Monday, November 25, 2013

Same Shit, Different Year


Right about now you are probably wondering what to get me for my anniversary. My jiu jitsu anniversary. This month marks my third year! Don’t worry; I'll give you some gift suggestions in my next post.
I'm gearing up for my holiday list. I’ve been really nice this year!
Yep. Three solid years. I've come so far. I’ve learned so much. I've gotten so much stronger and more confident in my abilities. But one thing still hasn't changed.

I still feel like the consolation prize.

In the three years I have been training, other people (both men and women . . . maybe even more men; take that, Keith Owen!) have come and gone. I am now one of the senior members of my gym. But when it comes time to roll, some nights, depending on who is there, I still sit on the sidelines like a wallflower. When it’s time to partner up, eyes still dart wildly about the room trying to make eye contact with someone else before me. Not the ladies, mind you. The ladies seek me out, they come over with smiles on their faces, happy to train.

There's no one on this whole Internet who could analyze this more than I have. Do I have a stinky gi? I bleach regularly, even if it means my gi won't last as long. Is my breath less than fresh? I brush and use mouthwash before training. I even soak my mouth guard in mouthwash. I wash my feet, and other parts, before class. Am I a spaz? Who isn't from time to time? I admit I have a small person’s game which could throw people off. But in three years I’ve never hurt anyone more than an occasional misplaced knee or head, maybe a bruise here or there, and usually my partner’s had something to do with it, too—a confluence of wrong moves.

I saw Cousin of Shark Girl the other day.
“Hows jiu jitsu going?” he asked. CoSG recently earned his brown belt. Hooray!!!!
I shared with him my frustrations.
“That's too bad.”
We talked about ways an instructor can, and should, guide the class so that this doesn't happen.
Brother of Shark Girl overheard the conversation.
“You know what it is?” He chimed in. “It's that when you roll with my sister, you never win. You can't win. Even if you win, you haven't really won. She’s 100 pounds. And if you lose. . . .”
I laughed. Whether his statement is true or not, this condition stunts my progress, frustrates my training, and just plain makes me feel bad. I have never cried on the mat from pain or fear or humiliation, although I have felt them all. The other night after waiting for a partner to switch in with me, I left the gym, got into my car, and drove home crying.
     “Have you thought about going to another gym?” CoSG asked.
“I have.” But even though I feel passed over, this is the gym I've come up in. I know these guys. I've been working with them for a long time. The next gym will most likely have the same problems and it will take three years to prove myself all over again. Same shit, different gym.
      Sigh. And so it goes. The more things change, the more they stay the same. The more I make headway, the more I am reminded that I am really on the sidelines in this sport.

Shark Girl Faces a Change

It is a turning point for Shark Girl. I haven’t written in a while. When I was a white belt, everything was new and curious. And being ...