Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Do You Think I'm Trying to Do???

This may be one of my favorite Women's Class moments yet.

During grappling, one of my 115 lb teenie tiny terrors was grappling one of our much stronger girls. The stronger girl had our little Mighty Mouse in mount and I saw her struggling so I came over to help her. I told her, "Try to get on your side and trap her leg into half guard."

Mighty Mouse stops moving and looks at me with the best eff-you face I have ever seen. With as much patience as she can summon, she says, "What do you think I am trying to do?" LOL!!!

It's ok, I feel your pain Mighty Mouse. I have been there before.  A lot. I am still there on a regular basis. You learn these techniques, then you have to try to use them against someone bigger and stronger and it just...doesn't work. You start to wonder, "Does this crap even work for someone as small as me?"

The answer is, yes. But unfortunately for us Lilliputians, it takes time to learn how to use the techniques we learn against someone bigger and stronger who is actively trying to resist. There are no short cuts. Time spent in trial and error on the mat is the only way to overcome our size and strength disadvantage. However, I do have some tips that I have learned that help me when I am stuck.

1. Switch between escapes.

If you are trying one escape and it isn't working, switch to another one. Be able to transition back and forth between escapes just like you would transition from one submission to another or one position to another.

When you are learning escapes during technique and drilling, think about how the escape works and why. Ask yourself: When does this work best? Where does my opponents weight need to be? Where does my weight need to be?

Use your grapples with bigger stronger people to learn when to use the different escapes. If you spend the whole time getting smashed, ask your instructor or a higher belt for corrections to what you're doing or even new ideas for escapes you haven't learned yet.

2. Use trickery!

Small people need to be sneaky. Sometimes I use distraction to try to escape. I will act like I am going to one escape, but I am trying to covertly trap them into another escape.

3. Keep moving.

This is the most important thing. If you give up you will never get out. I am not saying you should flail around pointlessly.But, if you are in practice and you have no idea what to do, take a deep breath, think about what parts of your body are pinned down and what parts of your body are free. Then think about what you can do with the free parts of your body to either make space or get the other person off balance or to distract them so you can go for a different escape.

4. Give yourself a break.

Even black belts still have things to learn and we are not black belts yet!! ;) So accept the fact that you have holes in your game and look at them as challenges that you are ready to face and over come. Every grapple can teach you something, whether you spend the grapple getting submission after submission or if you spend the grapple eating the mat.

When you start to get frustrated, remind yourself how far you have already come. Give yourself kudos for sticking with a sport that is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. Then, wipe the blood off your busted lip and get back on the mat and try again.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Preparing for Tournaments Pt. 2: Trust Your Training!

You're up in the middle of the night again. Your brain won't shut off. The tournament is only a couple of weeks/days away and a million thoughts are racing through your head. You vacillate between trying to make up a game plan--I'm going to jump guard, then sweep to mount, then americana--and freaking out about what will happen if your game plan fails. The unknown is turning your potential opponents into beasts of mythological proportions. 

Thanks to your overactive imagination, you suddenly don't know BJJ and you are fighting Goro from Mortal Kombat.

But, never fear, there's no need to resort to extreme measures. 

You already have what you need to be successful in your fights. That's right, you: the white belt who still isn't sure which way your knees are supposed to point when you do an omaplata. Don't believe me? I will prove it with science!!! 

Ok. I can't back that up. 

But I can make a fairly convincing case for why you are more prepared than you think you are.  

If you are serious enough about BJJ to compete, there's a very good chance you are training multiple times a week. That means you are enduring all those weird drills your instructor makes you do. You know, the ones where you do them but secretly wonder if your instructor just made them up so he or she could laugh at you while you scoot across the mat like a dog with worms?  

It also means you are putting in hours of technique drilling. You are still practicing that basic armbar over and over again even though you could probably do it with your eyes closed. 

And that, my dears, is exactly the point. 

