Training Through Adversity: Part 2

A week after I had a close family member pass, I decided to step up and do the submission only grappling tournament. My outlook was of a “nonchalant/I don’t care what  happens attitude.” I came into the gym, joked around, acted like I didn’t care, spoke to everyone with a smile. I did not feel much pressure…”whatever happens…happens.”

I weighed in, left to run some errands since I knew my matches were not going to start for a few hours. Did some running around since I knew that sitting at the gym and mulling over the different scenarios in my head would just make me more nervous.

Got to the gym a few hours later, the environment was high energy, crowded, hot, intense. The nervous energy definitely filled the cramped gym with many on-lookers and competitors warming up. I changed, got ready with stretching and warm ups, and watched some amazing super fights with two of the best black belts and up and coming brown belts around. Heart, dedication, and desire all were exemplified by these competitors.

When my match was called, I felt good….relaxed, ready, fixed on a plan. I started aggressive, throwing submission after submission at my opponent. Triangle choke in and unable to finsih. Loop choke in…not there, bicep cutter…almost but no.

After this attempt, I felt both my confidence and my energy diminish drastically. After being so close to victory, I found myself exhausted, on bottom side control, and flat on my back. Since this was a submission only tournament, my opponent focused in on my lapel and collar for a choke. I fought it off once or twice, but the third time, I felt myself let him turn the corner. The light was closing in. I tapped. I lost. I was extremely disappointed. I did what I wanted and got the difficult part of setting up the submission, but I couldn’t complete the easy part of the submission…the finish. Things that you learn as a white belt. Pull the arm across, inch your knees together, turn the corner, close the space, pull the head, finish the submission.

I broke…I fatigued which turned into mental exhaustion and I gave in. I was submitted. I was fortunate enough to go for a third place match. I saw my opponent hobbling onto the mat with an injured ankle. I asked him if he was ok before we touched hands to start. He looked at me, smirked, and said “yeah.”

I thought maybe I will pull guard, maybe I will go fr the take down, I didn’t have a chance to decide. My opponent puled guard, pushed me up with his feet, flipped me over, and caught my arm on the transition. I tapped…I couldn;t believe it. I was finished in under 10 seconds.

EMbarassment, anger, frustration, and disappointment clouded my mind. I did not represent well. I gave up and did not show my gym the hard work that it has put into my preparation. I held my head down and watched the other matches with disappointment all over my face.

The no-gi match ended with me getting mounted and submitted. I left the gym as quickly as possible. I competed with a heavy heart, with my mind on my grandfather, missing my son who I was away from for the day, and not with full focus. Something that means so much to me…jiu-jitsu has been the cause of such grief on this day.

I was at a crossroads…take some time off, get away from the memories of pain and disappointment, and just rest. Sleeping did not go so well as I kept waking up every hour with my mind racing about what happened. I could not escape the disappointment and embarrassment I felt.

My choice after taking the night to think about it would be to get in the gym Monday morning. Have a more focused mind. A more focused attitude. Fight for position. Play my game. I had a desire and fire to improve upon myself and my skills. To mentally not break and not give in. Give it my all every time I step on the mat. Do it for me…I will get back out there and compete. I will try again and I won’t give in. If this is something that means a lot to me, I will not be overwhelmed and beat down. I will give it my all.