New Routine

The past few months now I have finally gotten something I have wanted for years: a self-motivated drilling partner who is enthusiastic about getting up early for an hour or so of extra work on the mats before morning class!
So every morning, we get in at least an hour of work -focusing mainly on transitional movements. It has been paying off since he went from silver and bronze at a local event to gold at the IBJJF Cincinnati Open. I managed a bronze in the open and got an “attagirl” from coach. I don’t think coach has ever seen me work a passing game at an event before, but he said I looked really smooth. I even got compliments from other girls coaches for fluidity in transitions. So… gonna keep at the morning drills!

My current daily routine consists of a 6 am wake up, drilling starting at 8:30, sparring class at 10:30, and work from 1-5. I can fit an evening training session in periodically but I find with the early morning wake up (gotta take the bus from across town), I get pretty wore out by the time I’m off work. When I get closer to events I push through for several nights a week, but when I’m not feeling the pressure of a looming events I just go home and get some sleep. Yea, im getting old; ready for bed by 9 now.

I competed in the Asian Championships this year as a middle weight and brought home a silver medal. I felt really good and strong at that weight – without sacrificing speed. I am contemplating continuing the next competition season at middle. Plus is that I get to compete at a very natural weight for myself – where I’m usually training at. Down side: no abs… but aesthetics have never been a huge deal for me. I’d rather be strong and enjoying my Olympic lifts. Can’t do those and make light anymore!

There is the very real possibility that I might move to Japan for a couple years starting this summer. I received a very strong recommendation for an exchange program and will hear back from the embassy in a few weeks. The final decision if I am offered a spot on the program would depend on location in Japan – whether there is a good Jiu Jitsu academy nearby for me to train at. There are so many factors at play that I haven’t even shared much about this option publicly. All I can say is that I will be giving this next competition season everything I have. It’s scary, but it is good to have options! One thing that will never change is that through all of it I will eventually earn my black belt from my instructor Shawn Hammonds.

Well that’s it for my “sitting at the bus depot downtown” update. Maybe I’ll come up with something more eloquent later?​

The Reset Button

20140426-224310.jpgAfter returning from competing in Japan this past September, my coach (Shawn) told me to take the rest of the year off from competing. I don’t think I have gone longer than three days in the past 4 years without thinking and preparing for the next event. Now I had to deal with a little over three months completely off from competing.

I definitely agreed with my coach. I need this time off. However I am an addict so I was kind of at a loss. This past year has also put me in a severe budgetary crisis, on top of an ongoing family crisis and the need to move at the end of the year… My stress levels had reached the point where my functioning skills were spread to the thinnest they have been since before I started training. The first few weeks I was definitely depressed and unmotivated – maybe on the mats twice a week. Around week 3 though I started pulling out of it and enjoying myself in class again.

I’ve also made the decision to retire my massage therapy business. It has been dying for several reasons and currently taking more time and energy from me than what it is worth. I took a seasonal position working in the warehouse of a shipping company – they actually ended up hiring me on permanently instead and appear to be extremely flexible with time off to go compete next year. Right now I am working Friday – Tuesday, getting off work in time for evening training sessions (full day of training on Wednesday and Thursday). During the holiday season they are allowing us to work as many extra hours as we desire, so I am doing double shifts on the weekends so I can have a better jump start on the budget for next year.

Where That Leaves Me

I found a round trip flight to Amsterdam in January for $300 and snatched it up! I can get a pretty cheap (under $60) flight from there to Lisbon for the European Championships, and then have a few extra days to explore elsewhere. I haven’t decided yet where. Morocco and Israel are both tempting, but I may opt for the super cheap $30 flight to spend a few days in Rome or Athens instead. I suppose I will base my decision off food and training options at each location!

My new job is extremely active, and I’ve been easily dropping weight – so I’m anticipating competing as a feather weight next year.

20130927-035343.jpgFebruary 2017

I had a debate between the IBJJF Atlanta Open or the UAEJJF Mexico National Pro. The Atlanta is an easy day trip away, I would only need to miss one day at work, and both my teams will have a good turn out there. Mexico won out however since I have a goal to compete at the World Pro in Abu Dhabi this next April. I win a qualifying division in Mexico and they will cover my expenses for the World Pro. I will pay for my own trip to the World Pro if I have to, but it is NOT a cheap place to visit – so I decided to invest in Mexico for my shot at the trip package.

