A Word on Ladies Classes

In the last week we have done a soft launch of our new ladies only Jiu Jitsu classes. Myself and our other lady brown belt, Madison, are running two classes week to start out. This has brought about a good amount of discussion as to the validity of ladies only classes and rather than debate on social media about it, I’m going to just lay out all my thoughts here.

img_2503-1> begin rant/sermon> First off: I am not a girl power feminist. I don’t believe we are the always the victims or entitled to extra special treatment. I believe in equality – but alike and equal are not the same things. I believe that it someone holds the door open for me, it’s polite to accept the gesture but I don’t demand it. I believe that if I want something badly enough, I will find a way to make it happen. I believe that, as a whole, women are stronger than they think they are – and that we should find our way to discover that. I believe that women should train in co-ed group classes. I believe that ladies only classes are a critical part of growing a strong ladies team. I also believe that these classes are extremely important to the growth of a martial arts gym as a whole. I don’t believe that Jiu Jitsu is for everyone: I believe everyone should try it, but it’s a special kind of (mostly good) crazy that sticks with it.

Main Points (if you want to skip the prelude/sermon)

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From my first month

Jiu Jitsu is an intimidating sport to begin with for anyone. And with the majority of classes at my academy being roughly a (generous) 10:3 ratio of men and women, it is safe to call it a male dominated sport. A lone woman walking into a Jiu Jitsu class for the first time has extra layers of worry to combat. The mere offering of a ladies class makes it seem much more of an inviting environment as a whole.

After doing this for so many years I sometimes forget how intimate and vulnerable it is – and especially with how American society seems to sexualize any sort of physical contact; especially between men and women. A ladies only class helps bridge this gap – familiarizing us with the movements and terminology while easing in the concept of physical contact. After training for a little while, you understand that it’s not a sexual thing and it becomes a non-issue.

This is magnified for many women who have been survivors of abuse – be it sexual, physical, or emotional. I know many who try to use Jiu Jitsu as a form of exposure therapy to help combat their PTSD: to feel safe and in control of themselves again. The beginning phases of learning Jiu Jitsu – getting dominated and smashed for an hour or more at a time – is a hot zone for panic attacks, flashbacks, and other trauma related reflexes. This is not something she may ever want to voice to her team mates, she might just disappear without a word. Having a ladies only class available can create a sense of therapeutic safety for these individuals.

img_2862-1On the lighter side: it can be super refreshing to just have a break from the testosterone. I worry that I might begin growing a beard from all the man sweat that has been soaked into my system. Ladies tend to be much more social in the Jiu Jitsu community than are the men – call us pack animals if you will. Even though most of my main training partners are men, I always find it refreshing to spend quality time with other Jiu Jitsu ladies.

IMG_3351For personal or religious reasons, some individuals do not train with members of the other gender. For the men, this isn’t that big of an obstacle since they can easily train an entire class only partnering with other men. I have several wonderful team mates who do not roll with me and respectfully bow instead of shaking hands – I just return the gesture and carry on. For women, since there are fewer of us (sometimes one or none in a group class), co-ed classes classes may not be a consistent viable option. However with a good ladies only class, these individuals can have the opportunity to train as well if they wish.

For Beginners Only?

IMG_1300I don’t believe that a ladies only class should consist of only beginners who are passing through a way station to the co-ed class. I want my class to be a place where we can grow together and then go out and destroy the guys with our awesome powers of angles and leverage. I want to keep it applicable for both the day one beginner, and the long time veteran.

To the men who have supported this new class and program – thank you for seeing the big picture! To the women who are invested in helping it to grow – you are the reasons we do this.

Current Class Times:

Fridays @ 12:30 with Madison

Sundays @9:30 with Nicholle

After we move to the new facility we will probably shift the Sunday class to later in the day since we will have our own room and fewer things to schedule around.

Tokyo – Shrines, Crepes, Pandas, and More

This trip has been so long in the making! I am trying to slow time down and enjoy myself – a strategy that seems to be working so far. I know that when I get back home it will seem to have just been a blink, and all I will have are memories. So I’m making sure they are memorable memories! This post is going to be a long one since I am playing catch up for a few days… I am making up for the length by including awesome photos!
I usually do formatting on the computer at home… so please forgive me if the layout isn’t on par with my norm!

