Our first tournament is in the books. What a crazy day! It was one of the most nerve-wrecking things I’ve ever been through. Feeling the nerves for myself and for both Drew and Jackson was at times overwhelming. I had to stay near the mat I would be on while I was waiting for them to call my name so I had to watch the boys on the opposite side of the room. It was really hard for me to not be able to be right there with them.
I’ll start with the good news.
Jackson floored me. I so badly wanted him to experience a win and for him to have a good outcome with entering this tournament. I wanted him to see that when you put yourself out there, even when you are scared to death, good things can happen. I just feared that his shyness would really hold him back. I swear, that kid has proved to me time after time that I shouldn’t count him out. He always manages to surprise me.
He lost his first match to an armbar. He fought so hard. The other kid was in mount a lot and Jackson was bridging his little ass off and almost got all the way over several times.
He had no quit in him! When I realized he lost, I was really, really worried about how he would react. I thought for sure he was going to cry and not want to do his second match. Apparently he was quite cool with it. Maybe upset for a few seconds but then totally fine and ready to go again.
He second match was so exciting! He started off down on points and came back to take the win. He had a beautiful take down that had the other kid landing flat on his back with a loud smack.
Jackson was so aggressive and had his war face on.
He had great top control, he took the kid’s back, he fought like a beast. At one point he defended getting mounted like a boss and I think that was one of the moves that secured him the win.
I cried when his little hand was raised.
I found out a little later that his win secured him a third place medal. At that point I hadn’t had a match yet and I felt my nerves go away for a second. At that moment I didn’t even care how my matches went because I was so happy for Jackson and his victory.
This was by far one of the most awesome parenting moments ever. To see him face his fears and get reward for it. To see him earn something that took a lot of hard work. To see him smile with so much confidence.
We asked him if he was ready to compete again and he quickly said, “YES!” He a little fighter and I am so proud of him.
Drew’s experience is a little harder to talk about. He was the only kid from SFC that didn’t medal and I would be straight up be lying if I didn’t say that he was kind of having a hard time with it. It breaks my heart to see him go through this. I know this will be something that will make him stronger, but dammit, it’s so freakin’ hard to see your kids be sad like that. Especially when you know how much extra work he put in.
He had such a tough bracket. It was one of the largest in the kids divisions. He had three matches, losing two and winning one.
The first match was against an orange belt girl.
From the start you could tell that she had done a tournament or two (or three or four.) He tried so hard and never gave up, but she was really good and every attempt he took to advance was halted pretty fast.
The second match was a lot of stand up and at some point the other kid threw up. That was an immediate DQ for him and an automatic win for Drew. I have no idea if he would have beat that kid or not.
Drew was doing great. The other kid was really aggressive, but Drew was hanging in there with him really well. They both were just having trouble getting a take down.
The third match went almost exactly the same as the first match.
Drew didn’t handle the losses very well. He was so defeated and frustrated. I just felt awful for him because he put in so much work outside of class. You could really see that work paying off and him improving so much the last few weeks. It was also really hard to see him lose from across the room and to not be able to run over there and give him a hug and tell him how proud I was of him in that moment. I was borderline on saying, “Screw my matches, I want to be there for my kid.”
I told him in the weeks before the tournament that if he wanted to medal, he was going to have to put in extra work. He did and it just didn’t work out. As a parent, it makes me fear that he thinks I’m full of shit and that all that work wasn’t worth it.
It’s such a mix of emotions. I’m so incredibly proud of him for getting out there, for not giving up, and giving it his all. And then, I’m heart broken when I think about how tough it is going to be for him to walk into class on Wednesday knowing that he was the only one to not medal. He’s dreading it.
Like Drew’s situation, I am the only adult from SFC that didn’t medal.
I admit, I was defeated the second I caught glimpses of my opponents.
I thought for sure that I would be the largest girl there. I thought that I would be the largest girl by far and never considered that I might be going against girls larger than me. I definitely let that intimidate me.
Who am I fooling? I let everything about that environment intimidate me.
I lost my first match by submission. I knew the second she got the first grip, that I was in trouble. She was a beast and I could feel it with the power and strength of that grip. I felt so lost during stand up. About the only thing I consistently worked on was pulling guard with an immediate sweep. I second guessed it and hesitated. I thought there was no way I could actually lift her and sweep her over and so I hesitated and she immediately went to side control. I’m pissed at myself for not committing to what I had worked on. I’ve swept my husband like that before and I know that the key is momentum and the right leverage. The weight difference shouldn’t matter.
