Progress is Incremental

I had a hard night at MMA sparring tonight. At the end of it I leaned against the wall in the women’s bathroom (yes, there is one of those, awesome) and looked up at the shower-head (wow, we have all the amenities!) and wondered if I could “do this.”

Wondering if one can “do this” is almost always counter-productive, because doing “this” usually means succeeding 200% of the time and being the Best In The Whole World Ever Of All Time. In other words, it represents an all-or-nothing, be-all-and-end-all definition of succeeding.

Luckily the same sparring partners who took me down and smacked me in the face from top half-guard reminded me of the incremental improvements that I had made. It’s hard to view one’s own progress objectively, so this kind of feedback can be valuable.

I was still angry at myself – angry because I was “unimpressed with my performance” and angry about the fact that I had allowed it to unbalance me emotionally. I didn’t feel like staying for the second training session (No Gi jiu jitsu), but I did because I knew that that was what I needed to do. (After all, discipline consists of doing what you need to do, not what you feel like doing.) I’m glad that I did. I exhausted myself with good, controlled rolling, and the success that I achieved ameliorated my frustrations about the sparring session.

Jiu jitsu has allowed me to learn a lot about what it takes to make progress in all areas of life. It’s important to allow yourself to enjoy what you do, and to be willing to make mistakes and get countered hundreds of times while you’re working on perfecting something.

Tonight I tapped someone for the first time with a submission that I’d been taught in 2011. You can imagine how many failed attempts there have been in the three years that have passed since that time.

It was a fitting reminder of the importance of persisting, of relinquishing unrealistic expectations when it comes to progression, and of striving for that 1% improvement every time I train. It’s not an all-or-nothing process, it’s a 1% improvement, one day at a time.

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The Grind: Someone is Watching

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 3.37.23 PMThere was a young woman at the gym this morning doing some observations as part of her Certificate IV in Fitness while I was doing a strength and conditioning session.

Dayni, my strength coach, introduced me as an MMA fighter and explained what we were doing in terms of strength and conditioning. The young woman was very interested, and asked me a lot of questions that I don’t usually “have time for.” Today, I took the time though. I answered all of her questions about how long I’ve been doing “this” for, why I started, how old I was, what I did for work, what I was doing for the rest of the day, what other training I did apart from weights training…

I’m glad that I did, because now I realise that she was asking because I was something that she’d never seen before. It’s hard for me to recognise that some people see me that way, because to me what I do is so normal, so ordinary, so tedious at times, that it doesn’t warrant consideration and I find it hard to understand why people are asking me “basic” questions like what I’m doing “after this.”

As if to confirm the validity of the thoughts I’ve been having lately about putting myself out there as a way to somehow add value to the lives of others – and particularly to expand the minds of girls and young women – this young woman said:

“I love it when I see girls do things like this. It makes me believe that I can do anything.”

 

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Where Did You Want To Be Two Years Ago?

I was recently prompted to “write the post that was on my mind when I decided to start this blog.”

I went back over my archives and read my first post. It was February 2012. I was enjoying my first year of good health after chronic fatigue syndrome.

I wrote:

Me, 2012, with cake and neck injury
Me, 2012, with cake and neck injury

“Where I’d rather be now is reaching more people through my personal training business, competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, fighting in Muay Thai again both here and in Thailand, and making my debut in Mixed Martial Arts. These are the things that have formed the basis of 2012′s Resolutions, which in turn determine the actions I take each day to make these a reality.” 

Since then, I moved some goal-posts. Transitioning from Muay Thai to MMA was more difficult than imagined, so my goals to have more Muay Thai fights and to go to Thailand have been superseded by my focus on grappling.

I have seen how competitive the personal training industry has become, and how much more clients need than basic exercise programs. I continue to work with fitness clients, while making myself a better exercise specialist and, eventually, a holistic nutritionist through formal study.

One area of my life has gone according to plan, and that’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Losing via ground-and-pound stoppage in an MMA fight against Arlene Blencowe last year turned out to be a blessing. It has driven me to develop my grappling skills.

Last weekend I competed in the South Australian Brazilian Jiu Jitsu State Championships – my first competition as a blue belt.

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On Performance Issues

Photo courtesy of my team-mate Dan Dwyer. Follow him on Instagram @dandwyerbjj
Photo courtesy of my team-mate Dan Dwyer. Follow him on Instagram @dandwyerbjj

Yesterday I competed in the Synergy Typhoon Haiyan NoGi Competition. For those of you who don’t know, it was a no-gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition organised by Synergy Fight Shop to raise funds for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. It wasn’t a prestigious comp – no medals, no prize-money, no chance to qualify for anything – but it was a great chance for everyone in Adelaide to test their skills and help some less fortunate people by doing something we all love.

For me, the comp had some personal significance as well, and I thought I’d share it because it involves an aspect of performance that not many people seem to want to talk about. I have to swallow my pride a little bit to discuss this openly, but here goes…

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…Back Online!

Here I am, returning to this blog somewhat sheepishly after having neglected my postaday challenge! I’m not too hypocritical to admit to having fallen off track, but am also showing that it’s never too late to pick up where you left off! If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, you may be doing the same thing with your exercise and healthy eating routine now that the weather is warming up and your thoughts turn to bikinis and mini-dresses.

What I have been doing, though, is training super-hard for my MMA debut on Australia’s first-ever all-female cage-fighting event on October 27th.

Make sure you click “Like” on the Brace Facebook page to stay up-to-date on the fights!