Competition – Boston, Atlanta, and Tokyo Plans

The past two weeks have been crazy! Awesome, but crazy!001

I flew out to Boston on August 19th and visited with my family for a few days in Amherst, NH. We did a big family portrait with my parents, sister, and my brother’s clan.

It was great to see everyone – I need to get out there more often to visit!

On the 22nd my Dad drove me to Boston to compete in the IBJJF Boston Open. After the craziness that happened last time in Boston with my weight, I made absolute certain I was at least a couple pounds under my weight limit before leaving for the venue in the morning.

Weight Class
My first match in a competition is always a bit weird. I won with a pretty good point margin but wasn’t feeling driven to go for the finish like usual (bad Nicholle!). In my second match I won by submission.

My third (and finals match) was an awesome battle! I made the huge mistake of trying a brand new move and ended up getting my guard passed and I lost on points for the silver medal in my weight class.

The Open
For my first match in the open, I had the ultra-heavy weight silver medalist. I jumped full guard and did well the first half of the match until my guard was passed and I found I was unable to move beyond just enough to prevent a position advance for my opponent. In the end, my opponent was disqualified in the last 10 seconds for stalling. I’m glad I got to advance, but I didn’t exactly win either – so I have very mixed feelings about that.

002My second match was the semi finals and I got another of the ultra-heavy weight ladies. I pulled guard straight into a sweep but was unable to stick the pass and got put into full guard. I became rather annoyed at attempts to cross choke me across my cheekbones and eyes. I got a stalling warning, stood up, passed, and had a really fun match without getting scored on and ending with a submission.

My team mate Roya won her semi finals match against yet another ultra-heavy weight, and I told our coach I wanted to give her the gold since she took gold in her division. (Plus she is awesome and I have yet to be able to score a single point on her in practice.) So I ended up with double silver in Boston!

Washington D.C.
Sunday night (the 23rd) I took an overnight bus from Boston down to Washington D.C. I can usually sleep well while traveling but had major difficulties this time so I arrived in D.C. looking a little worn with just about a 30 minute nap keeping me upright. I didn’t make it to the school in time for morning training so I watched the rest of class.
I went across the street to eat and just when my food arrived I got a call from Master Lloyd asking where I was – apparently one of my team mates was going back by the dorm house and was going to drop me off so I could sleep. Since I missed the ride, I took a nap on the mat in the back room.

Training was awesome as always and I feel like I’m improving a bit more each time I visit. One of my training partners commented that I felt more compact than I did my last visit.

Atlanta
I took a bus from D.C. to Atlanta on the 28th (Friday). It was a stinking looooooong ride of 14+ hours but I can’t really complain too much since the ticket cost me less than $30! (Megabus has revolutionized my travel budget!)

Made it to my hotel a little bit before midnight and crashed out until I had to check out and head to the venue at 9. My division was set to start at 10:40 but ended up being called 30 minutes early. My warm up consisted of slapping my face once at the side of the mat and running out there.

Weight Class
I had a training injury limiting my normal levels of mobility, so I opted to jump full guard. The match went for several minutes before I managed to get a submission.

My second match was won by submission but I can’t remember how it went and my video malfunctioned… so that will just have to be a mystery!

Third match was the finals against a friend of mine and it was shaping up to be a fun dynamic match until her hip dislocated while I was working a straight ankle lock. Apparently it happens frequently so she will be fine after a few days of soreness – but it sucked!

So yea, gold in my weight class.

Open Weight
My first match was pretty tough and went to a decision. I played guard the whole time but was dynamic enough that I won the decision to advance.

003My second match was possibly one of my favorites of the day. My training injury was really starting to cause me problems so I resorted to rubber guard control and ended up winning by submission with a bent elbow arm bar (yes, it looked as weird as it sounds).

My third match was the finals and I went with the weirdest guard pull/sweep thing I think I’ve done in competition to date. I ended up on top of deep half guard with the under hook. I ended finishing with a wrist lock which surprised and confused my opponent since she had been told wrist locks were not legal moves.

Gold in the Open!

