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The best kind of inspiration.

December 20, 2011 1 comment

Last night, our judo club had a black belt promotion. As I’ve mentioned before, black belt promotions get me super emotional and last night was no exception. A lot of it has to do with who was getting promoted. Yesterday, it was Eric. I think everyone in our club would agree that Eric is a crucial part of our team. Not only does he help teach judo class on occasion, but he also runs one of our jiu jitsu classes. Even though he has a demanding full time job and a family, he puts in a lot of mat time and competes often. Eric even spear-headed building the floor for our club when we moved last year and I don’t know how we could have gotten our new place together without him. There’s no question that Eric is dedicated to our club.

For me personally, Eric has been a big part of my judo life. I remember him from when I first started with the Philadelphia Judo Club. Even though Eric is well over a foot taller than I am and has about 80 pounds on me, my coaches would often pair me with him to train. They don’t always have much larger people work with much smaller people. But Eric is just the kind of practitioner who you can pair with anyone. He’s patient, he’s safe, and he wants both partners to get something out of their training. He definitely helped me feel a little more comfortable with groundwork in judo and although BJJ is pretty painful for me mentally, I always learn a lot in Eric’s classes. What I’ve admired and respected about Eric is that he works hard to improve, but he shares what he’s learned with his teammates.

Last night’s promotion seemed so perfect. Not only do I believe that it’s Eric’s time to start the next stage in his judo life, but it was good timing for me to see one of my grappling role models hit that turning point. I’m so happy to be healthy enough to train again, but it’s been hard for me to accept how out of shape I am. It’s difficult for me to go through a practice and feel tired at points that would have been no problem two months ago. I hate it when my physical condition takes away from the rate at which I can progress. Seeing Eric earn his black belt, though, reminded me that it’s no fun if it’s easy. We keep coming back class after class because we love the challenge. You don’t get as far as Eric has by letting discouragement win.

 

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Haikuesday 12.20.11

December 20, 2011 4 comments

Eric’s a black belt.

He’s worked so hard to get here.

Congratulations!

Categories: Challenges, Judo, poetry, Promotions

Gym bag full of guilt.

November 6, 2011 2 comments

My gym bag has been sitting patiently in a corner of my apartment for over a week. This morning, I went to grab something out of there and carelessly didn’t zip it back up. A few minutes later, I realized my judo belt was peeking out over the edge, having been knocked askew my by my fumbling hands moments earlier. I immediately felt terrible as my belt stared at me, alternately glaring at me with the disappointment of a scornful parent and then giving me the imploring gaze of a hurt, neglected puppy. I couldn’t get out of my apartment fast enough.

Since I got my brown belt, I really want to step it up, even more so than before. I got promoted a little less than a month ago, but with mid-terms and then getting pretty sick this week, I’ve only been getting on the mat once or twice a week. Once is probably more accurate. I hate this. I know, I know–judo is not going anywhere. There’s no rush. Still, it’s hard for me now to be away from the mat so much because I love judo more than most things. When it’s not in my life regularly, I just don’t feel like myself. Also, I think I’m starting to feel OK with my promotion, so I just want to get to work. I want to compete. With the amount of training time I’m getting in now, I feel like a fraud.

There’s a tournament next weekend that I potentially could compete in. Historically for me, this tournament has not really had any girls for me to fight, but it could be worth it to go out there. However,  at this moment I have zero confidence about fighting. One of the black belts at my club basically told me it didn’t matter if I haven’t gone to class much; I still remember judo. But I don’t feel strong right now at all. I’m not sure what I can do this week to change that. And now, I feel like what I’ve just written is an excuse because I don’t want to compete and lose a bunch. There’s no real consequence, though, if I lose all my matches. As long as I can learn something and fix my mistakes, it’s probably OK. Ideally, I would love to go to a tournament feeling prepared, but how often do we get the luxury of experiencing our ideal?

Life’s no fun if you’re always afraid to jump in with both feet.  For me, judo is a part of life. I should probably go ahead and jump.

 

 

 

 

Becoming brown.

October 12, 2011 Leave a comment

It happened on Monday night. It was sweaty, nerve-wracking, and lasted about three minutes. It was my Kata demonstration. And it’s done.

So now I’m a brown belt.

Perhaps for some, getting your brown belt is not a big deal. For me, however, it’s massive. It almost means more to me than one day earning my black belt.

