Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Chapter and Reflections Since College

"Where there's discomfort, there's fear, in these very tough positions, you're in a little piece of hell. And through this daily suffering, you learn to survive in these situations. You have to find comfort in uncomfortable situations. You have to be able to live in your worst nightmare. Jiu-jitsu puts you completely in the moment where you must have complete focus on finding a solution to the problem. This trains the mind to build that focus, to increase your awareness, your capacity to solve problems. Sometimes, you don't have to win. You cannot win. But that has nothing to do with losing."

This is a saying from Rickson Gracie that I've come across recently but have been understanding in my daily life for the past few months. It's something I've been doing and not realizing it.

For example, when I moved away from home in suburban New Jersey to college in Atlanta, Georgia, I had to do all the things my parents had done for me in the past on my own. I had to get used to paying rent and utilities on time, cooking for myself, doing my own laundry without being nagged, keeping an apartment clean, and making sure all my doctor/dentist/etc. appointments were scheduled by ME. Maybe your life was different, but my parents played a hand in either doing to nagging me to do all of these things until I left for college.

If I didn't go far away to college, I think I'd be a really different person. I'd be less independent, less open-minded, and less aware of a lot of things. Having to track my utilities made me much more aware of how much water/power I use, and having to cook for myself forced me to teach myself how to cook and how to shop for groceries without paying too much and still getting the good stuff. I had to make sure I didn't go over my monthly account limit and that I didn't overdraw any money.

About two weeks ago, I started graduate school. I'm only about 45 minutes away from home in the great state of New Jersey, but everything I learned in the time I moved out to college has come in handy once again. The transition to cooking, cleaning, organizing, and doing all those things by myself has come forth once again. And this time, it'll probably be much more permanent, as I'm hoping a graduate school degree will land me a job that takes me away from home.

Now with graduate school on my plate, training has taken less of a priority in my life. Which has made me realize that for a while, I was looking at training the wrong way. That if I wasn't winning medals that I was a loser, that if I wasn't good enough to hang with the people I compete with that my jiu jitsu was worthless.

Well that is totally wrong! My goal is to perform to the best of my ability given my circumstances. It has been, and always will be, but I think that I've lost sight of that at times. Losing is never fun, but taking it so seriously when, in the end, it's just a few minutes if your life, is not healthy! Having that mindset means that you beat yourself instead of building yourself up. And ultimately, I think the goal of most people is to build themselves up via jiu jitsu, whether that's on or off the mat. Jiu Jitsu is a part of my life, but it's not my entire life. I'm pursuing a master's degree in urban planning with a concentration in transportation to ultimately improve access to public transit across the country. My career goals are social justice oriented, while my spare time is largely jiu jitsu oriented. The two are separate but not necessarily equal.

Oh, and now I'm training at an Alliance Jiu Jitsu affiliate. The gym is called Maximum Athletics, and houses boxing, tae kwon do, and BJJ in one gym. The instructor, Nelson Puentes, is an Alliance brown belt and owns the company Inverted Gear. You know, the company that makes the panda gis! But Nelson's open minded-ness, excellent teaching skills, and strong work ethic have definitely helped me a lot on the mat.

In 2013, the gym I was training at went downhill in a fast and bad way, as the instructor stopped showing up to teach and ultimately closed the gym, leaving many "homeless". I trained at a Renzo affiliate for a few months before I moved out for graduate school, leaving me with some inconsistent training that did not help the mindset I had before. But with my new gym, new chapter in life, and new mindset, I'm feeling pretty good!

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