Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jiu Jitsu Is (Or Can Be) Selfish

I recently spoke to one of my friends who is moving back home and coming back to train with me at Jason Scully's academy. He was previously training full-time; he trained three times per day and competed all the time. He trained at Jason's for a long time, but left with Jason's blessings after finding an opportunity to train full-time and compete as much as he could.

I spoke with this friend online and he said that he realized he didn't want jiu jitsu to be his entire life. He will always want jiu jitsu to be a big part of his life, but not his entire life. He told me there are so many things he wants to do and see, and training full time gets in the way of that. Training that much often doesn't allow you the opportunity to go to school, see your friends/family/significant other much, work a regular 9-5 job, or even go out and eat/drink if you're watching your weight for a tournament. Most likely, you're probably very tired throughout the day because of training and don't even have the energy to do a lot of those things.

It becomes more difficult to relate to others as you let jiu jitsu take over your life. I find it very hard to relate the intricacies of jiu jitsu, the fun and rush of competing, the thrill of learning new techniques, or even just explaining why certain jiu jitsu matches are exciting (because let's face it, unless you train, watching competition footage is definitely a "WTF is that, I don't get it" moment for a lot of people) to people who don't train. It's hard for others to understand why you've chosen not to go out and drink that night or why you're forgoing the dessert so you can make weight. Because for others, it just doesn't make sense. Most people who play sports after college are doing so in a casual recreational league atmosphere where people are balancing their lives with their activity of choice, not balancing their sport with their lives, as is done in BJJ.

Now this isn't to say that it isn't possible to work and go to school and still train full-time and be successful. Pulling Guard Zine recently published an article that shows Justin Rader's schedule. He works 40 hours a week, goes to school, trains, does strength and conditioning, and is one of the most successful BJJ competitors in the country and the world! So is it possible? Yes.

But my main point here is that jiu jitsu is/can be selfish. Training and competing primarily benefits yourself. You're constantly focusing on your own progress, strength, health, and mindset all as it relates to jiu jitsu. For those who work 9-5 jobs, practice is often soon after work meaning he or she doesn't get home to the family or significant other until late. You do, of course, end up building a strong school or team because your hard work pushes others on the mat, but in terms of your relationships off the mat, jiu jitsu certainly takes away from them to a certain degree. Of course, many other things in life can have this effect, like a job that requires long hours, but I think most people are more used to balancing something like a job (which is more necessary and financially beneficial, unless BJJ is your job).

I also recently noticed that jiu jitsu pushed out some of my other hobbies. I rarely pick up my guitar anymore, or read a new book that isn't martial arts related. I've been making a conscious effort to bring these things back in to my life and balance them with training. Reading has been the easiest one since I have a 1.5 hour commute to work each way!

So am I saying jiu jitsu is bad? That you should quit because of these aspects? No. But I am saying this "selfish" aspect of it is something that I've noticed and have tried to keep in mind.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Abu Dhabi Pro Trials Recap

I lost my match at the Abu Dhabi Trials on points. People keep telling me it's okay because I was small for the division (I weighed in with all my clothes on at 122lbs; the upper weight limit is 139), but frankly I didn't care. I entered that tournament knowing I'd be on of the smallest people there and that it wouldn't stop me.

On a somewhat positive note, I was not as upset as I could have been. For the first time in a couple of tournaments, I didn't feel the same helplessness I have felt the past 2 tournaments. I definitely "lost better" (does that make sense?) than I have in the past in that it wasn't a quick submission, I was able to block some sweeps, and some of my past weaknesses weren't as glaring or capitalized on by my opponent. I also got to see some incredible matches afterwards. Of course there were big names like Cyborg, Keenan, DJ Jackson, Tanquinho, Mackenzie Dern, etc., but one of the cool things was that I got to see some of the rising colored belts. There were some INCREDIBLE purple belt matches; it's always great to see this sport continuing to progress and to see who are going to be the future big stars.

I've already moved on and am focusing on how to prepare for the Big Apple BJJ Open in December. It's a gi and nogi tournament being put on by Shaolin. Kinda weird that it's his tournament and I'm not with his school anymore, but I didn't leave with any bad blood so it's all good!

