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BJJ in Omaha

5 Mar
I finally got to train in Omaha!  One of my roommates went out of town this weekend and let me use her car, so I drove over to train with Team Rodrigo Vaghi Omaha-North.  I called in advance to make sure they would be there and it was ok if I came, and the ensuing conversation was rather interesting.  Trying to explain where I’m from (New York?  Tennessee?), how long I’ve been training (8 years, but really more like 3-4), where I’m staying (at the zoo…), it seemed like I couldn’t give him a straightforward answer to anything.  In any case, he told me that Saturdays were just open mat, but I was welcome to come on over.

I didn’t have any trouble finding the place, although I drove right by it the first time, and let’s just say the streets of Omaha aren’t the friendliest to out-of-towners.  There weren’t any signs indicating there was a BJJ school, as it was a youth center or something like that.  I walked in and found three guys in a wrestling room, and figured I was in the right place.  They invited me in, and the head teacher, Dana Taylor, gave me a fun lesson on takedowns–mostly arm drags and two on one.  He had to leave soon though, so the other two who were working together took me in and one of them, Greg, continued the lesson.  We did a little bit from the knees as well, and then it was time to go.  Unfortunately, we didn’t really have a chance to get any rolling in, although given the size difference between us I’m not quite sure I’m unhappy about that.  It was just nice to get moving again after a month without BJJ.

In zoo news, we’ve been working on some fun stuff, like tigers, aye-ayes, tapirs (I pulled blood on one!) and stingrays.

Also, I finally got offered a job!!!  It’s in Las Vegas (technically it’s Henderson, but who cares??), doing exactly what I want to do–mostly small animal private practice, with some zoo animals thrown in (they see a lot of the show animals from the strip).  I probably won’t start until late June or July, but I’m already looking into BJJ schools there.  So far I’ve heard Mica Cipili’s school and Drysdale’s school are the places to go, but they’re kind of far and there are a TON of options.  I was really looking for something closer to where I work, and Epic Training Center is less than a mile away.  As far as I can tell, it started out affiliated with Drysdale, but it appears that those instructors are no longer there and Fredson Paixao now runs the BJJ program.  That would be ideal, and honestly at my current level I don’t need THE absolute best instruction–I think as long as I can feel at home, and I will be able to get there with some regularity, it will be just fine.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  I’m open to it!!


Yay for free time!

10 Jan
Which I finally get on Field Services.  I have to say, it’s actually kind of nice to have weekends off.  Plus, I was able to go to class on Saturday AND last night!  AND I went to the gym today!  I think my body might rebel tomorrow morning though. 

Saturday women’s class:
Michelle (who needed knee surgery a few months ago) was finally back in class for the first time, which was nice–it meant that women’s class was more than just me and Jess!  I started us on a super-careful warm-up, and then Jess taught us the foot-in-hip guard pull, followed by a takedown from that position.  There was a lot of adjusting to make sure Michelle would be able to do it, since her leg was still pretty weak. 

Regular class:
We started with some quick takedowns, and then did a sweep series.  It starts from getting stacked while attempting an armbar from guard, and moved on from there.  We finished with some open rolling, which resulted in playing the avoid-the-n00b game.

Monday night class:
There were only six of us there, four blue belts and two white belts who were really new.  After the warm-up, we started with the knee-through pass and some new details, and then moved on to the “windshield-wiper” pass (knee-through but it’s the same-side knee).  Finished with 3-minute rounds of open rolling, with everyone in the class, so I didn’t really get to avoid the new guys.  Luckily, they were fairly tame, although one guy (after multiple sweeps and triangle/armbar attempts) told me at the end, “good job.” In that tone.  That condescending tone, like I’m a child who he was just playing with.  Eh.  We’ll see who plays with who next time. 

On another note, I’ve been attempting to somewhat fix my diet as well.  It’s been pretty terrible lately, and consists of either me not eating real meals and making up for it with pre-packaged snacks, or the Indian version of Ramen noodles.  I’ve decided to start packing a salad every day for lunch, which should a)get me eating vegetables again, which sort of disappeared from my diet, and b)actually get me eating lunch and not granola bars or peanut butter sandwich crackers washed down with soda. 

Starting 2012 off the right way!

2 Jan
And by that, of course I mean with some good ol’ BJJ.

No, I haven’t vanished or died or suffered from amnesia.  I just haven’t been able train lately, due in large part to school/slave labor hours (80 hours a week of overnight shifts is NOT fun, no matter what someone else may try to tell you).  Today was the first time in over a month that I was able to hit the mats, and of course I felt like ass.  Honestly though, I was just glad that our coach decided to have open mat today.

