After my last post and the response to it both on line and in person it got me to think about the nature of a team and the difference between one in name and in reality.
I have spent most of my life playing team sports with the main one which I was pretty decent at being Rugby League. Now my main bulk of games over a number of seasons were for differing junior and academy level teams for the Sheffield Eagles RLFC. I loved it absolutely loved it and when my knee injury came it was devastating both physically and mentally. However now I look back on it and on my team mates who at the time I thought meant so much to me as we were such a tight team and I wonder.
At the end of the day I got a few messages and some folk stayed in touch, even to this day, some went on to become top flight international players almost all didn’t. But even through my time playing I realise one thing now, yeah we wanted to win and to do well but most of all ‘I’ wanted to do well. Not just me but every player in the team thought first of ‘I’, admittedly yes we were younger and there would only ever be so many contracts so we had to scrabble with our team mates to be top dog. Scoring a team try was great, being the player to score it was amazing, note I played prop and only got 1 career try :-).
Now do not get me wrong we were a team as of course we always had a common enemy, the opposition were the number one focal point. However tucked away was the fear that in defeat we would look bad or that someone else’s dropped ball may reflect on you as the man who passed it. Also I was as guilty as any when players got hurt, they went to the back of my mind normally as that as just the way.
Now this was in a ‘team’ sport one where the value of team was pushed so hard every week, live as a team die as a team and all that, but it was not true I have seen man of the match go to someone on the losing side more that once. It was just not as it seemed back then I guess and this has been brought home to me by GB Sheffield.
I am struggling at the moment that much is true both with injury and with my state of mind/focus/confidence/chi/force/wax on wax off call it what you will. Yet as you will often read individuals state BJJ is at the end of the day a solo sport, you roll on your own in competition and you win or lose on your own.
From what I have found however this is just not true.
I have been to a couple comps and come back with (as they say up north) nowt, but never once did I feel like a failure or had let the team down and I was always in the team photo line up. Of course personally it hurts but at the gym it does not matter you are applauded for going and representing with honour and pride and then helped with the areas that let you down.
Since I have been hurt I have been asked numerous times how I am and how I am getting on by a lot of folk (update elbow will not straighten, foot is limiting me to two sessions a week max, so about as fit as normal :-)). Last Monday I went down to training after my last post and folk just wanted to help me, Fiddy gave me a clinic on starting from knees while not starting actually from knees, and yes bro I have been working in it. Naz, Ross, Chaz, Yousef et al came to chat and see if they could help in any way on stuff I was struggling with and James ‘Spin’ Fairclough suggested that I was not going through anything no one else had been through.
The whole atmosphere was one of help assistance and understanding, one of a real team. It made me think of the times that I have sat watching others at comps with GB guys sat round me competing or just watching and I was never thinking of anything other than they guy competing. For them to do well for themselves and represent us with all their skill, win or lose does not matter as the fact that you are there under the banner and have put yourself in the spot light is what matters. Your effort and the manner which you conduct yourself is applauded and that is what matters when you get back from the gym.
It is the same when it comes to belts and stripes, you can see in people’s faces that they are genuinely pleased for you when you achieve one as it is a boost to the team and to the gym.
What is this down to, is it the ethos of “Organised like a team…Fight like a family”? Yes it probably has something to do with this, but more so I put it down to two things. John our coach fosters the team thing, never pushing it but making it something we all understand, we need to be there for people as they will be for us. Never do something to your team mate you would not have done to yourself and above all remember we all matter to each other, we are as strong as the weakest member (who at the moment is probably stronger than me, so I guess then it is me :-))
The other thing is the people, a genuine, decent, friendly and helpful bunch of folk who I would do all I could for, despite that maybe not being that much as my skills are fairly limited unless you need a database building :-). These are the foundations of the team and of my progress so far in this sport that I only regret not finding earlier.
So two final things, good luck to Sam on Friday as he furthers his impressive fledgling MMA career.
Finally without the numerous guys I have mentioned so far in these posts and those who I have not mentioned because I am terrible with names you know who you all are and thank you.