(Please excuse me while I throw a little pity party up in here.)
Up comes an ambitious-looking lad, one full belt rank below mine. “Hey guys!, anyone feel like rolling with me?” He was practically bursting at the seams of his double-weaved gi to get at the upper belts and I knew he was looking to test his best skills against us. “Go get him!” my friend said half-joking. Right away I could feel that this guy was thirsty for blood. He started on his feet attempting to pass my guard when I mistakenly left my foot out too far. He grabbed it and fell back -I should have had at least one grip on him- and the footlock war was on. I brought my free foot into the party hoping to pry the other out but he grabbed both and somehow crossed them on me. Next thing I knew I felt tremendous pressure on one of my shins so I sat up in a last ditch effort to escape. It was too late, he had it locked in tight. I swear I could sense my belt turning white as I tapped.
What went wrong? First off, I want to say that the kid did everything right and he deserves all the credit for this. His skill was impressive and he moved aggressively yet skillfully, but at the same time I was very upset with my own performance. I know I’m going to tap (a million more times in life) but in my heart I knew that I didn’t do my best in that moment. I also realized that not being in top physical condition was keeping me from going all out when I had to. This became apparent during my next few rolls.
My new rolling partner was the same rank as me but he was flowing and moving without breaking a sweat. He got me twice and I was able to catch him once, but from the physical side you’d think I had just run a marathon and he had just been on the beach sippin’ a mojito. My body felt drained of all energy so it began rebelling. “MOVE LEG!” I would scream in my mind, but it disobeyed me. “GET ON TOP!” but I stayed on bottom. This results in getting dominated a lot and when I do get submissions they’re often what I refer to as “lazy subs” such as heel hooks and footlocks.
The drive home was a mess of self-talk, near tears, and sore legs. Questions often haunt a BJJ practitioner: “Will I ever get great or will it always be a struggle?” “How can I look to get my next belt if I’m getting submitted by lower belts?” “Should I just take up Tai Chi?” Giving up always sounds appealing minutes after you’ve had a bad day at the gym but for us “BJJ lifers” it’s never an option. I hate to admit it but getting embarrassed is quite the motivator for me. Does it work for you too? Let me know. As for now I’ll be ramping up my conditioning, eating better, and spending more time tweaking my technique so this happens less and less. Thanks for checking in. 🙂 -Mike