Her top pressure was insane. I spent what felt like an eternity with her boob covering my mouth and nose. I was in a near panic because I couldn’t find a hole to breathe in. I wanted to tap so badly but I knew that I would never forgive myself for tapping to pressure in a competition. Death by suffocation was the only option at that point. I finally got my arm in there to create a pocket so I could breathe and could try to relax a little. I tried to bridge once and couldn’t even budge her.
I know my coaches were telling me what to do but I don’t think I heard them at all. I was in my own little bubble. My mind basically screamed, “Oh shit!” and I went completely blank. It was like I couldn’t remember anything. She went to mount and I knew it was over for me.
I could feel her setting up an arm triangle and I just let it happen. I wanted it over. I was embarrassed that I was sucking so bad and I just wanted it over. I’m pretty ashamed of that. I just never saw myself just giving up.
The second match is so frustrating to relive. Within the first 30 seconds the other girl was exhausted and breathing so heavy. It was a good reminder for me to take deep breaths and relax. I told myself to just be patient, but again I found myself clueless with what to do in stand up.
I don’t even know for sure what happened. I think I went to trip her and fell back. She eventually ended up in side control. I could tell she was wearing herself out so I was trying to just let her continue doing that. She got to mount and I bridged her over. She had me in her guard, broken down and so I had to fight to get my posture back. I tried breaking her guard but it was pretty tight and I knew that I was running out of time. I knew that if I wanted to win, I was going to have to go for a submission. I grabbed her collar, pulled it across one side of her neck while jamming my fist into the front of her neck and then I jumped up to my feet.
Her face was turning purple, she had spit flying out of the side of her mouth, and I just knew I was close.
Fuck. I lost. Again.
This was such a crazy experience that is so hard to describe. I explained it to my sister as basically attempted murder that they regulate with refs and a few rules so you can’t actually kill them. It was an intensity level that I wasn’t prepared for. I don’t really think you can prepare yourself for it without just jumping in and doing it.
When I had my fist jamming into that girl’s throat, I was in a kill or be killed mode. At one point the ref was right by us watching the situation and I actually glanced over to make sure that it was okay that I was trying to push my fist through her throat. It was crazy intense. And, yeah, that girl is tough as shit to not tap to that. I had my fist buried in her neck and it had to hurt like hell. Kudos to her for not only not tapping, but not even opening her guard.
I admit, I was really defeated in that moment when I stood there for the second time watching someone else get their hand raised. I walked off that mat feeling like shit. That lasted all about two seconds.
I was surrounded by fellow SFC-ers that each gave me hug and told me “proud of you” and other words of encouragement. How could I not smile when I was surrounded by such a great team, an extended family. It was, by far, one of the best moments of my life and I will never forget it. It made that loss bearable in that moment and gave me the ability to walk away with a smile. It was such an amazing reminder that those medals may be fun to get, but having a team surround you in your worst moment and say we are proud of you no matter what, I mean, that’s winning on some level too.
So, I try to be as honest as possible when I write about my experiences. There are different reasons I like to put this all out there. I like to write. I like the idea that when I write about my struggles it mentally helps me to move on from them. It’s therapy a lot of times. I also consider that maybe someone else can read what I’ve been through and what I struggle with and can relate and know that they aren’t alone.
So, for those reasons, I’m putting it all out there. The good, the bad, the ugly.
The losses have sunk in as the days go by. I’m trying really hard to find the positives but they just get overwhelmed with the negative. I can feel the physical pain of what I put my body through and the mental pain of what I put my self-esteem through. It’s a heavy fog that reminds me that I lost. And, in the typical fashion that fog works, it’s hard to see past it right now.
I’m not exactly taking it as well as I had hoped.
I’m embarrassed that I got last. Fourth place out of four competitors. The only one in the division to not medal. The only one that didn’t win a match. The only adult from SFC to not medal or win a match.
Walking into class on Tuesday is going to be one of the hardest things I’ll ever have to do. I know that there isn’t a single person at SFC that would ever think less of me for losing, but I still feel embarrassed, like I let everyone down. I know I didn’t, but that thought just sits there like a heavy rock that won’t budge.
With all that said, I absolutely do not regret doing it. Crazy turn, right? We can’t end this on an ugly, negative vibe!
Losing is hard, BUT, what I’ve told myself and what I’ve told Drew is that if we are this upset that we lost, obviously it shows us how bad we wanted it. That it’s worth it. That this is why winning is so amazing, because it’s fucking hard to do. Why would we give up now? Now is the time to get back in there and continue working hard and if we do that one day we will win.
I still stand by the fact that I may have physically lost, but I still won in so many ways. There were some major victories there.
