It's kind of hard to articulate how I'm going at the moment. There are a lot of conflicting signals.
We all have highs and lows (and days inbetween). Overall, I'm feeling settled in bluebelt-dom. I've finally put behind me the need to justify to myself and others why I should be wearing that belt. Some days I dish it out, some days I'm on the receiving end. That's the way it's meant to be. I feel that I am improving and generally heading in the right direction. Never mind those odd days when I feel my gi is better at BJJ than I am ;-)
I recently had a few days off due to a mild flu. While I was back on the mat with not too much time off (didn't cough, sneeze and splutter), it did take it out on me more than I thought. I didn't realise just how much it knocked me back, but even the following week I was feeling sluggish and stiff. On top of that, one of the first sessions back was a full on no-gi class. Lots of take-downs, high intensity rolling etc. I was wrecked. It was the first time in a long time that I really was gassed. On top of that, my right knee was feeling pretty unhappy. So for the first time sort of ever (that I can remember), I had to stop and sit out. I didn't quit, I rolled again after. But I had to concede defeat to un-technical, cranky front chokes because I was too stuffed to defend properly. But what mostly pissed me off was that I felt I let my training partner down during the drilling part of the class.
At that point in time I felt that I was going backwards big time, with an injury hanging over my head. With 3 comps coming up, not a good way to be.
At the same time, rolling in my gi classes was going pretty good. I was actually kicking some butt, as long as I was being a bit careful with my right knee. What I figured out though is that I can roll for very long times now because I preserve so much energy. My cardio is only average, but it doesn't matter because at the level of intensity I usually roll. With my energy-preserving skills, it's well untruly enough. So on one hand I'm happy, to have that sort of fuel economy :-)
On the other hand, it won't do for the comps. Totally different intensity. So I do need to crank it up. What I need to work out is which line to walk in terms of the time I have left to prepare and keeping the knee happy.
I was driving myself batty about the issue of letting people down in training. I was doing ok in the gi classes, but in the no-gi classes, where the intensity and the amount of take-downs are being stepped up for the comps, I felt like I wasn't holding my own. Worse, that I was adversely affecting others. I missed several classes due to procrastination. And then I decided to ask. I was prepared to let it go until after the comp and then go back to training there when they are back to normal. But the answer I got was a resounding NO. That I am part of the team, am holding back nobody and to get my arse over there and train.
I did. And it felt good. My cardio isn't as bad as I thought. He's finding takedowns that won't tax my dodgy knee so much. It's all good. But I had to ask.
You see, all things aside, it's still a matter of pride. I know it shouldn't be. But I'm the only woman in both schools. I do NOT want to be the weakest link. I'm a realist and I know I can't be the best (what is good/better/best anyway??), for all sorts of reasons. But my little ego is not happy about being the weakest/worst team member. I am not going to be the one the others shun as partner because I'm perceived to be weak/wussy. Don't get me wrong, I don't need to tap people out all over the show. And I don't mind getting tapped out. But I do need to feel that I am giving everyone problems when rolling. I need to be good enough to challenge my training partners, same as I want them to challenge me (in a positive sense).
I think if it got to the stage where I don't feel I'm giving enough, then I'd rather not be there, rather than being carried by everyone. That is probably an ego thing. Oh well.
On the positive side, I'm making progress in several areas: holding mount, transitions from/to back, attacks from the back, attacks from the closed guard. And sweeps. Yes, sweeps are starting to happen. All in all, I'm going to be able to go into my first blue belt comp with an actual game plan. So in a way, I'm actually really looking forward to the comps. If nothing else, to test it out against people my size :-)
So that's where I'm standing at the moment. It's complicated, my relationship with BJJ!