Chop Wood, Carry Water

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Competition, Motivation and the Prego Rant of the Day.

Ok so here goes......

         First off I would like to congratulate Team Roberto Traven for taking first place at the IBJJF Atlanta Open this past weekend.    Everyone trained their tails off for this and there is not a team around more deserving of the title.

         Secondly, holy wow I miss Jiu Jitsu!    It has been 27 weeks since I have been able to train (we found out about baby Roman after 8 weeks) and it has gone by relatively quickly.  I will say that after a month of not being able to train I looked down at my callus healed fingers and said "this is going to suuuuuuuuck building these bad boys back up."  However not being able to train due to being pregnant is much more manageable than not being able to train during an injury.  I think it's due to the fact that I know that I can't train for x amount of time whereas when I'm injured I never know when I will heal, whether it be 3 days or 3 weeks.  I have been able to lift weights and do cardio which has helped me a lot mentally during these months not to mention the baby seems to like it (I am absolutely making that last part up).
         As I mentioned above the IBJJF Atlanta Open was this past weekend and this was the first local tournament I have been to and not competed in in I don't know how long.   It was interesting to take everything in although I get so nervous and excited for teammates (especially Jeff) that my body reacts like I am about to compete;  the jitters, frequent bathroom breaks, and endless pacing had me in a tizzy not to mention I think baby Roman was nervous because I'm fairly certain he turned Saturday and is no longer breach.  LOL. Anyway onto the main point....

         Since I was able to watch and coach all day it was unavoidable that I would observe some great AND ridiculous actions by competitors and coaches.  This post focuses on the ridiculous and to be specific the way coaches coach their students.   I will start by saying that I am not going to mention any names or affiliations/teams.    Most of the ridiculousness was put forth by the same coach the entire day, I just happened to be watching/coaching near the same mat.  I first noticed this behavior around 11 am: as the competitors walk out onto the mat each coach/set of teammates usually yells something along the lines of "let's go (insert competitor name here) or come on or get it or, well you get my point.  In this particular case I heard "This is your match Dumbledore, he ain't got nothin' for you!"  I'm inserting the names of Harry Potter characters so as to not let on to any particular person (you're welcome).  Immediately I looked at this coach in disbelief.    Oh, that's your idea of motivation?  That's not motivation, that's heckling and its ridiculous.   I heard this same line, or at least some variant of this line multiple times throughout the day.   Really people?!   This is disrespectful.   I can honestly say I have never heard Professor or any of his coaches say something like this and that's probably because they know how to be coaches and not jackwagons.  I honestly don't understand how this even forms in one's brain for him to say...."hmmmph; my way of motivating my student is to let the other team know that I think their competitor is garbage."   Seriously.   I'm sure some competitors don't notice this, I never have when I've competed just due to the fact that nerves are running amok and there is so much going on and you're in the zone ready to go.   But from any spectator, coach, or ref's point of view this is just plain silly and unnecessary.    Pump your student up by being encouraging to THEM, not by trying to bring down the other competitor who worked just as hard getting ready for this competition.   Maybe it just boils down to the fact that this particular coach didn't mean any disrespect but just sucks at using words.  Either way you need a new method.
        I really wanted to highlight the above scenario because it stuck out in my mind.   However I had some other observations and I would like to list them for you:

                        - Dudes love to argue with referees
                        - If you insult someone with a terrible slur during a match this person may stand up and headbutt you.
                        - Digital scoreboards are waaaaaay easier to read then the cheap card-flippy ones (thank you Pan Ams and Worlds for spoiling us).
                        - Dudes think they are going to win arguments with referees =)

The tournament was great indeed and word on the skreet is that the IBJJF is going to start to have two tournaments here each year.   I hope one day they actually have the tournament in Atlanta Proper instead of "Atlanta" which is really College Park so that that people think that there is more to this city than an airport and a Citgo with a really crappy selection of sundries.  Until next time.....

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

You're Pretty Tough For a Girl

Listen up:  The next time I hear this I am going to slap the person whose mouth it comes from.   No, I am not tough for a girl, I am just tough.  I think that 95% of the time it really is meant as a compliment from a guy who unfortunately doesn't know how to socialize with women.   However; it is back handed and never comes out the right way.  This also means that you shouldn't say "Man you're really good for a girl."  If Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has taught us anything its that the sport can help to "level" the playing field between the sexes.  Oh, and you don't hear us grunt, scream, and get hernias and break ribs from trying to throw each other all over the mats.  We are good because we train our butts off and learn the techniques and implement them in training instead of trying to prove who the pride leader is.  I AM a woman, I AM tough, I am NOT tough for a woman.    RAWR!  