004

Home Again!
It was so good to get back home to Nashville! I miss my home crew and awesome coach, Shawn Hammonds, whenever I am gone for more than a few days. I have just a few more days to enjoy them all before I leave on September 8th for Japan.

One of my clients bartered a package deal in exchange for the plane ticket to Tokyo. He and his wife are pretty much set for their next year’s worth of massage appointments – and it’s totally worth it!

I will arrive in Tokyo on the 9th and have already reserved a portable wifi unit so I can stay connected with my instagram account while I am exploring. Okay, and so that I can look up google maps when I get lost (which WILL happen!)

I booked myself a stay in a well reviewed capsule hotel which includes a bicycle rental. It also has free (consistent) wifi, a ladies only floor with traditional Japanese bath, a rooftop terrace, easy access to metro and food places, as well as a free vending machine that dispenses coffee, tea, and miso soup! Oh yea, and only $20 a day!

On the 10th I have been granted a tour of the Imperial Palace after which I plan to visit the Kodokan Museum and watch a Judo class there. I won’t be able to participate since not only do I not have an official judo gi, I will be competing on the 12th and would rather not have any extra sore spots if necessary.

The 12th is the Pan Asian Championships in a northern area of Tokyo. I currently have a division of 4 and am crossing my fingers for some more last minute sign ups! Feather weights and under outnumber the light weights and up by almost a 2:1 ratio – so I get to be one of the big she-hulk beasts in the open!

On the 13th I will be climbing to the summit of Mt. Fuji. It’s a non-technical climb which means no ropes will be needed. The climb just requires lots of stamina and cardio endurance as it’s a long uphill hike through rapidly thinning air (12,388 ft or 2.34 miles above sea level). Incidentally there is also a ramen shop at the summit along with a post office. I am going to mail a few postcards from the top once I make it up there, after slurping some high altitude ramen!

On the 15th I have tickets to the Sumo National Championship Tournament.I actually booked this through a tour company so I will get to have the walk through and an explanation of all the ceremony involved.

I fly home on the afternoon of the 16th so I plan to eat one (or 5) last meals before heading for the airport.

If anyone has any suggestions of things to do while I am there, please share! I’ve got a check list of things to do (and things to eat!) and will most definitely be taking a TON of photos and videos. I probably will not be spending too much time writing blog posts while I am there, but I may do some photo and/or video blogs!

Sayonara!

IBJJF New York Open

I am currently on a plane for several hours and so I thought what better use of my time than to work on a blog post! Aside from polishing my new medals of course… but I’ll get to that!

Preparation

I had a very busy week of work and training leading up to a full weekend competing in the IBJJF New York Gi and No Gi Competition. I had to spend a couple weeks out of training due to a concussion received, but was cleared for normal training two weeks ago. I still feel the need for more sleep, but otherwise have been back to normal!

While I was out, I wasn’t allowed to do anything but sleep and eat… Thanks to that I had to drop a lot more weight than I prefer to drop in such a short amount of time. It was doable, just not preferred!

I arrived in New York and made my way to Brooklyn where my fabulous friends Caleb and Alison live. After checking my weight upon arrival I determined I had some wiggle room so we went out to grab some food, I got to have a grilled chicken taco and then we went to a nice little bakery/bar because Caleb wanted cake. I ended up surrendering to the temptation of a glorious salted chocolate chip cookie with milk. So stinking good!

Competition Day 1 (Gi)

The next morning I got up and made the treck into Manhattan by subway – a really simple ride really. I arrived at the venue and as soon as I stepped down the stairs I was hit by a wall of heat. I remembered the venue as being ridiculously hot the last time, but this seemed much worse this time!

I wasn’t horribly concerned about making weight on the first day since I was already on weight for no gi day – meaning several lbs lighter than what I normally weigh in at (apparently the IBJJF thinks everyone wears a 6 pound gi). I ended up weighing in several pounds light and was all ready to roll!

My first match I finished with a sub within the first minute, and my second match went the whole time with a win on points. I almost always either win by sub, or loose by points. So that was a bit odd.

While I was waiting for my third (and semi final) match, I started to feel the affects of sitting in that sauna of a venue. I don’t do very well at all if I get dehydrated – some people can water cut, but I can’t.

