Discouragement, thy name is Betsy


At Monday night’s Jiu-Jitsu class, Enthusiastic Teen arrived when I did. We exchanged the usual pleasantries. “Hi, Betsy, how are you?” “Good, Enthusiastic Teen. How ’bout yourself?” “Good, thanks.”

We found our cards, set them on Instructor’s desk, then I pulled ET to the mat, ready to sweep him, but he beat me to it. (Dang it! Gotta be quicker!)

I glom onto ET because he’s a kid. I don’t care about decorum and asking politely to practice with him. I just grabbed him and said, “Let’s do this.” He’s fun to work with, but also difficult.

I wanted to practice the Triangle Choke. I was on my back with my legs in a vice grip around his throat. I had him all locked up, but he wasn’t choking. (Discouragement #1)

“Have you got it?” he said.

“I think so.”

“You sure?”

I nodded.

Then he stood.

He’s 6 feet or so and swung me around in a circle with my head hanging by his knees.

“Ach! Put me down!” And he did, eventually.

“Nice job hanging on, Betsy,” came Instructor’s voice. “Sometime I’ll show you the sweep so he can’t do that to you.”

So it’s a sweep. I imagine an ankle sweep with my hands. Good to know.


The rest of class was centered on the Elevator Sweep, one I know well, but had a hard time doing authentically on much larger ET. (Discouragement #2) He was basically just rolling over and saying, “Oh, no. You got me. You’re so strong,” in a fake, mocking tone.

ET can be such a punk. At one point I said, “Sorry, was that word not on your SAT prep?” So I guess I can be a punk too. (Too bad I can’t remember what the word was. Still, it was a sick burn.)

At the end of class came Wall Drills.

Instructor had us line up on either side of the room. “If you’re above 5’10” go to the opposite wall.” Bye-bye, ET. Have fun practicing with the big kids.

Remember a few posts ago when I was bragging about Older Gentleman saying, “Wow,” because I could throw him off but he couldn’t throw me off? Yeah, well, that’s because he doesn’t really know Jiu-Jitsu yet.

Wall Drills mean we take turns getting on the mat, the next person in line tries to stay on top while the bottom person tries to throw them off.

I lasted about one second. Every. Darn. Time. (Discouragement #3-I don’t know, 7?) I was miserable at this. Occasionally my opponent graciously allowed me to roll him off, but one guy simply flattened me like a roadkill squirrel. I tried to shove his face away, but to no avail. Thankfully, Instructor called time, and that was that.

Brief interlude: My sincere thanks to Ally Bean who messaged me this via Twitter:

My one victory came from Surfer Dude 1. As I mounted up, ready to be thrown back down in a second, I observed the other groups, struggling for minutes at a time to gain the mount. “I’m sorry I’m not fun to roll with. I don’t give you a challenge.”

“That’s okay,” he said.

“How about we do something different. Take the back.”

“Wha…?” He started to get up, trying to move into position.

“No, I take YOUR back. Roll, roll,” I said as I physically helped roll him over. Then I shot my arms in for a choke. He pulled my arms back, I slipped them out of his grasp and tried again. We went back and forth like this a few times. At one point I remembered a mention weeks ago about grabbing a pinky and bending it back. I utilized that move, but he kept his chin tightly tucked to his chest. Finally I managed to snake an arm in.

“A-ha,” I said.

Someone said, “Get him, Betsy.”

It was the wrong arm, however, but having a toe-hold, I could sneak the proper arm in under the first.

“He’s turning purple!” someone called.

And finally SD1 tapped out.

It was my only triumph in a slew of failures. (Class ended when I was roadkill squirrel.)

I left with all that discouragement hanging heavily around me. Why am I bothering with this? Against some bad guy on the street who doesn’t know Jiu-Jitsu I could *maybe* defend myself, but the truth is, even if I know the stuff, I’m just too small and weak to be very capable with it.

The Wall Drills may become a standard thing. I drove home thinking I should just leave at that point in the class because who am I kidding? When faced with that reality, I’m no good at this.

Or, I could formulate a strategy.

70 responses »

  1. Well, as my father use to say, “Some day you’ll look back on this and plow into a parked car.” Okay, he didn’t really say that, but it’s kind like something he would have said. So far, you know about 10 ten times more than I do about Jiu-Jitsu. Currently my best self-defense move is being able to dial 911 fast.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t know whether to applaud you for your tenacity or thump you upside the head for being crazy enough to keep on doing jiu-jitsu. If you think it’d help then use the word ‘tenacity’ on ET. That’ll put him in his place! [Happy to see that you included that tweet. Couldn’t help but think of you.]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Use ‘tenacity’ on ET. Hahahaha! Good one. Maybe I will. πŸ™‚
      Well, AB, I’m just not a quitter. I keep telling myself, I can do hard things. It helps motivate me. I still enjoy it far more than not, so stay I will.
      No way I could NOT include that tweet. It was so perfect. πŸ™‚ Thanks again for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is discouraging, but out in the Real World, you have surprise on your side. The sensei of my kid’s dojo used to say always try to defend by running. All the other stuff is if you can’t run away. So you’ll surprise them with the little finger bend and then skedaddle.

