Jun 11, 2013

Panic, Loss, & Growth

For those who do not recognize it, This is the face of panic... MY panic.

I remember this exact moment of being trapped under this large man, whom quickly dismantled my game and left me no room. All my jiu jitsu technique was gone from my mind, and I squirmed and bench pressed my way for tiny openings to breathe. I was being systematically crushed. Panic washed over me because "nothing was working". I desperately wanted to escape, not to try and win, but just to get away from the pressure. I was exhausted, I was mentally broken, I wanted out.

20 seconds later, he gave me my wish with a looping lapel choke.

I laid there for a few seconds looking up at the gym ceiling's lights. What happened? Why had my Jiu Jitsu failed me?  Shame overcame me as I made eye contact with my beautiful wife. I had let her down. I walked off the mat towards my team with my head hung low and after a few sympathetic back slaps I retreated to the bleachers to be alone.

I was unsure of what to take away from this experience. I had let my team, my wife,and myself down. I had endured a few weeks of stress preparing for this event and had dreaded it since signing up for it. Overall I had not enjoyed anything about this experience...

That was then...(May 2012).

Here is a little of what I have learned...

I look back on that experience as the catalyst for significantly improving my game. That thought of being trapped and immobilized became the motivating factor for working on escapes, controlling the hips with my open guard, for losing weight, and ultimately pushing me to a new level in my BJJ. Without that "reality assessment" of my game, I would not have the much more rounded game I have today.

I also re-watched the competition footage again, and focused solely on the people in the background. I was so worried I had every eye on me, and felt like each mistake I made was loudly discussed by the viewing public. Each of the people in attendance watching, judging, commenting. I came to the quick realization that NOBODY cared whether I won or lost (I mean people not directly in my life). Some people in the video are causally watching the matches, or focusing on warming up, or conversing with the people around them. I laugh at how egotistical I was in thinking everyone would drop whatever they were doing to watch/comment on my match, and how nervous I was that that might happen.

Finally, since this competition I have met and befriended the person I competed against. Before the competition, I googled all of my potential opponents names to learn about them. I became stuck on him because he seemingly had the most experience and outweighed me by 30 or so pounds. I built him up in my head so much that I feared facing him. When we were slated to meet in that tournament, I was already nervous before stepping on the mat. Fast forward from that competition to a month ago when I changed to Dan Hale's school and I was shocked to find out he trained there. During our first class together I introduced myself, and we partnered together for drills. He was pleasant and laid back; not the person I had built up in my head... We casually rolled during regular training and I found that I was much more effective this time around.
I guess what I learned is that in competition, I am my own worst enemy. I build things up in my head so much that I have a huge adrenaline dump afterwards. In the end I have to accept loss as a possibility, and understand that working myself up too much was my own undoing.  


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