Monday, July 9, 2012



Friday, June 29, 2012


Growing up I was never amazing at one particular sport.    I usually placed in all of my competitions, but when it came down to the big tournaments or the big competitions, I usually did not win. In swimming, basketball, and volleyball I considered myself above average, and in some instances pretty good.  However I was always aware of the fact that I was never going to be a professional basketball player and I would never make it to the olympics in swimming.  However on that same note, I could usually pick up quickly on most sports and hobbies that I tried (except soccer, I can't kick a ball straight to save my life).  Whenever I lost in high school and beyond did not take it too terribly hard, probably because I was used to being a "bridesmaid" and in many cases I came in second place to one of my best friends.   In particular I think about my summer swim league team.   Good ol' Nantucket.....One of my best friends growing up was Casey.  We had everything in common.  We were fairly inseparable growing up and we also played the same sports.   Summer swim league was pretty much what we lived for each summer.   I don't think I ever beat her in a single race.  Maybe every once in a while I would inch her out, but she usually won every event we swam together.  At the end of the season she would get the high point trophy and I would get the runner-up trophy for point accrued over the season.  At the time I was jealous of course but every year I would say "this is my year."   This runner-up song and dance happened every other year (due to me being 2 years older sometimes I would be in a different division).  I think this is how I learned how to lose, how to be so close to winning, but just not quite there.   In my mind I knew that I was a strong swimmer, even good maybe.  But I knew I wasn't the best.

When I started BJJ I wasn't surprised that I was able to pick it up more quickly than some of the other white belts I started with.   My very first competition as a white belt I was fired up.  It was the Lutador Grappling tournament and I had been training for 2 months.  Traven and Jeff seemed fairly confident in my abilities and I was confident as well.   I got my ass whooped.   My first no gi match I was able to pull off a triangle that was a fluke in every sense of the word, literally the girl fell into it (I think she tripped).  My second match was  against my now teammate Denise Houle.  She licked my hide.  Finally the match came to an end when she had me in an armbar that would most definitely have been my end if I wouldn't have slammed her.  Yeah I know.  I thought this was legal.   Idiot!   I was disqualified and I put on my Gi to get ready for the next division.  My first Gi match was against a girl from Alliance.   I think the final score was 30 to 0, no joke.  Afterwards I was upset, of course no one likes to lose.  But then I knew okay, you thought you were okay at this, but you're nowhere near it.  Back to the drawing board.   So I trained, and trained, and trained.  I ended up placing 3rd at the Pan Ams 6 months later and then 2nd at Mundials.   I received my blue belt when I won my division at Lutador in the fall.  The following Pan Ams and Mundials I placed 1st in my divisions at the blue belt level and I was surprised to say the least.  I was not used to winning big competitions.  It had finally happened!!  I felt great and the following year Professor Traven gave me my purple belt.   Then I won Pan Ams and purple belt.  Then Mundials came around.  I knew I was stepping up in level and some of these girls could potentially have trained twice as long as I have.   I lost my first match.  I didn't just lose my first match, but I lost via armbar within the first minute I believe.  I was so embarrassed.  I felt awful right after it happened and I should have tapped sooner as I ended up having a hurt elbow for 3 weeks following that match.  Then a few days later I felt okay.   I can't explain why, and I wasn't sure if at the time if this was a healthy reaction or not.  I talked to my parents, I talked to a few friends, I talked to my brother.  I think they were all surprised at how well I handled it.  I couldn't rationalize in my mind why I felt the way I did and why I was not as upset as I was.  I'm sure some people thought I was gonna crack, but I was okay.  I couldn't train BJJ for a few weeks, then last week I was able to train again.  I have been able to do techniques I was never able to do before, and I am attempting things that I was hesitant to do for the last few years.  I feel awesome.  I feel strong.  I feel like I have my mojo.  You can't win everything, and I completely understand that.  The only rationalization that I have for feeling the way I feel is that I learned how to be decent at a sport but still lose at that sport when I was younger.  Is my goal to win?  ALWAYS.  No one likes to say that losing is good for them, come on, it sucks!  But you really do learn from it.  You either shut down and quit or you learn from it and get better.  I choose to get better!   I have asked Jeff in the past...would you rather be amazing at one sport, or pretty good at a bunch of sports?   My client Brooke and I had this discussion today, and this is what made me want to blog about this.  I choose being good at many sports.  Granted, I would have loved to be in the Olympics for the 200 IM, but it just wasn't meant to be.  Instead I believe that being okay at many sports has instilled the attitude I have today.  I am more accustomed to getting 2nd or 3rd place than getting first place, and many times not even placing at all.  When I do win, its freaking awesome I'll admit!  Although I played many sports growing up, I have found the one sport that I LOVE, and that is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Win or lose, I will not quit, I choose to continually grow as an individual and a teammate in this sport and get better with each training session.  So Casey Hudson, thanks for always beating me in summer league, this one's for you.  And boom goes the dynamite.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