Training has been put to a temporary halt because of Hurricane Sandy. I'm EXTREMELY thankful that my house was not hit badly; we have no power (running on a generator though) and don't expect to soon, but my house wasn't damaged and there were only a few downed trees. My thoughts go out to those near the beach who were hit much worse.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A New Mindset for Competition

Tonight was my last night of training before the Abu Dhabi Trials and Grapplers Quest this weekend. For the first time, I feel relaxed. I remember the last time I did the Trials, I looked at the competitor list and promptly bugged out. I googled all the names, tried to figure out their rank, and tried to find video footage. This time, I saw the list of girls in my division, and continued what I was doing. I don't really care who is in my division, what their games are, how tall/big the other might be, or where they train. Because frankly, it's irrelevant. I'm 121lbs right now and the upper weight limit for the Trials is 139; I know I'm going to be one of the smaller ones in my division, but who cares! Is my game going to drastically change in the next 3 days because of something I found out about them on YouTube/the Internet? Probably not!

I've realized it's best for me to just focus on implementing my game against my opponent as opposed to worrying about what they will do to me. And logically that's made sense to me for a while, but it's finally clicked in my brain. I'm relaxed and confident without feeling cocky. This time, I doubt I'll be listening to loud music while getting amped and tense before I compete. I'll probably read or listen to something calm before I go out to compete. I'll post an update after Sunday!

Also, I'd like to thank Killer Bee Gi. After emailing them to ask when their women's gi was coming out, they responded by asking if I was sponsored. Since I wasn't, they extended a sponsorship opportunity to me! This is especially great for me because I'm not getting paid right now. Without the support of Killer Bee, I would not be competing this weekend because I wouldn't be able to afford to do so. I can also honestly say that the Killer Bee Gis are awesome; they are durable, have a clean design, and are within a VERY reasonable price range. I'll post a review in the coming days, but for now, go on over to Killer Bee Gi's website to check out their selection of men AND women's gis!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shelve It For Later

After a weekend in Atlanta for the wedding of one of my old coaches and training partners, I came home on Monday and went to the gym yesterday as well as this morning to make up for lost time. We've been doing some drills in class that have really been helping my game, and I've been rolling outside of class to stay sharp.

Jason said something about BJJ that really resonated with me. He said that sometimes you just aren't ready to learn certain moves or positions yet. For example, when he was shown Reverse De La Riva, his first thoughts were "What the heck, this is just some kind of weird half guard, why would I ever use it?". Of course he eventually learned Reverse De La Riva and can use it/teach it in many situations. But his advice was not to get frustrated if something doesn't click immediately or quickly because sometimes you just aren't ready for it yet. By the time you're a black belt, you'll have strengths and weaknesses, but there won't really be any more "mysteries" in terms of knowing and understanding moves, concepts, and positions.

That sentiment is kind of how I feel about my jiu-jitsu journey. I would see some of the things my coaches taught and it just wouldn't click. And I'd think/wonder for months if I was a bad student, if I was dumb, would I ever understand it, is it the teaching style, etc. But in reality, I just wasn't ready for some moves. I know some blue belts who LOVE the berimbolo, but to me it's still kind of a mystery. What seems "fancy" and intricate to some isn't to others, and it's not really anyone's fault nor does it point out some kind of deficiency. Sometimes you just need to shelve things for later.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tatami Women's Zero G V2 Gi Review

This gi was given to me by BJJHQ for the purposes of review. In no way, shape, or form does this influence my opinion of this gi. BJJHQ offers a "deal of the day" on BJJ gear and apparel, ranging from tshirts, gis, rashguards, and more.

Tatami is a British BJJ company that has made waves in the United States in the past year thanks to distributors like BudoVideos and MMA Outlet who now carry the brand. Tatami has also come out with a women's line of gis, as the amount of women participating in the sport continues to rise and there is a continued demand for gis that fit a female body type.

There was a delay in me posting this review because I've lost some weight from the time I initially received the gi, so it fits a little differently than it did when I first bought it.

