Monday, June 6, 2011

Pivotal People in My Jiu-Jitsu Life

There have been several people in my jiu-jitsu life that have been monumental in my growth, not just in technique but in attitude, appreciation of the sport, and love for my team.  There are some that are of course quite obvious, like my coaches Johnny Faria and Regis Lebre, and my dear roommate, Samantha Faulhaber.  But today's post is dedicated to someone very special that, despite almost 2 years of training side by side, I have only recently started to get to know just a little bit yet she has absolutely been one of the biggest influences in my jiu-jitsu life...  

Why write this blog entry?  I write this because I think sometimes we may all take for granted who is on our team and who adds to our growth, like we sometimes take our parents or siblings for granted.  So I'm marking today as my personal "Appreciate My Dope-A$$ Training Partners Day".

Although I believe this particular training partner and I have had MANY moments of T-O-T-A-L misunderstanding between each other, she has never been anything less than a role model for me.  I've seen her come in and get paired up with large newbs that go 200% on her tiny person and tap them like Cesar Milan zpffft's! a bad doggie.  I've seen her go through class after class in a row and never sit out for a single round.  Many a time have I seen her stay after class to drill, drill, drill with anyone that will make the time for her.  Always humble and appreciative.

But not once have I ever seen her complain.  Not even when I accidentally knee'd her face for the 67th time.

So anyways, today's post is dedicated to the ever quiet, soft-spoken, hard-working, KILLING MACHINE Jennifer Recinos who likely will never read this post because if she even has a Facebook, we're not even friends on it.  But that's okay cuz she doesn't need to be on Facebook for me to "like" her on it.  ;)  

Jennifer Recinos, Thank You for all you have and continue to do for my jiu-jitsu.  You cannot know how much you are appreciated by your teammates.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What to know before you Jiu-Jitsu

Here's a little starter list of important things I think everyone should consider before they begin jiu-jitsu.


  1. If you are female, layers are your friend.  Layers with high necks and high waistlines.  If you have larger than average "girls", keep those girls at bay.  As great as it is to tap your opponent, it's awkward for us all if someone has to tap to boob.
  2. Regardless of whether you are a daily #2'er, weekly, or a 3-2-1er (3 #2's in 1 day), try to make sure this occurs right before class or as close to this time as possible.  This will prevent many, um, uncomfortable moments.  
  3. If you are having trouble keeping your pipes in order, ground flax is a great addition to morning smoothies that will keep them sparkling clean and in great working order! Just ask my buddy Jaime (but ignore him if he suggests consuming Epsom salt)!
  4. Males.  Please wear compression shorts.  Just.  Please.  Ick.


  1. Don't consume hummus ever again.  At least not within a day of training.  No.  Don't.  Don't argue with me.  Just don't do it.  The only situation where this may be acceptable is if everyone you are training with is wearing ear and nose plugs.  But I still recommend avoiding this.
  2. Don't think you can get away with wearing that gi a few times without washing it.  We smell you.  We act like we don't but we do.  That's why, after the round is over, you see us smelling our hands and making faces and then glaring at you from the other side of the room.
  3. Don't wipe your nose on my gi!  You have your own clothing right there!  I see it!  Best idea would be for you to use the inside of your shirt but absolutely don't use me or my gi!
This was just a random list of things I thought were important to know.  Additions by you, dear reader (all 2 of you!) are certainly welcome!  :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lesson(s) Learned: Competitors, Regret.

Yesterday was the first day in my life that I have ever truly regretted not competing.  I won't say it was a sad day for me, however.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  My roommate and training partner, Samantha Faulhaber, won the finals in the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials yesterday by a beautiful clock choke against a brown belt opponent anyone would be proud (and intimidated!) to go up against.  It was a moment of T-O-T-A-L AWESOMENESS that made my eyes well up.

Picture from Graciemag International 

I learned a lot from watching Sam compete this weekend.  Everyone that goes to tournaments like these puts in months and months of painfully hard work in the hopes of winning that golden ticket to Abu Dhabi.  There are no easy matches at a tournament like this.  Some of the best fighters didn't win this past weekend.  So to see Sam face-off with each opponent this weekend without a shadow of fear or doubt and to watch her stay cool and focused throughout each match, well... she's got that Vulcan thing down and it paid off.  That was lesson #1 this weekend.