My first roll was with a very strong, solid blue belt.  I spent the entire time feeling like I was slowly getting rolled over by a boulder.  And once I got smushed enough to tap, it started all over again.  At least it was nice and slow, so I had a chance to warm up and stretch out some.  My next roll was with another very strong, but very shiny-new-blue belt who I could play with a little more.  Not that I could do anything, but just that it was a little quicker.  I was glad to finally see him and congratulate him on the belt, as our last belt testing was in early December, the same day I had to take the NAVLE (aka 7-hour-long national veterinarian board exam aka the “let’s-make-you-feel-stupid” test).  After that, I had a few more rolls, which were a little quicker, but with the lack of recent rollage (and bare minimum of exercise), not to mention sleep deprivation, I was pooped pretty quick.  Plus, I didn’t want to feel like complete garbage tomorrow.  I know how hard it is on my body to take weeks off of BJJ and then jump right back in, and I didn’t want to deal with that.  

BJJ goals for 2012:
1) Train.
2) No really…just train.  That’s it.

Life goals for 2012:
1) Find a job that fits my professional goals and will let me train BJJ. 

Which leads to my New Year’s resolution for 2012:
1) Spend at least half an hour a day, and an hour on weekends, looking for a job or working on my job application skills/materials.  Speaking of which, does anyone know any vets who are hiring? 
2) Work out at least three times a week, even if it’s just some tabatas at home.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how to work up the motivation for this after a long day at work?  I often find myself unwilling to hit the gym on days I finish at 7 because it’s already so late, and on days when I finish closer to 5, I can’t bear the thought of the crowds (which will be even worse with all the new year’s resolutions).  I tell myself I’ll just do something when I get home, and of course I just sit at my computer messing around, maybe being productive 25% of the time.  

Awesome takedown

13 Nov
Where have I been the past few weeks? 

Well, for one, getting a black eye while I’m on vacation.

 Ignore the hideously unplucked eyebrows.  It actually developed a little more under my eye the next day, and it looked like I had some funky eyeshadow going on, but it really wasn’t that bad.  Note to self: Do NOT allow the edge of your eye to come in contact with your instructor’s cro-magnon forehead. 

Also, I’ve had my family visiting for the first time since I came to Tennessee!

Family + Smoky Mountains

It was nice having them come, and I finally got to introduce them to my friends and BJJ family. 

Also, I’ve been ultrasounding stingrays and metal-scanning penguins, among other fun things!

So, you ask: where on Earth have I been finding time for BJJ?  I’ve managed to squeeze it in here and there, and this morning was definitely worth it.  It was just me for the women’s class, so I rolled/gossiped with Jess for awhile, then she showed me a cool takedown.  Maybe not suitable for people way huger than me, but still awesome nonetheless.  A new girl, Briana, came to the open class.  She’s a blue belt from Memphis, and a sophomore at UT, AND close to my size!  It was really nice to finally find someone who is my rank and my size, and we had a really good roll.  I pointed out all the cool people for her to roll with, which was especially important today because we had some visiting students, which included some white belts who I didn’t know at all.

Also, I’ve joined Fitocracy.  Maybe I’ve been “gaming” the system a little, doing some things just to complete quests, but at least I know I can still run a mile in under 8 minutes.  7:22 when I’ve barely been training for it–boo ya!

So share with me–what cool things has Fitocracy pushed you to do that you wouldn’t otherwise be doing? 

Saturday class

22 Oct
The women’s class this morning was a little…sparse.  I showed up while the kickboxing class was still going on, which Jess does.  I got changed and sat around for awhile after 10, thinking that maybe the schedule changed and the women’s class started at 10:30 now–until I asked Jess what time we were starting, and they all realized their kickboxing class had gone over.  It didn’t really matter much, though, because I was the only one who showed up for the women’s class. 

We managed to convince Nicole, the lady who teaches the kickboxing class, to join in for BJJ, and since it was just us three we also invited a new guy who was in the previous class to stay as well.  Nicole only had a little BJJ somewhere else, and the guy had none, so Jess kind of did an intro lesson for them.  They picked up things like forward rolls, backward rolls, shrimping, and break falls REALLY fast, and then she moved on to armbar from mount and the upa escape from underneath mount (which Nicole called “buck and roll”…that made me lolz a little).  The guy was decently sized, and both of them are pretty damn strong, but they had really good body awareness and I was impressed at how quickly they learned things, and how controlled they were when we did a little bit of open rolling at the end of class. 

For me, Jess showed a variation on a cross choke from guard, and taking the back when someone sprawls.  It worked off of a side control escape she showed me a few weeks ago.  After rolling, she also went over some small things to improve my game, which mostly involved making more aggressive grips.  Combined with Jack’s little lesson on grips from open guard over at Jiu Jitsu Forums, I tried to put it all together for next class.