Day 1: The Transit

   
Transit day was loooooooong and rough. I woke up at 6 am in Los Angeles, walked 1.5 miles to the bus stop, waited about 30 minutes past the scheduled bus arrival (expected in LA), and got to the airport a little after 8 am. 
I was unable to check in for my flight online or at the kiosk because apparently they had added my dog, Dante, to my reservation. That requires a check in at the special services counter. That line is usually slower than the regular check in line. Thankfully there was a staff member at the head of the line who got me taken care of so I was able to get checked in and to my gate on time.
My flight left at 10:30 am, was scheduled for 11 hrs, landing at 2:20 pm the same day. Gotta love time zone jumps! I had a window seat next to a couple who spoke about as much English as I speak Japanese (not much). I could pick out general words and slowly got better over the course of the trip. They believe I am a Judoka and I choked on the words to explain Jiu Jitsu… So we settled on Judo. I have some basic knowledge… Very basic knowledge…
  

The first half of the flight was uneventful beyond that. The second half however… Not so good since I managed to develop a terrible migraine. My newly adopted Japanese Auntie was concerned and I had to keep reassuring her “daijōbu desu”. She wasn’t convinced, especially when I had to zoom to the bathroom to puke. Mercifully I fell asleep and was woken up by an airline staff member to receive my breakfast meal. I couldn’t stomach any of it except the crackers and some sprite. Auntie of course noticed and kept offering me her food options (I had ordered a low sodium meal). It was nice to have someone taking care of me!
Upon departure, I thanked her profusely for her help, and then made my way through customs, picked up my mobile wifi unit, and then headed for my airbnb location in Tokyo. My head was most unpleasant and I had to lie down and try to sleep as soon as I arrived around 6 pm.

Day 2: The Great Explore
First order of business: coffee. My head was feeling much better after a solid 12 hours of shut eye.

  I climbed up a small hill near the train station to wait out morning rush hour. I thought it was a park, but it ended up being a neighborhood cemetary. I snapped a quick photo from the edge so as not to disturb anyone visiting.

  I consulted with my brother and determined to first visit the Meiji Shrine, followed by a crepe in Harajuku.

  

Thankfully the shrine wasn’t too busy, although I think I got there before the bulk of the tour groups. The main entrance gate was closed for what looked like some restoration work, but everything else was just as I had remembered it!  

Afterwards, I walked the length of Takeshita Dori to my favorite crepe shop, hidden in a corner on the outskirts of Harajuku.  

Fresh made crepe, macha (green tea) ice cream, a slice of macha cheesecake, whipped cream, white chocolate shavings, macha powder… yea, it was as good as it looks! 

After my crepe, I strolled down to Shibuya. It was relatively non-crowded at the crossing as I made my way to the Starbucks. I had my mind set on a macha frappe (notice a theme here?) but was distracted by their mango passionfruit offering and I just HAD to try it. it was fabulous!

My plan was to go to Akihabara next, but plans change! I made my way back up to Ueno Park and visited the zoo. They have two giant Pandas there and apparently it was feeding time because they were just sitting in their feeding rooms, chewing on bamboo sticks like bosses.

So ended my first full day in Tokyo. I rocked the mad hatter hairdo all day like a boss!

Day 2: Competition Venue

I spent most of the day at the competition venue. Had to get the lay of the land and watch the black belt ladies represent!

In Japan, everyone takes their shoes off at the entrance to the venue. Handy bathroom slippers are provided for use in the restroom – and you be nasty if you try to skip using them!


I have craved this treat since my visit last year! Coffee jelly (jello) in an espresso cream sauce! Oishii!


I like carbs on my carbs. It looks weird, but it is fresh and fabulous!


After leaving the venue, I thought a nice stroll in the Imperial Palace Gardens would be nice. unfortunately, it was closed when I arrived. So I settled for a walk around part of the perimeter before I decided to head back to get some rest for competing the next day.

Day 3: Competition Day!
Stay tuned! Follow my Instagram for my results as they happen! 5 hours from publishing this I will be warmed up and ready to rumble!

Vegas Recap – Moving On

Well I am finally getting settled back home after being gone for the Master World Championships in Las Vegas… Granted I will be heading out again in just a few days for Japan – so I shall enjoy my own bed while I can!

The trip was long and drawn out. I expected and planned it that way, so no room complaints. It’s all just part of the adventure!