March 2017

Of course I will be going to Pans this next year! I managed to pull out a bronze medal this past year, and I need to upgrade that to something a bit more shiny! I’ll not likely stay for the whole event this year (per my norm) just because I want to conserve my time off from work.

April 2017

It’s World Pro month! I win the qualifier in Mexico, I won’t have to worry about paying for the trip, but either way I am going to be competing in Abu Dhabi in 2017. I actually work with several ladies from the UAE- they have been dropping pointers for my visit.

May/June 2017

The dates have not yet been set for the World Championships in Los Angeles, but I WILL be in attendance. I’m hoping I will be able to get a leave of absence from work to go to train at TLI HQ in Maryland for several weeks leading up to the competition. We shall see!

September 2017

The Asian Championships will be held again in Tokyo, most likely the second weekend of the month. I will either be taking leave from work, or just turning in my notice and signing back on when they start hiring seasonally again (a few weeks after I get back). My sister will be 18 by this time and is planning to postpone starting college in order to go with me to this event. We will then spend about 3 weeks exploring Japan, Taiwan, and hopefully a few other places (Korea and Thailand are definitely on the list!) We both have interest in training our respective martial arts during the trip, so it should be a great experience for us both! Plus I will actually have someone to cheer for my matches at the competition!


As of this point, I feel refreshed and excited about this next year. This past year has not been so great for me personally, and it showed in my Jiu Jitsu. Taking a step back to deal with some issues has made all the difference and I feel genuine excitement to compete again in January!

Tokyo: Temples, Maids, and Studio Ghibli

Well I got pretty distracted and ended up not writing every evening like I had planned. Since I have several hours to kill at the airport while I wait for my flight to Taiwan, I’m going to play catch up now!


I scheduled a tour of the Asakusa area with someone I found on the website (I highly recommend them if you are traveling in the East Asia area!) 

I managed to make a doofus of myself by messing up my directions. I got off of the train station at exit #9 when I was supposed to meet her at exit 1. Of course, I just kept plodding along. A few mishaps later, I found her and we went to Senso-ji temple which is riot outside of the train station.


Touching the lantern gives you luck! I also got to draw a fortune, and I got “the best fortune” – so I am saving that!

Had some fresh made melon bread (amazing!) and then walked around a few smaller (and less crowded) temples and streets. We settled on a lunch of ramen.

 This was a broth based ramen, which means I have tried all three of the base ramen varieties. Broth, miso, and tonkotsu. My favorite has been the tonkotsu!

After lunch, we went to a place for karaoke. It was quite different from karaoke in the states! You rent out your own soundproof room by the hour. Ours had a killer sound system and flashing lights. You can also order food and drinks delivered to your room via your control pads. We had the room for two hours and it was a blast!

I was going to meet someone in Shibuya after this, but she ended up getting stuck at work, so I just went back to my room to sleep.


This was my geek out day! I finally got to go to the Studio Ghibli museum!!! Studio Ghibli could be considered the Walt Disney of Japanese animation… But I think they are better! Most well known films are Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.

You have to purchase tickets a month in advance, and I was extremely thrilled to get mine when they went on sale last month! (They were sold out in half an hour!)

I traded my sticker for this amazing film strip entrance ticket upon arrival!

They don’t allow photos to be taken inside of the museum… But take how amazing that ticket is, and maybe you could get an inkling as to how magical the experience was!

I was unable to resist sneaking a selfie from one of the special exhibits… I know, I’m terrible… But it was a LIFE SIZED CAT BUS! Yes, the inside was super soft and squishy! If you haven’t watched “My Neighbor Totoro”, I’m sorry, you just won’t understand.

After spending about 5 hours at the museum, I went to the train station to meet my evening guide.

She took me around the Meiji shrine and I learned a lot of new things from her about the history of the area! She also took me through one of the older, pre-WWII era, neighborhoods. Seriously my favorite tour! I didn’t get too many photos because I was too enthralled with listening!


Maid cafe!

I can guarantee that my lunch was cuter than yours!