I started practicing judo when I was a tiny six year-old. Then, a brown belt was only something adults could wear. I remember when my dad got his first brown belt. I was so amazed by him. I don’t think I really understood much about judo at that age, but I knew that when my dad put on his brown belt for the first time, that signified that he was in it for real. This was not my dad’s hobby; this was his life.

I still view brown belts with a six year old’s perspective, like I should have to work for another 10 years before I can put on my new belt. I know I’ve been working hard, but it feels so surreal to think that now is my time.  Am I prepared for all the work that lies ahead? I do  feel ready for this. Still, I’m a little terrified. I’m a brown belt. People are going to expect me to know stuff.

Despite the fear, there is a part of my that’s pretty proud as well. Actually, this pride stems mostly from the inspiration I draw from the women I train with. There are not many of us at my club, but I know I’m fortunate because my club certainly has more women than most. I’m even more fortunate that all the women I train with are more advanced than I am and that they make great teachers. I will never, ever discount how much all the guys at my club me to me; a lot of them have been really important in my growth as a judoka and they’re my family. But being a girl who practices judo is not as common as I’d like. When I look at my assistant coach, who is a fourth degree black belt, and my Kata partner, who is a first degree black belt, I’m simply in awe of their skill and tenacity. I feel  lucky to have them in both my judo life and my regular life. Their support has been invaluable to me. As I keep going, I’m honored to think that I have such phenomenal women helping me build my foundation.

I still feel like I’m going puke though.

 

 

Categories: Judo, Life, Promotions, Women

Haikuesday 10.11.11

October 11, 2011 6 comments

Kata demo done

I’m so glad I didn’t puke

Now let’s step it up

Categories: Judo, Kata, poetry, Promotions

All that hype.

October 4, 2011 4 comments

So, I did not perform my kata demonstration last night. I realized as I was warming up that my new injury really hurts. Not just in the nagging, inconvenient way. It hurts in the sense that on Sunday, I almost cried and last night, I almost cried. I almost went through with it anyway, but thankfully my training partner has considerably more sense than I do and pointed out that the demonstration did not have  to happen that night. What good could come of exacerbating my injury? I still have to do a couple more tournaments before I’m officially promoted, so changing the date of my kata demo is really OK.

Of course, logically, I understand all that. But my irrational side feels so dejected. I just wanted to get it over with and move on to the next thing. But now, I must be patient with myself. I genuinely suck at patience.

I’m back to the drawing board yet again with judo. I feel like I keep doing something wrong in terms of my training and its impact on my body. Times like last night make me wonder if I need to take off one whole month completely, but that doesn’t feel like the right answer. I keep telling myself that I need to slow down, but truthfully, I don’t even know what I mean by that. What I do know is that whatever happens, I have to remember that I’m grateful that judo is in my life, no matter what it throws at me. It teaches me more than I probably want to know. Most of lessons come from the tremendous people I train with who thankfully have sense. I don’t know how I’d get through times like these without them.

Everything is fine.

October 2, 2011 7 comments

Whenever I have a bad day, I really try not to complain. On days like today, however, where everything seems to be going wrong before noon, I do feel pretty irritated. Actually, it’s more like a confused, overwhelmed feeling of “What the f***?”

Last night, I had a debilitating headache which threw me off a little  this morning. I discovered my laptop will not turn on. I accidentally got on an express train while heading to judo practice so I missed kettlebells class. I realized that I only managed to put in one contact lens.  An injury I acquired on Friday became so painful that I had to stop what I was doing completely and I had to do my best to not cry or throw a complete fit.

Mornings like these, I try to keep things in perspective. Such little occurrences are by no means the worst things that have happened to me. Also, realistically, more terrible things will happen in my life and this morning will seem like joke. Clearly, the contact lens and missing KB class are not epic tragedies. Even my laptop not working is not the worse thing since I don’t have any major assignments on there right now, and I can use computers at school. My internet connection in my apartment is entirely unreliable anyway. The injury is pretty upsetting since I’m scheduled to perform my kata demonstration tomorrow and I prefer to be calm and clear-headed while I do it.

When a series of tiny things contribute to a “bad day”, I often go back to the phrase “everything happens for a reason.” Truthfully, I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. I think all the things that happen in our lives and in this world occur at random and chaotic intervals. We simply don’t have control over them. It’s up to us to assign reason and meaning to our experiences and come out better for them.

Whatever. I only have to take 18 falls tomorrow night. No big deal when you really think about it.