A few months ago, we did an exercise in the Women's Self-Defense Class. For three weeks, the girls in our class were practicing techniques they could use in the event that someone came up behind them, grabbed them and tried to drag them away.  After I was confident that they had the moves down, I invited some of my good friends from the guy's class to help me out with an exercise. 

We lined the girls up facing the wall. We blindfolded them. We turned the music up. Then Stephanie and I and my guy friends would sneak up behind them , grab them and start dragging them away. It was their job to use the techniques that they had learned the previous weeks in class. 

And thus was born the first Terrifying Tuesday.

After the exercise was over, the girls were amazed. They reported that their bodies just...knew what to do when they were grabbed from behind. They didn't have to think about it. They just reacted. And it worked!!

The same thing can be said of all the techniques you have been drilling. All those hours of practice both in drilling and grappling has been training your muscles to do specific jobs. And your muscles are ready to do them when the situation calls for it. 

But you have to trust your body. 

Many times, I would kill my body's potential to perform by over-thinking. Instead of just grappling, my head was full of worries: Was I grappling ok? Was the other person better than me? What guard pass should I do? Are they trying to set up a swee--OH NO IM ON THE BOTTOM! HAAAAAAALP

All the over-thinking is taking your focus away from what you need to be doing: Just grappling. When it comes time to fight, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you do this all the time in class. Tell yourself that you are prepared and believe it. Step on the mat and have confidence that your body is ready to do what you need it to do. 

And, if at the end of the day you go out there and grapple at your best and you still lose, don't get upset. It just means you have new things to focus on when you get back into class. New things to train your muslces to do. New ways of moving to learn. That's the fun of BJJ!!

But more than likely, if you go in both physically and MENTALLY prepared, you will surprise yourself with what you are capable of. If all goes well, you will be standing on the podium with a big cheesey grin with something shiny hanging around your neck. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Preparing for a Tournament Pt. 1: First Tournament

Gearing up for a competition can be nerve-wracking. All you need to do is look back into the earlier days of this blog and you will read about me freaking the crap out over my competitions. You worry about making weight, you worry about whether the other girls are going to be good, you worry about not losing your first fight and about not disappointing your instructor, teammates, friends, family and complete strangers who may be watching you.

Me at my first tournament, trying to look intimidating but
instead looking like a freak. 
So, in an effort to try to shave off a little wasted worry energy, here are some things I've learned in my very short time as a competitor.

1. If you are competing at a NAGA, fight in the weight class you are in. As women, you never know how many competitors you are going to have and if there aren't many, they will combine weight classes. Stephanie, my training partner and best friend, once kicked her own butt trying to drop to lightweight only to get to the NAGA and discover there were no other lightweight girls. She had to fight up a weight class.

This won't happen at IBJJF tournaments where they are very strict about weight classes, but even in those tournaments, consider how much of an advantage dropping weight really is. Will you still be strong? Will worrying about your weight take your focus off your training? I would say, if you are within a few pounds of the low end of your weight class, go for it. Otherwise, I am not sure it is worth it to kill yourself to drop weight classes.

2.  Don't worry about how good the other girls will be. One year I stressed about all the possible girls in my division. I tried to look them all up on facebook and youtube and google search. I creeped their pages for any shred of information that might give me some insight into their bjj prowess.

But then, when I went to California last year, I decided that this wasn't about them. It was about me. It wasn't about how good they are, it is about me putting my skills to the test. Every day I started talking positively to myself about my strengths. I visualized myself doing what I do best and winning my matches. And I forced myself not to focus on whether I would win or lose, but on grappling at my best.

You cannot control how good the other girls will do. But you can control how well you prepare yourself physically and mentally. And if you are grappling at your best and you lose, who cares? All that means is that you still have room to improve--hopefully you knew that already. ;)

3. Me and Steph would always say things like, "I just hope I don't lose my first match."

Why? What if you fight the best girl in the division and lose your first match? Does that make you suck because you lose to that girl in the first round instead of losing to her in the second round? It doesn't change anything.

