Winning Through Failure

I remember when I first started training and everything was just so hard. I got smashed every round and it seemed like everyone around me picked up techniques ten times faster than I did.

I failed a lot.

We seem to celebrate wins and try to forget the failures. Part of me loves the feeling of getting completely destroyed in class; knowing that I went through a hard thing and came out alive on the other side. Winning rounds is nice, but that’s not the only point of training in class. I train to be better the next day – and to do that, I have to put myself in an opportunity to fail.

I like to compete as well, and I would rather fail in class than on the competition mat. In class, we are working and studying together for our exam. I’m alone on the competition mat, but the preparation in class will make or break the final result.

As a purple belt, I’m kind of in the middle ground now of the ranks. I could go a whole class and do nothing but dominate, depending on who I roll with. That is the easy to do, and sometimes I need to do that to remind myself of how far I have come in the last 7 years. When I get serious about competing though, I have to seek out people who are better than me in order to push through my limits and set new ones.

My current competition goals?

Next month we have the IBJJF Nashville Open here in town. We won the team award at the July event, and we need to all work hard to defend our home turf.

In January I am going to the UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and then going straight from there to either the European Championship or the Fujairah Open. I haven’t hashed that out completely yet.

In February, the UAEJJF Mexico National Pro is in Mexico City and then the South America Continental Pro is in Bogota, Columbia.

March: IBJJF Pans will be some time in Los Angeles

April: UAEJJF World Pro in Abu Dhabi

May/June: IBJJF World Championship in Los Angeles

There will be others but that’s all I have for now. Should be enough to keep me occupied! I started my new job as a Massage Therapist working at a spa just two nights a week. It’s enough to pay for my bills and save up for airfare to events – while letting me train full time again. I just finished morning training and am gonna go for a bike ride and recover a bit before evening classes begin.

Upcoming Events

Well first off, Merry Christmas to all! And if you aren’t the Christmas type, I hope you had a good day off from work!
The gyms were all closed yesterday, so I went to see the new Star Wars movie again with a team mate. Today it is back to the grind! BJJ gym is still closed today, but I am meeting up my regular drilling partner before heading off to my shift at work. Gotta get those reps in!
The current attack plan for the first few months of 2018 is:

January 15-22 – European Championships in Lisbon, Portugal.

I can only afford to be there for the days that I could possibly compete. Gotta get back to work by the 21st. At least jet lag doesn’t exist to me anymore for a Europe trip (after a few trips to Asia).

February 3 – Atlanta International Open

This is an easy day trip for my crew since it is only a 3ish hour drive from Nashville. I’ve kept my one day off from work as a Saturday – so I can make it easily to these day trip events without having to barter time off from work… I’ll be doing plenty of that already this year.

February 17 – Team Shawn Hammonds Team Training

One of the funnest events of the year! Last february we had over 30 black belts on the mat and so many people that it was just wonderful chaos! I was promoted to purple belt at the 2017 team training and I look forward to seeing all the promotions this next year!

February 24 – Mexico City International Open Gi and No Gi

Past experience has taught me that I need to arrive several days early in Mexico City – in order to adjust to the altitude. I haven’t worked out a flight yet, but it is on! Barring work putting their foot down (I have a pretty flexible job).

My concern here is whether there will be any purple belt ladies competing here or not. But I think it will work out! Plus it will be great to see friends again!

March 7-11 – Pan Championships in California

I’m waiting on the preliminary schedule to be released before I start thinking about booking a flight. Gotta go out there, smash, and then get back to work.

Since I am a part timer at work, I’m fairly flexible with time off. I just have to at least make an effort to find someone to cover my shift and I’m good to go. I’ll be making trips as short as possible though because I do need a cash flow to make all this happen. It’s a balancing act that I think I have finally gotten worked out!

I will hear from the Japanese Embassy in a few weeks about my application. But I’m not gonna just sit on my hands in the meanwhile! Gotta keep moving and trying to be a little bit better every day! (Except for yesterday… yesterday I ate half a pie)

Your First Competition

I just finished my last training session at home before I fly out to compete in the European Championships. I’ve had a lot of things processing in my mind in these months away from the competition circuit. I’m sure these things will trickle out in my next few posts, but right now I am going to cover a special request topic.
I have been working with a student lately who is very nervous at the idea of competing for the first time. So I promised a special post summarizing the process.

