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!

2013 No Gi Pan Ams

Well that was a whirlwind! I’m going to write about this whole trip in two separate posts.

Part 1: 2013 No Gi Pan Ams

This was my first big tournament as a new blue belt and wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into.

If you read my previous two blog posts, you would know that I have been struggling a lot with anxiety over the last several competitions. It was honestly getting to such a debilitating state where I needed to constantly distract myself in order to keep from hyperventilating.

About a week out from this tournament, I started not even being able to sleep – and hard training on no sleep is NOT a good combo!

Writing out my thoughts in the previous posts really helped a lot. I process things well if I write through them.

The key point that helped in this competition was: remembering how much work I have actually put in – and that I deserve to be competing. The other thing that helped was banishing negative thoughts. Every time a negative thought sneaked into my head, I would shove it out and speak three positives.

The Venue

I felt really good going into my first match! I was a bit sad that I had the by into the semifinals (only 6 in my division!), but figured I could make up for it in the open.

I ended my first match via RNC with a very short time to spare. She tried blitzing me from the start – and man was she strong! I kept her in closed guard because I was concerned she would just smash my open guard – I’m not that confident in my No Gi skills at this point.

She got warned and penalized twice for face palming me – her fingers were up my nose at one point and I ended up with a shiner the next day from that.

I’m going to be working on my omoplata from guard. I had the set up a few times but never went for it. More drilling needed!

That match put me into the finals where I quickly tapped although I’m not entirely sure what happened (my videographer was unable to work my camera). I ended up at the medic corner getting my neck evaluated and iced – along with a recommendation that I abstain from the open. Boo!

All in all, I’m pleased because I handled my nerves well and did not stress out nearly as badly!

On the Podium – my semi-finals opponent didn’t show for her medal 😦

Making Weight
I’ve got a whole huge essay in my drafts folder on this subject, just haven’t figured out the best time to upload it. So consider this a sneak peek!

Hungry!

For this competition, I got my weight down to the lowest I think it has ever been in my adult life! I ended up weighing in at 135 on the official scale.

Slight spoiler for part 2… But I got some advice that really confirmed what I’ve been feeling (but not wanting to face)… And I’m gonna work my way down to featherweight instead of competing lightweight. The reason mainly being my body frame size – I always feel like a midget when competing.

Coach thinks I could make it down in time for No Gi Pan Ams. He thinks I can do it since I “eat like a fat kid” normally. I can change my division until Oct 26, so I I can get down within 4 lbs by then, I’ll do it. That’s 8 lbs in 3 weeks. Can I do it? Yes. Will it be tough? Probably…

 

 

 

 

Part 2: Lloyd Irvin Mixed Martial Arts Academy – Coming Soon!

More Mind Games

I get really bad anxiety when preparing to compete. The downside of having such a good imagination is I physiologically react to visualization like I was actually in a live fight. Heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, etc.

I sat down today with one of our mma trainers and talked through it with him. He told me “yea… You need to chill out.”

Talking through it with him made me realize that it was only getting worse with each competition, not better. So I figure I need to determine the real reason why I’m freaking out so I can deal with it.

I know it’s not fear of injury. I’ve been injured before, I’m sure I’ll be injured again at some point. I know how to deal with that.

It’s not fear of loosing. I know that win or lose, I haven’t failed. Besides, when I’m a black belt, no one is gonna care if I tapped to an armbar as a blue belt. Right now I’m just testing things out.

It’s not fear of winning either. Oddly enough, I thought it might be this at first. But again, winning as a blue belt doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things – won’t make a difference when I’m a black belt!

I think I finally nailed it down to two things. I shall now proceed to dissect them and hopefully then diffuse them.

“I don’t really deserve to be here”
I never feel like I’ve trained enough or put enough time in. I remember:
Every time that I sit out a round of sparring (stupid odd numbers sometimes!)
Every time there are no appropriate training partners
Every class I’ve been late to because I was with a massage client
Every day when I’ve slept through morning training
Every day that I’ve goofed off while rolling instead of pushing

And so on…

In counter to this, I sat down and worked out an average of how many hours I’m actually on the mats a week – and added them all together.

My total mat time is at least 550 hours so far this year!

Doesn’t look like slacking from that angle! Numbers are something concrete I can hold on to. I’ve put in my time – and I DO deserve the chance to compete.

“I don’t want to fail my team/coach/self”
This is the hardest one for me. I have never had a team before and am still not quite grasping how much that they really have my back. I worry that if I fail, I will loose their respect and confidence.

