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The pieces fit.

It's actually incredible to see how much of a positive impact certain experiences can have on us - especially those things that we never expected would make such a big difference. 

My most recent experience with this was last week during BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) training, where I experienced some serious shifts in my mindset and abilities.

First Session

In the first session last week, we learned a technique which required us to stand from kneeling, without using our arms to help us up, and while our training partner had us in 'closed guard' (on their back in front of you, with their legs wrapped around your waist, and their feet locked together). So, this meant we were having to try to lift our own weight with our training partner attached to us at the same time. 

Because I carry the majority of my excess weight around my middle, and I'm still working on building my muscle strength for moves like this, I'd not yet had much luck being able to stand from kneeling without the help of my arms to push me up. 

So when I tried to stand with my training partner wrapped around me, I just couldn't do it. So I had to start practicing the move from standing (i.e. from step 2) instead.

When our Coach came over to see how we were doing, even though I was a bit disappointed in myself and a little embarrassed to admit it, I told him that I had to start from standing because I couldn't get up off my knees with my partner wrapped around me. 

Our Coach is always supportive and encouraging, and so it wasn't surprising when he told me that it was absolutely fine if I had to start from standing, and was completely reassuring in his response to me. But the way in which he responded, and the words he chose, really helped to combat my insecurities and helped to make me feel as though I wasn't 'less of a student' or 'inferior' or any of those other negative things that may have flooded into my brain if I was left alone for too long with my own thoughts afterwards.

Essentially he was letting me know that I wasn't 'failing' by not being able to complete the move precisely as shown, and that the important thing was to find a way to work around limitations, in order to still achieve what's needed.

Let me repeat that lesson - because it applies to so much in life: the important thing was to find a way to work around limitations, in order to still achieve what's needed.

Now, although I'm quite a strong, confident and assertive person (some may say stubborn at times...) and I don't rely on external validation to determine my self-worth - I do, of course, currently have some baggage and insecurities related to certain aspects of my weight, physical abilities, and the eating disorder. 

So in thinking about my Coach's supportive words, and how encouraging they were (and how different they were to what I would have said to myself after class and beaten myself up about) they had a really positive effect on me. 

And the words replayed themselves in my mind after the class as I really let the lesson sink in.

I also asked myself, "does it serve me to feel bad and to beat myself up over something like this?" And, of course, the answer was no.

So I acknowledged my feelings and pondered what had stirred them up within me, spent some time working through them, and then chose to move on to more productive and beneficial thoughts.

Second Session 

At my next class, the need arose for me to stand up from kneeling again. This time, because I knew it was okay to 'fail' at it, and because I didn't need to put unnecessary pressure on myself to be able to do it, I just tried it again without thinking too much about it - and this time I was able to do it. 

I ended up standing from kneeling a few times throughout the session, and found it reasonably easy (albeit probably pushing off my partner's body every so often). And all of this was because I wasn't putting the same stupid pressure on myself to be able to perform, and because our Coach had reminded me that it was okay if I couldn't do something perfectly just yet. 

So all of a sudden I didn't need to feel inferior, or beat myself up for not being "good enough" and could just focus on the task at hand.

Whether I could or couldn't do it didn't actually matter.

My lesson was to just keep trying, and just keep going. 

It reminded me of just how much you can achieve when you haven't got your own fears and self-imposed restrictions weighing you down. 

The other thing that happened during that session was having one of the Academy's other teachers there to help some of us newbies (he wasn't able to be on the mats because of an injury, but was happy to still help out).

Although it was just a really natural thing for him to help out and give advice to people, I was really surprised at the impact it had on me to know that he must have seen me just like any other student, and that I was just as 'worthy' of helping out as any of the other people there.  

I was surprised when some of those feelings uncovered themselves, because I didn't realise just how much I was still seeing myself differently to the other students, and seeing myself as a 'fraud' because of still being overweight and bigger than the other girls there, and still seeing myself as 'unworthy' and 'inferior'. 

Consciously, I don't actually feel that way about myself at all, but clearly this was a deeper issue than I realised.

So I'll continue to work on unpacking some of these feelings and where they come from, and will start to work through them.

I'm still so thankful for all of the benefits that are coming from learning BJJ - and it continues to surprise me just how much it's helping in all areas of my life, far beyond physical wellbeing alone.


The pieces fit

Finally, the other great thing that happened at training was that I felt like my brain has finally started to put all of the BJJ pieces (that I've learned so far) together in a way that allows me to actually apply them much more instinctively - or maybe it's more logically? Or maybe both? I'm not certain yet, but all I know is that it's feeling as though it's all coming together.

During last week's classes I really felt as though my brain and body were cooperating and communicating much better. And, even though I think I was speaking my thoughts out loud at times (sorry, training partners, for having to listen to me narrate my movements...) I was really proud of how much the puzzle was all coming together. 

I don't know if I can really explain what I mean, but while I was rolling my thoughts were applying information from lessons I'd previously learned, like: "put this foot here, wait... get the grip on the sleeve first so they can't grab my foot when I put it there. Now, put this knee here, and control the hips" etc. 

Or my favourite was "quick, grab the arm and pull it through. YES triangle them!" 

As my first time ever getting someone into that position when free rolling, I won't lie, it was a mostly failed triangle choke while my partner patiently waited for me get it right. 

But I was really excited that my brain had put things together - and the thoughts, positions and techniques were flowing much better than ever before.

I'd even been able to help someone else out that week with what we'd been learning, because they were asking about how to apply some of the techniques our Coach had been teaching us.

So although I'm always excited about going to training, I'm now even more excited for this week's classes. Because, bit by bit, I can see that I am making progress, and it continues to be challenging, but so rewarding, with each new class.

And, slowly but surely, it's all coming together and the pieces are starting to fit.

Stay fierce.
With love,
Ellie.




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