Monday, February 28, 2011

Pans camp...

Last night... wrestling training. Today... crossfit, then wrestling drilling, and tonight, wrestling drilling, then a private with Daniel Moraes. Mmmm his top game is just.. tight!

I am inspired by the changes I see in my body. 7 lbs in 7 days. I feel very good aside from a few minor sore muscles (thanks to my renewed attendance at crossfit) and I like eating more healthily. Today was a small exception; I promised a good friend some cookies, and ended up eating some raw cookie dough. I could have helped it, but I chose not to, and paid for it with some extra work. Boooo.

But see what can happen when you put your mind to it? Check out Gabi Garcia's guns in this clip! (Thanks Triin at Fenom Gis for finding it...)

I'm bummed though, I wanted to post a highlight vid of her but I got sick of listening to the n__ this n___ that music. :(

Here's Letty Ribeiro training with Bia Mesquita last year for Worlds. Gotten so that to be successful on an international level, you absolutely have to train full time.

Have a private with Donald on Thursday. Between now and then I have plenty of fun material to incorporate into the menu of treats for Pan diners. Muahahahahaha...

A shank in the elbow, or "How not to hurt people when you visit their academy."

First things first. Check out the preemie niece and nephie! That's my husband's brother John, holding Harrison (over 7 lbs!) on the left and Ella (over 6!) on the right. Ella is still getting some assistance with her breathing, and Harrison still occasionally has some arrhythmia in his heartbeat, but overall they're both doing super well. Hopefully Harrison can come home in two weeks or so. They would have been full term in mid-March. Once Harrison comes home, life for their momma gets even tougher, as she is breastfeeding them both about every 2-3 hours, and you can't bring Harrison back into the hospital... so she'll be driving back and forth all the time just to get those kiddoes fed. Oy!

And here's momma, Ashley, with Harrison...

It was a good weekend but the title of course has a story to go with it. Friday I left work a little bit early to drive with my husband up to Plano for the family visit. Of course, trying to keep up my three-a-days, I worked out at the gym in the morning (stationary rowing, treadmill, kettlebells, and free weights) and then in lieu of crossfit at lunch, I rolled for 40 minutes with a visiting friend from Rigan Machado's school in LA.. he took a little time out to crush me into smithereens. The other twenty minutes or so, I was getting mount pointers from our brownbelt Josh and Daniel Moraes... and rolling (in a very loose use of the word) with another brownbelt named Ash. Really I wasn't rolling, I was just feebly giving away position after position until there wasn't anything left on the shelves to give away, not even my neck. Sigh.

With the beatings concluded, we hit the road, stopping on the way for a seminar at a sister affiliate. Daniel gives a great seminar, he's a very good instructor, and his style is a lot like mine (his top game is very heavy, very smashy.)  I was partnered up with a guy in blue jeans, with a belt (complete with metal buckle) still on, and polo shirt. Sigh.  Nonetheless, we made it through, and I had a GREAT couple rolls with my buddy Kyle, a purple belt who has that rare skill of being able to ratchet his energy and effort to match your own. Sooooo much fun to roll with and he has no problem stopping in the middle to show you something or poke you along in the right direction. Here's some video of us playing:

Then I rolled a little with a newish gal who's been training about six months-- it's so exciting to me to see more women get into this sport!

Which reminds me... Mike Calimbas recently wrote a great article on the growth of womens' BJJ in Texas and he iinterviewed many of Texas' women fighters. Check it out here on

Then, hit the road to finish our journey to Plano, stopping for a bite on the way. Normally I am not a huge fan of the food at Olive Garden. Plus my make-weight diet (lean protein, tons of veggies, minimal sweets) has been showing results (5 lbs lost in 3 days of three-a-day workouts) so I was cautious about entering the place of temptation (pasta! garlic bread! yummy salad dressing!) However, their grilled salmon with broccoli and red peppers really did the trick. YUM.

The next morning I headed out to see Peak Performance BJJ's competition team class in Keller TX.

3 other gals-- my friend Kristine, a purple belt had invited me and welcomed me with a warm hug. Pilar, a blue belt my size, a high school teacher, with beautiful eyes. Angela, another blue belt a little smaller than me. Angela works full time, is in grad school full time, teaches 2 classes a week, has two kids, and is married. And still finds time to train at all! Yikes! Anyway, after a short warmup I partnered with Angela to do some conditioning drills-- armbars and triangles from guard, then kimura situps.

Sadly... while I sat up and reached over to get the kimura, she moved forwards slightly to flick hair out of her eyes, or something... and the hardest part of my entire body (my elbow) connected with the most delicate part of hers (her eyelid)... she slumped to my chest cupping her eye. I freaked. WAY TO GO GEORGETTE! VISIT A NEW ACADEMY AND ATTACK THE POOR LADY WHO JUGGLES EVERYTHING TO MAKE TIME TO TRAIN!  I felt like I must have come into class wearing this on my sleeve:

She sat up and I was shocked to see a rivulet of blood dribbling down her cheekbone. She hurried to the bathroom to clean up and I hurried to find a doghouse to hide in. Fortunately, the people at Peak are pretty cool-- they were nice about it, but they also ribbed me about it, asking if I hid a shank in my gi top or whether they should wear a hockey mask when rolling with me. Somehow, being given some shit about it made me feel better-- if they'd been totally nice and kid-glovesy with me, I would have felt more like an outsider. Anyway, Kristine and Pilar let me work in with them, on a drill that fit in very well with the situp guard sweeps Donald taught the other night in our comp class. Pilar hadn't done it before either, and it was really tough on me. Kristine called it "pole dancing." No one took off their gi though so I was happy.

Angela came back in time to work with me on 3 halfguard sweeps that counter a common pass in my academy, a negative pass, and a kneebar attempt. I wasn't so good at the sweeps because they involved rolling backwards over your shoulder, AND because I was now paranoid about putting any part of my body near any part of hers. After about 15 minutes, she said her eye was THROBBING and she went home. I hunted for the doghouse again but couldn't find it. :(

Too bad too, because I misunderstood the "gripfight wars" to be "takedown wars" like we do at home. Poor Pilar-- once I got my grips, I went for the single leg, and took her down (relatively gently!) I was all happy with successfully taking her down, until she told me it wasn't the aim of the game. Well, that explains why she didn't really resist. Can I go home now?