It was great fun! I thought I might feel awkward, but I decided to just go with the flow and  enjoy the experience!
On guy was there by himself and was apparently embarrassed. When it was his time to get his photo taken with his maid, he looked like he wanted to run! I thought it was great fun and would definitely do it again!

Afterwards I met up with a fellow BJJ junkie to explore Akihabara. We ended up heading to Harajuku for shaved ice cream, and he approved!

He headed off to go get in line for the new Shoyoroll Gi release, and I headed off to the airport on the last train of the evening, arriving a little bit before midnight.

It turned out, I couldn’t check in to my 6 am flight until 2 1/2 hrs before departure. All of the outer lobby seats were taken, so I curled up on the tile floor behind a big plant and managed to sleep for a few hours until I was able to get checked in.

Now, I am wrapping this up because they are about to start boarding my flight! In just a few hours I will be in Taiwan for the first time! Apparently there is a typhoon going on so they are recommending we use the bathroom before boarding since we may not be able to move around on the flight. Sounds exciting!

Tokyo: Robots and Other Tall Tales

Yesterday was quite an interesting experience to say the least!

First order of business was to meet up with Frank. A mutual friend got us hooked up with one another and we decided to meet up at the life sized Gundam robot that guards the Diver City Tokyo Plaza in Odaiba.


Food was, of course, a necessity. I went with Takoyaki topped with egg (among other things)


Afterwards we wandered around for a little bit. This place was a huge, man made island with these wide open spaces that I had yet to experience anywhere in Tokyo!


The debate was then on as to where the next stop would be. I was wanting to go to Akihabara and nerd out until show time at the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku. However we ended up heading directly toward Shinjuku instead.

At a train transfer point, something caught the eye and we headed for it. This. Was. Amazing.


If the style looks familiar to some of my fellow nerds, it is because this clock was designed by Studio Ghibli star producer, Miyazaki. The clock does a 4 minute show with the changing of the hour and we had just missed it. So we went in search of nearby nerdness to occupy time while waiting for the show. The show was worth the wait, AND I found this…

So! Much! Happy!

Sad I couldn’t get it! But it wouldn’t fit in my luggage allowance for the rest of my trip.

After that side trip, we arrived in Shinjuku with an extra hour to spare before we needed to check in for the show. So we wandered around a bit more…


So many Nicholles!


So finally it was time to check in for the show! This was something I had wanted to do last year, but I ran out of money and had to choose between the show, and my train ticket to the airport. It was a close call… But I had to do the responsible thing. This time, I made it! And man was it worth it!

This is what greeted us at the entrance! 

I would say that the show itself would be best described as: “Lisa Frank on LSD at Carnival in Rio.” I took some pictures… But mainly sat there the whole time with a cheesy grin on my face.  


We were on the front row in the center. It was really too close to take any good photos anyhow. Good problem!

Seriously an absolute MUST DO when in Tokyo! The show is campy and cheesy. They know it and work that angle to perfection!


After the show, we zoomed out for a quick bowl of Ramen before popping into an arcade. I’m not much for arcades so after about 10 minutes I said my goodbyes to Frank and headed off to wander up and down the streets of Kabukicho on my own.


Kabukicho is the closest thing Tokyo has to a red light district (that I know of), but it still felt way less sketchy than walking through my own neighborhood at night. (A sign I should maybe reevaluate a few things?)

I didn’t wander for too long since I was getting sleepy… so after about an hour I made my way back toward to my room and passed out.

My next adventure will begin in just a few hours as I make my way to meet a new friend in Asakusa! So ends this update as I need to go get ready! Make sure to follow my Instagram as I will be uploading photos in live time while exploring!

Tokyo – Shrines, Crepes, Pandas, and More

This trip has been so long in the making! I am trying to slow time down and enjoy myself – a strategy that seems to be working so far. I know that when I get back home it will seem to have just been a blink, and all I will have are memories. So I’m making sure they are memorable memories! This post is going to be a long one since I am playing catch up for a few days… I am making up for the length by including awesome photos!
I usually do formatting on the computer at home… so please forgive me if the layout isn’t on par with my norm!

