Skip to main content

Not a Fighter

In a desperate desire to increase my BJJ training time, I have recently organized some midday workouts with a few friends and training partners. The good news is that I am now getting a lot of extra work in. The bad news is that it never seems to be enough. There are just too many things I am not perfect at yet (read: everything), too many ideas and moves and drills and concepts that I want to improve at.

Lately I have also been tossing around the idea of competing in BJJ for the first time. So over the weekend I decided to watch a few videos of someone who was the kind of competitor who would be in my division. (In other words, another very tiny purple belt.) This particular girl happens to also be an amateur MMA fighter, so what I watched was tape of her in a cage somewhere in Long Island attempting to pummel another tiny girl to death. 

She was decent, this MMA girl. A good double leg takedown. A sharp front kick. A nice arm bar. She is 23. I hope she makes it.

With the exception of some of the larger IBJJF tournaments, most events do not have an old people division for women. The men often have "Masters" or "Executive" or some other euphemism for "not 19". But because there is a much smaller pool of women who want to roll around on sweaty mats on a Saturday for fun, most tournaments combine all women of similar size and rank together. Most of these women are not 41 year old married moms who run karate schools. 

While watching MMA girl's You Tube fight I had two simultaneous thoughts. The first one was "I should probably learn some takedown defense." The second was "But I don't want to be a fighter anymore."

When I was younger I competed a bunch, in kata, point fighting, and a style of contact karate similar to kickboxing. To prep for these tournaments I did a lot of sparring, pad work, pushups. I walked around with rap music playing in my headphones to "pump me up". While riding the subway I daydreamed about low kicks and wrapping my hands with duct tape. I was young and cocky and absolutely considered myself a "fighter". (Thank goodness the man I ultimately fell in love with was cut from the same cloth. No one else would ever have tolerated me.)

But when I started jiu-jitsu, I was long past this time in my life.  After twenty plus years of karate, I was now simply looking to try something new, to be a white belt again. My BJJ gym had plenty of competitors in it, but the last thing I ever wanted to do was feel the nausea and terror that accompanies competitive fighting again. 

Recently, however, I have become curious. I have never competed on the BJJ mat. Perhaps it would be a fun challenge, a chance to see what that world is like. Perhaps competition would be less scary if there were no longer roundhouse kicks coming at my head. 

The thing is, I don't want to be like MMA girl. I don't want to smash anyone's face in. I don't want to be all aggro and angry. I just want to slowly and methodically climb onto some chick's back and choke her until she taps. I want to out think everyone. I don't want to be bigger or stronger or faster; I just want my plan to be better than her plan. I want to out BJJ her. With wisdom. You know, like an old person would.

I guess I want to prove (to myself mostly) that someone like me can succeed on the competition mats. Not by being more aggressive or athletic, but by being smarter. I want to have a perfect game plan and execute my game plan from start to finish on all the 20 year olds. Then I want to smile at them and shake their hands and sneak them a beer when their moms aren't looking. 

The truth is, I am not even all that competitive anymore. I just really, really like jiu-jitsu.

Of course everyone I know who competes is at least 15 years younger than me. Every Saturday, after our regular BJJ class, a group of us stay after and work on stuff. It is a cool group and I learn a lot in these sessions. We have even started jokingly referring to us as a "squad", mainly because it drives my husband crazy. (He hates that word.) Among the people in this weekly training session (SQUAD!) are a lovely female Columbia University student who is very tall and has a mean triangle choke, and a smart, soccer-playing blue belt guy who won his division at the last NAGA here in Brooklyn. He is 16 and a junior in high school.

So yeah, sometimes I wonder what the hell I am doing there.

I know what society says. I am 41. I am a wife and a mother. I am supposed to be starting my slow miserable slide towards old age and death. My 401K should be growing while my body falls apart. But fuck that! I would rather drill kimuras. 

That's it, that's why I want to compete someday. Because fuck you, 401K! Fuck you house in suburbia. Fuck you bad knees and long commutes and Power Point presentations and slow sips of whiskey on the couch after the kids are asleep. 

I don't want to be the next Ronda Rousey. Let that nice purple belt from Long Island do that. I just want to be me. 

A me that has an unstoppable bow and arrow choke.

Watch out MMA girl, I'm coming for you!

(Maybe. Maybe I'm coming for you.)
(I'm old, don't hurt me.)
(Wanna just grab a beer instead?)

Comments

  1. Hey, when are you considering competing? I will be signing up for a tournament that is on July 1! My husband and stepson will get to come watch. I'm currently trying to mentally psych myself up for it! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good for you! I am not sure yet but probably some time this Spring. The way I see it, I just want to get out there and do the best I can with what I got. :-)

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

November 20, 2018

This morning, while out walking my dog, I watched a mother put her young boy onto the school bus. "Have a good day," she said. "Listen to your teacher."

The boy, who was about five years old, replied that of course he would, although it was unclear which of his mom's wishes he was agreeing to.

Listening. So and so is a "good listener." We talk so much about it, but many of us have no idea how to actually do it., so caught up in the words inside our own head that it is almost impossible to hear anything else. Yeah I am listening to you, but not really, I am really thinking about the next thing I am going to say. I am listening to you, but not really, because even though you know an awful lot about this, deep down my egotistical brain still thinks I know better. I am listening, but not really because even though you just showed the technique in perfect detail three times, and I swore I was really paying attention, somehow when it was my turn to drill it…

Namaste

For the past two days I have been feeling sick; an obvious side effect of spending so much time getting breathed on by small, germy children. This morning I was feeling much better, but not well enough for BJJ, so I decided to go to a yoga class instead. Turns out I was not quite well enough because about halfway through class my body was like, "Hey you, sick girl, you are kind of tired, this feels kind of yucky actually. How about you spend some time in child's pose instead."
As a lifelong athlete I am really, really good at getting messages from my body. I am less skilled, however, at actually following them.
This was not a difficult yoga class. But for me, today, it was impossible. My brain really did not like that. As I sat there with my eyes closed, breathing, the ever helpful voice in my head was saying things like "Everyone must think I am so weak. The teacher must think there is really something wrong with me. I should push through anyway. This is pathetic.&qu…

Roller Coaster

Its the roller coaster that gets me. The fact that you are just going along, doing your work, slowly climbing up, everything is going exactly according to plan, then Zoom!, down you go, fast, maybe not all the way to the bottom again, maybe somewhere halfway, but man you got there FAST! And now here we go again, back on the slow climb.
Some days it feels like you are doing everything right, you are busting your ass to accomplish all of your goals in every way that you know how, yet things just aren't going the way you want them to. On those days it is easy to get angry at the world. Don't you see I am doing my best here? Don't you see how hard I am working? OMG just get the f&*k out of my way! Stop asking for more of me! Can't you see I don't have any more??
But the thing is, that down part, it is on the track. It is part of the ride. it has always been a part of the ride. We knew if was coming, we could see it at the top of the long climb up. We didn't know…