Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: Destroying "I Can't"

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve and, following convention, I'm thinking about everything that went on in 2009. At the beginning of 2009 there were a lot of things I thought I couldn't do. I didn't think I could get down to 135lbs. I didn't think I could run a mile without stopping. I didn't think I could successfully control a ground fight with a bigger, stronger opponent.

2009 proved me wrong. :)

Goals Met in 2009

1. Body by BJJ!! I reached my goal of 135 lbs and am still steadily losing!! This morning I weighed in at 134.0. To put that in perspective...

Before BJJ:
Weight: 144
Pants size: 9

After 4 and a half months of BJJ:
Weight: 134!!!
Pants size: 4 or a 6, depending on the brand.

2. At the beginning of 2009 I couldn't even run a mile without walking a few times during the run. And by run I mean stumbling jog. This morning I ran a 9:08 mile. Not amazing by most standards but awesome by mine!!

3. I competed in my first tournaments and placed 2nd in one and 1st in the other. Also got a good sense of where my BJJ game is and where I need to improve. Working on those goals in 2010! One of the things these tournaments proved to me was that BJJ works against bigger, stronger opponents. At De la Riva, I was the smallest girl competing and yet I still placed 2nd. That's not a testament to me, but to the techniques. They work!

4. Thanks to the fear of not making weight for the aforementioned tournaments, I broke my addiction to comfort foods!! Woohoo! Food is fuel now, not just something I eat for the taste and enjoyment. This is not to say I don't splurge every now and again but it is a rarity, not a rule like it used to be.

Other Highlights from the Non-BJJ part of my life:

1. My son started preschool and is thriving. He is a strong-willed kid if there ever was one and I was really worried that he would constantly be in trouble at school. But he has thrived. The one time I had to keep him home for being sick he cried because he wanted to go to school. I don't expect that to last but it's nice for right now!! ;)

2. I got my dream job of being a Youth Pastor and I'm loving every minute of it, even the trying ones. God has taught me through this year to let go of control and stop trying to force things to happen the way I want them to. He has challenged me to go with the flow and learn through the difficult times!

3. I finished the rough draft of a fiction novel. Not anywhere near ready to be read by anyone, but it's a solid draft I can work off of. One step closer to my goal of writing--and COMPLETING--a novel. ;)

2009 showed me that I was setting my limits too low. I am capable of more--physically and mentally--than I thought I was before. In 2010 I'm raising the bar for myself.

Goals for 2010

1. I want to be able to run a mile in 8 minutes or less. I walk four miles every morning and, for the last few days, I've been jogging the first mile. I'm going to keep that up and add interval jogging, sprinting and walking for the rest of the 3 miles. I tried it out this morning and enjoyed it.

2. My BJJ training goals are pretty non-specific. I want to be better at sweeps, at taking the back, at maintaining side control once I get it, at...oh, pretty much everything needs improvement. What do you want from me? I'm a white belt! ;)

3. I want to compete in the April NAGA in Florida. And place. This is going to be difficult because I am forced to move up a division since I placed 1st last NAGA. Hard training, here I come!

4. In my personal life I'd like to stop relying so heavily on people's approval. I need to be confident without needing other people to tell me that I'm doing a good job, whether it be in Jiu-jitsu, in my work with the Youth Group or any other area of my life.

5. I want to finish that novel. ;)

Hope all of you have a safe and happy New Years!! See you in 2010!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Last night I had one of those "Aha!" moments while I was watching two of my instructors grapple against each other. Mario, my blue belt instructor, was trying to pass Fabio's guard. Mario was passing to the side and Fabio had rolled onto his side. I get into this situation a lot and what I usually end up stiff-arming, holding onto their legs and trying to get my legs up to recover half guard or full guard. The problem is, they come around a lot more quickly than I can and I can only catch up maybe half of the time. If it is a higher belt I'm rolling with, I don't catch up. They just pass. lol

But Fabio did something that never occurred to me. When Mario tried to pass to the side, Fabio rolled upside down on his shoulders, presenting Mario with an inverted guard. Mario had to then deal with Fabio's legs again. And when he tried to pass to either side, Fabio could shift his hips and turn more quickly than Mario. My jaw actually dropped when I saw it.

The funny thing is, I have seen Fabio do this a million times. He has done it TO ME in several grapples. But for some reason, it clicked for me tonight.

So, the next grapple I had after I saw that, I tried it. Fortunately, I was going with another white belt girl, so I had a fair chance. It worked!! She started to pass and I flipped upside down to an inverted guard. She just looked at me like, "Crap...what do I do now." Which is exactly what I do when other people do that to me. ;)

Small victory for the win!!

Now if only I can learn how to pass the inverted guard...grrrr. :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Popped Elbow

I popped a capsule in my elbow on Saturday morning. It was probably my own fault. I was rolling with a much bigger guy and he got me in an armbar. I rolled out of it, but he transitioned to an umaplata. I rolled out of that too and was just getting to my knees. But he still had my arm and, when he sat up to follow me, my elbow bent the wrong way.


Moral of the story. Tap text time? I honestly don't know what I should have done. I mean, I was out of the submission. I think it was just a freak accident.

I know it happens all the time. Honestly, it hasn't hurt that bad. Been icing it a lot. It's still sore today, still tight. I can straighten it all the way and bend it all the way, but it hurts at both extremes.

I probably already know the answer to this question, but should I train tonight? I really want to, but I don't want to be an idiot. Have you guys ever popped an elbow? How long did you wait before you trained again, if at all? How long did it take for you to feel 100% again?

In happier news, I had another small victory this week. When I started BJJ, I couldn't even run a solid mile without feeling like I was going to die. I ran with some of the teenagers in the youth group that my husband and I run (Big mistake. Why would I choose to do my first mile run since high school with a bunch of military school cadets???) and my mile lasted for over 12 minutes!!

Yesterday I ran with my friend Amy. She's insane. She runs five miles on her "short days". Anyway, I wanted to see if my mile had improved, so we ran. I finished in just under 10 minutes!! That's still not a great mile, but it is an improvement. We were running at a slow pace too because I have a gimp elbow and she had a groin injury. I might try again today and really push myself and see if I can finish in 8 minutes.

Lastly (sorry for the long post) had an awesome Christmas and can't wait for New Years! Hope you and your families had a great holiday! Here are a few holiday pictures from the McClish family!

This last one was at an ice sculpture display that attracts huge crowds down here. Only in Florida would people pay $25 to go into a room filled with ice!! ;) It was really pretty, though.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hitting the Plateu

Merry Christmas to all of you out in the blogosphere!

In an effort to fight off all the cookie-weight from the Christmas season, I've been to class every day except Sunday this week. In my rolls with everyone at Fabio's, I was noticing something. I'm not catching the same submissions I used to. And, while I am catching some new submissions--weird arm bars and omaplatas and a few sloppy leg locks--I am not getting very many submissions. In fact, I was going some classes without getting any at all. I have noticed a few improvements in my movement, like more sweeps and passes. But I was feeling frustrated because I felt like I wasn't improving with my submissions. It almost felt like I was regressing.

I talked to a few of my instructors, Ben and Mario, about it and he told me that this kind of thing is common. He said that likely my game is changing. People know my normal submissions and are defending them. That's probably why I'm not catching the same submissions I did before. Also, the higher belts are forcing me to work different things, which is good. They know I can do a traditional arm bar or triangle (not that I do them well. I still forget to squeeze my knees half the time.). So they're not going to just let me work them anymore. I am forced to try different things now if I don't want to get demolished.

So, even though it feel like I'm not improving, this is a necessary step if I want to see progress. Ben and Mario said this will happen over and over again and that it happens to everyone. The important thing, they told me, is that you keep working and don't get frustrated. Eventually, you'll start to feel like you're improving again.

Hope you guys have a happy and safe Christmas!! See you in the New Year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Intimidation Factor

Why is it that I am more intimidated to grapple a fellow white belt who is about to go blue than to grapple the purple and brown belts in our school?

I noticed this yesterday in class. Every time I grapple unfamiliar guys who are also white belts or who are blue belts that I don't normally grapple, I get really nervous. I know these guys from class, but I rarely roll with them. When I do, I usually end up not rolling as well as I should.