Day 1: The Transit

Transit day was loooooooong and rough. I woke up at 6 am in Los Angeles, walked 1.5 miles to the bus stop, waited about 30 minutes past the scheduled bus arrival (expected in LA), and got to the airport a little after 8 am. 
I was unable to check in for my flight online or at the kiosk because apparently they had added my dog, Dante, to my reservation. That requires a check in at the special services counter. That line is usually slower than the regular check in line. Thankfully there was a staff member at the head of the line who got me taken care of so I was able to get checked in and to my gate on time.
My flight left at 10:30 am, was scheduled for 11 hrs, landing at 2:20 pm the same day. Gotta love time zone jumps! I had a window seat next to a couple who spoke about as much English as I speak Japanese (not much). I could pick out general words and slowly got better over the course of the trip. They believe I am a Judoka and I choked on the words to explain Jiu Jitsu… So we settled on Judo. I have some basic knowledge… Very basic knowledge…

The first half of the flight was uneventful beyond that. The second half however… Not so good since I managed to develop a terrible migraine. My newly adopted Japanese Auntie was concerned and I had to keep reassuring her “daijōbu desu”. She wasn’t convinced, especially when I had to zoom to the bathroom to puke. Mercifully I fell asleep and was woken up by an airline staff member to receive my breakfast meal. I couldn’t stomach any of it except the crackers and some sprite. Auntie of course noticed and kept offering me her food options (I had ordered a low sodium meal). It was nice to have someone taking care of me!
Upon departure, I thanked her profusely for her help, and then made my way through customs, picked up my mobile wifi unit, and then headed for my airbnb location in Tokyo. My head was most unpleasant and I had to lie down and try to sleep as soon as I arrived around 6 pm.

Day 2: The Great Explore
First order of business: coffee. My head was feeling much better after a solid 12 hours of shut eye.

  I climbed up a small hill near the train station to wait out morning rush hour. I thought it was a park, but it ended up being a neighborhood cemetary. I snapped a quick photo from the edge so as not to disturb anyone visiting.

  I consulted with my brother and determined to first visit the Meiji Shrine, followed by a crepe in Harajuku.


Thankfully the shrine wasn’t too busy, although I think I got there before the bulk of the tour groups. The main entrance gate was closed for what looked like some restoration work, but everything else was just as I had remembered it!  

Afterwards, I walked the length of Takeshita Dori to my favorite crepe shop, hidden in a corner on the outskirts of Harajuku.  

Fresh made crepe, macha (green tea) ice cream, a slice of macha cheesecake, whipped cream, white chocolate shavings, macha powder… yea, it was as good as it looks! 

After my crepe, I strolled down to Shibuya. It was relatively non-crowded at the crossing as I made my way to the Starbucks. I had my mind set on a macha frappe (notice a theme here?) but was distracted by their mango passionfruit offering and I just HAD to try it. it was fabulous!

My plan was to go to Akihabara next, but plans change! I made my way back up to Ueno Park and visited the zoo. They have two giant Pandas there and apparently it was feeding time because they were just sitting in their feeding rooms, chewing on bamboo sticks like bosses.

So ended my first full day in Tokyo. I rocked the mad hatter hairdo all day like a boss!

Day 2: Competition Venue

I spent most of the day at the competition venue. Had to get the lay of the land and watch the black belt ladies represent!

In Japan, everyone takes their shoes off at the entrance to the venue. Handy bathroom slippers are provided for use in the restroom – and you be nasty if you try to skip using them!

I have craved this treat since my visit last year! Coffee jelly (jello) in an espresso cream sauce! Oishii!

I like carbs on my carbs. It looks weird, but it is fresh and fabulous!

After leaving the venue, I thought a nice stroll in the Imperial Palace Gardens would be nice. unfortunately, it was closed when I arrived. So I settled for a walk around part of the perimeter before I decided to head back to get some rest for competing the next day.

Day 3: Competition Day!
Stay tuned! Follow my Instagram for my results as they happen! 5 hours from publishing this I will be warmed up and ready to rumble!

Planning for Japan

I know that I still have a while to wait (141 days!), but I like to plan ahead for my international trips. I will be leaving on September 6th for Tokyo, Japan and will be arriving in the afternoon of the 8th. So far, I have only booked the plane tickets but I have a lot of plans that I just haven’t solidified quite yet.