Instead of focusing on NOT losing or NOT getting submitted or NOT getting swept or whatever negative thing it is that you fear, try to focus on something positive instead, like passing guard or doing a take down or doing a sweep. Visualize yourself doing these things over and over again and drill them like crazy in your classes.

If you worry about things beyond your control--like what the other girl may do to you--then you are wasting energy. Focus your energy on the things you can control--like drilling positions and submissions and visualizing yourself doing those in the tournament. Visualize yourself winning and put in the work to make it a reality!

4. If your coach, team, friends and family shun you because you lose a match then you need to make a social move. Your worth to your team does not rest in how many medals you bring home. And if it does, then forgive me but you are on the wrong team. And certainly your worth to your family and friends isn't tied to how well you perform.

When I competed in Atlanta, some of my family who lives in Georgia was there. They had never seen a BJJ tournament. Before I fought, I gave them a crash course in what to look for: dominant positions and submission attempts and escapes. Their eyes were huge the whole time. They had next to no idea what was going on. But they screamed their heads off when I was fighting and were proud of me even when I got disqualified. Why? Because they love me, not because I grappled well. Your friends and family will be proud of you too no matter what because you are important to them as a person.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Just When You Think You're Safe...

This morning in the Women's Class, we worked on some triangle transitions. One to the key points that Fabio emphasizes is that, when you are going for a triangle, it is important to hip up when you are initially clamping your leg over their back. You get a much tighter triangle from the beginning that way.

After your establish the triangle, people can defend several ways. But as always in BJJ, there is a counter to every defense. For example, when you triangle someone and they over hook the leg on the same side as their triangle arm, you can sit up and kimura them or wristlock them, or you can pry out the arm and do a straight arm or switch to a regular armbar.

While we were going through the steps, Ashley made a funny observation. She said, "Just when you think you're safe and you're defending something, they get you again! There's nowhere safe! There's just the lesser of two evils!"

Here is Ashley being one of the evils! ;)

But what she said has some truth to it. In Jiu-Jitsu, there is always a counter move. And a counter to that counter. And another counter still after that. That is what makes it so exciting! You will never reach a point where you have seen everything because people are always inventing new ways of moving. 

One of our newest girls grappled me today and at first was hesitant to move. I encouraged her by saying, "This is your time to experiment. Don't be afraid. Try whatever you think of. That's how you learn."

I enjoy very much the point when a new girl goes from flailing with all their might to a more calm, rational approach in grappling. You can see that they are starting to think about the concepts, starting to work out the cause and effect of the various movements, grips and positions. They stop wasting so much energy and start seeing the chances to use what they are learning. That's when Jiu-Jitsu really starts to happen. I love to grapple them because they have a fresh approach to moving. They try unconventional things because they haven't learned convention yet. Today, I got a new idea for an escape because of the way one of the new girls moved in my side control. I wouldn't have thought to try what she did. Now I have a new tool to use.

The most important thing when you are grappling in training, in my opinion, is to approach it like you would an experiment in a lab. You think something might work? Try it. If it works, try it again. If it doesn't work, modify it and try it again. If it still doesn't work, maybe go back to the drawing board. The fact that you may fail at first doesn't make you a bad grappler. The fact that you keep trying to work out those problem positions will make you a better grappler--a smarter grappler--in the long run than if you only stick to things that you know will work. 

 These are some of the bear traps when we aren't disgusting and sweaty. ;)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sucking at Something is the First Step to Sorta Being Good At Something

Well, that's comforting. I guess. 

I was talking with a friend of mine, Nick, and we were discussing how having to face-off against competitors who challenge your game/style is an essential part of the growth process in BJJ. 

Human beings are creatures of habit. If we find something that works--a pass, a specific type of guard, a certain submission that no one expects--we will keep doing it. And doing it. And doing it. And doing it. When that happens to me, I start to feel a little bit good about myself. 

And then it happens. People wise up to that sneaky submission, or that unstoppable pass or that unpassable guard. In a tournament, this can be even more shocking/disheartening. You may face off against someone who passes your super awesome guard like butter or who rolls out of your ace-in-the-hole submission with almost no effort. Suddenly, you feel like you're "back where you started". Sometimes it might even feel like you've regressed. 

