some days i really want to compete…
most days i would rather slam my head in a car door repeatedly.
i’ll be turning 34 and my wife is going to bear my second child in april. i’m in the best physical shape i have ever been in, i’m more confident than ever, and i owe it all to my passion to be the best i can be at brazilian jiu jitsu. but im not getting any younger. i feel my age as every day passes, and i am constantly getting injured, or dealing with past injuries getting aggravated. i never got surgery to get my herniated disc fixed. it hadn’t bothered me in almost a year, and all of a sudden, after a few days of training head and arm chokes with new white belts, it feels almost like it did right after it popped the first time. i feel like nobody believes me about just how painful and irritating it is, not to mention the constant fear of doing it again. my thumb and index finger on my left hand are either numb or on pins and needles all the time when i’m not rolling. and it hurts to sit in any position for longer than a few minutes. my shoulder feels like it is dislocated at times, and it’s all from nerve damage. once i start rolling i don’t notice it, its the rest of the time that it hurts. my knee is finally feeling great again, which is awesome. its hard to not take these things for granted when you are feeling good, and i will certainly try to make an effort to not do so anymore.
i didn’t intend for this post to go in that direction. i’m not feeling sorry for myself. i guess i’m just scared. being the sole provider for my family, i cant afford to miss work, or not be able to perform my work to the best of my abilities. i’m a manual laborer. my work is purely physical. i rarely ever do any paperwork, or anything behind a computer for my job. i have to be able to quickly deliver and install (and sometimes pull wire) audio systems in schools, churches, hospitals, etc. its not the hardest work, and it affords me lots of free time to train and spend time with my family. i love my job. but its just that, my job. in one respect, i was very fortunate that my neck popped the night before i went on vacation, so i didn’t have to miss any work. but, in every other way, it was tragic. i was down in marco island, florida. awesome weather. awesome fishing. 1 hour drive to go to train and meet my idol, marcelo garcia. but i couldn’t do any of it. i sat in the house, or in the hot tub rehabbing my neck on pain killers the whole week. the entire first day of my vacation was spent in the hospital. they gave me 2 cortisone shots in my neck and shoulder and they did nothing. nerve pain can only be relieved when the nerve has ceased to be pinched. i did make it down to marcelo’s school a few times, and on my birthday. but not as planned. i had saved up $600 for a couple privates while i was down there, and my parents helped up buy a nice hd digital camera so my dad could film the privates and classes. i was devastated when i couldn’t take a private, much less even get through an entire class. i did get to sit in and meet marcelo, but nowhere near how i had planned it.
and there i go again, ranting about my stupid neck injury. back on topic. the reason i brought up my job, and my failed trip to meet possibly the best bjj player out there, is just the fact that i am not in any position to get hurt by some over-eager teenager who is trying to assert his alpha-male-ness and prove to somebody that he is awesome. yes, i know i got hurt in class in the first place, and that its not likely that anything would happen specifically in a tournament, but i know for a fact if i get a hold of somebody’s arm they had better tap quick or they will wish they had. i can only assume my opponent has the same intentions, and last time one of the guys cranked on my neck and flared it up again for a few months. maybe one day when i am feeling at least better than 75% i will probably jump in one. i know dave, my instructor and mentor, wants me to. my team-mates want me to. i would rather continue down my current path, honestly. i am having fun, learning a lot, and getting better every day. i’m in jiu jitsu for the personal journey rather than one of fame and glory. i want to be good at jiu jitsu because i love the way it feels, not to get some medals. i wasted more than a few years of my life chasing medals and i finally found something i can do and just be good, not have to try and prove that i can hang with people 15 years younger than me. i’m not worried that i won’t do well. i dont think i would have much problem competing in the gi, im pretty confident in my technique. but the problem is, tournaments are not about who is better at jiu jitsu. its all about who can make a game plan, and stick to it, not who can do it the best. you can get paired up against some guy who has 2 months experience in bjj and 10 years wrestling experience, get taken down and stalled out for 6 minutes on the bottom and lose. after that, what am i? some terrible blue belt who got taken out in the first round of some dumb tourney? or somebody who puts everything he has into not using strength, tries to use technique all the time and rarely ever power through anything, but ended up getting matched up with the earlier mentioned wrestler and lose on a 2 point takedown?
maybe i just have too much pride to put that on the line. maybe i don’t want to lose to somebody who i know i am better than again. maybe i cant stomach being put up against a guy, who, i guess because of his instructors relationship with the promoter, gets a 2x bye and gets his first match against my 3rd? i don’t think that kind of thing is particularly fair, but it doesn’t matter. he got the last laugh. i got a sweep (reversal) that due to the vague nature of the rules i didn’t get points for, and got stalled out for the loss. i cant stand the thought of somebody else smirking at my failure behind back at my loss. maybe its my english nature. so scared of embarrassment that i never take any chances. who knows? i don’t. i’ve always had issues with doing any type of performance in public. i hated competing in skateboarding competitions. i did theater in high school, but i never took the stage. i was always a tech guy. i did a bunch of tae kwon do competitions as a kid, maybe it was that? i had one match in a finals where i was up against some really little kid, like little david ayala’s size. i was probably abby’s size at the time. i clearly beat him on points, but he was so little and cute, he got the nod (and the gold). maybe that was when the mental competition switch went off. i don’t remember doing anything after that. i was crushed. how embarrassing. i lost to a tiny little kid in a fighting match. in all honesty, i won. my mom even made a complaint, and they told her some bs excuse. but again, it didn’t matter. he had the last laugh. i had to go to school having lost to someone half my size. it doesn’t matter after the medals are given out who actually won, or who is better, all that matters is that stupid gold plated piece of metal.
we shall see what the future brings. writing this makes me feel a little better about the thought of competing, but i’m sure that feeling will be gone soon.
until then, i gotta keep training, getting better, and taking mass amounts of advil until i either heal up, or my liver shuts down.