First Impressions

This is a really sharp looking gi. The teal color really stands out against the white fabric. There are rectangular patches on the top side of the pants leg and the top of the shoulders with "Zero G" written on the patch. There is an embroidered "G" on the bottom of the right leg.

Direct from Tatami's website, the specs are as such:
- jacket made from 475gsm pearl weave reinforced gi material
- rubberized collar to stop moisture absorption during training and competition
- single piece jacket for reinforced strength, durability, and comfort
- 10oz heavy cotton stitching on all areas of the jacket and pants
- tapered fit for maximum competitive advantage
- 8oz double reinforced lightweight competition pants
- NEW Zero G V2 brand embroidery is strategically placed on the jacket shoulder, back of the neck and the bottom of the right leg

This gi is INSANELY light, under 3lbs! I received the F3 size, which is for someone who is 5'3-5'6" and from 52kg (about 115lbs) to 65kg (about 143lbs). When I initially received the gi, I was about 138lbs, but now I'm only 122lbs.


I've only washed this gi on cold and hung it to dry, and didn't notice any shrinkage.

The pants were a little tight on me when I was in the high 130s, but are a great fit now that I'm in the low 120s. I'm 5'5" so the length is just right, as the bottom of the pants fall just above the top of my feet without touching my feet. The pant material is almost like my old karate pants, very thin and light. I'm wondering how durable these pants will be over time, but as of now I don't see any fraying or tears. They're quite comfortable and I expect this is how the pants of most really lightweight gis will be unless the manufacturer opts for ripstop pants.

The sleeve length is good as well, definitely IBJJF legal and the width of the cuff is a good size; not too big that it's easy to grab and not too narrow to not pass a gi checker. The collar on this gi is reasonably thick- not quite as thick and stiff as a Keiko or KF gi, but definitely study, especially since this is such a lightweight gi.

However, the top of this gi is far too long. The skirt comes well below my bottom, which is a bit bothersome to me. I also find that the gi top comes out of my belt and undone too frequently during training. The actual material of the top is a nice pearl weave, very lightweight and breathable.


Overall, this is a great competition gi if making weight is an issue for you, but there are some sizing issues that Tatami should take in to account. The length was bothersome to me, but perhaps there are some people that prefer a longer skirt. I am wondering if this is a true women's cut or simply a men's gi that was made a little smaller. On their website, Tatami does say that they did a lot of research for this gi, but I'm wondering if most Tatami gis are known for having a longer skirt or if it was simply a mishap on Tatami's part. It's a solid gi, but the fit isn't right for me. Given the chance, I wouldn't get another one of these gis, but I'd recommend it to someone who might be a bit taller than me.

You can buy the gi through the website "Martial Arts Supplies". They offer hassle-free returns as well as free shipping on all items. The complete line of Tatami gis can be found by clicking here. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Redirecting My Energy

I'm finally ready to compete again. I've signed up for the Grappler's Quest in New Jersey and am debating doing both the under 119lb division as well as the 120-139.9 pound division. Through not drinking too much, eating healthy, doing strength and conditioning, and some other mystery I can't seem to fathom, I now walk around at 123 pounds. This is kind of astonishing, considering that about a year ago I was around 140lbs!!

Additionally, the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials are the day before Grappler's Quest, but Abu Dhabi weight divisions are MUCH different and for women, consist of only under 139lbs and over 139lbs. I would likely be one of the smallest in that tournament, but if I can weigh in for GQ on Friday, do the Trials on Saturday, and do GQ on Sunday, I'm down! Experience is experience, right?

Coming back up to compete has reminded me that I need to fix the mental aspect of my game. While I've become much less frustrated during class, I get WAY too amped the night before I compete. If any of you know who the UFC fighter Diego Sanchez is, that's pretty much what I'm like the night before I compete, sans Jesus/God references. Okay, and maybe less "YES!" cartwheels, but you get the idea.  But I think getting amped like that ultimately drains you. And while an adrenaline dump can help you get started, it's also an awesome way to gas during a 6 minute match.

