Blood + Sweat + Tears = Blue

I got my blue belt tonight.

Not expecting it. Even commented to myself during my first two rolls that, yeah, no chance of that tonight — caught every which way, couldn’t control positions, couldn’t pass. Third roll I was excited to roll with Buddy #1, who was gone all summer. I hadn’t rolled with him yet and wanted to because I knew he’d tell me if I’d improved.

I could tell we were near the end of the round. Suddenly, I hear Tim’s “someone’s getting promoted!” yell. I started to turn to see who it is, half-expecting it to be Buddy (to purple), and instead I am getting hit with something. What the–? Who the–? … … No. Way. … … Way! Stunned, in shock, unable to speak or form coherent thoughts.

There was suddenly a crowd of guys congratulating me. Tim gave us a water break, so I finally got to tie it on, and then class continued. Kept having to force my brain off it’s “I got my blue belt!” track to pay attention to the rest of class.

Tim talked to me a bit after class and said that there were a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in making that belt. He said that it says a lot about me that I come in every week and work against guys who are all bigger and stronger than me, but that I keep coming and keep working. And he said that he’s been harder on me these last few months especially on purpose because he saw I was getting close and because I have to continue working with these bigger and stronger guys. He said for a girl to get a blue belt in jiu-jitsu, rolling only against the guys like I have been, is hard to get, and since I’m his first female blue belt, he wanted to make sure the standard was set high. He also said my technique is getting really good (which is the part I really wanted to hear).

Buddy chimed in then and said that while we were rolling, he’d started wondering when I would get my blue belt. And then there it was.

Last summer, Tim told me that I would be more proud of getting my BJJ blue belt than of getting my TKD black belt. Well, he’s right. For my black belt, I had to get through a six-hour test. For my blue belt, I’ve been in one long 17-month test.

Not that I’m suddenly frustration-free. But now I have tangible proof that I’m doing well.

Apparently there was class last night — Justin got back in town and came to teach. But my family was having a small cookout anyway, so I’m glad I didn’t know about class and stayed home instead.

And I’m sore! Little Cindy kicked my butt. My biceps, lats, traps, and hamstrings are stiff and cranky. I had to take a long walk at lunch so I could sit through the rest of the day. … So of course I want to meet all of Cindy’s friends. ๐Ÿ˜›

Tonight, we started with rolling to warmup. Started with Will. He wasn’t playing so much spider guard with his open guard, so I was able to get in better. Still reversed easily, though, and under half guard and side control a fair bit. I think I had a sweep or two, and he let me get to guard a few times, but I’m not doing well attacking there; he has everything tight. He had a few triangle set-ups from the moments when he did play spider guard, but he let me work out of them. Oh, and I remembered that knee-on-belly exists! But of course, we learned a counter to it on Saturday… Doh.

Then rolled with a guy who was hurt before class, so I was trying to avoid his injury. But it seemed at times as if he wasn’t hurt at all — the injured part was used extensively. Couldn’t keep my base for anything; swept to under side control and mount a lot. Did catch at lots of half guard as he tried to pass every which way. He pulled me in to one triangle from spider guard; I defended for a while but eventually lost the tug-of-war over my arm. Later — I think it was still this roll, or it was later with Yoshi — he tried the Peruvian necktie, but left it loose; I actually rolled out and started to escape, but he locked in a D’Arce (Yoshi had one, too, which is why I’m confuzzled). Defended for a while, tried escaping for a while, but finally started on the way to Blackout Land, so tapped.

These two rounds I was thinking, “Well, you know who’s still a looong way off from her blue belt.”

Another roll, and Buddy asked to roll with me since we hadn’t gotten to since he’d come back. All I was thinking about was getting to roll with Buddy, a blue belt, and find out if I’d improved since he left. Lots of trouble against his open guard — even more sinister than Will’s — and again easily swept and under side control and half guard. Again could catch the half guard from lots of positions, but couldn’t get the sweeps after to work. I think I did have one almost sweep that required a lot of effort to get on top after; not even sure I made it. I was trying to push the pace some because I know Buddy won’t hurt me.

And then at the end of that, I heard Tim yell, and I got whipped quite thoroughly with a new belt.