Do you want to do it?
Ignoring all the nerves, you need to ask yourself if it is something you want to do. I recommend pushing through fear and just doing it, but if you don’t have at least a glimmer of desire to try, then it’s a stupid thing to be doing really.

So let’s say that you do have an inkling of desire to compete. The next hurdle most people face is trying to decide when you are ready. The truth is, if you wait until you feel ready, you will never do it. If you know how to hip escape, know a sweep/takedown, and know a submission; then you know how to finish a complete match. All the instructors I know encourage anyone who has this basic level of skill to dive on it and give it a go.

Division Decisions:
I don’t recommend worrying too much about fitting yourself into a particular division when you are first starting out. There is no need to put more stress on yourself than what is necessary – so don’t worry about cutting 10 lbs to make the lower weight class. I’m not saying to eat junk the week leading up to your matches! Eat sensible, balanced meals that will help fuel you – and just compete at whatever weight you find most comfortable. I have competed in many different weight classes in the last several years, and used those experiences to determine where my sweet spot is. The first few competitions however, I think are all about getting the jitters out of the way so that you can then start making those kind of decisions.

The Actual Competition:
Each event will be slightly different depending on which organization runs it. They do all follow this general flow:

* Registration
* Weigh Ins
* Bracketing
* Matches
* Awards

Registration
Some competitions will allow you to register at the door, and some require you to pre-register online. I know of one organization that accepts mailed in registrations as well. Make sure you don’t miss the registration deadline! A lot of organizations offer discounts for early registrations as well.

Make sure to double check with your instructor as to what team to list yourself under. This can make a difference as you will be earning points for yourself, as well as your team – and if you list the wrong team name then your contribution will not be counted.

Know if there is a cut off date for changing your registration details (rank, age, weight class, etc).

Weigh Ins:
Many competitions allow registered competitors to weigh in the evening before the competition begins. Some weigh you in five minutes before your match begins. The event website or flyer should have that information listed. It is important to note if you will need to weigh in with your Gi on, or if you can strip to your skivvies.

Most of the time when you are weighing in just before your match begins, you will be required to wear your uniform – so factor in the weight of your complete uniform when you are deciding which weight class to register for. Also note whether there is a weight allowance or not. One organization may subtract a pound from the scale reading to account for clothes or possible scale variations – another may not. Some competitions will move you to another division if you do not make weight, some will disqualify you from participating.

I remember when I competed in the European Championships last year and there was a girl who thought the provided “test” scale was the official weigh in scale. So she checked her weight, and then proceeded to sit down and drink a liter of water and eat her snacks. When the division was called she was in front of me at the official weigh in scale – on her knees begging and crying to be allowed to compete even though she had eaten and hydrated herself over the limit for the official weigh in. Unfortunately, she did not read the rules and suffered a disqualification for not making weight.

Moral of the story: do your homework and know the rules!

On That Note:
Know the rules for your event and division! There should be rules listed on the organization’s website, and I highly recommend reading the entire book before the event. Most of the time you will find restrictions on the types of submissions and moves you are allowed to do depending on your belt level.

For example: Most competitions do not allow heel hooks or knee reaps. Often the more advanced leg attacks are only allowed for upper level belts. For some children divisions, no submission attempts are allowed.

I remember one time I finished a submission on a girl and she got up, screaming at me and the referee that I wrist locked her. She did not know that it was a legal move in that division, and her lack of knowledge left her vulnerable to the attack.

So just make sure you know what are the allowable moves for your division at the event you are attending. In most cases, what you are taught in your normal classes is perfectly acceptable – but just be sure!

Additional Note:
Know the rules in regards to uniform requirements. Some events don’t care if you want to wear your fabulous tie dye Gi – others have strict requirements down to the color of the stitching in your collar. This information should be included in the rule book – but when in doubt, ask your instructor.

Bracketing:
If your event allows people to register the day of the event at the door, then division brackets will be made just before your matches. In some cases you may be called over if they need to combine divisions or move people around to allow everyone to have good match ups.

If your event is pre-registration only, in most cases finalized brackets will be published before the event begins. You will be able to view them and see who you will be fighting and how many matches you could potentially have.

