Planning for Japan

I know that I still have a while to wait (141 days!), but I like to plan ahead for my international trips. I will be leaving on September 6th for Tokyo, Japan and will be arriving in the afternoon of the 8th. So far, I have only booked the plane tickets but I have a lot of plans that I just haven’t solidified quite yet.

I hit a fare sale back in January and got my round trip airfare for about 2/3 the cost of my ticket last year. Granted, last year instead of paying out the cash for the ticket, one of my regular massage clients bartered with me for the airmiles. He and his wife are covered for the next years worth of massages, and I got a ticket to Japan – fare trade!

I will be staying overnight in Los Angeles on the 6th and will likely find a place to train that evening. If any bjj people have a spare couch or tatami, give me a holler!

Settling In:

IMG_5361I will most likely stay at the same guesthouse as I did last visit. The location was extremely convenient, good wifi connection, free tea/coffee/miso soup, and an on site onsen (bath house) – all for just about $20 per night.

I will arrive the day before the competition begins, so I will likely just collapse as soon as I arrive and wake up early the next morning. The 14 hour time difference is killer, but I adjusted pretty easily last visit with just a solid 12 hour sleep right off of the plane.

The Competition:

Last year, I competed on the second day of the event, but I popped by the venue in order to get my bearings, check my weight, and make sure I wouldn’t get lost. It was a little confusing making sure I got to the proper place since if you look it up online, it can lead you to the Nihon Budokan in Chiyoda, about a 30-45 minute train ride from the actual venue location. What you need to get to is the Tokyo Budokan in Ayase as shown below.

The venue is about a 8-10 minute walk from the Ayase train stop and is really quite easy to recognize.

Japan Budokan
Front Entrance
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Bathroom Slippers

One really nice thing about this venue, is that you don’t have to worry about people running into the bathroom without shoes on – since everyone takes their shoes off at the entrance. There are special slippers in the bathrooms that you will put on at the door before you go in to take care of your nervous pees and colon purges.
You can also

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Bathroom Noise Machine

press a button in each stall to play sound effects to cover the noise you would otherwise be making.

 

This is a Martial Arts specific venue. Expect to see people in Aikido and Japanese Jiu Jitsu uniform wandering around to check out what we are doing. There are vending machines with all kind of drinks – although I was desperate for just regular water and couldn’t seem to find it. There are no concessions stands, although there are many places to grab a bite to eat in the surrounding neighborhood. I opted for a bento meal from a convenience store.

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Podium Photo

Most of the announcements were done in English, although plenty of Portuguese was spoken as well as Japanese. I did discover upon checking in that they DO require females to wear a rash guard – which I understand based on what I know of the Japanese culture. It did put me into a minor panic since I was close on my weight (thank you bento box), but I was able to quickly purchase the smallest, lightest rashguard I could find, and I made weight.

 

Those are the only real differences in the competition that I could note as compared with the other events I have been to. I found, as a whole, the Japanese approach to Jiu Jitsu to be very precise and methodical.

Climbing Fujisama:

After I compete, I am planning an overnight climb of Mt. Fuji. The climbing season has not yet been set, but last year it extended for a few days after the competition.

I have not yet decided if I will do this on my own, or do it with a group. It would be more convenient with a group since all my expenses would be included and the entire thing would already be organized. However, it would cost a lot less to do it on my own. Still working on that.

If I go with a group, the first day we would go from Tokyo by coach to the base of the Mountian and then climb to the 7th station where we would then sleep for a few hours and adjust to the altitude. We would then start off late at night for the summit and reach the top in time for sunrise. After the hike back down, we would relax at the hot springs for a few hours before catching the coach back to Tokyo.

Korea?:

I realized recently, that Korea is only a couple hours from Tokyo by plane. Since I’m already that close, I figure I might as well hop a quick flight and see a whole new culture for a few days! I haven’t researched much so far since this is a new idea in my head, but I definitely want to make it happen. I want to eat some good food and train with some new BJJ people!

Kyoto:

I was extremely saddened last year that I wasn’t able to budget for a trip to Kyoto during my time in Japan. This time, I am for sure going to make it down – at least for a day trip! The Inari Shrine has been on my bucket list since before my trip last year!

