Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pouco Casa de Dor para Iniciantes.

Maybe the title of this post should be "Newbie's Pouco Casa de Dor". My Portuguese sucks. Mainly because I don't speak it. :) But the sentiment is there: Newbie's Little House of Pain.

So, now that the barn is actually starting to look a little bit like a gym, a few of my youth who have never done jiu-jitsu before want to come learn at my house. These particular kids don't come from well off families and can't afford to go to Fabio's. There are also a few youth who used to go to Summerlin but don't have regular transportation to Fabio's and so have quit bjj since Summerlin closed down. They want to come too.

At first, when Phil, Stephanie and I talked about it, I was concerned because I feel that I am still a beginner and not really fit to be teaching. Phil had more confidence in us and said he thought we would do fine teaching the basics.

I think we could teach basic positions and submissions. But my worry is that, since I still get details wrong on some basic moves, I would be worried that I would either leave out important details or teach bad habits. Also, there are a LOT of things I have never even seen before at this point. I have a feeling my answers to a lot of these kids questions would be, "Uhhh...I'm not sure...maybe try this?"

I went to both Fabio and Ben and asked them about it and to my utter shock they were completely supportive of us teaching these kids. In fact, they said it would be good for us and would sharpen our own grappling skills, because it would force us to learn the details better in order to teach them.

Even typing this makes me nervous. To be honest, I don't want to be responsible for teaching the foundational techniques to these kids yet. I would be much happier if I could convince one of the higher belts at the school to come and teach. They would have to teach for free because of the situation--I would be able to pay them a little bit but the kids wouldn't.

I don't know. It's not like we'll be trying to teach flying armbars or anything. If we do teach, we'll start with just positions and control and a few basic submissions. I just don't want to teach them the wrong things....

Monday, October 25, 2010

Barn Renovations: Phase Two

We have finished most of the preliminary cleaning of the barn, though it is nearly impossible to keep it clean until we weather proof it. Because our funds are extremely finite, we opted to go with the cheapest type of mats we could find. They're 2x2 connector floor mats. I've rolled on them before at another school. They're not the most pleasant mats I've ever grappled on. Hard, with the concrete floor. But when we wear gis it's not that bad. When we put them all together, it looked pretty darn good.

The plan is to use these during the winter and save up for real mats. Several of my youth from church are wanting to come over to the house and grapple. I figure some hard floors will convince them to contribute money to the cause if they want to grapple in more comfort.

Also, we started padding up potential hazards, like beams and sharp corners. Our "padding" is pretty ghetto. Just some foam sleeping mats that we wrapped around the pole three times. We tested them out with our own bodies. They work. lol

Our ghetto safety padding, complete with duct tape.

Stephanie working her inverted flexibility.

Another issue we've run into is that the siding on the barn is pretty flimsy. So we're having to create barriers where the mat is near the wall so people don't roll out into the yard.

The next step is to continue to get rid of all the safety hazards, work out some inexpensive ways to weather proof the bard and install some fans that we can mount on the over-head beams.

Long term, we'll do insulation, dry wall and air conditioning. The big price tag is connected to the air conditioning. And I don't want to close up the barn until we can do that because I'm worried it would get moldy inside with all that fantastic Florida humidity. We'll see. I'm going to ask a friend of mine who is a contractor to come out and tell me what it would cost me to make the place livable.

But at least the barn is functional now. Tomorrow we're going to hang a punching bag, put in an elliptical machine, a treadmill, a small weight bench and a few weights, some resistance bands and an exercise ball. The place is starting to form into a nice little home gym.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

You Now Have Permission to Fail

This past weekend at the Miami International Open Tournament was AWESOME for so many reasons.

First and foremost, I love hanging out with my team. A few of us were talking on the trip down to Miami that BJJ must have some kind of addictive powers because most people who do BJJ are obsessed with it. We say it's a hobby, but actually, it's a lifestyle.

What amazes me even more is the way schools become like families. I've played team sports all of my life. Softball, volleyball, lacrosse and racquetball (yes...I was on a racquetball team in college. Yes that makes me nerdy. Don't be hatin'! lol). I've loved every sport I've played. But I have never been involved in a sport that has consumed me like BJJ has. Neither have I been on a team that was so close. We're all so different, but somehow it And I think that it's the same all over the place. Jiu-jitsu clubs are like second families. I wonder what it is about the sport that brings people into such close friendships.

At this tournament, I was a nervous wreck for all of my teammates. As soon as we walked in, my heart started pounding. I was taking video of everyone, so I was running around the gym from mat to mat, trying to watch everyone and screaming my head off in support. We had a lot of wins and some tough losses. Everyone did great.
My favorite guys/gals to watch were the ones who were competing for the first time. Let me tell you, they moved AWESOME!! I was really impressed.