Of course that isn't really the case. You haven't forgotten the things you already learned. It's just that the people around you have adapted to what they have repeatedly seen from you. Or, in the case of competitors at a tournament, perhaps you are facing a style you aren't used to. 

In both cases, these seemingly negatives are actually positives. Left to ourselves, we might not move away from those tried and true moves we rely on. Grappling people who challenge us forces us to break out of our normal routine and learn new ways of moving. 

Sometimes I hear people talking about how they don't want to grapple certain people or that they don't want to go to a tournament because they are afraid they will lose. To me, this is not a good way of approaching training/competing. In BJJ, losing does not equal failing. If you take advantage of the experience, losing equals learning and growing. 

So your guard got passed. Figure out how they did it and how you can move better to defend that pass. Heck, learn that pass yourself. It worked on you so maybe you can make it work on someone else! So you got submitted. Don't get down on yourself and start feeling like you suck. All it means is that you have more to learn. And that's a good thing. Because if you already knew everything there is to know about BJJ, class would start to get boring. :)

Also, if you are grappling and your focus is on whether or not you are going to lose or win, you will not be able to grapple your best. Instead of concentrating on whether or not you are doing good, concentrate on what you are doing at that moment. Don't worry about whether or not other people are watching and if they think you suck or if they think you are awesome. Be present in the experience at hand and get the most out of it that you can. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chore or Chance?

Do you have the same excitement for BJJ as you did when you first started training? I remember what I was like during that first year. Poor Ben. My instructor would get to the class (which was held at a local high school) and find me and Stephanie already waiting outside the locked door. From the moment he arrived we would start talking to him. Our questions were endless. What should we be doing to get ready for a competition? What was that side control escape you showed us three classes ago? I keep getting triangled when I pass guard and I don't know why. Can you help me?

We were out of shape then, but we made up for it with sheer zeal. There was a lot of laughing and goofing off between me and Steph, but we soaked up as much of what Ben was saying as our newbie brains could manage. After class, we usually pounced on Ben and picked his brain about various positions. It wasn't uncommon for him to stay after for 30 minutes or more giving us what I now realize were free private lessons. lol

We never missed a class except for grievous physical injuries or natural disasters. 

Once we started training at Fabio's, the obsession deepened. We couldn't get enough of BJJ. We had finally begun to grasp the concepts and we wanted more! 

Now, 3 years later, things are a bit different. I went from being a youth minister/stay at home mom to having a more demanding job time-wise. There are some days that I am so tired after work that I contemplate whether or not I want to go to class. I know many of you have felt that way before.

So what is it that is keeping me on the mat 5 or more times a week?

I know I talk to women who dread going to the gym. They hate the treadmill. They have to drag themselves onto it. Why do they go? Maybe it's guilt? Maybe they really want to lose weight? Maybe they feel they need to be healthier? Maybe someone is pressuring them to be there?

I go to BJJ for health and fitness. But more than that, I go because I STILL love the art. When I see something new, I still get that same excitement I got when I first started. I still sit at home and think about ways I can move differently. I still stay after class sometimes working out problems with other higher belts.

What keeps a BJJ practitioner on the mat is love. We go and we keep going because we love the sport/art. Anyone who comes into BJJ and does not really love it won't last very long. It is hard. It is time-consuming. It is mentally and physically exhausting. You get injuries. You get sore muscles. You get your hair pulled out and you have to keep your nails short and blah, blah, blah.

Doesn't matter.

For me, when it's love, you do whatever it takes. When it's love, going to class isn't a chore. It's a CHANCE to see something you haven't seen before. It's a chance to grow.

What things keep you coming back to your BJJ school?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dealing with Defeat

It is always nerve wracking for me to watch my teammates fight in tournaments. My palms get sweaty. My heart pounds. By the end of a tournament, my voice is usually gone and, even if I didn't fight, I am exhausted. But being there to support the girls from the women's class took my anxiety to a whole new level.

