This last week taught me a pretty strong lesson, a pretty strong theme. I would like to say I've had my first black belt match (official black belt is on Saturday, September 21, 2019). I entered a UAEJJF tournament with brown and blacks combined. I lost to the black belt who won the whole thing. As strange as it is, when I explain this and people look at me and say 'I'm sorry, you'll get her next time'. It really irritates me, usually it doesn't, and they mean well. But really irritates me this time.
I think it's honesty because I am incredibly proud of my performance. No I didn't win, but I was executing things that Clint (our black belt from PTT West Kelowna, he is my inspiration that a smaller person can be an absolute savage), things he showed me only four days earlier. And it was working.
It's because I gave it all I had on those mats that day. Every single day our best is going to look different, that is what my absolute best looked like that day. It wasn't the best that won the tournament, but it was my best that day. I did the best I knew how with the tools that I had. Now I know what I need to work on and where I need to sharpen.
As my hand wasn't raised, I realized as I move into my black belt it isn't going to be about winning all the time. Sometimes it is about simply being better. Being better than I was yesterday, executing techniques better than I did last time, being better next tournament. simply being better. It's the harsh reality of life that we can't always win. Doesn't matter how much, passion, and work you put in. Sometimes your best just won't be enough. Whatever it looks like that day.
Sometimes being better is means doing better mentally, sometimes it means being better physically, sometimes it is just maturity to accept the loss graciously and acknowledge the sadistic fire the 1% have in us that were going to do everything it takes to win next time.
The make our best even better.
It really comes down to a numbers game. The more times I do this, the less the odds are against me. The more times I compete, the more I win - but there is also the opposite side of the coin, the more I lose. The more times I am on the mats, the more I learn. The more times I eat healthy the more I will feel better. It's simply a numbers game. The trick is to manipulate those numbers so it is quality, not quantity.
Yes being on the mats are important, but what type of training are we talking about here. Hard wrestling, drilling, or technique? Yes tournaments are important, but are walking into the hardest tournaments in the world or the easiest divisions you can find to squeak out wins?
It's about constantly pushing yourself. I know that if I am uncomfortable, I am pushing myself. I am going in the right direction. The mind always wants comfort, of course it does. Because if it's comfortable, that means it's safe. There is so danger. But we shouldn't always listen to this, we need to train, to push boundaries, to eat healthy, to grow, to live. Not to fall into the trap of our soft culture. Life is on the other end of comfortable.
This tournament last weekend was the hardest one I have competed at by far. From the Jiu-Jitsu to the venue to the cutting weight. I walked in for weigh ins on Saturday evening and the venue blew me away. It had balconies that overlooked three staged mat spaces, with professional cameras on all three. On Sunday before competing I waited in this gymnasium on warmup mats where there was more than enough room for everyone (I have never warmed up on warmup mats before, because either there is none, or if there is they are so damn packed you can barely get a big toe on them). I warmed and stretch and waited to be fetched to go downstairs to wait some more behind a curtain with the rest of my division and a few more.
I waited there, watching other girls being called and coming back sweaty, wondering what happened in their matches. Sometimes I could see the relief on the winner, or the despair on the loser, or couldn't tell at all. Kind of like some sort of sadistic death row or something. I would know when one picked up her bag and left, and the other sat down to catch her breathe and recover for the next match. The losses aren't taken lately, were with the best in the world today.
My name was called to compete and I left my bag and phone and shoes behind the curtain and followed the ring coordinator to the mat, no waiting, not confusion, no disorganization. We went on those mats and fought with everyone watching. The sound of JP's voice came clear from the balcony above, what a relief. Reminding me of all the small details that would win me my first match (JP owns EDJ Corona, he is an incredible black belt. He is very respected with connections all over the world as he spreads Jiu-Jitsu opening and supporting Academies. His reputation is very correct in saying he is the 'encyclopedia of Jiu-Jitsu' It is a privilege having him in my corner.) I was lead back behind the curtain after my match, the other girl left, I stayed. Lying down on the ground and using my backpack as a pillow as my shaky hands grabbed my phone to check to see my feedback from Superdave and to see what I needed to do before my next match. He is a good coach because he is consistent and relentless. Being honest and telling me what I need to hear, whether I want to hear it or not.
The next girls went out, one of them being the black belt I would go against next. It really irritated me I couldn't watch their match, and didn't have wifi so I couldn't watch their match on my phone (it was all live streamed). I tried to peek through the curtains and was told to back to our area. Superdave was watching from home, sending me fast text updates of who was doing much, sending over as much information as he could as the match unfolded in front of his computer back home in the Okanagan.
I had three matches that day, winning the first. Losing against the black belt, then I moved to the losers bracket and had two matches to fight for bronze. The next match I lost, but barely. Back to the drawing board.
Most people drink after competing. Instead Kim (JP's wife, also a brown belt who competed), at a good dinner and did yoga. Because Monday would start early with a workout, 1.5 hours of BJJ, an afternoon of work, then heading back to the Academy to teach a seminar and another hour of wrestling.
It was a very hard weekend but I loved it. I would rather have it hard than easy, because the moment followed by solving the challenge and overcoming the obstacle makes it so damn worth it. Even if it barely lasts 10 seconds.
My other big win was my weight cut. This doesn’t look like a big accomplishment.
But it is.
Making weight to the lightest I have ever been since is was 15 (over half my life ago).
And feeling good.
When I told Jason (my Strong First Certified personal trainer and nutritionist) I needed to get down to this weight, he knew we could. It’d be hard but we could.
This is the result of doing it right. Not just cutting out water and starving myself.
We have a strong foundation that we built in our first year of training. Figuring out a nutritional plan that is personalized for me was a big part of it.
Now we have a strong enough understanding of my system and success in manipulation that pulled this off.
We wanted to do a trial run but didn’t get an opportunity to do it (because of my competition schedule).
The cut started three weeks ago. Protein and fats, then protein and veggies....it is like a science. How will the body respond, what will even the hormones do, Jason looks at the layers all the way to the cells.
The hardest battles for me were with myself and against my own mind. With only me accountable to stay accountable with what Jay told me to do.
His work is a reflection of my work put in. He tells me what to do, and supports me, but I’m the one who has to do the work. If I’m putting in the work, he is as well. If I’m slacking or not investing in myself how can he invest when I’m not even doing it for myself?
We prepped this for three weeks.
But we have been working closely for two years.
Even with all this there are no guarantees.
Because the human body is so complex there are always unpredictables.
But we did it.
What I’m getting at is, this isn’t a quick fix, this isn’t something that’ll happen over a month or two. To really dig into the deep layers of work and success one has to build it off a foundation.
But first have to build the foundation.
Then get to work.
Just like Jiu-Jitsu.
Jason is a black belt in nutrition and strength, humble but knowledgeable. I didn’t realize the science behind nutrition and performance until I began to experience it. I don’t always understand what he tells me to or why, but I do it (although he does try to explain it in fool proof terms!!)
But when the strength and power comes through, this time the weight cut.
It blows my mind.
This is what professional athleticism looks like.
With the best trainer in the Okanagan.
He will put in what you put in. So if your ready to get to work, let’s go.
Shoutout to Kim (Instructor at PTT Corona) as well who helped me in the last stages of the water cut, made sure I was okay, took me to weigh ins, and got food with me after 🙌 her support and encouragement is exactly what I needed.
This is the youtube video I watched again and again as I cut the few pounds of water weight: