Old Time Rock and Roll

I was feeling anxious about who I would drill with in the advanced class at LBJJC on Wednesday (because my favorite partner wasn’t there) then when it came time to pair up, I saw someone try to partner with Sir Conan, but he shook his head no, and looked over at me. I don’t know if Conan noticed the anxiety on my face, or if it was just my lucky day, but I gladly accepted the invitation to be his partner!

Conan and meConan was my main instructor for my first few years of Jiu-Jitsu at the dojo, and in my last post when I said that I felt like some people didn’t take me seriously when I started training, Conan definitely wasn’t one of them. He has always tried to make all of his students feel welcome, and now he is one of the owners and instructors at Lincoln BJJ, but I don’t get to train with him very often, so it was awesome partnering with him on Wednesday. When we were at the dojo, he wouldn’t let us call him “Sensei” and I’m not sure at what point I decided to knight him as Sir Conan instead, but I think he deserves the respect, being the first Knight of the Rectangular Mat in Lincoln. He also has many nicknames: CoCo, Bronan, Top, The Boss, The Man, The Barbarian, etc.

The current theme in the advanced classes is half-guard (because Professor Greg said he saw some bad technique during the all-school training session last Saturday), and we drilled the torque sweep this week. When I was practicing it with Conan, at one point he pulled his arm out and posted, so I couldn’t complete the sweep and I just stopped, until he pointed out that he had let go of the whizzer, then I said “Duh!”, and took his back. He told me “No tunnel vision!”, which is a problem I think I still have at times when rolling, because I get so focused on one thing that I miss other possibilities, but I’m happy to report that I was able to pull off the torque sweep a couple times during positional sparring on Monday and Wednesday, and I also completed several passes (although none of those successes were on Conan, there’s a reason they call him Top ;).

Beware the old guy in a sport where the majority of young guys quit.During class on Wednesday, Conan remarked that if it wasn’t for Jiu-Jitsu, he and I would probably both be dead, which might be a slight exaggeration, because we’re not that old, but we definitely wouldn’t be as healthy and happy as we are. I’m really glad that all those years ago, Conan saw the Rickson Gracie documentary “Choke”, and set out to learn BJJ (in a state that was basically a Jiu-Jitsu desert at the time), because if he hadn’t begun training and eventually teaching at the dojo, it’s doubtful that I would’ve ever started grappling!

Nothing to Prove

Actual photo of Conan!

Sir Conan has said he’s glad he didn’t start training Jiu-Jitsu until he was older, because by then he’d left his competitive days behind, so he had nothing left to prove. Not that he hasn’t competed in BJJ, it’s just that he doesn’t feel the same pressure as he did when he was younger, and now he’s really only in competition with himself.

Although I began grappling at the same age as Conan, when I started Jiu-Jitsu I felt like some of my fellow students took me as a joke, so I did think I had something to prove, and sometimes I pushed myself too hard because of it. I wanted to be taken seriously, I wanted to be able to keep up, and I didn’t want to be a burden to my teachers or training partners.

Whenever someone acted like I was a waste of their time, it reaffirmed my insecurities, and made me want to show them they were wrong. The last thing I wanted to do was seem weak, so when I first injured my knee in Jiu-Jitsu class several years ago, I didn’t even stop rolling right away, and I didn’t take much time off afterward (also partially because I was already addicted ;), but I now realize how stupid that was, and since then I’ve had ongoing issues with my knee.

Professor Greg once told me that recovery is an important part of BJJ, and I believe him, so when I recently  tweaked my back in class, I resolved that I wouldn’t return to training until it no longer hurt and I knew it wasn’t serious, which thankfully only took a week. I was able to fully participate in the advanced class Monday night, but if my back had started bothering me again during training, I would have stepped out, and I wouldn’t have given a flying triangle fuck if someone had thought I was just being lazy and using it as an excuse, because my own opinion is the only one that really matters to me anymore.

Nothing to prove. Everything to improve.I guess I’ve finally gotten to the point where I believe that if all of the time and energy I’ve invested in Jiu-Jitsu doesn’t prove that I deserve respect, then nothing will, and I’m not going to risk my body to try to change someone’s mind. I will push as hard as I can to improve myself, but I’ll no longer go beyond what’s safe or smart to try to prove myself to anyone.