Emerging From the Cocoon

img_3690So I haven’t put up anything in so long because honestly, I just haven’t had the heart or energy to do so. I’ve gone through several depressive phases where only my dog could make me get out of bed or smile. I’m currently on an upswing and feeling reflective… So here’s to almost a decade of training!

The things that scare me the most are the very things I need in order to grow. The more I learn about something (i.e. leg locks, takedowns), the less they frighten me. It may be another decade before I gain any proficiency in applications, but there is a direct correlation between knowledge and reduced fear.

It doesn’t matter where someone trains. We have the same base goal to improve and can respect one another on that basis. If you’re cool with me, I’m cool with you. We don’t have to agree on philosophy in order to get along. I will not let what other people say overrule my personal experience with someone. Anyone can talk, but I know what I know.

I’ve always felt worse when I surrender to laziness and skip training. Everything seems easier on the other side of training and I’ve never regretted pushing through to train against my own laziness. In contrast, I’ve learned to recognize that sometimes it’s not good to push through (i.e. injury or mental health day). It’s all about learning and judging myself honestly.

Every gym has its own environment and won’t be a good fit for every person who walks in. I recommend to everyone to try different places to see where you fit best. If you try to make yourself fit into the wrong place it will put a damper on your love of training. Doesn’t mean one place is better than the other, it just means one place is a better fit for you personally.

You learn more as an instructor sometimes because it forces you to look at moves from all different angles in order to teach it effectively to students who have different learning styles than you do. Taking on an instructor role has made me a better student, since I try to pay closer attention to details taught so that I can answer questions. Basically it makes me more accountable since I have people now who look to me for their instruction and inspiration – and that honestly terrifies me. I don’t want to fail them. I want each of my students to have their very best chance to learn to love jiu jitsu. Will they all fall in love long term like me? Not likely. However, if they can gain something worthwhile from their time in class then my job is done. You don’t have to commit for life in order to enrich your life through martial arts training.

If I have a private lesson with someone, I go and immediately try to teach it to someone else in order to make sure the concepts are locked into my brain. Sometimes they end up doing it better than me, and that to me means I understand the concepts and my body just needs to catch up with my brain

Having a black belt does not automatically make you a good person. The process of training does weed out a lot of ego issues, but sometimes it can feed into it as well. I’ve had friends oppressed by instructors, as well as lifted up by them. People are people regardless of their belt rank.

I find that I do judge higher ranked belts by how they treat those below them. I came from a more classical style of martial arts where a core teaching is that the job of the upper ranks is to nurture and help those below them grow. White belts are our future blue belts, and purple, and brown, and then black. They will become the kind of black belt we make them into starting from day one. They are our legacy – how will we mold them?

Not comparing my own progress to those around me is nearly impossible for me to do. I have to make a constant effort to make the comparison to last week me, instead of the person sitting on top of me at the moment. I fight my own battles, as do all of my training partners. They don’t really know what I might be dealing with, and I don’t really know what they have going on. So kindness and compassion is key. Now kindness doesn’t mean we don’t try to beat the tar out of one another, but if I know a team mate is having a bad day I just try to give them a little extra leeway mentally as needed. I might be the one having a bad day next time.

We get pretty personal with one another. And jiu jitsu training and competition can involve some breakdowns. I really appreciate that I have surrounded myself with a good circle of people who support and love me if I let them know I’m not in a good headspace. The same people will push me to succeed just as hard when they know I can handle it. My goal is to give back as much as I can!

img_3551One of my most popular blog articles has been about my Aspergers diagnosis. I have found my jiu jitsu family to be such a eclectic group of weirdos that I am able to blend right in. It has been so healing for me to feel accepted by a group – it has reached a point that even when I have bad days I still know and believe that I won’t loose my place in the group. This means more to me than they will ever know, and I thank everyone for that. 

In conclusion (for now), jiu jitsu has truly become my lifestyle. My daily life revolves around it and I spend more time at the training academy than I do at home. It is no longer something I do, it is just part of who I am. I’m excited to see what the next year will bring for me – lots of changes and plans in the works!

 

Circuits, Weight Classes, and… Mexico?

Well I introduced the ladies in my Saturday morning class to circuit training today! We started off with just a three minute circuit with three minutes to recover in between – we will eventually work it up to a five minute circuit with a minute rest in between.

Today we drilled loop chokes from half guard. Our position this week has been guard, but one of my ladies has sore ribs and a bum wrist – so we worked around it!

Mexico City Training Camp:

I just registered for a training camp in Mexico City with Mackenzie Dern and Sophia Drysdale. It will be at the end of July, and I am EXTREMELY excited for it already! Get your registration in now to reserve a spot!

Ladies Jiu Jitsu Training Camp

Weight Classes:

In other news, I talked with my coach yesterday about my weight cut. He decided he wants me to stick with light weight instead of continuing my drop to feather weight. Not gonna lie, I’m kind of happy about that!