I think I realized what the probelm is. I'm worried about them thinking that I suck. I'm worried about them submitting me. I'm worried about catching submissions on them. When I'm rolling with purples and browns, the pressure is off. I EXPECT to be constantly defeated, so I just relax and try stuff. It's the same way with all the blue belts I normally grapple. I know they're better than me. So I just focus on moving and trying to use what little technique I know.

When I roll with a fellow white belt or a blue belt that I don't know very well, I feel a stupid amount of pressure to perform. Why? Who cares if another white belt taps me? And especially, who cares if another blue belt taps me. That's why I have the white belt--because I'm a beginner.

It seems like I keep coming back to this issue of trying to prove myself. And every time it happens, I suck for a few classes because I'm psyching myself out. Then I realize I need to relax. Then I do and finally I can roll normally again.

I'm a head case.

Anyway, we did a guard pass yesterday that was pretty cool. It's one of those leaping, cartwheel-y type ones that I probably won't use for a very long time. But it was fun to practice. Rolling was fun too, except for that one grapple where I let my head gt in the way. I grappled one of our purple belts, Joe Boxer, who is really fun to roll with. He rolled lighter than normal with me, giving me resistance and forcing me to move correctly, but basically letting me get into positions and try things.

I had "taken" his back and I had this rear naked choke. It was taking a long time. Nothing was happening. I was squeezing, I was filling my lungs with air. No tap. Since it is SUPPOSED to be a blood choke, I was 90% sure that I wasn' doing it right. So I turned my head to ask Fabio what I was doing wrong and I hear, "No Allison! Put your head back!" But it was too late. He got his head to the side and escaped. lol. Oh well. It wasn't like I legitimately got that choke anyway.

Impatience for the lose!!! ;)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How did I miss that?

Today in class, I got caught in the same choke twice. I was in half guard and went to take the guy's back. When I swam his arm, he hooked it and went for some choke. Still don't know the name of the choke.

I asked Fabio about it after class and he showed me the counter. It's a sweep, basically taking advantage of the fact that his arm is committed to the choke. It was so simple, I felt stupid that I didn't see the solution myself.

I've been shown so many things like this lately. It makes me realize that I need to be more aware of where my opponents body weight is and what limbs I can take out to make the person unbalanced. For some reason, I can see arm bars and omaplatas that aren't the "text book" set ups. But I am not seeing--or feeling--the sweeps.

That's going to be my focus in the next few weeks.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Grappling With No Hands

Tonight was another first for me. We practiced some take downs for the first part of class and then we grappled for the remainder with a twist. First, we grappled with one arm tied into our belts. Then we switched partners and the other person had to grapple one-armed. After that, we had to grapple with not hands, putting both wrists into our belt.

It was actually really fun. Difficult, but fun. It forced me to use my head and my body weight. And it forced me to move with my hips instead of pushing myself around with my arms. I was surprised that I could still control someone in my guard without using my hands, although I could not submit them. I did try to go for a triangle and I closed it, but I couldn't finish it. Really fun, really helpful class!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Jim Carey is a Black Belt

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Small Victories

We worked some basic scissor sweeps this morning, which was great. I haven't been shown a scissor sweep since my second or third class and I saw a lot of things today that I had been doing wrong.

It's funny because Ben (our Saturday morning instructor) was telling us that Fabio's style is to show us one or two moves with a bunch of variations each class. For example, we worked the scissor sweep all class long, but we did scissor sweep to an arm-bar, scissor sweep to taking the back, scissor sweep to inverted arm-bar, scissor sweep to arm bar to omaplata or triangle. Lots of information.

Even though our instructors know we only retain about 10% of the stuff they shows us, they keep on going, knowing that we'll see those moves again later down the road. The longer we go to class and the more times we see those moves (at different points in our BJJ development) the more we will pick up. As it is, what little we do retain gives us a bigger arsenal than would a class that focused only on teaching the basics until they we had them down.

What do you guys think about that strategy? Do your schools do it differently?

Grappling today went really well. I'm going through one of those spurts where I'm finally able to incorporate some things that I've been working on for a while. Today, my victory was something small. I was finally able to sweep a guy who outweighs me by 80 lbs. For me, that was huge. I've been trying really hard to work on not staying in guard or half-guard the whole time and I'm finally starting to see some improvement in that area. Instead of falling into guard when I'm in trouble, I get to my knees and stay neutral. Instead of sitting in half-guard, I'm aggressively looking to sweep or take the back. And when I do find myself in guard--which I still feel the most confident in--I look for sweeps and sometimes get them.

When I grapple with guys who are bigger than me (which is about 80% of the time) I still end up on my back a lot of the time. But I'm still happy to see some small sign that I'm moving forward.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Leg Over Thingy

Didn't want to go to class this afternoon. I was up until 4 a.m. last night. Couldn't sleep. But I went anyway and I'm really glad. It ended up being one of the best days of rolling that I've had in a long time. I think it's because I was so tired that it relaxed me. I was expecting to get tapped (I'm usually one of only a few white belts on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons), so I was just rolling.

The other thing is that I think I finally was able to shrug off all the pressure I was putting on myself to perform. After NAGA, my grappling turned to crap and I couldn't figure out why. I think it was because I was wanting to keep the good opinion of my fellow teammates. So I was putting all this pressure on myself. Instead of doing well, I was ruining my game by being to concerned about how good or bad I was rolling.

Finally, I realized that I just needed to relax. I'm still a crappy white belt. I will be for a while. And who cares about what other people think. I am not doing this for them. I'm doing it because I love BJJ.

Anyway, we worked a weird, leg-over choke that you get when you're sitting out in side control. Really love this choke. The cool thing about it is that if you set it up right, you also have both arms trapped. So if you lose the choke with your leg, you can still apply an armbar to either arm right from where you are. I wish I could explain what it looks like, but I fail at explaining moves. Even if the person rolls, you can still get the choke or the whichever arm bars. I am going to make this a part of my game if it kills me!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Passing the Guard

Worked some butterfly guard passes today, which was fun since I haven't worked with butterfly guard hardly at all. I experiment with it in grappling sometimes with limited success. ;) We did two passes. The first one involved basically doing a cartwheel over the person, using your shoulder against their abs. The other one involved passing one of the legs on the outside, sitting out and moving into side control.

Enjoyed it, but didn't get to practice it a lot. There was a new girl that came to class today and I ended up being her crash test dummy for most of the drilling time. Really liked her. I think she will be someone who will stick with it, because she is really motivated and isn't gun shy about trying anything. Hope she keeps coming back.

When we started rolling, I went with one of the blue belts. My friend Phil was watching me and made the accurate comment that I rely to heavily on my guard game. Shocking, I know. He challenged me to not pull guard at all during my next grapple.
I went with a fellow white belt. It was really hard! I didn't realize how much of a habit I had made out of falling back into guard. I took side control a couple of times, but got caught in half guard when I tried to go to mount.

I got out of half guard a couple of times, but the third time ended up on the bottom in half guard. My instinct was to free my leg and return to guard. That is what I normally do in that situation. Or, if I can't free my leg, I try to sweep or take the person's back. Unfortunately, the person I was grappling with had a solid base and my only two options were to take her back or pull guard. The side that I could have taken her back on was right next to the wall. Literally. I couldn't go that way. So my only option was to try to pull guard, but I didn't want to do that. Oh well. Pulling guard isn't horrible. I just need to work on doing other things as well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Running on Fumes

Step One in toughening up mentally: Keep grappling even when I feel like I have nothing left.

In Tuesday afternoon's class we did four ten minute grapples. I went against Fabio first, a blue belt next, then a purple belt and then another blue belts. Needless to say, I was tired. In fact, I was tired about six minutes into my first grapple. I remember thinking during my third grapple against the purple belt, "Just keep breathing and moving."

Then, in the night class, I went against all higher belts again: one brown belt, a blue belt and a 3 stripe white belt. I've noticed that since the tournaments my instructors have been going harder on me. Not "mean" hard. The intensity has definitely gone up, though. I take that as a good thing. They wouldn't be doing that unless they thought I could handle it....I hope. ;) Anyway, I got really tired again in my last grapple against one of my instructor, Mario. I was trying to survive, so I just focused on defense. It was either that or get choked out.

