Also known as "Two years into jiu jitsu and what've I got to show for it?"
I love jiu jitsu. It's a blessing and a curse.
I should interject a little disclaimer here... technically, I have been "grappling" for more than two years. But I start counting my life in jiu jitsu at the start of October 2008, when I joined my team at Relson Gracie Austin with about 6 weeks of haphazard instruction from another school under my belt.
Actually, I started training another art called kajukenbo, to get in shape for my then-upcoming wedding April 26, 2008, in February 2008. Part of kajukenbo is jiu jitsu, and I enjoyed that more than the rest of kajukenbo. Sibak (now Sifu) Robert Reed was my first instructor in kajukenbo and he, my other trainer Tom Krausz, and Sifu Tony Morel all ended up influencing me towards Brazilian jiu jitsu.
I don't really count my pre-Relson Gracie training because it didn't seem consistent or planned out and whatever techniques I practiced were not retained. I don't mean to discount the hard work and effort and time from my instructors and I did benefit from just getting used to being smashed, not sticking my arms out QUITE so much, and so on.. so sincerely a big thank you to Tom and Robert.
In the end, whether I've done jits for 2 years or 56 months or whatever is only relevant if you're seeking affirmation that you're making progress, that you're not making progress, or anything else in comparison to me. Which is a little silly, because we're all different peeps with different attributes, lives, instructors, whatever. On the other hand, it's interesting for me as a mental exercise to sum up what I've learned and what I haven't... so, here's where I'm at as I begin year three...
I've made great friends in Austin and around the world.
I've seen friends leave my school, and others leave the activity.
I've learned to see my body differently, and my body is different to say the least.
I've thrown myself body and soul into this and rarely stopped to count the cost.
I've learned more about how I learn, how to teach, and how to practice.
I've seen grown men cry, tremble with rage, laugh with abandon.
I've seen men in the most superficially compromising of positions who think nothing of it.
I've wept like a child, bled out the nose, counted bruises and been proud of my injuries.
I went from having a ponytail almost 2" in diameter with hair to the small of my back to about half that thickness and chin-length. There will be tumbleweeds of the Red Menace at my gym until 2020 I'm sure.
I've crowed when a noob looks up and has that ecstatic look on their face that comes with the first submission or escape. And I am still that noob regularly.
I have witnessed, participated in, and sometimes resolved silly drama, internecine rivalries, petty squabbles and seriously intense conflict.
I've discovered that even the most pain-in-the-ass person is probably just searching for someone to love them.
I'm still searching for ways to feel love for them and show it.
I've failed to find balance in life and have given jits too much, too often.
I've displayed childish temper and impatience with myself and others.
I've spent too much money on too many gis, instructionals, books and so on.
I haven't even WATCHED the 500gb of instructionals I have.
I finally learned how to do a triangle-- and I see them-- and I go for them-- and...
I've even finished triangles. On men.
I adore judo. I try to do it, with minimal success.
I am a top player.
I love to smash on people and my favorite position is the crossface.
My favorite submissions are armbars and chokes.
My short little legs fit in places where bigger peeps' legs don't.
I can no longer avoid playing guard so I'm doing it. And begrudgingly admitting it's fun. Sometimes.