And this is Crazy… by Rachel Kamins (Good Fight Results)
It was a typical Saturday morning for me at Crazy 88 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. My kids were doing their no-gi class and, instead of taking my own class afterwards, I was dropping the kids at home and heading to Baltimore to watch some 88 teammates compete at The Good Fight. As I was chatting about my plans to some of the school’s instructors, David Zwanetz queried why I was not competing that day myself. My immediate response was, “Me? Because I can’t.” I then proceeded to list all the reasons I could not possibly compete that day—perhaps ever—despite having been training for 20 some months. These reasons included being too old, not having had a good night’s sleep or eaten a nutritious breakfast, having no game plan, not wearing the right sports bra…you get the picture. EXCUSES. Excuses masking what the real problem was, which was that I was terrified. Terrified of letting my school down and embarrassing myself. A couple of the instructors gently reminded me that every day at Crazy 88 I drill and spar with and among world champions, so I ought not to let my trepidations get the best of me and, bottom line, I should just GO DO IT!
So, in a very uncharacteristic way, I said OK I WILL. I yanked the kids out of class early, sped home, threw on a gi, drove like a maniac to Baltimore, parked like 17 blocks away from the Arena, ran through Canton like a crazed loon, and made weigh-ins and registration with 15 minutes to spare. I then promptly found a bathroom and tried to puke from nerves. I felt better immediately when I recognized my teammates chilling out on the bleachers, although I was still wondering what in the hell I was doing there. At the age of 44, this was my first sports competition EVER, and I was not certain that when push came to shove, and it was time to go DOWN THERE, I wouldn’t bolt for the nearest exit.
The next 45 minutes or so saw more and more teammates from Crazy 88 arrive. Everyone was so friendly and no one seemed horrified to see me among them. Jenn Woo, a good friend, was competing for the first time as well, so we sort of alternated between freaking out and rationalizing that it couldn’t be all that bad. Lakita Patterson kept us both from unraveling in her inimitable mellow way, and it was she who eventually walked us DOWN THERE when it was time to warm up and get ready. Master Julius’ parting words were simply, “Stay calm. Remember basic positions.” Somehow Lakita convinced me that doing burpees was a good idea to get the juices flowing. I wanted to go throw up but she nixed that idea and told me to do burpees instead. I did 20 and thought I would faint from exhaustion. Not off to a good start, I thought to myself.
When it was my turn to fight, I remember Jon Delbrugge calling my name and, after getting my attention, telling me that my instructors were right there by the side of the mat and that I should listen for their voices. That was a very comforting moment. By some stroke of magic, I managed to pull guard and, miraculously, I was able to tune out everything but my coaches’ voices. (Well, I could also hear my opponent’s coach warning her that I was “going for a pendulum,” which was comical because I neither knew what a “pendulum” was nor was “going for” one). I simply wound up holding my opponent in closed guard for a full five minutes and for dear life and wound up winning because she got docked a point for stalling. No matter; I can’t say I minded having my hand held up as victor.
The second match, which was 5 minutes later, saw some action. I felt a little less paralyzed and tried some stuff. Points were scored and I won 11 to 3. There was a guard pass, a takedown or two, and finally a mount. Master Julius calmly guided me through the match, prefacing everything he said with “Miss Rachel” so I knew he was speaking to me and could distinguish his voice from the yelling around us. Lakita, who was filming, boisterously chimed in occasionally and all things considered I managed to translate most of their coaching into action, however inartfully (EDITORS NOTE: original text has been preserved) . The thrill of winning that match, and the utter relief and exhaustion thereafter, is truly indescribable.
I would never have forgiven myself had I not heeded the advice that I just go for it and compete that day. Many won’t understand when I say the experience was life-altering for me, but some will. It was a physical challenge, yes, but much more so a mental one. I feel pride in myself I never knew possible and gratitude to my teammates for pushing me forward. There is no equivalent to tackling something you believe unattainable, and for me that was simply showing up. The gold medal was a nice bonus.
EDITORS NOTE: We had a lot of Champions and easily won the Team Tournament. There are too many to list here but everyone fought really well and got experience.