Anyway, once all the technique was done, we still had about 20 minutes for timed rolls. I went with Kristine first- I did so-so with the standup, but after I got taken down, she passed, side controlled, northsouthed, and mounted. I did fight back, I promise, and cleared out a path on the mats in my attempts, but no, it was no good.  I watched Pilar and Kristine next, then had Pilar last. And then class was over. No further injuries though. :)

Rest of the visit was nice... the preemies are doing so well, and we had time for dim sum just the older kids and us.. got some work done for the office, and visited the preemies again before watching UFC 127 on the computer at home. Crashed hard and woke up crack of dawn Sunday morning to drive home, because had to leave for Girls in Gis in San Antonio by 10am. Sadly, though, turns out I've lost my car keys, and couldn't drive my car out of the garage so I took Mitch's.  Girls in Gis was fun-- good techniques, good rolls with friends.

After 3 hours of that, we all ganged up on a local sushi joint, terrified the staff and ate it out of house and home like a mob of locusts. Me, Shama and Rebecca made it home to Austin just in time for a killer wrestling seminar taught by Zach Lamano at our academy. (He's visiting from Jersey, to train one of our UFC fighters Yves Edwards.) I lucked out and partnered up with Donald. We worked double legs (with Zach's different and interesting shot) and Russians and duckunders and backtakes and inside control setups and wrist grab counters. It was warm and humid and I completely SOAKED THROUGH my tiedye gi pants and Mickey Mouse tshirt. After two hours of that, I was a little tired. It was 8:30pm when I got home and a quick shower saw me straight into the sack.

Today-- no morning training. Crossfit at lunch, then maybe a little open mat at the academy before a meeting back in the office at 2. Class tonight, more Daniel Moraes, and a private with Daniel at 8:30pm. Tomorrow morning, another private, with Donald. Tomorrow's a 3-fer, but competition class has been rescheduled this week only for Thursday night.

Hope you have a great day... :) Train hard!! Pan is just barely four weeks out!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My personal Pans camp....

I am really looking forward to Pans and Mundials this year! The Houston Open was a great warmup.

Now, I am pushing hard to get in the best possible shape and present the best possible game. With that in mind, I have one, maybe two tournaments between now and Pans. I'm back to doing my crossfit-like class 5 days a week, plus morning and night jiu jitsu. Three a days plus really carefully crafting my diet is already showing some results on the scale, woowoo. :) Damn that Christmas feasting but I will be RID of it soon :)

Of course not having been in crossfit for about 8 months means that my first day back (this Tuesday) was somewhat rough. Nothing near as bad as yesterday, though, since I was starting to get sore. And then this morning, I did a two hour wrestling class, and discovered the true meaning of gluteus maximus. It means "your gluteus will shout at you at maximus volume." Many thanks to Kirk though, for ankle picks and Russians and all kinds of options. My quads and hamstrings were complaining because of the box jumps yesterday. My traps and lats aren't a whole lot happier either. Oh well, paying the price now. I just realize jiu jitsu is NOT enough to really keep me in optimal condition. I need the outside interval work, strength training and so on.

I'm also realizing that to be competitively successful, in my opinion, it's not enough to get 6 or so mathours a week. I'm getting about... well, much more than that right now and I still feel there simply isn't enough time for drilling and developing muscle memory on all the techniques I'm learning (all of which are equally important and necessary, from my perspective). And that isn't enough for optimal conditioning and cardio/strength/flexibility, which an additional 5 hours a week is just scratching the surface on. Good thing my office is flexible with the hours I keep.

Work! Work! Work! Pans is only 5 weeks away!

And for eyecandy... check the yoko tomoe nage by Megaton at about :13....

AND--- watch this kid wrestle! he has it ALL! so envious!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hillary Williams seminar in San Antonio, a week before Pans!

HILLARY WILLIAMS, one of the youngest American female bjj black belts, will be coming to Carlson Gracie Texas (San Antonio) for a female-only seminar Saturday 3/19 from 11AM-2PM, $40. Don't miss the opportunity to learn from one of the most active and successful female black belts in jiu jitsu competition!!  Call (210)-348-6004 for more information.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Hyper is up!

Of course you have to go check out the new episode on Hyper....

Back in the saddle!

I had a fantastic 3-day weekend with my girlfriends. Every year for Presidents' Day weekend we get together somewhere in the South, and this time it was in Cocoa Beach, FL. I'll post more pictures and update this post tomorrow.  For now, this is Shelley, me, and Janet, on the beach.

We met in grad school back in 1998 and (long story) ended up forming the Committee.  So, we have annual Committee Meetings.  Both Shelley and Janet have little girls named Reagan (though Shelley's daughter's name is spelled Reagann.)  Shelley, left, lives in Little Rock and Janet, center, lives in Richmond. 

We have stood by each other through good times and bad.  We never hesitate to call bullshit on each other but we also always have each others' backs.  Our vacation was amazingly restful-- we ate a lot, spent time on the beach, went shopping, and read a ton.  And got lots of sleep.  Seems like next year we're looking at somewhere in Mexico, or maybe a short cruise, or maybe San Diego.  First, though, Shelley's getting hitched in late June.

But in the meantime, I'm hitting the ground running with a LOT of training and really pushing my personal Pans training camp. That means 3 a days, 5 days a week (just once on Sat and Sun)-- really strict diet (no chocolate! no treats! no fried stuff! NO FUN!)-- 8 hours of sleep a night-- and really focused training. I did class this morning (quality time with double and single legs) and then I'm back to my daily noon battles with crossfit (woo, love the burn.. sorta..) And after 20 minutes in the infrared sauna, I chowed down on some kale and carrot salad which was heavenly.

If you're a grappler in Texas or near it, there's a super-affordable nogi tournament in Austin on March 12. And if you're a gal grappler, it's even more affordable: Once again the Texas Submission League will be offering all adult female competitors registration at 50% off ($15) for a limited time for our next tournament to be held on 03/12/11. For more info, please contact Rafael Perez or visit Thanks.

