BJJ: The Struggle is Real- July 8th Edition

6:26 AM Moo 0 Comments

How it feels rolling next to two brand new white belts.......

When someone asks why I wasn't at training and I'm trying to think of an excuse....

When someone calls me out for messing up the group jiu jitsu photo.....

When someone asks me to roll right before I can get a drink of water...

When I meet someone who only trains at noon.....

Trying to keep up with everyone during bear crawls.....

When my boyfriend tells me to stop stalking a new jiu jitsu girl......

When someone tries to footlock me by bending my individual toes back......

When you roll with the black belt.....

Me: When I showed up late to the leg lock trend......


BJJ: The Struggle is Real- May 2nd Edition

6:34 AM Moo 0 Comments

Rolling with the newbie who doesn't know fist bump etiquette....

When you're cornering someone who doesn't listen and they ask what went wrong

 When a lower ranked dude skips me and starts calling out partners to roll...

whispering to my team mate when he enters late and it's a judo day...

Trying to motivate team mates to compete....

When everyone is enjoying the new warm up and I'm trying to act like I enjoy it too

When I put a Shoyoroll gi in my basket but it's "out of stock" when I go to checkout

When I see someone with a great inverted guard and get jealous

When you get your tax return and buy all the gis!


Competition: The NY Open,The Blue Belt Curse & Anxiety

9:49 AM Moo 3 Comments

This year I decided to compete again, making this my first tournament at Blue belt and my first tournament in America. It was nice being able to understand the referees and announcements!  This competition started with a huge weight cut for me, not really a cut, but a conscious decision to eat much better than I was and to get down to middle or medium for IBJJF. After about 3 months, hours of training, supplements, recovery aids, no cupcakes, limited gluten and a whole lot of scale accountability I was finally down 23 pounds.

I competed in the largest tournament I've ever been involved in: The IBJJF New York Open.This tournament was different in many ways. 1st- I felt so prepared it was ridiculous. I trained more than I ever had before, developed a game plan and felt solid. 2nd- I didn't feel the pressure to impress anyone but myself. For the first time I was truly battling my doubts, my insecurities and anything that told me I was incapable and 3rd- The second I stepped off the mat I felt like I absolutely was meant to be there.

When we arrived at the venue I felt good, I was on weight (in fact 9 pounds under). I paced around the stadium for a while feeling all of the nervous energy. It's truly a unique experience to project all of the emotions the athletes give off. You can actually feel the anxiety, the tension, the hopes, it's truly amazing.

My match was pushed back and finally in the late afternoon I stepped into the bullpen behind Dillon Danis and Paolo Miyao. It's a surreal experience knowing you're about to share a mat with a living legend and it's even more surreal to look up and see all of the eyes on you. I'm no stranger to attention or competition, after many years of rugby you think I'd be used to the pressure. This was a whole new beast.I have had competition anxiety for as long as I can remember, so much so that I actually hired a sports psychologist during my rugby days to deal with the constant hives and panic attacks. He asked me what made me feel most in my element and what comforted me. I told him poetry and he suggested I carry a piece with me to read before each event. That poem was always "Invictus" a piece that both my grandfather and my idol (Nelson Mandela) loved.  It was the poem he used to inspire the Springbok South African rugby team, leading them to victory. A piece so dear to me that I have it forever tattooed on my ribs.

Competing at a higher level taught me there is nothing I cannot deal with. I stepped on the mat and my opponent vanished. All I saw was the self doubt I had been carrying around for the last five years, all I heard was the voice that said "you're getting older, you're not as fast or athletic as you used to be" and I pushed them both out of my mind. I replaced every single insecurity with a reason why I deserved to be there and the reason why I deserved to win. The negative voices were drowned out by the support of my coaches, my boyfriend and team mates.The match was honestly a blur, but when I stood up, tied my belt and my hand was raised I knew I'd conquered much more than a jiu jitsu match. I faced every single doubt that told me I wasn't good enough and won.

The next day I competed in no gi, going up 2 weight classes to Super heavy. I felt the voice creeping in again: "they have the weight advantage," "you don't train no gi," "why did you sign up?" I immediately began repeating:

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul. 
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed. 
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid. 
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul. 

I heard one person laugh and say "look she's praying cause she's about to get destroyed." I didn't care. I was in my zone. I won my first match by ankle lock and lost in the finals to a competitor who forced me to work harder than I ever had before. I can't remember ever being prouder than I was on that day and I can't remember a time where I worked harder to prove to myself what I already should have known, what my boyfriend tells me on a constant basis, what my team mates are and encourage me to be: I'm a warrior and if I can beat my toughest opponent (myself) I can do pretty much anything. I cannot wait to step out there and prove it to myself again.


When You're Tired of Being The Nail

7:38 AM Moo 1 Comments

There's a saying "somedays you're the hammer and somedays you're the nail." I hear this constantly in the Jiu Jitsu community. Loosely translating to: somedays you do the beating and some days you get beat up. What happens when you spend most of your time being the nail? I was talking to a fellow practitioner the other day who said "I'm not getting better, I'm always getting beat up, it's frustrating.I just don't see the point anymore." Other than time commitments this is one of the main reasons people quit. Does anyone like being the nail?

I do. I am usually the nail. Somedays I'm the hammer, but I spend a lot of time getting my ass kicked. I am one of a few girls at my local gym. Most of the men are bigger, if not bigger than way stronger and many even faster than I am. I get smashed all the time, I get beat up daily...and I love it.

When you're the nail, there are less expectations, this can be either great or very demotivating. You may spend your days perpetually frustrated but you don't have the added pressure of being expected to dominate all the time. Sometimes this makes my victories even sweeter. Sometimes this motivates me. What do I mean by victories? What keeps me going? When I am able to escape mount and fully re-guard on someone way bigger and stronger, protecting my neck for 6 minutes during a roll with someone who only wants to punch me in the face and refuses to use technique, getting up and going to class when all I want to do is roll over and die and proving to myself that I survived. Again.  Because that really is the point of Martial Arts, after all, survival.

When you spend time being the nail, often you stop counting your small victories and that's a huge mistake! You have to focus on what you do well in addition to what you need to improve. If you don't know your strengths, how can you possibly play to them? If I didn't spend a little time getting crushed, getting my ass kicked and ending up in even worse positions, I would never know what my leg lock game could be like. I would never know that I can survive, hold my own against someone larger than me and come out on the other end unscathed. So much of Jiu Jitsu is mental. So much of your journey is dependent on not just staying physically sharp, but mentally too. Not buckling under pressure, learning to control your breathing and your roll, positive self talk and most importantly reminding yourself of why you started in the first place. When you have a goal to work towards, the path becomes much clearer.

So in regards to this quote I'd like to offer another "if you think your only tool is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail." There is more than one way to be victorious in Jiu Jitsu and so much of it just depends on your perspective, your ability to stay positive and your willingness to let go of EGO. With it? You'll never be the hammer. Without it? The possibilities are endless.