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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The Mental Battle

Before every major tournament, I have my mental battle. I win or lose in my mind every time – before I step into the venue. Here is my open book, mental war I face each time. I don’t think I’m the only one here… If I am, oh well. At least you know I’m human!

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I have straight up, irrational self-doubt. The kind that ignores reality and works to sabotage everything I try to put effort into. It’s one of those “I know better” kind of things – but easier said than done.

I’ve done so much in the very short time that I have been practicing Jiu Jitsu – as a white belt I got up to ranked #1 in my weight division! I took home a second place team award – as a sole competitor! I’ve placed at all but one of the 14-16 competitions I’ve entered in!

Does this make a difference? Nope. Instead of focusing on making excuses for why I “lost”, I make excuses for how I “won”. I just believe that every achievement was a fluke and at any moment people will realize what a poser I am.

Again, I know better…

 

 

I’ve got 4 big tournaments coming up in the next few weeks:
Sept 28 – No Gi Pan Ams
Oct 12 – Chicago Open
Oct 19 -Abu Dhabi Pro Trials
Nov 2,3 – No Gi Worlds

For me, my hardest competitor will be the one inside my head. I always have to fight the “You can’t. You’re a fake. You’re a failure.” I don’t win or lose the battle with my opponent. I win or lose the battle with myself.

I’m flying out on Friday for the No Gi Pan Ams. I’m going to prove the “you can’t” wrong so that, in the future, I can refer back to this point. I’m calling it out now…

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New Belt and New Training

Promotions
The Four Promotees!

Well, I’ve had a few days to let the promotion sink in, and I’ve come to a conclusion: It doesn’t really make a difference. No magical powers bestowed or sudden increase in technique, or any hulk-like capabilities. I still consider black belts to be magical, but blue seems to just be a matter of fact thing.

That being said, It is AWESOME! It’s nice to know that after a year and a half of butt busting, I’m no longer recognized as an entry level beginner – I’ve got a little validation in my life!

I don’t know if this free feeling I have is due to the belt, or the fact that Worlds are done and over with – and I don’t have to be too serious anymore. At any rate, I am having a blast! My first roll as a new blue belt was on Tuesday morning. I went with my white belt buddy who has a “little” bit of size/weight on me. He’s really cool to roll with though – I’m on his hit list, but he says tapping me doesn’t count if he uses muscle. Highlight of the roll was choking him with my new (still tied) belt, from side control bottom. I also got a wrist lock in there too. Thankfully he was fairly good-natured about it! He could squash me like a bug if he chose to…

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My car has been on the fritz so I have been riding my awesome pink bike to the gym in the mornings lately. It’s a nice 3 miles each way up and down hills, so I feel fairly warmed up by the time I arrive. The guys are calling it the “Pee Wee Herman” bike – and I think it looks awesome in the front office!
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Due to my doctor’s nudging, I have started a weight training routing, geared toward building muscle and stabilizing my major joints.

So far it’s working great! After just 2 weeks, I have visible biceps and no more grinding sensations in my shoulders! Yay! I’ve had chronic shoulder instability for years… amazing how easily that is resolving when I stop ignoring it.

I do gain muscle very easily so it’s very possible I may end up in the middle weight class instead of light. I’m okay with that though. If I’m feeling healthy and strong, I have no problems.

Jiu Jitsu Birthday!

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Well, I got my blue belt today. I’m sure I’ll come up with something awesome and inspiring to post tomorrow… But after getting tag teamed in the big circle by this crew – I’m a bit tired.

I didn’t post an update about Worlds, because I’m unhappy with how it went down and didn’t know how to post without making it a rant. I’ll figure that one out eventually!

Anyhow, I’ll be breaking the new belt in at the IBJJF Atlanta Open in August. So excited!

Now… Sleeeeeeeeep!

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Off To Worlds!

Well I’m on the plane to L.A. right now. I’ve already had my nap, so now seems a good time to compose something amazing.

I have standby tickets and managed to get the last seat on a non-stop flight. As an added bonus, it’s in business class! Yay leg room!

I’m ready for this. So ready! I’ll be competing on Thursday at about 5:20. Javier will be up at 11:45 Friday morning.

So yea, I’m kinda pumped! And I have 4 dinners planned for Thursday night – no joke, they are mapped out.

That is all I feel like sharing at this time. My next update will likely be results!

Worlds Preparation – I’m Freaking Stressed!

So I’m gonna admit it. I’m stressed out over Worlds.

I’m trying to show a calm demeanor, anyone who asks “are you nervous?”, receives a shrug and “nah” response from me.