Work is still hectic busy. And so I'm getting back to it, after I share a couple things with you:

Last, I love Kurt Osiander's stuff. I subscribed to this channel on youtube and have a backlog of his "weekly technique" stuff. This week's dealio is right up my alley since I love messing with peoples' arms. I like his demeanor too-- straightforward, casual, a little brash.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Love for Jiu Jitsu and Underpants.

Just discovered a fun, well-written blog by a fun grapply girl named Kerawin.

She writes:

Life is good. Life is sweet. I love love love love LOVE Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I absolutely love everything about it. I love getting worked and bruised and slightly hurt when I'm in class. I love flipping big boys onto their backs with a catch and a bump. I love learning new stuff that enables me to pant and sweat and think and twist and throw. I love giggling like a girl and cracking filthy jokes like a boy. I love being a girl, and I love the smallness of my own body in comparison to the thugs I play with. I love feeling vital, and I love feeling my bones melt in repose.

I love the strength of my fingers, and the beautiful, intricate network of tendons and ligaments that make them move. I love the beauty I can create with them on my piano (and hopefully one day on my lovely acoustic guitar and the Renaissance bass viol da gamba I dream of having access to). I love thinking without thinking, and creating without time constraints. I love my incredible Boy and three little Piggies, all of whom push me and pull me and challenge me in love. I love the boys and girls in my classes because they're funny and kind and smart and strong and laugh at my stupid jokes. I love Pig Thursdays with my Girl Friday after my BJJ classes. I love ~ and am so dang-proud of ~ my far-flung friends who are out there doing wonderful stuff that I would also so love to do.

I love my travel-laden daydreams, and I love most of my realities ~ even the awful ones ~ because they make great stories, are often kind of sickly funny in retrospect, and provide fodder for future work. I love that I learned how to skillfully use power tools and solder when I was downwards of seven (even though I'd be getting the beats 'cuz I might've been complaining about having to do it at one or two in the morning) because I was helping to build speaker systems and control switches for concert halls, churches, and seniors' homes ~ so I could help put food on the table and pay for our then-agonizing array of now-appreciated lessons. I love that I have been learning how to stand up for myself, even though I still find it far easier to stand up for someone else. And I love how I'm still learning. I'm still learning.

I love that I'm writing like a sixteen-year-old because I'm probably one of the most emotionally-retarded people I know (Irishmen don't have that monopoly, sorry!). I don't say "eighteen-year-old" because that's probably when I was my most confident and outspoken, and either maturity or fear, and some modicum of renewed insecurity, has shut me up some since then. So, sixteen. At least, for today.

And later, she also writes:

I have a secret weapon that's actually not such a well-kept secret. After all, they've been pointed at, alluded to, and mocked. I guess it might have something to do with how they sometimes peek out over my pants which can ride down a bit from the rough and tumble of drilling and rolling, and they also have the tendency to daringly eyeball the world through the side-gaps of aforementioned pants.

I am speaking, of course, about my Lucky UnderGis.

The first time I noticed there was something perhaps slightly unkosher about my choice of grappling skivs was when Tits'n'Gritts ~ who was at the gym picking up BJJ Mastah ~ waved her finger at my waistband and loudly announced, "Ooh, nice lacey panties! You can totally see them, you know." After momentarily freezing with mortification, I looked down and thought, Oh, shoot, you're right: I can see them. You can see them. Everyone can see them.

Read the rest here.....

Girls in Gis, get your grapple on!!

San Antonio Texas-- Sunday after next-- join us! Encourage your wimminfolk (and girl chillun) to attend whether they do jits or no.....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Repost: Dev's First and Second Year Reflections...

Again, saving some of what I think are Dev's best insights...

His "first year" post (2009):

It's been exactly a year since I started this BJJ stuff, and after getting my blue belt Monday, I thought it would be the right time to reflect a little on what I've learned, and what I haven't learned.

Steve (of fame) inspired me to start this blog, and I wanted to say thanks - this has been a huge benefit to me, being able to recap techniques and experiences, as well as showcase some of my buddies who are way better at this stuff than I am.

I'm not going to regurgitate every single thing I want to say here. Steve did a great job summarizing "Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started" when he did his 1-year anniversary post, and I concur wholeheartedly. In fact, I reread that particular post about every 2-3 months. His second-year anniversary post is also good. Dolph also has a great recap post.

Here's the two biggest points I want to put out there for all of us brand new guys that just started BJJ this year. Techniques notwithstanding - this is big-picture stuff.

What I've learned:

- You're not alone.

When I walked through the door of the school, I was welcomed with open arms. Guys took the time to teach me not only technique, but etiquette, respect, and appreciation. Colin walked right up and introduced himself to the noob the first day; John T patiently (I can't emphasize HOW patiently) waited through my strength attacks before showing me that being able to bench press a house won't overcome technique; and every single person has lain bare the insights of their game that make them great, all in an attempt to make my game better.

And it wasn't just MY school. After visiting Foster BJJ in Seattle, I discovered another school where you're welcomed like family and beaten up like a younger brother. On occasion, you hear stories about schools that aren't welcoming or supportive, but in my short time I have yet to find real evidence.

Additionally, since starting this blog, I have found an amazing community online: one that supports, trains, mentors, coaches, cheers for, cries with, and loves its members. Steve, Georgette, Rob, Mike, Dolph, Slidey, Leslie... I've never met most of the people whose blogs I read, but I feel a kinship with them when I recognize the frustration of a failed technique, a lost match, an injury that takes you out of training, or the emotional highs of promotion, winning a match, and seeing a teammate succeed.

I love knowing that my being an uki helped someone learn a new technique. I love knowing that I was able to help someone move an elbow, or a hand, and turn a sketchy technique into a solid one. I love the feeling of seeing a teammate execute all of his training in a tournament match, and WIN. The community, for me, has truly superseded the individual.

The moment I am most proud of so far in BJJ wasn't winning at the Mundials, it was when Coach promoted me to blue by saying I have been a good mentor to some of the younger white belts. That meant everything to me.

