Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hey, Sometimes Social Networking Is Actually Useful!

We had a visitor at our Women's Class tonight, Monica Holley, all the way from Okinawa, Japan. She has been reading my blog for a while and, when she knew she would be in Florida, emailed me about coming to class. We are so glad she did! Yay for my blog finally being useful for something! LOL

Monica is competing in her first tournament coming up in December and she wanted to have the chance to grapple some other girls.It was great to get the perspective of someone who trains BJJ in another country. And, after meeting so many people this past weekend at the Open and then getting to train with Monica tonight, I am feeling so lucky to be a part of a community of women who are untied by a love for the sport and for fellowship with friends. I am kicking myself that I forgot to take pictures tonight!

We worked on half guard--both top and bottom--during the class because that is the position that gave me the most headaches in my first two tournaments. We also played Team A, Team B...again. LOL The younger girls beg to play this game every class. Poor Stephanie has her broken nose and had to fend off a bunch of people going bananas all around her. I was dealing with a few injuries too, so I had to get creative to keep from getting overwhelmed by all the crazy girls! They did great, though, and it was fun.

Monica, I hope you had fun visiting us tonight and we wish you good luck at your upcoming tournament and hope that you have safe travels back home!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

2011 Miami Open

Team Fabio Novaes went to the Miami Open this past weekend. We had a blast! Here's a shot of four of Fabio's "Bear Traps" getting ready to head out.

 This was my first IBJJF tournament, and it was definitely a different experience than any other tournament I have been to. First of all, I was impressed by how organized everything was. I was able to see my bracket before I even got to the tournament. They ran a pretty tight ship, too, with ring coordinators keeping things moving for the different divisions. It was a little nerve-wracking to have to weigh in right before I fought, but I like that you actually have to be at the weight that you are supposedly fighting at.

I had only five girls in my division, including me, so I only had 2 fights. But the girls in my division were awesome and I made some new friends! One of them spoke only Portuguese, so I got to try to talk to her with my broken Portuguese. It didn't go well. LOL! But we were at least able to communicate on a basic level...with the aid of a lot of hand gesturing. Some shots from my matches:

I ended up being able to take gold in my division! Woohoo! 
But the thing I am most happy about, personally, is that I was able to keep from defeating myself mentally this time. I worked hard to keep my head in the right place leading up to the tournament. I reminded myself about my strengths and forced myself not to think about all the possible bad things that could happen to me. Instead, I told myself: you do this every day. You have worked hard. You are ready. 

It made a huge difference. I didn't have the horrible adrenaline rush and dump that I have at every other tournament. In fact, I somehow managed to convince myself that I couldn't wait to fight. I got myself excited for my matches and focused on staying calm during both fights. 

I met some new friends at the tournament, including Susanne Strobak all the way from Sweden! She came to Florida for vacation and decided to compete while she was here! She was so nice, the girls from my team wanted to adopt her. We cheered her on while she won the blue belt absolute division. This is her in the blue belt, below. Congrats, Susanne!

Stephanie fought both in her division and  in absolute. She fought well and took third in her division. Congrats, Steph! But in absolute, the girl she was fighting gi choked her face and cracked her nose. It made me really upset because the girl knew she had Stephanie's face, not her neck. To me, that's not Jiu-jitsu. But I know some people disagree. Some people have no problem using pain compliance to win tournaments.In my opinion, using pain compliance is a sign of lack of technique. Just my opinion, though. Stephanie is one tough girl, though! She kept fighting and finished the match even with a broken nose!

The person I am the most proud of, though, is Joyce Shrack. 
 When Joyce started BJJ two years ago, she had a few more personal hurdles to overcome than most people do. For years, she has struggled with social phobia, dealing with panic attacks and severe anxiety in group settings. When she began BJJ, just being under mount was a struggle. No one at the gym expected her to stay.

But she showed us!

Two years later, she faced one of her biggest fears and stepped out on the mat in front of everyone to compete. I couldn't be more proud of her tenacity and bravery. GO JOYCE!!

Another of my friends on the team, Amy, came to compete at her first tournament, but unfortunately, she had no one in her division so she didn't get to fight. She will be back to try again in December at NAGA, though! Congrats to Brian "Beast Mode" Moore, Anthony, Jimmy, Orlando, Alan, Mark, Stephen, "Pinkbelt" Brian, Alberto, Joe, Ray, James, Brian, Mario, Mike and Jeremy!  It is cool to see how everyone moved from ring to ring, cheering and coaching each other. It makes me really proud to be a part of Team Fabio Novaes!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Going BLUE!!

