What Am I Doing Here?

Yesterday, while I was putting on my uniform for my 11am BJJ class, I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. After admiring my nice blue gi and making sure my hair was going to stay in place for at least half of class, this thought popped into my head: "What am I doing here?" 

Don't get me wrong, I was not unhappy to be at jiu-jitsu. I was not feeling sick, or tired. My neck wasn't sore. In a burst of motivation,  I had even made myself a note that morning about what I was going to work on, which is something I almost never do. 

So I was ready to go. Only, the thought was still there. "What am I doing here?"

I do not compete in BJJ and do not plan to. I do not care much about belts, and even if I did, promotions at my school are usually a surprise so using them as a goal can be tricky. I have no immediate plans to start teaching jiu-jitsu, so, despite what my tax return might say, my time on the mat cannot really be considered "professional development." 

I enjoy jiu-jitsu. In fact, there are days when it goes so well that I am excited about it all afternoon. But there are also days when nothing works the way I want it to. When I am stuck on the bottom of some big dude for an entire six minute round and go home feeling like road kill. Which is fine, it is all part of the journey. I just wish I knew what the destination was. 

In my early years of karate it was easy to formulate a plan of action. There was a clear syllabus for each rank and the expected time between belts was well publicized. Progress was more obvious; I memorized a new kata, my kicks hit the pad harder, and so on. Sparring was always a challenge for me, but the sense of accomplishment when it was over made the struggle worth it. 

Without a clear plan, your training can sometimes feel like just punching the clock. As in "I went to class today", instead of "I worked on ___". Which is why when you sign up at my husband's school, they often ask you what you would like to get out of taking jiu-jitsu. Good question. Is it a problem that even after four years the only answer I can come up with is "Um, to get better at it?" 

Coincidentally, when I got home yesterday, this article was on my Facebook feed: http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/bjj-when-its-ok-if-you-dont-want-to-improve/. In it, Julia talks about all the things in her life that have gotten in the way of consistent training, and how it is ok for her BJJ classes to just be "for fun" right now. Which is great for her, only I cannot really use that excuse. I go to class plenty and I am not that busy. 

Then this morning, this popped up: http://keepitplayful.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/why-we-quit/.  I am not planning on quitting. But Ryron raises some interesting points about expectations and what happens when your training experience does not meet them. Like when you are a blue belt who expects to tap all white belts, all the time. Its a good article. But I am not sure that I expect much more out of class except that my partner does not break my arm. And while I often am better than most of the white belts in the room, I am long past being shocked when I am not. 

The truth is, although I have been training for almost four years now, I am still not quite sure what I am doing there. It is difficult for my brain to accept spending so much time on something just because it is fun. There must be something else, something deeper. Like a pending Ultimate Fighter audition, or at the very least, a desire to master the worm guard.

It doesn't help that my husband has a very clear plan. He writes notes after every class. He watches a lot of YouTube. He has a very specific date that he hopes to receive his brown belt. At any given moment, he could recite at least five specific things that he is working on. 

With me it is more like, umm, I'd like to stay on top today?

Last week, after our usual Wednesday dinner, Maya and I went to pick Matthew up from his class and I overheard his teacher giving a speech about "having something you are working on". Clearly if everyone is talking (and writing) about this, I am not the only one who is a bit lost.

So for now I guess my plan is to keep showing up, getting sweaty, having fun. Maybe at some point I will figure out why I am really there. Or I'll get my black belt. Whichever comes first.



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