BJJ Advice & Opinions

Am I The Toxic One In My Academy?

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In case you haven’t gathered it yet from reading my posts, I am neurotic. I am rarely at peace, and I second guess everything. However, that isn’t always a bad character trait. My neuroticism has pushed me to overanalyze my interactions with my teammates and question: Am I toxic? 

While I pride myself on being very welcoming and supportive of every new person that walks through our doors, I’d be remissive if I didn’t admit to acting improperly at times. I understand that I am crass, intense, and socially awkward. Traits that cause me to make amends for behaviors I have engaged in constantly.  Yes, at times, I have let the queen bee syndrome overtake me, and unconsciously, I have separated myself from my female counterparts because of it. 

 “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

-Carl Jung

Truer words have never been spoken. I often find myself hating on others for acting out on things I think about constantly, and this overreaction drives me to wonder, Am I just jealous? Can I be jealous of bad traits? The answer is: YES! 

But, I am not jealous of their shortcomings. I am envious of their freedom, lack of self-criticism, and deprecation that allows them to do what they wish. More than once, I have caught myself speaking negatively about someone and realized I share those same traits, but I simply suppress mine. 

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard: “They won’t roll with me hard enough” or “I won’t roll with so and so; they have no control and roll too hard.” The truth is, I have said those words a few times. But I have also stayed up at night wondering if I am, in fact, a good training partner. 

Try as I may, I let emotions overtake me. I have phoned in many training sessions, and on occasions, I have gone too hard or not hard enough. I have also been selfish and not given my best to my training partners in the past. 

“She’s just here for the attention.” This misguided attempt at profiling may be the most common thing I hear when a new girl joins the gym. Heck, I have even said it more than once myself. But the reality is, we all want attention. If we didn’t, Facebook and Instagram wouldn’t exist. We want to be recognized and to belong. Different things motivate us, but the sense of belonging and being positively noticed is quite universal. I have been proven wrong by many whom I thought wouldn’t last a month of training that are now some of my best training partners. 

“Mansplaining: the explanation of something by a man, typically to a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.” I often hear female instructors—and higher belts— complain about this. However, I have caught myself doing something similar,  particularly when the movement shown is a move I’ve modified to fit my unathletic game. As much as I hate being mansplained, I engage in it often as well. 

I have rarely felt attacked or offended while training. But, the few times I have, I hyper-focused on the things that were offensive to me and completely ignored how my behavior and perception of the event had affected my recollection of the interaction. I wonder how much my wrongful assessments were aided by my predisposition to negativity in retrospect. Or failed at approaching individuals to clarify or amend poor interactions or fix any misunderstandings. It takes two to tango. 

I often assume that others have a negative view of me and my skill as a jiujitera. The root of that lies within me and not them, however. But I still take things offensively and assume the worst as aware as I am of this. With that negative outlook, I have hindered my growth and my team cohesion. 

I tend to be volatile. Some days, I am dedicated, concentrated, and committed to learning. Other days, I struggle to leave the locker room and pay attention to anything. I can be disruptive, lazy, and undisciplined. I think that by me showing up every day, I’ll make up for my infirmities. Instead, I become more of a harmful fixture on the mat. I forget to lead by example, and despite my efforts to unify, I know I have divided many times. 

When I hear someone speak about all the negative experiences they have encountered when traveling to train, I wonder what energy they are giving off. I have traveled all over the US to train and have had ZERO bad experiences. This could be due to the fact that I am hyper-focused on acting correctly. But, I give everyone at new gyms the benefit of the doubt, something I fail to do at my home gym. I don’t overanalyze comments and behaviors. I instead give everyone a “Golf” handicap. Everyone I met on “foreign” mats starts with 36 handicap, and as I meet them, the handicap reduces accordingly. If only I took the same approach at my home gym. 

While not every toxic interaction I face is self-inflicted, I Invite you to look inwardly and examine your own mat behavior. If you haven’t found a gym you fit in; maybe it is time to look within. If every interaction on the mat has negative connotations, look at the multiple common denominators.  Become more open to discussion. Learn to be more empathic. Practice your communication skills the same way you drill your inversions and shrimping. Instead of focusing on the difference, strive to look for commonalities between you and your teammates. You’d be surprised about how much in common you have with the crazy folks that weekly share your journey with you. 



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