Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to School

Summer Shark Girl is gone. Now there is only School Shark Girl. What does this mean? Well, I get up a lot earlier. And I have less time. Way less time. So I apologize for the lapse in posting. But I will finally (finally!) finish my tournament posting. Over the summer I had too much time to think. New, timelier ideas would come to me and I would have to write about them, pushing the tournament further into my past. Now I’m lucky if I can even get a chance to sit down at the keyboard. So, I am happy to have something to write about.
            Okay, long story short: Cousin and I went to the tournament. I fought some matches. The end.
Hah! Only kidding! Nowhere near the end. Did you think I would let you all off so easily? I am too tired not to ramble. I’ve been up since 5:30 AM preparing and teaching the leaders of tomorrow. (I have seen the future, folks. It’s not pretty. Actually, it’s very pretty. Prettier than me and also skinnier and blonde. It can text like an m-f-er.)
Okay. Where was I? Tournament. Well, it was quite interesting. I’m using that word because it is accurate and it pisses my husband off. “What does interesting mean? It doesn’t mean anything!” he will shout as he reads this. (Who am I kidding? He doesn’t read my blog.)
Focus, Shark Girl, focus. The tournament. I was the oldest by far in my grouping. A couple higher belts looked like they could be approaching my robust age. But all the ladies in my division were nubile moffets; lithe and energetic, radiating a healthy glow from their pores instead of the middle-aged acne that graced my chin. There was no Executive Division as there was for men, so my 41-year-old ass was placed in Master’s. There was only one other Master. (She was 31). So, Shark Girl competed in two open divisions and one Masters. To add to that, my weight class was 120# and below. I weighed in at 104. So, if you can picture Shark Girl fighting fresh, young faces at least ten years her junior and with as much as 16 more pounds on them, you will begin to know the terror that crept inside my heart that morning. Let me just say that after my first match, I was just happy that I didn’t pee all over the mat. ’Cause that was a possibility.
It’s not my style to give you a statistical breakdown of my wins and losses. If you must know, I’m happy to tell you privately via e-mail. I will say this before I continue on: I did not lose all my matches, nor did I win all my matches. There. However, I fought five times. There were two no-gi matches, and three gi. When I finished, I went over to cheer on my cousin (who by the way, rocked both his divisions. Way to go, Cousin of Shark Girl! You know who you are!).
In the end, I think the tournament was a good experience and I don’t regret it. But it was super stressful. It reminded me of my son’s chess tournaments. I sit on the sidelines worried the whole time. When he’s in a match I worry that he’ll lose quickly and not have a good game. When he’s waiting for a match I worry, too. Son waits patiently for his next match and plays without a care in the world. Some people are just like that. If I felt less stress at the tournament it might have been fun. Instead, I think I can skip this year’s Haunted Corn Maze.
            After the weeks I’ve had to reflect, I want to share with you what I took away from the tournament. Here goes:

1)      People sandbag. Either I royally suck or some of these folks are not so honest about their experience.
2)      A cheering section helps. I did not have one. Biggest mistake ever, because the other girls did. It was demoralizing to be in a tooth-and-nailer surrounded by people cheering for the other person. I felt like the bad guy. Plus I could hear their suggestions and see my own doom coming. Not as fun as it sounds.
3)      It’s all about the take-down. The person who lands on top has a much easier job of it all.
4)      There is no number four. Just wanted to see if you are still paying attention.

And so, my dear web-friends, after all this I feel like I could be convinced to compete again, but I’m in no hurry. I appreciate what I learned as well as the street cred it gave me with my gym-mates. My sense is that at our own, familiar gyms, our game gets complacent. In a sense, a tournament is like going to a new school. One where everyone wants to kick your ass. It shakes things up and lets you see your weak spots. So for me, first day of school, facing 100 teenagers? No problem. I’ve definitely been faced with worse.  


  1. Nice post Shark Girl! I definitely had a similar experience at my first tournament (I can really relate to # 1&3). My one and only match was against someone who was 20 years younger than me. I look forward to the day that there are so many women in BJJ that there is actually a masters division at every tournament in every weight bracket! Cheers to the bright future of women in BJJ.

  2. Awesome post, as always. Please quit school and just blog full-time. ;)

    Interesting is my favourite word: if there was some kind of way I could analyse all the text I've posted online, aside from being very interesting, it would undoubtedly stick 'interesting' right at the top with a hefty percentage. Probably followed by 'awesome' and winking faces. ;)

    Also, surely an International Woman of Mystery doesn't have anything so identifying as an email address? I'd expect you to communicate via carrier pigeon and briefcase drops. :P

  3. Waiting for this post was like waiting for Hope and Bo to get married...(lol, does anyone get the reference?)

    Anyway, excellent post. Congratulations on your wins, and kudos for your losses. I suspect your cousin were to write about you, there would be a healthy dose of bragging and beaming pride! Methinks you did well.


  4. I never really thought about how important a cheering section is...

  5. i'm glad you went. i like the part about the cheering section. at my last tournament it sounded like the girls coach was coaching her in portugese which was really distracting to me..i kept wondering what the hell is he saying to her.
    School has rained on my bjj parade as well. It's soaked up all the spare time i've had but without jiujitsu i'd probably lose my mind.
    Hope all is well for you

  6. @ Mrs. Ibarra: Maybe one day we will meet up on the mats. But could you please smile at me before the match? That freaked me out that no one smiled until after. : )

    @slidey: I would love to quit my job and blog full time. You'd all tire of me pretty quickly. I'd run out of things to say and resort to stuff like, "What's the deal with toe rings?" But you are right, e-mail is so . . . traceable. Go to the parking garage on the corner of 5th and East. In pot 22 you will find a brown leather attache. You have thrity seconds to read the contents before it self-destructs.

    @Dag: Is that a Wings reference?? xox

    @Megan: hope you have one!

    @shakia: I'm with you...bjj helps keep me sane. that's saying a lot! It makes me happy. Hope all is well for you, too and that your return to school is smooth.

  7. Oh boy, really dating myself here, no, Hope and Bo from Days of Our Lives....many moons ago when I waited tables, I was hooked on Days of Our Lives. There. I've said it. I was hooked on a soap. I was young and stupid! I didn't know any better!....;)

  8. The "It Couple" from my generation was General Hospital's Luke and Laura. I didn't watch, but I think they got married repeatedly.

  9. Yes, having a corner really helps! Seriously! Where was your instructor? or some higher belts from your academy? I hope next time (and yes, there should be a next time) that they come with you. It's very important-- at least even another whitebelt who can call out to you time left and points etc.

    You're lucky there was any masters womens division- that's not common here. So at my advanced age of 37-38-39 I fight girls aged 15-17-19-21. I feel your pain. Except I'm not a lithe little 104, and usually I have the 10-15-20 lb advantage. It just seems to slow me down and tire me out ;)

    You are 2000% right about it all being about the takedown. I am very slowly learning about the fun of the guard pull but I still attempt to insist on only takedowns in tournaments.


  10. I know how important a cheering section is now. Beforehand I did not. I did not tell my gym-mates I was competing until the week of, and no one else was going. They were bummed not to be there, but so it goes. I met someone I knew there who coached me through one of my matches. That was really nice. After that I realized its significance.

    That's interesting that you don't have a Master's female section usually. It seems like there's a really strong women's jiu jitsu presence in TX.

    So, bottom line is, if I do this again, I'm seriously working on my take-downs! Thanks for your advice/corroboration!
    <3 ya,


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