IMG_3298I arrived in Los Angeles on schedule and then made my way to Union Station by way of the flyaway bus service. You pay upon arrival and I didn’t know ahead of time that they required a card payment. Thankfully a nice gentleman offered to pay for my ticket and I gave him cash. I shall remember that detail for next time!It was a little over a 6 hour bus ride to Vegas and I wasn’t able to sleep as well as I normally do on a bus, so I arrived at 5:00 am and was pretty beat. I needed to be at the venue at 7:45 and got the brilliant idea that I would walk from the bus depot to the venue at the opposite end of the strip (close to seven miles) in that time frame. After about two hours of walking, I realized that I was not going to make it in time, so I jumped on a bus and got to the staff check in desk right at 7:45.

IMG_3341Day 1:

I started out working as a ring coordinator. It was chaos in the beginning with my mat being held up for 30 minutes because of people not showing up for their matches. I had to finally DQ three people (out of my first 5 matches), and then I had things running smoothly (and on schedule) until my feet gave out around 1:00 pm. I requested a break and upon return was granted a table assignment since my feet were blistering from all the extra foot work for the day. I checked into my hotel around 9:30 pm and just collapsed, barely able to convince myself that I needed to shower before sleep since I was gross from travel and work.

Day 2:

Today I worked as scorekeeper/table staff until I had to leave to get ready to compete. Thankfully we had a great crew between myself, my friend Liz, and an amazing camera operator. We went through several different ring coordinators and the computer systems kept freezing up, but we finally got a system pulled together that minimized the mat down time.

I left with an hour to spare before my division started and it ended up being a much longer wait since the other mats were having problems with the system freezing as well. So it was a bit behind. My first match was a fun one! I got a sweep, pass, then back control before finishing a bow/arrow choke. My second match was textbook until I got into an awkward leg position and had to tap to a calf crusher. Coach told me afterwards “I saw it, and it looked like it hurt, but you face was calm so I figured you were okay. Then it looked worse. Then it looked like hell.” I told him it hurt from the get go.

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After the medics confirming it was just soft tissue injury, I decided to continue the match from the same position. I was unable to make a come back unfortunately, and coach says I lost by an advantage point. Went off to have my leg iced and wrapped, then hobbled back to work at my table.

Day 3:

Just working the table once again. I checked out of my hotel early that morning and brought my gear with me (one backpack worth). It was a shorter day and we were done at 7:30 but had to wait for them to print checks (money! yay!) so I got out close to 9 pm. I don’t find gambling or alcohol particularly enticing… so I opted for karaoke with friends. I left them at around 11 pm to make my way back toward the bus station to catch my 1:30 am bus to Los Angeles.

The bus broke a couple of hours outside of Vegas. People were cranky, but in the four hours it took for another bus to come pick up everyone, I was able to finally get some sleep! So I was content! This meant I didn’t have time to go visit the beach in L.A. before having to catch my flight back to Nashville, but at that point sleep was more important to me.

My flight landed in Nashville at 10:25 pm, made it to the gate at 10:30, and then I got off the plane at 10:38. I was precise on those times because the last bus of the night leaves the airport at 10:48. I just barely made it! I then had to walk a couple miles home from the central bus station since no other buses were running at that time. So… long story short, I got to sleep around midnight.

 

Next order of business is to recover and enjoy my own bed before I leave for Japan in just a few days. In light of the healing calf injury, I am opting to skip climbing Mt Fuji (weather forecast is thunderstorms anyhow), and go watch some sumo instead. I’m contemplating coming back for another competition next year when the weather would be slightly more predictable and I could do a Mt Fuji climb then.

 

Atlanta Pro Ladies Divisions

IMG_4310This coming Friday, I will finish off my last evening at my job and will likely get home at around 11 pm. I will be leaving for Atlanta at around 3:00 am saturday morning, so hopefully I can get at least a couple hours worth of sleep!

The IBJJF Atlanta Pro competition starts at around 9 am next Saturday, but I need to be there at 8 because I will be working at the event. Not only will I be competing for a $400 cash prize, I will also get to collect a small paycheck at the end of the day. Receiving a paycheck makes the entire trip tax deductible as a business expense. Yay!

There is a much smaller turn out for this event than I was anticipating. Registration is now closed and I only have a division of 6, with 28 blue belt ladies total with 21 possible to enter the open division. So that comes down to 2-3 matches in my weight class, and 4-5 possible in the open weight class.