The losses had a big impact on me, though not in an entirely negative way. Some of our best grapplers in the school lost matches yesterday. While I was either sad for the fact that they didn't win or pissed off at the ref or something, it was very liberating at the same time. These are guys who are way better than me. They can wipe the floor with me. But they lose too, sometimes. It was like someone was talking over a loud speaker saying: You now have permission to fail. lol

I talked to Fabio about it a little bit; about how I worry sometimes about disappointing him at tournaments. He said that a loss at a tournament doesn't mean anything to him. What means something to him is seeing someone who has the heart to go out and try. For some reason, at this tournament, that actually got through my thick skull.

Maybe the reason why it sunk in was that I had no pressure myself at this tournament and I could just enjoy it and learn. I could see the tournament without all my nerves getting in the way. Before this, I was pretty much forcing myself to do tournaments. Now, I am actually looking forward to the next one. The pressure is suddenly gone. I am sure I will still be nervous. But now I actually think it will be fun.

That alone made the trip completely worth it.

Some pictures from the weekend:

Got to meet Hillary Williams.

And also got to meet Cyborg. Watched him roll, too. Freaking awesome.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I'm leaving today with the team to head down to the Miami Internaltional Open. Still ticked that I can't compete. But excited for the whole atmosphere of the tournament and to see my teammates compete. A friend of mine, Erica, is competing for the first time and I am really excited for her. I think she is going to do really well and I will be cheering like a maniac on the side lines. :)

Also, I am excited about starting a new project at home. We have this old barn on our property and it is just going to waste. So I talked to my husband and we are going to turn it into a Jiu-jitsu gym/man cave. Woohoo!!

It's going to be a lot of work. The barn isn't weather proof at the moment. Plus, there is no AC or heater. Since we live in Florida, that's not too big a deal for during the winter months. Just training will keep us warm enough. But during the summer? Yeah...alterations will have to be made.

The other things was that the barn had become kind of catch-all for all the yard work stuff and all the junk we didn't use very much. It was full of leaves that blow in through the ventilation openings in the roof.

So yesterday Steph, Phil, Gumby and I started the cleaning it out. We were some of the main "crew" at the old Summerlin school. Josh and Reese, two others who trained with us at Summerlin, said they would want to roll a couple of nights a week once we get the place up and running. All we would have to do would be to harass Ben and Mario into coming and then we'd have almost our whole old Summerlin gang back together!

Here are some pictures of what we've done so far. We have a loooooong way to go. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Noah's Declarations

This isn't about Jiu-jitsu. It is about a mother getting some blackmail video to use against her son when he is a teenager. Enjoy. :)

Clearly I am adept at raising independent children.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why You Should Take Jiu-Jitsu Injuries Seriously

I may finally be able to get my MRI! I went in to see my primary doctor this morning and she is going to set me up with one. She is in agreement with my chiropractor friend and thinks it sounds like a disc issue, but won't be able to tell for sure until the MRI. She also said there are several options for physical therapy.

Hearing about physical therapy and all of that and possibly having to miss out on more training makes me want to just ignore it. I know that makes no logical sense. If there is a problem, it won't go away. It will get worse if I don't do something about it. But I hate being patient.

All of this has made me view BJJ in a different way. I think, without realizing it, I was looking at BJJ as a sprint when really it is a marathon. When I talked to people, I would always say I was in no hurry. But when I was forced to start taking some time off for one thing or another, it really bothered me. And not just because I love the sport.

Here's the honest truth about what was going through my mind. I share this because I know there are a lot of people out there like me who will go through something similar. It makes me look bad when I type it out bluntly, but whatever. It's what I was really thinking and I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that I'm not the only one who has ever thought this way.

I started BJJ and fell in love instantly. Because of my level of obsession and because I have great instructors and training partners, I got my blue belt relatively quickly. The whole time up to that point, I was getting stripes and the people that had started training with me were getting stripes too. I knew BJJ wasn't about the belt, but it felt great to get confirmation that I was actually doing well at the sport I love.

When I hit blue belt, my desire for that feeling didn't abate. It became more intense. I was worried I wouldn't keep advancing at the rate that I had before, that I would start hitting a plateau or something. It wasn't so much that I wanted more stripes. I just wanted to keep being a "quick learner".

Then Summerlin, a shoot off school of Fabio's where I had trained twice a week on top of my other training, closed. I was down two classes. Then some responsibilities at my church made me start missing more training time. And then this injury came along and made me take it easy even during the classes I was able to make it to. Finally, I had to stop rolling completely for a while and I may have to do that again before this is all over.

At first, I didn't take my neck injury all that seriously. But after talking to a few people in my gym who have had serious neck injuries and ignored them--and are suffering now because of it--and after hearing even more stories from some of you fellow bloggers who have had to go through surgery, I realized I was playing with fire.