I hit a fare sale back in January and got my round trip airfare for about 2/3 the cost of my ticket last year. Granted, last year instead of paying out the cash for the ticket, one of my regular massage clients bartered with me for the airmiles. He and his wife are covered for the next years worth of massages, and I got a ticket to Japan – fare trade!

I will be staying overnight in Los Angeles on the 6th and will likely find a place to train that evening. If any bjj people have a spare couch or tatami, give me a holler!

Settling In:

IMG_5361I will most likely stay at the same guesthouse as I did last visit. The location was extremely convenient, good wifi connection, free tea/coffee/miso soup, and an on site onsen (bath house) – all for just about $20 per night.

I will arrive the day before the competition begins, so I will likely just collapse as soon as I arrive and wake up early the next morning. The 14 hour time difference is killer, but I adjusted pretty easily last visit with just a solid 12 hour sleep right off of the plane.

The Competition:

Last year, I competed on the second day of the event, but I popped by the venue in order to get my bearings, check my weight, and make sure I wouldn’t get lost. It was a little confusing making sure I got to the proper place since if you look it up online, it can lead you to the Nihon Budokan in Chiyoda, about a 30-45 minute train ride from the actual venue location. What you need to get to is the Tokyo Budokan in Ayase as shown below.

The venue is about a 8-10 minute walk from the Ayase train stop and is really quite easy to recognize.

Japan Budokan
Front Entrance
Bathroom Slippers

One really nice thing about this venue, is that you don’t have to worry about people running into the bathroom without shoes on – since everyone takes their shoes off at the entrance. There are special slippers in the bathrooms that you will put on at the door before you go in to take care of your nervous pees and colon purges.
You can also

Bathroom Noise Machine

press a button in each stall to play sound effects to cover the noise you would otherwise be making.


This is a Martial Arts specific venue. Expect to see people in Aikido and Japanese Jiu Jitsu uniform wandering around to check out what we are doing. There are vending machines with all kind of drinks – although I was desperate for just regular water and couldn’t seem to find it. There are no concessions stands, although there are many places to grab a bite to eat in the surrounding neighborhood. I opted for a bento meal from a convenience store.

Podium Photo

Most of the announcements were done in English, although plenty of Portuguese was spoken as well as Japanese. I did discover upon checking in that they DO require females to wear a rash guard – which I understand based on what I know of the Japanese culture. It did put me into a minor panic since I was close on my weight (thank you bento box), but I was able to quickly purchase the smallest, lightest rashguard I could find, and I made weight.


Those are the only real differences in the competition that I could note as compared with the other events I have been to. I found, as a whole, the Japanese approach to Jiu Jitsu to be very precise and methodical.

Climbing Fujisama:

After I compete, I am planning an overnight climb of Mt. Fuji. The climbing season has not yet been set, but last year it extended for a few days after the competition.

I have not yet decided if I will do this on my own, or do it with a group. It would be more convenient with a group since all my expenses would be included and the entire thing would already be organized. However, it would cost a lot less to do it on my own. Still working on that.

If I go with a group, the first day we would go from Tokyo by coach to the base of the Mountian and then climb to the 7th station where we would then sleep for a few hours and adjust to the altitude. We would then start off late at night for the summit and reach the top in time for sunrise. After the hike back down, we would relax at the hot springs for a few hours before catching the coach back to Tokyo.


I realized recently, that Korea is only a couple hours from Tokyo by plane. Since I’m already that close, I figure I might as well hop a quick flight and see a whole new culture for a few days! I haven’t researched much so far since this is a new idea in my head, but I definitely want to make it happen. I want to eat some good food and train with some new BJJ people!


I was extremely saddened last year that I wasn’t able to budget for a trip to Kyoto during my time in Japan. This time, I am for sure going to make it down – at least for a day trip! The Inari Shrine has been on my bucket list since before my trip last year!


Opening Ceremony

Last year, I was able to attend a Sumo National Championship tournament. It was absolutely thrilling! It will be going on once again during this visit and I am trying to figure out how to get some really good seats. Last year I went with a tour group and we had bleacher seats, but
this time I want to be up close to the action! As far as I can find though, it looks like I need a Japanese address in order to buy tickets. I’ll buy from the tour again if I need to, but I would much rather pay for a good seat. If anyone in Japan happens to be reading this and wants to help me order, I would buy your ticket as well!