There needs to be a minimum of 4 competitors in order for the division cash prize to be awarded. There are exactly 4 black belt ladies signed up – there were just three a few days ago so I am very glad to have seen another jump on board!

The Black Belt Breakdown

Six prizes totaling $20,000 spread across four weight classes is allocated for the men, and one open division prize of $1,500 is offered for the ladies. If you look at the registration list and do some fun division, you can see the value of each person in each cash division if the winners hypothetically decided to share the prize money equally among all the competitors in their division:

Black Belt Male Feather Weight:

8 Competitors – Two cash prizes = $5,000
$5,000/8 Competitors = $625/Competitor

Black Belt Male Middle Weight:

6 Competitors – Two cash Prizes = $5,000
$5,000/6 Competitors = $833.34/Competitor

Black Belt Male Heavy Weight:

6 Competitors – Two cash prizes = $5,000
$5,000/6 Competitors = $833.34/Competitor

Black Belt Male Super Heavy Weight:

8 Competitors – Two cash prizes = $5,000
$5,000/8 Competitors = $625/Competitor

Black Belt Female Open Weight Class

4 Competitors – One cash prize = $1,500
$1,500/4 Competitors = $375/Competitor

What Does It Mean?

There are enough black belt ladies now to have a good turn out at one of these pro competitions. However, why would any of them ever want to sign up for and travel to an event when they can wait for the event within driving distance of home? The mens division prizes are definitely much more likely to incite someone to travel from the opposite coastline, and even internationally.

Rough cost break down per competitor who would travel to an event:

Plane ticket: $300

Hotel for two nights: $150

Rental Car: $50

Registration Fees: $130

Food and incidentals: $50

So that is roughly $680 out of pocket, before even stepping on the competition mat. Not counting possible lost income from having to be away from work, paying for childcare, etc. If I was choosing between traveling for the chance at $1,500 – fighting in an open weight division, I would definitely hesitate – especially if I had the option of other events within driving distance.

Competing in a weight class, even for a reduced prize money amount would be much more enticing to the female competitor. The IBJJF stipulates that there must be 4 competitors registered for a division in order for any cash prizes to be awarded, so if they happen to have a poor turn out, they still have that option to fall back on.

I would wager that weight class prizes, even if they just split the open weight class into two divisions, would make these events look MUCH more enticing to a female competitor who is planning out her competition schedule for the year.

Here are some more numbers I put together for the event.

One lady next saturday will win 2 matches, and go home with 1,500.

Four men next saturday will win 2-3 matches, and go home with 1,000 each.

Four men next saturday will win 3-4 matches, and go home with 5,000 each.

My Conclusion:

I didn’t even cover the colored belt divisions for the men and women. I’m kind of whatever about that, but the black belt ladies have put in their time and deserve a better opportunity.

I’m not angry and feeling the need to boycott the event. It is just a four hour driving distance from Nashville, I get good matches, and is worth it for me to make the trip to compete. Plus my entry fee feeds the machine and will help to get the coffers full enough that the organization will feel it can start offering better cash prizes for the ladies.

I would like to see them do an experiment for just one pro event: offering an equal cash prize for the ladies and the men. If it flopped, it would shut up all the people nagging them. If it did well, they would know that it could work. I for one would definitely make a point of traveling to support that competition.

I’m excited at how the ladies divisions have been growing in the past few years and look forward to the future! It will take time – but things have been changing a lot, even since I started training. It is all thanks to the ladies who have paved the road before us and we owe them big time!

Seizing the Opportunity

Ten days ago, I was offered an amazing opportunity. I was invited to a four week World Championship training camp where I would have a bunch of highly skilled women of all sizes and ranks to train with. I had to make a very quick decision since I would be needing to leave within the next couple days.

So I immediately texted my coach and while waiting on his response, I started crunching numbers to see if there was any way I could make it work realistically. Not only did I have to worry about transportation, I also had to factor in the lack of income during that time. The timing ended up being perfect since I was in the process of moving (no rent to pay), had just run a special in my business that gave me a financial pad, and I had just gotten enough air miles in for a free plane ticket! Oh, and by then my coach had messaged me back with a “hell yea!” In response. Food budget would be a bit low, but I gotta drop a few more pounds, so there would be no eating out anyhow.

So two days later, I am on my way!

I’m not going to go into all the training methods we are using right now, but let’s just say, I am so thrilled I was able to make it work because this is AWESOME!

