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!! :)