|photo by Marcus Kowal|
Yesterday I competed in the Samurai Jiu-Jitsu Tournament held by Fabricio Werdum Combat Team. My weight class was 125lbs with Gi on and I had one opponent. I lost. She won. It has been a hard 24+hours since.
I have no qualms about the loss. I make no excuses. She was good. She was strong. At one point during the match I thought, I need more technique. I have been learning at an unusually fast pace but still, knowledge requires time and doing drills over and over and experience in competition. So why have I been unhappy?
I was expected to do well. I was expected to win. With the benefits of my coaches and teammates believing in me also comes the downside of feeling that I have disappointed them by losing. This weighs on me. This hurts me more than a solid shot to the liver. It takes my breath away. I can hardly speak about it before the tears well up. I get melodramatic and think maybe I am not good enough to do this. I panic and think that perhaps the coaches will decide that I have not got what it takes to be their fighter. I wonder why I have chosen this path, “what kind of love is this that keeps me hanging on despite everything it’s doing to me?”
I try to figure out why I lost. I feel my coaches think that I did not try hard enough. Did I not try hard enough? I thought I was doing the best I could. What more was I supposed to do? What went wrong technically? What went wrong mentally? What am I supposed to learn from today? I cannot make sense of it. I am frustrated.
Before I sleep I know that after today comes tomorrow and that tomorrow I will hope again. But I wake up none the wiser and this leaves me stewing in the same confusion and angst. I feel like someone has sucker punched my left eye, it aches and has a hard time staying open. My head, neck and shoulders are tight and hinting at possible malfunction. Can you say psychosomatic? I can, "sahy-koh-suh-mat-ik".
I go to two hours of boxing training. I tell my coach and training partners that I could use a therapy session. So we train hard and hit mitts and bags and spar a little and find laughter along the way. I feel a little better.
Then I go for a 4.6mi hilly run around my neighborhood, UCLA. And I am thinking. And I am thinking. What am I supposed to learn from yesterday? How do I make this better? How upset are my coaches? What will I take away from this? How do I take this negative and turn it into a positive picture? And I am thinking about fight training. I am thinking about being pushed until I have no more voice to scream, no more sweat to sweat, no more tears to cry. I am thinking, how can anyone doubt my work ethics and commitment?
I am running up Sunset Blvd and there are cars going to and fro, going to their lives filled with their own victories and defeats. I am running up Sunset Blvd with Mumford and Sons and they are serenading me and I am singing along with them. And tears are threatening to gush out of my eyes, they are threatening to flood Sunset Blvd on this sunny day and wash away the people driving through their own celebrations and heartbreaks. And we sing. Mumford and Sons and Myself. We sing, “…But I have seen the same. I know the shame in your defeat. But I will hold on hope and I won't let you choke on the noose around your neck. And I'll find strength in pain and I will change my ways. I'll know my name as it's called again…”
Then I am home. I am beginning to feel some clarity. And while in the shower I have my epiphany. I finally hear what my coaches have been trying to get me to do, what my teammates Nadine and Sarah said in regards to my performance that day that I refused to hear: Aggression. They want me to move with Aggression. I had completely disassociated aggression from jiu-jitsu. I have been trying so hard to “relax” that at times I become dormant. I have been working so long on allowing myself to be put into any position to learn how to survive and escape that I no longer push myself too hard to jockey for position. In jiu-jitsu position is everything! Aggression! This I can practice. This I can do.
And now I am looking forward to training tomorrow because after today there is always tomorrow and with tomorrow there is always new hope.
“…Now let me at the truth which will refresh my broken mind…I know my call despite my faults and despite my growing fears... I need freedom now and I need to know how to” Fight My Fight "as it's meant to be..."