Summary: training varies from day to day depending on goals, but the average is probably 4-5 hours of sweat dripping, grind it out mat time. I’m so thankful to my coach, Shawn Hammonds, for keeping intensity levels high at my home school – otherwise I would be reduced to a twitching blob of gelatinous humanity halfway through each training session.

I just received word back as well that I will be working as a scorekeeper for the IBJJF during the World Championships. I love working at the tournaments because it keeps me from getting antsy in the days leading up to my matches. Also the pay isn’t bad, they feed me (after I weigh in), and I get the staff shirt which allows me to carry my açai outside of the designated eating area. All around win!

I will be in California until June 2nd so I am planning on going to Disneyland on the 1st. So expect a ton of pictures on my Instagram page of Mickey Mouse waffles and myself with every costumed character I can find!

It is now nap time. We have been promised/threatened with a hellish session tonight so I need to save some energy!

A Word on Being Thankful

I am hoping this does not end up turning into a rant, although now that I think about it, this subject does deserve a bit of fire behind it.

Lately I have been witnessing a lot of things and people being taken for granted. This has made me have to check myself to make sure I haven’t caught the bug as well!

In my experience, I can see that instructors teach because they love to. At my school alone I see instructors take time to teach extra (unpaid) classes for students who have a drive and desire to excel. I know at any time I can pull aside an instructor with a question and when the conversation is over have an answer to work with.

If you have an instructor or coach who takes the time to share their years of knowledge and experience with you, thank them for it and then put what they shared with you to work! If you try and fail, ask more questions and they will happily help. Want more attention in class? Knowing someone is trying to learn a technique you showed them magnetically draws an instructor back to a student without fail. 

Moving On:

“Do the best you can with what you have” – Nicholle Stoller”

The grass always seems to look greener elsewhere. I personally envy my California friends for having such a good close network for competitions and training. I wish I was able to make it out for all these special Ladies BJJ training camps that I’m always being invited to. I envy the ladies who get to train alongside their boyfriend or husbands.

The fact is, I haven’t spoken with anyone who has everything set perfectly to their own liking. The people I envy in California have their own set of issues that get in the way of what they view as their perfect training scenario – some of them even have said they wish they had my setup.

That’s when I decided that all we are required to do is our best. If for no other reason but the fact someone else considers your situation to be ideal, be thankful!

If you are the smallest person at your gym and have no one your size to spar with…

If you are the largest person at your gym and always have your technique written off as just being “bigger than everyone”…

If you are at a small gym with limited variety in schedule and training partners…

If you haven’t won a match in months…

If you have a handicap that puts you on the bench more often than you think is reasonable…

If you have other responsibilities and aren’t able to make it to more than one or two classes a week…

If you don’t have the finances to travel and compete as frequently as you want…

Just do your best! No one can look down on you if you maintain a thankful attitude and keep moving forward. If you have any more scenarios, please share them in the comments section below! 

Side note: I accomplished my 1,000 burpees in a week challenge and have a 46 minute complication video to prove it. I need to find a way to speed it up to about 10 minutes then I can share. My next challenge for this current week is to relearn a flying sidekick.

Success!

If you read my last update, you will know that I had determined I was going to be competing in the feather weight division for the first time ever. I’ve attempted the cut several times before, but always quit halfway through. I was determined, and when I hit that wall again this time, I told myself “No quitting. Make it happen.”

I was about a pound over when I arrived at the hotel on Tuesday. I wasn’t horribly worried about it because I didn’t compete until Friday. Dad flew in from New Hampshire to cheer me on, and surprised me with a visit to Disneyland on Wednesday! It is hard to be on a weight cut at Disneyland, but it is also hard to really be sad about it because, hey, it’s DISNEYLAND! I bought some sweets to enjoy later!

Processed with VSCOcam with a4 presetI got to meet Captain America and he gave me some very good pre-competition advice. He told me to not be distracted by other people, focus on the task at hand, and also to remember why I started this in the first place – which is because it’s fun and I love it. Oss Captain!

I stopped in at the venue on Thursday to check my weight on their scale and found myself still a pound over. So for the rest of the day I simply nibbled granola and sipped small amounts of mineral water. By morning, I was a half pound under by my scale – not even wearing my lightest gi, and as you can see by the photo, I was VERY happy about it. This is probably the lightest I have been since before puberty!