Almost all the girls at Fabio Novaes BJJ have a Fenom Kimono. The prices are hard to beat, the gis are of great quality and the customer service is top notch. A few weeks ago, Triin, who runs Fenom Kimonos, contacted me about doing a blog on the Women's Class. I was more than happy to oblige! The blog also features stories about other women's classes in the country. Check it out!!

I also have some exciting news!! Stepahnie, over at was promoted to blue belt on Monday night, along with seven other students at our school. Congratulations Stephanie!! Well deserved, my friend!

Erica, another close friend of mine at Fabio's, was also promoted to blue belt! Here's a pic of the three of us goobers grinning after the promotion. 
Also, a big congrats to Scott, Jason, Alan, Chris, Joel and Enrique for being promoted to blue belt!!
At Fabio's, the tradition is that when you are promoted, you are thrown 3 times by everyone who out ranks you. With eight people being promoted last night, there were lots of flashy throws happening! 

Here are some of the Fabio girls after class that night. You know you're afraid!! LOL

The Boomerang

Fabio's logo has a boomerang on it. It's that red thing under "Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu":

When I first started at his school, I didn't realize that little red swoosh on the logo meant anything. I thought it was just there for design. Then, one night, Fabio gave a talk about what the boomerang means to him and how it applies to training bjj. 

The principle is pretty simple: What goes around, comes around. What you do and how you treat people will come back to you eventually.

This applies directly to how people treat their training partners at a bjj gyn. The reason why you can have a school full of men practicing  bone-breaking techniques is because they have a mutual respect and concern for each others safety. They understand that they aren't there to beat the crap out of each other, but instead to help each other learn and get better. 

Fabio brought up an interesting point regarding this that should appeal to even the most selfish grapplers. If you don't care about hurting your teammates--a.k.a. if you have the mentality that "this is a fighting sport and don't whine about getting injured my bullies. If you're too much of a sissy you should quit"--then think about the fact that, if you injure all your teammates, then you will have no one left to train with. More likely, no one will want to grapple you and you won't get better at bjj.

But the other part of this is that, at most gyms, the higher belts have already learned this idea of "what goes around comes around" and understand the importance of respecting their teammates. When they see someone bullying someone weaker or smaller, they remember it. And not in a good way. The next time they roll with that person, they will likely give them what they dished out and then some. 
There's nothing wrong with going for submissions and finishing them. That is an important part of bjj (though not the only part, like some people seem to think). But give your teammates time to tap. And don't be a jerk and do unnecessarily mean things to people who are smaller/weaker/less experienced than you just to make yourself feel more awesome. It doesn't impress your instructor or the other people at the gym. It just makes you look like a jerk and puts a big target on your back. 

From a technical point of view, I think that if you have to be a douche to finish a submission then you aren't doing it right. Figure out what is wrong with your technique instead of trying to crank someone's head or limbs off. 
It is to your benefit to treat your teammates with respect--especially the ones who you think aren't "as good as you".  You never know how "good" they will become in the future. They will remember how you treated them, be it good or bad, and will likely want to return the favor. Plus, if you are gracious toward people who you could "beat up" at will then people who could do the same thing to you right now will be more likely to be gracious to you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Team A, Team B...again. :)

This is a shot from last night's Women's Class. We played Team A, Team B again. :)
It was me and Stephanie vs. Hooter, Joyce, Amy, Rowan and Shelby. In the picture you can see Stephanie arm-barring Rowan whilst being attacked by Amy. Behind them is me being attacked by Hooter and Joyce. LOL! 

We played another game that the girls really liked last night too. The technique was a guard pass that requires you to get double underhooks and to use your hips to break the other person's hips to the side. A common mistake, though, that people make is to try to use their arms to push the person's legs to the side instead of using their hips to get the person's hips to turn to the side. The legs follow the hips and go to the side as well, so you can pass. 

To get them thinking about using their hips instead of their hands, we had them do a drill that I learned from Fabio's class. We split up into pairs and try to pass the other person's guard without the use of their hands. The person on the bottom was also not allowed to use their hands. They could only use their hips and legs to keep the other person from passing. It was pretty hilarious, but they really seemed to get a better understanding of how important it is to use your knees and hips while passing guard, instead of relying only on your upper body strength.

I am training hard for a tournament coming up and, of course, I am working with injuries. Right now it is my neck again and a pulled muscle in my thigh. The thigh one is really bothering me because it hurts to lift my leg. I can't do much with guard because I have to use that muscle so much. So, instead I have been trying to do other things: a lot of passing, a lot of moving to try keep the top position. As much as I am really annoyed to be injured, this has been good for me. It is opening up my mind to different options of moving that I wouldn't have thought of as readily without this injury. 

Still, I am icing and heating the heck out of my leg and resting it as much as possible outside of class. I need it to be in good shape by the time I compete.