Students always make comments about how my black belt is turning white. I often explain to them that one day when it is completely white I will have to start over. Why? Because I will then realise how little I know. I am aware of that now so I decided to accelerate this process. No, I did not bleach my belt. It is worn from years of use (and abuse).
I just started as a white belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). I am aware that this journey may be a long one. It is commonly known that ten years is the normal time frame to progress to black belt in this very difficult and technical art. I am not in it for this reason.
The time is now
Though grappling since before 2000, I decided my ground game could use an upgrade. I needed a new challenge. My MMA skills required better ground work. I see how Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can make you very fit and strong in a way that will actually improve fighting skill. I also realise that at 52, my stand-up skills are not as explosive as they once were, but a good ground game could offset this. BJJ is an important part of the martial arts puzzle, as we learn from watching MMA matches.
As a two-year student of yoga, my flexibility has improved greatly and will certainly help me in my BJJ quest. One of the things yoga has taught me is the power of living in the moment. I love this quote from On Any Given Sunday; “Because that’s what livin’ is! The six inches in front of your face!!”
Putting myself in an uncomfortable position
Guys bigger than me and with more skill suffocating me in the north/south position or mount. I am learning not to panic, and just go with the flow. Struggling and stressing about it just wears you out quicker.
The instructor who is ten kilos lighter than me tapping me out seven times in a five-minute round. A five-minute round? For someone used to grappling for two minutes, a five-minute round is eternity. Getting tapped out is okay by me because I am learning, but getting tapped out three times with the same move is highly frustrating. I know I am not a quick learner, but this is ridiculous.
The instructor getting frustrated at me. After three attempts at the move, I still could not get it. He walked over and threw my leg where it needed to be. Now I get it!
Putting myself in an uncomfortable position is the key to growth, and also promotes humility. Humility is a quality that is necessary for success as a martial artist and especially as a teacher of the martial arts. Rolling on a regular basis with blue belts, purple belts, and especially black belts is a sure-fire way to get better, as I learn something from people who are so much better than me. I am clearly out of my comfort zone and out of my league on the mat.
The rewards are great
I am learning something new and am really pumped. Yes, I’ve bought the books, dvds, and cool Brazilian kimono. I look at this as an investment in an important part of my martial arts future. This is an exciting part of the process for me, the process of discovering something fresh and new. It has infused me with great positive energy.
I am getting fitter. Those last five stubborn “donut around my midsection ” kilos have nearly melted off. The five-minute rounds are like running mini marathons, I have not been this exhausted in a long time.
I am having fun. I am a white belt again. Yee-ha!