Monday, May 30, 2011

It Takes a Family

I've been thinking a lot lately about my obsession with training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Being a wife and a mother and working full time requires a lot of preparation on my part to train.  It takes staying up late and washing gis and packing gym bags and making sure my protein cups are washed and ready for the next day.  It takes me eating right and drinking lots of water to ensure that I have a good training session.  It takes me being mentally prepared to step on the mat.

Enough about me, though.  What it really takes is my family.  It takes their support of my obsession.  It takes them sacrificing their time to be at the gym instead of at home.  They sacrifice precious time with me so I can be at the gym instead of at home with them.  It means their Dad or Maw Maw is taking them places at night instead of me, because I have to be at the gym to train.  They love me unconditionally, so they let me do this thing I love.  They don't understand it, well maybe a little bit, but they support me nonetheless.   I can't make them love it as much as I do, no matter how hard I try...and trust me...I've tried!!  My kids do enjoy training BJJ, but they are not obsessed like me.  Maybe it's because I started so late in the game and I feel like I have a lot to catching up to do.  As far as the husband is concerned, he has absolutely no interest in training (he does not want to be up close and personal with sweaty guys).   But you know what, he absolutely loves the fact that I love to train.  He is proud of my accomplishments and he supports me in this love affair I have with BJJ.  Let us not forget my Mom (a.k.a. Maw Maw).  She brings my kids to class when I can't get home in time and when my husband worked evenings.  She has  sat many hours in the gym waiting for my kids to finish to take them home while I stayed to train. 

To my family I would like to say "THANK YOU" from the bottom of my heart.  For Mrs. Ibarra, it takes a family to train BJJ - a family's love and patience and sacrifice and understanding.  So, for the rest of you out there who love to train BJJ, what does it take??

Friday, May 27, 2011

Post Tournament Blues

First things first...I am a 44-year old woman training BJJ at Elite MMA for almost 12 months.  I am a white belt with three stripes.  I'm going to start my first blog post with an excerpt from a journal entry I wrote a couple of weeks ago.  It was a couple of weeks after my first BJJ tournament (I did not do well, submitted by Americana in my first match...still a great learning experience and I am proud to say that I stepped out on the mat as a competitor).  Our instructor recommended to the class one night that we should consider keeping a BJJ journal (journal about everything, feelings, technique, diet, everything).  At first I wasn't too keen on that idea (how in the world do you write about BJJ technique, good grief, I can barely understand it visually, much less put it into words).  I decided to just dive in and do it.  I was quite surprised how much I enjoyed it.  It was just what I needed to get over my post tournament blues. 

May 12, 2011 -- I am writing this in hopes to clear my mind and to get out all those random thoughts and feelings about BJJ.  I sometimes get a little overloaded with all the information and thoughts and feelings and I need an outlet for it.  Sometimes it is hard for me to verbalize but it is easy for me to write.  A blank computer screen is an easy audience compared to telling a live person your thoughts and feelings.  So, here goes...

I am now eleven months into my BJJ training and feel like I've hit an invisible wall.  I'm having inner turmoil about my BJJ journey.  I love BJJ and I usually want to share it with the world, but lately I'm feeling a little awkward about sharing (especially with my coworkers and family).  I don't think they get it and they certainly don't understand why I love it (heck I don't understand why I love it, I just do)!!  I was really focused on training and learning and improving with a definite goal in mind (blue belt by the end of 2011).  Somewhere in the last couple of months I just stopped caring about the belt.  Maybe it's part of my evolution, maybe not.  I just started feeling like it didn't matter how many stripes I had or what color my belt was, it just mattered that I trained hard and learned and got better.  Is that bad?  I don't think so, but I also know that it's good to have goals and to be constantly working towards something.  It's kind of like having your eye on the prize, but in BJJ there's no real prize, just that empowerment and sense of accomplishment you feel when you know you are getting better (well maybe that is a prize in itself). 

I still struggle with some of the physical parts of BJJ (I'm still 40 pounds overweight and continue to have issues with my shoulder and neck and hip).  I still struggle with overcoming the fear that occasionally paralyzes me during training.  My physical struggles will start to be less of an issue as long as I continue to lose weight and avoid injury.  Overcoming that paralyzing fear will be a lifelong battle, but I'm in it for the long haul and I am confident I will be victorious. 

I'm struggling to find my place in this male dominated sport, along with a lot of other really amazing ladies.  I'm excited to be a part of the evolution of women in BJJ.  It's an exciting time for us ladies in this sport.  I am grateful for those who paved the way for us.  I also know that we are extremely lucky to train at Elite.  It's my safe place (weird that a place that I get my butt kicked on a regular basis is where I feel safe)!  I've joined a complex, tight-knit community that will always have my back.  I am grateful that they have embraced "Mrs. Ibarra" with all her strengths and weaknesses and weirdness and continue to encourage me and push me and help me to become the best person I can be.  Thanks Elite family!! 

Hope this weird feeling that I'm having goes away soon.  I feel mentally and physically unbalanced and a little unhinged.  I wish my body would start cooperating and do what it's designed to do.  Maybe another tournament is what I need to get me back on track? 

I want my jiu jitsu to become a thing of beauty.  I watch some of our guys and their jiu jitsu is so graceful and fluid and beautiful.  That's what I want mine to be like.  I believe that someday it will be.