I shouldn’t have started jujitsu when I was in my forties. It’s a very physical sport with all sorts of judo falls, joint wrenching and fierce grappling. In the first couple months, when I was a white belt, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I considered quitting and moving onto something slightly saner.
My training partners said that wouldn’t be allowed. I stayed.
When I was a yellow belt, I was practicing furiously to earn a promotion to blue belt. My Sensei had been testing my abilities during class and I felt that my promotion was near. We had our annual ‘bash’ in a couple weeks and I hoped that I might get my new belt that day. To prepare for the annual ‘bash’ we had special training slated for the Saturday before.
In the early morning hours of that Friday morning, I received a call from my mother. My father had fallen getting into bed and he couldn’t get up. I threw on some clothes, zipped to their home and lifted my father back into bed. He was having an acute case of gout and the pain in his legs was excruciating. Later that day, an ambulance transported him to the hospital for treatment. After being brought into an ER room, the doctor drained his leg to relieve the pain. Miraculously, he was able to walk out just an hour later.
The next morning, I went off to ‘bash’ practice a little bleary-eyed. We proceeded to spent the 90-minute class doing lots of fighting. As the class drew to a close, I was exhausted and was having a hard time moving. I decided to stand my ground and take on an experienced brown belt. The result was that I ended up landing on and separating my right shoulder. I was then back to the same hospital ER and my hope for promotion was gone.
I eventually got that promotion to blue belt about six months later. I continued to train hard and, in a couple years, had a date to take my brown belt test. In the months before the test, my father fell ill and was hospitalized with congestive heart failure. Over the better part of three weeks, I spent countless hours in his hospital room talking about everything under the sun. I told him about my upcoming test and shared my hope that he’d attend. After leaving the hospital, he died just a week later.
When I passed the brown belt test in a couple months, I had my father on my mind and it helped drive me toward preparing for and completing the test.
In the fall of 2010, my Sensei targeted August 2011 as a potential timeframe for my black belt test. In January of 2011, I was diagnosed with cancer. I underwent surgery in both February 2011 and January 2012. When I returned to the mats, my Sensei set this July as a tentative test date. At first, I didn’t think that I could rally. The past year had been very trying physically and emotionally. Then, one Saturday, I was sitting on my couch feeling bad for myself. It was a sunny and warm day for March. I pulled myself off the couch and spent the rest of the day splitting firewood and listening to Motown.
That wood cutting event spurred me forward. In addition to taking three jujitsu classes a week, I began to do five or six fitness workouts a week. In a couple months’ time, I was becoming far more fit and my techniques were improving. My energy was laser focused on making the test date in July.
Then last week, my Sensei said that he was moving the date of my test out until later in the year. I needed more practice he said. If I was testing in July, my techniques should be nearly perfect already. He felt I was fit enough but my techniques were not refined.
I was crushed. I’d been working so hard. With all that time before the new test date, there was always a chance that I could get injured again. I was wildly disappointed and near furious. I’d been striving for this and working as hard as I could. I wondered whether I wanted to go back. I wondered whether I had the will and motivation to return.
On Tuesday night, I went back. It’s still not settled in my head. I’m still angry and frustrated. I’m determined but I’m not yet happy. This is a goal that I’ve strived for. I’ve given a lot of myself to this dojo. Is it important that I follow through or is it now a personal obsession run amuck?
Possibly this is just the latest hurdle. We’ll see in the coming days and weeks.