(Side note: don't interpret that to mean I actually believe I know what I'm doing. Ha! Far from it. I'm not THAT stupid... err...)

- Check your ego at the door.

When I walked into the school, I thought I was someBODY. Freshly back from Iraq, in super shape, and ready to learn some asskicking. It took about 3 weeks for me to really get it, that it wasn't all about me, that it wasn't all about power and strength, and that I had better develop a different attitude quickly.

I had a couple "successful" practices early on where I was able to dominate some guys I thought were pretty good, but there was one practice I remember vividly about a month in. I just got manhandled by every single person I rolled with - big, small, experienced, not so experienced. I was crushed, just obliterated mentally. I really thought at the time that this whole BJJ thing just wasn't for me. I'd been successful at the personal training stuff, and figured I could probably just hit the gym some more, beat my pullup record, bench press a couple houses, and call it good.

It took everything I had to go back for one more practice. In fact, I wasn't even going to go back. But my buddy Dane, who came in about the same time I did, emailed me a couple times and really got my head on straight, and I owe him sincerely for keeping me in the game.

Now, I love going to practice, "win" or "lose." I put those in quotes, because now I see a winning practice as one where I take away a solid technique or refine a crappy one into a solid one. It's a winning practice if I get turned into a damn pretzel but at the expense of a teammate executing a move he's been working on for weeks. And it's a winning practice if I bring one more person into the BJJ fold. So far, I'm pretty proud of myself - I've brought 7 or 8 guys into class, and 3 or 4 of them have actually stayed! I should get a damn commission! :)

What I already knew:

- There is always someone bigger, better, faster, and stronger.

I've been saying this for years in every capacity I can think of. This goes along with checking your ego at the door. Simple fact is that it just doesn't matter how tough you think you are, someone will show you you're wrong. Not in the "Bully Beatdown" sense, although sometimes I suppose that's necessary (check out this ridiculous story from Leslie's blog). It just takes that first couple weeks to really figure it out.

What I haven't learned:

-how to do a goddamn armbar correctly.

Honestly, I can't even begin to bore you with all the stuff I haven't learned. Suffice to say, I don't have the years it would take to just list everything I don't know. I think the biggest thing is understanding that at every level, it's a new world.

Borrowing a quote from the great Cobrinha, I will continue to be a "white belt every day."

Thank you again to everyone for the past year. Next year will be even better.

To finish, here's a great video featuring Saulo.

And Dev's second-year post:

2 Years And Counting

Well, that was fast. :) You know, the brain is a funny thing. I just couldn't stay away.

First, when I published my last post (about taking some time off), the sense of relief was immediate, I'm not going to lie. I know for a fact all the pressure to write was self-imposed, and I think I just needed to confirm to myself that I didn't have to do it. Thank you to all of you for your awesome comments, here, by email, and on facebook.

Never mind the fact that it's been less than a week. :) Anyway, as soon as I did that, my brain started functioning normally again. I realized that it's been almost exactly two years since I started training jits. Not to mention I just got my purple belt, which is still fantastically surreal.

And I guess the anniversary got me thinking about what I've learned and accomplished over the past two years.

Most bloggers have done anniversary posts. Steve has a couple great ones (year 1 is still my favorite), and Dolph did one in 2009 that really got me thinking about the technical aspects. And I did one at the one year point, right after receiving my blue. I've since made a separate page above that compiles a bunch of what I think are really good Reflections: "recap" or "anniversary" posts.

So because I am always one to succumb to peer pressure and follow a crowd, I figured I'd do my two-year anniversary post. Ah, but what to write about? Have I actually learned anything over the past two years?

I earned my blue belt right about this time last year, and that same week competed in the US Open. That was an eye-opener. Since then I've competed in 8 more tournaments (including 3 no gi tournaments) this past year, and because of better luck than good management, brought home 11 medals. As much as my defining moment was winning gold in Brazil, I'd have to say the event that really turned me around was at this year's Pans, where I got crushed in the first round of weight brackets, but came back to take 3rd in the absolute. I learned SO much about myself that day, and about how much having someone there to support you means.

Technically, my game has advanced fairly significantly. I went from being a white belt/baby blue with an okay spider guard and not much more to having what I consider to be a decent guard in general. It's certainly not impenetrable, but I'm comfortable there, which I think is key. I can play open or closed, with one leg or two. My top game is still lacking, but I'll get to that.

But what have I REALLY learned this year?

- Friends and family are everything. I could not have done anything without the support of my wife, my son, and my friends, which includes all of you blogosphere maniacs. There is no quantifiable way to explain how much it means to have someone shouting for you on the side of the mat, or to get an email or post on a blog that says how much they appreciate one thing you said.

- There is a universal language of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This is the most accepting, welcoming community I have ever been a part of. No matter where I went, which country I was in, whether or not I spoke the language well, poorly, or not at all, I was welcomed in virtually every gym with open arms and treated like a member of the family. I have no horror stories of being shunned because of my BJJ heritage. No one asked me who gave me my belts. No one kept any mystical secrets from me. They just trained.

- It's all about the experience. Name your cliché: it's not the destination, it's the journey... whatever. I don't want to win all the tournaments I enter. I don't want to become a black belt. I don't want this to be easy. What I WANT is to enjoy myself every day I do this sport. I want to enjoy the challenge, the success, the failure, the relationships, and the idea that I learn every time I step onto the mat. I never want to be so concerned with "winning" that I forget to have fun.

People overthink the experience so much - "I don't know if I'm going to enter this tournament, because...[I'm not ready, I don't think I'll win, I'm overweight, name your excuse]." I have been extremely fortunate to compete in a bunch of crazy tournaments in places I never thought I'd compete, against people I had no right to be on the mat with. Thank GOD I wasn't concerned about WINNING.

When else will I have a chance to fight a brown belt in a no gi match in Chile? When else will I have the opportunity to represent my gym - my FAMILY - at an 8-man tournament in Peru? When else will I be able to support awesome local tournaments in Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe? Quit hemming and hawing and making excuses, and just go do it. It's not about the tournament, it's about experiencing as much as you can in this world of jiu jitsu.

