Dear folks, it’s been a year. Not quite a year since I started my blog, but since starting jiu jitsu. Over the past year I’ve kept track of my training and my thoughts in various methods. I kept track of number of days trained on an app called Streaks – Motivational Calendar. Over the past year I realized I have trained: 117 days, which I believe roughly translates into 130 classes, or around 180 hours on the mats. Between getting my 4 stripes on April 7 and getting my blue belt on May 29 I trained approximately 30 days and 34 classes, and got in around 45 or 50 hours of mat time.

Things I am proud of:

1. Surviving BJJ drama and switching schools. I don’t think I ever shared why I changed schools. In short, at my first school there was a miscommunication between me and the instructor and the day before my Ukrainian vacation I left angry. When I came back the instructor told me I wasn’t welcome to train there any more because I’d disrespected him. I was shocked. After we hashed it out we both agreed there’d been a misunderstanding on both parts and I’d continue training there. However, while I was gone he had made a public announcement that I was no longer training there. I quit after finding that out. It made me terribly gun shy and I didn’t feel like I could talk about it at all. I was so terribly nervous that a new school might kick me out if I felt upset at all. Thankfully I found a new home and feel so very much part of the team. I love my new school and it’s such a great fit.

2. Surviving a nearly 15 week slump. I wrote about a 5 week break, but the reality is, over a span of 15 weeks I only made it to 6 classes. It was entirely related to the first situation I mentioned, and it happened only 4 months into my training. I don’t care who you are–if you are only 4 months into a program and stop doing it for so long it is DIFFICULT to come back. I am PROUD that I made it and came back even more determined. I DID NOT GIVE UP.

3. Earning my blue belt This was NOT something I expected. I am the first woman my instructor has promoted to blue. I am the only female blue belt at my academy. I am proud to wear it. I’m proud I earned it, especially because everything has felt like such a physical challenge. I came into all this with a black belt in tv watching and a couch shaped butt.

Not the couch-butt on the left, but the one on the right. But. Heh.

4. I’ve been an ambassador. Because I write about Jiu Jitsu World in Seoul and have written about it on Dave’s ESL Cafe, people have been able to FIND our gym. There are many gyms in Seoul, but most are on Korean sites.

5. I’ve lost weight and size. It’s why I originally joined BJJ. I mean, look at the difference between these pictures:

Left: DL pic from 2006, restaurant 2009. Right: ARC from 2011, bjj 2011.

6. I’ve stuck with it. SERIOUSLY a huge accomplishment.Not only have I stuck with BJJ but I’ve stuck with my blog (my sincere apologies, Slidey and the rest of you waiting on the reviews. Life is happening in a severe way)  and I’ve stuck with the Jiu Jitsu Forums.

Revolutionary concepts that I learned this year:

1. Moving I am so much more comfortable moving my body now! While my body HAD been a parked car, now I feel like it’s a step above clunker–reliable but occasionally stalls out. I’ll never be a sports model, but I’m thrilled that my body is able to move much more easily now.

2. Waiting I was so focused on trying to GET OUT FROM UNDER. Someone sits on you and you MUST GET OUT!!! Two things people said to me that made a huge difference: one was Coach James Foster, a black belt in Kent. He said “You really aren’t comfortable on the bottom, are you?” The second was from my friend DirtyRancher, a brown belt I met from the Jiu Jitsu Forums. I asked him “How do I get this person off me when they have heavy side control?” He essentially said: “Wait for them to move. They can’t submit you from that position.” Stunner. So I stopped freaking out if someone squashed me and I would focus on breathing and relax until they moved. Amazing.

Not just biding your time, WAITING FOR TO STRIEK!

3. Fortifying This is how I had to think of “Position before submission.” I didn’t really understand what it meant. Lately I’ve been focusing on how to strengthen and fortify what I have instead of reaching for a submission that may not be there. Essentially this is the BJJ equivalent of “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” A full mount is worth two potential armbars.

4. Standing up Wuuuuuut? I’m ALLOWED to do that? You mean, I can use my legs as leverage? I can put my feet on someone and arch my back and make them release their grip? Simple things like this–switching knees during combat stance–moving out of the way–revolutionary to me!

And finally–I wanted to share with you something funny. When I started looking into BJJ it confused me. “What’s the point of BJJ?” I asked my friend Steve. Then asked in another way “What’s the objective?” I couldn’t understand the IDEA of BJJ. He wrote me this email:

I think you were trying to get at, basically, why are we rolling
around on the ground, and how is it going to help in a real situation.
Basically, the answer to your question is that BJJ, and also Judo, revolve around being able to spar live, at full speed with 100% of your effort (if you choose. You can also just take it easy if you want) against another real live human being. In other words, it’s so that you can know exactly what does and doesn’t work, and what your REAL strengths and weaknesses are in a testable, objective way.

He was eloquent and to the point, but it didn’t answer my question. You see, I couldn’t understand how or why a jiu jitsu roll ended and what they were trying to actually DO. I mean, in TKD you are trying to KICK someone! Easy enough! Jiu Jitsu just looked like “sex fighting.” The answer to my question, which I hadn’t been able to ask clearly: the point of BJJ sparring is to submit your partner. It ends with a choke or an armbar. It ends when someone taps, cries uncle, or gives up. Got it. Check and check. 🙂 (or “choke” and “check” bahaha)

No, I will NOT photochop a picture of what sex fighting looks like, regardless of how much I want to make a picture of two guys "sword fighting."

My goals this year:

1. Keep track of my training hours. Already begun. Thankfully, Streaks has a spot where you can enter notes. Simple, and Slidey shared his training log with me.

2. Go at least 185 days this year. I want to go to BJJ at LEAST 50% of the year.

3. Develop a personal game plan. Simply put, I need to take charge of my learning experience and not simply rely on the instructor to guide me. I know enough now that I can figure out what I need to work on and ACTUALLY do it!

Thank you all of you for being with me on this journey and giving me support!

So now I ask you: what are you proud of this year, and what revolutionary concepts have you learned?