Where your rights begin

Most people have the greatest trouble understanding what they can or can not do.
Here english not being my mother language shows all its limits, so I’ll try to explain myself as clearly as possible.
Most people have no idea how they can or cannot react, how far they can go, how sharply they can point out something, where their rights begin.

Can you tell your boss to fuck off if he’s asking you the nth unpaid overtime work?
Is it appropriate to break somebody’s arm because he touched your ass?
Can you not answer somebody’s call because you don’t want to hear from them?
Can you tell your boyfriend you don’t wish to go out because you’d like to be alone and watch a movie?

The question is not “can these things be done?” but “is it your RIGHT to do these things in these situations, or would you be going too far, would you be overreacting, would you be passing boundaries?”

I could of course give you my answer, but that wouldn’t be much of an use. What really matters, is for you to understand where your rights start and end. Where the lines are drawn. 

When I was still in school, I sucked at math. I was really, really bad. I remember getting a 6 or 7 a couple of time in a test at high school, any other was a 4. It has always been like that and I also took private lessons once or twice a week. I was very good at every other subject.
My mother used to say (and she still says that, if asked) that I didn’t put enough effort in math. Not in the “she does not study enough” way: I knew the rules and that’s why I always managed to get a 6 for the end of the year. But I could not apply them. I could put all the effort in the world and be just able to progress so little.
If I really sat down at my desk trying to solve math problems all day long, maybe I could have gone a little further during one in a test. One or two equations further. Ending one seemed impossible. But I liked maths. I really put my best efforts in it. I really sought for a reward.

I would like to tell you that this whole math thing has an happy ending, but it has not. I left high school with 5/15 in the exit math test and I decided that it would have happily been my last encounter with it.

But still, my mother says that I COULD HAVE PUT SOME MORE EFFORT.

Yes, I could. You can ALWAYS put some more effort in something.
But always know your rights. Here a very labile right comes in: the right to suck at something and still enjoying doing it.

Nobody is going to actually tell you that you CAN NOT enjoy something you suck at. But you’ll become a basis for comparison (on the lower asset of course). You’ll see the others progress, get better, learn things, get stripes, win tournaments, and still there you are, getting under a white belt mount so many times you can’t even tell.

Yes they are bigger. Yes they go harder. Yes you train less than them. Yes they are male. Yes, maybe all of these together. But let’s just say it plainly: your best just isn’t as good as their. Your best just isn’t good enough.

That’s it. And you would not think about it for a split second, if there weren’t all the people comparing to each other all around. Yeah, we all know, to keep an ego-free gym, nobody should compare himself to others. BJJ is SO ego-free (yeah, sure).
Everybody does that. That’s fucking obvious. You will always measure your progress by how many time you got out of that guy’s back control, how many times you got that other guy under side control and so on. Maybe not by how many times you tap somebody, yeah, kudos to you. I am the one whose back control people’ll always escape. That’s something certain, like “c’mon bro you were so tired you didn’t even manage to escape her side control”.

Name a single purple belt that would not be disappointed in getting tapped by blue belts all the time. I want the fucking names.

And everybody wants to build some image of themselves, whatever that image being. Everybody wants to prove they are the best, better, or at least good, and to prove it you need to compare yourself to others.
Then, there’s me.
When you are so unlucky to be the lightest (and almost only) woman in a BJJ class, you know that it’s not how it can work for you. Yes, you could be one of those great BJJ girls who can do magic tricks on the mats against everybody, but facts are: you are not. So your fate is to actually be mounted, back mounted, tapped, side controlled and thrown all the time. But I am also so lucky to have encountered maths and learnt somethings: how to suck fiercely. I don’t need to pretend.
I may have not known that when I started, but now I do. I don’t have a very strong top game because I almost never get there. And that “almost” never moves from almost.
I never – really, never – get a solid mount. I always get thrown around.
The last time I tapped somebody was… well… last year maybe? Somewhere last year.
Guard game? Sure. When a 180 lbs man tries to open your guard, it opens. It works with 170 too. 160. 150. 140. 130. Yeah.
You tryin’ takedown? Hope to be fast enough for them not to sprawl. And I’m not fast. At all.

Of course I do strenght and conditioning. Yeah. I’m bad, I told you so. It’s not just the effort. How much fucking effort should I be putting in it to get as good as a normally-gifted person, for god’s sake. I wouldn’t have all that time even if I had 72-hours days.
Sport is just not my thing, like maths. And no amount of mothers telling me that I may be putting some more effort can change that.