Four of our new girls competed, three for the first time. Every time one of them stepped on the mat, I felt proud and scared at the same time. The fact that they were brave enough to try at all made me proud. What made the experience even better was seeing them use what they have been practicing in a high stress situation. They fought well and with a lot of heart. I couldn't be happier.

But, strangely, the thing I am most proud of happened in the week after the tournament. One of my girls went and lost. It happens to all of us. You work so hard, but it just doesn't come together. When that happens to one of my teammates, I always feel like I'm holding my breathe to see how they will take the loss. Will it shatter their confidence or push them to train harder for the next tournament?

Understandably, this student was upset right after the loss. She had given it everything she had. I've been there before. I hugged her, told her how proud I was of her and about all the positive things I saw in her grapple, then she and her friends watched the rest of the tournament and enjoyed themselves.

I wondered what she was thinking. Would she lose confidence in herself? Would she want to try again? Would she even want to keep training? This girl has a lot of potential and the thought of her quitting made me feel very anxious.

But I knew this was one of those defining moments that grapplers face. Jiu-jitsu is hard. You get bruised up physically and emotionally. But eventually, if you do not quit, you can learn from all your bumps and  bruises and hopefully avoid them in the future. Or deal them out yourself. ;)

When this student showed up for class the next week, I was paying close attention to her attitude. I found out everything I needed to know as soon as we slapped hands to grapple. She was hungry. She fought better and with more aggression than I had ever seen from her before. It wasn't just her trying to use strength, she was thinking. She was using her technique and she was coming after me. 

I couldn't stop smiling. I was even more proud of her then than I had been with her good attitude at the tournament. She wasn't going to quit. She was going to work harder. She was was going to make sure she learned her lessons from that tournament. Already, in the few weeks that have passed, I have seen improvement. 

So...keep struggling. Wear your bruises with pride. They're evidence that you're committed to growth, both as a grappler and as a person. Osss!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Teams Build People

When I first started coming to Fabio's, I thought it would be intimidating and maybe even slightly hazardous to my joints. I mean, you have a mat full of big, sweaty guys who are spinning around and jumping and twisting limbs and choking people. Kind of intimidating.

I was quiet as a mouse for a while after I started coming there. Very shy. I think I said "I'm sorry" even if someone accidentally bumped into me.

But I realized early on that the guys at the gym were not blood thirsty meat heads who might snap my arms off if I offended them. I started noticing how they went out of their way to help me during drilling, correcting little details I was doing wrong. I noticed how most of them were careful with their weight distribution while we grappled. Many of them even instructed me on things during my grapples. Anyone that I asked to help me was more than willing to try to help me understand difficult movements and concepts. I also noticed that these guys were a part of each others lives outside of the gym and were there for each other. And soon they were there for me too.

The team, I realized, was a big family. And it's function was to built people up, not just in the techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but in character as well. People who are lacking in confidence are encouraged and strengthened. People who are prideful are humbled, but then encouraged once they realize their mistake.  People who have trouble dealing with conflict learn how to manage their anger. People who are scared are challenged to face their fears. People who are passionate are given a channel to fuel their energy into.

For me, personally, my team has helped me develop self confidence. When I first came to Fabio's, like I said, I was very much a mouse in the corner. Through competition (which I hated until the past six months or so), through hitting the wall and having to keep going, through trying and failing, I have realized that it is ok to be imperfect. In fact, it is what makes us human. When I understand that it is ok for me to make mistakes, so long as I learn from them--on and off the mat--then I have freedom to try things I would otherwise be too scared to do.

I have learned that I can survive, even when I am being squashed by a giant man. I have learned not to give up, even when it looks like I am going to lose. I have learned that patience and adaptability can beat sheer power. I have learned never to underestimate what my body--and mind--are capable of doing even when I think I have nothing left.

The question I have is, since my team has given me so much, am I paying it forward? I want the answer to be yes.

