I'm too competitive when I roll and it's getting in the way of my learning. Allie just wrote a great blog post dealing with perfectionism and its impact on training, which prompted a LOT of reflection and self-analysis on my part.
I've never been a girly-girl in the sense of being intimidated by close physical proximity. I say that because if I had, I think a little extra smashiness would be acceptable from me (even worth encouraging) just to compensate.
But I stepped onto a slippery slope a while back and just realized how far down I've tumbled.
I don't have a good enough anything to merit compliment, except for maybe my crossface. But I am easily motivated by praise. (I'd rather let a pack of wild dogs eat me alive than run more than a few miles, but if you tell me I'm a good girl, I'll keep running, and running, and running..) So, a while back (months ago) during a roll here and there with some people known for their rough, smashy, even rude style, I know there were times I got pissed off by their crossface, their wristlock, their overall smashy style. So I tried to smash them back-- and they said "good girl." A monster was born.
I couldn't hold people down or make them give up what I wanted, but I discovered a blend of pain compliance, legit pressure, and roughness that seemed to help make up for my lack of real size or strength. I passed halfguard without getting swept as much, I had more time to work for arms and necks in cross sides, I got free from attacks. This positively reinforced my roughness.. and then I started getting these rueful, bantering comments and smiles about my mean crossface and my incredible pressure. Well, that's just like watermelon on a hot day...quite the reward.
But now I'm finding out that I don't have the body type to be a legit smashy player (especially against my guy teammates) AND when push comes to shove and people get irked by things I do which hurt, they don't want to roll with me as much. Or when they do, they go a little harder, a little heavier. And then a cycle is born. I go harder in response, but I don't have the same physical attributes or skill set, so when they win, we're probably BOTH upset and frustrated; I blame it on being muscled, I push harder next time, rinse, repeat.
I crested that cycle the other day when a good friend got mad at me. I was going for a farside armbar from cross side and I "stabbed them in the heart" (as instructed) with my hipside elbow as I rotated around. Apparently I got right into some tender cartilage and they yelped... and then they got mad because they had sensed my tension (frustration at not winning!) and interpreted the move as retaliation.
Well, nothing tells you that you have a problem quite like a friend thinking you'd do something to hurt them on purpose out of childish anger. I've done a lot of soul searching since, and another friend and training partner told me that yes, several of my favorite people feel like I am pretty rough.. not that I do it on purpose to cause pain, but it is painful.
I was crushed. What I want above ALL else in jiu jitsu is smooth elegant fluid effortless jits. I want to work WITH my partner and my attributes. I would love, someday, for someone to say that they simply couldn't do anything I didn't allow, that they had only one option for movement, but that I seemed to use no force or energy to accomplish it. And I want to have joy on the mats in the meantime. Joy with my friends and eagerness to train together. I don't want to be a meathead. It doesn't matter that I'm short, soft and small-- my knuckles still hurt and my gi can still smother. And training isn't a tournament.
Aside from all that, I want to be happy while I'm training. So maybe I need the whole self-talk about learning is more important than winning, and no matter how hard I try I can't "make" myself learn any faster or do any better just by pushing harder.
I need help backing off of the competitiveness that has been a part of my psyche since forever. I want to keep on loving jiu jitsu without being sad and frustrated and mad.
So, open apology to my training partners for those times you thought to yourself that I was being extra rough. It wasn't intentional, I was just being ignorant, too hard on myself, and too accepting of sloppy, imprecise bullshit. Call me on it please, so I can learn how to be different.