Brain? Check! Body? Not So Much

I have finally managed to nail down the exact reason for the anxiety I have been having during competitions this year! You know that feeling you get when you almost crash your car and die? I live in that “jolt” for every tournament – for a week or two before the tournament even. Yea… I know I need to chill.

Then, of course, I get into this lovely spiral of stressing over the fact that I can’t relax. Sounds really productive huh?

This is not normal for me. I’m usually the one who bounces through the day letting everything roll off my back. Hakuna Matata anyone? The last time I felt like that though was at the European Championship in January. What was my secret?

I’m a goofball.

That wasn’t a joke – that’s seriously the root of the problem. I’m a huge goofball but ever since competing at the European Championship I’ve been trying to take everything so seriously. Without my goofball antics to keep me out of my own head, I just ferment inside like a pressure cooker until the stress becomes debilitating.

I thought I should be more serious if I’m going to be a serious competitor… Forget that! I put this to the test for the last 2 tournaments and the results are in!

Chicago Open:
I wasn’t even sure if I was going to compete or not at this one. I tore a muscle in my right forearm that week and hadn’t been able to really use it much in class. I was working at this tournament and had already booked the hotel so I went anyhow. I got to wear one of the black shirts and work at the podium, as well as occasionally helping out with the inexperienced ring coordinators. Good times!

About 10 mins before my division was to be called, I decided to just go for it – and I had no time to freak out, I’d been busy all day! Ended up taking gold in my division and bronze in the open. My bracket for the open was really weird. There were 5 of us, and I had the extra match – so three on my side, two on the other. I won my first match then learned that a girl on the other side of the bracket had to bow out, giving her opponent a straight shot into the finals. I fought the second girl on my side of the bracket lost by advantage.

So since there were only 4 of us, I got third place alongside the gal I beat in my first match. Confused? I was. Also, the lady who got the straight shot into the finals was team mates with the one I lost my second match to – and she made her bow out to her in the finals… So she got the gold without a single match. That was a sucky messed up draw methinks. Oh well! Apparently once the bracket is drawn up and printed, the officials can only cross names off and aren’t allowed to move things around. For gold I’d have had to beat 3 fresh opponents in a 4 person division. Would have been pretty cool though!

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Synopsis: Being unable to post with my right arm made me give up two sweep points in the open which I lost on (annoying!) but with no time to fester and freak out, so it was the most relaxed I remember being at a tournament in quite a while!

Abu Dhabi Pro Trials
I stayed with a friend in Brooklyn the day before competing and he is the one who helped me pinpoint my mental problem. I was wigging out so badly the day before competing (my bday no less!). He got me out of my head enough for me to finally realize how badly I was festering in there. For the rest of the day and into the next I was in fine form, just being a nut – and had no stress.

My brain was finally balanced for the tournament, but unfortunately, my body wasn’t quite there. While applying a choke in my first match, my arm tore more… A truly unpleasant sensation for sure! I froze and she passed my guard. I put up a fight the best I could but every nerve ending was on fire and my right arm was completely useless. So I lost on points. Sucked because she told me afterward that the choke was very tight – too bad my arm couldn’t have waited a few more seconds!

Anyhow, it’s still just a muscle tear and the doc says it should heal with a week of rest. Feels kinda weird, I didn’t go to the gym at all yesterday… I just read in bed all day. Today is the same thing. I’ll have to go in tomorrow since I have massage clients – but no training until Monday. Then I’ll have a week to take off my Gi and get my flow for No Gi Worlds. Yay!

Pan Ams and Team Changes

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So… maybe I should give up on being consistent with this?

Anyhow, I competed at the IBJJF Chicago Open and managed to win gold – subbing all my opponents. It was a bit of an adventure, which I shall now elaborate on.

My first opponent seemed to be a bit larger than me – I wondered if I was in the correct bracket! I tapped her with an armbar from guard, which was the first time I’ve ever done that!

Second match was a very tall girl – kind of like Steven – just very long. Had a really good battle with her and finally ended with a bow/arrow choke variation.

After that, I was in the finals. And here comes the adventure….

I was very lightheaded after that second match and couldn’t even hold myself up, had to hang onto the partition to stay upright. My pulse was racing so badly and I remember telling coach I was about to pass out. He asked me if I wanted to call it, or if I’d be ok to continue. I told him “I’ll just finish really fast and probably collapse afterward.”

I willed myself to stay upright when I was called to the mat and I ended her with a triangle in mount. I could tell I was about to go out, but managed to stay upright just long enough for my hand to be raised. Then I collapsed.

I don’t think I actually blacked out, I just couldn’t stay up any longer. The medics came over and when I couldn’t even hold myself in a sitting position they called the paramedics. Turns out I was having a pretty severe irregular heart beat so I was carted off on the stretcher and hooked up to a heart monitor for about an hour until I stabilized.

We narrowed it down to my electrolytes being out of wack. Once they got a couple of bottles of watered down gatorade into me, i was all good. So from now on, always gonna take pedialite with me to tournaments!

All this was less than 2 weeks from Pan Ams!

Skipping to Pan Ams…

I figured after doing Europe by myself, Pan Ams would be a breeze since I’d have my team mates with me. It was so much easier mentally!

I had 17 in my division, so 4 matches to win. My first match I won with a guillotine choke at right past the 1 min mark.

Second match I went against a feisty, slightly older woman. I guess she would have been in a masters bracket, but there wasn’t anyone else in that division . She gave me some trouble with passing her guard. I ended up going all Kenny on her – standing knee on chest guard pass. I got an Americana from side control locked in, but she wasn’t tapping, so I cranked it… Found out later that I actually broke her radius and ulna! Didn’t know that at the time so I just moved on to my next match.

I didn’t get much rest time before my next match. My opponent’s coach was a ref and has apparently competed against my coach before. So no pressure right?

She was good at avoiding my sweeps for sure, but I managed to lock in an armbar from guard. She tapped and I started to let go, but the ref didn’t see, so she started fighting again. Thankfully I still had it and rolled belly down to finish (again).

After that, the mat coordinator informed me that I had won 1st place. I was severely confused as I was sure I had 4 matches. At any rate, I changed into another Gi and decided to hang until I was called either to the mat or the podium.

45 mins later it was back to the mat. We went the full time and I ended up losing 3 advantage points to 4. My team mates say I legitimately won the match because I didn’t get points for an omoplata sweep, but whatever. I haven’t seen the video yet, and all I know is this: I did some good Jiu Jitsu and am proud of myself. Neither of us were able to stand afterward – wish we lived closer to one another so we could train together occasionally!

She got her blue belt on the podium so I won’t get a re-match at Worlds in May. Kinda bummed about that, but I’ll catch her next year!

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The Jiu Jitsu community has been buzzing about the Lloyd Irvin cataclysm. I’m so sad over the whole thing – my coach has been under Master Lloyd since he was a blue belt, but we had to break away when it looked like we were gonna lose our affiliate schools.

Chicago was my last tournament under TLI. Pan Ams I was under TAC Team (Jared Weiner).

Honestly, I believe innocent until proven guilty and there is so much dirt chucking and heresay… this is the story I’m sticking with:

There will never be another TLI organization. What he has done for the Jiu Jitsu community will never be replicated. When I was in Europe, the team welcomed me with open arms just like family – and I still consider them as such. My school separating from the team was simply a business decision – not an act of condemnation.

That said – no matter how the storm settles, I’m gonna just keep on doing Jiu Jitsu. I honestly don’t care about team organizations, all the politics, and whose refs are screwing who – I’m here for the love of Jiu Jitsu. I’m not going anywhere!