I’m the VET!

23 May

I know, I know…it’s been far too long.  After my first week in Asheville, I went home for the weekend and somehow injured my one index finger during the Women’s class.  I had to stop the jiu jitsu so my finger could heal, although doing surgery every day for the two weeks that followed kind of sucked.  Then my very last rotation, Radiology, was really intense–not a whole lot during the day, but a LOT of studying every single night, so BJJ once again took a back seat.  But I passed, graduated, and now I’m a veterinarian!!

Humane Alliance externs

A small group from my class. We all interned at the Humane Alliance in Asheville at some point.

A lot of my family came, and we had a great time.  We hiked in the Smokies, ate some great food, and got to spend time together.  Of course, the week after (when I planned to attend my last few classes at KnoxBJJ) I had a cold, so I couldn’t train.  However, I went in on Tuesday, the day before I left Knoxville, just to say goodbye.  Instead, I was surprised.

my delicious goodbye cake!

They ended the basics class, awarded some stripes (Congrats Michelle and Ryan!  Well deserved!!)  and then called me onto the mat to say a few words.  They were all very sweet, and then Ian brought out this cake and started talking and of course I started crying.  One of my coaches said something along the lines of how I was “a little less tough than a coffin nail” (nicest thing anyone’s ever said about me!), and then we took some pictures (which I have yet to see) and had cake.  After which they were to continue with their knee-on-belly lesson.

Anyways, since then, I’ve made my way back home to Long Island.  I’m not planning on training again until I get to Las Vegas, but I might take a class or two while I’m on vacation in Hawaii with my family.  I was planning on working out and at least trying to get in shape again, but somehow being home always makes me so lazy.  I guess I’ve earned a break, though, because soon enough I’m gonna be the vet!



Asheville Food Tour, Part I

1 Apr

I’m usually not a huge foodie, but I’ve heard Asheville is known for its eateries and all-around vegetarian friendliness (also microbreweries, but I’m not really a beer drinker).  I had to take advantage of it, so unfortunately for my wallet (but lucky for my tastebuds!) I’ve been going out to eat as much as possible.  I want to go somewhere different every single time, since I’m only here for three weeks.  So far, I’ve been to:

1. Chai Pani–this was on the recommendation of the New York Times’ 36 Hours in Asheville, N.C. article.  It’s located in downtown, which meant parking was icky, but it’s really pretty in that area, and it’s nice to walk around.  It’s has a cozy atmosphere, the staff was friendly, and the food was pretty good.  I had a bhel puri and aloo tikki chaat. I’ll admit, I’ve had better bhel puri, but then again I’m also completely spoiled when it comes to Indian food.  The aloo tikki chaat was really tasty, and not too spicy.

2. Wasabi–another downtown restaurant, this one was (rather obviously) a Japanese sushi place.  I came here with one of my classmates who is also on externship with me, on the recommendation of our supervising veterinarian.  Unfortunately, there weren’t any specials going on, so it wasn’t super cheap, but the wild mushroom+cream cheese and the inari avocado rolls were quite excellent.

3. The French Broad Chocolate Lounge–this was also at our supervisor/teacher’s (Dr. Saxton’s) suggestion, and we came here after the sushi.  They have all sorts of chocolate truffles, chocolate drinks, chocolate desserts, coffee, and tea.  It’s a nice place to hang out as well.  I wanted something a little sweet and a little spicy, so I got the hot chocolate with cinnamon and cayenne ganache.  It was thick and rich and delicious.  Renee (my classmate) got a coconut macaroon brownie in addition to her hot chocolate, and she graciously let me try a piece.  Let’s just say it’s a really good thing I don’t actually live in Asheville, because I’m pretty sure I’d be moving up a weight class or two pretty quickly.

4. Lucky Otter–again, at the suggestion of Dr. Saxton.  This place is not in downtown, so parking was easy.  It’s a sort of hip little place, with outdoor seating and a somewhat dim interior.  The lady at the register taking my order was super helpful since I had never been there before.  I got soft tacos (something delicious with pineapple and tofu), and they were HUGE, and came with a side of rice and beans.  Somehow I ate it all and I was stuffed all night long.

5. Mela–Dr. Saxton’s suggestion for Indian food.  This place was downtown as well, but there’s a parking garage not too far.  The ambiance is a little more upscale than Chai Pani, although the total cost was about the same (I went for the lunch buffet + chai).  It wasn’t the best Indian food I’d ever had, but it was pretty good and I was happy they had South and North Indian choices (yay for idli and sambhar!).  The chai was also pretty damn good–made the real way, with the boiled milk and ginger and cardamom.  Starbucks needs to take some serious lessons.

