BJJ: Manic Gif Monday

10:42 AM Moo 0 Comments

When my Reggae jam comes on during warm ups.....

When an upper belt asks me if I remember how to do a basic move I have forgotten how to do...

When my boyfriend says something insensitive about my Jiu Jitsu and I overreact.... 

My attempt at looking intimidating to my opponent before the first match...

When someone tries to choke me from inside my guard...

When I see an opportunity but I don't secure position before submission....

When someone mentions grabbing food after training...
Walking up to accept a stripe from my professor...

Trying to work open guard practice into everyday life.....
When I do something ambitious (stupid) and almost get arm barred, but escape....
Looking at my training partner after my professor shows a complicated drill....


BJJ: Weight loss and benefits

2:21 PM Moo 2 Comments

I received an email this morning from a girl asking me if Jiu Jitsu would help her lose weight, but also if I had noticed any significant difference in myself. The answer to both is yes! Jiu Jitsu can help you lose weight, provided you adjust other areas of your life as well. She asked how people reacted to my weight loss. Some people were concerned, others complimentary and a few people very quick to say I had lost too much weight and "looked better before." So in response to the question "what did other people think?" my answer would be "who cares." People are quick to judge you, especially if they aren't doing something themselves. They are irrelevant when it comes to making yourself healthy! Here's my story:
Me in my first tournament, only one in my weight class 79 kilos+

When I first started Jiu Jitsu September 5th, I weighed around 178 pounds. No one believed me. I've always carried my weight rather well, mostly in my hips and thighs, but at 5'5" I realized I could probably stand to be a little healthier. I was playing rugby, although admittedly sporadically and I wasn't eating particularly well although did I cook the majority of my meals once I decided to stop eating fried chicken every day.

My weight loss was minimal, until I increased my training to four days a week. At one point in my training, I got an ulcer and was unable to eat the foods I had been eating before. This was really a blessing. After I was medicated and it healed, I realized that many of the dietary choices I had made, had direct correlations to my own health issues. I was tired all the time because I was eating garbage and I was drinking so much that I was inconsistent with training and would be too hungover to attend practices.Being around people who were much healthier than I was, was a bit of a wake up call. No one else was eating take out everyday, people were making smarter choices and it started to rub off on me. The more I went to class, the more I wanted to make sure I never had a reason to miss it. I drank less and I ate better and as a result I performed better on the mat.

Weight was not my only concern.I have had high blood pressure since I was 14 years old (it runs in my family) and I have been on medicine for it, for the better part of my life. This year when I went to the doctor he told me "your blood pressure is in stroke territory, there is no way it should be so high." Just hearing the word "stroke" made me nervous. 27 years old and otherwise healthy, it seemed inexcusable.When I made a conscious decision to start eating better, in order to train better, that changed. I told my doctor I would discontinue my medicine (of course he encouraged me against it, but said we would keep a close monitor on it).  After months of consistent training I went to have my bi-annual full physical test with my doctor. I saw his eyes widen, he checked and re-checked my blood pressure before telling me "It's 90/68 that is amazing." Of course eating more fresh food helped, but it also revealed a theory my mother has had about me for a long time. She said my BP was also weight sensitive and losing about 10-15 pounds would probably help. She was right.
A little lighter these days, although he might disagree! Haha

 In my first tournament I competed at +79 kilos (174 pounds and up), in my second tournament -74 (163 and below) and my most recent tournament was -69 (152 and below). I currently weigh in (without gi) at around 148 pounds. That is a loss of 30 pounds during my time in Korea. I am still trying to figure out what my natural weight will be.While, I definitely feel better in my clothing I am less concerned with the superficial aspects. In general, I feel much better, my blood pressure is finally normal, I don't feel dizzy all of the time like I used to, I have more energy, I've gotten faster on the mat, I am more focused and enjoy training so much more when I am giving my body the proper fuel (other than the 1 or 2...or 12 cupcakes I may consume any given weekend!) On top of it abs are awesome right now and I am not ashamed to say it!

I don't obsess over food, I eat what I want but I eat smarter, train harder and appreciate the fuel I'm giving my body. When I go on vacation I pack a Gi and I train where I can. Jiu Jitsu has surely given me some physical benefits, but I must say it has also really improved the overall quality of my life.I have found something that makes me feel committed to being as healthy as I can and treating my body so much better than I used to. Thanks Jiu Jitsu, I'm indebted to you!


Encouraging Self Defense Makes Me Unfeminist?

10:58 AM Moo 0 Comments

A few weeks ago I wrote a post called BJJ: Empowerment, Boundaries and Assault, about self defense, rape culture and the therapeutic effect BJJ has had for me. This week Miss Nevada (Taekwondo black belt) Nia Sanchez, made headlines while discussing college rape culture. She said  "More awareness [of the issue] is very important so that women can learn to protect themselves... you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself" and the internet went wild!

