Man, what a crazy end to 2020! I was promoted to Brown Belt in BJJ. When I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, rank was not the goal. I had to travel two hours one way to learn ANYTHING. Our classes were mainly moving up and down the floor and a few techniques that no doubt, we did incorrectly. When I became a Blue Belt, my Professor Steve Snyder challenged me to start competing. This was so far away from my interests that I would not even entertain it. I competed for the prior thirty years in taekwondo in both our member organizations and open tournaments and was not interested in doing it anymore. I could not get excited.
But I did start competing, first in US Grappling, NewBreed, Goodfight, Naga, ADCC. I competed ALOT. I lost ALOT, I won a few times. Just wasn’t my thing. Blue Belt was miserable for me. I hated it, didn’t understand it, wanted to give it up….but I had students counting on me…..crap….I’m stuck.
Then came the IBJJF. I did my first event in Atlanta and was hooked. The level of competition was a ton higher. People were actually training for these events, not just showing up. My Coach told me that it was not about the win and he could care less if I won or lost, but that I prepared properly. It was the preparation that would lead to success, that preparation lead to being promoted to Purple Belt.
I started competing everywhere….DC, Charlotte, Atlanta, NYC, Orlando. I started really enjoying the preparation time and the frequency of training. I traveled alot to see my Coach. To train! Purple Belt was without a doubt the most fun belt. I loved to train!
COVID hit and that shut it all down. Fortunately, I was able to continue to train. No tournaments to prepare for, no rank reviews in sight. Just get on the mat and be blessed that I was able to train. I traveled to my Coach in High Point twice a week and to my friends Logan and Taylor Griffin in Bristol and to their Professor Samuel Braga in Knoxville.
In September, I was promoted to Brown Belt. I never thought I would get there. I worked hard, lots of traveling, lots of training, lots of improvement. I was ready to rest and chill through the end of the year and get started competing in the New Year as COVID would allow.
Tournaments started opening up, the Pans closed out due to capacity within hours of opening and I missed getting to compete, so I sat at home at watched my buddy Kris Sparks compete at that level and I was determined that I would not miss the next event.
That next week, the World Master’s Championship open up. I got a text from Prof Phillip Justice that the event was open and I immediately signed up. Master 5 Ultra Heavyweight. What have I done? I am competing in a World Championship! I had a plan for training with my Coach and was excited to get to it. But, my body had different plans. A simple procedure combined with me not listening to my Doctor (truth though he told me to take a day off…..I took one day off as told LOL) turned into me losing a ton of blood and had me in a really bad place. I didn’t have much time to prepare anyway and now I lost another two weeks to get myself back healthy. Being in shape before, it didn’t take long for me to heal up and get back to normal. Back to training.
World Master’s Championship day. I felt nervous, anxious, excited all at once. I had one match against a tough competitor. I had faced him before, way back at Blue Belt. He was the number one ranked Brown Belt in the world, though I purposely did not look this up prior to the event. I have only been a Brown Belt for two months, now I am competing in a World Championship, most people never get the opportunity to compete in the World Championships at anything. Amazing! I am walking around to get a sweat going and hearing Coaches words of encouragement, “You got this Lindy…….In five minutes…..you will be a World Champion!”
Well, I am not a World Champion. I lost my match by submission. The loss standing at the mat when the other guys hand is raised…..is crushing. Well….crap….that didn’t turn out well. But that only lasted a second as when they turned us around to the crowd, I saw my teammates smiling and clapping for me. They all knew what I was going through, they had all been there. They were proud of me for putting it on the line and taking a chance when it would have been easy to stay at home and analyze from the couch.
Heading towards the podium to get my 2nd Place in the World Masters medal, I got hit with a huge surprise. My buddy Phillip Justice has just been promoted to Black Belt! WOW! Phillip and I used to fight each other in open tournaments in our early teens, real life Cobra Kai days. I pushed him to test for 1st Degree Black Belt in TKD and he pushed me to test for my 3rd Degree years ago. He introduced me to BJJ when he just got his Blue Belt and I had not even started training yet. Being able to see this promotion made my weekend.
Some of my favorite memories of the tournament is hanging out at the house and getting to know my teammates better and laugh at old stories with my old friends.
Back to Roanoke. More training. I have my eyes set on competitions this year and a return to the World Championships! 2020 was not my year, but 2021 sure will be.
World Champion in training!