Open class was next, and there were only seven of us that showed up.  Apparently, Fall Festival is going on and we just can’t compete with that.  Mike had us drill 30 guard passes apiece, any way we wanted, but starting with our posture broken down.  After, he went over a guard break to do when still broken down and hugging your opponent’s chest, by making sure their hips were pinned between your legs, your body, and your arms.  I really need to work on that one.  Open rolling followed, where I (unsuccessfully) tried to work my grip game.  I got myself steamrolled by the Tucker boys

This is the first time I’ve done both the women’s class and open in awhile, and I’m sure my body won’t be happy tomorrow but it felt really good.  I figured I should take advantage of the rare weekend off.  I just wish I had a little more time/energy on weekdays to work out even a little, so it wouldn’t hit me so hard when I do want to push myself on the weekends. 

And I finally got John’s match uploaded to YouTube:

I should probably let this go

18 Oct
Leslie‘s last post on pulling guard got me to look at my own “guard-pull” attempts in tournaments.  I only intended on watching the beginning of the match, but I ended up watching the whole thing.  I always felt like I could have won if it was submission only or another minute longer, but I’m also pretty sure that my triangle at the end was a doomed attempt (she defended those really well!)  What I’m wondering is, at 3:35, would I have been better off working for an armbar?  Any other comments/suggestions about this match would also be appreciated! 

Tennessee State BJJ Championships

17 Oct
Yesterday our school headed down to Maryville for the annual TN State BJJ champs.  It’s a pretty local tournament, and luckily not even a half hour away, so a lot of our guys (and some of our kids) were competing.  Unfortunately, none of our women were (vet school, injuries, etc.), but I was still looking forward to seeing what my competition would have been if I could have competed.  My boyfriend Ian was also competing, for the first time (and as a blue belt…talk about nerve-wracking).

I totally meant to go to the women’s class before going to Maryville, but of course I totally overslept and woke up right after it started.  Later I found out Jess was the only one who showed up anyways, so while I didn’t feel quite so guilty, I was annoyed that I missed an hour of rolling with her.

The kids’ matches were still going on by the time I got there, and let me just say–damn.  Some of those kids are effin’ amazing.  Yeah, there was a bit of silliness going on, but it always amazes me at what you can teach them and how well they can learn.  I saw one kid pull off a sweet uchimata.  And for the most part, they were all really good sports, along with their parents.  I know I shouldn’t care so much, but it made my heart glow a little every time I saw a little girl win against boys, and I really hope that most of them stay with it.

The women got started while the kids were still going, and I was impressed at the number of white belts competing.  I couldn’t really figure out how many weight classes they ended up with, but it seemed like everyone had at least one match (most had more) against someone close to their own weight.  It wasn’t quite as large as the NAGA I went to in Atlanta, but I wouldn’t have expected it to be anyways.  The blue belt division, unfortunately, was quite a bit smaller–for gi, there were only three girls, and two of them from the same school, so they had to go against each other.  One of them was Shakia, who I didn’t even realize was there until she was fighting.  I saw her, and I was like, “Hey–that looks a lot like Shakia Harris!”  I’ll let her talk about the match (if she wants to), but I will say that she did really well.  Her opponent had a lot of weight (and four stripes) on her, and it was a very solid, technical match, as opposed to a lot of the women’s white belt matches–five minutes of whirling fury that honestly made me hope they don’t get promoted and enter my division any time soon! 

At 1, they cleared the mats and had the black belt superfights.  Two of them involved my coaches, Mike Horihan (against Dave Vannest) and John Hosford (against Tommy Wales).  The third was Brandon Bledsoe vs. Adam Arebalo.  Mike, fresh off a successful black belt test, went first.

 Unfortunately he lost by one advantage.  I was behind the scoring table, so I couldn’t see where Vannest got the extra advantage.  Brandon and Adam were next, so I took the opportunity to move to the other side of the gym so I could actually see the time left and score.  John went last, and won by three points.  Later, he told us he had been studying videos of this guy for months, and saw that no one could pass his half guard.  When he found himself stuck in that position, he decided to get in Tommy’s full guard and pass that instead.

Once they were done, the men’s gi matches resumed and Ian finally got to fight.  He lost his first match to some guy who was like two feet taller than him, but came out with his head held high.  His second match went better, and he defended well.  Unfortunately, he lost that one too, but I’m glad he gave it a try.  He’s really not the competing kind of guy, and that’s ok–it means that I’ll always have someone to support me on the sidelines, who doesn’t have to run off to his own matches!

We had success with the rest of our men’s team as well–we went home with another two golds and two silvers that I can remember.  I wish we had a women’s team, but hopefully we can get something together by the next tournament (and maybe I’ll have a mildly lighter schedule).  While it seemed like there were quite a few open rings towards the second half of the day, when there were still plenty of matches left, overall I think this tournament went pretty well.  BJJ tourneys have gotten such a bad rep for being disorganized and running late that any kind of improvement is a huge step up, and I’m pretty sure our guys were done by five.  Honestly, it would have just seemed longer that it actually was because my butt was getting so sore from sitting on bleachers.