A couple days ago I put on a gi for the first time in five months. It was just to take some pictures for a gi review post but it was strange.
Strange how everything was so easy to put on – not just the fit though to be honest, I was more than a little proud at that, but the fact that I still remembered how to put it on, how I put it on. (Shake out the pants before shimmying in, tie the inside knot on the left side, double knot, tuck in. Shake out the jacket in the same way, twirl it around the back like a regular jacket and fail once more to look cool.)
Strange how I got the ends of the belt to be even length on the first time. The knot even looked decent.
Strange how there was no mat to bow to, no break falls, no hip escapes.
At one of the last tournaments I went to, I had been coaching a teammate when their friend from another gym stopped by. He turned to me and asked if I was competing; I wasn’t due to still recovering from a hand injury.
I had been surprised to hear disappointment in his next words: “Oh. I like watching you compete.” I was surprised even more at how much that lifted my mood for the rest of the evening.
Though I’m very much an introvert, I do know that there’s a part of me that likes attention. I remember in piano recitals and stage plays, listening for that tiny gasp of awe, the whisper of “she’s good.” A part of me would grin inside – because the fact that I could hear those whispers, that I was in tune with everything around me, I knew that to be true.
I haven’t gotten there with BJJ yet. Though, there have been times when I’ve been close. There was one moment I wasn’t proud of when I lost my temper and I was very aware of what I was doing. I remember hearing a teammate on the sidelines say, “She’s a beast today.”
But more often than not, a teammate will say, “That was a great pass!” and I’ll have to sit for a while to review my thoughts, or have to look at footage of myself to even remember what happened.
I wonder how much I’ll have forgotten, how much will have to be rewritten, how will have been written over by the time I get back on the mats.
I really want to buy a new gi.
Honestly, it’s amazing how cool gis are nowadays. 10 years ago when I had my first lesson, there was really nothing to choose from. Now, there’s a plethora of brands and colors and all sorts of designs.
But it’s also because I want that feeling again, of having something to look forward to that’s BJJ related. Sure, there’s videos online and I have an ever-growing list of things to drill when things get back to normal.
For me, getting a new gi would mean things have gotten back to normal.
Whenever that will be.
I’ve been on the sidelines plenty of times before. Been off of the mats for longer than this before as well. Watching from afar is something I’m used to. There’s always something to learn.
From the white belts, of course things not to do, but also core movements, core concepts that are just beyond their grasp. From the higher belts, different approaches, interesting tricks and set ups. From professor, a glimpse into the great depth of the ocean that is BJJ.
From this time off the mat, how much BJJ means to me, what it means to be part of the community, and how much more there is to learn for both.
The thing about the ocean is that it’s still there, even if you can’t see it. Even if it’s not at your feet, it’s with you. It’ll remember you, and you it.
Until then …