Sumo:

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Opening Ceremony

Last year, I was able to attend a Sumo National Championship tournament. It was absolutely thrilling! It will be going on once again during this visit and I am trying to figure out how to get some really good seats. Last year I went with a tour group and we had bleacher seats, but
this time I want to be up close to the action! As far as I can find though, it looks like I need a Japanese address in order to buy tickets. I’ll buy from the tour again if I need to, but I would much rather pay for a good seat. If anyone in Japan happens to be reading this and wants to help me order, I would buy your ticket as well!

 

Exploration:

All that I have listed already would most likely be in my first week there. Then I will have a whole week left in order to explore, eat, and visit every Jiu Jitsu school I can find! I will also remember to bring a white Gi this time so I can train at the Kodokan.

I end this with a bunch of random photos from last years trip. Enjoy!

Coming Soon! Boston, Atlanta, and… Tokyo!?

It has been a huge dream of mine to go compete in Tokyo, Japan at the Pan Asian Championships. Well it has been renamed the “Asian Championships” now, but that doesn’t bother me too much because I’m freaking going this year!

This all came about very suddenly. Before an appointment two days ago, my client was admiring my medals from the Fuji tournament and it made him ask if I have competed in Japan. I told him “sadly not yet” and explained that the event will be held in 6 weeks and I’m going to have to miss it again this year. He asked if it was just a money issue keeping me from going and then offered a trade. He used frequent flyer miles to book my ticket, and in exchange he and his wife are set for their next year worth of appointments!

I think all parties are happy with how this worked out! I’ll be working my end of the deal for a while, but it is definitely worth it to me!

I will arrive on September 9, compete on the 12th or 13th, and fly home on the 16th. I am very excited to get to test myself against a whole new group of competitors that I might never get to slap hands with otherwise!

Other Plans:

I have decided that the day after I compete I will hike to the top of Mt Fuji since the climbing season is closing on the 15th of September and I’ll have just enough time to get up and down before the trails close. I’ve climbed a mountain before and remember it as a tough, and hugely rewarding experience. This will be about an extra 2,000 ft higher of elevation so I will definitely plan to take my time on the way up! I remember that on the last mountain I climbed I was starting to notice the thinning of the air for the last 1,000 feet to the summit.

Since my plane lands in the early afternoon, through the power of caffeine I plan to keep myself awake starting at least 6 hrs away from landing. This way by the time I clear customs, pick up my rental mobile wifi unit, navigate my way on the metro to my hotel, check in, find a ramen shop for dinner, and then relax a bit in the traditional Japanese bath at my hotel… I should be ready to sleep by 8 so I can skip the jet lag as much as possible.

I’ll have two full days to do whatever I like before the competition begins. I’m thinking the first day should be a good explore day and for the second maybe a visit to the Tokyo Disneyland would be in order (if budget permits!)

If anyone has any suggestions for things to do, people to see, places to eat… I am all ears!

Make sure to follow my Instagram page for a steady stream of awesome photos!

My Hotel:

I’m never one for spending much on accommodations since the more I can save in that area, the more I have to spend on food – besides, I’ll be out exploring all day anyhow! When I’m traveling abroad I usually stay in hostel type accommodations.

The place I have chosen to stay for my trip to Japan, is a capsule hotel. Think of it as a train sleeper bed, or a navy bunk. I stow my luggage in a locker and climb into my capsule which in this case consists of a tatami floor, a rolled up futon mattress, and enough space to sit up, lie down, and turn around – so it’s like a properly sized dog crate!

The perks with this place are that I’m staying in a ladies only floor, and the hotel has traditional bath houses, saunas, free wifi, really good network with local businesses, easy metro access, and a free vending machine in the lobby that dispenses coffee, tea, and miso soup. I get all that, with a bike rental included for just 20 USD per night!

Busy Busy Busy!

I wrote out my travel/training/competition schedule for the next couple months, and it made me feel very busy. Here it is!