This is something the tournaments have shown me. I need to push forward even when my muscles are telling me they're done. It's mind over matter. Yes I'm tired. Yes I'm breathing hard. Yes my arms feel like jello. But I can still keep going. And, if my technique is strong, I can still defend and even get to a dominant position and attack.

The key for me is staying calm. If I start to think about how tired I am, I start to defeat myself. If I just keep my head in the game and keep moving, I find that I can go for a lot longer than I thought was possible.

Monday, November 23, 2009

2009 NAGA Boca Raton, FL

My first NAGA. I took so much away from this tournament. I only competed two weeks ago at De la Riva, so you'd think I would have learned most of my weaknesses. Not so much. ;) Only, at this tournament, my biggest weakness was my mental game, not my physical game.

Having said that, here are the results. No-gi was first. I managed to take 1st place!! :) Here are a couple of my fights:

First no-gi fight. My camera battery runs out right at the end, but I did win this match.

Second no-gi match. Glad I dropped down to 134! This girl felt so light after rolling with the heavy guys in my class.

There were only five girls competing in gi. This is the same girl I fought in my first match in no-gi. And I lost. This is where the mental failure came in for me.

I am still kicking myself for this fight. My head was not in the right place when I walked onto the mat. It's hard to explain what happened. When I went into no-gi, I was actually not that nervous. I was excited, confident. Then, after I won, for some reason I suddenly got ridiculously nervous. It makes no sense. And then, during that fight, when she passed my guard I panicked. I might have been able to win that fight had I not freaked out and lost focus. Oh well. It happens.

Overall, I am really happy with the way things turned out. Again, learned a lot. One of the main things I need to improve on technically is taking the back when someone is pinning me in half guard. In that last fight, I remember trying to hip out, but I didn't hip out enough.

There's another NAGA coming up in February. I might sit this one out. Not sure yet. But I am going to train as if I am going to participate. My focus between now and then will be the following:

1. Take-downs. I pulled guard in every fight. It was a safe strategy, I guess. But I could get two points and start out on the top. But I could also get injured or taken down myself. Still going to work on take downs.

2. Sweeps. Did a little better with sweeps in this tournament, but still need to get better.

3. Positions!! I am seeing a little improvement with me not sitting in guard the whole time, but my game plan in class will be to pass guard and get side control or mount. I will not stay on bottom all fight long. ;)

Any other suggestions on things I really need to work on?

Here are a few photos:

I have some of the most supportive, awesome coaches on the planet. Here's me and Fabio.

And me and Ben

Here are a lot of the guys and gals from Fabio Novaes BJJ and Brotherhood BJJ, which is a combination of a few local schools.

Friday, November 20, 2009


The weigh in is tonight. 134.9 is the cut off and this morning I am at 135.2 with my clothes on. I plan to dehydrate all day. Hopefully that gets me the extra few ounces I need to get below the cut off! I'm already happy because I haven't weighed in this small since before I got married. Body by Jiu-jitsu, people! ;)

I am trying not to be nervous. I have my game plan in mind. It's not fancy, but I feel like it is something realistic that I can pull off against an opponent of my size and skill level. Pull guard (or take down if the girl seems crappy and I think I can pull it off). Once in guard, work either and armbar, a triangle, a gi choke or an omaplata. If I see a sweep, take it and move into side control or mount. Work submissions from there. Pretty basic.

Hopefully at NAGA there will be enough girls that I can actually fight in my weight class and skill division. At De la Riva, not only was I outweighed, but everyone there had 5 months or more experience on me. I'm hoping that this time I will actually get to fight girls who are my size (or at least within 20 lbs of it!) and around my same skill level.

Also, my husband is coming with us. It will be the first time he has seen me grapple. I am kind of nervous. I don't want to suck in front of him. ;) I am trying to keep my mind disciplined. I want to approach each math like a regular grapple; try not to think about who is watching or what they think of me. The people at my school aren't going to disown me if I lose. And I don't have enough room in my thoughts to be worried about what people are thinking while I am trying to work positions. I need to just focus on what I'm doing and not worry about trying to impress people.

Easier said than done. We'll see what happens.

Monday, November 16, 2009

One Week Out

NAGA is this Saturday and I am not feeling prepared. I wonder if I will ever go into a tournament feeling prepared. lol.

Right now, I have several small, nagging injuries. My knee still slips out. I'm going to have it looked at after this weekend. My right trap hurts for some reason. It's weird because it hurts when I'm just sitting still more than when I'm actually moving my arm or grappling. The backs of my thighs are extremely sore, though I have no clue what exercise/drill/grappling sitation was the culprit.

Training is going alright. After De la Riva, I have a more solid game plan. Pull guard and either work an arm bar, a triangle, a gi choke or an omaplata. (Did I mention that I finally have started being able to use omaplatas in grappling!! It randomly clicked for me the other night. I was so excited!) I learned a few techniques for using my knees to get someone's arm out of the way when they're trying to break my guard so I can get a triangle, armbar or an omaplata. I am still not solid on sweeps, but if I see one, take it. In the last several classes my focus is going to continue to be sweeps. But I feel like I will revert back to my guard game when push comes to shove. We'll see what happens.

On top of all that, I am still 3 pounds away from my goal of 133lbs. I know I can do it, but I'm not looking forward to the week of calorie deprivation. I feel like my body needs some rest, but I can't afford to cut out cardio right now if I want to drop those last 3 pounds.

Speaking of calories, I had a lot of them last night. :) We had a random bonfire in our backyard and I ate betterchedders. Holy cheesy deliciousness, Batman. Why did I do that to myself??? Here are some pictures of my night of delicious tresspassing.

This is my son, Noah. He's four and he loves marshmallows more than life itself.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Videos from the De la Riva Tournament.

Here's my one and only gi fight. Not to spoil the ever so exciting ending, but I lose. ;) The girl I fought had 8 months experience in BJJ and several years experience in kick boxing, though I'm not sure if that gave her any further advantage in this competition. She was a really nice girl. Hope to run into her again at the next tournament.

Here was my first no-gi fight. The girl had over a year experience and had come to this same tournament last year. Man, watching these videos shows me how horrible my take downs are. All I did was pull guard in every fight!

Here's my second no-gi fight. This girl weighed over 200 lbs. And she said she'd been taking BJJ for 2 years.

My last fight was against Tanya again, the girl I fought in gi. It's pretty boring. She passes my guard and I get her in half guard and we literally sit there until the very end of the fight when I finally get tired and she passes to side control. No submissions. I was really disappointed because I had learned all those half guard sweeps and then couldn't pull off a single one. In my defense, I had three fights in a row with only a few minutes break between and I was completely gassed. Still, I should have been able to pull off a sweep. Oh well! Keep training for next time! Coaches are going to be focusing on a lot of sweeps over the next few weeks. Hopefully I can actually execute them in grapples.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

De la Riva!!

Me, Stephanie and Phil

Me and Fabio. I love me some Fabio! He's the best!

Our other instructors, Mario (blue belt) and Ben (brown belt). And the other brown belt who trains at Fabio's, Paul. These guys are awesome. Mario and Ben are the ones that really got Stephanie and I into Jiu-jitsu.

So, I survived my first tournament!!

Man, I am so glad I went. De la Riva was small as far as tournaments go--or so I am told. I wouldn't know, considering that this is the only one I've been to--but it definitely gave me a taste for what competitions are like and what I should expect at NAGA.

I fought gi and no gi, and had very different experiences in both. Only 5 girls showed up to the competition, one being myself and another being my best friend and sister-in-law Stephanie. Our school has a policy that our students don't fight each other. Steph and I were more than happy to embrace that policy, but that left us with only 3 competetors.

None of them were in our division as far as amount of time training goes. They were all white belts, but the one with the least amount of experience had been traing for 8 months and had been trained as a kick boxer for several years. She, at least, was in our weight class. The other two outweighed Steph and I by a lot. One of them weighed 209 pounds and had been training over two years.

We fought gi first and I had the unhappy luck to go against the kick boxer girl. She was easily the best out of everyone there and the fight went like this. I pulled guard from take down and tried to get chokes, tried to get an arm bar. But she defended the arm bar and I pulled guard again. Then, evetually, she passed my guard and got side control. I got half guard back, but I could not, for the life of me, sweep her.