A short break for water and so I could tie my belt on (it’s so stiff!), and then back to rolling. Oh goodness. So tired. Besides trusting Buddy to play with me and not hurt me, I’d also figured that it was the last roll before technique, so I knew I’d get a break after and so could push a little more. But, no, more rolling. I want oxygen…

With Guillaume. He teased me that I would try to crush him now. I joked back that the belt only came with about 10 seconds of superpowers. … … I think I jinxed it: I had about only 10 seconds of superpowers, and then I was back to being exhausted. He let me around to his back straight off, but I couldn’t get my second hook in or my arm around his neck or my fingers in his lapel. I ended up on top, and actually managed to hold it in some form for most of the round. Remembered knee-on-belly. Tried for the baseball choke, but couldn’t quite work out my hands; tried for a D’Arce, but couldn’t hang on; tried for the north/south kimura, but he’d defend by grabbing his pants; tried the Big Poppa, but couldn’t hold it long enough (also think I wasn’t quite under his chin). Justin was trying to help me out from the sidelines by telling me where to go next, and I was transitioning, which I was happy about, but I couldn’t quite catch anything. Went to knee-on-belly again, though he rolled on his side facing away from me; tried for a gi choke from there, but again couldn’t quite get under his chin. Finally posted one hand on his head and came around for an armbar there, which worked.

Last roll with Yoshi. He pretended to be scared of the belt’s superpowers, but I told him that Guillaume had already used them all up and it was just an ordinary belt now. Very similar to those first two rounds — swept a lot, under side control and half guard a lot, grabbing half guard a lot. A few near sweeps; maybe one that I did manage to follow up on and get to top, though he quickly reversed it. Turtled lots and tried for the single leg from there, but couldn’t hold on when he sprawled. Tried the switch to escape several times, but couldn’t quite get through. (I suppose the reassuring part was that I wasn’t getting upset that I was a blue belt now and was getting my butt beat by a white belt. Not even sure it had quite sunk in at that point. Not that I want to get upset; I don’t. Anyway…) He also got a D’Arce eventually. Same as earlier: I could defend and move and try to escape for a while, but he finally got his weight right and finished it. This seemed like the round that would never end, partly because Tim was the timekeeper but he was also rolling.

Finally to drilling, now that there were about 15 minutes left in class. Worked with the little 14 year old.

Then, even though we were past time for class, Tim sent us on the wall for some drills. Alligators, single legs, single leg/sprawl, then squat jump down/bear crawl back. I was almost through my last trip down on squat jumps when he called out that we were done, but I finished anyway. Ow.

19 thoughts on “Blood + Sweat + Tears = Blue

  1. Congratulations!!!!! I’ve been eagerly awaiting for this post for the past month or two. So, you know, thanks for obliging me. ๐Ÿ˜€ (And thanks for consistently blogging–I always look forward to your posts.)

  2. Congrats! You earned it, so enjoy it.

    I have to warn you about the drawback though. Now all the tough whitebelts are going to try extra hard to tap you. For the first few weeks it will feel like you got a target on your back.

    On the positive side though, it looks awesome with a blue gi! or pink in you’re case ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Thanks, everyone ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m still somewhere between relief and disbelief, and between giddy and terrified.

    @Jenn: You’re welcome. ๐Ÿ˜› I do what I can.

    @Alex: Thanks!

    @Ninja: Yeah, I know that’s coming. Although, in some ways, I’ve felt like I’ve had a target since I walked in the door, as if everyone felt that they should be able to *at least* beat the girl.

    And yes, I was Smurfette last night with my blue gi. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @Georgette: Thanks for everything along the way ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Thanks, Tom!

    Yeah, that was one of my first thoughts, too: “Rats, this means I have to work even harder!” (Which is why I finished up the squat jumps/bear crawls even though class was “over” — might as well get started now.)

    I do use an antimicrobial wash (Hibiclens) after class, but I guess I’d never scrubbed the back of my neck too well. I scrub really well now ๐Ÿ˜›

  5. Huge congrats!! I’m so excited for you. I really hope you can look at the new belt without feeling like you’re going to vomit on it (that was my first 6 or 8 months with my blue belt).

  6. Thanks, Chrissy ๐Ÿ™‚

    So far, I keep looking at it and wondering if he made a mistake and if I’m really ready for this. We’ll see how the next few weeks and months go… ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  7. Congratulations, Leslie! I’m so happy for you. You definitely deserved it! I can’t wait to read your new posts as a blue belt!

  8. Thanks, Hugo ๐Ÿ™‚

    They’ll be pretty much the same, I reckon, but possibly with more “Crap, I’m a blue belt now, I should be better than this.” Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

  9. Right, back from Turkey, and now finally bitten a big chunk out of the 400 google reader posts waiting for me. So:

    Wooooo! Congrats on getting the blue! Very cool! ๐Ÿ˜€

    “Crap, I’m a blue belt now, I should be better than this” definitely sounds familiar. Even since I got my own blue in Feb 2008, its been very rare I get through a session without that thought flashing across my mind at least once. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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