A cornerstone of jiu-jitsu is said to be focusing on your own personal development. Do not worry how others are doing, don’t wait for praise and stripes and belts, enjoy the journey etc. Up until now I’ve been pretty good at revelling in a childlike wonder at each class. Being in awe of limbs interlocking in mysterious ways, of how you can take someone to the ground with you by just stepping in a certain direction, of how much difference it makes to my endurance during sparring if I remember to breath slowly enough.
“I should train more”
If anything, I have now started to experience the first pangs of inadequacy from “just” attending classes twice a week. I know several white belts who train 4-5 times a week outside of competition season. There are of course good reasons why 2 times a week might just be enough for me for now:
- The idea that you “should” be using all your free time for physical exercise is ableistic at best, even when the sport you do is genuinely fun.
- Three years ago, I was re-learning how to walk, two years ago I started swimming again and a year ago I returned to Boring Gym for the first time since acquiring my spinal cord injury. I am doing pretty frigging great compared to where I started from after waking up from brain surgery in April 2016. I should be able to give myself some slack.
- 2 times a week for 20 years is better than a burn-out after a year during which you trained 10 times each week.
- The techniques I’m still picking up at BJJ are often pretty difficult to get. With the attendance I’ve been doing now, I still have the mental energy to focus properly on what I am instructed to do.
- I also have a job, weekly psychotherapy sessions, family, friends and a partner to focus on. Not to mention household chores and some dreams related to occupational and personal development, as well as small spurts in social justice activism I still plan on focusing on from time to time.
I’m no parent either, but these types of memes should be thrown of a cliff. Not everyone needs to move addresses to their BJJ gym right away. It is perfectly fine for me to increase training at my own pace. Especially as I am not willing to give up on Boring Gym once a week, regardless of me knowing it as Boring Gym.
Summary: train as much as feels natural. Chewjitsu says it a lot better, and he’s a black belt:
And yet, if everything goes to plan, I’m going to another gym’s Open Mat next Sunday and will finally crack the week I did BJJ thrice. Wish me luck.
Other People’s Kindness
What still touches me at my gym is the patience so many people display towards me. During Monday’s No-Gi, Mikko, who was instructing, yelled “Sohvi, well done!” when I actually managed a hip escape during sparring. On Wednesday, the new Half-Guard attacks managed to twist my brain into a knot, but the mild-mannered blue belt saddled with me was very happy to drill ve-ry-slow-ly with me. During sparring, he gently reminded that putting my knee between me and him during a hip escape might save me for a bit from being submitted. D’oh. Maybe the day will come when I’m actually able to put the random puzzle pieces together I’m currently learning. I’m trying to just keep channelling that childlike excitement I’m good at until the day comes.