I started my match and quickly discovered just how badly I let the heat get to me as I felt extremely disoriented. I don’t even remember right now how the match ended. I just remember being questioned by the medics and them telling me I was done for the day. They asked if I had been hit in the head and I told them I was just getting over a concussion and they immediately informed me I was probably done for the entire weekend.

I admit, I cried. After I assured them I had been cleared for normal training and had been asymptomatic doe the past 10 days while training, they agreed to let me compete the next day in no gi as long as I checked in with them first. The symptoms of dehydration can mimic the symptoms of concussion.

I downed a couple liters of water and immediately started feeling better. Yes, I tried to go back and talk them into letting me do the open, but I still got a solid “no” from them. Better safe than sorry I suppose!

End result: Bronze in my weight class

Competition Day 2 (No Gi)

After what happened the previous day, I came prepared for the heat toting a gallon of water and a back full of extra fruit.

I lost my match in my weight class over a stupid mistake. I had a triangle arm bar that was hyper extended but apparently my opponent was double jointed. I abandoned it and ended up getting passed off the triangle. My referee afterwards told me that I should have stayed on the arm because I was winning up until the point I bailed on it. It was a most epic match that I ended up loosing 2-3.

It was a small division to begin with however, so I was still qualified to compete in the open and I was totally charged up to do so!

Most of the time, I do not have a coach and I will be lucky if I have someone to film for me. I have to be responsible for my own pep talks. My first opponent received a very rousing pep talk from her coach and it actually made me nervous! However, at the edge of the mat I stood still, closed my eyes, and repeated my focus phrase.

It worked! I finished my first match by submission within 30 seconds! My second match was the semi finals and I won by submission at just past the one minute mark. For the finals match I started to get myself worked up again, so I went back to my focus phrase and needed up with a submission win in under a minute!

End result: Bronze in weight class, Gold in the open weight

What This Means

To date, I’ve had a really sucky competition year so far in 2015. I know that winning isn’t everything, but to fall short at every event gets demoralizing after a while. To finally make the podium again just felt so Good!

I have already registered to compete in the Boston Open, Atlanta Open, Master Worlds, and No Gi Pans.

IBJJF Boston Open

My family lives an hour from Boston and I decided that I would compete in the Boston Open so that my Mom, Dad, and sister would all finally get to see me compete!

I wasn’t sure how having them watching would affect me mentally. It could make me spazz out, or turn me into an absolute beast. Thankfully, it was the latter.

Weight Issues:
That was a pretty rough morning. I had a division of 12, set to start at 9:00. I brought a scale with me to the hotel and was fine that morning but got to the venue at 8:30 and discovered my scale was off by a lot… Meaning I had about 20-30 mins to cut just over 2 lbs.

I went to call my coach to ask him what I should do, only to discover my phone was missing. I was panicking on many levels. In the middle of this time, my family arrived and I told them I had to go cut weight and find my phone.

I gave myself a rather intense abdominal massage to help the colon do its thing, but that wasn’t enough. I determined I would have to puke as well. I nearly gave up then. At that point, my phone was found and I decided I was gonna make the weight if it killed me – if for no other reason, but for my family.

So I made it. Barely. But I made it.

Irony of ironies, my first opponent didn’t make weight.

Weight Division:
I was supposed to have 4 matches, but my first opponent was over weight by a pound.

There were about three other people who were DQed for not showing up. I heard that there was some confusion as to he location for some. Anyhow, my next opponent was one of those. Sooooo… Pass into the semis. Sucks, but at least I could make up the matches in the open!

My first match (would have been my 3rd!) she pulled guard and I went straight to my cut through, passed, stayed on top, and Won 16-0. She had great defense and I wasn’t able to finish her. I’ve been working a lot on control from the top and it paid off at this competition for sure!

My second match was the finals. She definitely had length on me. I ended up in her closed guard but couldn’t reach her arms to do the open/pass I had been drilling. She bump swept me to mount and got the sweep and mount points before I was able to escape to my own closed guard. I was able to break her posture and finish with a cross choke in the last 30 secs of the match.

