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Something Blue

For those of you who actively follow my blog (how I LOVE you all!) I have to apologize. For these next two weeks we have summer camp at the dojo. This means on most days I am with children from 9am to 5:30pm or even later. I am well aware that most of you work this schedule every day and then go home and continue to be productive members of society, doing things like cooking dinner, putting the kids to bed, going to the gym, and even writing blog posts. You rock! Me? I love doing dojo camp but it leaves me a bleary eyed, numb brained, sweaty mess. At the end of the day I still manage to make dinner, walk the dog, clean up and put Maya to bed, I just don't do any of these things very well. Trust me, you do not want me to write anything is this condition. Once Maya is asleep all I have the focus for is the latest episode of Dance Moms. (Damn that evil Abby!) So I am sorry for the lack of blogging. Just give me a week and a half and I am back on track, I promise.

Something else other than camp did happen this week though. Something that requires I get my lazy ass to the computer. Something new. And blue. And all my own.

Tuesday night I was awarded my blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

There was no promotion exam. Instead, my teacher just lined everyone up (there had to be at least 100 people there!) and started calling out names. Many of the people I trained with got blue belts. A few people I did not know were called. All the while I stood there waiting and wondering. Would it be me? Did he think I was ready? What if he does not call me? What if he does call me and I have to get up there in front of all those people?

Eventually he called my name. He untied my white belt and added it to the giant pile of discarded belts that was being created on the floor. (I later went and dug it out. A lot of work went in to that belt, I wanted to keep it.) He mentioned how over the past few months things had really started clicking for me. How I should keep training. He then tied on my new blue belt and shook my hand. I bowed. (I come from karate I can't help it!) In my hurry to get back to hiding in the crowd I totally spazzed out and walked right by the other instructor (someone whose white belt class I have been in for months) without shaking his hand. I had been a blue belt for all of six seconds and was already making a fool of myself. Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come.

So here we are, after all those blog posts. Me, with a brand new blue belt, and a whole lot of emotions.

I am happy that my teacher thinks I deserve this recognition. It is hard to know where you are in jiu-jitsu, there is no set syllabus or clear benchmarks to look for. But I know that I have been working hard. I know that I used to be confused all the time, to need someone to break down each move step by step for me. Now most of the time I can watch it a few times and then recreate it myself. This is a big step for me. I still get tapped, a lot. But I also submit other people occasionally. And more importantly (to me anyway) I attempt submissions now. I get into positions and know a few things to try there. This is  a huge step for me. And it feels great that someone else has noticed.

I also feel relieved. I am really not obsessed with belts but for some reason I got the idea of a blue belt in my head like an annoying pop song and could not get it out no matter how hard I tried. I think I just wanted to feel like I was making progress in the most tangible and obvious way possible. Now that I have gotten it, I am excited to go back to just learning jiu-jitsu, no distractions.

Of course I am also a little nervous. Wearing a blue belt stands for something. I want to prove that I deserve it. I want to drill like a blue belt, to roll like a blue belt. I don't want anyone to look at me and say "why her?"

And finally I am very proud to have made it to this point. Despite all my years of karate, this new martial art has not come easily to me. The grips, chokes and sweeps of BJJ are very different from the punches and kicks that are my home. Large men sit on me often. There is a lot of sweat and loose hairs about. I have questioned the casual nature of my school. I have questioned the competitive nature of the sport. I have questioned my own sanity.

Fortunately for me, I do not really know how to quit a martial art. No matter how discouraged I got, there was a stubborn part of me that kept insisting on going to class. Other students helped and encouraged me. New women joined and we became friends. Then one afternoon I suddenly found myself explaining a move to someone else. I started to see things while rolling, opportunities, mistakes. And then, over a year had passed, and this silly thing called BJJ had become a part of me.

The new blue belt around my waist does not mean I will not still get confused, that I will not still get frustrated. It is not going to give me to power to magically submit all white belts. It will not make me taller (I wish!) or stronger. It changes almost nothing at all, in fact. But it does answer my question. In order to progress in jiu-jitsu I do not have to beat up everyone in the room. It seems that it is enough to just keep training hard and trying to be the best me that I can be. 

Now if only I could make it to class. Just one more week of camp and then me (and my shiny new blue belt) are back on the mats. If there is one thing 20 plus years of karate has taught me, its that a new belt is worth nothing if there is no sweat on it.


  1. Osu! I love Dance Moms, do not tell anyone... Congrats on you great blog and new belt!


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