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!!