Saturday, November 5, 2016

Still Grappling Along...

I haven't quit Jiu Jitsu. In fact, I love it as much as I always did. I've been forced into a few breaks though. First, I fully ruptured my ACL and had to have surgery including a hamstring graft to repair the damage. Major bummer. Then, just as I was getting back into the swing of things, surprise, I'm pregnant! Okay, it wasn't a surprise to me, but it was timed so that I barely returned to the sport when I had to stop again. I know a lot of BJJ women who've had babies and they trained their whole pregnancies and recouped really fast. Let's all cross our fingers for a fast return for me. But while I'm already six months along, I don't feel comfortable training. I'm a nervous preggers gal and I'm all about playing it safe for me. In the mean time, I have been comfortably observing my friends and teammates on their Jiu Jitsu journeys and I'm excited for all of them! The reaction to my pregnancy has also been met with loads of positive support from my teammates and I'm pretty excited to see what kind of kid comes from such a loving environment. So I'm hoping with all my spare time from training (and I still run, lift and swim) I can update this blog more often with stories of the awesome things I see while sitting on the sidelines!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I've been at the "new" gym long enough now to have stopped calling it "the new gym." Now it's just the gym. I've formed great friendships there and even received a stripe on my purple belt during the last promotions event. Of course, as soon as I got comfortable inevitable drama ensued and my favorite instructor left. So now I'm torn again. I want to continue training where I am while simultaneously wanting to follow the instructor who's technique I love the most. I'm not making any fast decisions, I'm going to be like water and just flow. In other news: I wanted to touch on the subject of relationships in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I've recently been accused of having sexual relationships with someone, not my husband, with whom I train. The friend who made the comments doesn't train, so I have to remind myself that she has no idea what it's like to be in a BJJ gym. Let me explain, in case anyone reads this who doesn't train, what the friendships are like at the gym. In fact, the word "friendship" is too weak to really describe the emotional bond that forms from rolling together. One of my best female friends (who also trains) described it the best: When we are on the mats, sweating, messy, smelly, pushing our bodies and minds to exhaustion on many occasions and putting complete trust in our training partners, we are naked. As naked as someone can be in a gi. It's an emotional nakedness that can't be denied or ignored. We put our livelihood, physical and mental, in other people's hands on a regular basis. we trust that person not to break our bones or choke us unconscious and to have such control that they can hold us defenseless and let us go. It's a very tangible trust and it forces those of us who train to make trench-warfare type friendships. The people we train with are family. It's intimacy without sexuality. The level of physical contact forces a release of the personal space bubble. Not to mention the emotional connection made from a sport that can cause both moments of perfect elation as much as it does bouts of crying and self deprecation. While these relationships are the norm to BJJ practitioners, they don't translate well to people who aren't part of that "family." They see only the lack of personal space or the ease with which trust comes to training partners. When I brought one of those friendships outside the doors of the gym it caused speculation. I'm not the kind of person who believes men and women can't be friends. I believe friendship is blind, like love, in that it's so much more than hormones and physical attraction. It is a type of love. My friendships mean more than that to me. Ultimately, I can't change my friend's opinion. If she wants to think I'm in an open marriage, fine. Hell, let her think I'm sleeping with a veritable hoard of men. The person who's opinion matters to me is my own...and the husband. I care what he thinks. (Incidentally, he laughed a solid five minutes straight when I told him about my "reputation.") I also wouldn't trade these gym relationships for anything in the world. Just like how I wouldn't trade my non-gym relationships for anything either. They're all special to me and it's none of my business who understands that dynamic. I'm lucky I get to share parts of myself in different ways with different people. In the mean time, I hope the jiu jitsu world continues to nurture friendships forged in trials by fire.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Change Is Scary

I hate change. I try to go with the flow in situations I can't control, but recently there was a big change in my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world that I had a really hard time processing. My coaches left. The people who called me their friend, who spent time with me outside the gym at countless dinners and shows, who patiently spent time inside the gym teaching me and who I trusted and cared about left. I don't really know what happened. They just decided they were done with BJJ and done owning a gym so they never returned. My texts, calls and e-mails went unanswered and it became pretty clear that they meant to cut all ties. It was hurtful. I cried. A lot. The worst part was that everyone assumed I had prior knowledge of their plans because we had been so close. They walked in August and by September the majority of the team had left too, mostly to find a gym that felt more stable. A good teammate took over the old place and eventually the gym did sell to a nice guy. He did a good job and I still consider him a friend, but I felt a sense of dread every time I went there to train. I went less and less frequently and ended up finding a gym close to home. I felt bad for leaving, but in the long run I really believe that everything happened for the best. I didn't want what had happened to be an end to my passion for Jiu Jitsu. Only after I left did I realize how toxic the old instructors were for me. I never made a change because I was comfortably complacent. Good news is that I ended up at a gym that I really love. The instructors are great and the team was immediately welcoming. Some of the old team even ended up at the new place too. The old gym invades my thoughts every day still and I miss my old teammates; the old coaches as well, even if it's better now. It still makes me sad. I'm not sure how long it will take me to stop calling it "the new gym" and say things like "they teach it differently here." Every day I wake up and embrace the change. Because I sure as shit can't do anything else.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Beast Mode