Complete nonsense I know. We already know I am going to do the very best that I can – with whatever scenario I land in. No matter what the outcome, it won’t change who I am. It won’t change what I know. It won’t change what I am capable of. I am capable of both outstanding success, and horrific failure – but I am defined by neither one of those.

So what now then?
I went back and revisited my reason that I started training in the first place. Can you guess?

I wanted a challenge.

Well here it is – exactly what I asked for when signing up.

I’m drowning out any negative thought with 2 positive statements.

Now I feel that nervousness transforming into anticipation. Ooraah.

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A Ring Coordinator’s Perspective

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I just got home from a very long intense day in Atlanta where I worked at the IBJJF Atlanta Open. Registration closed early without any warning, so instead of competing, I offered to work since I’d be there anyhow.

I arrived at 8:00 am and was assigned the job of ring coordinator for mat #4. I was expecting I’d be a scorekeeper since I’ve never worked at one of these tournaments before, but hey, duty calls!

After a short meeting with the basic run down of process, we were handed out first set of brackets and turned loose.

As a competitor myself, I understand how much can go wrong if the ring coordinator messes up – but I didn’t realize exactly how much they are responsible for. As a competitor, I would just see the ring coordinator as the person who checks my ID, weighs me in, and sends me to my mat. It’s actually more involved than that.

The Process

So first off, I made my way to my mat where I met my referee and scorekeeper. I figured communication would be key, and decided to make it my goal to keep things running as smoothly so that the ref wouldn’t feel like he had to do anything but focus on the match he had that very moment.

After checking in and making sure they were ready, I went to start calling for the people from my first bracket. I developed a system of calling two people who were matched up at a time. I would check their IDs, and if I had not found their competitor yet, I’d ask them to stay close while I continued calling. First pair I found, I would send them together to get their Gi’s checked while I waited by the scale for them. I would usher them to the mat and give their names to the score keeper. If I knew which side of the mat they would be on, I would point them to their corner.

I was also in charge of match order. I kept a piece of paper at the table where I wrote down the names of the next competitors so the matches could keep going while I went hunting for the rest of the brackets. When a match was over, my scorekeeper would circle who won. I would then record the results and determine who would be fighting who next as the brackets narrowed down.

At one point, I was keeping track of 4 separate brackets. Keeping the order flowing so we didn’t have a lot of dead time, but also allowing the competitors time to rest between their matches was a fun juggling game! Especially so when it came to working with multiple brackets at the same time.

Disqualifications

I was so happy that everyone I weighed in made weight! I saw a few people DQ’ed for missing weight and it was horrible to witness.

There were two white belts that I called for about 20 minutes who I couldn’t find anywhere. I waited until it was stalling the brackets before I took my sheet to the officials table. They called them up on the microphone with a 5 minute warning and I still couldn’t find them – so the ref and officials declared them DQ’ed so we could move on with the matches.

When we got to the finals match for the division, I finally found one of them. He had been waiting in the bullpen and didn’t hear me calling, or the microphone calls. One of the officials had spoken with him previously, and remembered him being present before his final call on the microphone. I felt so badly because we were already in the finals and there wasn’t anything I could do. Dude, if by some chance you’re reading this, I’m really sorry that happened. I can’t think of anything else I could have done to get your attention in time. I’m a competitor myself and am absolutely paranoid of missing my call, and will be more so now!

Brackets of Three:

The most mind shrinking part was when I was handed two brackets of three competitors. This is the only time a division is not single elimination. Here’s the way it worked. Lets use the names “Ryan, Jerry, and Bob”.

Ryan and Jerry fight.
Jerry looses
Jerry fights Bob

This can go one of two ways now.

Scenario 1:
Jerry wins against Bob
Jerry then fights with Ryan again for first place, Bob gets 3rd

Scenario 2:
Jerry looses against Bob
Jerry gets 3rd
Bob fights Ryan for 1st place

So basically, whoever wins the first match, is guaranteed to be in the finals. However, whoever loses the first match still has a shot at 1st place because if they win the second match they earn another try at the pre-existing finalist.

This really confused me at first. This is how I though it would work:

Ryan and Jerry fight
Ryan beats Jerry and is secure in the finals
Jerry fights Bob

If Jerry beats Bob, he gets 2nd place and Bob gets 3rd.
If Bob beats Jerry, Bob fights Ryan for 1st place, and Jerry gets 3rd.

Made more sense to me that way, but oh well. I got their system figured out.

I gave myself a headache making sure the matches were organized to give appropriate break times between matches. At the same time, I was also juggling another nearly full bracket as well. It ran smoothly in operation however, so my near brain aneurysm was apparently worth the effort!

