Category Archives: grading

Stripe Testing

You’re looking at a new second stripe! Considering I’ve never tested for any type of martial art before, I was a little more than intimidated. Here’s my account of the nerve-wracking, but wonderfully rewarding experience!

R came over the day before to go over some last minute points for the requirements. We did some movement drills, tumbling, and practiced scissor sweeps until the scabs on my elbows?! broke open again. I seem to be stuck in this endless cycle of healing/recovery when it comes to the variety of mat burns on my body. Anyway, moving on! We drilled briefly so that I wouldn’t be overtired for the test, and got an early night’s rest.

I woke up early on Sunday and after a quick walk with the pup, I headed over the gym. I overestimated my time, so I went to hang out with R for a bit before skipping off to the gym since they’re fairly close by.

A few of the guys were milling about outside the gym doors – which were locked. The blue belts were still testing and we weren’t privy to their testing requirements. Most of the guys that I’ve been drilling with regularly were there, and it was nice just to laugh and joke around for a bit before the test started.

I was the only girl (though not surprising) that was testing and we grouped with a pair of guys that I’ve had the opportunity to roll with for a few classes now. It was relief to test with people you’ve rolled with in class. I’m learning that certain people have particular styles that have strengths and weaknesses in all areas. Our head instructor called our names and rotated through the various requirements. I think I messed up during one of the stack pass drills and quickly settled into guard and tried again. We had the opportunity to do all the requirements a few times, and on both sides. Then, came the fun part!

We were then asked to do ‘positional training’ while we switched partners in 5 minute intervals. I have a poor sense of time when I’m grappling on the mats, so they may have been closer to 2 minutes, but they felt like forever! I rolled with A, and laughed when I almost clipped him in the head with a knee. We have a running joke in class that I seem to aim for his head whenever we roll.

At the end of the test, we lined up and congratulated each other as we were called up and given our stripes. It’s a small step in a much larger journey, but one that I’m proud to say that I’m dedicated to.


Putting in the hours

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, he speaks of talent and ultimately the dedication and persistence people put forth into developing a skill/habit/character. That magic number: 10,000 hours. As a child, I’d always heard that nothing comes without hard work. Persistence and dedication were the two major ideals that were drilled into our head as kids. As the first born child of conservative first-generation immigrants to Canada this particularly held true for whatever ambitions I had.

Joking that I’m dedicated to ‘putting in the hours’, doing a bit of rough math equates to the following numbers:

Training 5-6 times/week 10 hours week/520 hours a year / 19.3 years. That number is an average which should ‘hopefully’ include competitions once I get to that point! In short, it means that if I can achieve any type of measure of proficiency in BJJ in the next 19 years, I’ll be more than happy. That puts me at an age of…45. I’d be happy if I was still actively training and competing at 45 years of age!

There’s belt stripe testing at the end of the month at the gym, and I’ll be testing for my second stripe. Sort of exciting, and sort of nerve wracking at the same time. R’s going to come over and go over the test requirements next week and put in some extra training. Wish me luck!

Another slow start

March has been a really slow start thus far. I had to miss out on training the whole week last week because I was working night shifts. There’s nothing that puts a damper on my mood than being sleep deprived, and being deprived of a sport I’m learning to love.

R made up for a lacklustre week in training by putting me through my paces twice last week. We trained on Thursday and threw another quick workout yesterday (Sunday). In addition, I also had the chance to roll with some friends at a big grappling event on Saturday night. So, I did get my grappling fix in this past weekend!

I had a bit of a discouraging morning on Sunday though. I came out of the shower and was slightly puzzled by the image in the mirror. I can’t say that I’m happy with the rate of improvement thus far. I haven’t lost any weight (still at a steady 130lbs) but the fat isn’t being converted to muscle fast enough. I think I over-estimate the amount of caloric intake my body really needs. I’ve been training consistently for about two months now and June is approaching faster than I anticipated. I’m not particularly vain about my looks, and I’m feeling pretty well-rested and healthy these days. It helps when I’m sleeping consistently of course, but the occasional naps are still a fairly regular occurrence. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that I have to stop everything I’m doing and lie down for 15-30min in the mid afternoon every day just to keep at a healthy functioning level well into the evenings.

There’s stripe testing at the new gym at the end of the month, so that’s even more incentive to get going on the increased fitness regime. I’ve upped the cardio by putting in at least 1km swims in the mornings three times a week before BJJ class on days that there aren’t two classes back-to-back. I went this morning with a good friend who lives in my building and practically felt like dying after the first 700 meters. It’s really quite sad considering I swam competitively for 7 years of my life.  But nobody needs to know that… right? 😛