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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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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