That was something that disappointed me in all of my matches. How many sweeps have I learned over the past week? It seems like a million. And how many was I able to pull of at the tournament? Maybe one or two. Booo! ;)

Anyway, the girl won by points. And I didn't get another fight in gi. She was really nice, so I didn't mind losing to her that much. Hopefully I'll get another chance against her in the future. She struck me as someone who would be fun to train with.

After that first fight, I was really demoralized. I almost let it ruin my whole day. But I went off by myself, gave myself a talking to about not having a pity party and came back ready to fight in no-gi. I was really intimidated considering I had already lost to one girl and had seen Steph go against one of the other girls.

But No-gi ended up going a whole lot better for me. My first fight was against a girl who had been training a little over a year and who had about 25 pounds on me. But I was able to get a lot of points for positions and ended up submitting her with an arm bar.

My next fight was against the big girl with 2 years experience. That was a tough fight. But all of my training with Phil--who weighs about the same as that girl and use to weigh more before he dropped weight for the tournament--really paid off!! I was able to breathe even when she was putting all her weight on me and I was able to move out from under her and get side control. I honestly can't remember if I won just by points or by submission. I'll have to go back and watch the video when I go to Steph's house. I know I had her arm and I refused to let go. I just kept repositioning when she moved. I think the time ran out while I was still trying to finish that arm.

My last match was against that same kick boxer girl. I did better my second time against her. Again, I pulled guard. Again she tried to pass. I can't remember if she got side control at any point. Most of the fight was spend with me holding half guard and trying to sweep and her trying to escape half guard and trying to choke me. I was so gassed at the point, it was all I could do just to hold onto half guard. I ended up taking second place in no-gi, so i wasn't that bad.

Endruance training before NAGA, anyone?

The best thing about this tournament is that I learned a lot about what I need to work on:

My takedowns are absolute crap. All I could do was pull guard!

I know sweeps, but I am not executing them correctly. I guess I just don't have the timing down right. I'll be working hard on them in the next two weeks.

As I feared, I relied too much on my guard game. I have to get more comfortable in side control and mount.

But all in all, I am really happy with how things went. Learned a lot. Had a blast seeing my teammates compete. My coahces-- Fabio, Ben and Mario--are so awesome. They were right there screaming at me during the fight, encouraging me, pushing me on. I feel extremely blessed to be a part of Fabio's school.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tournament Day...EEP!

Getting ready to head out. EXCITED. Can't say much else right now. :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Game Plan

I came up with a list of attacks I feel comfortable with from each position. I only picked things that I've actually used in grappling. Some of these I have attempted several times, but haven't finished them, so I put a "*" by them.

From Guard
- Arm bar
- Triangle
- Gi choke *
- kimura
- elbow press/armbar thing (lol I don't know the names for a lot of stuff)

From Mount

- Armbar
- Americana
- Gi choke
- Ezekiel
- Arm Triangle

Side Control
- Armbar
- Kimura
- Arm triangle *
- gi choke

Back Mount
- Rear Naked Choke

Half Guard
- gi choke *
- kimura

Turtle (when someone else turtles)
- gi choke

So, I don't have a lot of variety in my moves. Lots of armbars. Lots of gi chokes. I don't usually catch higher belts in kimuras, but I catch white belts in them, so I'm hoping I'll get someone who isn't ready for one.

As you can see, my submissions from back mount, half guard and turtling are really weak. I think what I'll do if I get there is look for submissions but also look more for transitions into other positions I feel more comfortable in.

The other thing that troubles me is that I feel the most confident--by far--when I'm working from guard. The vast majority of my submissions when I grapple both white belts and higher belts are done from guard. The thing that worries me about it is that I've gotten into the bad habit of falling into guard or pulling someone into my guard during a grapple when I could sweep to mount or side control instead. I could give up points that way.

This week I tried to be conscious of not falling unnecessarily into guard and trying to end up either in side control or mount. But I feel like I have to think too much when I get there. That's especially true in side control. People curl up and I sit there like, "Uhhh....what now." I end up either trying to circle and cause them to move so I can catch something or I try to muscle an armbar out of them. Mount is a little better. But I just feel like everything I do from guard is so much more automatic, you know?

Fabio has been pounding into my head that the most important thing is to keep moving and to transition when I've lost something. If I go for a triangle and lose it, transition to the armbar. If I am losing guard and they're trying to pass, let go and take the back or get to a neutral position. Keep moving and wait until you see a submission. Don't try to force everything. Go with the flow.

Sigh...If only I were flow-ier!! :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

One Week Out

Only 7 days from my first tournament! I'm getting really excited. And really nervous.

I was told the best thing to do is to train light this week: come to class, do the warm-ups and drills, but sit out on the grappling. I think that's good advice, especially since I am feeling worn down right now. I am on the verge of getting sick, I think. Chugging a lot of vitamin c and trying to get extra sleep.

As far as class goes, we worked yet MORE half guard stuff. We learned a couple submissions from half-guard and another sweep. It's amazing to me how many different sweeps I've learned just in the past few weeks. I actually like working from half-guard and guard, so I've been really enjoying all the new info. Unfortunately, many of them are running together in my brain. I think I'm going to look a bunch of them up on YouTube just to get them all straight.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Floppy, Dead Fish.

Paul, a brown belt at Fabios, spent some extra time after class last night working with me on passing guard from a neutral position. I grappled with him twice during class and during those rolls and while he was working with me after class, he quickly discovered that I have a dismal base. He can flop me around like a dead fish.

So, he tweaked some of my problems and gave me some more passing-guard pointers. I feel like he showed me several things that I will actually be able to remember while grappling.

It's awesome when a higher belt really takes extra time to look at a newbie's game and help them out. I know we can be spastic and annoying, but I find that I learn the most when I have someone watching exactly what I'm doing, stopping me and showing me what I did wrong and why it matters. Thanks to all you higher belts for having patience with us lowbies!!

During actual class, we worked yet another half guard sweep. I LOVE it when our classes all link together like this. If I can't get a sweep from half guard at this point there is something wrong with my brain. We've also been working on some sweeps from mount and a few from guard. So, I feel much more confident in my knowledge of sweeps. My ability to apply them mid-grapple is another matter entirely. :) We'll see how it goes.

The De la Riva cup is coming up on the 7th of November ( and I am getting excited. Also, I only have 3 more pounds to lose so I can drop into the next weight class for N.A.G.A. on the 21st. The only concern I have is that I might injure myself at De la Riva and then miss out on N.A.G.A. I already have a knee injury--one of my ligaments in my right knee got stretched when a kid did a take-down on me. I talked to my instructors about it and they showed me a couple of take-downs that will protect my knees.

Alright. Guess I'll return to the real world. Taking my son to a Trunk or Treat thing tonight. He is dressing up as Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Passing the Guard

Last night Ben and Mario made us do some pretty funny warm up drills. In one, we had to jump into guard on a partner who was standing up and climb all the way around to their back and then to the front again, only breaking guard for a few moments to shift out hips. They also made us do sit-ups hanging from guard while the other person balanced our weigt.

It ended up coming in handy for the position we worked on. It was a guard pass that involves standing up and actually picking someone up off the ground, kind of sitting on an invisible chair and using their weight as a balance. Then you break the guard and pass.

We worked a couple variations of that pass, to be used depending on the situation. I like that about the positions we learn. We usually only work one type of position, but cover several variations of it. It's easier for me to remember and it makes me think about the types of grappling situations in which I would actually use them.

Grappling went fairly well. Went against two pretty good guys and I was on defense most of the time. With the first guy, I was happy that he only passed my half guard once. And, as has been my goal, I was able to get out from under him and back to a neutral position several times. I didn't try many submissions except for a few triangles that I couldn't finish. But then again he didn't submit me either so I must have been doing something right.

The second guy was a different story. I had a much harder time keeping him from passing my guard. In fact, he was trying to help me and to make me pass his guard (from starting out) over and over again, and I got frustrated because I wasn't passing effectively at all. I think I've gotten too reliant on my one pass. I need to branch out and try other pass techniques.

