21 hours ago near Riverdale
What have I gotten myself into?
I woke up stiff and sore.
My neck and upper back and lower back for that matter are killing me. My knee looks like someone slid a golf ball up inside of it.
I've popped a bunch of advil and have an icepack wrapped around my knee.
I'll probably be limping for a week.
All because I decided to compete at NAGA the day before.
It was all totally worth it. I had a great time.
my facebook posts often remember things more clearly than I do;
such as the night before the tournament:
Should be in bed, resting up for tomorrow's competition, instead having a beer while drawing a therapeutic salt and oil infused bath, reading the latest issue of "meatpaper"(a "foodie" magazine, in case you might be thinking something other) while realizing that tomorrow's competition is actually today's and I may be turning into a pumpkin soon
then a few hours later the morning of the event:
had to run out to a sporting goods store as soon as they opened to pick up a mouth guard. I haven't owned or worn one in, maybe since high school, a few decades back. But apparently I need one for the tournament this afternoon. Good thing I checked the rules last night
Getting older has some advantages here and there. For instance, being in the "Directors" division (40-49);
there's only one group older, the Executive 50+, had us starting early with the women and children and sent upstairs to some out of the way rings, 13 and 14. There were a total of 14 rings, 1-12 were altogether on the main floor.
There aren't many of us in the EXPERT No Gi Division, especially in my weight class, as in 4 of us. I was the lightest guy there giving up 10 to 20+ pounds to the other guys. The person who won turned out to be a black belt in juijitsu, the guy who came second was a brown belt, the third place dude, me is a purple and the only fellow who didn't get a medal in our group had been doing juijitsu for a little over a year. A win in a previous NAGA and some quirky rules put him in our division. So the results weren't too surprising. But everyone was so cool and so nice. It was beyond good sportsmanship. It felt like I was in the studio rolling with old friends.
That was especially true of my second match, where there was all of one person in my division. That's right I was the only old big purple belt there, so a blue belt around my age agreed to compete up a level. And as could be expected I won. Not because he wasn't really good, (he had me nervous more than a few times) but because I had considerably more experience on the mat than he did.
But again he was a super sportsman. We agreed to no leg locks or something, I'm so confused about rules and stuff. But he had seen my knee pop in my first match and wasn't going to exploit my injury. We shook hands and had a really good roll.
Winning is fun there's no denying that but the reason I had such a great time was the camaraderie that goes hand in hand with doing jiujitsu.
It felt good to be part of something so much bigger than me.
First as part of the X-3 Sports team and then in a broader sense as part of the Brazilian Jiujitsu community.
It has always had open arms for me whereever I have gone around the world. Crossing language barriers in Saint Maarten, Spain and Montreal as well as getting to know areas on a totally different level, like here in Atlanta or before in Miami or even a small town like Corvallis, Oregon.
Tony Tucci, my coach and friend from X-3, pushed me, gently but firmly, to compete. And I am so grateful that he did. I had the time of my life. My matches were over early, so I could relax and support the X-3 team.
In fact, in the background is Lindsey (in black, putting up her hair), who trains at X-3 and won in both Gi and no-Gi.
Skye was so cute when I showed her my belt and medal. Even cuter was Cindy, who assumed everyone who competed took home a big gaudy belt, kind of like the finisher medals you get when you run a marathon. It was only after she read on facebook someone congratulating me for taking first place that she realized not everyone goes home with a big Gold belt. They also both felt it should go to X-3, as do I. So I'll enjoy looking at it today and give it to Tony when I see him, hopefully on Monday.
Later I met up some of my X-3 peeps over at Barcelona, another home away from home. And laughed and danced and drank and ate.
A perfect ending to a really, really good day.
Icing my knee after NAGA, the tattoo does translate to "persevere, never give up" after all.
Speaking of my X-3 family and not giving up, a big congratulations goes out to Brian Curbello, who joined another of my "families", the Tough Mudders, and braved a very, very cold day in Georgia to go out and be miserable and triumphant in running the gauntlet that is a Tough Mudder. Good job and congratulations.
And to Nicole who was the first person to welcome me to X-3, and the first person I met, other than at a Tough Mudder event, who had any idea what I was talking about.
Shout outs to both of them, and in retrospect, even though I would have loved/hated doing another Mudder, I think I made the right choice, for me.