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!

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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!

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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Pan Ams and Team Changes

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So… maybe I should give up on being consistent with this?

Anyhow, I competed at the IBJJF Chicago Open and managed to win gold – subbing all my opponents. It was a bit of an adventure, which I shall now elaborate on.

My first opponent seemed to be a bit larger than me – I wondered if I was in the correct bracket! I tapped her with an armbar from guard, which was the first time I’ve ever done that!

Second match was a very tall girl – kind of like Steven – just very long. Had a really good battle with her and finally ended with a bow/arrow choke variation.

After that, I was in the finals. And here comes the adventure….

I was very lightheaded after that second match and couldn’t even hold myself up, had to hang onto the partition to stay upright. My pulse was racing so badly and I remember telling coach I was about to pass out. He asked me if I wanted to call it, or if I’d be ok to continue. I told him “I’ll just finish really fast and probably collapse afterward.”

I willed myself to stay upright when I was called to the mat and I ended her with a triangle in mount. I could tell I was about to go out, but managed to stay upright just long enough for my hand to be raised. Then I collapsed.

I don’t think I actually blacked out, I just couldn’t stay up any longer. The medics came over and when I couldn’t even hold myself in a sitting position they called the paramedics. Turns out I was having a pretty severe irregular heart beat so I was carted off on the stretcher and hooked up to a heart monitor for about an hour until I stabilized.

We narrowed it down to my electrolytes being out of wack. Once they got a couple of bottles of watered down gatorade into me, i was all good. So from now on, always gonna take pedialite with me to tournaments!

All this was less than 2 weeks from Pan Ams!

Skipping to Pan Ams…

I figured after doing Europe by myself, Pan Ams would be a breeze since I’d have my team mates with me. It was so much easier mentally!

I had 17 in my division, so 4 matches to win. My first match I won with a guillotine choke at right past the 1 min mark.

Second match I went against a feisty, slightly older woman. I guess she would have been in a masters bracket, but there wasn’t anyone else in that division . She gave me some trouble with passing her guard. I ended up going all Kenny on her – standing knee on chest guard pass. I got an Americana from side control locked in, but she wasn’t tapping, so I cranked it… Found out later that I actually broke her radius and ulna! Didn’t know that at the time so I just moved on to my next match.

I didn’t get much rest time before my next match. My opponent’s coach was a ref and has apparently competed against my coach before. So no pressure right?

She was good at avoiding my sweeps for sure, but I managed to lock in an armbar from guard. She tapped and I started to let go, but the ref didn’t see, so she started fighting again. Thankfully I still had it and rolled belly down to finish (again).

After that, the mat coordinator informed me that I had won 1st place. I was severely confused as I was sure I had 4 matches. At any rate, I changed into another Gi and decided to hang until I was called either to the mat or the podium.

45 mins later it was back to the mat. We went the full time and I ended up losing 3 advantage points to 4. My team mates say I legitimately won the match because I didn’t get points for an omoplata sweep, but whatever. I haven’t seen the video yet, and all I know is this: I did some good Jiu Jitsu and am proud of myself. Neither of us were able to stand afterward – wish we lived closer to one another so we could train together occasionally!

She got her blue belt on the podium so I won’t get a re-match at Worlds in May. Kinda bummed about that, but I’ll catch her next year!

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The Jiu Jitsu community has been buzzing about the Lloyd Irvin cataclysm. I’m so sad over the whole thing – my coach has been under Master Lloyd since he was a blue belt, but we had to break away when it looked like we were gonna lose our affiliate schools.

Chicago was my last tournament under TLI. Pan Ams I was under TAC Team (Jared Weiner).

Honestly, I believe innocent until proven guilty and there is so much dirt chucking and heresay… this is the story I’m sticking with:

There will never be another TLI organization. What he has done for the Jiu Jitsu community will never be replicated. When I was in Europe, the team welcomed me with open arms just like family – and I still consider them as such. My school separating from the team was simply a business decision – not an act of condemnation.

That said – no matter how the storm settles, I’m gonna just keep on doing Jiu Jitsu. I honestly don’t care about team organizations, all the politics, and whose refs are screwing who – I’m here for the love of Jiu Jitsu. I’m not going anywhere!