I fought, and I lost. This was no ordinary loss. What I want to describe to you is the loss of evolution…the loss of heart…the loss of your passion. What I want to describe to you is what it’s like to think that the years of training and goals that you’ve dedicated your life to have come crashing down in one 40 second match. I want to tell you about what you feel sometimes…the failure of the last years of your bjj life.
I’m by no means finished, but you’ll get that feeling.
When I started bjj competition I was 32 years old. I lost my first 7 matches…that was the last time I had this feeling but now it’s different. I have at the very minimum 15 tournaments – 3 golds, 8 silver, 2 bronze and two that you can write away for me getting destroyed, and that’s fine – that’s the evolution. Nobody (or rather rarely) does anyone just win from the start, and if you do, then you’re in for heartbreak later on when better people get to you. You’ll also notice my numbers don’t match up…a lot of those “silver medals” are out of a two-person match. Insert that generic bullshit frowny face.
I’m not bothered by that.
My professor told me once upon a time that some people are competitors and some are great teachers. I get told all the time that my students love me and I can “break it down” to understandable levels and due to the medal count, I’m aware of what I am and that’s fine. I have no worries about my bjj world. What I’m worried about is my current state, and that state is that I don’t care…although I passionately want to.
What got to me was my match two days ago. I lost a purple belt match in 45 seconds to a reverse armbar from knee-on-belly. I knew it was coming, knew how to defend it, tried for a bit, then just didn’t. I didn’t give up, I just gave up the position that I knew would lead to me getting submitted in order to “go through the motions”. I figured I could get through it, wait until he sat back, then my plan was to shrimp and get my elbow below the pelvis. Unfortunately, I dislocated my shoulder and got a partial tear in my bicep.
Why the bitching and pouring out of the soul? Well, I’ve come to the realization that I was completely aware of what was happening, how to defend and what to do…I just didn’t do it. I’m at the point where I think I lost it. I lost the killer instinct which I’ve had for years, and that’s and extremely hard realization to come to. In case you’re wondering, here was the process:
-As usual, I show up to “estimated times” and didn’t fight for 5 hours
-I watched the matches and second guessed myself as usual but didn’t change my gameplan…just observed and made myself aware
-had some fruit and drilled some basics
-loosened up and stepped on the mat
-got my ass handed to me.
If you’ve competed, you’ll know what’s missing. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t nervous at all, and I think that’s what killed me. I sit here typing with a dislocated shoulder and torn biceps (yes, this is taking forever, and no, I’m not spellchecking just for the ambiance) telling you about what it’s like to think you’re done. Let’s face it, sometimes you have instructors that don’t compete and it’s an age thing…judo and bjj are ruthless on the body. I hate to say I’m there due to professional jiu jitieros being older than me, but fuck man, something hit me. If I’m done, I don’t get try #2, I don’t get a younger body…that’s it….you’re…done competing and that is a feeling that I can’t come to terms with.
I’ll continue practicing and drilling and rolling, but one day it’ll come…that’s it. It’s not to prepare, it’s not for the mundials or the pan-ams, but for you. I’m not saying this is it for me, I absolutely want to compete more, but this is the realization that jiu jitsu isn’t about competition..one day that “old man” category actually matters. It’s not about the goals you have toward victory, it’s about your release from the stressors of life.
It took a devastating loss for me to realize that jiu jitsu is my escape and something I love, not a life goal for ultimate domination. It’s not a goal for me to be world champion. It’s my goal to train and apply the life lessons to my kids and conflicts. I don’t care about the belt anymore and that’s why I’m not upset about the loss…looking back, I saw all the parents with their kids and how they were motivating them to win, and I want that. Sometimes jiu jitsu focuses your life in areas you’ve never realized.
But that’s the point, jiu jitsu changes your life, you just need to realize what aspect.