Go train at another school, or roll in a friend's garage or studio.

Add an extra day when you go to Disneyland or Disney World this year, and find a gym in LA or Florida to roll at.

Go find a no gi tournament to enter, don't wear a rash guard, and see if YOU look like a sasquatch attacking a stray camper.

On your lifelong dream of going to Macchu Picchu, take an afternoon and train with Sniper in Lima, and tell them you know me and see what that gets you, aside from a beatdown. :)

Just do SOMEthing to make yourself, and the rest of us, better. Because we all get better when someone new trains with us.

Sorry about the rant. That just came out before I could stop it.

Anyway, my plan for the next year is fairly simple.

- Keep going. I'm going to move from California to DC, and I'm going to find places to train when, and where, I can. I am open to ALL recommendations and invitations - already had one guy invite me up to Maryland, which I plan on doing.

- Work on my retarded side. We all have it. My old coach, Daniel Thomas, espouses drilling your techniques just on one side, and having your other side catch up later, because we never get enough drills in anyway, so you might as well be good on one side and crap on the other than be mediocre on both sides. I absolutely agree, but I understand why people think the other way. Whatever the case, you still have a retarded side, I guarantee it. If you want to beat me, just pass to my left. :) My plan this year is to work on that.

- Work on my top game. I have spent 2 years now developing a guard game. It's not incredible, it's no Pe De Pano. But for what it is, I'm proud of it. On the other hand, my top game has suffered as a result. So it's time to fix that. I'm going to start playing the top game and see what happens.

- Try to use the Technique Of The Day. That one lesson from Beto Carmona in Brazil will stay with me the rest of my time in this sport. We are taught techniques for a reason, and you get nothing out of it if you don't ever try to use it during sparring. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't, but you have to at least attempt it.

And that's that. On to year 3.

Also, apologies now. I was going to translate this post into Spanish, but I've got a million other things going on today, that takes WAY longer than writing in English, and I want to publish this. I'll get back to translating into crappy Spanish with my next post. :)

Repost from Dev: Tournament Prep 1 & 2

Since Dev is shutting down his blog Fueled by Fear, I wanted to preserve some of his stuff...  all that follows is his work.
Part One:
I wanted to talk a little about tournament prep in this post. I'm not overly experienced, but I've done 5 tournaments now (2 small - Jiu Jitsu By The Sea and Kugtar, 3 bigger - Pan Ams, American Cup, Worlds) and I think I've got my routine fairly in order. Hopefully this will help out some of the guys who are doing their first tournament soon (there's another in-house Jiu Jitsu By The Sea this month, and of course the US Open is next month).

The IBJJF has standardized rules that pretty much everyone follows, including the scoring system. They are posted here. So far I haven't seen too many tournaments that deviate from them by much, if at all.

One place a lot of beginners (including myself) have questions is on sweeps. A sweep is from any form of guard, and results in the bottom guy coming on control. So a sweep can come from either full or half guard, and you have to hold the top position for 3 seconds to get points.

Speaking of position, any time you improve your position (passing guard, mount, etc), you have to maintain control for 3 seconds to get the points. You do not get points for going from full to half guard.

An advantage is an interesting phenomenon. It's basically the ref's way of officially keeping track of who's being more aggressive (my interpretation). When you go for a pass, or a sweep, or a submission, and you don't get it, or you don't hold the position for 3 seconds, you get credit for trying in the form of an advantage. It's not a POINT, but if the score is tied, then they count advantages. Better, of course, to get the points, but keep trying for stuff.

The main place some tournaments deviate is from the standard weight classes. The On The Mat series of tournaments goes by 10s (160, 170, 180) and they weigh in without the gi. Not sure why they are not the same, but what do I know?

Understand that you normally weigh in with your gi on. Ordinarily gis weigh 3-4 pounds, but you never know what the difference will be with the tournament scale, so I plan for 5 pounds every time. I've been way under in every tournament.

Also, you weigh in RIGHT before you step on the mat. It's not like a wrestling meet where you have time to rehydrate or something. You can't cut weight like that and expect to perform well. I tried at the Pan Ams and about died after my first match. Since then, despite weighing 182, I haven't tried dropping any weight. Much better to have a good breakfast the morning of the tournament.

At the big tournaments, they have all had a "practice" scale in the warmup area so you can check yourself prior to stepping on the official scale.

Unlike practice, you can't wear any extra stuff other than your gi and a pair of underwear. No rash guards or t-shirts, except for females. No mouthguards. No groin protectors. They all give an "unfair" advantage, either offensively (a cup in the back of your elbow can really make an armbar worse) or defensively (a mouthguard can let you hang on during a face-crusher choke attempt).

At the big tournaments, they will check your gi. The IBJJF rules say you can have white, blue, or black (and no mixing colors), but some (like the Lake Tahoe one this weekend) say only white or blue. Weird. Anyway, no crazy colors, although I have seen some girls allowed to wear pink while competing. Depends on the tournament with how lax they are.

And they'll check the fit. You're allowed 4 fingers' width from the wrist with your arms out straight in front of you, but I haven't seen anyone push this limit. They also check the tightness - they have a little sleeve-checker tool they use that basically ensures someone can grab your gi on the sleeve - I think it's also designed to be 4 fingers' width, but I don't know for sure. And the collar/lapel has to be a certain thickness too. I would venture that 99% of reputable gi companies meet the specifications, but if you like a tighter fit on your gi make sure you check with someone like your coach.

All tournaments will post a schedule of events. Make sure you know what time your weight class starts. This time is ideally when they'll start calling matches, but depending on the promoter, it may be late. I've never heard of anyone starting early. Normally they start with the lighter weights and work up, but if they've got 6-10 mats going, they could multitask and call some of the heavier classes as well, especially if there's a lot of guys in one class. Because you could potentially be the first match called (even at light heavy or heavyweight), make sure you're there, dressed, and warmed up as much as you can be. Sometimes master and senior classes are called first, other times, they're after the adults. You just can't know until you get there. As a master light heavy I was in the first adult match called at one of the in-house tournaments.

