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.

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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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!

Girl-Jitsu Ranked Rashguard

20130921-202108.jpgI suddenly realized while preparing for the Chicago Gi/No Gi tournament, that I did not have a ranked rashguard! So I set out on the hunt for one ASAP!

I decided on the Girl-Jitsu Ranked Rashguard for the simple reason that they sponsor several of my friends. If they are going to support my friends, I’ll support them in turn!

Preamble aside, I decided that they deserve a quick review since I have received quite a few questions about it already!

Delivery was freaky fast! In less than 5 days I had it in hand! I have ordered a second one since that first order, and it was just as fast the second time around.

This was my first official Jiu Jitsu rashguard because, hey, I didn’t really need one since I wasn’t participating in any IBJJF No Gi tournaments as a lowly white belt. As a blue belt, a whole new world of No Gi, wrist locks, and absolute divisions was opened up to me!

I was astounded as to how silky and light it was! I didn’t even want to take it off once I tried it on the first time! The sleeves are 3/4 length and I was surprised that they were a fairly loose (unlike my skin-tight underarmor!) the “Pretty. Tough.” lettering on the left sleeve was a really nice touch! The little things such as the contrast stitching along the bottom show that this rashguard was designed with care. I got quite a few compliments on the look of it at the Chicago Open.

Sizewise, I’m 5’3″ish, typically a size 4 (USA) waist, and the small fit me perfectly. I’d say if you’re lightweight or under, you’d probably fit a small as well.

The cost was $42, which having never purchased a rashguard before seemed a good chunk of change to me, but after comparing prices with the larger companies it’s actually a bit cheaper. I could tell at first touch that they did not skimp on quality in the slightest either.

So ladies, support the company that supports you! I highly recommend it to every female Jiu Jitsu’er out there!

I think I’m going to be turning into a rashguard hoarder – already showing the signs. I’ll review each one and eventually learn to compare them properly! So far my collection is:

Girl-Jitsu Ranked Rashguard

Raijin Fight Wear Rashguard (pre-release from my sponsors!)

Meerkatsu/Kenka White Tiger Rashguard (In the mail now!)

IBJJF Limited Edition Ranked Rashguard (Won raffle for No Gi Worlds, pick up there)

Side note: the reason I had to purchase a second Girl-Jitsu rashguard, is that my first one magically disappeared. On the off chance that it didn’t show up in time for Pan Ams, I figured I would be best off getting another one. Good thing too since it has now been missing for two weeks. Wherever it is, I hope it is happy!

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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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Breaking In The Blue Belt

Well I had my first tournament as a blue belt on Saturday! It was a pretty small one with just one other blue belt – who I was ecstatic to see!

I won our match with a cross choke from guard about 90 secs in. The workers asked if I wanted to do 2 out of 3 for the win and I agreed. The more experience the better! After a bit of a rest, we went again and I ended with a RNC after about 4 mins.

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She was pretty good natured about it. Apparently I’m getting a bit of a reputation locally… She remarked to someone that I had “man hands” and he asked “was her name Nicholle?” I hope to see her again!

In no Gi they put me in the “Intermediate Open” division. I lost my first match on points, and won my second by straight ankle lock. So 2nd place in no Gi.

Overall it was a nice way to break in my new belt. I wasn’t sure how I would do, but I went for it and broke the ice!

It was really sweet that they let me bring in my massage chair and do some work on the tournament staff members in exchange for my entry fee

I got a few ladies interested in coming out for my next ladies open mat! I’m expecting quite a few more this time around! Gonna be awesome!

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In other exciting news:
I was thinking that I would really like to compete at the IBJJF Chicago Open on Aug 17, 18. I was starting to lean more toward waiting for the Atlanta Open since it’d be closer and I may only have the budget for one.

Then I found out that the current world champion of my division is on the list to compete in Chicago and I declared “I MUST GO”!

So I got myself registered yesterday! There are 4 total in my division so far – hoping for a few more! I’m also very excited about the prospect of competing in the open for the first time!

I’m gonna have to figure out some kind of fundraiser for my competition fund… The next few months is looking to get a bit expensive. I plan on going to the: Chicago Open, Atlanta Open, No Gi Pan Ams in NY, and Abu Dhabi Trials in NY. I’ve estimated that registration plus travel costs for all of those is going to cost about $1,340 – Almost half of which is airfare to NY. I can take a bus if I need to, but that would just suck!

I’m planning on buying a small freezer to keep at the gym and start selling fruit pops. I make some awesome fruit popsicles, including some pretty legit acai varieties. Coach has given me the go ahead – with how warm it gets at the gym (and the number of kids!) I should be able to put a decent dent in that competition fund! Yay!