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!

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!

20130921-202242.jpg

A Ring Coordinator’s Perspective

20130831-234044.jpg

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

20130805-131221.jpg

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.

tumblr_m0dyeadxzL1ronm93o1_500

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!

images

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!

Pan Ams and Team Changes

20130331-225142.jpg

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!

——————————————–

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!