useful. Being healthier and in better shape will be amazing and hopefully give me a longer life possibility. But, my mental well-being, building strength in that area will be priceless. It’s very clear that jiu-jitsu will give me those things, (the ability to defend myself, health, mental strength), in return for my efforts.

I’m convinced that if I can do this, anyone can do this. Yesterday was proof to me that a large portion of it is just simply showing up. Making a promise to yourself that you will go to class, no excuses. Put in the work, put in the effort, put in the time, push past the uncomfortable and hard parts, and you will no doubt be rewarded.