I need to adjust mine. Getting all emotional and angry and frustrated and all that mess. Not good for the jiu-jitsu. Need a check up from the neck up, as my pastor says. Forget working on anything else for a while; this gotta get fixed.

Not a good day. One of those days you want to have another shot at — or just give up on it altogether and go back to sleep. Couldn’t do anything right, and that was just on the warmup and the drills, nevermind rolling. There were goals before class, but none of them happened at all.

Small class. Warmup was longer (the newer guy puked). Did okay for the first half, keeping up with the guys, but got behind toward the end. Circled up for a few more things. Then we drilled threading the needle and going for the single on the near leg. Partnered up, but the partner wasn’t in tight; they were just for reference. Worked with the new guy because no one else wanted to after he’d thrown up. Lovely, thanks, guys. You’d think all the practice I’d been doing on this would help, but no, my brain blanked out and did it wrong most of the time, which led to the entire class having to drill it singley and then together again.

Then we rolled. I got to start with the new guy. Once again, new guys make the regular guys who mash seem gentle by comparison. Absolutely refused to tap to several I have nothing but I’m squeezing anyways, even though I couldn’t breathe and my face was getting smashed. Lots of me getting picked up and tossed over. Lots of me wanting to punch and elbow; haven’t done that in a while. Bad. Tried to breathe and calm down, but it never happened.

Next round with Will, and I couldn’t keep up. Couldn’t get my hips out, couldn’t keep my elbows in, couldn’t prevent anything. He got to full mount once and swept me to his guard, and I couldn’t do a thing about it. In several rolls the last few weeks, he’s gotten to a position from which he could easily pry up an arm and try to finish something, and instead of continuing to work or even switch to something else, he just steps off and resets. There may be a perfectly valid reason that has nothing to do with me at all — and I don’t ask because my cranky attitude is making up more stories instead — but I feel patronized. And stupid. And I hate being made to feel stupid.

Then with Perry, and he was moving slowly and using just his weight and one grip on my sleeve, and I still had nothing.

Drilled again, standing guard pass with two ending variations. Drilled with Perry. Having all sorts of issues. Had to get a near private lesson from Tim — took a very, very long while — to get that first pass.

Then more rolling. Will again. Same as before. Then Tim. He was playing distance; I wanted in. He won. Tried to move faster. Felt slower. Gah.

He told me again after class that I’m doing fine — good, even — and don’t need to get frustrated. But I feel as if I’m making no progress when I can’t do anything while rolling (and, sometimes, drilling). I spend so much time attempting the same escapes, miserably defending the same submissions, trying to cling to even a few things to do right, and feeling so often as if I’ve done nothing but flop around. He said he thinks I’d do well against another girl, but I wonder instead if I wouldn’t get owned there, too. And I want to do well against the guys. There’s not “girl jiu-jitsu” and “boy jiu-jitsu.” And then there’s the point about technique triumphing over strength. I know it can; I just can’t figure out how. He said I need to have confidence in my technique, and from Saulo’s advice, I should have sky-high confidence right now. Instead, I have none. Seriously, right now, zilch, zero, nada. … But maybe that’s a good thing. I can’t go any lower. Back to square one, mentally anyway. *le sigh* We can rebuild her…

Sorry, pity party mostly over now. There’s something about jiu-jitsu that gets in more personal than anything else I’ve ever done. Digs in to parts of my life I thought were under control and drags out all the things I still need to work on, like not getting frustrated when things I don’t go my way. (At least I’m past the temper tantrum stage. Mostly.) I still have a lot of work to do on my insides, though.

Adam entered the ProJitsu tournament up in Dover. He lost in the first round, 1-0. The other guy got a takedown and then laid on him. Pfft.


10 thoughts on “Attitude

  1. Girl, I *feel* you. WTF… if it was enough for Helio it should be enough for us! and yet still I find myself swept/tossed/reversed… all my grips a-slippin’, my heaviest side mount a feather…

    Really, I think part of it is that there is a qualitative and quantitative difference between the available strength of men vs. women. Sure, Helio was weaker than his brothers, but it was on the same page of the charts. I have watched Shama, a very quick, explosive, and yet technical purple belt (who weighs 115 lbs soaking wet) roll with a white belt guy weighing 140lbs– you wouldn’t think their strength was all that far apart, and you’d think her technique to be superior “enough” to make up for the difference… and yet, if they don’t want to be armbarred, it isn’t going to happen.

    It still sucks.

