Monday, August 29, 2011

When you can’t participate, you might as well reminisce…PART TWO!!

In Part One of this post, I took a detailed look back at my trip to the 2011 Pan Ams. Now, I’m going to recollect on my more recent trip to the IBJJF Worlds this past June. This story isn’t going to be as heartening as the last; however, sometimes I think you can learn more from your failures than your triumphs, but I suppose we shall see.

After getting promoted to blue belt upon my return from the Pan Ams, I didn’t really have intentions of competing again in any IBJJF tournaments until the Fall. This way, I could get more experience as a blue belt before testing my skills in a big tournament. BUT then, I heard that a bunch of the women I train with were planning on traveling to Los Angeles to compete in the Worlds. I love the women I train with SO much and I really enjoy spending time with all of them, on and off the mat. Plus, I’d recently graduated college and my new job wasn’t starting until the next month, so there was no practical reason I could come up with for me to miss this exciting trip with some of my favorite people. Therefore, I bought my ticket and registered for the tourney despite my better judgment. I realized it was overly ambitious to compete for the first time as a blue belt at the Worlds of all places, but I had faith in my ability, and wanted to see how I’d do, so I figured, what the heck.

We arrived at the tournament early Thursday morning. I wasn’t scheduled to compete until the afternoon, so I had quite a bit of waiting around to do. As the day wore on, my nerves started to get the better of me. My division was finally called, and though my stomach was in knots, I started warming up in hopes of timing it so I would be warm for my first match. My name was called as soon as I felt ready, perfect timing, or so I thought. I checked in with my mat director and he instructed me to wait there for my opponent. I smiled and nodded, as my nerves were starting to calm with the appearance of good timing and luck. However, about 15 minutes later, my first opponent still hadn't surfaced. After another 15 minutes, my mat director called her name once again, ‘Second Call’, he said. He instructed me to ‘hang tight’ because if she showed, we were going to immediately head over to the mats. Twenty more minutes, no opponent; ‘Third and Final Call’. I was a bit disappointed, as I was no longer ‘warm and ready to go’; finally, ‘…DQ’ed’. My mat director then called my next opponent’s name and told me to get ready; I tried to do so, but warming up in the bullpen area was nearly impossible, as I was already fighting to maintain the small amount of area I’d claimed to stand in. Fifteen minutes pass, no opponent. ‘Second Call’; gosh, is this really happening I thought. Trying to stay positive, I anxiously looked around for a girl rushing over, No one. Twenty more minutes, ‘Third and Final Call’. It ended up being nearly 2 Hours since my first match was initially called before both my first two opponents were disqualified as ‘no shows’. After a few more minutes, finally, it was my turn. Between a 2-hour tease and now feeling completely cold, my nerves were raging. I saw my new opponent stepping off the mat. She’d now had two matches to my zero, of which she’d submitted both of her opponents. I tried to give myself a pep talk, but it didn’t seem to be working. After the two-hours of uncertainty, it seemed I was now being thrown onto the mat with little warning. Right before the match, my coaches cautioned, ‘this girl has a good guard, get your grips and pull first.’ I was worried and cold, but I nodded and stepped onto the mat anyways. The match began and I quickly pulled guard. She was obviously very seasoned and very good as she quickly defended my guard pull and began to pass. I felt as though I was already beaten. The match had started off poorly, and I felt my muscles already begin to cramp. I’ve grown accustomed to Traven’s demanding warm-ups; so, without a warm up of any sort in addition to my extreme nerves, I fear my body was just simply not prepared for the situation it was thrown into. The match continued with my opponent advancing and me attempting to defend. The hopelessness was building inside of me, but I kept fighting in attempt to not let my coaches, my teammates, or myself down. Finally, time was called. I’d lost to points and I was oh so aware of it. I held it together until I stepped off the mat, but then the extreme disappointment began to set in, so I wandered off to the bathroom where I could wallow unwatched. I started to realize, that I’d never really had to deal with this sort of disappointment in the sport before. I’d always worked my butt of in training, and it seemed to consistently pay off in competition. I kept thinking, if I’d only had those first two matches, I could have done better. After an approximate half-hour pity-party in the bathroom, I emerged to find that the girl who’d beaten me had gone on to win the division. This made me feel slightly better about my performance against her, however, it didn’t make me feel any less glum about my tournament experience overall. I’d spent money I didn’t have for an experience I didn’t feel like I’d achieved. I’m the type of person who completely overanalyzes situations in efforts to best ensure my desired outcome; I’d done everything I could to prepare for this tournament, and nothing I’d planned for ended up going my way. This was a harsh reality that I was now dealing with, poorly if I might add. Despite my emotional state, I pulled it together, and watched the bustle the rest of the day had to offer.

At the tournament over the next few days, I was slightly overwhelmed by the amount of amazing Jiu Jitsu matches all happening at once. My favorite part was Saturday morning when the female black belts took to the mat. I eagerly watched as each match progressed, and I continued to notice the same thing; someone lost EVERY time. Now, to you, this may seem rather obvious, but at the time, it was really what I needed to see. These were the best women in the world and half of them went home empty-handed, just like me. Watching the higher-level belts compete really opened my eyes to the fact that EVERYONE loses sometimes. And that I can’t always control the outcome; all I can do is prepare myself as much as possible, and then hope and strive for the best when the time comes.

This realization was furthered by the amazing women I was traveling with. Each day, we’d slip out of the tournament just early enough to do a little exploring, after all, we were in a strange city that we’d paid a lot of money to visit, might as well have a little fun, right? We went to the beach, even tho it was WAY too cold to swim, had very beautiful and very ugly rides down the coast (I didn’t realize there were pristine beaches right next to oil rigs in CA!!), we managed to have Yogurt Land for dinner three nights in a row, and we even got in a little karaoke to finish it off. So, thanks to my wonderful training partners, the rest of the trip was not nearly as depressing as the first day had proven to be.
So, what did I learn? Well, as I said before, this trip really helped me to realize something not only relevant to Jiu Jitsu, but also to life in general. My experience at the Worlds really helped me to recognize the fact that things may not always go my way, no matter how much I plan/prepare for them; and, that defeat isn’t in fact that end of the world, but it’s really just a stepping stone from which you can choose to learn from OR allow it to do what it does best, defeat you.

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  1. This sounds like a familiar scenario! :)

  2. the bluebelt womens division is HARD CORE lol i've learned that you can't train casually and expect to do well women at that level have technique that is sharp. I hope you continue to train hard and compete more, you may experience more times like this within the division because it is tough going against woment that are about to be purple belts when you just got promoted BUT you will see gigantic leaps in your game, the way you train, and the way your game changes. I'm starting to see the leaps myself, it's a rewarding feeling.


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