The other big lesson...  The Regret.  Because I haven't figured out if I can label "eating" as a passion, I will have to say that my two biggest passions in life are traveling and jiu-jitsu.  Sam is the 4th female from my academy to compete in the Abu Dhabi Trials this year and the 4th one to win her ticket.  Had I competed this past weekend, would I have made it as well? Who knows.  But NOT competing certainly guaranteed that I will NOT be going.  No doubt about that.

Question is:  At what point did I let my oh-so-important rule of not competing take precedence over satisfying two of the biggest passions in my life?  

Yeah, I was sick all last week and during the weekend of the trials.  In fact, I'm still sick today. However, last I checked, you do NOT get disqualified for puking on your opponent.  

Anyways, the opportunity has come and gone.  But lesson has been learned.  I hate letting golden opportunities slip past me and I hate making the same mistake twice......

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I want THAT!

I want that Vulcan-ness in training. Not Vulkan with a "k" like the gi (although should they ever want to sponsor a non-competing blue-belt-for-lifer, I wear size A0, only blue or white please and not that dark blue because Royler prefers the original blue), but Vulcan with a "c" like in Star Trek. Emotionless. Logical. Better yet, I'd like to be Seven of Nine so I can have an awesome rack too. Wait, those would totally get in the way. Ok back to Vulcan.

I babble about this because sometimes it's hard not to get overwhelmed (like last night) during bad training rounds, days, weeks, whatever.  *Most* everyone has their peaks and valleys in training and even though we recognize that's all it is, it still gets to you.  Well, most of us.  I swear some of my training partners never have off days and never get emotionally overwhelmed in training!  JERKS!

Last night was one of those nights where I just could not get my head on straight and to top it off, my cardio was like that of a cigarette smoking Vegas street walker on a hike in the Himalayas in the middle of winter carrying my pimp on my back.

And of course I always display all of my emotions prominently on my face.

I was so shamefully out of condition that my sparring partner actually stopped mid-pass and asked, "Um, are you okay?"

But at my academy, my instructors don't just let these moments slide.  They always come over after and give me a little talky-talk when I go into full chica mode and get overly emotional and bummed out about my training.  So last night's discussion was about how to "reset" your emotions when you hit a bump in training.  It's a downward spiral for some of us, once we start to feel like we're losing the round, I'm sure even harder for all you competitors out there.  But it's not to say it's impossible.  It's about diverting your energies to what's going on now versus what just happened.  Easier said than done but the only way to figure out how to do it is try.  And to know that it actually is possible.

My goal this week is to have a handle on my emotions in training.  I want to grab that sniveling, emotional, weak little brat inside by the pony tail and tell her to stfu and sit in her corner and lift some weights or something.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

To Compete or Not to Compete

Last night one of my teachers had another mini-talk with me about my decision not to compete. Ever. Usually this happens around big tournaments and this past weekend was the Las Vegas Abu Dhabi Trials.


Ummm... Sorry. I get very excited every time I think about how well our women's team is doing! Back to the topic o' discussion.

Let's be honest, many instructors become very unhappy with you if you say you don't want to compete. Some even stop helping you much in class when they realize you're really not going to compete.

I do not belong to one of those academies. :)

HOWEVER, that does not mean I am not periodically reminded of the benefits of competing, what it means for the team for people to compete, etc. So what to do? Here is my current train of thought, let me know what you've got to add to the list.

  • (+) Motivation! > When you have a specific goal to reach, you tend to work harder.
  • (-) Demotivation! > When you have a specific goal to reach and you feel very far from the goal, you tend to get discouraged, sometimes to the point of just giving up.
  • (+) Learning Experience > You get to go up against someone that is your weight (more or less) that you don't have to worry about going "too hard" with.
  • (-) Weight > You have to worry about what you're eating, drinking less alcohol, maybe none at all the week of the tournament (NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Might as well just stop with my list right here?), so that you are actually going up against someone that is more/less your weight.
  • (+) Healthier Lifestyle > It forces you to clean up your diet, lifestyle, etc, as you get closer and closer to tournament time.
  • (-) Unhealthy Attitude Re: Weight > All of a sudden it doesn't matter what's best for you, what's at the top of your mind is that you make it to pluma!
  • (+/-) MENTALITY > This is a big one here for me. Having/learning to have the right mindset for competition is a whole big fog of Idon'tknowwhat. Winning/losing has the potential to really affect how you will do in subsequent matches/tournaments/training in a positive or negative way. Choking in a tournament would also suck. And I mean "choking" as in getting overwhelmed, not "getting choked" but that kind would also suck.
  • (-) STRESS > Between amateur muay thai bouts, muay thai smokers, and boxing smokers, I've had 10 stand-up fights. Not one of them was a fun experience for me and it just stressed me the F out. I do not like feeling stressed, especially about one of the few things I truly love to do. But I do not think it would be the same scenario where I am today.
I just don't know what to think. Is competing for everyone? I don't think so but for whatever reason, the majority of the bjj world seems to disagree with me on this.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Omg! Haven't seen you in forever! What are you, a purple/brown belt now???" Ummm... well... errr... you see...