Matches:
So once you know what time you will be beginning your matches, it’s time to get your game face on!

Number one thing to remember is to breathe! I don’t think I took a breath through my entire first match – my lips and fingers were blue when time was called (no, I didn’t get caught in a choke). This is the biggest hurdle you will find yourself running into – just trying to not let the adrenaline take over.

I recommend bringing along a friend or two to cheer you on and take photos/video for you. You are doing a tough thing and you need a cheer squad to support you! You will most likely have team mates at the same event, but if you are new the competition circuit, you may or may not have developed a tight bond with them yet (it will come! I promise!).

If your competition allows you to have a coach in your corner during your match, ask for one. Try to get an instructor or upper level belt with whom you are familiar. They will be able to help you by giving verbal instruction during your matches. You will have to focus to hear them – I guarantee it will be difficult with all the adrenaline and tunnel vision – but try to listen and trust them! If you don’t know where your coach is, ask the officials to call for a coach from your team. It is not an imposition for them to do so!

If the competition you are at does not have a designated area for your coach, this does not mean that you are not allowed one. They may just have to stand behind a barricade and yell a bit louder – and the officials will most likely not call them for you if you can’t find them. (make sure to have your coach’s number so you can text them if needed)

General flow of match:
* Escorted/called to table at the edge of the mat where you will be competing
* You will be instructed as to which side of the table or mat you are to enter from.
* Do not step onto the mat until the referee motions you to do so!
* Sometimes you will be required to wear a different colored belt or band for scoring purposes – if they hand it to you, just put it on.
* Referee will motion you onto the mat. Most people develop an entrance ritual – some elaborate, some not so much. You will find yours. Try to not make your opponent or the referee wait five minutes for an elaborate ritual though – it’s a bit rude to hold up the match.
* Shake the referees hand. They will usually motion you to shake hands with your opponent as well – although most people automatically go to shake hands without the encouragement.
* The referee will ask if you are ready (a quick nod is an acceptable response), and then give the signal to begin the match.
* During the match, focus on breathing. Listen to your coach. Listen to the referee.
* If at any point the referee give the signal to stop, freeze right where you are. It could be that you have drifted (or flown) out-of-bounds and you need to move back into the center of your mat space. However, you do not want to lose a good position – so make sure you freeze so that the referee can reset you in the same position you were in. (bonus tip: when walking back to the center during a reset, this is a good time to make eye contact with your coach so they can give you some instruction when you are not in the heat of the moment)
* When the match has ended – be it a submission or time running out – be gracious regardless of the outcome. Straighten your uniform and return to your starting position as quickly as your wobbly legs and shaky hands can get you there (adrenaline, gotta love it). The referee will raise the hand of the winner and then usually motion for you to once again shake hands. Make sure to shake the hand of the referee again before you turn to exit the mat space. If they had you wear an extra belt or band for scoring purposes, make sure to return it.
* Check with the table worker to see if you have any more matches.

Congratulations! You made it through your first competition match! You will likely find that you feel much more exhausted than you usually do after sparring a round in class. This is normal – the adrenaline kicks up the intensity and makes you use a lot more energy than you usually would.

Random Tips:

* If you think you’ve brought enough water, bring more.
* Pack warm layers. Events are usually held in gymnasiums or arenas where you can’t count on it being a set temperature. I have to pack a couple of sweaters when I compete in Las Vegas – 110 degrees outside, but my fingers are going numb inside.
* Bring snacks. Most venues do have food available, but it is usually ball park type (hot dogs, popcorn, etc) and not really the type of food you want to be putting into your stressed out system. I recommend various fruits, trail mix, granola bars, and peanut butter.
* Honey is super useful to bring in case you are prone to blood sugar crashes under stress like I am. Also, make sure you are stocked with electrolytes as well.
* Bring an extra Gi. If your Gi rips or does not pass inspection, you will be required to quickly change or be disqualified. In a pinch you can usually purchase a new Gi at an event or find someone to borrow one from, but why take that risk?
* If you need to ask the table worker official a question, try to wait until they are not occupied with keeping score of an ongoing match.
* Headphones. I consider this to be an absolute necessity. Listen to whatever puts you in a calm, focused frame of mind. As a person who ranges from Gospel to Kpop – you’ll get no judgement from me.
* Make sure someone films your matches! I’ll just prop my phone or GoPro up on the table if no one is around to film for me. You will be thankful later! I’m still sad that I don’t have any video from my first competition.