Instead of listening to really intense music and pacing the night before, I'll probably relax a little and take my mind off the competition instead of being so preoccupied with it. Even in class, I've been less preoccupied with "winning" and more so with getting better.

Another thing I've added to my workouts is sprinting. I've been a distance runner since I was 14, and let me tell you, doing sprints for five minutes is 532049205x more exhausting than a ten mile run! I darn near collapsed at the end, but I think it's better for the explosiveness and speed needed in jiu jitsu.  I'm no fitness expert so I can't back that up with any science, but it's helping me!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Full Circle

This morning I stepped on the scale and weighed in at 124lbs.  This gives me five pounds for my gi, belt, and rashguard, meaning I'm good to go for featherweight! I'm excited because I think this is the weight class I really belong in.  I can't say I've altered my diet too much other than cutting out snacks/junk food and replacing some of my carbs with vegetables. I feel much better and think I've even gained some strength. I'd never starve myself to go down a weight class or deprive myself of food, because in the long run it'll wreck my metabolism.  I've been experimenting with different recipes and I'm happy I'm not one of those people who has to miserably eat a salad for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Since I've been very busy studying for the GRE and applying to graduate school, I've held back on competing.  I also recently picked up a part-time internship, but since it's unpaid, I'm also on the hunt for something paid (tuition money anyone?).  That being said, I'm back at Jason Scully's school in NJ because I am no longer in the city every day and can't afford to pay to train there and don't have the time to go into the city on days I don't work solely to train.

Jason's school has a mixed-levels class that goes for about an hour and a half.  When I trained at Shaolin's, I took the 5:30pm and 7:30pm classes, giving me about 2.25 hours of training per day. Even though I'm only getting 1.5-2 hours of training per day in now, I feel like I'm improving. Improving a lot, in fact. I'm not running out of the door after class with wet hair so I can catch the 9:30 bus back home and wake up at 6am. Instead, I'm leaving the school and driving 20 minutes home, and the latest I'm home now is 9:30pm and I only have to wake up at 7:15am every other day.

This brings me to the title of this post. A year ago around this time, I was getting ready for my new job in NYC and signing up at Shaolin's.  Now I'm just getting started with my internship and once again joining a new(ish) gym. As busy as I was last year, I'm even more busy this year because there is more on the line (grad. school). I'll be working like crazy until the winter, and then hopefully I'll get to train even more in the spring!

Although it would be nice to stay at one jiu jitsu school for more than a year...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Strength and Conditioning

One thing I've been adding to my training repertoire lately has been strength and conditioning.  I had never really done strength and conditioning outside of just training before winter of this year.  I saw many of the higher level belts at the school doing pull ups, sandbag exercises, and other lifts/exercises to help increase their strength for BJJ.

For a long time, I thought that just rolling a lot would help me develop BJJ-applicable strength.  However, most competitors are on some type of regimen.  I don't have access to a gym, so I've been working on developing my own setup without the use of a gym.  I thought about posting all the exercises here, BUT I am not a health/fitness professional and therefore don't feel comfortable posting my regimen in case it isn't the best one you can do.  I have, however, been using a bulgarian bag, which I've found VERY useful.  It makes you utilize your core to stay upright and you can work pretty much any and every muscle in your body using all the exercises.  I received mine as a present and it came with a DVD, so I've been working from that.

If you're interested in starting a strength and conditioning regimen, it's probably best to talk to your coach, as he/she has better knowledge about where to go, especially if he/she was/is a big competitor. I received most of my knowledge from my training partners, and have been satisfied with the results so far.  And as always, be very careful when starting a new exercise regimen, as taking it up too high too fast can cause injuries!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Since I've stopped training at Shaolin's, I've noticed I'm much more prone to try out new moves and work on my weaknesses.  A friend pointed it out to me and it kind of confused me.  Shaolin is a great coach and I love the atmosphere at his school.  So why am I suddenly more calm, patient, and willing to try out new techniques?

