Updated: Sep 10, 2020
When I started Jiu Jitsu in 2018, my word for the year was DISCIPLINE. Even though I had just started training, I quickly realized this journey wasn’t going to be something that happened overnight. Time and time again I was showing up to class, feeling incredibly awkward trying to move my body in ways I’d never done before, and getting beat up no matter how much I tried to retain even the simplest movements. If I was going to find any enjoyment in this and actually stick with it, I knew I was going to have to focus on something besides “winning,” “getting it right,” or coming out on top. It had to be something deeper.
So for a whole year I simply focused on showing up. DISCIPLINE wasn’t something I had ever mastered before, but that year I learned. I learned how to be disciplined with my training schedule, with my eating habits, with my mindset. I kept showing up and adjusting and learning and trying again, and after a solid year I realized the value of commitment and how much can happen when I simply focus on the journey and show up, trusting the outcome will follow. There were definitely moments where I felt like I “got it” and was in flow and had super good training sessions; and there were also many other moments where I showed up and (surprise, surprise) it wasn’t magical, I didn’t piece much together, old habits came back, and I put myself in compromising positions. Through it all I learned how much persistence and consistency make such a difference. Especially when DISCIPLINE just wasn’t enough.
Because what I also learned is there comes a time when my body is truly tired and my mind is exhausted and everything inside of me screams to just go home and rest instead of drive to the gym. (Are these rest days important? YES….but not every single day.) I was so happy when I finally got that blue belt wrapped around my waist and I knew all those times of showing up had paid off; I cried because of everything it represented and all of the internal fights I had won over the past two years. Yet in the weeks that followed, it was like the DISCIPLINE that had gotten me this far completely vanished. I had heard of the “blue belt blues” and thought they’d never happen to me, and yet here I was. I frequently felt too tired to train, beat up everytime I was on the mat, and even though I loved it there was just something I wasn’t enjoying about it anymore. My persistence and consistency felt long gone, and I realized an important lesson: it’s not your strength that holds you to your purpose, but the strength of your purpose itself. I had reached a milestone in my journey, and sheer willpower wasn’t enough to push me to the next level; I had to dig deeper and discover why Jiu Jitsu was still going to be a big part of my life...or if I was going to scale back and readjust my priorities and goals, and go a different way.
As I kept my routines and kept showing up to train, I let my coach talk me into signing up to compete at No Gi Worlds. Had I competed no gi before? No. Had I competed as a blue belt before? No... and apparently both were irrelevant because I decided to go for it anyways. What did I really have to lose? I knew the simple fact of registering meant that I was going to approach training very differently over the next c