Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). This is my attempt to write from first person view.
| April 22, the day where I competed in a BJJ tournament at a high school which is only 2 hours away from where I lived. It was my first competition in eight years since the freshman year in college wrestling. Too long time! I think I made a decision to compete in that tournament a few months prior that because I always want to compete yet I allowed my fears and doubts hindered me. My mind filled with all those lies such as "you aren't good enough to compete", "you are too fat", "you don't have to do what it takes to do", and "you aren't worthy to do this." Yet in a moment when a friend of mine approached me at the end of practice and asked me if I would compete in that tournament and I just nodded, sealing my fate. This friend held me accountable for training and losing weight to make for competing. After that moment, I realized I made a decision...without any fears and doubts. No more I will be slave to my fears and doubts. I am truly free through my faith in Christ and my ability to take on an opportunity to do something I truly love to do. From that day, I knew I am a warrior, not allowing anything to chain me from fighting for who and what I love to do.
I had to construct a plan to lose weight as well as training harder than what I usually do during practices. My weight was at 250 lbs, highest weight I was ever at. Upon seeing those red digits on the scale, I was disgusted and disappointed at myself for "letting myself go". I made a vow to myself that I will never let myself go ever again as well as going extra miles in the training. Soon, I started to push myself to go beyond what I can do in the practices such as grappling with best ones, not slacking off during warm ups & drills, working out after the practices at the gym, performing sit ups & pushups when I arrive at home from practices and eating well. For first two months were challenging and demanding yet through the process I learned so much about myself. I was limiting myself because in my mind I was afraid of the change and going out of box to reach my goals. And settling on "good enough" when in reality I should strive for the best. I threw everything that didn't working for me out of my mind and started to open my mind to new ways. In a month, I started to see results in terms of those red digits decreasing slowly and energy. I was renewed with energy and motivation to do what I want to do!
In the end of March, my wife and I had to move in with her parents for some time due to our lease ended and we wanted to start traveling to raise financial support for our ministry. It wasn't easy decision to make because I would be away from my team. My parents in laws live in Central NJ, six hours away from Upstate NY. You get a picture. Once we moved in with them, I had to came up with new way to train. Good thing I have access to some weight lifting equipment, jumping rope, beach for running, and kitchen to cook healthy food. Again, it was tough experience in new environment. I didn't have access to BJJ gym for a while so I had to work out twice a day to make up for intensity I had during the practices. Additionally, losing my weight was huge challenge for me because it seemed to be stubborn and won't decrease despite my efforts. However I refused allow this obstacle to stop me from reaching my goal so I stay on the path and do what I need to do. Eventually those red digits decreased!
On the second week of April, we drove back to Upstate NY to compete in that tournament. I went back to my team and trained immediately under watchful eyes of my coaches and teammates. I inquired them many questions regarding some techniques I need to know for tournament as well as refining my skills. On the last practice before going to tournament, I stayed an hour late and talked to my coaches. They encouraged me to focus on the match and maintained control regardless how is match goes. I was nervous about approaching tournament because I wasn't sure how it will work out in the end. Yet I shoved all those doubts and fears aside and set out to achieve what I want to do...to win my tournament. Next day, we crammed into a van together and drove to high school which is two hours away from our church. Once we got there, we registered for our divisions and weigh in. The digits scrambled as I stood on the scale, anxiously waiting for the results of my training. The digits made its decision and showed numbers. Two hundred eighteen pounds. I made it! I conquered my obstacle! I lost thirty two pounds in a few months. I couldn't believe this but I did it! I succeed because of Christ and He gave me an opportunity to achieve which I did! Silently I gave my praise to Christ...whatever happens at the tournament, it will be for Christ.
Slowly, I started to eat snack and drink Powerade to recover from training and preserve my energy for my division. The tournament started off with kids in GI and NoGi first which it took around two to three hours. Oh boy, it was tough time for me to wait until adult division started. They, tournament officials gathered all of us to break down the rules and how things work around tournament. Their system is unusual as they didn't follow light to heavyweight matches. They were announcing random names in different weight and skill divisions. Again, it took some time before I was able to compete. The first division I compete was GI. My group made up of four guys including me. I wrestled my first match with a guy named Jimmy or something like that. It went well as I submitted him in the second round. I was so excited that I won yet my mind was exhausted due to all nervous energy I had in my mind. Soon they called on me to compete in another match. With a huge guy named Nathan. He stood a few inches taller than me as well as bigger than me with all those muscles. He wore blue GI. He seemed to be friendly but I didn't care about that. What it matters to me is I will fight hard and give all I have. We grappled for two rounds. Tough match but he won with a couple points over me at the end of second round. I accepted that I did well and learned from my mistakes. I received a second place in my group. This guy Nathan shaked my hand and said I was pretty strong for my size. The GI is over and NoGI is next. Unsurprisingly, they announced random matches and I was on bench for a while until my group is up. The first opponent I faced was Nathan. We weren't wearing our GI, just tight clothes that were perfect for grappling. I can see all those defined muscles on Nathan's body yet I ignored and plotted on winning my match with him. The first round started off with us feeling each other out and becoming aggressive towards the end of the first round. Through the first round, I combat Nathan at every move as I fought against my fears and doubts in my mind. In previous match with Nathan, he surprised me with a few of moves which I was unprepared to react. He tried to do those moves with me again only this time I was ready to counter against him. In my mind, I thought "No it won't work on me anymore. I know what you are doing." In the second round, I started to look for opportunities to get points on him and hopefully to submit him. We grappled standing then took to the ground and fought for the control over each other. Finally I gained the control over Nathan and led a few points over him. I held on him and being active until the second round was up. I won. Nathan was shocked about that. I believe he was expecting to pull easy win over me. Not this time, bub. Soon after that, I had another match with Jimmy and won again. I waited for one more match because I was in finals and watched who will wrestle with me in the finals. Nathan had two matches before facing me again. I knew it will be tough challenge for me to pull off another win over him because he was desperate and motivated to avenge his defeat against me. I prepared myself for that. We fought hard against each other, through pain, sweat and tiredness. Nathan started to slow down with each action he took. I can see exhaustion started to taking over him as it is happening to me. I refused to give up at this point. I persisted as he did. Into second round, we were tied on points. It led to final round...sudden death round. All it takes a person's back or hips to touch the ground, he will lose the match automatically. We stare at each other just before third and final round starts. We grappled with each other wildly, trying to find an opportunity to take down each other. There was an opening which Nathan saw and took it, trying to take me down. I instinctively reacted to this by flipped him over the moment my head touched the ground. He fell on his back and the match was over. I stood up and walked to the center of mat, silently triumphed in my victory. The referee lifted my hand up and my team put up their hands, shaking them as a way to celebrate my victory. It was amazing experience for me because I achieved what I thought it was impossible. I twice beat this tough guy who beaten me before because I didn't dwell on my defeat instead learning from my mistakes and strived for my goal. I gave my thanks to Christ for bestowing me this opportunity as well as loving support from my wife and team. During that moment, I knew I am free from chains of my fears and doubts. No longer I am slave anymore...I am a warrior.