Good night, but I think I'm going to take a day to rest. My body is feeling worn down and beat up.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I got to roll with Fabio tonight for the first time since I've started coming to his school. There is only one word to describe how he grapples: effortless. Everything he does is smooth, nothing is forced. He just goes with whatever I do and reacts.

Ben always says Jiu-jitsu is like a chess match and with Fabio I can really see it. Every move I make, he gets the most advantageous position, moving me into a more disadvantaged position until I am in a submission. It was really cool.

We worked on more half guard sweeps, focusing mainly on making space in order to get in position to do the sweeps. But after class, he took aside me, Steph, Jen and a younger girl named Haleigh and taught us a sweep to get out of mount when a guy is holding down both of our wrists. The sweep also leads conveniently into a heel hook. Very helpful.

Rolling tonight wasn't that eventful. I went with all smaller or newer girls (we've had a lot showing up lately). I did get to roll with Jen, which is always a good, solid learning experience. But I've noticed the last few classes, I keep getting put with the small girls and I basically let them work submissions while I work defense.
I know that is what all the higher belts do for me and I actually enjoy helping the new girls learn what little I have to show them, but I left wishing I had gotten one or two good, challenging rolls, you know? I also wonder if Fabio is putting me with them because he thinks I can't handle the guys. Don't know the answer to that one.

Anyway, good class. Now I'm tired and disgusting. Shower then bed. :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

House of Pain!

A word of advice: Any time a Marine tells you that he's planning to put your BJJ class through the "House of Pain", take him at his word.

This past Saturday, when I came into class, the whole atmosphere was different. Neither of our instructors wore their gis. And Mario, who is normally soft spoken and friendly, was in Marine mode. He was all business.

I smelled something burning. When I asked Mario, what it was he smiled and said, "It's the heater." We live in Florida and, even though it's October, there has been no heater-worthy weather yet this year. It wasn't until my other instructor, Ben, told Mario to turn it up a little higher that I realized why.

House of Pain.

They had stations set up all around the room with a boxing ring taped into the middle of the mat. Mario went over the few strikes that we know: lead hand jabs, rear hand punches, upper cuts, hooks, etc. Then he explained we would be going through the circuit and taking turns boxing in the center for two minutes each against him. There would be no head shots, only body shots, and we would be wearing gloves and protective gear. The House of Pain would go until everyone had been through the whole circuit and had their two minutes against Mario OR until someone hit Mario hard enough to end the House of Pain. If anyone at any of the stations got caught flaking out on their assigned station, 30 seconds would be added onto the clock for the guy in the middle and everyone else on the circuits.

Everyone was intimidated. Mario isn't a big guy, but he is definitely tough. Especially when he has his game face on.

They turned off most of the lights and then we started. I was surprised that Mario was yelling at the people in the ring. "Come on, Fighter! Hit me! Come on!" I got to see most of my team mates go before I did. Mario was obviously not going all out, but he was still taking shots. I think everyone got the wind popped out of them at least once.

My turn was no different. I wanted to give it all I had, so I came out aggressive. It was my first experience with this sort of thing and it was weird to have Mario yelling at me and punching me. Once, he popped me hard right in the gut. Boom. Couldn't breath. Mario's yelling at me. "Can you keep fighting, fighter? Can you fight?" As soon as I said yes, the fight started again.

I was both surprised and disappointed by how fast I got winded. We only went for 2 minutes. By by the end of the first minute, I was gassed. It gives me a new appreciation for boxers! Not only did I get winded fast, but all the technique Mario taught us about punching went right out the window. I was trying to think about what I was doing, but everything was going so fast. That's what practice and muscle memory are for, I guess!

After everyone had gone through, Mario turned the lights and the AC on (that you Lord) and had us all sit down. He read us a story about a Marine who led men throughout the night defending an area against an enemy attack, despite several serious injuries to himself. The guy went on fighting even after he was tired because he knew his own life and the lives of him men would be ended if he quit. He also reminded us that we are a team. Everyone who trains together should be working to help each other, not competing against one another.

After that, we worked 3 similar sweeps to use when someone stands up, holding onto your legs. I don't remember if there's a specific name for when someone does that. ;) Then we grappled. Because of the House of Pain, we only got two grapples in, but I was happy with how they went.

Safe to say I was exhausted by the end of the class.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Since When Did I Start Wanting to be Heavy?

We only worked one technique tonight: a half-guard pass to side control tonight. A lot of it hinges on driving your weigh forward and keeping it on the person while you perform the pass. This whole keeping-my-weight on people has been a challenge for me.

I guess it's my instinct not to want to keep my body plastered onto someone or to put my full weight onto them, but that is exactly what I have to do. I've been striving to learn to keep all my holds tight and to keep my body weight driving into the other person the whole time. Still, my instructors are constantly having to tell me, "Keep you hips low," or "Don't rest on your elbows," etc, etc.

Still, tonight I got a compliment after a grapple that made me laugh. "Hey, you were really heavy on me that time." If anyone said that to me outside of Jiu-jitsu, I'd probably cry. But I was really happy to hear that I made someone uncomfortable with my body weight. Haha! It's funny to me how Jiu-jitsu is changing the way I think about my body. I no longer want to be stick thin. I want to be strong and in shape. No, I don't want to be mannish. But I want to be lean and strong.

After working on the guard pass, we spent the entire rest of class grappling. Fabio had us going for 7 minutes each grapple and I was happy to find that I wasn't terribly winded at the end of each one. Of course, I went with several high belts who were trying to help me, so I wasn't going all out. They were trying to help me learn to transition between submissions. "You lost the arm bar, go for the triangle. Now transition to the uma plata." I'm still really slow at seeing the transitions. I think I broadcast what I'm about to do hours before I actually do it. ;)

One small victory tonight was that I did see a transition during a grapple that I usually miss. I was going to an arm bar they did a gable grip and so I tried to do a wrist lock. I was surprised that it actually worked!

Overall, good night tonight. Can't wait to do it again tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Feeling a Little Smothered.

I grappled a guy yesterday afternoon who was relatively new to BJJ (I think. I have no idea how long he's been training) and who just locked me up and tried to beat me up with his weight the whole time while were grappling. He wasn't getting any submissions because either he didn't know how or wasn't trying to. And the positions he was locking me up in weren't working towards submissions either. Whichever way I moved, he just latched onto me and slammed his body down on top of me. If we were being scored, he probably would have won because of the fact that he was in a dominant position most of the time. Though I was able to keep him from passing my guard until the last few minutes. I kept catching him in half guard, but for some reason I couldn't sweep him and eventually he busted through my half guard and got in side control, where he remained for the rest of the grapple.

The thing that frustrated me so much was that I lost control of my emotions while I was grappling. He was being rough, but I should have been able to handle it. At one point I almost started crying. I kept telling myself not to freak out, to relax and just think. He had me locked up, but apart from slamming his body weight into me, he wasn't actually hurting me. I felt like I couldn't move under that guy's weight. He was pinning me down and locking me up and I knew I needed to sweep him, but I felt like I couldn't move. I guess I was so worked up and frustrated that my game went down the crapper.

On the upside, I did well in my other grapples. Though, I was still on defense the vast majority of the time since I went against almost all higher belts. That doesn't bother me. I expect to be on defense against higher belts. What bothered me so much was that I lost my cool, you know?

Oh well. I'm sure I'll have another chance to grapple that guy and next time, I'm going to relax and let him tire himself out locking me up. I just need to stay cool and look for an opportunity to sweep or hip out.

It was really frustrating.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dropping Weight

So, NAGA is fast approaching and I'm trying to make some decisions. Right now, I weight around 138-139, depending on the day. As it stands right now, I will be at the very bottom of the middle weight class (135lbs and above). The next weight class is only 3-4 pounds away. 5 to be on the safe side. The question is, should I bust my butt to lose another 5 pounds? OR should I not worry about that?

Class last night was awesome. We worked mainly on sweeps from half guard. I was able to use one in a grapple, but I need to be looking for them more. I'm way to comfortable being on the bottom, working from guard. I'll keep working!