It forced me to examine the reasons why I was so hell bent on continuing training when I knew I needed a break. I started asking myself why it was so important to me that I be a "quick learner" and that I didn't "fall behind". What did it matter if I got stripes quickly or if it took me months or years? Who was I trying to keep up with? What reason did I have for rushing through training?

I am doing BJJ for fun. Whether or not I advance quickly will have no impact on my livelihood or my family. It will just keep my ego happy. It's just stupid.

I realized I needed to stop acting like a stubborn child that wanted to get her way regardless of what reason and reality said to the contrary. It's time for me to realize that me trying to force myself to train hard all the time so that I could get better faster will end up hurting me long term.

I want to do this sport for years. I want to be able to keep rolling for as long as I can. And that means respecting my body's limitations. If I am injured, I need to take it seriously. What is a few weeks off in comparison to having to quit forever because I pushed an injury into something really serious?

Even as I type this, I know I will have to fight against that stubborn, impatient side of me that wants to just bulldoze ahead and keep rolling like normal.

Yesterday, it took almost all the self control I had not to do the inverted moves I normally do. It irked me that when I was being muscled by a guy and I knew I could simply go inverted and return to my guard, that I had to find another way. I had other ideas, but I had to stop and think and I couldn't do that fast enough, so he passed my guard. I hated that. Because of my own stupid pride.

But I preserved my neck from getting re-strained. Which is more important than keeping someone from passing my guard in a class grapple that doesn't count for anything outside of my head.

I just have to keep perspective. What is more important: A couple of months of taking it slow? Or a life long ability to keep grappling? What is more important: some dude passing my guard or being able to grapple well into my fifties?

It's great that I want to get better at a sport that I love. But I have to be smart about it. Or else I'll end up cutting short my journey and regretting my stubbornness in the long run.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I May Not Be The Brightest Crayon In The Box...

...but I am certainly the most stubborn.

Thanks to my fantastically awesome sister in law, Stephanie, I was able to go to class this afternoon. (Thanks Steph! You're the bestest!!)

It felt awesome to get back to grappling! We worked a sweep from half guard that I absolutely love. The set up is a little difficult to explain. The person on top is trying to prevent you from swimming their outside arm (so you can take their back or whatever nefarious thing you plan to do) and so they block the swim with their head, and the arm on that side, keeping pressure across your torso to try to hold you down.
To do the sweep, you swim the OTHER arm with both of your arms, bringing your head through. You'll end up with one arm across the back of their shoulders and neck. From there, you hip into them, using the leg you have in half guard to take out their base. Over they go.

I like this sweep because the defenses to it open up a lot of other possibilities. For example, if they sprawl to prevent the sweep, you can come around and take their back. If that doesn't work, then at that point, you will probably at least be able to return to butterfly guard or even full guard.

Just a lot of possibilities.

My neck did alright during class. It's sore again tonight. Ice and ibuprofen. And going to bed happy. :)


I can't go to class today. The brakes went out on my husbands car so that means no driving. (Good Morning, Captain Obvious). Not that I didn't consider chancing it. I haven't rolled in over a week, now, and with us being down to one car, we had to decide what things were a priority to get to. Apparently JJ going to work is more important than me going to afternoon class. Psssh!! Whatever! ;) Unfortunately, my bank account agrees with JJ, so I had to go along with it.

Going a little stir crazy. I suppose it's not such a bad thing that I have to miss a few more classes. Giving my neck a couple more days to heal up. But man, I REALLY miss it.

I've been jogging a lot in the meantime and can see improvement there. And I've still been doing some BJJ drills and stretches at home. There's nothing like a forced absence from class to prove to me exactly how obsessed I am.

I'm looking forward to this weekend, though. I am going to go to the tournament and watch my team compete. This will probably be a form of torture for me since I can't compete myself, but I am determined to enjoy it!! Plus I am sure I will still learn things even if it isn't through my own experience.

Hope you guys have a great week rolling. I kind of hate you since you get to do it and I don't. ;) Just joshin'.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Warrior Dash

I have decided not to compete. Even as I type that, I have the urge to delete that and go register on the IBJJF website. Sigh...

Haven't gone to class all week, not even to watch. I've been swamped by house repairs, youth group events and packing for a trip to Georgia I am taking with my Mom and family.

Even though I have been resting my neck and icing it, it has still been aching. Haven't had the time to go into the doctor, but when I get back from Georgia, I will get an MRI even if I have to armbar my insurance rep to get one. When I get back next week, I am going to start training again. Lightly. We'll see how it goes.

To make myself feel less like a worthless lump of laziness, I've been jogging at least a mile every day. It's not just mindless jogging. I have a goal in sight!

Behold! The Warrior Dash is coming to Florida! What is the Warrior Dash you might ask?

I am soooo doing this!! If my neck is better, of course. Stephanie found it online and we are going to do it together. The only question is what kind of warriors will we dress up as? The possibilities are endless!!