I got my blue belt in November 2003. I am a blue belt today. Yep. But hey, I'm at a different academy now so something changed! So... what happened?


But anyways.

Why go back to jiu-jitsu? Who knows. I don't know if I really enjoyed it the first time around *gasp*! But one of my closest friends, Crystina Coats, is and always will be a jiu-jitsu chick and I guess that's what kept me thinking about it...... every now and then I'd go and take a class, get smashed, run back to muay thai.

It's definitely intimidating to think about going back when all the people you started with or even started AFTER you are now purple/brown/black belts. Crystina, Giselle, JOEL (wtf!).

I'm 33 whereas many of the top female competitors today are lethal enough to whoop my a$$ with their eyes closed but not old enough to get into a club (legally). Again, wtf???

But whatever. In the end, who am I doing this for? Yeah, I often have to deal with the "what belt are you now? How long have you been training?" and the inevitable look of "wow, you must really suck" or just plain pity on their face (but at least they don't say it aloud). But now that I'm back into training, I feel the loss of even one day away. So I'm glad I didn't put it off any longer and who knows... maybe having these adult muscles first will help in the long run. At least I had a few years of having semi-normal looking knuckles before I got back into training! Silver lining to every cloud!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fresh tip from a black belt

I may pay for today's post but it just can't go without being published...

Yesterday one of my instructors made a point before a round to warn one of our purple belts to not do the "masturbation position" with the small purple belt female he was about to roll with.

Um... WAT???

I still haven't quite figured out the analogy, even with his DEMONSTRATION of what he meant but his point was something about not stalling back and forth. Either go forward with a pass or go to something else but don't stall!

SO, lesson of the day, DON'T DO THE MASTURBATION POSITION in jiu-jitsu! No matter how frustrated, tired, mentally "beat" (haha) you are, do SOMEthing! Don't stall! Every day of training is progress because you made it there and you trained and even when it felt like you trained like crap, even the crap training is something!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Blue Belt for Life!!! 'TUDE!

Blue belt is when you're officially not a newb anymore yet you're still "just a blue belt".

At this point you've figured out that a headlock isn't your best friend and secret move after all. You've also discovered that that blue belt over there smashes a whole lotta people and the blue belt over here (moi!) does not. There is quite a broad spectrum of abilities within the blue belt category and it can be frustrating.

HOWEVER, one thing about being a blue belt is that you are in a somewhat happy medium of expectations and challenges. Yes, you should know some things and do them fairly well BUT, you're not expected to be a pro at every move, and really, all you gotta do is put your heart out on the mat. THERE! I put something serious in my blog already (Just for YOU, Vu!).

One rule *I think* about being a "Blue Belt for Life!!!" is always training like you're at the bottom aiming for the very top. You've got nothing to lose and everything to battle for. I hope that if I ever do get past the blue belt level, I'll keep this mind set for ever and ever and ever......

Ummm... quick sidetrack for the above ending paragraph:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

disclaimers and such

I started this blog in part to poke fun at myself but also to maybe in some awkward way give myself motivation, like documenting that I'm at least going SOMEwhere, even if I stay a blue belt forever and ever. Oh.. and something to do at work besides work that doesn't look like browsing on the internet.

Things you can expect in my blog:
* What it means to be a "Blue Belt for Life!!!" (exclamation points included!)

* How not to get down when returning to jiu-jitsu and everyone else you used to train with is now a purple/brown/black belt

* How old age CAN make you wiser in jiu-jitsu!

* Picking a school is like picking a life partner... don't go for the flashy one-night stand!

* Dating a black belt does NOT necessarily make you better in jiu-jitsu :(