Yea, I lie.

During the day, I’m training and working hard – so I don’t really have time to worry. But at night… Well, i am writing this at 1 AM.

So I’m going to go through everything I’m nervous about, and hopefully talk myself down enough to sleep.

1. I’ve gotta get everything organized for the trip! Got so much to do and not enough time!
– there is plenty of time, and I have a list. Everything is already taken care of actually. Plane, housing, transportation, etc.

2. Making weight!
– I stress every time over this. Sometimes it’s even more stressful than worrying about my matches! But I’ve never NOT made weight. Closest I’ve come is 1.5lbs under. I’m already several under – if I avoid pigging out on pizza in the next few days I’ll be just fine.

3. My shoulder is torn up. Really bad biceps tendinitis is making quite a few shoulder motions excruciating. Doc told me I need 4-6 weeks of rest. It’s making training difficult.
– ok, a legit worry. Doc doesn’t seem to think I’m in danger of it tearing in half though. I’ll have time to rest after, and I’ve proven in the past that pain actually helps me focus and do better in matches.

Oddly enough, none of my worry is about how I’ll do in my matches. I’ve put in my time, and I don’t know of anything I could do to be more ready. I’ve been giving everyone at my gym more trouble than I ever have before. I’ve drilled my moves until I catch myself trying to strangle my poor dog in his sleep.

It is ON!

Nutrition Nutrition Nutrition

I had an epiphany after the Dallas competition. The last tournament I was in, and actually felt good and energized, was Europe. Since then, at every tournament I have been gassed halfway through my second match. Not winded, just exhausted and weak. I’ve been pushing through all 4 matches out of sheer willpower.

So I sat down to analyze what I did differently for Europe that I have been missing since then. Conclusion: calorie intake the day before.

When preparing for Europe, I spent the 6 months prior doing circuit training, and monitoring my weight. I got on the plane with several pounds to spare – and I was flying Alitalia airlines…

Man those Italians know how to feed you! I had a hot meal/snack every few hours. If I was asleep, I’d wake up with food next to me!

In any case, I had so much fuel in my system that I had plenty of energy for all my matches the next day!

Since Europe, I’m sad to say I have not been paying as close attention to my weight – and have basically been fasting the day before competing in order to make weight. Not so smart eh?

I’m correcting this problem. I’m already down 4 lbs since competing in Dallas. I plan to get onto the plane in two weeks with at least 3 lbs to spare. And I’m gonna EAT!

Right now my diet is consisting of lots of fresh fruit smoothies, kale, legumes, and an awesome protein shake after training. I’ve also added in rice and Ezekiel bread as my primary carb source.

Favorite Smoothie (to date)
2 bananas
1/2 c blueberries
1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 scoop Vega One chocolate protein powder

Prepping for Dallas and Worlds

Well I’m leaving for Dallas on Saturday. I’m making the drive with two of my team mates – we figure it will take between 10 and 12 hours depending on how often we stop.

There are 9 people in my division, so I’ll probably get 3 fights. Feeling good!

Here is a little video with some clips from my competitions. I watch it after I’ve been pounded into a grease spot on the mats – helps re-inflate me!

Worlds is coming up in just a few short weeks and I am psyched! My coach is trying to get sponsors to┬ácover my and 3 of my team mates expenses. I wouldn’t be able to go otherwise! If you’re interested in helping some broke, hard training people, you can shoot him an email at shawnhammonds@hotmail.com !

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!

War on Ringworm Won!

I ended up not being able to get the oral medication for the ring worm – without insurance it would have cost me almost 300 bucks. Yikes!

After a couple days of the topical, it started getting worse. So in a fit of desperation I resorted to “barbaric”, non-scientific methods.

Basically, I scrubbed it with my salt scrub, then coated it with liquid bandage.

Two days later, all redness and swelling is gone – and the guys said I can play with them again. Yay! I have yet another reason to love liquid bandage!

I got to watch the UFC fights last nights with a bunch of my team mates! It was awesome! My favorite fight of the night was Griffin vs. Ortiz – we were all cheering for Griffin. (It’s just a given that we also cheered for Silva!)

We were, of course, ALL screaming at Mike Easton – fellow member of team Lloyd Irvin. Wish he’d taken Menjivar down – his ground work is killer. But oh well.

I get to open up the gym tomorrow at 6 am. Gonna do some circuits to get rolling a bit more with this weight cut. Side note: had to buy new jeans. My old ones were falling off me – literally. I tried to run to my car and they just dropped, and thankfully no one saw… I don’t think.