Thanks for everything, guys. You are like my family and I love you!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Summer Training

It is hard for me to believe how fast time has flown by. Last summer, Stephanie and I started teaching the Women's Class at Fabio's. A few weeks ago, during Women's Class, I was watching the girls grapple and realized that they deserved stripes. 

It is funny, because we don't focus that much on stripes and belt promotions at our school. Fabio tries to get us to think about learning, not about "advancing". So it is not something that is in the forefront of my mind usually. 

But when I was watching the girls grapple, I was noticing things like how they were keeping their base when passing guard, how they are keeping good pressure from top positions, how they are attacking and seeing submissions from different positions and transitioning between positions and submissions. And I realized belatedly that these girls are not brand new beginners anymore. 

They've grown. 

Fabio had taken the stripe tape with him to the Brandon school, but I was too excited to wait for the real tape. So one my friends, Anthony, helped me make stripes out of medical tape. Hahaha. Three of the girls got the most gheto (but really meaningful to me) stripes that night. Congrats to Victoria, Madison and Shelby!! 
There is someone else I need to sing praises to as well. 

Stephanie is the cream filled center of my Oreo. She's not only my best friend, but she has been right beside me since day one with the Women's Class. Starting up a new program--especially one that tries to convince women to come in, get sweaty and fight other women--is hard. We have seen a lot of girls come in and not come back. We've seen some come and stay for a while, then leave. But slowly, over time, we have been built up a core of dedicated women who love the sport. I don't think I would have been able to do it without Stephanie.

 Now, as summer comes, we are getting ready to bring or Women's Class to a tournament in July. The girls are kicking it into high gear and I couldn't be more proud of them. It is so exciting for me to see them growing both in skill and confidence. I love my ladies!!

On an unrelated note, I had the pleasure of going to visit The Armory in Palm Beach a few weekends ago. I went to visit a friend of mine, Marcelo Cohen, who trains there. Everyone at The Armory welcomed me like I was family. I had some awesome training there and, if you're ever in the Palm Beach area, don't miss the chance to go there. You will meet some great people and get some great training. Thanks to everyone there for making my weekend so awesome! 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

2012 PanAms

I am finally carving out time to write my Panams post!! It was such a great experience all around, it is hard to know what to talk about first. 

I mentioned on here that I was cutting weight to the division below the one I normally fight in. I usually do lightweight, so this time, I cut to featherweight. I only had to drop around 10 lbs and I started in December, so I thought it wouldn't be that difficult. At first, it wasn't. I just cut my calories and upped my cardio. But as I got closer and closer to the competition, those last few pounds were REALLY hanging on for dear life. I was in full blown panic mode by the time I left.  

Enter three of the best teammates ever!

From the left, you have Ray, Jimmy and Brian. They helped me not to lose my mind on Wednesday and Thursday. They went down with me to do cardio Wednesday night and Thursday night. But, even though I was eating super clean and doing cardio, I still was a pound over on Friday morning when I had to fight.

I've never gone to a tournament and not made weight. I was panicking, for sure. I had already done 30 mins of cardio in sweats that morning and I hadn't eaten anything. The night before, I had done 45 mins of cardio, ate only and apple and an orange and slept in sweats. Still a pound over.

Fabio told me to go out to the car in sweats and in my gi,, turn the heater up and sweat it out. I was sitting out there, freaking out, and one of my teammates, Paul, called me. He talked me through everything and got my mind off of the panic. After about 40 mins, I went back in and weighed in and made weight! Woohoo!!

With all the worry about making weight, I wasn't nervous at all about the actual competition. After I made weight, I was so happy that the rest of the day was! At the Miami Open, I was able to relax and not be a nervous wreck. But this time, I actually had a lot of fun.

I was thrilled to see a lot of Florida girls at the Pans. Shout out to Melissa Bentley, who I got to fight in my division. She was by far my hardest match, both times. Glad to have gotten to know you more, girl!! I also saw Jennifer, from over at Also, congrats to Amanda "Tubby" Santana, who not only competed and did well, but also got promoted to purple belt on the podium! :)

I learned a lot at this tournament, especially about the mental aspect of competing. I learned that my body can do much more than I thought, if I push myself and stay focused. Also, I got over my fear of take downs and the stand up portion of competition. I didn't do any awesome take downs, but for the first time I felt comfortable on my feet. That is a big step for me. Maybe I can start to be a little more confident to try new take downs in the future.

