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Abrir a Porta

Those of you who have either no clue or no interest in jiu-jitsu are welcome to skip over this paragraph. Or read it and just gloss over the terms that make no sense. Or look them up and become a dictionary of entirely useless BJJ words. (Remember when you were a kid and you came across a word you didn't understand and your mom told you to look it up?  OMG, I hated that! How many of you actually looked those words up? Yeah, me neither. What was my mom thinking?) So anyway, earlier in the week, this happened: I was rolling with a partner whom I train with all the time when I found myself in the top of half guard, messing around with her arm. Not sure where I was going with it exactly, I grabbed her arm in a kimura grip and started to twist it around, which she immediately defended by turning her body in a way that made it easy for me to slide my other leg across her body and take the mount. Where I proceeded to not accomplish much. But then a few minutes later it happened again, the same half guard. And it suddenly occurred to me that if I grabbed her arm again she would probably do the same thing and I could mount again. Which I did. Then I tried (and ultimately failed) to pull off an arm bar.

Ok ya'll can come back now.

Those of you who actually train in jiu-jitsu and were kind enough to read through that jumbled mess of a description are probably thinking, what was the point of that story? You used one move to set up another? Like, duh, that's jiu-jitsu! So what? But the thing is until recently my BJJ game was very limited. I defended moves that were being thrown at me. I recovered my guard. I accomplished a few sweeps. When I found myself in a dominant position I would attempt a submission or two. But mostly I was working one move at a time.

Then, about a month ago, while trying to pass someone's guard, I noticed an opening I hadn't seen before. And then, a few days later I did a sweep and accidentally landed with my partner's arm pinned to the mat. So I did it again, this time on purpose. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, I was seeing these things. I couldn't quite make use of them yet but I knew they were there.

After the whole kimura mount thing I left class exuberant. It was as if a whole new world had been opened up to me, as if I had finally unlocked the secret BJJ door. But soon, another emotion popped up. 


Have you ever tried to contemplate outer space? I mean, really contemplate it, like sit there and try to picture it in your head, how unimaginably BIG it all is? All that space. Going on forever. And ever. Full of planets and stars and god knows what else and it just goes on and on. Infinity. Feels a little overwhelming, doesn't it? 

That's what it feels like to try to picture all that jiu-jitsu. Like someone opened the door to a never ending library and every book in it is one that I desperately want to read. But I was having enough trouble just finishing the one currently on my Nook. I hadn't even known this new library existed.  How the hell am I going to read all those books? 

When I told all this to my BJJ purple belt husband he just smiled and said "Welcome to being a blue belt."

Technically, I have been a blue belt for 9 months. But not really. Or at least, not like this.

After my head finally stopped spinning I had one more thought. "Thank god I didn't quit."

I almost quit jiu-jitsu many times in my first year, for many different reasons. I was confused. I was frustrated. I was banged up. I felt like the new girl in a new school forever. Everyone was so much bigger than me. These moves made no damn sense! And so on. Those of you who train, you understand. But I stuck with it, mostly out of stubbornness and the fact that, as a dojo owner and a fourth degree black belt in karate, I really don't know how to quit a martial art.

As overwhelming as this new discovery is, it is somehow also very comforting. The scope of my training is so huge, I could do jiu-jitsu forever. I don't compete (and don't really plan to) and promotions are so spread apart they are not worth thinking about. So I could just keep coming to class and slowly working my way through all those books. For years and years and years. And never get to the end. Of course I will have good days and bad days, the whole two steps forward three steps back thing. But who cares when the journey is so damn long? 

Matthew once told a story to our students at the dojo. I am paraphrasing but it went something like this: One day a student asked him how he would ever get to black belt. How should he train? What did he need to know? What special things did he have to do? His answer was this. "Just go to class today." And then, when you wake up the next day, just go to class today. Rinse and repeat. 

I'm going to go to class today. Maybe it will be amazing. Most likely, it will just be more of the same. I will learn a little, improve a little, get beat up a little, sweat a lot. 

Its ok though. Space is infinite.


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