I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this (that’s a lie), but jiu-jitsu is hard. Seriously. The hardest thing I’ve ever put myself through.
At this point I know that I should never let myself get too comfortable. That the highs, especially as a white belt, don’t last long and the lows can be brutal. Jiu-jitsu is a constant climb to the next level. You conquer one challenge to find that another one is patiently waiting for you. And another one. And another one. And another one. It is a never-ending, constant climb to the next level. It’s a constant trek from lows to highs and highs to lows, twisting and turning, and pulling you inside out and outside in and everything in between. Some days I’m still absolutely stunned at how mentally and physically challenging BJJ is.
The constant pull in many directions and the unquestionable difficulty that jiu-jitsu brings makes those high moments, the times that you feel like you are finally making progress, feel amazing. Like on top of the world, amazing. And the lows? The lows are rough.
I am at a low.
I knew it was coming. I knew that I was riding a high for long enough that a low had to be right around the corner.
I don’t take injury well. I don’t like sitting out and I don’t like feeling weak. Injuries make me feel weak and fragile and when I should be accepting that a broken finger is a definite reason to take it easy, I get frustrated instead.
Part of the frustration stems from the choice to compete again. I had made the choice like the day before my injury that I was going to compete in April. I felt really good about it and really motivated to put in the work and put myself out there again. I was actually more excited about it than nervous, which is a huge step up from the last time I made this choice. It was disappointing to finally feel ready mentally and ready to take on this challenge only to have an injury stop me in my tracks.
Stupid, fragile human body.
When I made that choice to compete again, I guess my competitive drive kicked into full gear. Especially when we started doing 20+ rounds of pass, sweep, or submit. There’s something about that drill that brings out my competitive side.
Maybe because it’s high intensity and that tends to be my automatic reaction to that kind of environment. I don’t know. I do know that somewhere in there I forgot my focus. My focus of improving at every opportunity and seeing each loss as an education. I started looking at this drill as a life or death situation. A hardcore, black and white definition of win or lose and suddenly I was terrified of losing. Which is crazy because I had long ago accepted that I was a white belt and that losing was going to be my middle name for a long time.
Sigh. Jiu-jitsu is hard.
So then, you mix in this super competitive mindset with an injury and that is just a high speed, downhill race to frustration-ville. And, I landed there with a crash and a bang.
In other words, I lost my shit on the mat. I broke down. I let myself get so focused on losing and what I couldn’t do because of my injury that I forgot that I should be focused and working towards what I can do. So, I can’t use one hand. Get over it. I’ve still got three perfectly good limbs at my disposal. Instead I chose to focus on just the one hand and how I couldn’t use it and it really made it hell for me.
I just got beat, round after round after round. Eventually I got so flustered that it messed with my head in a way I’ve never felt before. I knew that I should be ditching my comfort of left side forward/dominate since that is the side of my injury and instead work with my right side. But then, that competitive side would kick in and I was so uncomfortable using my right side as the dominate one that I would just out of instinct switch back to my left side. From my left side I would go to grip out of habit and quickly find out that I couldn’t grip anything with that hand. By the time I went through that process I was already getting smashed and passed and swept. Eventually my brain went to super flustered mode and it’s like I started second-guessing every single movement. It unnerved me enough that my natural BJJ instincts disappeared and I felt like I was back at day one. Back to a person that didn’t know how to do anything. Anything. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like that.
I let my injured body injure my mind.
So, yeah, last night was a hard one for me. Thankfully, I had a two blue belts recognize that I was struggling and they came over and gave me some advice and encouragement. Both hit the nail right on the head and told me exactly what I needed to hear. It was like I was under a vicious spell cast by my own mental mess and they snapped me out of it. I felt light years better after that and could put better focus forward from there on. To both of you, if you are reading this, thank you so much for that. I can’t even begin to express how much I appreciate it.
My mental focus took a little detour last night, today is my opportunity to try to get it back on the right path again. One thing I have learned over the last year is that it’s times like these, the moments of deep frustration and defeat, that can bring the biggest growth if you are willing to keep moving forward and not give up.
I am not giving up. And, that’s that.
BJJ “Focus on the Positive” Challenge – Not gonna lie, it is not easy finding a positive from last night. I really wanted to quit and go home after the pass, sweep, submit drill. I was so defeated mentally and still pretty frustrated with myself for getting so frustrated. I was doubly frustrated. My husband encouraged me to stay and at least get one round of rolling in. I was so tempted to throw in the towel and leave on a bad note, but I knew, and obviously my husband knew, that staying and trying my best to push past it was the better option. I’m glad I did. I left with a smile on my face. That was my victory of the night. A simple smile.