BJJ in Asheville, #1

29 Mar

I started my Humane Alliance externship in Asheville on Monday, and it’s been great!!  It’s a 2 week externship that teaches students how to perform high-quality, high-volume spays and neuters, and throughout the two weeks we also learn about the other parts of running a program like that, between transporting animals, selecting the right patients, what kind of peri-operative care they get, and so on.  Then I’m staying for an optional third week that’s all about surgery.  This morning didn’t start off so great, but my afternoon spay when a LOT better and with any luck, I’ll be spaying cats in under ten minutes when I’m done here! 

Last night I checked out the first of the Asheville-area BJJ schools on my list.  I went to Ichiban MMA, owned and run by BJJ black belt Erick Jordan.  Unfortunately, he was out of town, but one of his blue belts was teaching.  It was myself and another white belt in the class, which is actually bigger than normal.  Apparently the gi class is usually just Erick and the blue belt (whose name escapes me at the moment). 

The kids class was just wrapping up as I finished, and Blue got me signed in.  He got us stretching some, showed us a bow and arrow choke, and then we just rolled for awhile.  Apparently, the white belt (Ronnie) has done MMA for about a year, and was a wrestler, but this was his first gi class.  He was really nervous about it, but I went with him after rolling with Blue and it was obvious he knew what he was doing on the ground.  There was an accidental slam, and of course the obligate freak-out, but it got sorted quickly and we were both back to rolling.  I was playing mostly defense, and did get submitted a few times, but I think overall I did a pretty good job of frustrating their submission attempts.  Ronnie finally felt confident enough to roll with Blue, and then after that we went over a few gi grips.  I got in one more roll with Blue before the MMA class started. 

While the class wasn’t very structured, I still had a good time rolling.  Obviously when Erick is back in town I expect things will be a little different, but since the class is usually pretty small anyways it seems like it would be informal.  It seems like the school is more oriented towards the MMA and no-gi stuff, so I’ll definitely need to try a no-gi class (or at least a class when Erick is teaching). 

The basics:  There’s a nice big sign on the front, so it’s pretty easy to find.  There’s one bathroom for changing, and the mat fee is $10 (but Blue wouldn’t charge me).  The mat space wasn’t huge, but everything was pretty neat and clean. 

New Training Buddy

25 Mar

I intubated a lioness on Friday!!

Like this guy, but with fewer helping hands.


I was pretty excited to get it on the first try.  Cats can be difficult, and with big cats the bigger tubes can be floppy and don’t always go where you want them.  Plus, it’s hard to see all the way back there.  Clearly, I was meant to do this.

Saturday saw a great women’s class.  I finally convinced Rebecca to come in for a class, and it was a blast.  She hit it off great with Jess and Michelle, and we all had a blast rolling and chatting about being women in BJJ, or in their cases, work.  Turns out that Michelle and Rebecca know some of the same people through work, and it was hilarious listening to them talk about their jobs.

We started off class with a warm-up and then some rolling.  Rebecca and I rolled first, and it was pretty great for both of us.  I definitely had some height and weight on her, but for both of us it was the still the closest we’d ever come to finding someone our own size.  Even knowing that I was slightly bigger, she still felt tiny!  I can’t imagine what I feel like to bigger guys.  It was great knowing that whenever I got swept or couldn’t escape, it was pure technique–no muscling and definitely no fat boy jiu jitsu.  It makes me even more sad that I’m leaving Knoxville so soon, after having found such an awesome training buddy! I rolled with Michelle next, which is always great.  It was good to see that she could stand to roll so well after her surgery, and she’s even made progress since Monday as far as what she can do with her knee.

After, Jess went over some “small guy” techniques–her variation on the knee-through guard pass, and different ways to take mount from side control.  I always love when we go over the basics.  At some point we got so caught up in talking we just sort of stopped drilling until Michelle (the one white belt! lol) got us back on track.  After class, we took some pictures (which I plan on shamelessly stealing from Rebecca’s blog once she posts them) and discussed trying to start a women’s open mat in Knoxville.  Even if I’m gone, I really hope it works out.  In any case, I hope Rebecca comes back soon!

Open class started soon after, and I got my wish from Monday–we started drilling takedowns, and then went live for two minutes from the feet.  As always, the old “be careful what you wish for” adage remains true–a minute in, I brilliantly decided to headbutt my partner with my nose.  It’s not broken and it wasn’t bleeding, but it crunched loud enough for another blue belt to notice and check on me.  And of course, when I went to go ice it there was no ice in the freezer–go figure.  I decided to stay for the techniques and go next door to Walgreen’s for an instant ice pack during the rolling part of class, and we worked on some half-guard passes.

I’m starting an externship in Asheville, NC tomorrow, so I won’t be able to train during the week unless I find a school there (any suggestions?).  I’m planning on coming back for the weekends though, so at least I’ll be able to hit up Saturday classes…and pack…and start saying goodbye to my life in Knoxville.