Okay, so I'm terrible at updating my blog. In all honesty I spend more time online looking at BJJ videos and training five days a week so the blog ends up being something I remember while I'm driving somewhere and I think "oh...I should write a post about that!" Inevitably, I forget to do so when I get home and it's all very out of sight, out of mind. So now I'm trying to pick it up again and write more regularly. Loads of things have happened since my last post. I did indeed compete, which I will recap momentarily, I received my purple belt, I've made new friendships and learned tons of new lessons from training and I've lost people I loved in the sport and my personal life. To sum it up, I have no shortage of things to write about, even if I'm the only one reading them.
So back to the tournament I did back in February of 2012: Competition makes me both uncomfortable and aggressive. I don't enjoy the idea of competing for something because of a strange internal mix of both fear-of-failure and my desire to avoid confrontation; however, I really enjoyed the tournament. The funny thing is that I didn't expect much of myself. I should have, I just didn't. When I first agreed to compete I received nothing but support from my teammates and coaches. They all believed in my ability and worked extra with me to ensure that I had as many tools in my jiu jitsu game as possible for competition. The positive vibe was so strong that I started with the goal of winning my divisions completely. Then, as time grew shorter, the tournament loomed closer and the training became more intense, the realization set in that I was about to step out in front of hundreds of people and face another woman who's goal it was to break my limbs or choke me unconscious. Slowly but surely I became more and more unsure that I had made a smart choice. So much so that by the day of the weigh-ins my only goal was not to puke on my opponent. I remember stepping out onto the mats and screaming internally "what are you doing?! This is a terrible idea!" Still, I shook hands with the beastly girl across from me, (I swear she had at least four inches on me and had a very intimidating mug,) and when they said go my legs didn't crumble and I didn't run out of the arena Speedy Gonzolas style. Quite the opposite happened. When my opponent grabbed my head and smashed my face into her shoulder signaling that "shit just got real" I felt a sense of calm reality take over. Don't misunderstand, I didn't suddenly become Kyra Gracie. I didn't cartwheel kimura the girl or suddenly pull of any fancy moves I had seen on youtube. No, I wasn't suddenly a black belt in a blue belt world, but I did remember my basics. Over the next six minutes I successfully completed moves that I had never been confidently trying even in regular classes. Then, in a moment of sheer madness, I caught her in a triangle choke and dammit I was going to finish it. Much to my surprise, I finished my first round with a submission. I was shocked. Then I was elated. Then I was terrified all over again when I remembered that I had to roll another round to finish the division. To make a long six minute recap short, I won by points. A lot of points. I had a great opponent but I was more confident in my ability and it showed. Somewhere in the twelve minutes I had been competing I had tapped my inner beast mode. That part of you that rises up in times of fear or excitement. It felt amazing. When I competed in the gi division I lost and ended up taking second place. I fought an omoplata submission so hard that I tore my rotator cuff and had to suffer eight weeks of physical therapy including dry needling. Still worth it. The weirdest part was that it was fun to lose. It was more fun to win, but I had so much fun I could have spent the whole day getting submitted and it still would have been worth it. So to those who are nervous about competition I say this: Trust your inner beast mode. Even if you go out and tap in 30 seconds, you've accomplished more than most people who train. It takes guts and hard work to compete, so step onto those mats with both pride in your accomplishment and respect for the opponent you face who has gone through hell just like you did just to end up putting it all out there for anyone to see. At least for the next six minutes.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cutting Weight Sucks