Today, I have two classes, one in the afternoon and one tonight. I'm wondering if I might be training too much. Lately, I've been going to four classes a week, plus grappling outside of class with friends at my house. I'm loving every minute of it and I don't feel sore or injured. But I do kind of feel like I have trouble remembering all the different techniques I learn during the week. The steady grappling is really helpful, though.

Also, I found out there is another small competition coming up on the 5th of November in my area. It's a small name competition, but I'm considering competing. It would be a way to get my feet wet and maybe get some practice in for NAGA. Only thing is, I'm worried I could get myself injured in this small competition and then miss NAGA. And that would be really frustrating.

Decisions, decisions. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Going Mental

I had a great afternoon today. Fabio has a Thursday afternoon class and it's usually much smaller than the evening classes. Today, only myself and one other guy showed up. So I basically got a private with Fabio. Which is pretty much awesome.

We worked a lot of stuff--armbars from about every position imaginable, mount escapes, taking the back from half guard--but the most helpful thing that I am taking away from today's lesson is that I roll so much better when I'm not worrying about how good or bad I am doing. If I just relax and move and focus on what I am doing and stop thinking about what everyone else is thinking, things go so much easier!

Things are coming along. It's slow progress, but steady, I think. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wish I could get one of these!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Last night was a great night on the mat at Fabio's. I didn't do anything amazing, but I had a lot of fun and learned a lot.

I rolled with a purple belt, one who used to be an instructor at Summerlin. He was doing all kinds of crazy gymnastics all over the place. At one point, he was working a submission with his belt. I laughed the whole roll, except when I was trying desperately not to get choked out or folded in half.

I'm trying to just stay relaxed while I roll and just try stuff. I can't tell you how many submissions I tried and had to abort last night because I didn't get them exactly right. But, right now, the movement is really what I'm focusing on. I want to be able to solidly defend myself and get into a dominant position. The submissions kind of show up after that.

My instructors are tweaking my submissions all the time. It amazes me that one tiny detail can mean the difference between a competed choke and a bunch of wasted time and energy. Hopefully one day all those details that I try so hard to remember will come as second nature.

One thing I seem to fail at is triangle escapes. It's really difficult for me to break out once someone has me in one of those. We worked to different escapes last night and, when my partner was really trying to hold the triangle, I couldn't get out. Oh well. Keep working. :)

Also, I am still dropping weight steadily. I'm losing about a pound a week. I'm only 4 pounds away from my goal of 134! I have over a month left, so I am confident that I can get there if I just keep watching what I eat and keep up with my cardio and training.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Advice for First Time Competetors

No, I'm not giving advice. That would be funny. And dumb since I've never gone to a tourney. But here's a blog that has a lot of great advice. Enjoy!

How Fast?

How fast should I be progressing?

When do I not have an excuse anymore for my sloppy guard passes, poor base, non-tight position holds and crappy submission attempts? I've been taking Jiu-jitsu only two months. That's what everyone says. But when will my status as a beginner no longer cover over the fact that I'm not very good.

I'm not good yet. In five or six years, I hope I will be able to say that I am good at Jiu-jitsu. Right now, I feel like I know the very basics and that, in a real street fight, I might be able to defend myself enough to get away. But against other people who know Jiu-jitsu? Even against other white belts who have been taking class about six or seven months or more? They all own me.

Phil, one of my good friends that I practice with all the time, has only been taking class a little longer than Steph and I. Now, granted, he does outweigh me by a lot. Almost 80 lbs. But he is better than me not just because he outweighs me, but because he is picking up the technique faster than me.

I think he is better at just using his whole body on a person. He keeps his weight on them while he's passing from one position to the next. I leave too much space. That's what the higher belts were telling me at yesterdays practice. I leave too much space.

So I need to tighten up. But more than that, I just need to lighten up. I know I am being a perfectionist. I want to be good NOW but getting good takes time. So I need to just relax (how many times have I said that in this blog?) and just try to learn and grow.

On the positive side, I am noticing that my defense is getting better. It pretty much has to since everyone that I roll with at Fabios is better than me. But I desperately need to work on sweeps. I've been saying that for a while and haven't gotten any better at it.

Ok. I just posted this blog and then scrolled down. Two posts ago, I was talking about how I just got a stripe and now I am complaining about not being good enough. One stripe isn't amazing, but it shows I am making progress. So STOP COMPLAINING ALLIE!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Balance is something I always stuggle with. And I'm not just talking about my base.

I was in the hospital yesterday and the day before for an allergic reaction that was so bad my throat and lungs started to close up. But today, instead of relaxing and taking it easy, I went to an afternoon BJJ class. And I intend to go to the evening class tonight.

Why? Because there is something wrong with my brain.I am out of balance.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Nerd alert. I'm really excited. I got my first stripe today in Jiu-jitsu. Steph and Phil also got one. Woohoo! It felt really good. I know one stripe on a white belt doesn't make me epic or anything, but it's nice to know that I am at least making progress. They took some pics in class, but I don't have them yet. Here are a few we took at my house.


Also, I hurt my knee today doing a take down. Obviously that's something I need to work on before NAGA. I'll add it to the list. ;)

Oh, and also, I'm down to 139lbs! Yay! Only 5 more to go before I reach that goal I set. The cool thing is, I haven't been insane about the dieting. I'e been watching what I eat, but I've been a doing a ton of exercise what with all the classes I've been going to and the jogging and strength training. So, even though the weight loss has been going at a glacial pace, I feel like it will be something I can maintain even after NAGA, since I'm not depriving myself of food. Yay!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Intimidation Factor

I think I'm working through the whole intimidation thing. My last few classes have gone pretty well and I rolled better than I have been rolling in a while. I just focused on letting go of worrying about how good or bad other people think I am and just focusing on trying to learn.

So far, it's working out well.

Friday, September 25, 2009


I've been thinking too much when I grapple lately. Especially when I am intimidated by my opponent. Especially when the opponent I am intimidated by is bigger and better than me at BJJ.

Instead of going with the flow and concentrating on looking for sweeps and submissions and things, I am thinking about how I am going to get pummeled. It's retrded.

So no more.

Tonight, me, Steph and Phil are all going to Fabios and my goal while I am there is to not let myself get intimidated. The people who are bigger and better than me are going to roll me. I should just get over it and try to learn through it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Guard Pass and Sweeps

The doctor never got back to me about my rib. But earl`ier this week, I woke up and it wasn't hurting anymore. God is good! :) So I've been training like normal. Every now and then it gets a little sore, but nothing like it was. I think what happened is that I popped it out and then, when Phil cracked my back, he popped it back into place.

Anyway, last night at class Mario and Ben taught us a few more take downs. We've been working on different ones the last several weeks and I have to say, my take downs are really weak. So are my guard passes and sweeps. I really need to up my practice in those areas.

I don't really like training for take downs outside of class just because I know take downs are where a lot of injuries occur. And if we're doing them wrong, we're a lot more likely to hurt each other. Save those for class. But guard passes and sweeps are fine to practice outside of class, I think.

The beginning of the fight, when I'm looking at someone who is basically sitting there waiting for me to attack, is one of the most intimidating things for me. Especially if they have their legs out in front. Last night, I learned two ways to pass guard when people have their legs in front and I found another one this morning that looks manageable. I'd like to know how to do two or three really well so that I can pick one depending on the situation in each fight.

That's the other thing I've been trying to work on in grappling: Going with the flow and adapting to what my opponent is doing. They're not always going to be in the text-book position for me to get an arm-bar or to perform a perfect guard pass the exact way we practiced it in class. I have to be able to adapt, to see a weakness and move on it. I can rely on the same technique, just in a slight variation. So far, my brain moves really slow in this area. Hopefully one day I'll be able to think quicker in my grappling.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yeah, I'll hold.

I hurt my rib on the second day of jiu-jitsu class about a month ago. It wasn't that big a deal. Just sore and tender when pressure was put on it. I thought I maybe bruised it. Then, a few days ago, I was a moron and I asked Phil to crack my back. He did. And my rib popped.

I don't know if it just popped out of place or actually broke. I went in three days ago and got an x-ray, but I have yet to hear anything definitive back from the doctor's office. I did receive a call from a nurse informing me that I have scoliosis. But, as I've known that since the 5th grade, that really wasn't helpful. I asked the nurse if my rib was broken--you know, since that is why I had the x-ray done and all--and her response was, "Uhhh....I'm going to have the doctor call you back."