I also had a breakthrough with a sweep from guard. When the other person stands up in your guard, you swim the leg, switch your hips and take them over. In my first match, I forgot about it. But my teammate, Jimmy, was screaming from the sidelines in my next match telling me to do that sweep. I did and after that, I saw that sweep all over the place. Fabio has shown me that sweep about a million times, but I never really noticed it during the heat of grappling until that moment. Funny how things click sometimes.

When I look back at competitions in the past, they have not been fun for me. I put so much pressure on myself to perform that I missed out on all the joy of being on the mat and meeting new people and just enjoying the fun. But now, I look at it differently. I have nothing to prove to anyone. All I can do is go out on the mat, do what I know, fight my hardest and enjoy the people and the experience. If I can do that, win or lose, I can walk off the mat happy.

Here are some pictures from the trip:
Team Fabio Novaes!! 
Featherweights represent!! All three of us placed in our division AND in absolute. Little people rule! :)
Us on the podium for our division.
Double Rainbow all the way! What does it mean??? lol
Congrats to the Tower of Terror, Brian Germain, and Ray!

Soooo....this is what happened after I was done fighting. And it has kept on happening ever since! 
Got to see a little bit of the beach.

Last story. There were a lot of really awesome BJJ grapplers at the tournament and every time I turned around, I was all fan-girl about someone. Got to see a lot of awesome fights. Tried to soak it up like a sponge. But there was one guy, who wasn't competing, that I wanted to get a picture with. Marcelo Garcia. I really love his grappling style and am a little bit star struck by him. lol. My teammates kept making fun of me, because I would see him, start to go over to ask for a picture with him, then chicken out and turn back. Finally on the last day of the tournament, my teammate Ray sees me looking at Marcelo and he shouts out, "Hey Marcelo! This girl has been trying to get a picture with you all week!" 
Needless to say I blushed a little bit. But he was really nice and he came over and took a picture with me. Much happiness was had on my part. :)
Great trip. Great experiences. I really hope I can go back next year!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Finding Space

Sometimes when you are grappling someone bigger and stronger, it can feel like your face and the mat are having an inappropriate relationship.

You know by watching how your instructor moves out of bad positions from underneath behemoths that it is possible to escape superior strength and size. You hear talk about leverage and hip movement, about using people's momentum against them. But when you get into an actual grapple and someone locks you down, it may feel like there is no possible way to move. The person is too tight. Or they have too much weight on you. Maybe they are just enormous and you feel like you are trying to grapple the moon. 

Fabio told me something one time that changed the way I thought about getting out from underneath heavier, stronger people or people who are locking me down. He said that a person cannot be tight everywhere at once. For example, if someone is locking down your head and shoulders, your hips will have room to move. Conversely, if someone locking down your hips, you will be able to make space with your upper body. Unless you are grappling an octopus or some kind of freakish alien, people simply don't have enough limbs to effectively lock down your whole body at once. 

These are some steps I have have been working on when I am under lock down:

 1. Instead of focusing on where I am trapped, I try to think about which parts of my body I can move and use.

2. If something is being pushed down, instead of pushing back, I try to either slide out to one side or the other, going towards the space from the areas that aren't locked down. Usually, this requires getting an under hook and a lot of hipping. 

3. I try to remember that I don't always have to come out to a side. Sometimes I can come out from behind a person, or invert and sneak over their head to their back. Taking risks and possibly landing in a worse position is part of learning how to escape.  

4. If I am trying to hip out to one side and a person is driving into me, changing directions quickly--like hipping back into them suddenly--will usually throw a person off balance and either give me room to escape or enable me to sweep. Unless, of course, they already expect my little tricks and then they just laugh while they squash my feeble attempts at freedom.