    Love the Oregon Trail reference.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “I left with all that discouragement hanging heavily around me. Why am I bothering with this? Against some bad guy on the street who doesn’t know Jiu-Jitsu I could *maybe* defend myself, but the truth is, even if I know the stuff, I’m just too small and weak to be very capable with it.

    The Wall Drills may become a standard thing. I drove home thinking I should just leave at that point in the class because who am I kidding? When faced with that reality, I’m no good at this.

    Or, I could formulate a strategy.”

    This is common in the journey. You are not alone and while others may fake or pretend they don’t feel this, even people in your own Academy do. Guaranteed.

    Five years in and I still have days where I drive home, no radio on, staring into the void, contemplating why I’m even on the mat. lol


    Liked by 1 person

      • Good stuff.

        Highly recommend “BJJ University” by Saulo Ribeiro. Pretty much required reading at my academy. He’s got a solid lineage with the Gracies.

        From the first chapter: “The theme of the White Belt is Survival, nothing more, nothing less.” This has helped me and countless white belts not get overly frustrated when it comes to “failure” on the mat.


      • It’s true. Survival. But with these wall drills, I feel distinctly disadvantaged as a small female. The dude who just flattened me was kind of a jerk. I clearly had no recourse there, as I couldn’t move. Maybe I could’ve tried bracing the neck and pushing him off enough to give me an inch to maneuver, but even then I’m not sure I stood a chance. I guess I just take it and say, “You win,” or I could ask him to give me a little wiggle room.

        On a previous wall drill day, one guy was kind enough to do that when I asked. I scooted out the side (he waited patiently. Haha.) and let me get him in a RNC. When I returned to the wall, he gave me a thumbs up.

        Feminism and all that, and I shouldn’t be treated special, but come on with the guy who flattened me. Neither of us will learn if he doesn’t give me an inch.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Some training partners suck. That said, in the context of the wall drills, they sound similar to our Pass/Sweep/Submit drills. So with this one, FG (flattening guy) starting in full mount on top of you?


      • Possibly. Although Martial Arts “should” make a person better, there is always a battle to train the Ego into something better. If they are fellow white belts, they aren’t going to have the awareness to “help” like a blue, purple, brown or black belt would.

        I’ve had my fair share of guys flatten me and I’m 6′ @ 197lbs. You’re not alone in that, and it sucks. Seriously, having guys in the 290-350lb range in the full mount is NOT fun. It’s very uncomfortable as you understand. I’ve tapped just from the pressure before. Just… NOPE lol. So down there, it’s a game of inches and even 1/4 inches at a time. Staying small, trying to frame, trying to keep your head tucked, etc.

        That said… even for a wall drill, FG doesn’t have to go full power and he could work with you better.

        It’s hard to diagnose and further help on this side without seeing it going down. Hopefully some of this helped. One day, as you stick with it, you’re going to chuckle at bigger guys trying to flatten you out. You’ll find yourself frustrating their plans and exploiting their balance points and coming to the top. I’ve seen it happen with a handful of females over the last five years.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re totally right. He was a fellow white belt. He probably didn’t know what else to do, frankly. I shouldn’t have called him a jerk. He did, at least, apologize for dropping sweat on me. Haha. Also, ew. πŸ™‚

        Thanks for your encouragement regarding the females you’ve observed succeeding at this. That will bolster me to keep trying.

        Liked by 1 person

      • My pleasure, Betsy.

        Yep, that sweat dripping is gonna happen. In your face, ear, eye… sigh… ugh big EW lol

        Keep at it, regardless of the sweat drip torture! lol

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know how these guys can stand to wear the gi tops. They are so hot and heavy. I was wearing a t-shirt and was fine. Granted, not working as hard as they were, but still, I’d rather be comfortable. Why would they not want to take off the gi top? I don’t get it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe not so much given the option but simply not asking permission? Though I’m sure if he was really bothered, he’d ask me to put it back on. Maybe the guys don’t realize it’s an option, if indeed it really is one? Sorry if your purple belt trainer instincts are offended by this! I just don’t need the added distraction of thinking about how hot and uncomfortable I am. The busted toes, mat burn, bruises, and scratches are nothing, but make me uncomfortably hot and we’ve got a problem! πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

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