I realized that during my time at Shaolin's, I was putting too much pressure on myself.  I wanted so bad to so well that I took every failed sweep and submission quite personally.  I got crushed A LOT at Shaolin's.  I would leave class distressed but with no plan on how to improve.  I was focusing more on the fact that I was getting crushed than the fact that I needed to  improve.  I had no process in place for fixing my mistakes, not a good one at least.  So why did my attitude change just from training elsewhere?

**I'd like to note that this is NOT a knock on Shaolin's school.  I enjoy training with his students, I like learning from Shaolin, and I'd recommend it to anyone.  The problem here lies within myself**

At Shaolin's school, there are beginner classes for white belts and advanced classes for blue belts and up.  Jason just has a mixed class, but will sometimes assign different drills for white belts.  Since I often pair up with the other girl in class who is a white belt and am more likely to be paired up with someone who is of my experience or a lower rank, I can work on similar weaknesses and am not thinking "oh my goodness, I'm going to get owned AGAIN".  Now don't get me wrong, Jason also has students that can crush me like a bug, but there is a larger gradient of experience available in any given class.  Whenever I roll with white belts, I'm more likely to work on my weaknesses, as you don't get much out of imposing your "A" game on someone who doesn't have the same experience you do.

I know my mindset shouldn't be limited to who I pair up with, so I've been working on just remaining calm during drilling and rolling.  I can't let a class format dictate how I act.  What I may consider doing is taking a couple of private lessons to really work on my weaknesses.

If I get a job in NYC, I will return to Shaolin's with a new and better attitude regarding my training.  And if I end up staying in NJ or moving anywhere else, I plan on carrying around this new attitude with me!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Transitional Drilling

As I posted previously, the grant for my job in NYC ended, so I've been training at Jason Scully's school until I can find another job.  Jason's a great teacher and incorporated a really cool drill this past week that I'd like to keep doing.

He didn't have a name for the drill, but it consisted of each person doing two different movements against the other person and alternating back and forth.  For example, if two people start from the knees, one person might grab the collar (one) and then grab the pants leg (two).  The person would respond by kicking their leg out to break the grip (one) and try to get an underhook (two).  If you fail to break/establish a grip or position, it still counts as one movement.  It's a good way to see how you do your transitions.  I know that personally when I roll, it's tough for me to remember why I was swept or what led to me being submitted.  I'm hoping that I'll be able to find someone else who is interested in doing this drill at Jason's or Shaolin's open mat.

Additionally Jason had us roll for 45 minutes straight yesterday.  He said that if at any point you got tired you could take a quick sip of water and come back, but for the most part it should just be straight rolling.  Each person stayed with the same person the entire time.  I was paired up with a 6-month white belt girl, and to my knowledge, is the only other girl who trains at Jason's school.  I like training with her because everything she does is somewhat calculated; there's no random pushing, flailing, or movement without any thought behind it.  Even when she makes a mistake it's not a frustrated and tense attempt to get out of something.  Additionally, we have similar competition games so it's nice that we work on the same weaknesses and have similar strengths. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more cover letters to write, the GRE to study for, and a personal statement to write. AHH!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Quit Hating!

June 29th was the last day at my job.  It was grant-funded so it only lasted until the end of June, and I am currently looking for another job.  Hopefully in NYC so I can continue to train with Shaolin; they have a good number of girls and smaller guys who train so it's a great training atmosphere for me.

Having time off work has given me a lot of time to think.  I've had a decent amount of changes in my personal and professional life since work has ended has also given me a lot to think about.  One big thing I think that has been holding me back is how I view my opponents and those around me.  And please note that this entry isn't targeted at any one person- I've met people like this at tournaments, at gyms I've trained at, and through friends.

I think some people just enjoy talking smack about other people.  Whenever I'm talking smack, it's fairly obvious that I'm joking around.  However, I constantly hear others put down other teams as well as individuals on those teams.  How can you BLAME someone for winning? Because they're lanky? Flexible? Or my personal favorite "just naturally talented".  Even sandbagging; I understand that sandbagging does occur, but I bet if the same person was promoted after winning, the same people would claim that the instructor promotes too fast!  And then the infamous "oh no, he switched teams! what a traitor!".

