The only real downside to a tournament like Mundials is the lack of training. When you're used to training 7 days a week, the sudden dearth of activity for FOUR DAYS actually causes physical pain; at least it does for me. I flew out here Wednesday (and did in fact train on Wednesday at the morning class and at noon, thank goodness.) Thursday through Sunday, I did nothing but sit, all day, every day, and snack. I brought sugar snap peas, carrots, and apples to nosh on-- but unfortunately also had more than my share of mini scones for breakfast-- plus the IBJJF people provided its staff with sandwiches (which, oddly enough, are identical at both Pan and Mundials and apparently are the same from year to year. Go figure.) What this meant was by Sunday morning, my legs actually hurt from the inactivity, and I was definitely suffering some water retention, or edema, or something in my legs. Fat ankles and fat feet, fat enough that I was noticeably uncomfortable when I flexed my feet and knees. I tried to make circles with my feet and get up and move around when I could, but Sunday is the LAST day you want to be up and away from the mats.
Fortunately, I got back on the mats myself today, at New Breed. I decided to train here, of all the oodles of phenomenal jiu jitsu opportunities that abound all around here (you can probably frog jump your way from great jits to great jits) because of the amazing cornering I heard from Johnny Ramirez when his fighter, Val "Valhalla" Worthington was in finals at the Pan. (She blogs here.) Johnny is just one of the awesome instructors there; this morning I got to train with John Ouano. Yes, the Ouano gi Ouano.
John Ouano is a bb under Rodrigo Medeiros and Carlson Gracie and his former student, Johnny Ramirez, is a bb of the same lineage. Johnny took first place at the Abu Dhabi West Coast trials (nogi) and the Arnolds (gi) this year. And yes I know I owe you the Ouano competition light gi review-- it's coming I promise!
Let me pause for just a sec and reflect on something I noticed at Mundials-- the rest of those reflections will have to wait for my Mundials Lessons post-- which is that jiu jitsu has the oddest way of putting kick ass, amazing, deep, experienced people in your path ALL THE TIME. And so when you're sitting next to someone at a tournament like that, or in any jiu jitsu context, you have a very good chance of discovering that they've been a black belt for years and years. That they've probably been training since before you were BORN. And so, you are very small, much smaller than you already realized. And then they turn around with amazing humility and kindness and generosity, and give you their time, their attention, their intensity and their advice... and it just blows your mind. It's like being a very small grain of sand on a beach and still being picked up and examined and pushed a little further on your own path.
Call it synchronicity, or whatever, but I was again fabulously blessed. Val with her willingness to come train with me (tomorrow) and John with his focus and warm encouragement.. and I clearly was not being treated like anything special. It's just how they are, to all their students. It's as though we were family, with John offering to pick me up next time at the airport, showing me pictures of his son (a 12 year old judo and surfing enthusiast.) I felt very much at home and welcome, and challenged but not too much.
Class was a nice 90 minute length, in a pleasant, airy matted room with open windows (gotta love this Southern California weather!) We had about 8 people at the start of this class (labeled "white belt class") and I was the highest rank, so I led the warmup run... as more people trickled in, I was happy to see a multi-stripe purple and some other blues. (I tend to think I can never work on the basics too much and I think it's a good sign of a good academy when other students feel the same way.)
The first lesson was a flow between 5 means of holding side control. Basic, classic, with two new elements for me to incorporate into my practice. Second, we moved to some standup-- kuzushi from a lapel and sleeve grip, then single leg to the ground. I liked that the exercise included techniques for both people to perform. Third, a choke series from closed guard. Cross collar grip, other hand feeds the lapel up over the back (aided by the opposite knee really strongly compromising their posture and base). From there it's either a standard cross collar choke, or, depending how they defend, you can switch sides for the other cross collar choke OR stiffarm their blocking hand to the other side of their body and take the back.
After that, we just rolled. I had a white belt (happily was able to handle him pretty well, though he was cautioned by John to go slow with me) and then a blue belt (felt evenly matched, though he was stronger and heavier, of course) and then two rolls with John. Not surprisingly, I felt like a child lost in the woods with him, though he was very kind about it afterwards and told me I had good movement, just needed to work on the timing.
I'm so happy to be going back there tomorrow morning, before I head to the airport and back home. I was going to hit up the Gracie Academy too, but there just wasn't time. I did swing by the Jiu Jitsu Pro Gear shop (and saw some familiar faces from the tournament!) and get my husband a birthday present for his 40th which is tomorrow :)
Tomorrow, looks like maybe Jonathan and Dustin from Kauai Kimonos fame-- here's Dustin, with me at Mundials Sunday morning-- can you tell I was still sleepy?
-- will train with me at New Breed. That's another thing I like about these big tournaments-- meeting people face to face and networking. Earlier Sunday morning I enjoyed chatting with Caleb and Dan of the Fightworks Podcast, and a couple other people, over coffee before black belt day got started. Just all around good times.
OK.. time to shower, change for dinner, and chill out :)