Chop Wood, Carry Water

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!!