Thursday, August 5, 2010


Yes, I still have ego. Yes, it made me cry tonight. No, I don't foresee that stopping anytime soon. What.

More single-leg defenses, more drilling (this time with Maya, a supremely flexible female blue belt with whom I had to make sure I wasn't trying too hard), and a few more live go's. New John---same story, beating him pretty handily, about a step and a half ahead of him. Freddy--new guy, Jeremy's wrestling buddy from Augsburg [or wherever the hell he went]--is small but wickedly explosive and fast. He'll be a pain very soon. Klint talks about the guard for a bit, saying "when someone is in your guard, you want them to feel like they're on a tightrope 50,000 feet in the air." Jeremy (after a decent pause): "Do airplanes even fly that high?" [Laughter] Klint (smiling): "The better your guard, the higher the tightrope." After class, I asked Klint a technical question and then, as no one else seemed to be looking to train immediately, I asked if he wanted to work.

Now, I know he's going to beat me, and that he's going to beat me soundly within an inch of my life before I realize what's happening. That isn't what bothers me. Neither is the roll itself---the roll, I feel pretty OK about both when it's happening and immediately afterwards. Nothing great, and nothing like a breakthrough, but nothing embarrassing and nothing like I'm skipping basic ideas when I'm rolling. So he throttles me a handful of times, armlocks a few, and only once do I feel like I fell into something that I knew was coming. I recognized a butterfly guard sweep as he was locking it in---I couldn't defend it, but I saw what he was doing, so that's a step up. Once, he had me elevated, did something that I'm sure was beautiful to watch, but seemed from where I hung like he spun me twice in the air and caught me in armlock position. [At this point, apparently most of the people from class were watching; Jeremy deadpanned: "Chris was just at 50,000 feet."] After, I asked for some feedback. And it was "commit to a side when you're trying to pass guard...make me commit, and then react to that." It was, almost literally, "Do what I've been telling you to do for the last four weeks." So I thanked him, slapped hands again, and slunk off to the changing room. Thankfully, everyone was gone but Andy, Jeremy, and Klint, and all three stayed on the mat for a few minutes; the tears that dropped onto my gi were mine and mine alone.

That he destroys me doesn't bother me. That he beats me is obvious and a no-brainer, and fighting that would be tilting at windmills. I was getting to better positions, but I wasn't maintaining them. The first part made me feel great, then my sails would lose all wind with the second part. I'm sure part of it was being unfamiliar with being in anything resembling a dominant position against Klint, part (a lot) of it was my own technical flaws, and part of it was complacency. I like to think that I've gotten better about not having an ego when it comes to jiu jitsu. I tell myself that, while I'm nowhere near enlightened, I'm doing pretty fucking good about my mental game and my emotional investment and recognizing how far into the abyss I have yet to travel. I realize that I'm lying, or at least ignoring a large part of my own personality. I like winning. I like being good at things. I like being remarkable among the guys in the room. I don't need to be the best (though that's pretty fucking sweet when it happens), but I like to give the best at least something of a fight. And I need to let that go.

Really, what I think it comes down to is that I want to be getting better at a much faster pace than I am. And with the amount of time that I have to devote to jiu jitsu (which is never enough but which is also roughly every possible minute I can squeeze into my schedule), I don't know that I am able to get better any faster. I'm doing what my instructor tells me to do: I'm going to open mat practice so that I can roll with other people and other body types, I'm trying to pay attention to being technical instead of relying on strength and athleticism (and chastising myself when I notice otherwise), I'm rolling with people who are better than me and getting waxed. I can expect nothing less than what happened tonight. Klint's a black belt. I'm obviously not. In fact, I'm six months from walking in off the street, and I'm testing for my third stripe tomorrow. I have nothing to complain about. I just want to be better.

Test tomorrow, hopefully more jits Saturday (so long as I don't have a restaurant shift in the morning), and then more and more until school starts. So that's great. And if anyone has any way to just drop your ego curbside, let me know in the comments. Cause that would be priceless.

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