And yes, it can be demising. Knowing people sayin’ they are so tired you could tap them too. People not rolling with you cause they want a real challenge for this sparring session. Spending 5 minutes under side control. And spending them again another time. And another.

Some people just don’t get better at other people’s rate. Yes, you can always improve your techinique and yes, how much and how fast depends on your commitments, but not everybody is the best. Good. Or decent.

But I enjoy BJJ. And I claim my right to suck. I claim my right to be stuck under side control from when I started, almost 3 years ago. I claim my right not to be fast. I claim my rights not to be able of doing the maths.
I may suck at BJJ, but I know where my rights stand.
I have the right to enjoy sucking at what I like.
I will suck at BJJ for many years to come, cause I just don’t quit the things I enjoy.

Others may do that, and I don’t blame them. Better people will quit. And better people will come. I am bad. But I am consistent. I will always be there. I am prepared to get tapped by white belts when I’ll be a black belt. And I won’t get it because I’m good.
I will get it because I will always stand.

p.s. I anyway suggest you don’t try to make a job from things you are not good at, no matter how much you like them

When the queens fall

Okai, I’ve been away for a very long while but changing all the editor is not a nice way to welcome me back, wordpress.

If you’re wondering: yes, I still train BJJ! No, no stop in my journey. I’m just full of stuff to do and, at the end of the day, after my training, I veeery often chose to watch a movie or read a book or craft some jewels or draw instead of uploading my blog. I still attend my stage at the hospital, hoping to get a paid job, and still switch to communications manager/handyman for my gym in the afternoon, so even if I am always busy I don’t earn very much at all, and always feel the urge of the unaccomplished, forcing me to DO and DO and DO. I always have things to DO.

BJJ is my happy, quiet, slow place. I don’t have to hurry and I don’t have to THINK. Thinking about one million things at the time is something I am really enjoying getting rid of for that 1-2 hours per day. I lose and find myself again in training, and happiness follows along. It empties my mind. My body does the hell of a job trying to submit and escape and sweep and whatever, but I’m resting. I am where nor me nor you exist.

I have also read a lovely BJJ book, the one by BJJ globetrotter (you can find it here, there’s ebook version too and it’s really worth its price).
A BJJ-mate bought a special-offer pack this summer, and he was joking with Graugart (author of the book and owner of the BJJ Globetrotter website/idea/stuff) about the fact that, being my size, he had stolen it from me. Graugart was so nice to send mee a free signed copy, a keychain and some stickers, really living up to the message he passes on in the book. It’s a great reading and very affordable even if your english is not proficiency supermaster level of the seven kingdoms.

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But let’s get to this post header. Yep, Ronda Rousey lost her match. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please catch up here.
Since I’m not the buzzer beater of any news, I’m writing with uhm… a week of delay? Everything that had to be said has been said.

Holly Holm of the US (R) lands a kick to
Here’s my opinion about the debates it opened:

1) Holly Holm had GREAT game, like GREAT. Before the match everybody was like “oh Ronda will take it to the ground and Holly will be done”: well, she had the hell of takedown and armbar defense to be somebody with “no ground game”. Why do so many people talk instead of training? Gawsh.
Plus yes, she’s a big girl but weighted exactly as much as Ronda, in case nobody noticed. This video shows, analizes and highlights what an amazing grappling work Holm did and it’s definitely worth the watch.
I thought christimas was coming very soon this year, when Ronda punched Holly and, in-between the time she loaded and delivered the punch Holm was on the other side of the cage, so fast Ronda fell on her knee.

2) You don’t talk shit of people and then expect them to ggwp when somebody brings you as down as they can.
Some people are naturally classy, but maybe not everybod can be as classy as Cyborg; or strict but fair like Laila Ali, not to mention Holm – heavily disrespected during the staredowns, who didn’t even whisper “bitch” while knocking her out – as even Buddha would have whispered at that point.
Miesha Tate just let everything out, and Gabi Garcia kicked in heavily, even if she removed it later.
You don’t kick people’s asses while climbing up the stair of success, or you’ll have your ass kicked when you’ll have to climb down the same path.
We have a saying here in Italy, translating as “If you plant wind, you’ll harvest storms”. So bad Ronda didn’t have wise a grandma to tell her.

3) Linking to point 2, lots of people are saying Ronda doesn’t deserve all this hate, that everybody should be grateful because she brought female MMA to the great audience, the record-breaking ppv, the sponsors, the money.
And they are right. And this is the biggest defeat for Ronda: to be always remembered as “the woman who made female MMA famous”, a pioneer who deserves all the due respect but is now in a completely different category than undefeated female fighters like Laila Ali or Megumi Fuji – or Holly Holm, as far as we know.
The best in the world on her worst day is already forgotten, is already going to be somebody else. 

