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!

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.

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.

Circuits, Weight Classes, and… Mexico?

Well I introduced the ladies in my Saturday morning class to circuit training today! We started off with just a three minute circuit with three minutes to recover in between – we will eventually work it up to a five minute circuit with a minute rest in between.

Today we drilled loop chokes from half guard. Our position this week has been guard, but one of my ladies has sore ribs and a bum wrist – so we worked around it!

Mexico City Training Camp:

I just registered for a training camp in Mexico City with Mackenzie Dern and Sophia Drysdale. It will be at the end of July, and I am EXTREMELY excited for it already! Get your registration in now to reserve a spot!

Ladies Jiu Jitsu Training Camp

Weight Classes:

In other news, I talked with my coach yesterday about my weight cut. He decided he wants me to stick with light weight instead of continuing my drop to feather weight. Not gonna lie, I’m kind of happy about that!

Size wise, I fit in the feather division better. Problem being, my doc says I have very dense muscle, so I weigh a lot more than I look. I’d have to lose a substantial amount of muscle to make featherweight, and that isn’t safe for me because of my hypermobility.

Meaning: I’m currently 132, so coach wants me back up to 137-138. I’m not just gonna fluff up though. I’m sticking with eating really clean, upping my caloric intake, and adding more strength training into my routine. I will confess, I’m going out for Italian food tomorrow for dinner with friends – but i’ll burn through that in no time flat!

See what Tournaments I’ll be at next! I love to meet people!

Hello 2014!!!!

New year, and new look for my blog!

I started my year off with circuit training followed by an hour of drilling the morning of the 1st. Did three massages, and then another circuit. Oh, and I did a cool video of it!

Kudos to you if you watched the whole thing!

My awesome sponsors at Raijin Fightwear liked this video so much that they have requested I start a “move of the week” video series. I’ll be filming some of that this Sunday after circuit training – They are even designing me a cool custom video intro! I’m so excited to get started with that! I am of course just a blue belt, so I definitely still have a lot to learn – but I have learned some good things in the last two years that are worth sharing.

Weight Cutting:
I’m in the process of cutting down to feather weight. I did 2013 at light weight, walking around at about 145 and cutting to 138 for competitions. It was recommended to me that I try feather based on my body size. Currently I’m weighing in at 130 and am shooting for 126 to make 129 in my Gi. Coach says I am pretty close to my limit of what my body will allow me to do, so it’s slow going at this time. I’ll probably post more about this later (maybe a few angry posts).

Ladies Team:
I love my ladies team! It’s slowly starting to pick up a bit, and I am now teaching a Saturday morning class as well as the Friday evening one. Coach says he will eventually have me take over the program – I’m being groomed it appears. I’m very excited that this year we have a confirmed 4 ladies from our school going to the Pan Ams, as opposed to last year being just me.

Training:
I’ve been drilling a lot lately – one good thing about the ladies is that they love to drill! Getting in at least an hour a day on top of class time.
I’m finally starting to feel competent as a blue belt, it took me a few months to get in the swing of it but I’m good now!

Competition:
My first competition of the year will be the IBJJF San Francisco Open on Feb 9. It will be my debut as a featherweight. It’s a bit of a distance to travel, but since the Chicago tournament falls after Pan Ams this year, this is my chance to test my new weight class out before Pans.
NAGA is going to be in Nashville on Feb 22nd so I think I’ll try out the expert and intermediate divisions if they will let me do both – otherwise I may just go to coach and save the money for my Pan Ams trip.

Hmmm I think that is about it for now. I’ll probably think up some other things to say tomorrow. It’s almost drilling time again!

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!

Lloyd Irvin Mixed Martial Arts Academy

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Last week I had the awesome opportunity to train with the crew at Team Lloyd Irvin HQ just outside of DC! Best two days of training ever!

Day 1

10:00 am I got to enjoy my first ever wrestling class! Warm up of jogging, sprints, shots, and… Cartwheels. I haven’t even attempted a cartwheel since I flunked out of gymnastics at the age of 8 (for not being able to do a cartwheel!) I had momentum and went for it though, and was actually able to do it! Yea!
Next up we did sprawls/shots on command while just moving around in stance. I was informed that if I went out of my stance it’d be 25 push-ups… I asked “what’s my stance?” And saw the instructor take a step back to “basics” and showed me proper wrestling stance – which I then stayed in!
We did takedown drills for probably 45 mins – which I needed desperately! My arm drag is already showing improvement! The rest of the 90 min class was technique drilling, and I got a REALLY awesome takedown from it which I have already hit a few times live!

11:30 am Jiu Jitsu time! Warm ups, then pairing off to do positional drilling. I liked the format of each person getting a set amount of time to drill before switching – as opposed to keeping count, which I’m not that great at. (I get lost after 2!)
After drilling guard passing a few times, Master Lloyd emphasized the importance of blocking the hip, post-pass, for at least 4 seconds before moving on. Then he had us all line up on the wall while he called out pairs to move to the center of the mat and attempt to pass and stabilize position. Good times!
After this, he started pairing us off to roll. I have no idea how long the rounds were, but they were longer that I normally do. Again, awesome!
Time really flew by fast, and before I knew it, it was 2:00 pm and class was over!

Went out to grab a bite and then was dropped off at my hotel to nap for a couple of hours.

7:00 pm Sarj picked me up from my hotel and dropped me off for the evening class times. More drilling, more sparring – until it was 10:00 pm and I was dropped back off again! I slept REALLY well that night!

Day 2

11:30 more Jiu Jitsu! They had MMA sparring at 10 that morning, and I haven’t learned enough Muay Thai to be of any use in that class whatsoever – so I slept in a bit!

6:00 pm Nijah teaches a ladies “Cage Fitness” class and I asked to watch so as to get some ideas for our ladies program. It seems to have a completely different approach and feel than our ladies classes – I am going to see about integrating some ideas, or even talking with coach about a totally new program!

8:30 last Jiu Jitsu class! Again, more drilling and rolling! When we finished, I said all my goodbyes and dragged myself back to bed to prepare for my trip home early the next morning.

I just thrive off pushing myself, so I had an amazing time! I’ve never had a chance to roll with any high ranking ladies before, and getting to roll with Sijara and Nyjah was the highlight of the experience. Also, the effort everyone puts into their training very inspiring as well – there is a reason why they are as good as they are. It’s called hard work!

I’ve visited other schools before, and always felt some level of awkwardness walking in the door. This felt like visiting my hometown and seeing those awesome family members that I’ve missed! Thank you everyone!

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