I'm sore and bruised. My neck got tweaked last night learning how to escape mount with a meatball shaped purple belt riding my chest. I have abrasions and scratches everywhere. my back and hips hurt from using muscles that have probably been dormant since I was 8. And I LOVE it.
I started training UFC (just kidding) about two months ago in a long journey that I'm calling my "renaissance." Years of crippling anxiety and depression problems began to mount about a year and a half back and I decided that it was time to take action. I'm not a person who takes easily to spilling my guts to someone I've never met, and I didn't want to have to take little white pills for the rest of my life. So I got an Anthony Robbins book and started my journey. I read his first book "Unlimited Power" and immediately began to apply the principles to my life. About a month before my 24th birthday, I decided to take action. I'd had a crush on a girl I'd seen commuting on the same train for a few months, and never had the courage to talk to her. I decided the first step of my renaissance would be to do just that. After a nerve-racking 30 minutes, and a lot of self- deprecation (one could call it self-defecation, as I was "shitting" on myself to get pumped up), I finally introduced myself. Next month is going to be our year anniversary.
The next step in my Renaissance was getting a new job. Mission accomplished last January. On to MMA training. I've been a fan since the finale of the first Ultimate Fighter, and since then I've always wanted to train. It was something I looked into, but never made the commitment. I guess, in the back of my mind, I was scared. Scared of being really bad. Scared of getting hurt. My anxiety was still preventing me from achieving what I wanted.
Through an awesome twist of fate, I got an email from one of those discount websites for a really great price on 3 months of unlimited training at one of the schools nearby. I immediately bought it and enrolled.
Walking into the gym on the first day was intimidating. I've never taken a martial arts class, and haven't wrestled since 8th grade, for about a week. I thought I would be way, way out of my league. But I found out some surprising stuff about myself. First, I can hit hard. Hard enough that without technique, anyone holding pads for me usually makes a point of telling me. My kicks aren't good, because I lack mobility in my hips, but my jab and hook are crisp and powerful. Finding this out about myself was an immediate boost of confidence.
The first day of jiu-jitsu training was laughable. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But I started picking it up. I've watched so many hours of MMA now that I can really visualize what happens in fights and apply it to what I'm doing. Over the first few weeks, I kept progressing. In one rolling session I submitted my partner, who had been training slightly longer than me, four times. I got him in two arm triangles, one in half guard and one in side control, and slapped on the first triangle of my life. Man, it felt good. Then, one of the most awesome moments I've had in any sport happened. During a transition I saw my opponent turn his back for a split second and I jumped on the opportunity. I slapped on a rear naked choke and with my build, there was no way he was getting out. The submission was so slick that a few regulars gave me some big props. It felt awesome.
Riding this high into the next class, I thought it was time for a step up in competition. Having never rolled with anyone but white belts, I had no idea how truly evident the difference in skill levels was between belts. I asked a purple belt to roll with me, and he acquiesced. Then promptly put on a highlight clinic. I was tapped out every possible way, including a wrist lock that I've never seen in any grappling competition. I realized just how vast the amount of stuff I don't know about the sport is.
Besides learning that I actually have some natural talent for the sport, I also have learned how resilient I am. I fend off chokes while in terrible positions and I don't quit. And Kudos to Kid Nate- your Judo Chops really do work. Remember how people spoke about Randy Couture defending the anaconda from Big Nog in their epic bout? Randy covered his hand with his ear and was able to keep his base to avoid getting rolled. Last night, I was in an awful position- I had been mounted and then put into an arm triangle. I remembered this advice, and was able to avoid the choke.
These first two months have shown me just how little I know about the sport, and I couldn't love it more. There is such a wealth of knowledge to be gained, and I see just how much when a tiny 150 lbs purple belt is tossing me (200 lbs, pretty solid) around with ease. This is not a sport of brute strength. It truly is physical chess. And I'm not stopping until I get my blue belt. After that, I probably won't until I get my purple. I'm coming back for more, and more, and more.
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