Approaching my second-degree black belt test, I’ve reflected a lot on my black belt training and how it’s affected my life even outside of martial arts. My first degree test showed me what I’m capable of in so many ways. I learned that I’m a sprinter (relatively speaking!), that I am totally capable of “real” pushups, and I reaffirmed how much joy and strength I take from being part of a team. I also learned that the secret ingredients I was missing in most of my pursuits were structure, appropriate planning and reaching out to others for support.
Applying those lessons to my everyday life helped me navigate some real-life challenges in the past two years. One unfortunate side effect of applying the black belt pixie dust to my life is that I allowed my training to take a lower priority for a number of months. I’ve kept up with learning new skills, but I haven’t applied the focused intent required to really own those skills.
Our Beyond the Mat lesson this week is “You have to want it, and you have to work hard for it.”
I do want it. I miss it, which is an odd thing to say as there has barely been a week in the last 24 months that I haven’t been on the mat at least once. And it’s not even the rank that I want, or that sweet red uniform — I want the hard work. I want to dig in and own my techniques. I want to practice rolling and falling until it’s the default way I’d land if I went over the handlebars on my bicycle. I want to drill armbars to omoplatas until my body sets it up for me without my logical mind having to think it in so many words. I want to put myself in uncomfortable situations in sparring and grappling, and train the mindset that will anchor me in extreme situations.
I think I’ve reached the point where, as Dave Camarillo, the founder of our Guerilla Jiu Jitsu program would say, I crave the battle, not the glory. There’s not a whole lot of glory to be had in being a middle aged woman with four cats, a laptop and a black belt — but it’s the work that goes into that belt that brings out my best self.