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)

Goodbye, and Hello

Three weeks from tomorrow I will be getting on a plane heading toward Lisbon, Portugal for the European Championships!

I’ve been working really hard through the holiday season on trying to make the cut to feather weight – no easy task since it requires me to get down to about 126 lbs and I naturally walk around closer to 142 lbs. However I have made the weight twice before and, while I hate the process, I actually feel very good competing in the weight class. I’m right on track and should be good to go before I step on the plane!


I really wanted to go to Brazil in 2016 as well but I wasn’t sure I would be able to afford the plane ticket. However, I caught a fare sale put on by my airline of choice and got a plane ticket to Rio for the week of Brasilieros for half the lowest advertised price I had seen previously! It is only a week in Brazil, but I hope to meet up with friends, make new friends, and set the stage for a longer visit later on!


I will most definitely be competing at Pans this next year as well. I haven’t put together any travel plans yet (I’ve been distracted by plane tickets to Europe and Brazil), but I did get myself registered!


I’m going to win Worlds this year. I have no doubts.


It will happen!

The Plan

I have been working an (almost) full time evening job at a local grocery store gas station in order to pay for all my events this next year. I was up front when they hired me that my priority is my training and competition, but I also told them I would bust my butt working for them while I was on the clock in order to be indispensable. I have proven myself and my manager is being extremely flexible in giving me off the nights that I requested in order to get the best training in that I can. He told me that if I need off for events to just let him know and he will handle it. Here is my plan for the first 6 months of the year!

January 18 – Fly to Europe (9 hour layover in Paris, must bike the Seine to the Eiffel Tower)
January 19 – Arrive in Lisbon and check into Hotel
January 20-24 – Compete on whichever day they decide to put my division
January 27 – Fly home and back to the grind
March 15 or 16 – Fly to LA
March 16-20 Compete at Pans on designated day
March 21 – Fly home and back to the grind
April 25 – Take leave from work and Fly to Rio
April 26ish – Take bus or shuttle flight to Sao Paulo
April 27-May 1 – Compete at Brasilieros on my designated day and return to Rio immediately after
May 3 – Fly home (arrive 4th)
May 5 – Pick up Dante and fly to Washington D.C. for Worlds training camp at TLI HQ.
May 31 – Fly from D.C. to L.A. for Worlds
June 1-5 Win on my designated day of competition, then eat acai.
June 6 – Disneyland
June 7 – Fly Home

I’ll return from leave to work after getting home from Worlds and prepare myself to leave for two weeks in Asia. Most likely I will be gone September 8-22 and will be competing in the Pan Asian Championship on the 10th or 11th. A week was not long enough last visit!

That is my grand scheme for next year. The details will likely not all work out according to plan, but I will make it work at the end of the day!

Lisbon – Castles, Food, and Training

IMG_1984Yesterday I spent my day up at the Castelo de S. Jorge. It was breathtaking, and not just because of the long climb up the hill and through the Alfama neighborhood (I took the roundabout route).

In the midst of my wanderings, I came across a gorgeous cathedral and just had to pop in. I sat down for a few minutes then lit a candle before continuing on with my uphill hike.

LisbonWhen I eventually made my way up to the top  of the hill and entered the castle grounds, the view just made me have to stop and stare for quite a while.

I was planning to take the tour but I completely misread the sign. It said the English tour was at 13 which I somehow translated in my brain to 1:30 so I showed up 30 minutes too late. Yea I know, I’m a dunce.

I stopped for a snack at the café before crossing the bridge into the castle itself. This was great fun as I got to climb up and down these steep staircases, many without railings, which made the adrenaline junkie in me very content.

One of my favorite things to do is eat! So you can bet I have been making the rounds! Here are a few highlights!
IMG_1248Pork at O Pote! I had been thinking about this particular meal since my previous trip to Lisbon two years ago! I was a very happy foodie!

The potatoes were a bit different than I remembered, but it was still amazing! Good simple comfort food!


Seafood RiceSeafood Rice at Casa de India! I was able to identify shrimp, mussels, crab, octopus, barnacles, and even a couple of whole prawns! I realized after I ate this that maybe I should have tested myself for a shellfish allergy before this trip but I ended up being just fine!

Just so you know, if you are in a more traditional Portuguese dining facility, you will need to flag down your waiter for the bill. Just something to be aware of if you are used to being hovered over! The service is excellent, you are just left to enjoy your meal in peace until you have a request to make. I rather like it that way!

GelatoI stopped at a yummy looking gelato shop named Amorino and discovered that they will sculpt your gelato into the shape of a flower! You just choose your size and you can choose as many favors as you want. I saw that they had my favorite Dutch spice cookie as a flavor so I took a base of that, plus caramel, and finished it off with chocolate.

I may have to go back tomorrow…

Pastéis de nataOf course I went back to Manteigaria for more Pastéis de nata! I found that they will actually sell packages of them to go, so I may purchase some tomorrow evening and see if they last the trip home!

I also imbibed in numerous sandwiches and other bits of randomness, but I promised just the highlights!


Jiu Jitsu
Today I took a bus ride out toward Belém in order to train at the Royce Gracie Academy. The instructor there is Hélio Perdigão and I highly recommend this school to any Jiu Jitsu practitioner visiting Lisbon! I got some fun rolls in and there are good variety of sizes and experience levels levels present.

In Conclusion
There are so many things to talk about in regards to this trip. The street performers, the architecture, the culture, the fashion, etc. While I am here and not wanting to stay holed up writing and editing, I am just giving general highlights. Once I get home I will start going into more details.

Tomorrow is my last full day here in Lisbon. I have a plan. It shall hopefully prove to be most excellent!