January 12, 2010
So after three weeks, I finally made it back to train.The time off served as a good line of demarcation between my getting a feel for the school and sport and officially training. I was still anxious, but for the first time I didn't feel like an outsider. I'm not one to need to feel accepted, but feeling like a stranger combined with feeling inadequate combined with feeling ignorant combined with feeling like you stick out...it's a bit much to process at one time. The running, pushups, drills were still hard, maybe harder than before, but the difficulty wasn't the mental burden it usually is, it just was. I'm starting to feel like BJJ is a part of my life.
My last class before the holidays was...I have to say...enjoyable. Everyone was preparing for the belt tests and since I'm still a baby-white belt, I partnered up with another student and got my choice of focus with an instructor, so we worked on timed hip escapes and getting from my back to all fours.
Let me back up a few minutes though. I walked into the gym and the advanced sparring was still going on. I heard music...not strange at all...I've walked in to WuTang, 2Pac, Biggie, Mystikal and I believe a little Disturbed. This time, I open the door and...Michael Jackson. Now MJ songs are upbeat, but the mood of "Working Day and Night" is a far cry from "Stupified". I went and changed, came out to the floor and sat in my usual watching spot next to Wuzzup. He's become some what of a security blanket for me. I got to go over technique with him for the first time a few weeks back and it was the most relaxed I've probably ever been there. He threw me off, switching our usual handshake for a fist bump and gave me a knowing look as Phil Collins started playing...and no, it wasn't his duet with Bone Thugs 'n' Harmony (I still think I'm the only person that's aware that exists). Master da Matta, probably seeing the confusion on our faces, explained across the class that this was the mood we should be in...relaxed, playful. Works for me. Relaxed is good. Then Barry White came on.
I don't remember what song it was and it honestly doesn't matter, all you need to know is it was slow, grinding and sultry...a Barry White song. Wuzzup and I looked over at each other and smirked. I was beginning to wonder how the guys would handle being that close to each other with The Sultan of Smooth Soul giving them instructions. All of a sudden, JazzHands' voice bursts jokingly through the air..."I don't know how comfortable I am being this close to another man with this music playing." ...you know everybody was thinking that exact same thing.
Through some forums and blogs, I've connected with a few other female jitsukas. There are some great ones at the school, but I get minimal contact since they're in the advanced class. The online connections have been really helpful in managing my anxiety, getting help on helping male training partners get through embarassing situations (some moves just don't translate well to being used on the female anatomy) and also just having someone outside of class to talk technique with. Again, after last night, I realized how big a deal it is that I'm not small. A blue belt last night commented to JazzHands that I was strong. After drilling with the heaviest student, I heard BeginnersInstructor mention the same thing about me to the head instructor. Another blue belt told me that I was stronger than a some of the guys. Comments like that used to throw me when I was younger...it's a serious blow to your self-perception of feminity, but be it age or environment, this time it was encouraging.
I finally can feel a triangle and its purpose, and while mine isn't even mediocre yet, it's not as mysterious as it used to be. That was my big revelation for the night.