This year started badly, with me dropping further & further into a Pit of Despair. Most people have plateaus, where they feel that nothing changes; me, I actively get worse. There were several crisis points, too, during the year. At the time, I probably handled them badly, but I’m pretty sure I did finally manage to learn things from them.
Then around September, I decided to shift my focus to one thing: playing my own game and not getting sucked in to playing around with partners. Instead of just going along compliantly when a partner wanted to do something (e.g., play from spider guard, close their guard, etc.), I now actively seek to block such things and to only go where I want to go. There are still times when I fall back on old habits unconsciously or when I settle for self-preservation (i.e., defense) against the spazzes. With new people — well, only Aubrey is new, I suppose — I’ve been working to guide the roll to things that I know that she knows and then let her work, while continuing to feed openings and opportunities. It’s rather fun to finally feel like I can do that with people.
Whether the change of focus reversed the Pit of Despair, or whether that resolved itself concurrently, I’m not sure, but I don’t usually feel as though I’m getting worse. There are times when I realize how very much more there is to learn as I get effortlessly manhandled by a higher belt. There are still times when I feel like the worst grappler to ever step on the mats, but even after those rolls I seem to see a couple little things that I think I’ve done right. Some of my training partners have even told me directly that I’m rolling better; others have at least stepped up their intensity when rolling with me, which is almost the same thing. 😉
I’ve also learned in this last year to not stress out so much about missing class. I used to worry that I was missing valuable drilling time, especially on techniques that I’d already learned once; I really, really wanted the extra reps. But now I’m taking 1-2 nights a week off, and I think it’s helping everything overall.
I have some goals for next year, and I am really looking forward to getting back in the gym to start on them. One of these goals terrified me for the last half of 2011, but I’ve decided for 2012 that I do actually want to strive for it. Another goal is to be more healthy in general, using BJJ as a part of that. But that goal also includes cooking better again (I’ve started slacking in the last few months, but I’ve got 3 great Paleo cookbooks that I’ve already started cooking from), sleeping more/better, incorporating more pre-hab & core training work, possibly adding strength training and/or yoga, and giving my body enough recovery time — and looking for overall balance.
So here’s a “So long, sucker!” to 2011, and an “It’s about time you showed up!” to 2012. 🙂