Size wise, I fit in the feather division better. Problem being, my doc says I have very dense muscle, so I weigh a lot more than I look. I’d have to lose a substantial amount of muscle to make featherweight, and that isn’t safe for me because of my hypermobility.

Meaning: I’m currently 132, so coach wants me back up to 137-138. I’m not just gonna fluff up though. I’m sticking with eating really clean, upping my caloric intake, and adding more strength training into my routine. I will confess, I’m going out for Italian food tomorrow for dinner with friends – but i’ll burn through that in no time flat!

See what Tournaments I’ll be at next! I love to meet people!

Hello 2014!!!!

New year, and new look for my blog!

I started my year off with circuit training followed by an hour of drilling the morning of the 1st. Did three massages, and then another circuit. Oh, and I did a cool video of it!

Kudos to you if you watched the whole thing!

My awesome sponsors at Raijin Fightwear liked this video so much that they have requested I start a “move of the week” video series. I’ll be filming some of that this Sunday after circuit training – They are even designing me a cool custom video intro! I’m so excited to get started with that! I am of course just a blue belt, so I definitely still have a lot to learn – but I have learned some good things in the last two years that are worth sharing.

Weight Cutting:
I’m in the process of cutting down to feather weight. I did 2013 at light weight, walking around at about 145 and cutting to 138 for competitions. It was recommended to me that I try feather based on my body size. Currently I’m weighing in at 130 and am shooting for 126 to make 129 in my Gi. Coach says I am pretty close to my limit of what my body will allow me to do, so it’s slow going at this time. I’ll probably post more about this later (maybe a few angry posts).

Ladies Team:
I love my ladies team! It’s slowly starting to pick up a bit, and I am now teaching a Saturday morning class as well as the Friday evening one. Coach says he will eventually have me take over the program – I’m being groomed it appears. I’m very excited that this year we have a confirmed 4 ladies from our school going to the Pan Ams, as opposed to last year being just me.

Training:
I’ve been drilling a lot lately – one good thing about the ladies is that they love to drill! Getting in at least an hour a day on top of class time.
I’m finally starting to feel competent as a blue belt, it took me a few months to get in the swing of it but I’m good now!

Competition:
My first competition of the year will be the IBJJF San Francisco Open on Feb 9. It will be my debut as a featherweight. It’s a bit of a distance to travel, but since the Chicago tournament falls after Pan Ams this year, this is my chance to test my new weight class out before Pans.
NAGA is going to be in Nashville on Feb 22nd so I think I’ll try out the expert and intermediate divisions if they will let me do both – otherwise I may just go to coach and save the money for my Pan Ams trip.

Hmmm I think that is about it for now. I’ll probably think up some other things to say tomorrow. It’s almost drilling time again!

Teaching Jiu Jitsu, and Next Big Goal

I didn’t get too much training in today. We have a fight camp going on for several of my team mates who are fighting next month – and I’m not much help for them I’m afraid. They need someone durable who can make them work hard. I am, however, an excellent time keeper when necessary!

I didn’t take the morning Gi class either… I saw just 4, very large, pretty new, white belts. Told coach “I think I’ll just let the boys play.” He looked, laughed, and agreed. So I just heckled from the sidelines – it’s an important job!

I did roll a bit with two people who showed up at 5. Got the blood flowing and felt better. Odd how my day feels incomplete without choking someone with my foot!

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Coach asked me to teach the 6 pm ladies class and then lock up the gym for him. The position we are working on this week has been side control bottom, so I taught the basic bridge-hip escape-reguard, then an underhook back take. Then we got a little fancy with an inverted triangle from the bottom.

It really feels good that my coach trusts me enough to give me that responsibility! I also love it because I feel like I finally get to give back a bit of what has been poured into me for the last two years!

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Next Goal:
It has been decided that my next big tournament will be the No Gi Pan American Championships. It is on September 28 and is in New York. Thankfully I have an awesome friend who I will get to stay with while I’m there
shameless plug:Visit his website for some amazingly orchestrated musical art!

In preparation for this, I’m going to compete at the IBJJF Chicago Open on August 17 and 18. I will get a chance to compete both in Gi, and No Gi divisions there.

My blue belt goal is to compete at ADCC. It is a major competition held in Abu Dhabi for which you have to win a qualifier at some point during the year. For ladies, they group white and blue belts together in one category, then purple, brown, and black together in another. In order to qualify, I will have to win my category weight division, and also the absolute division (no weight class).

I have a feeling this next year is going to be exciting indeed!

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Responsibility!?

Ladies

Well it has just been decided that I will be our Friday night instructor for our Ladies Jiu Jitsu class! We have a very new ladies program and it has been off to a great start in the last few months! I’m just amazed at how quickly everyone is learning, and how much fun everyone is having as well!

I have already started a blog/webpage for our ladies program at http://www.nashvilleladiesbjj.com – and we are planning to host a monthly ladies open mat. Our first one will be July 6th.

We are currently having a ladies team patch designed… and it is gonna be awesome!