I have to be honest, I didn't want to compete.
Things have been chaotic and stressful with the kids home from school and my husband scrambling for a new job. My finger is probably broken and my knee had been tweaked all week. My allergies are in high gear and not one small, teeny-tiny thing is going my way. Frankly, I'm struggling not to spend my weekends lying under an open box of wine. The last thing I wanted to do was put any pressure on myself to train for competition.
...And yet, I signed on last minute. Why? Just to get out of the damn house. All I wanted to do was hitch a ride with one of my teammates, pop my headphones on, have a few rolls and be alone. No one needing me, no distractions, just some chokes and chill. It was freeing, I wasn't even nervous when I signed up, like I was the first time. I was paying to have a mom's break day - like when normal b*tches go shopping or get a pedicure.
So, when my husband surprised me by deciding to volunteer for the tournament and take the whole family with... you could imagine my joy. Instead of having a quiet day to myself, I was going to have to wake up extra early, make sure the kids got up, make everyone breakfast, chase the kids around to get dressed, make sure snacks and provisions are packed, get everyone in the car and drive my damn self, because my husband's foot is busted. I was going to be irritable first thing, and in a completely distracted headspace, fielding requests for snacks, complaints of boredom, grievances of injustice and intermittently wondering in a panic, "...wait, where the hell is Fenris??"
I almost backed out.
But f*ck that - it's not what Iron Beaver is about, now, is it? So into the fray I went, admittedly half-cocked but less nervous than I was the first time. Although my results were the same in the opposite way (first one, I got 3rd in gi and skipped nogi, this one I got 3rd in nogi and skipped gi) - I did improve from last time and learned some more:
WHERE I IMPROVED
Last tournament, I said to hell with the white belt shuffle, so this tournament I performed two takedowns on two completely different-sized opponents. Small, but significant when you consider bjj practitioners are sorely lacking on takedown skills. I still have a lot to work on, but I definitely leveled up just by trying.
This time, I was far less nervous leading up to the competition. Last tournament, my hands were shaking when I registered, and for the month leading up to it, I got a wave of nerves every time I so much as thought about it. This time I felt nothing until the night before. The day of, I was just as freaked out as I was the first time, but at least I didn't care until showtime.
WHERE I NEED TO IMPROVE
For those of you who don't know me, I have panic disorder. My brain has a loose trigger somewhere and fires adrenaline into my body, but not in a cool "Crank" kind of way where you're pumped to jump out of helicopters and bang chicks over a public mailbox.... More like confusion and barf. I throw up during my matches (but swallow it like a boss.) This has got to stop, because it adds to my nervousness when I think, "What if I can't swallow it this time and puke all over the mat in front of everybody?" It is also very distracting to contain my stomach contents while defending against a frenetic opponent or trying to think of my next move. This will probably take a learned combination of scheduling breakfast, warming up, and breath control pre-match.
Also, I'm terrified of fighting girls. There, I said it. It's weird. It's not about their brute strength (obviously) or that they are tough (which they surprisingly can be!) I roll with heavier, stronger, tougher men every night and I'm okay being piled on, suddenly flipped, pinned to the mat, accidentally kneed in the face or smashed in the nose. I'm scared of girls because I am unskilled, so I don't know my dials and am afraid of hurting someone. They say "Go 100%," but 100% to me is malice. So, where does that intensity line lie? With men, I'm not afraid of hurting them, so I simply match strength as best I can. Plus they move slower, so it's easier to adjust how "rough" you can be. And it's just a roll. In competition, everything is so fast and hyper, that I have to shut off my instinct, because my instincts would get me DQ'd or put me in a stupid position to get submitted. Until I am a calmer blue belt, I feel I have to hold back.
I also don't want them to hate me. I associate fighting with a girl with hate. It's an antiquated high school notion that needs to go. What I am going to do is roll with women more often. There are open mats once a month and I am making friends at competitions with great girls, so I'm going to take advantage and get over this dumb ingrained fear.
Obviously the biggest takeaway is to keep training. Do some local competitions. Win. Lose. LEARN. Then, realize none of it matters, because you are already 100 Times as tough as the person sitting on the sidelines saying they could've won gold. And your team still loves the shit out of you. OSS.
Read about tournament One: