The Kids.

Since I’m out with a bum knee, I thought I would do a kids post. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about their progress.

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We decided to give both boys a little break from jiu-jitsu over the summer. It was a tough decision, but our oldest, Drew, was really, really struggling. As much as I hate to say it, I think jiu-jitsu was doing more harm than good.

When he started, three years ago, there were two other boys that started at the same time that were also the same age as Drew. Over the last few years the other two boys have grown a lot physically and progressed a lot faster than Drew and even advanced to several belts above Drew. Since they were the two that he mostly rolled with, class became something Drew dreaded. He would plead with us to stay home. He was just constantly getting beat and it was very defeating to him. We tried to help him find the small victories, but man, he just couldn’t see it that way. Eventually he would just pretty much give up each roll. It was a “I would rather lose by my own choice than see you win by your choice,” kind of situation. He’s stubborn like that. And, I have NO idea WHERE he gets it from…

Now, the next part of this story, in many ways I’m glad it happened and in many ways I was sad that it happened. As a mother it’s so hard to see our kids struggle and watch them deal with shitty people, but I also know that it’s struggle and shitty people that teach us some of the best lessons of our lives.

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Awhile back I wrote a post about a few kids prank calling Drew and saying awful things and even suggesting that he kill himself. One of those kids involved in that situation, we will call him Ringleader McShittyPants, about a week before school started, sent out a Snapchat asking his friends to harass and threaten Drew. Drew ended up getting about 15 messages from kids at his school threatening to kick his ass. To say he was terrified is an understatement. He woke me up at 1:00 a.m. one night because the texts wouldn’t stop and he was scared. When we confronted Ringleader McShittyPants’s parents and they decided to do absolutely nothing about it, (I wonder why this kid acts this way…) Mike went into Scary Dad mode and squashed the situation pretty quick. However, Drew was still really nervous about going to school and what other kids might do to him in the hallways. I remembered dealing with a few girls in my class that harassed and threatened me a lot so I sympathized greatly with him. It’s terrible to be scared that someone, or many someones in Drew’s case, is going to try to physically hurt you.

And, this is why you do jiu-jitsu, kids.

After we comforted him and talked about the situation, we explained to Drew that we know that you have been having a rough time with jiu-jitsu, but jiu-jitsu can help greatly with calming those fears of people threatening to kick your ass. I think about how differently the situation with my school bullies could have been had I been equipped with the skills I have now. If only I could get those girls to come to SFC…

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Now, I would never encourage my kids to start a fight, but I will tell them to defend themselves if someone else starts one. We reminded him that because of jiu-jitsu, if a kid did try to fight him, that he has a set of tools to help defend himself with. We told him if someone attacked him, if he could, take it to the ground and choke him. We also told him that this could give him purpose in jiu-jitsu class now. Bullies suck, but now he has a valid reason and a good source of motivation to learn jiu-jitsu. He took it seriously and came back to class with a great attitude and has been putting in lots of great effort.

While all of that was good, we came up with some other ideas that we thought might help him (and his brother) as well. The benefit of us, as parents also doing jiu-jitsu, is that we can relate to everything he goes through and struggles with in terms of jiu-jitsu.

The first thing we told him was to roll with at least one white belt each class. This was advice I had gotten many times as a way to measure my progress. It worked so great with me that it made me feel a little stupid that we never thought to tell the same to our kids until recently. Drew always felt like he was stuck rolling with the kids that were always just a step or two ahead and so he was constantly getting defeated and never getting an opportunity to work on his submissions. It was also so hard for him to see and recognize his progress when he was always getting beat. Rolling with white belts showed him how far he has come and he has been able to work on so many different submissions, sweeps, passes, etc. It’s been a great source of motivation and instead of walking off the mat sad and defeated, he’ll say, “Did you see that triangle I got!” It’s made a huge difference!

The second form of motivation might be a little controversial, but hey, it’s working for us so…whatever. We have what we are calling the $5 Challenge. I give the boys a challenge for class and if they complete it, they get $5. It could be things like getting a particular submission, sweep, or pass or not getting mounted or taking the back. The challenge stays in place until they complete it and earn the money, then we find a new challenge. What I like about it is that both boys were kind of stuck in a rut of doing the same thing over and over, especially the same submission.

Americana, Americana, Americana.

