Monday, November 26, 2012

The Mind-trauma of BJJ

Somehow, Brendan over at GiReviews has gotten me over my profound distaste for Gary Vaynerchuk and Tim Ferriss (introvert bias, what can I say.) Today, in the relaxed snuggliness of the morn of the last day off of Thanksgiving vacation, I watched this:

While I think Ferriss' methods aren't as universally applicable as many would like to think, I believe he has a lot to offer. I was most interested in his take on language learning. See...I used to be great at it. I had a system when I started Spanish...listen to Spanish radio all day at work, watch the news + 1 telenovela (still love La Fea mas Bella) and study grammar/vocab no more than 15 minutes a day. That was it. I threw in a bit of time with speaking partners on the side, but in a year, I'd made more progress than I had in 5 years of formal study. I did the same thing with Mandarin, and, well, eventually I fell off. Part of that was the drain of grad school...but honestly, BJJ has REALLY disrupted my mental rhythm.

When I first started blogging after training, I noticed that I just couldn't get complex sentences out--"see spot run" was about as deep as I was going post-class, so I refrained from writing immediately afterward for almost two years. It was like I was losing massive IQ points after each session. What I suspect was going on was simply trauma.

Looking back, starting training was a traumatic experience for me...enjoyable, encouraging, inspiring, soul-stirring but still at some level traumatic. I started BJJ to rebuild myself--to break down an aspect of my being that had been severely lacking. That process is inherently traumatic.

So yeah, while I've gotten past the startup pains, I remain off my mental routine. I haven't studied properly since I started training, and that disturbs me. I had dreams of being conversationally fluent in both tongues by 35 and well, I'm getting short on time. I can still carry on a conversation in Spanish and a very basic one in Mandarin, but my flow is gone. The idea of coming home and plopping down with a grammar activity that used to be cathartic and enjoyable and seems difficult.

My hope is that Mr. Ferriss will offer some method of getting me back on track. The desire is still there...I burned with the same excitement this weekend when, at a rest stop, a Chinese man was chatting on his cell phone and I understood him...but I fear BJJ has changed me mentally into someone that I now have no idea how to teach.

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