Pre-Tournament Nerves

I’m leaving for the tournament in about 20 minutes, I’m not sure if I’ll post this or not. I’m actually feeling pretty nervous this morning. In some ways, this was like my first tournament. A year ago, I kept thinking about the tournament and could feel my heart rate increase. Some of that was the unknown. This one is a bit different. Although for the past 2 weeks, every time I thought about the tournament, I could feel my heart rate increase, it wasn’t so much the fear of the unknown. This time I had a picture in my head. I’ve competed here before. I’ve seen the venue, I know what the mats look like, I can hear my coaches talking to me.  Instead, this one is more from self-induced pressure.

My last tournament (apart from the in-house) didn’t go very well. I won my first match, and lost the rest (gi finals, gi absolute, no-gi, no-gi absolute.) I don’t want a repeat of that.  Thankfully, I do have the in-house tournament to think back on. I did pretty good there, 3-1, and felt really good about my 3 wins.

Another part of the pressure I know I’m putting on myself is that I know I’ve improved. I can see it, I’ve had teammates tell me as much. But I also know that I only had one direction to go. When I started I was horrible. In fact, I might be the worst whitebelt to start at Mid-America in the past 18 months. I’m not saying that as a false sense of humility. I’m not fishing for complements. I was out of shape, unagressive, wimpy. I wasn’t tough. I wouldn’t endure pain hoping to escape a position.  This is Nebraska, where just about everyone has wrestling experience. Not me. Before I started BJJ, my 7 year old son had more grappling experience than I did. It wasn’t just a lack of experience. I was/am uncoordinated. I didn’t see moves and how they flow into the next one. I didn’t have that fierce intensity in me to go after the kill. I can’t think of another whitebelt that I’ve rolled with that was the same way.

A lot of that has changed in the past 18 months. I look for escapes, and go after my sparring partners. I still might not be that good but I know I’m better. Because of that, I want to see how much better, and that’s part of what is making me nervous.

Finally, I’ve had to come to terms over the last few years that I’m just a generally anxious person. I don’t allow myself to read WebMD because I was tired of seeing that I was either having a heart attack, or stage 4 cancer. I still get “syllabus shock” at work at the start of a new project. Wondering “Is this too much? How am I going to be able to accomplish all of this?”  It’s part of my nature, part of who I am. It doesn’t have to stay that way, but to get past that will take more work than someone who is more naturally relaxed.  So it spills over into BJJ as well. It’s more of a head-game than anything. I complete my projects at work, doing good job. I have yet to have a heart attack, stroke or any stage of cancer.

Basically my nervousness is self-induced (as I guess all nervousness is really.) Mine is based on pressure I put on myself for a good showing, and expectations I have. As I told a teammate this week, I have one match, that’s it. Whatever match is next, that’s the only match I have. I’m trying my best to live by that today.