I'm still waiting on that call.

What is frustrating is that I don't know if I can still train. If my rib is just dislodged, then I can keep training and not have to really worry about it. I'll take it light, but I don't have to quit all together for six weeks like I'll have to if my rib is actually broken.

I went to class on Tuesday and, though I sat out of some of the take-down exercises, I participated in the rest of class and even grappled at the end. My rib was sore, but the pain was easily manageable. I just wish I knew whether it was broken or not.If it is, I'll have to hold off from grappling for at least 6 weeks. That lands me with no grappling until only a few weeks before NAGA.


There's really nothing I can do about it except pray in faith and let go of my desire to control the situation. It is out of my hands. What will be will be. I just hate waiting to find out what will be.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I think--note the "think" and not the "know"--that I'm slowly getting better at defense. Lately Steph and I have been grappling with two guys from our class, Phil and Josh. It's really been helping me improve in all areas, but especially in defense.

Phil and Josh easily outweigh me by 70-80 pounds, plus they've been taking Jiu-jitsu longer than me, so trying to move when they have their whole body weight crushing me is really difficult. I'm nowhere near close to getting submissions on either of them, but I am at least moving better and looking less like a rag doll getting pretzeled on the floor.

Baby steps, people.

Also, I almost jogged a whole mile without walking today. I did walk once, but only for about ten seconds and then I started jogging again. That's already an improvement from the last time I tried to jog a mile. It's crazy for me to think about people who run twenty or thirty miles. I think it would take me a looooooooooooooooooooooooooong time to be able to do that. Ok, let's be honest. I'll prolly never do it. lol

Anyway, my stats as far as weight goes are the same. I found out the actual weight classes for the NAGA tournament in November and I would have to get down to about 130(without my gi) to drop into the next weight class. That isn't going to happen. My body likes 140. It doesn't want to leave 140. And I've decided not to try to make it leave 140 because, from what I hear, they will probably combine weight classes and if I drop all that weight I'll just weigh that much less than everyone in the weight class I'm slotted for now. Garbage.So I'm going to stop worrying about weight and just focus on training.

Lastly, tonight Steph, Phil and I are going to see Fabio Novaes' school. Our instructors, Mario and Ben, train there and we want to go see them in action and get a feel for our "parent school". We fall under the blanket of Fabio Novaes Jiu-jitsu since we train under Fabio's students, so it'll be cool to see the school and meet the people there. I'm excited!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


When I first started Jiu-jitsu, the white belts who had been there longer than me kept telling me, "Just roll," every time we grappled. I got frustrated because I didn't understand what they meant. Everything was about strength for me. I was trying to muscle my opponents into my submissions.

I'm still doing that a little bit now, but I'm figuring out how to rely on balance and technique more. I am beginning to understand what my higher ranking friends were trying to tell me when they said to "just roll".

Also, I'm relaxing a lot more; letting go of my ego and just trying to learn. I'm not killing myself trying to get submissions. I'm looking for them, but I'm not straining and fighting. I'm trying to go with the flow, defend, get into a dominant position and then find a joint I can isolate. I'm definitely still a sucky white-belt. But I think I am a little less sucky than I was when I first started. That's not much, but at least it's something. ;)

Friday, September 4, 2009


Some of the kids from the youth group invited me to come to Raiders, an after school fitness program at Summerlin Academy. They wanted to see if I could run a mile.

Oh gosh.

So, I went. The target was to run an 8 minute mile. I did not make the target. In fact, I didn't even come close to the target. I ran a 10:30 mile. Geeze, I'm out of shape. But the kids are challenging me to keep coming. They do it in the afternoons 3 days a week. I might do it. Aside from running, they also do pull-ups, push-ups. sit-ups and other non-fun things. It would be really good for me to come. Undoubtedly it would help with my Jiu-jitsu training. I guess the questions I have to ask myself are: How badly do I want to embarrass myself? And, how badly do I want to get in shape?

We'll see what wins out: Shame or Drive.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Flow and Tell

Height: 5'4''
Weight: 140 (yay!)
Exercise so far: walking 45 min.
Planned exercise: some bjj drills during the day and bjj class tonight
Food and beverege intake so far today: cereal and milk. water.
Planned lunch: chicken and water and maybe a salad
Planned dinner: chicken and rice.

I'm finding that I don't move enough while grappling. I also don't go for things with enough confidence. Last night, Steph and Phil came over and we grappled. Suffice to say I wasn't feeling it. I kept getting out-muscled, which tells me I was relying to much on strength and not enough on technique. But even beyond that, I was letting myself get frustrated and I kept giving up.

Basically, I was having a pity party for myself.

I'm over it now. One thing that Phil said made sense to me. Basically, he said that I'm a white-belt and I'm going to suck. Just get over it and learn. He's right. I've only been taking classes for a month. I can't expect to be winning when I grapple against people who have taken class longer than I have. I need to relax, let go of my pride and just try to learn from the time when I get submitted.

So that's what I'm going to try to do.

Also, I'm going to try to move more and try for more things when I'm grappling. It's all about isolating a joint or an appendage and then applying pressure. I'm just going to work on moving and on being more bold. I'll get tapped, but oh well. Hopefully I'll learn from it.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Balancing Act

I'm kind of a passionate person. When I find something I really like, I throw myself into it body and soul. Problem is, I like a lot of things: God, my family, my work as a youth director, writing and now BJJ.

I'm not really a math person, but I know enough to realize that, since I only have 24hours each day, I cannot possibly be perfect in all these areas that I really like. So I have to prioritize. Here's my list:

1. God
2. Family
3. Youth Work
4. BJJ
5. Writing

Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu is 4th on the list. Don't ask me to figure out what percentage of my day I should devote to jiu-jitsu because that's a little too mathy for me. The point is, I need to be careful not to let BJJ squeeze out the things that are above it on my priority list.

Let's face it. I am not 16 years old. I have a husband, a son, a house and a job that require my attention. I can't train for hours and hours each day and I don't have the money to enter into every competition that comes my way.

Does that mean I'm not serious about BJJ? No. It just means I have to stay balanced. I have to be patient. Maybe I won't advance as quickly as I would if I didn't have all these other responsibilities, but there's really nothing I can do about it. I DO have responsibilities, so I have to take BJJ at a slower pace than a lot of other people who are involved in the sport.

That's ok with me. It's my hobby. It's not my life. I enjoy it, but I won't be consumed by it.

Having said all that, I've added two more nights a week that I'll be doing BJJ! lol Steph and I are going to be grappling on Sunday nights and Thursday nights from now on in order to get ready for the NAGA competition in November. Hopefully, I can keep my passion in check and not neglect all my other responsibilites. I really enjoy BJJ and I don't want my own lack of discipline to make it become a problem in my life.

We'll see what wins out in the end: my passion or my self-discipline. Lord help me. ;)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day Three of Operation Clear Belt: Sick...and still going.

That video has nothing to do with jiu jitsu. It was just so hilarious I had to post it.

Height: 5'4''
Weight: 142
Exercise So Far Today: Getting out of bed. lol Yesterday I had jiu jitsu class.
Planned exercise for tonight: Some grappling (hopefully), walking for 1 hour, warm up exercise.
Food Intake: Yesterday I cheated a lot. Fatty, fried badness. But today I'm back on track. Slimfast bar for breakfast. Planning on having chicken and broccoli for lunch. Not sure about dinner yet. Something chickeny, most likely, without a lot of carbs and fat.

So, I'm sick with some kind of annoying cold. But life goes on. Class on Saturday went well. I got my first leg-triangle from guard. Though, I'll admit I pulled it on a guy who had come in for his first lesson. lol. I take what I can get, alright? We learned a few take-downs and Mario (our instructor) showed me 4 submissions from side-control: kimora, americana, inverted arm-bar and a triangle. In my grappling, I'm still having a few big issues:

First, I am still not moving enough. One of the guys in my class told me I'm like concrete. I get into a position and sit there. Not good. So I have to "roll" more. That's what they always tell me. "Just roll." Right....I'll work on that.