    Don’t get too discouraged. As you pointed out, it’s a microcosm for everything else in life– you’re in my thoughts and prayers! 🙂


  2. Man, that sucks. It’s tough being a perfectionist in the martial arts…I hope you can give yourself some grace and mentally distance yourself from the bad days you’ve been having. From the posts you wrote directly after your trip abroad, it sounded like you did better when you’d had some time away and weren’t doing as much self-analysis. Hope you’ll soon have a few days in which your reflexes bypass your conscious mind and things start to flow…that’s always encouraging.

  3. I understand very well what you are going through. I am also a comparative newbie. I am a guy, but am usually both the oldest (39) and smallest (5’5, 150lbs) guy in the class. I also have a disturbing tendency to brain-fart when i roll. The last month or so, I have started to feel more competent, largely because we have had an influx of new folks into the class. When new folks show up, you get to see that you are really not as incompetent as you feel like you are. Keep your head up and keep having fun with it. That is really what it is about for me anyway. It is just a lot of fun.

  4. “Absolutely refused to tap to several I have nothing but I’m squeezing anyways, even though I couldn’t breathe and my face was getting smashed.”

    Yeah, I had that in my last lesson (which was worrying almost two weeks ago now…). You don’t want to tap because they’re not actually performing any kind of technique, so both in terms of personal pride and helping them improve, it feels like, damn, must tough it out!

    However, I think as ever that’s mainly ego talking. It is annoying to tap to stupid stuff, but it is even more annoying to wake up unable to turn your head the next day, or worse. Much better to tap, restart and do something more constructive than testing your pain threshold.

    So, something I’m going to try and keep in mind next time a big Polish guy starts using my head as a stress ball. 😉

  5. @Georgette: Exactly — jiu-jitsu’s the little man’s game, and I’m the littlest, so why isn’t anything working? Sometimes I think I’m just not trying hard enough, so I try to try harder, and I fail more.

    @Jenn: So now I need a hobby to distract me from my hobby? =P This jiu-jitsu is starting to complicate my life!

    @Matt: Well, I get to test my defense against new guys, anyway. I think they see a girl across from them and go even more gung-ho than with other guys.

    @slidey: I know, I know, and I even had that conversation with myself while he tried to mash my face in. But my ego won. If it’s really something and I got caught, even by a new guy, I’ll tap. But I don’t want to be a wimp and tap just because he’s sitting on my head.

  6. Hang in there it will get better, I think just like lifting weights people tend to run into plateaus and it can take some time to break through it.

    It may help putting time into just drilling outside of class. Just drill two or three solid moves until you’re not thinking anymore and its all Muscle Memory. DRILL DRILL DRILL until you hit the Magic Number (usually around 50 -100 times for me) and the person Inside You never forgets. It will be all muscle memory and you won’t have to think about it. I think Paulo said if you are thinking about a move it is too late and you have to use strength to make it work…not an exact quote but it was something like that. Resist the urge to just roll and do the fun stuff. Find someone who will put in drilling with you, an hour at a time.

    ps I love the Blog

  7. Hi Leslie!

    I can understand your frustration. I am also a while belt who just started about a year ago and have found myself being unable to pull off any move or obtain a dominant position.

    Not sure if this is going to help, but when you get frustrated think back to Saolo Ribeiro’s book: Jiu-Jitsu University. Your mission as a white belt is to survive. So as long as you work on your defense you’ll be fine.

    I recently rolled with a purple belt who was a MONSTER. His technique was so good and so smooth that there was no way I would be able to outmanuever him. So what I did was concentrated on protecting my wings and my neck and that’s it.

    After we were finished rolling, he said “You’re still learning (in a constructive way, not being condescending), but you’re defense is really good. You made me work for those submissions.”

    That felt really good and made me work harder because I focused on my defense.

    You’re going to be fine. By the time you’re a purple belt this frustrationg will be laughable and feel like it’s a million years ago.


  8. @Alex: Thanks for stopping by. I am starting to drill some out of class, but apparently haven’t quite got it in muscle memory yet. I still haven’t figured out how to turn off the chattering voice in my head, which is sometimes helpful and sometimes not, so I’m still having to think through moves. Something to work on eventually.

    @Hugo: Thanks for coming by, too. I’ve been using Jiu-jitsu University — and have been getting compliments on my defense. I think I might just be getting ahead of myself, thinking that my defense is done so I should move on to submissions already. =P You’re right, I just need to take it slow and shore up that foundation first. Everything else will come in time.

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