I got my first stripe last night. Basically, what this means is I have gone from "completely useless" to "slightly less useless." Most people in Martial Arts feel like they are suddenly a cut above with each promotion, but, in jiu jitsu, you think, "man, I hope I can do something worthy of this promotion." I think it's the daily ass beatings that keep you humble.
When I first walked into the academy, I was lost. The warmups alone made me feel like I was going to die, right there, on the mat. With every daily lesson, I'd be like, "wait, so my hand goes... but my foot.... so... no, that's the wrong hand... I don't even understand." When I started sparring, I asked, "how do I even grab you?"
Yeah, my poor partners.
Luckily for me, I have a fantastic team. Everyone is so cool and patient and genuinely helpful. As I started rolling, things started clicking a bit more. My body started to understand some of the physics involved and I started figuring small things out.
So, where am I now?
I can warm up without wanting to die. In fact, I feel far from death these days. A little out of breath, sure, but rarely do I feel like I'm fighting my stomach contents or asking people if they know CPR, just in case.
When we drill, I usually get the move after a few attempts, instead of fucking it up the entire time. I am rarely able to put two and two together and apply those moves when I spar, but I am becoming a much better drill partner than I used to be.
I now know where to grab people when I spar and I am getting much better at defending myself from submissions. I can pull guard, pass guards, apply side control and mount. It is becoming natural for me to turn into my opponent and lock them in half guard. Occasionally, I'll even attempt a triangle.
I've come a long way.
Next up for me is to keep building on my basics, but also start to get serious about attempting sweeps and submissions. Instead of mounting someone and not knowing where to go from there, or being too timid to try an armbar or choke, I'm going to go for it. Right now I am relying a lot on my strength to keep me out of trouble, the ongoing goal is to be able to rely more and more on my skill, instead.
And, you know, earn some more stripes.