So that gave me a gold medal in my division. I registered for the open then ran out with the family to get some food in my poor empty system.

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The Open:
My first match in the open was against a medium heavy weight (I think). I pulled guard when I felt comfortable, then went straight for the ankle lock for the tap about 30 secs in.

My second match was against another light weight – the only medalist I hadn’t fought yet. I did my snap takedown, got on top, smashed, and finished from the back with a loop choke variation.

My third match was the semi finals and I got to face off with a heavyweight. Let’s just say I got my just deserts for the crushing I was doing earlier. Ha! She had me crumpled up like a tissue and I couldn’t move worth a hill of beans. She won on points and consoled me with the information that I had frustrated her with my deep half guard sweep threats.

So that gave me a bronze in the Open. I take great pride in being the smallest person on the podium (I was wearing boots with two inch soles)

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In Summary:
Rachelle came to compete as well and she did amazing! She gets better every competition and got on the scoreboard this time! Pretty soon she will be tearing it up as well!

I went out for food with the (very impressed) family after my weight division. My Mom had to go lie down at the hotel for the rest of the day because she was in a lot of pain (fibromyalgia and arthritis). She doesn’t travel very well so it meant so much to me that she was able to come! My sister stayed with her but my dad came back to cheer me on in the Open.

I was asked to help out working at the podium for a few hours, so I directed traffic, answered questions, and handed out medals for a couple hours. They paid cash at this competition so my food budget was restored.

What’s Next?
I’m back to the grind this morning. The New York Open is this weekend and winning it will put me in the top three of my division – so I guess I had better win it!

I’m really excited because the guys at Raijin Fight Wear have been teasing me with a new item design that is top secret – and a surprise for me. I should get to see it soon and it feels like waiting for Christmas!

There are just about 7 weeks until the IBJJF World Championship, and I just can’t wait! Looks like I will be the only person from my school going, so I’m considering going to Philadelphia the week before so that I can train at the TAC Team headquarters school for a bit. We shall see!

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.

Jiu Jitsu and Aspergers pt 2 – It Fits

Wow!

I really wasn’t expecting such a huge response from part 1! I thought a few of my friends might read it and find it interesting. Let’s just say the last week has been a bit overwhelming. Thank you everyone!

My parents read it as well, and I guess I just took for granted that they should understand me. My Mom said she wished I had written that out years ago for them and she is currently composing an article on what it was like raising an undiagnosed spectrum child. I’m quite interested to learn her perspective!

All right, that said, on to part 2. If you haven’t already, check out part 1.

Human Contact

My biggest challenge when starting Jiu Jitsu, was my sensitivity to human contact. I don’t really even know why, but I’ve always been very aware of my personal “bubble” and would cringe and flinch away if someone else initiated contact. It’s weird I know. I love hugs, but have to be the one initiating them. I don’t know how to describe it other than it mentally hurts me and almost feels physically painful if someone else initiates contact.

Somehow, Jiu Jitsu has actually helped to reduce this sensitivity and I think it is the fact that BJJ gives me a flow chart of movements to follow. I’ve learned that for every action my opponent makes, I have at least two options that I can respond with. I don’t have to freak out because I know the appropriate response in a format that I understand.

This has helped me relax a lot with human contact even outside of the gym. I still have my off days but, for the most part, I don’t tend to jump when someone decides to spontaneously hug me.

Social Skills

This is another biggie. I’m blessed to have lived in Nashville for going on seven years now and have been surrounded by amazing people who love me. I make a social “boo boo” and they usually just shrug and say “well, that’s just Nicholle” and move on. (Shout out to my amazing friends!)

Still, I have never felt like I was able to really meld myself into a social group. I mentally knew I was included and accepted, but never really could fit. Believe me, that has been the source of many tears over the years!

The combination of my conversational deficits and inability to read (or speak) non-verbal language, partnered with my one track mind really doesn’t make for a good party conversationalist. I have to choose between not speaking at all (appearing shy); or letting my one track, non-graceful thought train loose on the world (appearing arrogant or stuck-up). Given the choice, I prefer the first option. I’m not shy, but must appear so in order to keep my slip ups to a minimum.

