I guess I should have put “spoiler alert” in front of the title. Oh well. Now you know how the NY Open went for me. I am not really going to focus on the details of the tournament but for those of you who like such things here is a brief synopsis: I pulled half guard (despite my coach and I agreeing right before I stepped on the mat that I was not going to pull guard no matter what) and then got smashed from the top and finished with a Kimura.
I feel obligated to warn you that my typical cycle after a loss is a day or two of self-loathing and doubt followed by a few days of figuring out what went wrong followed by resolve to keep training. So what you are about to read is written while I am in the throes of my “I am the worst jiu-jitsuer who ever jiu-jitsued” phase. Probably I should apologize for that but I am too bogged down in self-pity to care.
I try not to get upset just because I lost. I don’t so much care about the win or the loss but every time I compete I go out there hoping to be able to do all that I am capable of. Lately I know I have fallen short (really short) of this and that is what tears me up afterwards.
I know that technically I did things wrong or else she wouldn’t have been able to submit me but I also know that my biggest problem right now is between my ears. I try to focus on the tournament leading up to it. I train aggressively, I visualize what I want to do, I tell myself that I am good enough to roll with whoever might show up and give them a hard time. It all works for me as I am preparing to train. And then I step on the mat.
As I am standing there, staring at the mat, looking at my opponent, I feel the nerves take hold of me. They take control of my mind and make me do things like pull guard despite the fact that my coach and I both agreed I didn’t want to. They take hold of my body and weigh me down so I can’t move like I normally can and I lay there like a rock panicking.
It seems that lately my pattern has been to not draw things out and lose with points but to be submitted quickly and early, without having any kind of offense to speak of. Like I said I don’t mind losing (much) but I feel like I do it so spectacularly that I can’t help but feel shame as I step off the mat. I feel shame that my coach drove all the way to NYC and I was on the mat for 90 seconds. I feel shame that my friends and teammates in attendance watched me get dominated. I feel shame every time I have to answer a text from a friend asking how I did.
In my brain I know I shouldn’t feel ashamed. I went out there. I tried. I did more than a lot of other people do. My coach doesn’t care if we win or lose, he just wants us to go try. Many people got submitted at the open, probably even some of them earlier than me, it is highly unlikely that my match was the talk of the tournament. My friends are probably not going to stop hanging out with me and seek the winner of my match because they don’t want to be associated with a loser anymore. But in my heart I can’t help but feel like a failure.
I went to the tournament with a teammate and friend of mine. I have always admired her presence when she competes. She is the nicest person off the mat but you can see a change come over her as she is about to compete. She becomes extremely focused and intense. Saturday was no different. I watched her fight like a beast for 3 tough matches and take silver in her division, only losing on points in the final.
As happy as I was for her, I couldn’t help but wonder why it was so easy for her and so hard for me. Being a former fat kid, I don’t have a history of competing in athletics. Am I just the proverbial old dog trying to learn a new trick? Do I just not have the mentality to compete? Am I too old? As a 33 year old woman I am lucky if the tournament I am fighting even has a masters divisions, let alone anyone registered in said division.
I was thinking all this as I walked off the mat and ran into my teammate and friend who was also there to compete. I told him that I wasn’t sure I could keep competing because I didn’t know if I’d ever have the mentality for it. He told me to remember it is a journey and I am not there yet.
I am somewhat of a stubborn person (sorry for those of you who know me and may have choked while laughing, I should have warned you not to take in any liquids before reading that) and I am also a fighter. Sometimes I doubt that but you don’t keep coming back to jiu-jitsu night after night if there isn’t something inside of you that wants to fight and win. These characteristics make it really hard for me to give up. Ultimately I’d rather be a loser than a quitter. I also truly believe that if I keep making myself compete I will figure out how to do it better.
So although I am bummed out to have lost and feeling pretty awful still, I know that I will keep going. I don’t really have any more time to dwell on this loss as I am competing in Grappler’s Quest this weekend. Hopefully I can channel this upset and anger into my fights there and have a better show. As I am fond of saying, the only answer to jiu-jitsu problems is more jiu-jitsu.