Saturday, March 19, 2011

Belt test review...epic fail.

Warning: This is one of those rambling emotional might want to skip this one if you're sick of hearing about the waterworks. 

My instructors did a blue belt test review for me today, and unfortunately it looks like I don't know the curriculum as well as I thought I did.  We got there at 9, which gave us about two and a half hours until regular class started.  I thought that would have been plenty of time to do the review, and then maybe go grab some breakfast before class.

BIG mistake.  We barely finished in time.  It seemed like there was still material that I either didn't know, or saw just once before (and this too was from asking one of the blue belts who had recently tested, not from class).  Also, my jiu jitsu memory appears to be like a sieve--I can't remember anything until I've done it multiple times, even if I just did it the day before.  Then there were the moves that I thought I knew, but I was doing it wrong.  I know a big part of it is obviously me, but I can't help but feel frustrated at the fact that a lot of the curriculum is self-defense, which we don't really work on a whole lot.  I feel like I'm learning things just for a test, and I'm not really sure why these moves are deemed important enough to be in the curriculum but not so important that they're part of the regular rotation of moves taught in class.  Obviously I've had times where I've been out for weeks and I've had to miss classes, but there are just a lot of things that we don't do because they're not really what people come in to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for.  Also, there's a lot of headlock defense stuff that we don't do too much of because...well, BJJ players don't really pull headlocks that much. Going over it again now, I think I know it.  I really need to drill this stuff next week, and go over it in my head at least two times a day.  I really owe them (and the coach's son, for coming in and being my throwing dummy) for coming in on a Saturday morning.

They started class as soon as my review finished.  I was really tired and wanted to go home, but felt bad just leaving as class was starting, so I took a quick break and came back in towards the end of the warm-up.  We did a lot of drilling--basic cross choke, armbar, and triangle from guard, then guard breaks (our choice; we just had to do ten times each).  Then came the "fun" part--one person on bottom, one on top in cross side.  We had 30 seconds for the bottom person to escape and top to mount.  Whoever lost (if anyone) had to do five push-ups.  Then we rotated so the person on bottom stayed and the one on top moved to the next person.  Yup, guess who did about a bajillion push-ups.  Then we worked with one person starting on the back, same kind of deal: back-taker works to submit, back-taken works to escape.  Most people were blue belts or higher, so I wasn't expecting to "win" any of these rounds, but I kept getting frustrated and more and more upset at how completely useless my supposedly almost-blue belt-level BJJ was.  I was tired from not being able to sleep well the night before, already working for over two hours before class even started, and for some reason I just couldn't get out of my head the feeling that I was being picked on for being the smallest one in class.  Not like for fun, but by the other smaller people, because I'm smaller than them and they can finally work on someone so they take full advantage of it.  The end of every round was an exercise in holding it together and not crying (or at least, letting people tell they were tears and not sweat).  Our last round, I go with a pretty strong (but not huge) blue belt, and I can feel him really working for his choke.  He has it in, but it's not really applied right, and then right before time ends, he tries to switch arms and instead ends up grinding his forearm into my larynx, sending me into a gross hacking/retching fit.

I know it was an accident.  But the mean negative part of me that's been growing lately is convinced that he was getting frustrated at not being able to choke a little white belt girl and so he did what he had to do to make me tap.  They gave us  a water break after that, but I could feel myself on the edge of a breakdown, so I discretely changed and left, hoping no one would try to talk to me on the way out.

There's something more that's wrong than just frustration with jiu jitsu, I know this.  Even as I write this, just thinking about it is making me emotional again.  Part of me is turning into an emotional wreck that cries when something is hard.  The other part is turning into a nasty beast that blames everyone else for her problems.  This is everything I used to not be and I hate it and I'm scared.  I want to say it's just vet school frustration and the jiu jitsu on top is what pushes me over the edge, but what if it's not?

Later I found out that one of my coaches thinks I'm having too-frequent breakdowns in class.  He saw the whole thing that happened yesterday, and saw that they guy didn't intentionally go for a calf crusher and thought I might have overreacted a little.  I will readily admit: I don't think he was going for a calf crusher.  I don't think that was his intention at all.  But I'm still upset that, to me, it felt like he didn't release me until I tapped, even after I yelled out.  And then he brought up another episode that happened last week, when Jess decided to grab me, turn me upside down (pinning my arms to my side in the process), and then let me drop down a little.  I started freaking out and it just got worse once she put me down.  No, I clearly didn't want to cry.  I don't think it was an appropriate reaction.  But is it overreacting?  I don't know.  Maybe he can be turned upside down, arms pinned to his sides, and feel like he was being dropped on his head.  And the worst part was that I felt like if I struggle to get out, I WOULD have fallen on my head, with no way to protect myself.  I had ZERO control in that situation, and it sucked.  I know she's just having fun, but she's not that much heavier than I am.  This is another one of those picking-on-the-small-person moments--she's not doing it be mean, but I feel like she was taking a little too much advantage of the fact that I'm smaller than her and she can throw me around.  And she's a brown belt, so it's not like I could really do anything to stop her.  She felt really bad about it after and apologized, so I don't think this kind of thing is going to happen again, but I just hate that it's coming up again.  I don't like it when I cry, and I don't like being reminded of it.

Anyways, I went to a nature park after I left the school.  I blasted My Chemical Romance on the way, which made me feel better right away.  One of the guides had their red-tailed hawk out, so he talked about her for awhile, and then their vet was also outside sunning their albino box turtle, so I talked to her for a bit also before going on a walk.  I felt so much lighter just seeing the hawk, and I really feel like I cleared my head.  Of course, revisiting it all right now brought all those feelings back, but I'm hoping that now I've let them out, they'll stay in the interwebz and out of my head.  I mean, life is good, right?  I am so lucky.  I'm in school for my dream career (of which I'm nearly 3/4 of the way through), I'm in good health, I learn BJJ at a school with two black belts (who came in for ME on a Saturday morning to do a test review!) and a high-level brown belt and it's not that far away or too expensive,  I finally have pets in my life, a family that loves me, people who care about me, food in the fridge and a roof over my head.  What more could I possibly want? 


  1. IMO, an instructor should never blame a student for getting upset: if their students aren't comfortable for whatever reason, then they need to try and resolve the issue. Mental health is just as important as physical health.

  2. @slideyfoot I guess I should clarify that point: He was more concerned about my emotional well-being that lead to the episodes, rather than the actual breakdowns. Honestly, part of my annoyance has to do with the fact that he talked to my boyfriend about it, but not me. I may have sent him a rather blunt Facebook message, because frankly, I'm getting annoyed at the fact that they all talk to him about me, and only occasionally talk to ME about things

  3. I know exactly how you feel.
    Sometimes when someone in class accidentally does an illegal move or just cranks it by mistake it does make you cry a bit. Its really annoying too because it looks like your overreacting when its just a natural response. grr guys should have that response too. :/