“Just tell ’em you’re trying to cure a seven-year ache
See what else your old heart can take” -Roseanne Cash
In a couple of days I will have officially been grappling for seven years, which is crazy! I was two months away from turning forty when I started, and I only intended it to be a supplement to my Karate training, it was just supposed to be part-time, but Jiu-Jitsu quickly took me over, and I’ve now been doing it longer than I did Karate. I’ve also surpassed every goal I set for myself in the beginning of my Jiu-Jitsu training, because I mainly just wanted to have a little knowledge and comfort on the ground, to not have panic attacks when someone was on top of me, and to stop crying before, during, and/or after class, so mission accomplished!
Becoming a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was never a part of my agenda when I started grappling (especially since there weren’t even any BJJ schools in Lincoln at the time), and now out of the seven years that I’ve been training, I’ve actually been a blue belt for the better part of six of them (three at the dojo, three at Lincoln BJJ). After so much time, it can start to feel as though blue is all I’ve ever be, and although I currently have three stripes, purple belt still seems kind of like a dream, so if I ever do make it there, I’m going to consider it to be one hell of an accomplishment!
When you’ve been training as long as I have, I think you can start to take for granted all that you gain from it, which is one of the reasons I occasionally look back at where I started, so I can appreciate how far I’ve come. Even just a few years ago, when LBJJC first opened, I would be so exhausted and sore after class that I could barely move, or even think, but it’s not like that anymore. Of course I do still experience aches and pains from training, but the human body has an amazing ability to adapt to whatever you put it through, so these days when I start thinking “BJJ is hard!”, I simply remind myself that it’s not nearly as hard as it used to be (even though I keep getting older ;). I believe my body has probably adjusted to BJJ faster than my brain has, but understanding and remembering techniques and concepts has definitely become less complicated for me.
I can’t say there haven’t been many times in the last seven years when I’ve wanted to quit, times when I’ve thought that I wasn’t cut out for it, or when my social anxiety has made it difficult for me to feel like I belong, but the only way I’ve lasted is I’ve just kept going. To paraphrase the popular saying “A seven-year blue belt is just a white belt who never gave up”. I guess what it comes down to is that no matter how hard I’ve struggled, I still love grappling, and I’ve never accepted that I was done yet, because I know I still have more Jiu-Jitsu to do!