Monday, April 14, 2014

Faxia Preta

My instructor and I are friends. We've both been dealing with injuries. Last week I dropped him a text to see how his neck was going. He replied:
"...How's the knee? You should come to class on Saturday. Andrew is going to be there... Gunna be a good day I think.. "
I thought that was a bit weird. I wasn't going to come because my knee was a total mess, but when the instructor says you should come to class; you come to class. We lined up and Micah awarded belts to 7 people (1 purple, 2 brown, and 4 black including myself). I really had no idea. The "Andrew is going to be there" (Drew is a black belt from our school who moved down to Portland recently) Threw me completely off the scent. I figured Brian was getting promoted (he did) and I was just being subtly informed so I could be there for him.
The four of us promoted to black belt range from 6.5 to 9 years on the mats. I could not be more proud to wear my lineage and to share the same promotion date as the other 3 gentlemen. The whole thing is completely surreal. I keep saying it to myself: I am a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black belt.
It feels like a lie. It is the dunning-kruger effect. I joked with Brian who was promoted moments ahead of me "I don't know what Micah is talking about; in my head you and I are still blue belts, and Paul and Ian (long time black belts) are still purple belts."
It's so strange how our self perception fixes in a point where we are most comfortable. I know empirically that I am good on the mats, but I also know all the times my guard gets passed, and all the times I've been tapped. I know all of my weaknesses and will never be satisfied. Maybe I'll never feel like how I think a black belt should. Honestly, I kind of hope I never do.
I have to say, this was never one of my goals. Which is not to say I don't appreciate the honor as bestowed upon me, and also not to say that I did not know that I would continue to train until and well after being awarded my black belt. Your goals should be things you have control over, and belt promotion is far outside of what I can control. That makes it a terrible goal.
Good goals are things like:
Train X number of times per week.
Improve my guard.
Work the Rodolfo pass in sparring every time I train.
Only collar chokes on white and blue belts.
These are goals that I can choose to accomplish. Belt promotions are nebulous and subjective. They are at your instructor's discretion. Conversely if you just train hard, and pay attention, belts will come. If you worry about belts, you end up doing silly stuff that does not improve your jiu jitsu. Train like you've already got a black belt and it will come.
My own insecurities aside, I have been promoted. Now I need to get healthy and train.



SICP white belt said...

Congratulations man, that is huge! Testament to both your work and your understanding of bjj and grappling. Reading such updates makes me miss Ballard a ton.

Since its been awhile, also happy birthday and sorry about the knee.

Somehow reading this has brightened my day and motivated me to go train (which I will do as soon as I post this).

J.B. said...

Much appreciated..


mini said...

"Your goals should be things you have control over, and belt promotion is far outside of what I can control. That makes it a terrible goal."

Hear, hear! I appreciate the beltlessness of no-gi grappling and muay thai. Belts tend to reinforce egos and make people focus on the goal rather than the journey. Though I do get that belts serve as a nice mental milepost. Personally, I'm pretty content with "Escaped that guy's side control" or "Finished an upside-down flying toaster-choke in sparring".

That said. Congrats! You've stuck to a thing 99% people quit within that time frame. That's some next level stubbornness.

J.B. said...

The caveat to that is there is a sense of accomplishment, and belonging that one gets by being awarded your black and blue belts respectively that cannot be replaced. Those two moments are some of the best of my life.

Thanks! You have pretty much encapsulated the very essence of my persona!
Hope your training is going well (saw you were fighting the injury bug.. damn thing).
Thanks for reading!

Kenneth Brown said...

I got promoted a few months before you did, and it still feels a little strange to tell people that I have a black belt. It's good thing though that there is still so much room for growth. That's what I focus on now.