10 Uncomfortable Things

So here is a funny, but quite true post about my opinions on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Today's post describes 10 things that are highly UNcomfortable that you must become comfortable with if you want to make BJJ a lifestyle.  This post is mostly for the ladies, but some of the items on the list might be relevant for the man folk as well.   Yes, I am aware that I am a lowly blue belt and my BJJ journey is just getting underway.  However as you will read I am CERTAIN that you will all agree with this list and its components.  Enjoy!

10 Things that are uncomfortable that you must become comfortable with in order to make BJJ a lifestyle:

1)  Your ears hurt.   Seriously.  Unless you wear ear protection (a lot of ladies don't) your lil' ears are sore all the time.  They get bent, squished, and burned constantly.  Because most of us ladies did not grow up wrestling, we are not predisposed to the cauliflower ear prevention methods, i.e. ear protection.

2)  Your water bill will be 120 dollars a month....minimum.  Every day you wash a gi, sometimes 2;  not to mention all of your other training gear every day.   You may take 2 showers a day, wash your hands a lot, and become good friends with Hibiclens.  ;)

3)  No matter what you do, your Gi just will not get clean anymore and becomes permanently "seasoned."  There comes a point when no matter how many times you wash a gi, on hot, it still smells the second you get warmed up in class.

4)  Someone's sweat WILL drop into your eye or into your mouth.  I don't think anyone will ever get comfy with this, but your reaction goes from "WTF, gross!" to "ah, no worries it happens."   YUCK

5)  Your arms and legs will never be sexy.  They will have at least one obnoxious bruise on them at all times.  A bruise that makes your parents wonder if your fiance is beating you.  Yeah, I just said that.

6)  Almost every time you train there will be rogue hairs in your mouth.  Not your rogue hairs, but someone elses; black, curly ones that end up inside your mouthpiece and sometimes make it down your throat.  Groooooosss.  Hopefully you can dig them out of your mouth before you swallow them.

7)  The back of your arms getting pinched.  Remember in middle school kids used to pinch that back of your arms and it would make you sooooo mad?   Ugh, I remember this as a crappy flirting technique that guys in 6th grade used to employ...oh yes, pinching the back of my arm will make me want to hold your hand for sure.  About as useful of a flirting technique as snapping a girls bra.  Aaaaanyway this is commonplace and happens on accident on the regular.  This pairs with number 5 because it gives you ugly bruises on your arms that people want to get an explanation for.

8)  Your fingertips look like a Clingon's forehead.  No really.  And yes, a Star Trek reference was warranted here.  Your fingertips look so ugly from the calluses that you won't let anyone take a picture of your engagement ring on your finger because all you see is ENORMOUS RED FLAKY callouses in the picture.   Wait, what?  No, I'm not talking about me.....;)

9) You injure parts of your body that you didn't know existed.  Along these same lines you injure parts of your body that you know exist, they are just completely random.  Oh this tiny little pinpoint spot on my knee hurts.  Or your thumb hurts like hellfire for a reason you can't remember.