It's true, cutting weight sucks. Even when it's a small amount of weight, cutting fat then water is hard both physically and mentally. Even though my gym emphasizes the safest way to cut weight as taught by a former Olympic coach, it's rough all over. Here's what I did:
One month out I started restricting my diet. No more frozen yogurt, cookies with my tea or hot chocolates with homemade whipped cream when it was below freezing outside. My start weight was 128 and I needed to get to 119 to make the under 120 weight class for the tournament. I dropped to 124 pounds one week before the weigh ins. Then I waited until the night before the weigh ins to cut the water weight. First, I stopped drinking water 24 hours before the weigh in. That evening I did my jiu jitsu class in sweat pants and a sweat shirt under my gi. That was awesome. In less than an hour I managed to sweat out 4 pounds. Impressive considering that I normally sweat out maybe a pound on any given night. So I treated myself to a few sips of water and went home. Then I tried the Polley Plunge. I'll talk about that in a minute. When I woke up the next morning I went to the gym and got to jog a mile to warm up then sit in the dry sauna for 20 minutes to sweat out the last pound. I hated it. Every minute of it. My mouth stopped producing normal saliva and just coated itself with a thick mucus. Gross. When the time came though, dammit I weighed in at 119. Hell yeah. Then I immediately began to rehydrate and ate everything I could find. So I felt sick all night, but it was worth it for the blackened tofu alone.
Okay, so loads of wrestlers use a technique called the Polley Plunge. It involves the following process:
First, you coat your body in Albolene, which is the bastard child of vaseline and cold cream. It's to open your pores and make you miserable. I think the Walgreens where I bought all this crap must get a lot of wrestlers because when I went in to buy everything the guy working there knew I needed the Albolene before I said anything based on the contents of my shopping cart. I actually feel bad for my coaches because they've had the glorious experience of rubbing fighters' nasty, sweaty bodies down with that crap to help them cut weight. I made my husband do that for me.

Next you make a really damn hot bath with 4-6 bags of epsom salts and 4-6 bottles of green rubbing alcohol. So it's a super-salty bath that smells overwhelmingly like mouthwash. I expected it to sting or hurt or something, but the bath itself was quite nice. Damn hot. But quite nice. So then you sit there for 20 minutes. After which, you gut out, rub everything off with a towel, hop into some sweats and sit under a blanket to sweat for another 30 minutes.

The guys who talk about this at the gym say they have or know guys who have gut 5 pounds in one bath. I cut...nothing. Not even an ounce. So all I did was have a mouthwash bath and spend 30 minutes thinking how I was getting albolene residue on my favorite sweat pants. At least I made weight in the end. I have decided though, that I probably won't do more than a couple tournaments a year. The weight cutting sucks and I love food too much. Whoever said "no food tastes as good as being thin feels" never ate a ho-ho cupcake.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fancy Pants!

I'm famous! Kind of! Okay, not really, but I am featured on a website hosted by someone famous! Alicia Silverstone has a fantastic website called The Kind Life which I love. She posts stories about healthy, green living and animal welfare. I found the website because I am a vegetarian and one of my dear friends (who coincidentally co-owns the MMA gym where I train,) and her husband are vegan and I admit that they have influenced some of my dietary changes. I knew Alicia Silverstone was a vegan and I own her book, titled: The Kind Diet. The site recently featured a success story of a woman who cut out sugar from her diet and became more healthy overall. I wrote to the site admin saying how I appreciated the inspiring stories like that one and that I had also had success when I gave up processed foods in February of 2010 and by May of 2011 I had lost 105 pounds. So they featured my story too! I do believe that people have the ability to drastically change their lives with changes in diet and lifestyle. If you had told me two years ago that my average week would include getting thrown, punched, choked and armbarred and that I would look forward to it every day I would have laughed in your face. So if you're interested, check out my success story on The Kind Life and enjoy!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Weight A Minute...

I'm trying really hard to cut my weight down for the upcoming tournament on February 11th. I'm finding it frustrating. It's one of many things that have me asking: "what the hell was I thinking signing up for tournament?" Losing weight has been pretty steady for me when I eat healthy and work out. Giving my self a "goal weight" however has succeeded in pissing me off. I already eat a healthy diet and train five days a week, so adding more workouts is stressing my body out and cutting calories is making my caloric intake dangerously low. Not to mention that I have very little body fat as it is so I'm not sure from where the weight is supposed to come off. I don't want to sacrifice muscle mass for weight because the girls that compete are beasts! I'm terrified that when I cut water I'll be unable or worse, unwilling to sit in the dry sauna for the time needed. On top of all that it feels like when I restrict my diet ALL I think about are cupcakes and cookies. I wouldn't eat them normally, but now that they're on the no-no list I dream about their cake-y-chocolate-y-frosted deliciousness. My coaches gave me a form on cutting weight properly and it's four freaking pages! I feel a little overwhelmed. While I am ridiculously nervous for the tournament, I'm really just excited to eat food again. A lot of food. Until then I'm going to watch a lot of shows on the Food Network. (Which I now think of as "food-porn.") Upside: I think I see a 2-pack on my stomach...that isn't boobs or ribs...