Also, I just passed a year-and-a-half of training jiu jitsu. That makes this as good a time as any to try to evaluate my game and jiu jitsu's effect on the rest of my life.
In short, my game is expanding and improving. I'm more comfortable working for takedowns, I'm feeling my body move right into natural transitions without thinking about it--things are progressing. Considering the state of my knee and the pressures of my life outside the academy, I've come pretty far in a short period of time. I attribute a lot of that to my wife's patience and understanding. She doesn't
I have noticed that I'm not spending as much time in closed guard, but that changes when I'm facing a higher belt who is bigger than me. Well, that's not quite accurate; when I train with a bigger advanced belt, I find myself struggling to get to closed guard and oftentimes failing. That seems to be what my body reverts to in times of stress. I need to work a bit more on being comfortable scrambling and moving to what's open rather than straining to get to a specific place. You know--move what you can move and take what's open rather than refusing to do anything but what I already have in my mind. (This is a lesson for my professional life as well.)
I have also noticed how big a role confidence plays in my performance. I would never describe myself as a modest man, but having been embarrassed by smaller opponents early in my jiu jitsu life, I know the benefit of respecting your opponent no matter what your pre-conceived notions may be. I sometimes have trouble finding the balance between respecting my opponent and entering a roll expecting to get thrashed. It becomes less of an issue the more I train with someone, but I need to change that. In a tournament setting (let alone a self-defense situation), I'm more than likely going to know nothing about my opponent. I can't go into either of those confrontations expecting to get thrashed. I don't expect that to be a problem off the mats--most of the world doesn't know jiu jitsu, and according to Henry Akins, it's like having special powers in that you can be in a physical confrontation and emerge unscathed. But training, I want to get over that hump sooner rather than later.
So I'm almost 19 months into training. I've attended two black belt seminars (regular life scheduling got in the way of the rest), something on the order of 275 classes, probably 30-40 open mat sessions, competed in a tournament, and received a blue belt. For the next year, I intend to attend the same number of seminars, compete at least once (Oct 15 US Grappling in Chicago if the chips fall as I expect) but hopefully twice, and work on many many aspects of my game. Oh yeah, and I'll most likely become a father. So that's weird. But hey, I hear they make small gis for small people, so that kid will be training young. I just have to decide whether I want it to start with judo or jiu jitsu. Decisions decisions...