My problem with seminars

I really love taking parts in seminars. Since my academy uses to invite some world champion now or then, I usually take the chance and partecipate.
They are usually not super-expensive and we host them or have some nearby just a few times a year, so why not.

Last one was with Amaury Bitetti (picture) and was HUGE, like 5 days Camp with 2 training sessions per day and a lot of techniques.

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I couldn’t attend all the classes of course but it was a lot anyway.
I practiced a lot of super effective and beautiful and smooth and “simple” techniques but may I be damned if I remember more than 2 or 3 of them, and I have to say I REALLY liked almost all of them very much, practiced all the time and again before class the next days. I would like to say I was overloaded with informations but well, it’s not just that.
When we hosted the Braulio Estima seminar last year he taught us just a few techniques, mostly based on his inverted triangle but I must really be missing something cause I almost never manage to close one.

I encounter this problem in regular classes too, of course. There are lots of great techniques I wanna learn and then I just find I have troubles executing the basics and I focus on them in sparring. Maybe I will learn a decent amount of techniques by purple belt, or maybe I’ll be a black belt that only uses the basics 😀

New beginners time of the year is also coming over, so I’m waiting to see how many neck cranks I’m going to collect this time. Yay, I love this time of the year so much 😐

You find excuses, I take your ankle

Some time ago I was rolling with a brand new white belt who was going super hard.
In spite of the inherent idiocy of thinking a blue belt woman has not learnt how to deal with an average-weight bullrushing white belt, I tried to be a wise and friendly upper belt and after 5 minutes of dominating the poor bullrushing guy, I told him that he should have paced down a bit, just in case he didn’t like being exhausted after 2 minutes. To add authority to this I pointed out the fact that I was breathing normally while he was panting.
AND THERE CAME THE EXCUSES.
“but you are young”
“I am, but see” I pointed out to my bf, who had just finished his roll “he’s 40 and he’s not panting too”
“but he’s a purple belt”

WELL THEN FOR GOD’S SAKE GO ON LIKE THAT. Cool, you are fine, you know everything, there is really no reason why you are exhausted after 5 minutes of rolling with a 20-kg lighter woman, and if you don’t start BJJ at 5 years old in order to get your blue at 16 you are totally screwed.

Fact is, I hate excuses.
“I can’t lose weight, I have slow metabolism” THEN EAT LESS AND EXERCISE FOR FUCK’S SAKE
“But I hate running so much” THEN LIFT WEIGHTS, SWIM, WHATEVER
“But the gym is costy” THEN GO ON SPEND YOUR MONEY ON JUNK FOOD
But at least shut up.

Great excuses No 964 'I was on my way to the gym when I was abducted by alliens from the planet Sanrg who took me to their ship and force fed me choc-chip ice cream.'

Nobody believes in your excuses except you. Nobody cares if you get better. Nobody wants to motivate you, unless they wanna sell you their program about being fit.
Difference between you and the person who wanna get fit without eating less and exercising, is that this person isn’t probabily bringin’ it out bright clear all the time.
But you are taking BJJ classes. Every flaw comes out like if you’re screaming you have it. So yes, people are gonna answer you some way. They can do it verbally, by giving you an advice, or – if the one above is your attitude – they can ankle, wrist, leg, arm, head lock you two thousand bazillion time per round and without saying a word about what you may be doing wrong.
And please make a wise choice, for I like ankle locks so much.

We actually needed more sexism in BJJ, thanks

Some day ago IBJJF decided to give equal pay to #1 men and women ranked.

Yay, that’s really cool!

Well, looks like not everybody thought it was so cool.

Kim Terra (who happens to be Caio Terra’s brother, in case you really didn’t know where the hell this one popped out from) basically said women’s level in BJJ is much lower than men’s so paying the same amount to both is actually unfair.

Even if I liked Gabi Garcia’s reply (you can track it down here) and Hillary Williams’ acute observation that then, well, rooster and super heavy male competitors shall be penalized too because of the smaller amount of matches they’re going to have compared to “central” weight classes, my absolute favourite remains Angelica Galvao’s reply:

“Kim who?”

A great article about black belts

I’ve stumbled upon this article here that you should really read (unless you win all the competitions you enter and kick everybody’s ass wherever whatever).
Obviously, going in in the art, I’ve noticed I know more and I could impose my game more, but this “more” was a sligth piece of what I figured out was a bigger cake.
Now I discover there is no cake and I’m actually going to feel like this, more or less like this, forever.
It makes me feel better and maybe will do the same for you.