Warm Up:
At a smaller tournament you will probably not have anywhere to warm up aside from going outside and doing some jumping jacks or something. Kugtar was an exception - they have an MMA cage there, and used that for warmups. A little crowded, but at least you had some room to roll. The big tournaments have the "warm up area," which I put in quotes for a reason. It's usually jam-packed. At the Worlds, there was a ton of room under the bleachers, which worked out fine, but there's no mats, so don't plan on working some sexy techniques or anything on the hardwood.

Time Between Matches:
IBJJF rules state they have to give you at least the regulation length of your match (5 minutes for white belt, 6 for blue, and so on) in between fights. Usually it's more, and I think everyone tries to make sure it's all fair and even. They'll call your name over the loudspeaker to report to the check-in guy, or your mat. You have 3 calls before you're DQ'd, so don't freak out and get there - take your time, stay relaxed, and even intentionally sit through your first call so you know they're on YOUR time (it's a mental thing).

Advice Notes:
- Get there early, especially if it's your first tournament. This will give you time to see how it's set up, you won't be worried about missing your showtime, and you can get your mind in the game by watching some of the earlier fights. Especially if it's a big tournament, because it's REALLY overwhelming when you walk into the frigging Long Beach Pyramid with no idea where to go or what to do. Better to take 10 minutes and sit in the stands and take it all in.

- Plan on waiting. You MIGHT get your second fight 5 minutes after your first, but you MIGHT wait an hour, or more. Depends on how organized they are. It SUCKS to be at 100% for 5 minutes, then cool down completely or an hour while your nerves are still going crazy.

- Stay where you can hear the announcer. I have not been to a tournament yet where you could clearly hear any of the announcements. It doesn't help if you can't pick up on a Brazilian accent, either. If you're waiting to be called, make sure you stay where you can hear what may be your name so you don't get DQ'd.

- Stay comfortable. I always wear sweats and a sweatshirt. First, it's relaxing. Second, if you need to get sweaty or just to stay warm, it's great, even if it's warm outside.

- Bring food and water. Even if you only have two matches, you might be there a couple hours. Bring light food, plenty of water, and whatever sports drinks you use. I personally recommend straight water, or maybe pedialyte, or watered-down gatorade. Some of those drinks are really strong, and the salts and sugars can overwhelm your system if you're really taxed.

- Bring a camera. Ideally one that can take decent video. We've got a Canon Powershot SX100 point-and-shoot, and it takes hella good video for a $100 camera.

- Bring a friend. Someone has to take that video, right? And make sure it's someone that WANTS to be around BJJ for most of the day. Already seen entirely too many girlfriends (sorry, ladies) who sit there for like 10 minutes as their boyfriends roll, and then want to leave. You want to stay in the mindset when you're there, and you want to support your buddies even if you're done. Bring someone that wants to be there with you.

Hopefully this helps the guys that are getting into tournaments soon. If anyone's got any more advice, PLEASE add a comment!

Part Two:

Tournament Preparation - Redux

With the US Open coming up this weekend in Santa Cruz, and some other good tournaments outside of the central coast (Gracie Barra is doing one in the LA area), a couple people have posted some outstanding advice on how to prepare for a tournament. Even though I've got my routine, I always find it helpful to read through those lists because inevitably I'm reminded of stuff I would otherwise forget. For this post I wanted to try to combine a couple posts especially for the benefit of those guys that are doing their first tournament. Good luck!

This list is the condensed version of several posts, including:

Georgette Oden:

My own post from a few months ago:

Advice from Alliance Atlanta (good tips):

Elyse's post on developing a game plan:

Elyse's post on competing:

First things first, here's Fabio Leopoldo talking about prep for the Mundials this past June. Only a minute long, this video has some great advice in it.

1. Start competing early in your career. There's no time like the present.

Prior To The Tournament:
1. Start preparing early. Think about a plan (Elyse's post is a good place to start).
2. Practice weight cutting prior to the week of the tournament.
3. Try to simulate an adrenaline dump prior to the tournament.
4. Know the rules: IBJJF and NAGA
5. Identify your high-percentage skills, drill them, and visualize them. See comments at the end of Georgette's post for more info.

Night Prior:
1. Get as much sleep as possible. I know it's tough.

Day Of The Tournament:
1. Eat something if you can afford to.
2. Relax as long as you can prior to getting worked up for your match. Adrenaline only lasts so long.
3. Get to the tournament early so you can get a feel for how it's run.
4. Check and double-check the sequence of events. Make sure you know when your weight class is going to be called.
5. Stay where you can hear the announcer. It's tough to hear, and you don't want to be DQ'd.

Stuff To Bring:
1. Food and Drinks.
2. Someone to hang out with, if you're not with a group. THEY should bring some reading material unless they're really into BJJ.
3. Camera and extra batteries.
4. Cell phone for match coordination.
5. Warmup clothes and flip flops, and something to change into when you're done.
6. Ipod/MP3 player.
7. Extra first aid stuff - medical tape, aspirin/ibuprofen, antiseptic spray.
8. Small notepad and pen to jot down contact info for guys you meet.
9. Spare set of contacts if you wear them, and solution.
10. Money - cash, credit cards so you can buy snacks and swag.

Stuff You CAN'T Wear:
1. No rashguards or t-shirts, except for females.
2. No groin protectors.
3. No mouthguards.

Your Gi:
1. Only white, black, or blue.
2. Make sure it's not too short, or too tight.
3. Will be checked prior to stepping on the mat.

1. You will weigh in right before stepping on the mat. No time to rehydrate if you cut.

For Your Fight:
1. Go into it with a game plan.
2. Use what you know. A tournament is not the place to try a new move.
3. Own your mat.
4. Get someone to corner you.
4A. (I thought this was FANTASTIC advice, from Leslie's comments in Georgette's post) If you can't get someone to corner you, listen to the other guy's corner! They'll sometimes tell you what you're being set up for.

After The Fight:
1. Write down your experience - stuff that worked, stuff that didn't, how you felt.
2. Review your video, even before your second fight. You'll see stuff you don't remember doing.
3. You will have at least 5 minutes between matches, but it could be upwards of an hour. Be prepared for both contingencies.