On Black Belt Matches:

Gotta say, black belts, you guys are awesome! After my near brain rupture you guys were a breeze to organize!

Since they have all been around the block enough, they all knew each other. So I would call one name, and he would motion the whole division up with him. I could get them all weighed in and at the mats in less time than it took to pair up two blue belts!

The event staff emphasized that I call the black belt matches right on time regardless of what else I had going on at the mat. Black belt privilege! Yea!

They gave me the light feather, and feather black belt divisions. It was the only down time I had all day! Once I had them all lined up, I organized the order, and got a few minutes to watch and wait. For the finals matches, there was a decent sized break for them to recoup and for us to hunt down another 2 refs (all black belt finals matches have 3 refs).

Then I was back to my whirlwind of activity!

Side note: it was so odd to have high level black belts responding to me with “yes/no ma’am”!

Tips For The Competitor:

So now that I see the organization side of things, here’s what I found helped/hindered me when interacting with competitors.

Not being in the bullpen when your division is scheduled
No brainier, but be in the bullpen at least 20 minutes before your division is scheduled. I would start calling names around 15 minutes before division start time. Imagine that start time is when your toes are actually hitting the mat. You want time to get your Gi checked, change your Gi if needed, weigh in, and get in the zone.

Disappearing after I check your ID in the bullpen
I had quite a few matches stalled because someone whose ID I had already checked disappeared while I called their opponent. Even when I made it a point to tell people “wait right here and don’t move while I find your opponent” they would vanish. One dude nodded to that request, turned around, and vanished into the crowd before I could open my mouth again. It took me 30 seconds to get his opponent, and another 5 minutes to track him down again. Then I had to hustle to get them through the line and weighed in since their match was on deck.

Asking me when ______ division is being called / What ring number you are at.
There is a schedule posted online with all the division start times. Ring coordinators are only given a few brackets at a time, and are not given knowledge of what brackets the other coordinators have. If you are worried that you have been overlooked in your division, your best bet is to flag down one of the officials at the bracketing table. They are pretty busy, so if it’s 30 minutes until your scheduled division starts, just sit tight and stay near the front of the bullpen area where you can hear names being called. If you are paranoid like me, and it’s your division start time, ask passing ring coordinators if they have your division. I can’t tell you who has what division, but I can tell you if I have yours!

Coming through the Gi check area before I direct you to do so
It seems like it would be helpful, but when I’m organizing who goes where and when, it really throws off the system I have in my head. Ideally there would be someone to stop you from coming through if I’m not there to give them the nod, but in the case of being short staffed (as we were) we had no such guard once we got past the first few blue belt divisions. I’d be calling for people frantically only to find out they were standing by the scale in a huge huddle. Please wait until I specifically direct you to go get your Gi checked. Then I’ll know to meet you at the scale and get you to your mat as quickly as possible!

Potty Breaks
This was one thing I appreciated. When I was calling purple belts for ID checks, several if them asked if they had time to use the restroom before they got weighed in. In all but one case, they had time. Makes me think that might have been part of the hold up in the blue/white divisions?

Face Blindness
After scanning several hundred faces, I completely lost all sense of facial awareness. So please keep your ID with you at all times. You may get an amazing ring coordinator with a photographic memory… Or you could get me. Toward the end of the day I was probably asking the same person their name at least 8 times between ID checks and their final match. I just started apologizing in advance. Moral of the story, if your ring coordinator seems to be having trouble keeping track of names, just have a chuckle and write it on your forehead with a sharpie.

Match Results
When you are done with your match, if you won, make sure the scorekeeper knows your name and circles it on her name list before you go recoup for your next match. I had to track down two competitors at one point because my (truly amazing!) scorekeeper forgot the name of the person who won the previous match. It was her only boo boo the entire day and she deserves a round of applause!

Hovering after you’re done competing
When you are all done competing (and safely able to stand and walk!) check in with your mat table to verify you have no more matches and then make your way out of the mat area back through the bullpen. If you placed, congratulations! Keep your Gi on, your ID handy, and wait to be called to the podium for your medal!

I may come up with more tips once I finish processing, but this seems like quite a bit for now!

Team Training Day

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I went to Philadelphia with my coach over the weekend for TAC Team training day. I rode up with 4 black belts, so I had the option of the middle seat, or in the back with the luggage – I chose to make a nest in the duffel bags. We only stopped a few times to fill up the gas tank – it was a bit cramped, but I slept most of the way – so not too bad!

We arrived Friday night about an hour before team training class, so we checked in to the hotel, and then headed over to the school. It felt good to move around after being curled up for 11 hours. It was pretty informal, no timer. So I flow rolled a warm up with one of our black belts, then went with a white belt, and then tried out one of Jared’s brown belts.

