The man in the arena

My heart was pumping.

I tried to slow it down with my breathing.

In for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, out for 4 seconds. I read somewhere this is how Navy Seals breathe to keep themselves calm. If it was good enough for them, it was good enough for me.

It worked.

My vision got clearer and my heart rate slowed down.

But the voice in my head was still there. The one who says, 'you're not ready for this.'

Still there. It always is in the big moments. Even if you've been getting prepared for months. The voice always shows up.

I knew it was coming. And I knew what it was going to say.

Samurai's thought it was best to fight with an empty mind. So I cleared out the house in my head where my thoughts live and locked the door.

There I was standing at the edge of the mat, staring at a guardrail across the hall. But how did I know I was staring at the guardrail? Was that a thought? Dammit. My mind wasn't clear.

The voice started to come back. Maybe I hadn't done enough training. Maybe the other guy was better than me.

Shhhh.

These thoughts aren't helpful but they're always there.

'Don't forget to breathe,' one guy told me. He was right. Breathing is important.

The fight started and the crowd cheered. I had some supporters and the other guy had some too. Everyone was there for the show. People love to be entertained.

It went on for a few minutes, he had control for the most part and ended up winning on points.

My first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament match, a loss.

'That wasn't so bad,' I thought. And the voice was gone.

What was the point of it showing up?

No one else was against me except it. Our harshest critique lives in our heads.

But you can silence it with your actions. The critiques opinion doesn't matter to the man in the arena. Because the critique isn't the one going to battle.

The critique isn't the one putting themselves out there.

The critique isn't the one showing up and trying something which might not work.

The critique feeds on attention and loses her power when the man in the arena decides to ignore her.

Today was good fun. I finished the day with 2 losses by points, 1 win by armbar submission and 9.5/10 fingernails.

Six weeks into this sport and I'm already in love. There are plenty more rolls to come. And that gets me excited.

If you haven't tried Brazilian Jiu Jitsu before, you should. I highly recommend it.

Even if it's not Jiu Jitsu, and you're thinking about trying something else. Something new. But you've been paying too much attention to your harshest critique and it's holding you back. Silence the critique with your actions. I highly recommend it.

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