August 19: fly to Boston and see family
August 22: Compete at the Boston Open with the family cheering me on
August 23: Overnight bus to DC for training
August 28: Overnight bus to Atlanta
August 29, 30: Compete at the Atlanta Open Gi/No Gi Competition
August 31: Take bus back home to Nashville
September 8: Start flight to Tokyo
September 9: Arrive in Tokyo
September 12, 13: Compete at the Asian Championships
September 16: Fly back home to Nashville
September 24: Fly to Las Vegas
September 25, 26: Compete at Master World Championships:
September 28: Fly from Vegas to DC
October 2: Take bus from DC to New York City
October 3: Compete at No Gi Pans
October 6: Fly home to Nashville

By the time I get home in October, I likely won’t have a dime to my name.

Totally worth it!

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!

The Night Before

I am currently sitting in my hotel room in Lisbon. I had a brief nap but woke up and am finding it difficult to go back to sleep. All those pre-competition thoughts and feelings are churning through my brain and body and, for the moment, I am having a difficult time relaxing.

Actually the main problem is that I left my heater running and now it’s just too bloody hot to get comfortable! So while I wait on the room to cool down, I thought I would post an update!

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So yea, I definitely feel my adrenaline is up higher than my normal “just above clinically dead” levels. I went to the venue and hung out for a few hours, watched my old white belt division, and checked my weight on the test scale. My weight was about .5 kg over which is no big deal at all and I’m already down to a comfortable number.

So I’m just sitting here sorting out my brain. I’m not nervous really; just more on edge and ready to go.

I’ve worked hard for this. Over Christmas while everyone else was out, I was walking to the gym in the freezing temperatures and doing circuits and solo drills all day – yes, even on Christmas!

I will be having my three year Jiu Jitsu training anniversary on the last day of this tournament. During those three years, I have completely structured my life around streamlining my training and competition schedule.

I quit a well paying job in order to go into business on my own, so that I would have the schedule flexibility to travel to compete. I live very minimally so that the majority of my income can go into my training. I haven’t had a car in almost two years now because I decided I could just bike and walk wherever I need to go.

The point is, I have come to realize that for me Jiu Jitsu is no longer a hobby. This is my lifestyle. Is it extreme? Yes. Do my parents worry? Of course!

Why do I do this? It started out just as a way to challenge myself and push my limits. It remains as such, and even more! I have gained so much through the process of the drive, that I want to inspire others to try it for themselves! The only way I know to do that is to keep pushing. The more I push, the more I can show to others the lessons I have learned these past three years of my life!

I’m definitely not saying that everyone has to take it to the extreme in order to benefit! In fact, my life was changed before I started the real push! I just want to see people try!

The room has cooled off a bit, so I close with this: these photos are both of myself.

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If You Really Want Something…

Do it.

It was a big goal of mine to make it to the 2015 European Championships but due to budgetary issues it looked like it wasn’t going to work out.

However, I just couldn’t get it out of my head and so on December 9th, I decided that I had to at least try. Even if I wasn’t able to go, I want to make sure that I exhausted every possible avenue to get there so that I could move on with no regrets.

I bought my plane ticket on the 11th! I started with nothing by way of funds and was able to personally raise just over $1,000 in two days without asking for help from other people. My parents raised me to be pretty independent so I prefer to work for what I get. I will however take this moment to thank Roger from twitter who messaged me and offered to help me out – it gave me a little extra fire to know someone was rooting for me enough to want to invest in this trip!

So was it easy? Not remotely! I raised most of the funds by selling hugely discounted holiday gift cards (about 50% off my normal rates) and will be working hard to redeem those for months to come!

The hustle was worth it. It just reinforced my belief that if I want something badly enough, there is always a way to make it happen. I am never able to save up for a competition. I just have to decide that I am going to go and then do it. Money is fluid and it will flow as it is directed.

Oh yea, it is the New Year…

It’s not that much different because to me, every day is the start of a new year with the opportunity to grow a little bit more.

The one big change? My registration form now defaults to “Master 1” division. Thank you IBJJF for making me feel old for the second it takes me to change it back to “Adult”!

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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.

New Perspective Yields New Results

I competed last weekend at the IBJJF Atlanta Open. This was my first time competing there as a blue belt, and it felt rather nostalgic as it was also my first IBJJF competition as a white belt. I told my coach that I had decided it was time for me to bring home my first double gold. I have brought home gold and bronze, but I felt like I was due for an upgrade.

