Five months in, well, over five months in at the time of publishing this post.
I received my second stripe on Wednesday, 08/16/17.
Isn’t it funny, how our perception of time works? I can feel both the “speed” at which time has passed since starting jiu-jitsu and I feel the “sluggishness” at which that same time seems to have passed as I chase after my goals.
There have been a lot of reps, rolls, sweat, soreness, bumps, bruises, fun and frustration since I received my first stripe. I know I’m not the only one on my team to invest this way. I know the actions I’ve taken are only a few drops in the bucket of the overall journey that is known as jiu-jitsu; I have a long way to go on this journey. I’m still a beginner and I take a healthy portion of humble pie every time I train. I will say that while I might not be the “best” by any stretch. I am continually bettering myself compared to the last time I trained. Me VS Me, I am always improving.
As I mentioned in the linked post above, Coach looks for certain things in each individual for promotion. Coach is admittedly slower to give out stripes – he jokes that when you get a belt or a stripe from him, that it’s probably late by a month…or six. But his intent is clear and methodology solid in the approach: he wants the student to have no doubt in their mind that the rank they received wasn’t “given” to them. They’ve put the work in, they understand, they apply, they improve – and it shows. In other words: they earned it, 100%.
The last time, he was looking for me to slow down; to be more aware and conscientious of what was going on around me. This time around, one of the things he was looking for was aggressiveness. Back in late June/early July, I’d committed to my Coach and team that I would participate in the tournament in September and I knew I needed to get more aggressive. Since then, I had been making a deliberate effort to do just that. It’s not necessarily a strength thing, but a constant moving, looking for opportunities, being proactive, hunting for openings and going on the attack; having a clear direction in where I wanted to go and if one angle didn’t work, looking for another one and taking calculated risks to try other angles and learn.
On the night of my promotion, I’d been working on my aggressiveness for a few weeks at least. The first hour felt great during live rolls. I was managing my top game better than I had. I was transitioning from one position to another, maintaining dominance and hunting for the openings and actually seeing them. I noticed that I was actually comfortable on top, things were just… clicking. We went to bow out. Consciously working to control my breathing, dripping sweat, mind racing from the success of the rolls and examining how things fell in to place and then boom both a teammate and I received our second stripes. Feelings of joy, thankfulness, elation, pride, surprise and even relief flooded through me once again, for me and also for my teammate.
Regardless, it’s cool to be able to look back and take stock of how far I’ve come in this short time span. I feel good with the progress I’ve made. It definitely feels like I’ve crossed a threshold and I’m grateful to pass this particular “mile marker” along the way.
As of the publishing of this post, our team is 23 days out from the tournament. For the great majority of us, this will be our first time competing and we are pushing each other to be better with every class we attend.
I’m looking forward to seeing how we perform individually and overall as a team.
Until the next post, my friends: Pursue Mastery.
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