In Conclusion:
This was a huge information dump! If anyone has any other input, or questions, please comment!

Exhibit “A”

I hope everyone in the U.S.A. has a good and safe Independence Day!

My gym is officially closed today, but it’s quite handy to have a key. I upped my water intake to two gallons yesterday and have been doing my fasted cardio every morning. I both love it and hate it. I fly out in just about 9 days to see my family in New Hampshire before we all head down to the New York Open competition – so I’ve gotta make sure I have some wiggle room in my weight since my access to gym facilities will be limited during my time with the family. (Worth It!)

My one of my best friends invited me to his rooftop firework viewing party tonight. I’m going to put on my normal person disguise and go have a bit of fun. I am so saturated every day in training that sometimes it is quite refreshing to have a few hours away from everyone I am usually around every day. Granted, I sometimes end up being the group exhibit whenever I am around people who don’t train!

It is rather funny actually. Usually it will start with an introduction like this “This is my friend Nicholle. She is amazing, does martial arts, and can kick your ass!” After that, things go one of two ways. The people become rather stiff and awkward, or they happen to be mma/martial arts fans themselves and then the discussions take off. My friend who invited me to the party tonight happens to be the type who can make anyone feel comfortable with anything (it is seriously a gift I envy!) so I predict smooth sailing tonight!

 

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
IMG_5641
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

IMG_5731
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.

IMG_5722
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:

IMG_5927
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!

Work and Play

I am a huge advocate of the “work hard, play hard” philosophy of life. It seems to have worked for me so far!

Work Hard:
There is an intensity wall for me when it comes to training. If training is easy, I’ll just goof off. If it is medium… I have to fight the urge to slack off. However, when the intensity levels turn up, that’s when I feel alive. It is really odd how I can be tired after a normal class, but when coach is all fired up and putting us through his cycle of terror it is a whole other story.
When I get done with one of those training session, instead of gasping and twitching on the mat, I find myself bouncing up ready to go again. In those sessions, I am sad to hear the last buzzer go off. There is just something about pushing myself mentally to go beyond what I think I can do that just gets me fired up.

Work hard also covers more than just training. It also covers… well… work.

I picked up a part time job working at a grocery story down the street from my gym. My goal with any employment is to be dependable and take pride in doing my job to the best of my ability. The beauty of this, is that since I have proven myself now to be dependable and a valuable team member, they have been enormously flexible with my scheduling. This allows me to go to the competitions that I want to go to, and even to take off for a month to go to training camp. They know that my training is my priority, but they also know that they can count on me to get my work done when I am on the clock.

Play Hard:
Because I work hard, I am able to do the things that I want to do with my life. This doesn’t mean things are perfect – but if I want something badly enough, I will find a way to make it happen.

I guess to me, a lot of my work time, I kind of turn into play time. And vice versa. I am a HUGE Disneyland freak (totally going to the Tokyo Disneyland in September!) and love biking back and forth across town. Jungle gyms are AMAZING as are any remotely climbable trees, cliffs, or rocks.

When I go on a trip for a competition, I always plan extra time to enjoy whatever location I am visiting. I will usually plan my arrival for a day or two before I compete, and then say for a week and explore. In January I spent 10 days in Lisbon, Portugal and last year was in Tokyo for a week. I will be going back to Tokyo again in September and have booked my flights for a two week stay. After I compete, A nice night time climb of Mt. Fuji will be icing on the cake. I also plan to visit some Jiu Jitsu schools, as well as the Kodokan (I will remember a white Gi this time!), and hang with some Sumo fighters.

In Conclusion:
This hasn’t been the most organized update I have ever written, it is more just something I felt I wanted to get out of my head and written down somewhere.

I guess I kind of blur the lines between play and work. I even make games when I’m working at the grocery store – to see how many grumpy people I can make smile and such like. As long as I find a way to make everything I do into something fun, I can do anything. And then of course, it becomes a game to see if I can make everything into some sort of work as well.

At the end of the day, I am then ready to “sleep hard” as well. I’m a ferret in that regards, but that could be a whole post by itself!

