Posts Tagged ‘BJJ’

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I Must Not Fear 1

Pull yourself together! Just overcome your fear! It always sounds so corny or easy when people tell you that but it actually can be very difficult.

Last weekend I participated in my first BJJ tournament and I sucked, I lost my two matches and still got away with a bronze medal. But even though I lost, that bronze medal means so much to me – over 20 years ago when I competed in Judo I always dreaded competition day. When I stepped on the mat I was scared and I often blanked. I was afraid of doing the wrong thing so I often did nothing. You remember the colours we always talk about in krav maga? White being oblivious, all the way through yellow, orange and red and the colour we always try to avoid – black. This is where I was, code black, frozen, unable to do anything. I didn’t enjoy competition at all and tried to avoid it like Satan the holy water.

So why would I sign up for a BJJ competition to begin with? We were talking about cross training for Krav Maga and how competition can help you to get better. When rolling mostly with the same people you are getting used to their style and it limits you. When I signed up I was hoping others in my club would follow. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen but it doesn’t really matter.

I was incredibly nervous and anxious, like for my orange belt test. It was my first competition in decades; I read the rules over and over again to make sure to understand them and not to do anything that could get me disqualified. When I stepped on the mat for my first match I tried to focus only on my opponent and also to be active. And I somehow managed to not go into black but was able to do something, I faked one way, used my opponent’s reaction to throw her and got her to the ground. I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to submit her and we went into overtime. Each of us had to take the back of the other and we had to try to escape out of the seatbelt grip with the hooks in as fast as possible. My opponent was a bit faster than me.

Editors note: Though we fully understand the ruleset of the competition she was in (a submission only tournament). Petra should be proud as in a points tournament petra would have dominated as control is an important aspect in these styles. We want to give props to her opponent who showed excellent defensive skills.

I was disappointed in myself. I usually tend to be very hard on myself and that’s not always easy to deal with because it is in my head, my inside voice(s). When somebody else is yelling at me or gives me a hard time I can go away, close the door or hang up the phone. That is impossible with my inside voice. After I also lost my second match I was sad, disappointed and then also relieved because it was over. And then I realized that I also had a bit of fun. I have to train more, put in the effort but it also means that next time I’ll be better prepared, I’ll know a bit more about BJJ competition, the rules etc. It won’t be completely new for me. If I had given in to my fear I would not have made that experience and learned something. Every failure is also a learning experience, unless you die, of course. After the matches were over I started to feel excited because I had stayed and seen it through and this is what that bronze medal stands for.

if you let fear run your life, you don’t have a life.

 

Fear can be good, it makes us more cautious. I’m an analytical person. When I’m in a difficult situation or have to make tough decisions I analyze everything and try to be as rational as possible. When I’m able to understand what makes me feel scared I can somehow handle it better. It doesn’t take the fear away but it helps not to drive me insane.

Petra wins bronze.jpgI also had a little bit of an epiphany when I was in my early twenties and working as a travel rep in Crete. I got into an argument with a co-worker who lost his cool during that argument and started threatening to kill me. He got fired right away and had to leave Crete. I went to the police but they couldn’t do much. It didn’t take long and that guy came back, he had gotten another job at a car rental place. He started stalking me and one night he slashed two of my tires. My car was parked right in front of my apartment. The knife marks on the tires weren’t pretty and it was a shock for me. At night I kept my windows closed, my door locked. I was incredibly scared! Also because he came back couple nights later to slash my other co-worker’s tires. It took me a long time to get over that fear but it taught me a valuable lesson – if you let fear run your life, you don’t have a life.

 

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Above: What Judo can be!

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Warren in 1980

Some of you may be aware that I am currently in the final stages of being graded to my black belt in judo.  I first started judo several decades (!) ago when I was 10 years old, and then I had to stop at a blue belt level once I entered university.  I was never that enthused about judo when I was younger so when I had the time after I finished school I went onto other things and left judo behind.  Fast forward 30 years and my then 12-year old daughter started taking it, and surprisingly enough she started doing so well in competitions that it inspired me to get back on the road to getting my black belt.  I should mention that I’ll be 55 at the end of the month so it’s never too late to accomplish something!

The first step was to get my brown belt so I started attending the adult classes and slowly, ever so slowly, dusted off the techniques and began to get my timing back.  I was promoted to brown belt within 3 months of my return and then the official clock started on the path to a black belt.  In judo there are very specific requirements as a brown belt in order to be graded to black.  You need a total of 120 points, accumulated through a combination of competitions, time in training, attendance at seminars, volunteering at tournaments, etc.  For older judokas such as myself, you aren’t required to compete and you can gain 30 points per year just by attending regular classes. However, I wanted to speed up the process so I trained to be a referee and began reffing at tournaments several times a year.  The points gained by being a referee probably knocked off at least a year from just attending classes to gain points.  Also, I wanted to give back to the competition community since I fought in tournaments when I was younger.  Although refereeing can be very stressful, it can also be quite enjoyable.  The highlight of my career to date was when I reffed at the BC Winter Games this past February.

Once a brown belt accumulates enough points then there’s one more hoop to jump through before being graded, and that’s having to attend a 10 week kata clinic where you learn 9 specific throwing techniques.  Although it’s not mandatory to attend, it’s highly recommended and serves to make grading that much easier.  You also need your club’s sensei to write the grading board a recommendation letter on your behalf, so if you pull off the attitude that you won’t be attending the clinic then you likely won’t get your recommendation.  So not wanting to leave anything to chance, I signed up.

The kata clinic is held in Steveston every Monday night from 8:45 to 10:15 PM.  I live in Burnaby close to New West, so Steveston is not close and it takes me about 40 min to get there and back.  Plus, it’s at a time when it’s prime time for kicking back and winding down for the day.  Needless to say, I find it a struggle to get my butt to the class.  The clinic started in September, will end in November, and I have 3 more classes to go.  Learning kata isn’t difficult because it’s just a prescribed set of moves, like choreographed dancing, however, if you’ve never done it before then it can be very confusing.  While you’re trying to remember exactly how to pull properly for the throw, you forget that your foot needs to be planted and pivoting instead of moving.  And since there are kata competitions, it’s very important to get it right because it’s well known how good the kata can actually look.  However, the reality is that, like many things in life, it just comes down to practice, practice, practice.  The instructors know the moves like the back of their hands and have been doing the kata for literally decades, so it’s easy for them to demonstrate it.  However, for newbies like myself, we’re doing well if we can replicate the moves without looking like complete idiots.  Learning the kata will also improve my general judo as well, since I’m now being shown more accurately what makes the throws effective.

If all goes according to plan, I will finish the kata clinic on November 5th and be graded

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Warren today

to shodan (black belt) on November 18th.  It will have then been a 3 year long journey from my brown belt, and a 45 year journey since I first started judo, and it will be very rewarding once I can put it on for the first time.  And as proud as I should be, it’s difficult to overlook the fact that my 16-year old daughter got her brown belt in only 3 years and is already on her own journey to get her black belt.  Kids!

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