All that I have listed already would most likely be in my first week there. Then I will have a whole week left in order to explore, eat, and visit every Jiu Jitsu school I can find! I will also remember to bring a white Gi this time so I can train at the Kodokan.

I end this with a bunch of random photos from last years trip. Enjoy!

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.

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!


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!


Coming Soon! Boston, Atlanta, and… Tokyo!?

It has been a huge dream of mine to go compete in Tokyo, Japan at the Pan Asian Championships. Well it has been renamed the “Asian Championships” now, but that doesn’t bother me too much because I’m freaking going this year!

This all came about very suddenly. Before an appointment two days ago, my client was admiring my medals from the Fuji tournament and it made him ask if I have competed in Japan. I told him “sadly not yet” and explained that the event will be held in 6 weeks and I’m going to have to miss it again this year. He asked if it was just a money issue keeping me from going and then offered a trade. He used frequent flyer miles to book my ticket, and in exchange he and his wife are set for their next year worth of appointments!

I think all parties are happy with how this worked out! I’ll be working my end of the deal for a while, but it is definitely worth it to me!

I will arrive on September 9, compete on the 12th or 13th, and fly home on the 16th. I am very excited to get to test myself against a whole new group of competitors that I might never get to slap hands with otherwise!

Other Plans:

I have decided that the day after I compete I will hike to the top of Mt Fuji since the climbing season is closing on the 15th of September and I’ll have just enough time to get up and down before the trails close. I’ve climbed a mountain before and remember it as a tough, and hugely rewarding experience. This will be about an extra 2,000 ft higher of elevation so I will definitely plan to take my time on the way up! I remember that on the last mountain I climbed I was starting to notice the thinning of the air for the last 1,000 feet to the summit.

Since my plane lands in the early afternoon, through the power of caffeine I plan to keep myself awake starting at least 6 hrs away from landing. This way by the time I clear customs, pick up my rental mobile wifi unit, navigate my way on the metro to my hotel, check in, find a ramen shop for dinner, and then relax a bit in the traditional Japanese bath at my hotel… I should be ready to sleep by 8 so I can skip the jet lag as much as possible.

I’ll have two full days to do whatever I like before the competition begins. I’m thinking the first day should be a good explore day and for the second maybe a visit to the Tokyo Disneyland would be in order (if budget permits!)

If anyone has any suggestions for things to do, people to see, places to eat… I am all ears!

Make sure to follow my Instagram page for a steady stream of awesome photos!

My Hotel:

I’m never one for spending much on accommodations since the more I can save in that area, the more I have to spend on food – besides, I’ll be out exploring all day anyhow! When I’m traveling abroad I usually stay in hostel type accommodations.

The place I have chosen to stay for my trip to Japan, is a capsule hotel. Think of it as a train sleeper bed, or a navy bunk. I stow my luggage in a locker and climb into my capsule which in this case consists of a tatami floor, a rolled up futon mattress, and enough space to sit up, lie down, and turn around – so it’s like a properly sized dog crate!

The perks with this place are that I’m staying in a ladies only floor, and the hotel has traditional bath houses, saunas, free wifi, really good network with local businesses, easy metro access, and a free vending machine in the lobby that dispenses coffee, tea, and miso soup. I get all that, with a bike rental included for just 20 USD per night!

Busy Busy Busy!

I wrote out my travel/training/competition schedule for the next couple months, and it made me feel very busy. Here it is!

August 19: fly to Boston and see family
August 22: Compete at the Boston Open with the family cheering me on
August 23: Overnight bus to DC for training
August 28: Overnight bus to Atlanta
August 29, 30: Compete at the Atlanta Open Gi/No Gi Competition
August 31: Take bus back home to Nashville
September 8: Start flight to Tokyo
September 9: Arrive in Tokyo
September 12, 13: Compete at the Asian Championships
September 16: Fly back home to Nashville
September 24: Fly to Las Vegas
September 25, 26: Compete at Master World Championships:
September 28: Fly from Vegas to DC
October 2: Take bus from DC to New York City
October 3: Compete at No Gi Pans
October 6: Fly home to Nashville

By the time I get home in October, I likely won’t have a dime to my name.

Totally worth it!