PLEASE add anything more you can think of.

Turquoise Timberly-- NAGA Champion!!

Meet Timberly from Auburn AL... she trains at Auburn MMA under Randall Phillips, a brownbelt under Andre Pedemeiras... she dyed her gi turquoise after reading about it here. Congrats on your orange belt!

Timberly's brother trains wrestling and MMA there as well.  Her mom Tawnda is a total trooper, bringing Timberly to NAGA tournaments in Georgia.  At the moment some life issues are keeping Tawnda out of training but it's a marathon, not a sprint!  Good luck to all three of you!  :)

And updates: Timberly won her division in gi, Teen Expert, at NAGA last weekend!

Houston Open 2011 footage

 From left to right: Vidush, Rebecca, Donald, Shama, me, and Courtney.

Here's me in quarterfinals of the absolute v. Tara Talanco of Rodrigo Pinheiro (Gracie Humaita) in San Antonio. Takedown war.

Semifinals: Me and Kat Harrison of Claunch Academy (Austin). Spiderish war.

And finals, me and Hana Fisher of Marcelo Garcia (5 years in New York and recently moved to Memphis.) There was no war, there was only beatdown :)

Critique welcomed!

And update: some photos....  Here's the absolute medalists.  Left to right, Kat Harrison, Danielle Alvarez, Hana Fisher, and me.

Me trying to sasae Tara in first match...

And me trying to pass Kat's guard, second match... eventually succeeded, for a while.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shinya Aoki-- sweet like candy...

Thanks to Thien Ho for the linkup!

My Funny Valentine-- the Houston Open tournament recap....

Happy Valentine's Day everyone :) Hope you had a good weekend. I did! The tournament went really well. I didn't get many photos on my own camera because I was working as scorer, but our team represented well. Here's Rebecca, on the left, winning bronze in the light feather blue belt category (and our friend Lana, center, took gold; she used to train with our sister academy in San Antonio..)

Our other peeps did really well too. Vidush won men's featherweight blue belt; Travis took bronze in purple belt whateverweight. Courtney took bronze in her first tournament ever with only two months' training under her whitebelt! Woo! Shama and I both got default golds in our weightclasses but Shama got silver in purple belt ladies' absolute, too.

Here's a random scene (two purple belt matches) from the tournament which was small, space-wise, but well run and organized. It took place in the University of St Thomas gymnasium in Houston over Saturday and Sunday. I discovered I really like having your division on one day and absolute the next. Plenty of time to rest and get your mind in the right place.

I had 3 difficult matches in my absolute (the first absolute I've ever fought!) First against one of my favorite opponents, Tara Talanco from Rodrigo Pinheiro/Humaita in San Antonio. I dig Tara because we're the same size, we're both strong, and we both love judo and wrestling, so we never pull guard. It's always full-on war! I'll post footage asap, next couple days. I barely won on points.

Second match against fellow Austinite Kat Harrison, a tall slender gal with superhuman strength. (She's a massage therapist and used to live on a cattle ranch...amazing grip strength!) I battled to pass her guard, got points there, got sucked back into half guard, and ended up again barely winning on points.

Last match against Hana Fisher from Marcelo Garcia Memphis. (She trained off an on with Marcelo in NY for a few years and just moved to Memphis where she trains with Arika Winchester..) Hana's tough! Man, she gets a grip on your belt and you just know it's gonna be bad. I need a frequent flier number before my next match with Hana. I successfully resisted and grip fought for a bit before she launched me. Air under all four tires at once and I landed BOOM! The ref told me later that he jumped about a foot in the air when I landed. I felt like I was about a foot into the mat! Her side control was so tight, there was NO space between us, I think her molecules melted into the space between MY molecules! I was almost ready to tap from the side control. Fortunately she spared me that embarrassment by getting my arm out. Her americana got me up and out of there with a silver medal. Woo! Best part, she's super friendly and cool, and I can't wait to see her again at Pans!

And then dinner-- seared ahi (good) green tea soba noodles (meh) and a "shrimp cake" (meh.)

Good weekend. Back to the grindstone now! Have a lovely Valentines'!

Friday, February 11, 2011

How Georgette got her groove back... the chocolate donut post.

Hey wow... a tournament, and I'm not stressed out, unhappy, nervous, freaking, or starving and fantasizing about chocolate donuts!

OK... a chocolate donut sounds pretty damn good. But really...

My biggest relief of fear might be because I'm finally "used to" competing and have enough experience to be relaxed about it.

But I don't think that's it. I think what it is (lame) is that I entered the weight class up. You'd think this would mean I was even more nervous because I'm fighting bigger girls.. but nope.

Instead, I am way more relaxed about what I weigh, for one thing. I think sometimes I can lean towards some eating disordered behavior. I learned early on that if I worked out a ton and ate little, I would lose weight. Of course that futzes with your metabolism making it even harder to lose the "next time" but hey, I had a tournament around the corner, and I'd be damned if I would compete in the [whatever] weight class. Ahem.. never mind that due to greater-than-average musculature for a woman with the relatively low bodyfat of 19%, most of which is concentrated in my rump, I am kindly termed "short for my weight." I'm not fat-- I'm just.. sturdy. Most competing girls 5'2" tall are in the pluma category (118.0 or under, in gi) or pena category (129.0 or under, in gi.) So the fact that I competed in leve (141.0 or under in gi) means I was up against girls 3-5" taller than me.

Anyway, yeah, at least leve in English means "light" and I'd be DAMNED if I would compete in something called "middle"-- not when "middle" weight ladies are 5'8" or so and taller! Uh-uh. So yeah, if I was a couple pounds heavy, I'd restrict my calories and eat like crap and drop weight like a rock and it was "all good." Until the celebratory dinner after the tourney when I'd gain it back.