Well guess what.  Your complaining does nothing for you, it does nothing for your opponent, and does nothing for your progress.  Your best bet is to focus your own skillset and body type to craft a certain type of game you'll use in competition.  Try working as hard, if not harder, than your competition.  See how difficult it is to advance the position and avoid stalling when you go against a really great competitor.  And regarding switching teams, some people do it for a better training environment, some have tensions between their instructor, and some people just move far away!

I've been accused of giving my opponents too much respect, and that's absolutely been true in the past.  I'd see a big team name attached to them and get intimidated.  I'd assume they trained more than me, that they did extra training and had more time than me to work out and roll.   Now I just see my opponent as someone in my weight class who has the same belt around my waist that I do.  I don't care if they're taller and lanky, short and stocky, or where they train.  Their habits are irrelevant to my progress.  If they beat me, I give them credit for exploiting my weaknesses, but I try and remember what I need to improve on from the match.

But I don't walk around calling those who beat me one trick ponies, stallers, or sandbaggers.  They're people that train jiu jitsu just like I do.  They probably have the same goals as me, like winning at the highest level they can achieve.  I'm not saying I'm trying to be friends with someone I compete against, but there is no point wasting negative energy on someone else when I can be putting that energy towards my own progress.

Anyway, that's my rant for today.  I'm hoping this upset stomach goes away so I can get back to training ASAP!  Since I'm so far from Shaolin's gym (I'd have to pay for a 400 dollar train pass plus the monthly fee to train there), I'll be training with Jason Scully unless another job opportunity in NYC or elsewhere comes my way.  Even so, my training is going to be much more sporadic because of studying and job hunting.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tough Times!

I've tried to write this entry several times, but figured I'd wait until I'd finished competing in a series of three tournaments. I competed at the Abu Dhabi Trials in NYC, the IBJJF NY Open, and the Big Apple Open.  I lost my first match in all of these tournaments.  The first I lost by an advantage, I lost by referee decision at the NY Open, and lost by submission at the Big Apple Open.

Needless to say, it's disheartening in some ways and enlightening in others.  Naturally, no one likes losing.  I don't care how well you take it, no one comes off the mat with a smile on their face. I'll be the first to say that I don't take losses well initially.  I'm fine when I am on the mat, but prefer to be alone once I leave the mat for a little while.  Quite honestly, if I could, I'd drill what I did poorly on right after I lose.  Of course that isn't really feasible, but after each tournament I try and go to open mat the next day to drill what I need to work on.

What made me upset was that I made the same mistake in the past four tournaments I've competed in.  I won't go into deep details, but it's something I need to work, it's something I've tried to work on, but I simply haven't been able to execute it yet.  Given that, I think it may have been a mistake to have competed in the NY Open and Big Apple Open if I knew that I hadn't really fixed that part of my game yet. 

Since Saturday, I've been refocusing; this is the enlightening part.  I'm a slow learner; it takes me a while to get a concept and apply it, whether it's school or jiu jitsu.  I'm now trying to apply some of the same concepts I used in school to help me understand movements and positioning in jiu jitsu, and even though it's only been a day or two, I think these methods are working well.  If I can break down each position into a set of smaller steps, then it's much easier for me to understand.  It's important to keep those smaller steps in mind while rolling for me so that I don't miss any details.  Prior to this, I think I was drilling somewhat mindlessly; I did the same moves over and over but didn't absorb the concepts or details.

I've decided not to compete again until I feel like I've really made strides in my weaknesses.  I'm hoping to use this summer as a time to focus on improving my weaknesses; during competition time, I often focus on how to implement my strengths and gameplan, but not so much on overall improvement.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Really? I haven't posted since January 30th? Shameful!