Making this weight was one of the toughest things I have ever done. I really don’t know how to express in words how it felt! My official weigh in was 128.2 lbs; 13 lbs less than what I have previously weighed in as, and about 18 lbs lower than my average walk around weight.

After I weighed in, my coach admitted to me that he didn’t think I would mentally be able to do the cut. Hearing that made me smile!

Mike Calimbas is a master of capturing the moment! So many emotions on my face all at once here!

What About The Competition?

Right I suppose I should talk about the actual grappling portion of the competition! I had the luck of drawing my friend Taylor Biagi for my first match. We had both pegged one another as the person to beat in the division and it sucked that we had to meet up in an eliminatory match.

I lost the match, but it was awesome! I have no problem whatsoever admitting when I loose to a superior opponent, and Taylor is a most worthy adversary indeed! 

So Now What?

Since I felt so good making the weight, I have decided to focus on keeping my walking weight down between 130 and 132. Worlds is just 9 weeks away and I feel like I am reborn and rejuvenated! I’m gonna shoot for a little lower of a weight so that I can finally wear my awesome Raijin Fight Wear Gi in a competition!

And now, here are some fun photos from the trip!

With the Captain
With the awesome Taylor Biagi after competing!
Nick Albin aka “Chewey” – cant wait for him to visit my school again so we can roll!
Ketra, Nikki, Myself, and Tara. I always miss out on the group photos, so I insisted on this one!
Ran into Erin! She said it was a nice to make Gianni take a photo of her with someone for a change!
Ran into fellow Tennessean, Eric, also the creator of “JitsGrips”
I had a bit of a cheese and carb overload after competing… I’m still processing this meal I think!

The Patch Dilemma

I really don’t like patches on my gi. Maybe it’s because I like to fly under the radar and be invisible, but I just don’t like them. Growing up, I preferred to wear black, long sleeved Tshirts with no markings on them – and I still prefer darker less noticeable clothing.

However, there are a lot of people who have invested in me and in my training. I want people to know who has helped me with my achievements I have reached so far! So here are the patches I currently have on my competition Gis, along with why.

Team Patches

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Firstly, I always wear my coach’s patch on my back. My coach, Shawn Hammonds, has taught me since the first day I stepped on the mat and I fully intend to some day receive my black belt from him.
I have only have one TAC Team affiliation patch that I swiped from the office and I currently have it on the front of a white competition gi. I’ve moved it between a couple different gis and really need to get some more if I ever make it to Philly again!

 

Sponsor Patches

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I have been proud to represent and support Raijin Fight Wear since I was just a two stripe white belt! I was brand new then, and so were they. They seemed different than all the other start up companies in their designs, quality, and vision for the future and I wanted to be a part of their growth! Some days when I need a little extra push, knowing they are backing me up has been just what I needed! I always will be wearing their patch, rashguard, and/or super secret still-in-development Gi. “Respect All. Fear None.”

 

“Just Because” Patches

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All of the photographers I have had opportunity to meet during events are just amazing! I always try to support by buying photos whenever I can. I won a photo package offered by Mike Calimbas and I just decided I would keep his patches on my comp Gis because of his awesomeness!

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Girl-Jitsu has been an amazing supporter for ladies Jiu Jitsu and I really want to see them grow over the next few years!

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Scar Tissue MMA makes an appearance as well. They are a local company that has been growing and has been very supportive of my school as a whole, even helping out with fundraisers and designing a team gi for us.

A Perspective Changing Photo

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I just got done competing in my first open belt cash prize tournament. I had two wonderful photographer friends of mine come to take pictures and this is one of the first ones that has been edited so far. It kind of rocked my world.

It has always bothered me to some degree that I am not one of the cute, small, dainty looking girls. Sure, the majority of my psyche tells me that women come in different shapes and I shouldn’t let it bother me that I can’t fit my self into a particular mode… But I do have my moments when I mentally do just that.

When I saw this photo my first reaction was that I was going to just shove it away and pretend it didn’t exist. It definitely doesn’t fit into the mental model of what I should be.

Then I stopped myself.

I looked again.

It’s definitely NOT dainty.

But there is something else there. Something more important.

Actually there are two things. Both of which, I can thank the past two years of Jiu Jitsu training for.