10)  Someone will breathe inside your mouth.  Someone who you don't want breathing inside of your mouth. This one is the worst to me.  It actually happened today....let's imagine it shall are near the end of an intense training session, someone is trying hard to sweep you, or vise versa, and at the same time you are starting to breathe in through your mouth because its sooooo hot and humid, your sparring partner exhales hard....right into your mouth.  Then you violently try and exhale their air back out of your mouth before you inhale it back into your body where it will be trapped forever and ever and ever and ever....wait, also not talking about me.  ;)

In my opinion, these are some of the biggest doozies.  There are many more to name and I would love to have them added onto the list.  Please let me know what you think!  Cheers!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Competition Season Prep

It has been what seems like FOREVER since I last posted....The holidays, combined with the upcoming nuptials and my last semester of graduate school have all taken their toll on my free time to blog.  The holidays were great, I was able to lighten my training which was difficult, but necessary in order to prevent the ever so common staleness and overtraining effects.  They were filled with family, fun time, and great memories.  2012 has been a kick in the pants so far for sure.  My weeks have filled right up with my personal training job, my internship (free, mind you), wedding planning, and my own training.  It has been a daily juggling act but I have finally ironed out all the kinks and am sticking to a pretty strict schedule.  One big change that I have made is switching my off day.  As any competitive athlete knows the off day is the favorite day!  Eat what you want, relax and receup before a hard week of training begins again.  There is team training on Sundays now, so I switched my off day to Friday.   I love this training on Sundays because Traven makes it his personal mission to single-handedly take our souls on the mats.  I leave feeling accomplished and absolutely exhausted!  So far it has been a great training camp!  Each day I learn something new and take away a new technique to incorporate into my game.  Really excited about upcoming Lutador Grappling March 3rd here in Atlanta and Pan Ams at the end of March.  Before I know it Mundials will be here!
         The wedding is going to be on October 13th this fall.  Stressful is quite the understatement so my training is helping with easing the built up tension!  It is crazy the things that stress you out when you are planning a wedding.  Who would have thought that merely collecting addresses would be so irritating!!
         This afternoon I was lucky to be on Tom McManus' radio show out of Jacksonville, Florida.  It is called Suck it Up Radio and each week they do a segment on some aspect of the MMA scene.  Tom and Larry asked me to be on the show and give my perspective being a female in a male dominated sport/atmosphere.  We chatted about all sorts of things ranging from nutrition to training regimen to bullying.  It was a great time and I am very appreciative to Larry and Tom for having me on the show.  Yay!  I will post the interview sometime next week.  
         Until next time; train on!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Off Season

This time of the year is considered our BJJ off season here at the gym.  From the end of October until the first of the year there are no big Gi tourneys for the team.  There are a few Nagas and Copa Americas here and there but no IBJJF events for us.  I am not complaining.  Because of the holidays, AKA time o' indulgence, AKA family time, I am not upset that there is not a huge tournament that I have to be in peak physical BJJ condition for.  Speaking of physical conditioning, I am taking this time of year to improve my strength and conditioning.  Instead of S & C 2-3 times a week and BJJ 5 days a week like I did during tourney season I have flipped it.  Right now I am doing 3-4 days a week BJJ and 4-5 days of S & C.  I felt strong during the past year however I felt like my cardio could use a boost.  I am still lifting a few days a week and doing cardio and interval training at least 3 days a week.  Today I accomplished an updated interval workout that has pushed me beyond any prior workout of the same nature (double word score!).  Although I was exhausted I feel like I have taken a big step forward with my cardio.  My goal is to progress even further with my cardio and then be able to maintain the same workout or progress into the tournament season.  I have also started heavy squatting again.  Because of my guard game and the strain on the legs I have been advised not to squat during tournament season so as to avoid injury (did I say advised?  I mean I was forbidden, lol).  I have been squatting consistently for about a month again and I feel like I have picked up right where I left off and probably a little beyond that in terms of weight lifted.  I also have backed down the BJJ sessions so I don't become burned out and get discouraged.  There is not a worse feeling for me than feeling burned out.  Its like a hopeless, frustrated tornado that spins out of control for me sometimes. Instead I have a calorie-burning, fat-blasting, heart-racing, squat-wrecking tornado and its a dandy (F5 most likely).  My goal is to be a beast come next tournament season. I do not just want to be conditioned.  I want to have the tightest female triangle in North America come next March.  I also want to be able to go for days.  Oh, that round was only 10 minutes?  It went by fast. That's what I want to say come March.  Here's to training:  May the intervals seem short and the rest periods seem long.  Cheers!!