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Welcome Wagon

I will admit that I can be a martial arts snob. Occasionally I meet a woman who is brand new to jiu-jitsu. She has that wide eyed, hyped up look; the one that says "OH MY GOD this is so so AWESOME, I cannot believe how awesome this is, I LOVE jiu-jitsu, I want to do it EVERY SINGLE DAY for the rest of my LIFE, it is THAT awesome!" She posts selfies with her sweaty face and f**ked up hair (#messyhairdon'tcare) with comments about how much she loves training (BJJ for life baby!) and all I can think is yeah, you're gonna be gone in a month. 

It is not that I am not happy when new woman start training. Actually I am ecstatic. The more girls who wear gis the better. I wish every woman in the entire world would do martial arts. Any martial art will do, but I am particularly excited when the ladies start jiu-jitsu. 

The thing is, most of ya'll are gonna quit. Actually most men who join a BJJ school are also going to quit, its just that there are much more of them so they are less noticeable. You may quit because your work schedule does not allow it, or your finances do not allow it, or perhaps because you ultimately decide that rolling around with sweaty men is an activity best left to the bedroom. But regardless, you are not going to stick it out. And that is ok. At least you tried. There's always Zumba.

Forget whether or not after 25 years of karate and 3.5 years of BJJ, I have earned the right to be snarky and judgmental. (I have.) It it still not very nice of me to listen to the new girl go on and on about how she has found her life's calling and think "Hey babe, don't quit your day job just yet." 

Of course I never say those things. What I say is "Welcome friend! Welcome to jiu-jitsu!" And then I offer her a million tips for how to get through the first 6 months. Because if you can do that, you might actually stick with this. If you can get past the feeling of suffocation when someone mounts you, and the absolute confusion (how many damn steps does that triangle choke have??) and the ew ew ew there is someone's hair on me, you just might learn to love BJJ. For real. Not Facebook status real, but real real.  

So deep down I am truly happy whenever a new woman joins the fold. Really, truly happy. It gets lonely out there. I don't just mean on the mat in my own school, where we happen to have quite a few ladies, I mean in the whole martial arts world. We are greatly outnumbered. And despite the mean, bitchy voice in my head, I honestly hope that every new girl sticks with it. Forever. 

It has been a month since I have sparred in karate or rolled in jiu-jitsu, other than the occasional slow, nobody touch me, round. This is because I am trying to "be safe". (Yes those words make me cringe too.)  This past Monday I got an MRI on my neck. (For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, it felt a bit like being strapped into the pilot seat of a space shuttle. Without the cool view. And the freeze dried ice cream. And you know, the hero astronaut stuff. So basically, it sucked. But there was TV. ) Tomorrow I will see the doctor to find out what he recommends for what he is pretty sure is a pinched nerve. 

I am not in terrible pain. Mostly it is just discomfort. Some days it does not hurt at all, others there is a slight ache, and occasionally there is enough pain to be annoying, but most of the time I just feel kind of stiff, like I fell asleep on an airplane. (FYI, I am terrified of flying and have never, ever fallen asleep on an airplane. I get insomnia if I even think about airplanes.) I am playing it safe because I am not quite sure yet what movements aggravate my neck and shoulder. Some days I lie on a heating pad all day and wake up the next morning sore. Other days I run around with Maya, teach three karate classes, take one class myself, and go to bed feeling awesome. So who knows?

The one thing I am sure of is that I miss hard training. Which is funny, because for the most part, I don't even like hard training. I mean I have been known to go all out every so often, but usually I am a lets go slow and keep it playful kind of gal. I like to be able to think about my moves while I am rolling. I like to move around while sparring. I don't really like getting hit hard, especially by tall, long limbed, bony dudes named Adri. (Love you Adri, you are awesome!) 

But there is something wonderfully cathartic about fighting hard and I miss not having that option. The slow ride is great but there are some days when you just need to hit something. When you just want to be breathing hard. When you want your buddies to have to help you up off the mats.

Yeah, I miss that. 

I am sure I will get it back eventually. But right now, I am still being safe. So forgive me if I get a little snarky when the new girl calls herself a "fighter". I really am happy for her. I am happy someone else has discovered the joy of training. I am sure she will be the one who sticks with it long term. Who will let it change her life for the better. Who will wake up every morning dying to get to class. Who will feel more comfortable in a beat up, sweaty gi than any other article of clothing she owns. Who will make this a part of her soul, forever.

Too much pressure? 

Well then, welcome to jiu-jitsu, friend! The bathroom is over there.
Have a great class!


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