Second, I am still not aggressive enough. I keep waiting for a perfect opportunity to pull one of the sumbmissions I know, insetad of just moving and trying new things out.

But, aside from those things, and from the fact that I still suck technically, it was a good class.

Our other intructor, Ben, told us that the most important thing we can do to get ready for a competition is to grapple. Grapple as often as we can. So me and steph are going to meet at my house on Sundays and on Thursday nights. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day One of Operation Clear Belt

I'm going to log my progress. Might not happen every day, but I'll try.

Height: 5'4''
Weight: 143lbs (boo!)
Exercise so far today: Walking/Jogging intervals 1hr., 150 crunches, 30 hip-outs, 20 take-down drill thingies (don't know what they're really called), strength training (arms), stretching.
Planned exercise for tonight: Walking/Jogging intervals 1hr.,20 hip-outs, stetch training.
Beveredges so far today: Only water
Food intake:
Breakfast- slimfast bar
Lunch-bowl of chicken, broccoli & cheese
Planned dinner -- same as lunch, lol (gotta love left-overs).

Here are some pictures of my fatness. Hopefully, over the next few months, I will shrink.

Tuesday Night...

...was one of those nights. I didn't feel good about my performance. We practiced a take-down drill that took me longer to get the hang of than normal. Then, when we grappled at the end of class, I didn't do as well as I had hoped. In the previous class I ended up popping a couple capsules in Stephanie's elbow and I was afraid of doing that again. So I was too timid in my grappling. I gave up several submissions because my partner wasn't tapping. He's was newbie like me and my instructor told me that newbies sometimes don't know when to tap. I didn't want to take any chances, so I let go of several submissions.

It was really frustrating.

There's also another thing that is weighing me down. Literally. ;) It's my fatness. I found out that I am a few pounds to heavy to qualify for the weight division I want to be in for the November N.A.G.A. tournament. The reason why it matters is--at my current weight--I will be one f the smallest ones in my division. I know that weight and size shouldn't matter in Jiu-Jitsu, but when you're a newb and your technique sucks, it kinda does matter. lol.

I'm already getting plenty of exercise. I walk every morning for an hour and again at night for an hour. I do the warm-up exercise from class every day and I do shrimping, hip-outs and take-down drills every day. This is all on top of my actual jiu-jitsu classes. Despite this exercise, I haven't been losing weight. So clearly it is my diet that is killing me.

I don't eat like crap, but there are things I can do. I am cutting out all soda and junk food from my diet. I drink diet sodas, but they're not good for me, so they're gone. And I admit I have a weakness for salty carbs like chips and cheez-its.

Goodbye yummy fattening snacks. Hello celery and salad? Boo!!! I have to find some healthy snacks to munch on in the afternoons.

But anyway, that's where I am right now. Looking forward to having a better lesson on Thursday. And looking forward to being less squishy in a few months. By God's grace and power, it will happen! :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Interesting Things

So, since I am a nerd, I have been researching Jiu Jitsu. (I like to read! Leave me alone!) I've found out some things that I find interesting. Your average joe on the street probably won't find these things as cool as I do, but I have fully embraces my nerd status so I don't care.

Interesting thing #1: Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu was not developed driectly from Japenese Jiu-Jitsu, like I originally thought. Since they are both called Jiu-jitsu, I just assumed that the Brazillian form was a variation of the Japenese form. Not true. Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu was actually developed from Judo, which is a martail art that was developed from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu.

Here's why I care. I know a few people who practice Judo and they always remind me that Judo was developed from Jiu-Jitsu and is therefore better. LOL. They don't actually say it's better, but we do get into friendly debates over the merits of the different disciplines. Anyway, I thought it was interesting to learn that BJJ was actually developed from Judo. I'm not saying BJJ is better than Judo. They're just different styles of fighting.

Interesting Fact #2: From what I've gathered so far (and I could be wrong) Rank in BJJ--which is symbolized by the color belt that the practitioner wears--is awarded mainly based on performance of technique in competition and demonstration. In many other martial arts, you need to alo have a knowledge of basic history, names of the techniques and be able to show technique in demonstrations, not necesarily in competition.

Interesting Fact #3: Technique makes BJJ effective, not size or strength. I've heard his a million times at practice, but it really hit home t me when I was doing research on BJJ. The main strength of BJJ lies in the ability to execute chokes, strangles and joint locks and, in the high ranks, compression locks. Unlike in other martial arts, where strength and size give the advantage for striking, BJJ techniques do not require size or strength. In fact, depending on strength will actually weaken your game. Learning how to execute the chokes, strangles and joint locks quickly and accurately will give a person the advantage over an opponent who might be bigger or stronger.

That's good for me in a self-defense situation, considering that I am a 5'5'' female of average weight. I won't have a size or strength advantage oer the average male. But if I learn these techniques, size and strength really won't matter that much. I'm already seeing that from only 2 and a hal weeks of lessons.

Anyway, here's a cool video with some Leo Vieira highlights. He uses some interesting techniques! ;) Watch and enjoy.

As If I Didn't Have Enough Blogs

I have a new hobby. Jiu Jitsu. Not many people who read my regular blog will be interested in hearing about my jiu-jitsu journey, so I decided to begin yet another blog.I think I may have a disorder.

Anyway, a couple of the guys in the youth group take Brazilian Jujitsu classes at Summerlin Academy in Bartow and they invited me to go. I went. And now I am hooked. :)

When I first decided to go, I thought it was going to be more like karate. You know, standing up and kicking and punching. The kind of thing you'd see on a Kung-Fu movie. I was surprised to find that Jujitsu is nothing like that. Most of our moves happen on the ground, on top of your opponent or under them. Personal space? There is none. I frequently find myself thinking, "You want me to put my head where?!?!" lol.

Because of the...ahem...close nature of the training, I asked my sister-in-law Stephanie to take the classes with me. Fortunately, she is now just as obsessed as I am.

They work us out hard. I've only taken four classes so far (we have class twice a week on Tues and Sat), but already I am seeing a change in my body. I've lost about five pounds. I can actually feel my abdominal muscles (thought there is still too much cushion there for my taste). After every lesson, I usually wake up the next morning so sore that I can hardly role out of bed. Stephanie and I are enjoying it so much, we've been really motivated to practice outside of class too. We usually walk for 45 min. to an hour every night. And we grapple with each other when we aren't too sore.

I'll give you an idea of what class is like. We walk in and start stretching. Then we have an exhausting warm up that includes but it not limited to: running, knee ups, side-steppers, a weird running things where we hold out our hands behind our back and kick our palms with our feet while we jog, push ups, training with light weights, ab exercises, shrimping, hip-outs, and other various jujitsu specific exercises.

By the time we are done with our warm ups I am already winded.

Then we have our training portion, which takes up the majority of the time. Ever since our first day in class, they've taught us defensive moves we could use right now if someone attacked us. I love that. I walked out of my first class with three new moves I could use if someone knocked me to the ground in a rape situation. They show us submissions--moves that are designed to make your opponent tap out because of the pain. They also teach us how to get out of holds and bad positions. The moves are complicated. It's sort of like chess because you always have to be thinking a step ahead.

At the end of class, we have 2 min grappling sessions with different partners. Basically, I am rolling around on the ground with someone trying to get in a dominant position and maybe pull a submission on them. Since Steph and I are the newbies in the class, what this usually means is I spend two minutes trying not to get folded into a pretzel. I usually fail. ;)But I am seeing improvement.

On Tuesdays, we focus more on boxing. Last night, we put on head gear and our instructors took turns trying to punch us in the face. They weren't hitting hard. And we had on mouth pieces and head gear, so even when they hit us it didn't really hurt. The point of the exercise was for us to defend ourselves, and get out of the bad position--on our backs and vulnerable--and get into an attacking position.

It was actually really fun. Who knew I would want to PAY someone to punch me in the face?

So, I'm going to stick with it. I have to buy a Gi--a jujitsu uniform--but I'm buying a cheap one for now. But, if I stick with it for a year, I am going to buy myself a fancy Gi like this one:

Last but not least here is a video of one of my instructor in competition. He is the one with a shaved head.

Here is another one of him teaching a lesson. He has hair in this one. :)

Last but not least, here is a picture of SOME of the bruises all over my body. lol