Sanchez speaks as a women who spent her earlier life living in a women's shelter with her mother. She later decided to give back, by teaching victims the self defense she learned in her own training as a black belt.Should she have noted that a lack of self-defense is not the reason behind rape? Yes, if she wanted to be extra safe and make sure not to offend/trigger anyone. The words "Victim Blaming" and "Anti-Feminist" were thrown around  and the notion that women should take self defense was shut down with the argument "rape is caused by men who rape, not my lack of self defense." This is a true statement.

The most important point I can stress is A RAPE VICTIM IS NEVER RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR RAPE. So again, are victims ever to blame for their rape? Absolutely not. Does this mean that learning self defense is pointless? Hell No! In a perfect world rape would not exist, rape culture would be a dystopian novel topic, women would match men in strength and men would understand that our clothing choices, the way we carry ourselves and the way we say "NO" does not equal consent.

Our fear of being termed "unfeminist," "sexist" or a "rape sympathizer" has paralyzed us from promoting self defense. While it may not be applicable for everyone, it is not an idea to be laughed at, or frowned upon. It can be confidence building, empowering and ultimately life saving. Again, there is NOTHING victim blaming about saying women should learn how to defend themselves. We can decide to infer this, if we would like.

American Mixed Martial Artist, Shayna Baszler defended Nia Sanchez and took to twitter to comment:

 Shayna Baszler @QoSBaszler
While the #YesAllWomen people are busy crying about "victimization", I was at the gym honing my whoop-ass skillz.
Ronda Rouseys mother weighed in on the issue which is documented below in an exchange found on Mixed Martial Arts:
 DrAnnMaria @DrAnnMaria
@QoSBaszler That's fine because you WANT to but you shouldn't HAVE TO
@DrAnnMaria i also shouldnt HAVE 2 prevent my acct from fraud, or HAVE 2 lock my doors at night
 DrAnnMaria @DrAnnMaria
@QoSBaszler No, you should not. Which is why we arrest people who commit fraud & not say you had it coming
 Shayna Baszler @QoSBaszler
@DrAnnMaria i agree w/that. Just not all the hate @MissUSA is getting
Many responded by saying her [Shayna's] decision to fight was just that, a choice, where as being raped was not. She was deemed unfeminist and unsupportive of the female plight. While surely it could have been worded better, there is something REALLY powerful about a women honing those skills.

Women SHOULD NOT have to learn self defense, in order to not be raped, but does that mean they shouldn't learn self defense because we expect the world to be just?  It isn't. Racially, sexually, economically or otherwise. Being a biracial women, growing up in the Midwest I learned a long time ago that the way I want things to be and the way things SHOULD be, are not a reflection of the way things are. I am not always safe, I consider the implications or wearing a hood or how dark my skin is after I've been out in the sun. Yet, I also consider what shoes I wear in case I have to quickly remove them and run away from an attacker, I know how to make everything on my person into a weapon while I am digging for keys to get into the house late at night, I am sometimes scared to walk a few blocks in the dark and opt to take a taxi, I am cautious of men that are bigger than me, when I enter a room with someone of the opposite sex I often look for all of the exits and possible ways to escape. If you are a man, you probably have never had to do this (that again, is an assumption).I question everything, I check myself and others around me. Since learning a martial art, yes, I know that I sometimes still do these things and that I am not automatically safe but I have a different skill set now. A skill set that I wish all people, not just women felt comfortable using. A skill set that I wish could be encouraged without being told I am un-feminist.

Feminism, by it's very nature is about  "defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities  for women."  Why shouldn't I have the same opportunity to defend myself? I'm sick of feminism being used as a dirty word, I'm sick of being told by other feminists that my opinions make me less of a feminist and I'm sick of being told HOW I should feel as a feminist.

When I was a kid I used to see these big, brave, beautiful, badass female athletes and I wanted to be just like them. When did it become wrong to encourage women to take up combat sports? When did rape culture make women so divided that we found it necessary to attack each other for our personal decisions/viewpoints on self defense and training. No matter what the social norm is, there will always be outliers. There will always be people and things that go against what it is right and what is wrong. We know that robbery is morally wrong and yet we still have security systems, we still lock our doors. We do not and should not blame the victims. It is a well known fact, that suggesting rape is not an issue, makes you a dirt bag. But why does suggesting self defense as a form empowerment make a person equally as "wrong?" I will never stop fighting for women's rights and I will never stop fighting against the horrible rape culture society has created, but I will also never stop fighting because I never want to be a victim again. I am proud that I am comfortable defending myself.

Women, too often, are perceived as being defenseless. I am on a mission to change that perception.