They both had also gotten really lazy and just completely lost the fight they used to have when people would try to pass. The “not getting mounted” challenge has been amazing!

So, it might sound bad to some that we are paying our kids to do jiu-jitsu, but honestly I’ve never seen them so motivated or working this hard and also progressing much faster. A lot of times we base the challenge on what they are learning in class. When they were working on triangles, that was their challenge, to get a triangle. It took both of them many classes, many attempts, many failures, and many adjustments, but eventually they both got it. It was so much fun to see them finally get the submission and watch them work through the adjustments to get it. It has been a great opportunity for them to learn that you will probably fail a submission many, many times before you get it, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying. Another great thing about it is how much it adds to their toolbox of skills. I’ve seen both of them continue to use and build on the challenges they have completed and they are attempting so much more each roll.

We, as adults, can understand how beneficial getting out of your comfort zone is, but that’s not always a concept that kids easily get. I feel like the $5 Challenge has been a great source for them to learn about getting out of your comfort zone and how rewarding that can be.

I’m really happy with where our kids are in jiu-jitsu right now. More importantly, THEY are really happy with jiu-jitsu right now. A few months ago we couldn’t mention anything jiu-jitsu related without Drew rolling his eyes or groaning. A few weeks ago we couldn’t get Drew to stop doing flying armbars on his dad in the pool. Jiu-jitsu is tough, we all know that, but I think, if we can find motivation, give ourselves challenges, and step out of that comfort zone, it’s the best thing we can do for ourselves.

 

The Jinx

I think I jinxed myself. Twice.

Let’s take a little look at an Allison timeline of last week.

• Wednesday, approx. 11:00 a.m. – quote from Ground Girl blog post:

“…I’m finally at a point where there should be no more large breaks in the foreseeable future.”

• Wednesday, approx. 8:00 p.m.

Sees a poll in a Facebook BJJ group about most common injuries. Top runner on the poll – knee. Thinks to myself, “Lucky me! I haven’t had any knee problems!”

• Thursday, approx. 6:15 a.m.

Almost has lower leg pulled off at the knee like it’s a chicken wing. Hears a loud pop and experiences what I can only describe as the most disgustingly painful feeling I’ve ever felt. Lays on mat seeing how many times one can say, “Fuck!” in a 10 minute time frame.

Oh, Universe. Why must you mess with me so?

After I got home, I spent the first few hours very hopeful that this would heal quickly and I could be back to at least drilling in a week or so. I had very little pain and mostly just felt pressure in my knee. I figured my early morning class and injury earned me a little nap on the couch so I laid down for a snooze-fest. To my surprise, I woke up in pain and with very little mobility in my knee. It stayed that way for about three days, by Saturday night I had a little bit more mobility in my knee where I could actually get out of bed and very slowly hobble/walk. On Sunday I managed to hobble to open mat with my husband and kids in an effort to help the boys clean up some techniques they have been working on. It was torture watching everyone roll, but I was happy because Sunday felt better than Saturday. I was pretty hopeful at that point that things were looking up. Slowly, since Sunday, that hope has faded away when each day there is no change in pain, pressure, and mobility of my knee.

But, wait. There’s more.

The stairs in our house are, at this current moment, a bitch. I have to very slowly take them one step at a time and even that is difficult and painful. I have to use the railings to help pull myself up the stairs or steady myself on the way down. That’s why it was completely stupid of me to try and walk down the stairs with my hands full. I made it down to the first “landing” mid-staircase when I managed to skip the last step and because I was falling with my hands full, can you guess what stopped my fall?

My stupid knee.

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I thought that thing wasn’t even fully bendable, but I guess when you pack my weight behind it, she’s gonna bend all the way whether you like it or not. So, I’m sitting here, swollen, in pain, feeling pretty defeated about how long it’s going to take to heal. I’ve spent the last week beyond frustrated. Every time I walk a little too fast and get a shot of pain. Every time it feels like my knee is going to explode when I try to bend it. Every time I wake up in the middle of the night because I tried to roll over and my knee said, “Nope.” Every time I try to sit, stand, or just go up and down the stairs…

Sigh.

We definitely take our healthy, mobile bodies for granted, that’s for sure. I know I do. Ahem. Did. I mean, I guess at least my pistol squat is getting pretty good.

#brightside?