Two Years… Time Flies!

 Today, June 10, marks my two year anniversary of receiving my blue belt from my instructor, Shawn Hammonds. It’s making me feel really reflective on the past several years. I was trying to think of what I want to share on this momentous occasion, and I decided to share something that has been on my mind for a while now.

The Blues:

The blue belt blues are real. After my first year as a blue belt I really just started feeling stagnant and stuck in a rut. I’ve actually felt like my technique has gotten worse and that I overall just suck and want to go back to being a white belt again. It has come across in my competition as well as I have been feeling outmatched a lot more in the second year of my blue belt.

Logically, I know that I don’t suck. I am just growing and my mind is starting to open to possibilities. It’s kind of like being a new white belt again who is at the “I understand what I need to do, but I can’t make my body respond quickly enough to follow through.” It’s irritating because I can see where I can spin underneath someone and clamber onto their back like a spider monkey, but I can’t seem to execute it quickly enough in order to finish the move.

What Saved Me:

I understand completely why a lot of people fade away once they reach their blue belt. I realized about 6 months ago that I had to decide if I was going to quit, or push on. I decided I have put too much energy and effort into training for me to quit because I was frustrated. I also recognize that I would need to change something and gain a new perspective in order to get out of the rut I was in.

I went for a weight class change. I’ve competed as a light weight (141.5 lbs) for the previous years and decided I would make the drop to feather weight (129 lbs). It was tough, but I did it, and it re-energized and re-focused me! I am a former chunky kid and that was the lightest I have ever been since puberty hit.

In The Meanwhile:

So now I still feel kind of like I am crawling out of the rut, but I can feel that I am making forward movement and that is enough to keep me going. I know my time will come when I break through and hit my stride. And it will be glorious to behold!

Right now I am making plans to go compete in the IBJJF New York Open next month. I can’t wait! It feels like forever since I have gotten to do a gi and no gi competition and it is gonna be great fun!

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.

I Think I Have A Problem…

Hi.
My name is Nicholle.
I am addicted to Jiu Jitsu competition.

Now while you’re planning my intervention, let me tell you my tale…

My First Time

I didn’t want to try it. Honest! But all my team mates were doing it, and I just wanted to fit in and be accepted as part of the group. I just figured, what harm could one try do? So I put my money on the table, signed the “I will not sue you if I die” paper, stepped on the scale for the first time, then found a corner to shake and wait in.

Not gonna lie, the first time was terrifying.

With barely a smudge of sweat build up on my brand new, snow white belt, I got pitted against a blue belt twice my size. Somewhere in the middle of trying to support her in the air using just my foot in her hip, I thought to myself “This is crazy! What am I doing?” I remember my team mates yelling “Sweep! Sweep!” and myself thinking “What’s a sweep?”

When it was all over with, I was exhausted and thinking to myself how crazy the whole experience was.

Funny thing though. After it was done; I ended up winning a match, earning my first medal, going out to eat with my team mates for a victory dinner, and finding myself wanting to do it again. I wanted to learn what this magical “sweep” that I could have won the match with was – I wanted to do better!

Today

I look back on my first competition experience and am so glad I gave it a try! The friends I have made in the past three years competing have made the journey worthwhile just by themselves!

Other than all the awesome people I have met, I’ve gotten to visit some amazing places in my quest for expanding my competition horizons! I’ve competed from Los Angeles to New York, and even went to Portugal twice! I hope to make it out to Japan next year!

I’ve never thought of myself as a competitive person. I still don’t really. I just want to know how far I can go when I push myself. The beauty of it is that there will always be the “next!” factor at play. Win or lose, before I even leave the event space, I’m already thinking about my next goal.

The community I have become a part of fuels me. Any place in the world I go, I can find a mat to step on, and all language and cultural boundaries fall away and I am immediately among family.

My team is an awesome support group. We are a big crazy family and even coming from all different walks of life, we have a common cause of improving and learning every class. Police officers, convicts, lawyers, personal trainers, stay at home moms, chefs, doctors… We are all under one roof and coexisting! Bad days and breakdowns are forgiven and forgotten. It’s very freeing!

In Conclusion

I would like to request that you cancel plans for my intervention. I think some things are worth being addicted to.

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!