February was an incredibly busy month for me. At work we had two big grant applications, which means 50 hour work weeks, and on top of that I was training 3-4 times per week, 2-2.5 hours each time. Not to mention I would miss dinner some of those days because I would run straight from work to the gym without even a small snack. This did not end well! I ended up getting sick and being completely under the weather for a couple of days. Even though I'm not sick anymore, it's only today (about 2 weeks later) that I finally don't have a runny nose. Bottom line is, don't kill yourselves people! If your body is overworked, listen to it and take some time off. Get some more sleep, and make sure you fuel your body correctly. It's pretty scary to see your own actions manifest themselves in your own body and well-being.

I competed in the Long Island Pride tournament last Saturday. I lost both of my matches by one advantage. The first person I went against immediately pulled guard. I was able to get to half guard twice but never able to fully pass. The stupid thing I did was that I kept leaning forward to stack instead of posturing up, so she got an extra advantage for a submission attempt (triangle) and one for an armbar attempt. So if I had not leaned forward, there is a better chance that I would have done better in that match. No excuses, she won fair and square, and I'm not saying that if I postured that I would have won the match, but it's something I've been working on like crazy now.

My second match was against a teammate, and we decided to go all out. I lost this match by an advantage as well, and also kept leaning forward in her guard. Needless to say, I was really upset at the end. I've never competed and lost both of my matches. A friend of mine who was coaching me took me aside and calmed me down a little, and reminded me that getting angry wouldn't help anything. I lost both my matches in VERY close situations and that if I made small improvements that there is almost guaranteed better results for next time.

The next day I hiked back out to New York City and went to open mat, where I started every matched from inside my opponent's closed guard. I was surprised at how well I was able to keep my balance by simply posturing up, which gave me a lot more confidence in my balance and base. I ended it with a 30 minute roll with a 185lb blue belt guy who was really good as using his technique and not his weight.

I'll be competing at the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials on Sunday, the New York Open on April 21st, and then at the Big Apple Open in May. My wallet hurts just typing that!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Math and BJJ

So apparently when you go on vacation from work there is approximately 100x more things to do than when you left ten days ago. This has been the story of my life since January 3rd, but thankfully I've been able to train relatively consistently.

Shaolin has added a new BJJ drills class on Tuesday nights for the new year. It is largely a conditioning class based off of functional BJJ drills, like arm drags and takedowns. It serves a few purposes as it'll improve strength (I had to drag someone across the mat by their belt last time), conditioning, and drilling necessary techniques. There is no live rolling in this class at all.

I think drilling is a really underrated part of jiu jitsu. Many people (naturally) want to get as much rolling in as possible but I think it's really important to drill techniques your instructor shows you, especially since techniques often build off of and into various sequences and positions. In this way, I think jiu jitsu is a little bit like math. When you first start taking math, you learn what numbers are, followed by addition and subtraction. Slowly you learn addition and subtraction with double/triple digit numbers and move onto multiplication and division. This spirals you into Algebra, Trigonometry, Calculus, statistics, and other realms of math. However, you can't learn algebra without first learning how to add and subtract, and without algebra you certainly can't do trig or calculus. Similarly, in jiu jitsu, you start off with learning a few basic things, like what guard, mount and side control are, and moves like the americana and armbar. Then you learn how to use and manipulate open guard along with its extensions like spider guard and the de la riva. From there you have more sweeps and submissions which all build off of one another. But how could you have ever learned that spider guard sweep if you couldn't even figure out how to get there from closed guard?

Sometimes I think that's an issue with jiu jitsu. People want to learn fancy sweeps and submissions without first mastering the foundations. This is not to say that you shouldn't learn things like the berimbolo or inverted guard or even that you shouldn't eventually base your game off of them; I just think it's important that those things come after you've really understood the concepts behind more basic moves like closed guard, the triangle, etc. And even if you don't ever use something that intricate in your entire jiu jitsu career, it's important to have knowledge of them, because you will probably have to at least try and counter those moves at some point. I train with a few people who love the berimbolo and even they that's their go-to move, I still can't do smack from their closed guard.

I just registered to compete in the Long Island Pride tournament in the beginning of March. I'm anxious to compete again because even though the last tournament of 2011 ended on a high note for me, I know I can do much better and really want to redeem myself from my losses. Since I'm having a really tough time making the nogi classes, I'll be entering only the gi division.