1. Confidence
Seriously! I look at that picture and I see someone ready to take on whatever is thrown at her! Before Jiu Jitsu, I had trouble making eye contact and would get horrible anxiety when I had to be in crowds. Growing up, I always wished I could be this kind of confident!

2. Strength
Nothing little and dainty here! I look strong and fairly on the buff side.

This picture seriously brought me to tears. I’m an athlete, and I have a purpose. I realized “small, cute, and dainty” is not me, and that’s totally cool! My daily training has grown me into something different, and I kinda like it! Thank you so much to Janet Wohler for taking this photo!

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That little tidbit aside, I had a good time at the tournament and won the cash prizes for Gi and No Gi. It is enough to pay for my plane ticket to Portugal in January for the European Championships! Yay!

My sponsors Raijin Fight Wear sent me a prototype of their Gi to test out for them, and it was a huge hit! Can’t wait for it to officially launch and for everyone to see the awesome detailing on it! I have to keep that under wraps for the time being, but it is worth the wait!

The Atlanta Open will be in a few weeks. I’m registering tomorrow, but there is no one in my division and they are at 70% capacity already. Plenty of feather weights, but no light weight love. I’m gonna hope someone is just waiting to see another name on the list!

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In Summary…

I’ve been neglecting my writing as of late because I’ve been focusing all of my energy on getting ready for Pan Ams. It’s officially one week away so I’m going to summarize what has gone on the last few weeks.

San Francisco Open

My flight left at 5 pm and was supposed to get in at 11:00 Saturday night, but my connecting flight got delayed at the gate for about 2 hours due to weather conditions. I finally got in just after 1 am and got picked up from the airport by a friend. Got to sleep from 2:00 am until 6:30 am because I had to be at the venue at 8:00 since I was working the event.

Honestly, I felt like poop about an hour in. I had been sick and not able to keep any food in my system for about 3 days – if it were a local tournament that I hadn’t already bought a plane ticket for, I probably would have pulled out of it. But hey, once I’ve put money on something – I’m gonna do it.

I had a division of six, needing three wins for gold.

My first match was a great fight! She pulled guard first so I got to work my passing game – which judging by the video needs some work. I made it past and got points, but it wasn’t pretty looking at all… Kind of like a fish flopping around out of the water really. I ended up winning by points, not able to finish the triangle I had her in before time was called.

My second opponent didn’t make weight so that put me into the finals.

That first match took my last bit of energy. I stepped off the mat and noticed my hands and feet were blotched purple. That’s the first time I’ve ever prayed for more recovery time than required. I got my wish since I had to wait for the other side of the bracket to finish up then give my opponent her appropriate wait time as well.

Finals match: I started off well. Up on points, but then made a mistake, and got triangled. So ended up with a silver in my division. I was actually fairly happy with that. I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. If I can do that well when feeling that bad, imagine how I’ll do at Pans when I’m healthy!

The Open:

I started feeling progressively worse during the course of the day, I think my b12 shot was wearing off, so I was very close to dropping out of the open. About 30 mins before, I thought to myself:

“I came all this way, and have put in my time for this. I can choose to push when I wanna quit, or I can trust in the training I have had up until this point to carry me.”

So yea, I did the open.

I can’t remember exactly how many of us there were, but I think we had 6-8. I won my first match against a very tall girl by straight ankle lock. I was pretty happy that I remembered a sweep my coach had shown me on Friday. I wasn’t able to finish it, but it gave me the ankle lock set up.

I kinda fell over after that match, but it was able to recover in time for my semi match. Great match and loved the battle! I lost in the end, but was still happy since I lost to a friend who went on to win gold. Bittersweet ya know.

Nashville NAGA (Jan 22)

I decided at the very last minute to compete at the Nashville NAGA. Coach told me to enter the expert division. I did the no gi division first and here is the video

There were only two of us in No Gi unfortunately. But I got my first belt!

I did have a different opponent for Gi, but she pulled out after my No Gi match. They moved me back down to the intermediate level with the rest of the blue belts for the Gi divisions. I got more tired than I’d like to admit, but I managed to pull off another gold.

We had 6 ladies competing from our school that day and brought home 5 golds, one silver, and one bronze. Shannon won double gold in the white belt fly weight Gi and No Gi divisions with 5 matches total. It was a good day!

Outro:

That’s the highlights for the last few weeks. I’ll probably crawl out of my meditative hole before Pans to post on my competition preparation – but might not. I really have to keep my mind clutter free right now.