So, after almost four months, I started rolling again. My jiu jitsu best friend and I decided to "pod" together. We only roll with each other. To do this, we discussed our coronavirus exposure tolerance and interrogated each other on our personal contact lists and our disinfecting routines. Then we made it official: we were exclusive. We would only roll with each other.
I am in a big, midlife jiu jitsu crisis right now. Switching gyms threw me. It shook my confidence in myself. It broke my social reasons for going to class. Sometimes I wonder why I am still practicing. My coach is a nice guy--a good teacher and communicator--but I came to him with a bloated brown belt. How invested is he in me? Certainly not as much as he is in the purple belt that he has cultivated since white belt. Not as much as he is in the new white belts that he needs to keep his cashflow positive. I broke into a community in progress. Where do I fit in? I'm not quite sure.
I am friendly with everyone at my new gym, but I have not yet developed real friendships. Others in my new gym are missing the camaraderie of class; I'm not. To be fair, I was only there about six months before we closed. How integrated should I expect to be?
With my old friend, who is from my old gym, rolling is like a weathered loafer. It feels natural and normal. We know each others' moves but can still surprise each other, and are happy when we do. Of course, the danger is that we may not challenge each other enough. But I've found that I can roll for hours with my friend without even noticing the time. He reminds me of why I do jiu jitsu. (Which, after much soul searching, I have decided I do jiu jitsu because I want to be a creative badass. I think. I'm still trying to answer the question: Why does a petite 50-year old mother of two whose injury tolerance is waning by the month do jiu jitsu?)
At our last rolling session, we shared that we each felt the same at our new gyms. "Honestly, what if we quit our gyms, got some mats for our garage, and just trained the two of us?" Call it jiu jitsu monoandry. We tossed that around for a bit, but in the end rightly concluded that having a black belt who was current, practicing, learning, teaching, and competing was significant to our development.
My gym is still doing solo drills only. I appreciate the effort. But, I need to be on the mat. Or I might never return.