But last fall I didn't have any tournaments coming up and so I got relaxed. I ate what I felt like as long as it was whole grains or veggies or fruits or protein.. I tried to cut sugar out of my diet (failed but at least cut back) and ended up losing a few pounds without paying too much attention (and only crowing occasionally about it, to my friend Lynn.) Of course I ate like a pig over Christmas, but 10 or so of those pounds came off right away, and I just didn't feel like kicking my own ass to lose the rest of it quickly for this Houston tournament. (I do plan on competing at leve, AT LEAST, at the Pans and Mundials. Maybe pena even. That's just losing 15 or so lbs to be comfortable so entirely doable.)

Plus I won Houston last year in leve, same belt level, so I wanted a greater challenge. So I entered medio. And my weight has continued to fall. I'm maybe 4 pounds off of leve, 2.5 if I wore my Vulkan ultralight. So I'm definitely small for medio, but I don't care.

This also means I'm putting less pressure on myself to win my division, because while I think 10 lbs makes no difference ultimately, somehow I just feel a little bit better if I lose to a girl who (to my eye) looks really tall. Yeah, only one girl in the division, so when I get a silver (IF!) don't be all woowoo, all right? I watched her youtube video from one tournament and she fights DUDES. 'Nuff said. I'll be happy to win and I am going in there with the bit in my teeth, but I am more relaxed about the division than I am about absolute! (2 chicas in the heavyweight category, my opponent, and then 7 gals either my size or smaller.)

Anyway, anyway. I am feeling great about this tournament. I have all kinds of plans for what I want to have happen in my matches. I am so psyched to bust out some judo. I am so fine on weight that I can eat dinner tonight and enjoy it. I am working the tournament so that covers expenses. I want to go have fun most of all. And because I'm losing weight, I'm not even really dying for a chocolate donut or any other treat. So it's all good! Even my wrist (no wrap at lunch open mat) and ankle are both A-OK. And to top it all off, I'm super happy for my team, which is bringing a huge number of people to compete, including Courtney, who's only been training 2 months! her first tournament! Sooooooooo happy to see my pals go wreck house. As Donald put it, take everything home with you, even some lady's "#1 Mom" pendant. *grin*

And I'll leave you with this. I did an image search for chocolate donut, and this guy was labeled "chocolate donut face."

Too cute.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Searching for a light feather ....

Ladies-- if you're a feather or light feather brown or black belt and you will be competing between now and the Pan Ams, please message me! Thank you!

Trying to get some matches for a girlfriend who just went brown (PARABENS, Suzanne Ramsden, faixa marron!)

Thank you :)

Don't forget to tap....

Oli Geddes, badass brownbelt across the pond, in the black gi...


I am wearing a wrist brace as I type. And an ankle brace.

The wrist happened last night. The ankle happened before Christmas.

If you're one of the gals I'm fighting this weekend, so be it. Now you know-- the secret's out.

I'm just frustrated. The ankle is 99.99% fine, 99.9999% of the time. The other .0001% of the time, it sucks. It hasn't stopped me from training HARD so I'm not concerned, it's kind of a random thing, no biggie.

The wrist was likewise random... not a submission, not posting on it, not busted with a hipswitch. Just a pop, and a little fizz.. and no "what a relief it is." It's sore, so I'm babying it. It hasn't stopped me from getting grips or framing or whatnot, so I should be okay-- but it's damn Murphy and his law again.

FYI-- cool new site (to me) out there, thanks to A Skirt on the Mat for pointing it out.. it's called Lapel Choke.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

New womens' (and mens') gis out there!!

Even though I have *cough17cough* gis, I always can use more. I'm SUPER pumped about Black Eagle's second-generation Predator gi, coming out in March. I literally cannot wait to get my hands on one! The Black Eagle I have is my hands-down favorite gi, the one I reach for more than any other, the one that always gets comments. (Yeah, the tiedye gets comments too, but I can't wear that in IBJJF comps!)

The new Predator will be sooooooo sweet. As before they have an expanded range of sizes with some in-betweenies not available in other gis. Here's some changes they made:

1. Ultra light, ultra strong ripstop trousers.

2. Ultra Light Pearl Weave jacket. (I'm told this will be the lightest gi in my collection except for maybe the Kauai Kimono all-ripstop version. Even lighter than my Vulkan Ultralight.)

3. Extra lines of stitching on reinforced lapel with ripstop overlay.

4. Ripstop trimming to sleeve cuffs and jacket trim.

5. New patch designs and Predator embroideries.

6. Sanforized - Guaranteed never to shrink out of fit.

7. Mercerised - Increases the strength of the fibers and further protects from shrinkage. Also lends a "sheen" or "sparkle" to the fabric. No, I won't twinkle like fairydust, but it helps the fabric wear better (and I bet it's hard as hell to get a grip on!!!)

8. Additional loops on trousers for greater comfort fit.

9. Improved Competition cut, and fully IBJJF legal.

The Predator gis on their site now are the first-generation versions, which are really keen too, and if you buy one from stock now you get a free hoodie with it. However, I think they only have sizes 2.5 and 3.5 left. And as soon as they make the Predator II available you will hear about it from me right here!

Now what about those new women's gis? is a cool site for MMA and BJJ gear I ran across.

So I started looking just to see what they had, and found a new Keiko Raca women's gi for $149. Comes in teeny sizes too... M3 and M4 (my M4 was my favorite gi till I dyed it peach.. then chocolate, then a little girl in our kids' class wanted it, so I sold it to her cheap..)

Fighters Market also sells a new Vulkan Pro Light women's cut for $169. has it for the same price. This size range is huge, from A00 (4'9" 99 lbs) to A3 (6'2" 206 lbs).

Their Dragao Hana gi isn't new, been out a while, but still cute. $139.

And I liked some of the Dragao mens' gis too... the Tribal gi (if you can get past the arrogant look on the model's face) looks HAWT. But $204 is pricey.

If you like something a little less flashy there's the Iron gi...

Last, check out this convertible gear bag! Great idea...

Yeah, I know, 17 gis is too many. I have a couple I bought when I was new to the sport, or was asked to buy when I belonged to my previous martial art, and so I need to do a cleaning-out and a giving-away. Might be nice for my academy to have some small loaner gis for ladies who come give it a shot instead of wandering around like a tyke in Daddy's overcoat.