I never thought that I would have the courage to walk out there in the Shrine Mosque full of spectators, competitors, and my family and roll around with someone else in a physical fight. What an adrenaline rush! When I focus on just those simple facts, it’s an extraordinary feeling. We all have heard of “fight or flight” and I fucking fought. All my life my go-to has been flight. Get out of there. Escape the things that scare you.
I fucking fought. That just blows my mind.
And, hey, I bought my first gi and did my first gi class six months ago, almost to the day of the comp. I’m just a beginner, a baby in the BJJ competition world. I got out there with little experience and gave it a shot. I don’t think I should be ashamed of that. I am proud of myself for going for it.
I discovered that I can lose and still survive. I might be in my head about it, but hey, that’s what Allison does. She’s a head case and a work in progress. I didn’t die. The floor didn’t swallow me up. I wasn’t put in a “loser cage” where the winners could walk by and throw rotten food at me and shame me. I’m still here, a little sore and a little broken down, but still here. I’m not going anywhere.
I’m, in a way, glad that I lost so that Drew wouldn’t have to go through that alone. It’s so hard to watch your kid hurt and I’m glad that we have each other. We can be losers together. My job now is to show him that we get back in there. We walk into the next class and keep going. We use this as motivation to work harder. We remember how much it sucks to lose and do our best to not let it happen again.
I’m not defeated. Even though it’s going to be hard, I will walk into that class on Tuesday and pick up right were I left off. I’m still focused on doing my best to improve at every opportunity I can. I still love BJJ. Being in that environment was amazing. A room full of people that love BJJ, cheering each other on, and going to battle. I feel lucky to get the opportunity to belong to that world.
I have found new motivation. Something to work towards. This will not be my last competition, that I am sure of. I will try again. I will win one day and I won’t stop until I do.
Competition definitely showed me where my holes are and where I need to be. I know that I need to work on stand up and take downs. I know I need to work from the bottom more and improve my game there. I know that I need to work on fighting when I’m exhausted and finding that will to push past tired. Those girls in my division were amazing. They are definitely what I will strive to be and work towards becoming. Even if they were kicking my ass, it’s great to see girls out there succeeding. I wish there were more girls involved.
A little random but: I got to watch one of my old instructors (yes, from the place I don’t have the best things to say about) go out there and compete and place second. He’s been doing BJJ for I think the last year or so at another BJJ gym around here. I know I talk a lot of shit about our past school and I totally stand by that, but this guy was the only main instructor there that when we left we still had respect for. Seriously, just a good guy. I was so happy to see that he put himself out there to compete and make it to the podium.
One of my favorite moments from the whole day was the few minutes before my first match. I was standing there surrounded by SFC coaches and teammates. I remember Nate on my left and Brent on my right. I had my mouth guard in. I was bouncing around, trying to warm up a little. I had someone in my ear, pumping me up the whole time. The encouragement was coming from all sides and behind me. I for a few seconds felt invincible with these guys surrounding me. I’ve never felt more badass or more supported in my life.
I have a dream of one day getting my hand raised. It’s been a dream of mine for years. I get butterflies even just thinking about it. I’ve never told anyone that. I even feel a little ridiculous saying it publicly right now.
Maybe that’s why I’m taking the loss so hard. I think I wanted that moment to happen more than I realized. I really tried to go into this with no expectations but I think knowing that I could be just a few points or a submission away from my dream happening put a lot of pressure on the outcome.
A few months ago I never thought there was ever a possibility that that dream could ever become a reality. I’m 36. I’m overweight and I’m not in the best shape. I’ve got two kids to take care of. A house to take of. I work a lot. A lot, lot. Where in my little world does a dream like that belong? It just didn’t seem like something that was within my reach.
Then I walked into those doors at SFC and entered into the world of BJJ. The second I said I wanted to compete, I had so many people behind me.
Standing there bouncing around, warming up, gritting down on my mouth guard, about to step out on a mat and engage in a physical fight with someone, and having these guys around me, supporting my choice to go to war, and believing in me made me realize that this crazy dream of mine can happen. And, just as much as I want it to happen for me, so do those in my corner.
I can never thank you all at SFC enough for the support. Nate, Brett, Brent, Mike A., Mike M., Mike Z., Mike D., (we have an abundance of Mikes at SFC) Doug, Miranda, John, Amy, and everyone at SFC that drilled with me, rolled with me, gave me encouragement and tips, I love you guys. Thank you for having my back. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for being my family.
I am so proud of everyone at SFC that got out there and competed. SFC killed it!!