First of all congratulations to the Goldson clan who become one more after the birth of a baby girl this weekend, few more to go before you get to Gracie numbers man 🙂
Just recently I feel that my game has come on a bit after a long plateau after I got to my blue belt. The other night for example I pulled off a move I was really pleased with using proper technique against someone I have really had nightmares against for the last 6 months or so.
Is this because I have got fitter and stronger, well maybe a little bit, is it because my technique has got better, no not at all because John drilled this move with me till I was fairly proficient a while ago. So what is the answer then, well I can only put it down to the fact that the fear which had crept into my game has finally gone away again. I did not really realise it had happened but now I look back it was very much the case.
I was a white belt for about 13 months and for the first 9 or so of them I was not worried what happened, I came I tapped I walked away learning a little something else new. The purple belts were a strange and scary breed who would do things to me I had never even seen but then would sit and explain it to me after wards and for that Max, Steve, Dunc, Paul Cole (brown now), Noel et al I owe you many thanks. The other blue belts like James, Rob, Ryan and Rich (last two purple now) were the same in fact everyone was great with John constantly spurring me on. I saw my mate come and go as it was a bit rough I think and another one join and surpass me in Big Hayden and life was good.
Then I went to three stripes and eventually in April I went to Blue Belt as is explained in an earlier entry/musing/ramble whatever you may wish to call it. From this point the nerves came in, I felt like I had to start doing more which in all honestly I did, I had to attack and get subs, I had to show I was worthy of my promotion and I just could not get subbed by a new guy. None of this was particularly conscious in my head and certainly no one said it to me it just crept into my game and like the 300lbs wet blanket that it made me it smothered it.
I became almost entirely defensive and due to my size and strength on the whole it worked well. Don’t get me wrong on the odd occasion that I chose to verbally self harm myself and give John some lip J he showed me that I could still easily be picked apart by an expert, as did many of the others lads. But on the whole it did work, I developed nice little rolls out of Omaplatas, and spins here and there which surprised people due to my size, but I then did nothing with that surprise and advantage. Here and there I might get an arm bar from side control after I had wet blanketed my opponent for a few minutes but all in all I was going no where.
I became sub consciously wary of sparring sessions in case I went up against someone who I knew could handle me as I felt like I had nothing to give back, I still went and enjoyed the roll but there was that something on my mind, which it turns out was fear. I was not worried about losing to X and Y but worried that I was not doing as well as I could, that I was not performing and showing that I deserved my Blue Belt, that I was not proving myself, the stupid thing is I was the only one who was asking myself to prove anything no one else on the gym was, only me.
Then a few month ago after I got a stripe and had a decent Seni a cloud lifted I kind of thought and felt that I had validated myself to myself. Like I say no one else was asking this and I know my team would have been there to shout me on if I had lost in the next 20 competitions in a row. Suddenly I relaxed and started to try things, so what if they got me tapped, that is after all the best way to learn. Throw a leg over, try a choke, make a move for an advance after all what is the worst that can happen, a team mate and friend can make you tap and you both smile shakes hands and start again. If a smaller man spins round you like the mistral and takes your back before you breath then good for him because next time I will pin him to the ground and make him swim in my waters, and if not next time then the time after. If a new guy taps me then great and I just remembered how that felt when I was brand new, it is a good feeling and one you can take home. Do not think this was ego as it really wasn’t as I hope that I will always be there to help folk like people were and still are there to help me, it was never about the fact that someone beat me, it was a personal thing, I felt I was better to draw or stalemate than lose. Now I realise that to draw and stalemate is worse than losing as it really is better to die on your feet than live on your knees.
Will the fear come back will I have these moments again, no absolutely not, well maybe, in fact almost certainly as self doubt from time to time is only human and keeps me a little more humble. In then end though I hope I remember this point in my journey when I decided “at least I will go out on my shield”.