Enter Jiu Jitsu!

When I got into Jiu Jitsu, I found myself surrounded by a community of people who didn’t find it odd that I wanted to talk about “bio-mechanics behind the proper placement of feet for the most energy efficient results when doing a tripod sweep”. In the past, I would discover an amazing concept, share it with someone, and be met with just a blank stare. Now, I am greeted with enthusiasm, and usually an exchange of even more cool information!

Oh wow! So this is what a real conversation is like! It is a lot easier when I am surrounded by people who are just as obsessed as I am. It makes me feel normal and accepted.

This helps me out immensely because I get to practice having actual real conversations with people! Since I started training, I have been getting better at holding conversations outside of the gym as well. Practice makes perfect!

No luck improving my non-verbal communication skills so far and I’m kind of giving up on the whole idea. Instead, I have started letting people know when I meet them that I take things literally and at face value. This foreknowledge helps to clear up misunderstandings much more easily.

Sensory Overload

Big competitions are interesting. I find the best thing I can do to keep from being overstimulated is to work at the competitions. If I have something to focus on, I am able to block out all the excess sensory input. I particularly enjoy working as a Ring Coordinator for IBJJF competitions. I love to set things in order and that job requires a huge amount of organization skills to make everything run perfectly. Good fit no?

If I’m at a tournament and am not working, I will be cheering on a team mate (or anyone I know). Without an “assignment” I’m usually wandering around like a lost puppy trying to find some task to do. It’s impossible for me to relax in such a busy environment, so I opt for distraction. Headphones and a book is my favorite combination.

Patterns!!!

About a week after 2013 Worlds, right before I got my blue belt, I had one of those “ah ha!” moments. Suddenly, I saw the moves I had been learning and practicing for the previous year in a whole new light.

Everything has a pattern. I remember arguing with my Dad that there is no possible way that a computer program can do something randomly – there is always a formula that the computer uses (aka: a pattern), and that formula is concrete, so it can’t produce something that is random.

Rabbit trail aside: I’ve started to see the pattern of Jiu Jitsu. I don’t understand it all yet, but I can see it when I roll and little bits and pieces are coming together. This really excites me!

The Journey

I started Jiu Jitsu because I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted a physical activity with a goal in mind – but I’ve always been horrible at sports. In P.E. I was always the last kid picked, even after kids half my size. I had enjoyed TKD as a child however and decided I would go the martial arts route. So glad I did!!!

My coach, Shawn Hammonds, is amazing! I have never had a coach or a team before, and that is really what initially got me hooked and kept me coming back. They challenge me in a way that I have never experienced before, and I like it. I’d always craved someone to push me just a little bit harder, instead of being satisfied with what I had already done. I don’t think that’s a trait of Aspergers – maybe there is more to my personality than just that eh?

One of my favorite things, is that I’m allowed to have a bad day around my team. I can totally break down, freak out… whatever. They just shrug and it’s back to normal the next day. I don’t have to stress over being perfect and always on guard like I used to always be – except for when sitting on the side of the mat after class… you never know when someone is going to randomly jump on your back while you’re just chilling!

Less than a year into training, I expanded my team and added Raijin Fight Wear to my corner. It was a chance meeting on Twitter for which I am so thankful! I was amazed that a company would want to sponsor me, as a white belt, before I had even competed internationally! We exchanged messages and they told me that they loved my enthusiasm and would love to have me representing them. They have been cheered me on and encouraged me all through 2013 and then signed me on again for 2014. They are a quality company that matches my “strive for excellence” personality well and I plan to represent them all the way to the black belt podium and beyond!

My team has gone through a lot of transition in the last year. I may write some about it later, but that would be a monster of a rabbit trail right now…

What Now?

I’ve decided that there is just too much to say about this topic to fit it into one or two posts – so I’m going to make it a series that I’ll add to a little bit every Saturday. The rest of the week I’ll be doing my regular updates and random ramblings. If anyone has any questions about anything I talk about, please don’t hesitate to ask me. I can’t guarantee that I’ll know the answer, but I will do my best to find one!

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!