Last night I was served a giant steaming plate of reality and realization. A big dose of proof that mental strength and confidence in yourself is just as important and vital to success as physical strength and skill is.
When I competed in my first BJJ tournament I walked into the building and nervously scanned the room to see if I could spot my opponents. My eyes instantly went to a girl close to my size with a black and red gi and dark hair. She looked intense and tough and ready to kick some ass.
I lost my first match, at that very moment, the second I saw her. And, I knew it.
I looked at the floor and wondered to myself, “What the fuck are you doing! She’s going to kill you!” I was totally intimidated and scared and any confidence I had in my ability was drained from my mind. I knew that day that a big part of why I lost was due to my mental game. I knew it. Now, I’m not necessarily saying that I could have beat her that day skill-wise. She doesn’t just look tough, she is tough. But, I am saying that I know in my heart that a big part of that loss was due to my mental weakness. And, it’s eaten me alive since.
Fast forward to now.
I’m standing there on the mat, winded from the latest kickboxing round, listening to the instruction for the next round when I look upstairs to see none other than the intimidating girl that kicked my ass in that tournament. The instant I saw her I thought how cool is this? How cool is it that I have the opportunity to roll with her again? Over and over in my head I’ve wanted a “do-over” for that first match in the tournament and now, in some sense, I had that opportunity. I knew I failed miserably in the tournament and I knew that I could do better. I’ve wanted so badly to prove that to myself and much to my surprise, I was getting that chance.
Thank you, universe.
It ended up being quite eye-opening as to how important mental strength is. I don’t think a lot of people grasp, especially those that don’t participate in a combat type of sport or event, just how important your mental game is. I very much believe and understand now, thanks to personal experience, that your mental game and strength is the very core of your performance and determines your success or failure.
If you don’t exercise your mind and walk in there with confidence, you don’t stand a chance. Especially in these tournament type of settings. You are in divisions with people close to or right at the same size, the same belt, the same age, etc. I can see how a lot of times it comes down to one extra element for the win, who is stronger mentally.
I was on the fence about if I was going to compete again. I know there is a big part of me that isn’t ready to give up on my dream of having my hand raised. The other part of me was terrified of getting in over my head again.
Last night was a great opportunity to see just how mentally weak I was then, at that tournament and what it takes mentally to win the competition matches. It showed me that I am capable and helped push me towards the “yes” side of competing again. At least this time around I know that I need to work on that mental strength. My skill is there, I know it. I work hard. I can feel the difference and the progress in almost every roll. I know that I can do this as long as I get my mental shit together. I know it. I know I can do it.
It might be time to sign up and give this whole competition thing another go.
BJJ “Focus on the Positive” Challenge – So many positives came out of class last night. 1. – I experimented with a sweep that I saw in the kids class that involved a technical stand up when someone is trying to pass your guard. I didn’t get the sweep, but I was able to stop the pass, get the technical stand up, and get out of what could have been a bad situation. I was really happy with that. 2. – I learned that intimidating comp. girl is really nice and I think we can be great training partners for each other. I’m hoping since we both are interested in competing that we can help each other progress and get ready. I’m really glad she’s at SFC now. 3. I’m getting better and better about putting myself out there and asking people to roll. It still isn’t easy to do, but I make myself do it anyway. 4. – I hit my favorite roll to crucifix last night. It’s crazy how much I love that move. It always makes me feel happy to hit it. Even more happy when the person says, “Oh shit!” mid-roll.