Motivation

When I first started competing, it was all about learning more quickly. When I started winning, I caught the medal bug and wanted to keep going. That has changed a bit in the last few years and I have been having difficulty defining what motivates me to keep at it.

External motivators are only good so long as you are in that particular environment at a certain point, it has to go deeper. For example, training with Team Lloyd Irvin leading up to Worlds has been a huge game changer for me. I call it the Jiu Jitsu pressure cooker – it’s far harder physically, but much easier mentally. I haven’t been able to make it out to see them for a while, but I need to put myself into that mental place and be responsible for my own drive. Then when I am able to go to TLIHQ I can contribute to the overall drive, instead of just feeding off it.

Okay, enough wind up. I just got out of a counseling session and we discussed specifics about things leading up to Pans next week. She was able to guide me to identify what is firing my inner motivator.My coach and team have never put the “value based on performance” burden on my shoulders. They see me training every day and know what I am capable of on my good days and on my bad days. Any performance pressure I feel, is completely self-bestowed. Here is the thing though. My coach and teammates have put so much into me over the years that THEY deserve to see me win. I want to validate that all the time they put into me was worth it.

Also, I did not realize until our annual team training that there are actually people who look up to me. If someone is going to have that kind of trust in me to use me as an example and role model, I had better do my best to live up to it!

The Reset Button

20140426-224310.jpgAfter returning from competing in Japan this past September, my coach (Shawn) told me to take the rest of the year off from competing. I don’t think I have gone longer than three days in the past 4 years without thinking and preparing for the next event. Now I had to deal with a little over three months completely off from competing.

I definitely agreed with my coach. I need this time off. However I am an addict so I was kind of at a loss. This past year has also put me in a severe budgetary crisis, on top of an ongoing family crisis and the need to move at the end of the year… My stress levels had reached the point where my functioning skills were spread to the thinnest they have been since before I started training. The first few weeks I was definitely depressed and unmotivated – maybe on the mats twice a week. Around week 3 though I started pulling out of it and enjoying myself in class again.

I’ve also made the decision to retire my massage therapy business. It has been dying for several reasons and currently taking more time and energy from me than what it is worth. I took a seasonal position working in the warehouse of a shipping company – they actually ended up hiring me on permanently instead and appear to be extremely flexible with time off to go compete next year. Right now I am working Friday – Tuesday, getting off work in time for evening training sessions (full day of training on Wednesday and Thursday). During the holiday season they are allowing us to work as many extra hours as we desire, so I am doing double shifts on the weekends so I can have a better jump start on the budget for next year.

Where That Leaves Me

I found a round trip flight to Amsterdam in January for $300 and snatched it up! I can get a pretty cheap (under $60) flight from there to Lisbon for the European Championships, and then have a few extra days to explore elsewhere. I haven’t decided yet where. Morocco and Israel are both tempting, but I may opt for the super cheap $30 flight to spend a few days in Rome or Athens instead. I suppose I will base my decision off food and training options at each location!

My new job is extremely active, and I’ve been easily dropping weight – so I’m anticipating competing as a feather weight next year.

20130927-035343.jpgFebruary 2017

I had a debate between the IBJJF Atlanta Open or the UAEJJF Mexico National Pro. The Atlanta is an easy day trip away, I would only need to miss one day at work, and both my teams will have a good turn out there. Mexico won out however since I have a goal to compete at the World Pro in Abu Dhabi this next April. I win a qualifying division in Mexico and they will cover my expenses for the World Pro. I will pay for my own trip to the World Pro if I have to, but it is NOT a cheap place to visit – so I decided to invest in Mexico for my shot at the trip package.

March 2017

Of course I will be going to Pans this next year! I managed to pull out a bronze medal this past year, and I need to upgrade that to something a bit more shiny! I’ll not likely stay for the whole event this year (per my norm) just because I want to conserve my time off from work.

April 2017

It’s World Pro month! I win the qualifier in Mexico, I won’t have to worry about paying for the trip, but either way I am going to be competing in Abu Dhabi in 2017. I actually work with several ladies from the UAE- they have been dropping pointers for my visit.

May/June 2017

The dates have not yet been set for the World Championships in Los Angeles, but I WILL be in attendance. I’m hoping I will be able to get a leave of absence from work to go to train at TLI HQ in Maryland for several weeks leading up to the competition. We shall see!

September 2017

The Asian Championships will be held again in Tokyo, most likely the second weekend of the month. I will either be taking leave from work, or just turning in my notice and signing back on when they start hiring seasonally again (a few weeks after I get back). My sister will be 18 by this time and is planning to postpone starting college in order to go with me to this event. We will then spend about 3 weeks exploring Japan, Taiwan, and hopefully a few other places (Korea and Thailand are definitely on the list!) We both have interest in training our respective martial arts during the trip, so it should be a great experience for us both! Plus I will actually have someone to cheer for my matches at the competition!

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As of this point, I feel refreshed and excited about this next year. This past year has not been so great for me personally, and it showed in my Jiu Jitsu. Taking a step back to deal with some issues has made all the difference and I feel genuine excitement to compete again in January!

Into The Storm, and Out Again

Competitions are a roller coaster.

