Lloyd Irvin Mixed Martial Arts Academy

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

Day 1

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

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

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

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

Day 2

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

I Almost Tapped Who!?

Well yesterday I received a bit of a chiding for just “horsing around” when rolling. And I realized, it was perfectly deserved. I’m getting ready for the Chicago Open, coming up in just 3 weeks, and I just hadn’t flipped that switch to killer mode yet.

I made up for it today.

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Yea. That was me. A little creepy and reaaaaally twisted.

I’ve started getting into foot lock battles with one of our white belts (hi Andrew!) We go for it, then we both pause and compare our “catches.” Toe hold beats straight ankle lock, heel hook beats everything. No pressure is ever applied, we just acknowledge whose leg/foot would break first, let go, and move on. It’s a fun game!

I did really turn up my aggressiveness today at our sparring class thanks to counterpart “Nichole”. Since I am “Nicholle”, together we are “Team N Squared”. After gi class I decided to do the no gi class.

No Gi class was fun! Worked some knee on belly options then rolled a bit. Class was led by one of our purple belts – who, aside from coach, probably has had the biggest influence on my game thus far. I rolled a couple rounds with him and got a surprise triangle that he “almost” tapped to. I think I may have a permanent indentation of the back of his neck in my left calf muscle! Almost, but not quite… He showed me after class what I could have done to finish it. Next time!

Man it was a full day! Here was my schedule:
8:30 am – bike to gym
9:00 am – Muy Thai private lesson (1hr)
10:30 am – 60 min deep tissue massage
11:30 am – Advanced Gi class (1hr)
1:30 pm – circuits (30 mins)
3:00 pm – 90 min deep tissue massage
5:00 pm – Gi Sparring (1hr)
6:00 pm – No Gi class (1hr)
8:00 pm – bike home and write this up on my iPhone using my impressive array of finger muscles!

Tomorrow will be lighter. Here’s my plan so far:
9:30 am – bike to gym
10:00 am – open mat sparring (60-90 mins)
11:30 am – advanced Gi class
2:00 pm – 60 min massage
5:00 pm – sparring (1hr)
6:00 pm – ladies BJJ (1hr)
7:30 ish pm – lock up gym and bike home

Since it’s a lighter day, I’ll probably bring my dog, Dante, with me. He rides in my backpack and is very well behaved. During class he sits on a chair and watches, otherwise he’s hanging up front and mooching attention off of everyone.

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Ladies Tournament, and My Motivation

Well, I’ve got clearance from my instructor to host a Ladies Submission Only Tournament at our school! Eeeeeeek! The date has been set for October 19th, and I am so psyched!

We’ve run tournaments here before, so it’s no biggie on the operations end. Plenty of experienced workers, refs, etc. The hard part for me is going to be getting the word out to as many schools as possible. I’m working on getting a flyer made up that I will mail to every school I can get an address for within an 8 hour driving radius.

I have a page up with information on format, rules, and a registration page as well. Check it out and let me know what you think! I want to make everything as clear as possible before I start promoting it en mass. (within the next week)

Flashback: First day rolling. Help!
Flashback: First day rolling. Help!

In other news: I have been revisiting some of my old journal entries from when I first started training because I couldn’t remember what my motivation was for starting.

The reason I started training, was to challenge myself.
I wanted to push myself past whatever fears  and inadequacies I was feeling.
I wanted to conquer myself.
I was tired of having to act confidant, when I knew that I was terrified.
I was tired of having to be strong, when I knew I was about to crumble.
I was tired of just “doing good enough” to get by, without ever really putting myself to the test.
Basically, I wanted to see just what I could accomplish when I gave %100 effort.

After almost two years:
I can look people in the eye.
I no longer feel the need to apologize for existing.
I’m not a doormat for people to walk over.
I have traveled all over the world competing at a high level, and have done very well!

I have kept this mindset all along, and this continues to be my motivation. To challenge myself. To face my fears, and to conquer them.

Before Jiu Jitsu…
Blue Belt Promotion
Blue Belt Promotion
Throw in a Lil' Muy Thai
Throw in a Lil’ Muy Thai

Speaking of Muy Thai, I’ve been taking private lessons with our head Muy Thai instructor. He says he sees a lot of potential and I am exceeding his expectations. Had a lesson today actually, and he has be throwing some serious combinations – with major damage potential. Good times!

I Really Am Fragile…

No, I didn’t break myself again!

I don’t think people really understand how easily I am broken sometimes though…

I have a pretty severe case of hypermobility in almost all of my joints – elbows being the only exceptions. This is quite hazardous for me really. It doesn’t mean that I am just “really flexible” like many seem to think.

Basically, it means that the ligaments holding my joints together are too loose. Ligaments are not meant to be stretched, but mine constantly are because of the looseness in them. Loose ligaments means that it takes VERY little pressure to sublux (minorly dislocate) my poor overworked joints. In other words, I’m a chiropractor’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, I know of no supplements or treatments that actually reverse this condition.

So I’m always having to be on guard and extremely careful when sparring. Shoot! I dislocated my hip while dodging Disneyland crowds with my small nephew on my shoulders and I’ve had my acl sprained just from a leg drag.

Injury Prevention
This is critical for me if I am to continue competing at the level that I desire to!

First: the docs have all told me the same thing. I need to strengthen all the muscles surrounding my major joints (so basically, everything!) muscles will fatigue eventually, but they can help pick up the slack from my ligaments and help stabilize my joints. Putting on muscle may put me up a weight class, but if I’m healthy, I’m down for it!

Second: regular professional care. I have regular massage bodywork done, and in addition have an amazing structural integrationist whom I see as often as possible. I also have the worlds greatest chiropractor, who happens to train as well!

Third: this may sound odd, but I stretch. A lot. But it’s very specific stretching. If I have a muscle that tends to pull more strongly on one side of a joint than the antagonists on the other side do, that’s just a recipe for disaster! So I work to keep everything as balanced as possible.
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I’m gonna close with what I told my grandma when she was worrying about me getting hurt. “I may get hurt at some point. But the amount of joy and fulfillment I get out of pushing myself and learning every day… It’s worth it.”