I have no idea how long I’m looking at being out. I have no idea if I should be going to the doctor. I have no idea, period. The only thing I know is that this sucks. I can only guess that I’m in for a longer recovery than I had originally hoped.

Ending with a PSA: When rolling, take care of and respect your body. Respect your training partner’s body. Obviously, we are human and our bodies have limits. It’s not worth the submission/pass/domination if someone gets injured.

 

Early Bird Gets the Sweep.

Back from vacation and back to the normal life where there isn’t a beautiful beach just a few steps out the back door.

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I was trying to get a picture of the boys with the ocean view in the background when Jackson made the mistake of telling Drew that his jiu-jitsu sucked. Boys.

 

I’m glad to be back, but I always have a little struggle coming home after being near the ocean. I am in love with just sitting there and looking out and seeing endless water. Every day of our vacation I spent hours just staring at the water. There’s just something so refreshing about being in a place that can make you feel so small and the ocean always does that for me. It always helps me to see my problems in a different perspective and consider that I might be a little bat shit crazy about silly, trivial things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

As much as I loved sitting there, enjoying the view, and pretending that I was wealthy enough to afford the mansions on the beach for more than just a week, I spent a lot of time excited to get back to jiu-jitsu. Some due to the fact that after almost of year of inconsistent attendance I’m finally at a point where there should be no more large breaks in the foreseeable future. But, mostly, I was excited in large part to a super motivating experience in the Thursday morning class.

Mornings, throughout my life, have generally been a nope for me.

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I’ve always been a night owl and in my younger days I very much enjoyed working from midnight until the sun came up. I think that’s just the typical creative-type golden hours of productivity. It was my favorite time of day. Over the years and two kids later, I’ve adapted to normal hours, going to bed early and getting up every morning at 6:00 a.m. without a struggle or even so much as a tap of the snooze button. I actually kind of, sort of enjoy mornings after the initial “I’ll-throat-punch-you-if-you-talk-to-me” pre-coffee time. I see myself as someone who has made the successful switcheroo from night owl to early bird.

Look at me! Adulting and stuff! Getting the worm!

Just when I’ve gotten all comfortable and confident in my early rising abilities, and after a post about my jiu-jitsu struggles, it was suggested that I try out the 5:00 a.m. jiu-jitsu class. With all my newfangled morphing into a morning person my first thought is that 5:00 a.m. doesn’t sound too terribly awful. But then, I start doing the get up and get ready math and suddenly 4:00 a.m. sounds like a time when only lunatics would get out of bed and start their day.

FOUR A.M.!

I think I’ve only gotten up that early in my life for two things: screaming, hungry babies and once when I was like 12 and my step-brother talked me into going to some sunrise church service on the top of a bluff. Full disclosure: I only went because he said they would be serving pancakes afterwards.

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Does my alarm even go all the way back to 4:00 a.m.? Could I walk into and participate in a class all by myself? What if nobody wanted to partner with me? Do they serve pancakes afterwards? (It was vital that I asked myself the important questions.)

It came down to a mix of “Fuck it! Just do it!” and knowing that I’ve always understood and appreciated the way the Brett breaks down and teaches a technique. For almost three years I’ve watched him teach the kids class and because of the way he breaks things down I have been able to take something he’s taught and execute it in rolling with no drilling. I knew that I would never regret taking one of his classes.

Even if I had to get up at 4:00 a.m.

So, Thursday morning rolled around and I discovered that my alarm actually does have the ability to work at 4:00 a.m., that I can walk into and participate in a class all by myself, and that I had zero issues with partners. While there weren’t pancakes, the instruction, conversation, support, and motivation was more than enough to have me walking off the mat feeling full and satisfied.

So many details actually stuck with me, even with a week off for vacation, and from just that one class I went from half-guard smashed-ville to half-guard sweep-town. I hit the sweep a couple of times on men bigger and stronger than me. I even got smashed down, flat on my back, and managed to work each step to get the sweep.

That, my friends, is when I fall deeply in love with jiu-jitsu. When those tiny little details can make it possible for me to push over a strong, athletic man with minimal effort. I’ve still got a lot to work on with these half-guard sweeps. Obviously. But, I felt like I had a much better handle on what to do and in those moments when I did make mistakes, I could instantly recognize the detail I had messed up.

I can’t believe I’m saying this…but I can’t wait for 4:00 a.m. tomorrow! (And there’s not even pancakes involved.)