It was a VERY long day! We met at the gym at 2:00 am in order to drive down. I didn’t sleep at all because I was having a terrible time with weight issues (female problems. Nuff said.) and was at the gym all night trying to drop the last two pounds. I jumped on the rowing machine, with multiple layers of sweats and hoodies, for two full episodes of “House”. Know how much I dropped? .6 pounds. What finally did the trick was a long hot shower just in time to jump in the car for the 5 hour drive to Atlanta.

Thankfully, I did get an hour long nap in the car. I arrived a pound under weight with about an hour and a half until my division start time. So I proceeded to sip some fluids and nibble on some trail mix.

I was actually working at this tournament as well. I became a bit of a floater since they were pretty short staffed. My first job before I competed was working as a ring coordinator. After competing, I bounced between score keeping, and crowd control in the bullpen.

Weight Division
There were only five girls in my division as a total, which I hate to see because it means that only one person in the division won’t make the podium or the open. What can you do though?

I had the extra match first thing. I don’t remember exactly how it went and I wasn’t able to get someone to film, so I guess I’ll never really know for sure. I remember playing de la riva and getting a sweep and winning on points. My opponent was very frustrated toward the end of the match. This match actually wore me out pretty well. My legs were tired and my forearms were sore – I was very happy to have a decent sized break while they snuck in another bracket before coming back to me!

My second match was the semi-finals. I thought to tomoe nagi but missed my foot placement and pulled guard instead. The ref pulled us back to center which I attempted to help with my doing “the worm”. I finished with a loop choke from half guard.

Third match was the finals. She pulled guard straight into a beautiful de la riva sweep which felt like had been drilled many times! She came up into my one legged x-guard which we played in for a few minutes. I finally managed to get my sweep and jumped to a guillotine, finishing in mount.

Open Weight Division
There were nine girls total in the open weight division, and guess who got the extra match again!? Yup! I was actually happy about that!

First match was not the type of win I like to see. We grip fought for a short time, and then she tried to snap me down. (I pause here to say thank you to Javier and Lance for helping me with takedown defense!) I ended up jumping guard and when she went down with me, her leg straightened and her knee made some awful noise. She didn’t say anything so I kept working and got a quick arm bar. Immediately we had to call the medic over because her knee was hurting badly. I watched the video playback later and it made me wince… I hope she’s okay!

Second match I dropped into a wrestling stance (odd for me!) and proceeded to defend a couple shot attempts. I tried to go for a guillotine off one, missed it, and ended up on my back. I then went after a loop choke and got the tap.

Third match was the semi-finals against another light weight. I got some weird takedown that I really don’t know what to call – some sort of combo maybe? I did get in a triangle for a second, but was able to get my arm pummeled under so I could attempt to pass. She turtled on the pass so I went to a 10 finger guillotine. She was tough and went to the bitter end!

Fourth match was the finals. And it was a war! I got the same weird takedown I had gotten in the previous match, this time ending in a cut through position. I got stuck in quarter guard and ended up getting my right knee twisted pretty badly. I had already been icing it for something that happened in one of my weight division matches, and that did not feel so good!
I managed to squeak in a pass for some points, but got caught in quarter again and couldn’t do much more than stabilize because of the knee screaming at me. I was able to finally switch which leg was trapped, then I got swept and the angle my left leg went over at made a few people scream and the medics stand up. That one didn’t hurt though (thank you hypermobility!) and I went to my one legged X-guard again and spent the last minute of the match trying to sweep back. I ended up winning the finals on those pass points.

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What Was Different?
A couple of days before I left for this competition I was talking with my coach and has a realization that I decided to put to the test in Atlanta.

This isn’t personal. This is not a fight between myself and my opponent. It’s a conversation between my Jiu Jitsu and their Jiu Jitsu. If I make it personal, I become ridged and on edge. If I am relaxed and fluid, I can respond without hesitation to what my opponent offers me.

Before my finals match in the open, I was sitting in a chair outside the bullpen having a conversation with myself. This was the first time I had ever been in this position. I had never made it to the finals in the open division before. I realized I could easily stress out over it, but I decided to just go with it. I chose to trust that my training will have an answer for what was ahead, and all I had to do was take what my opponent gave me, give back what I have, and see what happens.

So in a nutshell: I finally learned to chill out. I’ve been focusing this past year on my mental game, and keeping my stress levels low. I think I finally “got it”!