I've never run any kind of real race before. This one will be three to four miles, including obstacles. I am not entirely positive I can run four miles. But the race isn't until January, so I have time to work my way up to that. This should be really fun!

Friday, October 8, 2010

It Is What It Is

Well, despite my best efforts--ice, chiropractor, rolling light, ibuprofen--my neck isn't getting any better. It's getting worse. I'm starting to have muscle spasm along my neck and right shoulder at night. Tonight, I rolled very light, avoiding moves that could make it worse, but even so, it's sore and tight again now.

My insurance denied my doctors request for me to get an MRI, so I am still not sure exactly what the problem is. So for now, I am treating it as just a bad strain. And since rolling light is not working, I guess that means I have to take some time off. At least a week, maybe more.

Even so, I'm ok with that. Don't get me wrong. Not training grates at me. But I am seeing two positives that may come out of all this.

1. My taking a week off won't affect the tournament in a bad way. I was to "train hard" and "get ready". But the truth is, not much is going to change about my grappling in the next few weeks. The cardio is good, but I'm not going to suddenly develop secret ninja moves if I force myself to train through the end of the month. Plus, taking a week or more off might actually improve my chances of doing well at the tournament. My body will be rested, and hopefully healed up a little.

2. I get to watch everyone else grapple. As much as it sucks not to be in the action, I get almost as much enjoyment out of watching my teammates grapple as I do grappling myself. I learn so much just observing.

The past few week has been a big learning experience for me. Having a neck problem has forced me to expand my horizons. As my neck got worse, going inverted and doing a whole bunch of rolly escapes became less and less of an option. I did it anyway for a while, despite the pain, until Fabio forbade me to do it. He told me if I went inverted, I would automatically lose the match. ;)

At first, doing other things made me feel like a newbie all over again. My body wanted to do what I normally do and I had to force myself to look for other ways to accomplish what I wanted.

I started working a lot more sweeps, especially the kind where your sort of bore under the person to get their weight on top of you. They keep trying to attack me, but I can slowly and steadily get under them while still protecting my neck. Because I didn't want to strain my neck, I worked hard to get the right leverage and to use my hips and legs to do most of the work, using my upper body more as a frame and my arms to take away their supports.

Maybe it's because I wasn't looking for them before, but all of the sudden, I am noticing sweeps everywhere. And the coolest part about it is they work on the big, strong guys I grapple too! Woohoo!!

The other thing I've been doing a lot of that I don't normally do is take the person's back. A lot of times, when I am going for a sweep, the person will drop their hips to try to stop themselves from going over. If I am ready for that, then I can use that moment when they drop themselves down to cup up and over.

And, of course, I've been trying to be on top as much as possible. It's not even a I-want-to-be-a-top-player thing anymore. It's a neck-preservation thing now. And the great thing is, I am starting to feel more comfortable passing guard and being on top. I'm noticing more submissions from mount and side control. Still not as many as I notice in guard. But all of that will come in time, I am sure.

I just hope a week/week and a half will be enough to get my neck into good enough condition for me to compete. This tournament isn't massively important, but I had JUST gotten myself to the point where I was ready to re-face my fears and get back into competition. I don't want to back down now. Plus, the whole team is going.

We'll see what happens.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mad Money!!

Last month I celebrated yet another anniversary of my 21st birthday. Woohoo? My Dad was kind enough to get me a gift card to iTunes. (Thanks Dad!) I was going to troll through the new releases and see what there was to buy, but then I had another idea.

Why not ask the masses (all five of you that read this blog) what your favorite tournament songs are? You know, the ones that get you revved up and ready for battle. I'm curious to see what gets your blood pumping. And I might also happen to steal some of your muses in the process. ;)

So, fellow grapplers, what music gets you in the mood for carnage?!?!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Busy Living

I haven't blogged in a while, (Good morning, Captain Obvious) but lots of blog ideas are churning around in my muddled brain. Unfortunately, life has been really busy lately and I haven't had much time for writing.

You want proof? Fine! Here it is! ;)

Went to Disney with the family. Had a blast at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween.

Went to one of my best friends weddings and tore up the photo booth she had at the reception.

As busy as I've been, I have been getting to class. This has been one of those blissful periods of time where grappling is just plain fun. Learning a lot. Being challenged a lot. But mostly just laughing and experimenting with things.

I am still planning to do the tournament, but I am not worrying much about preparing. Honestly, with as busy as I've been, class has been hit or miss. And with my neck injury, I can't "train hard" like I want to. So I am just rolling and enjoying myself. If I do well at the tourney, great. If I don't do well, I'll melt into a puddle of pathetic...I mean, I'll be fine. ;)

Hoping to get out a post on sweeps tonight. We'll see if that actually happens. Happy rolling to all you guys out there!