Team training was on Saturday. We had 20 black belts, and a grand total of about 100 people. We began with a few awards, then there were a ton of belt promotions.

We rolled 6 minute rounds, while alternating between brown/purple/black belts and white/blue belts on the mats. I got to roll with two blue belt girls, and 2 white belt girls. After training was over, I went out with a group to watch the UFC 163 at a local bar.

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We are about to start a fight camp for a few of the guys – and it looks like a girl will be coming in to train as well for a title fight. Therefore, I’ll get to help out with the fight camp and I’m so excited!

This Saturday is the 2nd Ladies Open Mat that here in Nashville and I am stoked! I’m expecting a good sized group – thankfully a friend has picked up the marketing slack (my Achilles heel), and has been calling around to notify schools. (You rock Sara!)

Next weekend is the IBJJF Chicago Open. My coach is working with my deep half guard bottom attacks/sweeps – Hopefully I can whip out something cool! It’s going to be my first big tournament as a blue belt, and I am absolutely stoked to have 8 people in my division! Looks like I’ll be competing in Gi on the 17th, and no Gi on the 18th. I’m riding up with two team mates who both get off work late on Friday, so we decided to just leave late Friday night, drive through the night straight to the venue. I’ll be the only person competing on Saturday, so I can sleep on the way. We have a nice hotel downtown booked for Saturday night.

August 31st is the Atlanta Open – and my coach wants to take a huge team to it.

September 28th is No Gi Pan Ams – Not sure if anyone other than myself is planning to attend

October 20th is Abu Dhabi Pro Trials – totally going to that one!

November 6 – 13 is a Ladies Training Camp in Mexico with Mackenzie Dern, I’m getting my registration taken care of in the next day or two!

So far nothing planned after that until the European Open in January. Might have December off from events!

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Additional side note: I’m trying to nail down a date to bring back the “Music City Open” Jiu Jitsu Tournament. Coach says we used to run it twice a year and it did very well – no idea why they stopped putting it on, but coach and I are gonna bring it back!

Lucas Lepri Seminar

Had an amazing time today! I was able to get a spot in a Lucas Lepri seminar at a nearby school. I had a few jealous team mates who have apparently tried going in the past, but space is limited and they weren’t able to sign up in time.

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I had no clue what the seminar was going to be about, so imagine my delight when it was all open/x-guard information! I absolutely love everything open guard, and I’ve just in the last few weeks started using more x-guard transitions.

A key difference I learned was in the placement of the upper foot in the x-guard. Instead of hooking it in front of my opponent’s far leg, I instead place the ball of that foot right above the near hip – almost in the groin really. It gives a lot more control when sweeping! Plus if I’m rolling with a dude, it might make him a bit nervous!

There is one sweep that I’m gonna call the groin splitter… I’m surprised there weren’t any accidents!

Anyhow, lots of sweeps, and quite a few details that I am looking forward to drilling tomorrow with coach. This was really the best seminar I have been to so far! I highly recommend it!

I did accidentally video part of it… Apparently that wasn’t allowed. Oops! I did the honorable thing and deleted it… AFTER going over it and writing everything down in great detail that is. My memory stinks sometimes.

I chatted a bit afterwards and was invited down to Alliance in Atlanta for their training camp. I’d love to go, but I think coach is gonna be running something up here for us. At any rate, they said I can pop in while I’m down there for the Atlanta Open next month. Yay!

It was great seeing a few other girls at the seminar! Two I knew, one I became acquainted with as I paired off with her. We were drilling right next to a couple of larger gentlemen, one of which had a very intense break fall… He seriously could be an Olympic break faller! Ha!

After the seminar I went out to eat with one of the gals who I had previously met at the EGO tournament last Saturday. Tex-Mex and BJJ talk. Oooooh yeeeeaaaa!

Fun side note: I forgot to bring a change of clothes and so I went to church in Gi pants and a rashguard.

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There were several “come as you are” lines passed around in conversation after service.

Made a cool connection though because of it! We had an out of town band playing tonight and their keys guy jumped up to me as soon as I walked in the door. He does Jiu Jitsu and is also going to the Chicago Open! We exchanged info and bumped fists.

I love that Jiu Jitsu just instantly creates connections. You meet someone, find out they’re into the same craziness, and just accept them as family. Even in other countries! When I was in Portugal, even though I was a stranger, and didn’t know a word of Portuguese (I now know about 8), I was instantly family when I stepped on the mat.

That’s one of the reasons I love this so much!