Monday, October 3, 2011


This past Saturday was the NoGi Pan Ams and one of my old coaches and one of my old teammates came and competed. After planting trees in the Bronx (AmeriCorps stuff), picking up cupcakes, and battling downed subway routes, I eventually made it to the venue. After seeing Jeff's beard in the crowd I was able to catch up with them for the rest of the night. It was nice to see some old faces and wished they could have stopped by Shaolin's to train! But I needed to ship those southerners back to Atlanta where they belong :)

The next day there was a women's only open mat. It is going to be held at different schools across the city and held about every 2 months. There were about 15 girls there with a good mix of whites, blues, 2 purples and a brown belt. Got some awesome rolling in and it was good to go against people who I knew nothing about. I didn't know their strengths or weaknesses and it was good to get exposure to other people's styles, as inevitably your instructor favors a certain game. Not to mention everyone was really friendly and we all talked afterwards about where we train and what the environment is like at each of our respective gyms. No nonsense, just some good solid training and then talking afterwards. I'm excited that the first one was a success and that there will be one every other month or so. One of my teammates and I told Shaolin about it and he said he would be happy to lend the school out for mat space. Plus I got to wear my Scramble rainbow tights which is always a plus!

And if you think I couldn't top that....well you're wrong. Sarah, one of my new teammates, told me that one of the people at the gym is good friends with Hillary Williams and that Hillary would be interested in coming to the lunchtime BJJ class at Shaolin's if the other girls were interested. Well OBVIOUSLY we are! I don't normally take a lunch break at work and just do emails while eating, but I ducked out and ran to Shaolin's. I was partnered with another blue belt girl for drills, and one of my last rolls was with Hillary! She was very personable
and asked me if I was working on anything. I started on bottom in half guard, which she promptly passed. She was good about latching onto submissions but then quickly letting go so that the roll would continue. Not that I was surprised, but it was insane at how easily someone can just smash your game into pieces. Since I normally roll with whites, blues and purples, the experience gap is smaller than it is with a black belt world champion.

Hillary is EXTREMELY humble and down to Earth. She spoke with all the girls after class and told us the following:

-don't think about trying to beat someone in class. If they started before you, they're probably always going to be better than you because just as you get better, they will too but they are already a little ahead
- don't have an ego. If a 250lb dude wants to roll with you, don't do it just to prove a point. This also applies to tapping- she showed us how her elbow now doesn't extend all the way
- While BJJ is about technique over strength, BJJ is not JUST about technique over strength. It's about using your strength effectively. She then demonstrated this by being in side mount and being really tense followed by by being in side mount and distributing your weight so that you're tough to move
- she also said that "She has quit BJJ for life seven times" which shocked me! She told us that there are peaks and valleys in training but not to get discouraged

This was all of course followed by a group shot with Hillary taken on
about seven phones and I was able to get one with her as well. By this time I had been out of work for two hours so I ran back to work wearing my gi. Yes, wearing my gi. I figured since I'd stayed out for so long I might as well look like I was doing something cool! But as long as I get my work done and get my hours in my coworkers don't really mind things like that. I was well on time for a work call, so it's all good! Out of respect for my teammates, I did not go to evening BJJ, as my only gi was now sweaty and stuffed in the bottom of my backpack. This also made me realize this was one of the first times I'd eaten dinner with my parents in a while, as I'm either at BJJ and getting home late or they are out doing something. Such is the nature of obtaining a work/life/play balance!

So basically the past few days have been awesome, between seeing my old teammates, training with people I didn't know before, and meeting Hillary effing Williams.

Also, if you come across this page and are interested in the NYC Women's Open Mat, feel free to go ahead and "like" "NYC Women's Open Mat" on Facebook. Stop by if you're in the area, whether permanently or just on vacation!

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