Even before the actual event, emotions tend to just go crazy. Everyone deals with the pressure in their own way. I tend to get easily frustrated and usually have at least one big hysterical crying fit about a week before a major event. I know some people who get angry, others who act like they are in the middle of a bipolar manic phase, and some who just get very serious and turn inwards (those are the scariest ones!)

Playing the numbers, the vast majority of people at an event will leave with a measure of disappointment. Only one person can win each division.

At the World Championships this year, once again I fell short. Even months later, it still stings. Everything I have learned in the years since I first stepped on the mat, and it just wasn’t enough. Quite frankly, it put me in a major funk. Throw some family and personal crisises into the mix, and I just hit a wall of what I could emotionally handle – I just shut down. It was a pretty bad downward spiral.

My biggest issue I finally realized was that I wasn’t allowing myself to properly process everything. Here are a few things I learned in this process:

  • It’s okay to get angry/frustrated/upset when something doesn’t go the way I planned
  • I’m stronger than I think
  • My environment is not to blame for my outcomes
  • There is nothing to be ashamed of when I do my best
  • The people who care about me, will celebrate with me in success, but that doesn’t determine my personal value
  • I’m not alone

So what has changed? Really, not much. All the problems are still present. However, my head is back on straight and I feel like I am finally awake, can see in color again, and am finally able to look forward to the exciting things I have planned!

In just 10 days I will be heading off to Las Vegas to compete at the Master World Championships. Two weeks after that, I will watching the sunrise from the top of Mt Fuji and then competing in Tokyo before setting off on a two week tour of travel, training, and exploring in Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

One thing I can say for certain. After failing 4 times at the World Championships, when I do finally succeed, I think that I will appreciate it much more than I would have if I won the first time around. Building anticipation and all.

Now that I think I have gotten out of my phase of depressive writing (there are so many things in my draft folder that I don’t think need to see the light of day), I think I will be able to get back to my normal writing jive – just in time for the trips!

I am looking for an individual or company to sponsor my Mt Fuji climb. I am an experienced climber and will be video documenting the 2 day climb to the summit at 12,334ish feet above sea level. I’m doing it with or without support, but it would make it easier if I could rent gear instead of having to haul mine and then drag it around for the rest of my two week trip. Contact Me if you might be interested!

Excited/Terrified: The Thin, Fine Line

I just saw the bracket for my division at the World Championships.

It added a whole new layer of realness to the past year of training and sacrifices. It just suddenly hit me.

The World Championships are this week.

Yes, I’ve know all year what I have been preparing myself for – ever since I lost the quarter finals last year by an advantage point. I got back home with the focus to correct my mistakes and win this time around.

I realized when I saw that bracket, that the feeling in my gut has been the same since I first started competing. It has been something I fight to control – the nerves.

Competition Jitters

I had debilitating competition nerves for the first few years I competed. My heart would start racing and I would have to puke if I ever just THOUGHT about an upcoming event – weeks in advance!

There was a phase where I would just immerse myself in watching a new anime series or reading science textbooks (nerd alert!) in order to keep my mind off th upcoming competition. I would have to take (probably unsafe doses of) sleeping meds in order to get to sleep at night in the weeks leading up to an event. Let’s just say, it was bad.

Then I found that if I just acted like a goofball through the whole process, it would relieve my nerves. The right music at the right time became key as well. I could listen to southern gospel, Andrea Bocelli, Broadway musicals, marching cadences, rock, and motivational speeches – depending on if I needed to chill out or hype up.

Goofball could only take me so far though. 

At the end of last year, my coaches talked with one another and determined that I was too unfocused on my matches and needed to be more mentally present with the intent to win. 

The Balance

To me, the psychological effects of being nervous, are almost identical to being extremely excited. What makes the difference is my perspective and how I handle the feelings. 

Trying to not feel any nerves made me lose my focus and intensity. This year I have made the determination to not consider nerves to be a bad thing, but a necessary tool to keep me sharp. It has been paying off.

So bring on the World Championship! I will be fighting on mat 3 on Friday, the 50th match. I’ve never been more ready, and I am pumped!

  

Rolling with Kryptonite

IMG_0675.JPGEveryone has them. Those team mates or opponents who seem to be your anti-Jiu Jitsu. The ones whose strengths perfectly match the weak points in your game.

They are frustrating, annoying, and my favorite people to train with.

While I may feel like nothing is being accomplished, and everything I’m trying to do is being shut down, it’s helping me learn much more quickly than if I were just breezing through a roll!

Having my normal tricks being shut down forces me to think creatively, step outside my box, and broaden my horizons. It teaches me patience, and keeps me from getting too big of an ego (girls have ego too!)

It’s for sure a frustrating thing and I’m writing this after spending an hour rolling nonstop with one of my krypton it’s team mates. I caught myself getting frustrated several times for not being able to stop the same sweep several times in a row. It required me to pause for a moment, breathe, and figure out what I was doing to give up the sweep, and adjust accordingly. Oh, and then get swept in a different direction. Ha!

The fast track isn’t easy. It’s hard on your body and may threaten to crush your spirit. The question is, will you accept the grind? Will you take the heat? If you persevere and don’t give in to frustration you will come out strong and awesome.

Now I’m gonna go home and watch Netflix with a fresh batch of henna in my hair!