One Thousand Hours

0206181231c Today is a special day for me. Over lunch I went and trained with the “Noon High Ninjas” at Mid-America Martial Arts. It was sparring day. So I sparred for an hour with white, blue, purple, brown and black belts.  But that’s not what makes it special. That class happens every Tuesday and I make it to that class a couple times a month.

What makes it special to me is that class was my 1000th hour of training. (And it also shows a bug in my training app.)

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One thousand hours ago, I stepped on to the mat for the first time.

Over the last 5+ years, I’ve been fortunate to train with some great people. From the coaches that were teaching the intro classes (Charles and Scott) to the coach that saw me watching on the sideline and invited me to class (Kyle) to the coach who called me up to the gym before a tournament to help me get ready (AC) or the coach that is teaching me the amazingly simple things I do wrong (Ed).

But it’s more than coaches. My teammates have made it possible. There are the teammates I have that I know when I roll with them it’s going to be a battle. They’re going to beat me up, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in the past 5 years. Most of them have been white belts, but I’ve seen my fair share of blues (and the occasional purple) walk off the mat to never return.

In the past 1000 hours, I’ve haven’t been injured. I’ve been hurt quite a bit. Just about every joint I have has been sore and hurt at some point. I’ve had some deep bruises on my shins from who-knows-what. I broke a toe once. I’ve even had my ears hurt. But I’ve still been able to train.

In the past 1000 hours, I’ve tapped a few people here and there.

In the past 1000 hours, I’ve been tapped several thousand times.

One thousand hours seems, at the same time, to be an accomplishment and just the start. After all, 1000 hours on a job is roughly 6 months, but 1000 hours at a gym reflects years of weekly dedication. When it’s hot, when it’s raining, when it’s snowing, when I just don’t feel like it. It’s persistence. The time is going to pass anyway, so I might as well spend it training BJJ.

If, as they say, it takes 10,000 hours to be a master, I likely won’t make it. That would put me at around 85 years old. But maybe there’s a lesson there, in just how much time it does take to get good at something.

Even after 1000 hours, there are days that I wonder if I know what I’m doing out there. There are nights that I ask myself “Why do I do this?”

I don’t know if the next 1000 hours will answer those questions, but I’m going to find out.