In Closing
I just had so much fun at this competition! I got to show off my new gi from my awesome crew at Raijin Fight Wear, made new friends, worked hard, got my first double gold, and even got a congratulations from the head of our new team!

Next up: No Gi Pan Ams and No Gi Worlds (followed by Disneyland!)

 

 

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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IBJJF Boston Open

My family lives an hour from Boston and I decided that I would compete in the Boston Open so that my Mom, Dad, and sister would all finally get to see me compete!

I wasn’t sure how having them watching would affect me mentally. It could make me spazz out, or turn me into an absolute beast. Thankfully, it was the latter.

Weight Issues:
That was a pretty rough morning. I had a division of 12, set to start at 9:00. I brought a scale with me to the hotel and was fine that morning but got to the venue at 8:30 and discovered my scale was off by a lot… Meaning I had about 20-30 mins to cut just over 2 lbs.

I went to call my coach to ask him what I should do, only to discover my phone was missing. I was panicking on many levels. In the middle of this time, my family arrived and I told them I had to go cut weight and find my phone.

I gave myself a rather intense abdominal massage to help the colon do its thing, but that wasn’t enough. I determined I would have to puke as well. I nearly gave up then. At that point, my phone was found and I decided I was gonna make the weight if it killed me – if for no other reason, but for my family.

So I made it. Barely. But I made it.

Irony of ironies, my first opponent didn’t make weight.

Weight Division:
I was supposed to have 4 matches, but my first opponent was over weight by a pound.

There were about three other people who were DQed for not showing up. I heard that there was some confusion as to he location for some. Anyhow, my next opponent was one of those. Sooooo… Pass into the semis. Sucks, but at least I could make up the matches in the open!

My first match (would have been my 3rd!) she pulled guard and I went straight to my cut through, passed, stayed on top, and Won 16-0. She had great defense and I wasn’t able to finish her. I’ve been working a lot on control from the top and it paid off at this competition for sure!

My second match was the finals. She definitely had length on me. I ended up in her closed guard but couldn’t reach her arms to do the open/pass I had been drilling. She bump swept me to mount and got the sweep and mount points before I was able to escape to my own closed guard. I was able to break her posture and finish with a cross choke in the last 30 secs of the match.

So that gave me a gold medal in my division. I registered for the open then ran out with the family to get some food in my poor empty system.

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The Open:
My first match in the open was against a medium heavy weight (I think). I pulled guard when I felt comfortable, then went straight for the ankle lock for the tap about 30 secs in.

My second match was against another light weight – the only medalist I hadn’t fought yet. I did my snap takedown, got on top, smashed, and finished from the back with a loop choke variation.

My third match was the semi finals and I got to face off with a heavyweight. Let’s just say I got my just deserts for the crushing I was doing earlier. Ha! She had me crumpled up like a tissue and I couldn’t move worth a hill of beans. She won on points and consoled me with the information that I had frustrated her with my deep half guard sweep threats.

So that gave me a bronze in the Open. I take great pride in being the smallest person on the podium (I was wearing boots with two inch soles)

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In Summary:
Rachelle came to compete as well and she did amazing! She gets better every competition and got on the scoreboard this time! Pretty soon she will be tearing it up as well!

I went out for food with the (very impressed) family after my weight division. My Mom had to go lie down at the hotel for the rest of the day because she was in a lot of pain (fibromyalgia and arthritis). She doesn’t travel very well so it meant so much to me that she was able to come! My sister stayed with her but my dad came back to cheer me on in the Open.

I was asked to help out working at the podium for a few hours, so I directed traffic, answered questions, and handed out medals for a couple hours. They paid cash at this competition so my food budget was restored.

What’s Next?
I’m back to the grind this morning. The New York Open is this weekend and winning it will put me in the top three of my division – so I guess I had better win it!

I’m really excited because the guys at Raijin Fight Wear have been teasing me with a new item design that is top secret – and a surprise for me. I should get to see it soon and it feels like waiting for Christmas!

There are just about 7 weeks until the IBJJF World Championship, and I just can’t wait! Looks like I will be the only person from my school going, so I’m considering going to Philadelphia the week before so that I can train at the TAC Team headquarters school for a bit. We shall see!

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.