Sweeps and more sweeps

21 Mar

The past week has involved a lot of driving…last Tuesday we went out to Gatlinburg to look at a bear, and then the day after we went all the way out to Asheville, North Carolina to look at two more bears.  There’s a grad student doing a study on leptin in them, so we took some fat samples while they were knocked down.  Then this weekend, I went up to Chicago (really Steger, IL) for a Madina Lake concert.  I met up with some friends in Kentucky so I didn’t have to drive all that way by myself, but the drive back on Sunday still sucked. 

Lately, it seems like the fundamentals classes are the technique sessions, and then the advanced throws in the rolling.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays when we have both classes for a total of two hours, it’s not so bad, but on Mondays when there’s only an hour for class and there’s no rolling it makes me sad.  Last night was nice though, because we got a pretty solid warm-up from Jess (who decided to work out her frustration on us), a variation on a technique, and then rolling time.

The technique wasn’t really anything new.  John had us drill our favorite sweeps to start, then showed us a “timing version” of the scissor sweep, in which you go for it when they bring their head forward when they start to break guard.  It also involved using the bottom foot to cup the knee on the floor until they were swept all the way, but I don’t have gorilla feet yet so I’ll need to work on that some more. 

In the mean time, I’ve been trying to get my shit together for my move to Las Vegas.  I’ve been dragging my feet but I know I need to get my Nevada state license worked out, sooner rather than later.  And then figure out what to do with my critters when I’m in New York for a few weeks after graduation. 

Back to KnoxBJJ!

14 Mar

I got back to Knoxville on Saturday night.  My current rotation is Zoo Medicine (again), and my first day saw us at the Knoxville Zoo…getting attacked by a turkey.

He was quite large and puffed.

The scariest thing is that he was part of the petting zoo section, so it’s possible that little kids would be in there with him, getting jumped as well.  Although apparently he was after me for the miniature cooler I had in my hand.  I think he was just a little off his rocker.

Anyways, I did make it to the Monday night BJJ class.  There were a bunch of guys there I’d never seen before, so I knew it was going to be FUN (hear the sarcasm?), especially considering that my only jiu jitsu over the past five weeks was that one day in Omaha when I didn’t even get to roll.

Of course, because I already hit the gym and lifted earlier that day, we did constant rounds of rolling instead of techniques, like I hoped for.  My first two or three rounds made me feel like completely worthless, as I got smashed by a few of those new white belts.  I don’t know why it irritated me so much, but I kept trying to tell myself that this was a good thing–I needed to be humbled.  I needed to be beaten, so that I could have people better than me to challenge me and teach me things and force me to improve.  That said, I was still really glad that my next few rolls were with blues or blacks who would dominate me effortlessly without making me suffer.  Crazy as it sounds, it’s not getting beaten that makes me mad.  It’s just the feeling of getting completely and painfully scraped across the mats.  And what I hate even more than the feeling that just one more roll like that WILL make me storm off the mats with pseudo-moisture (I was NOT crying!) in my eyes, is how it just makes me angry and want to hurt the person rolling with me like that.  I get more aggressive and sloppy than I should, and it just makes the whole thing worse.

Yesterday was much better.  I was still sore from another trip to the gym (yay for finally doing deadlifts again!  My hamstrings DO exist!), but there was a much wider variety of people and sizes at class.  Michelle showed up too, even though she’s still recovering from knee surgery and can’t put much pressure on her knee.  We had a brand new girl too, so we started class with the cross choke from guard.  We then moved on to the sweeps we worked on yesterday, starting with the “unstoppable” sweep.  Your opponent is standing and you’re on your back, with your feet in the hips.  They shuck off one foot with the elbow, and you bring the other foot down to their opposite leg, sort of like a scissor sweep set-up.  Then you load up their weight, making sure your top knee is above theirs, and scissor the legs and turn your body to the mat to finish.  We also worked on variations where they bring their weight down, and also come forward with their arm under the head.  We moved on to the guard pass drill, and finished that class with open rolling.  Having the opportunity to roll with lighter people was nice for a change, and I actually hit a few sweeps and submissions.  I rolled with one of the guys who demolished me the day before (dude from Texas), and while I didn’t do great, I was much more mentally prepared.  I didn’t let him set up his game right away, and I responded much better to what he did.  I felt like my jiu jitsu had some personality again.



MOVING! (online, that is)

11 Mar
I’ve had enough with Blogger.  For months, I haven’t been able to get to individual post pages and the comments have been screwy.  I’m finally fed up enough to move to WordPress.  My new home is https://grapplingvet.wordpress.com .  There’s nothing up yet, but I’ll get some pages going soon.  In the meantime, if anyone knows how to migrate posts, help/suggestions would be much appreciated!