Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Our female blue belt count is now FIVE at Fifty/50...bringing the total women in colored belts count to SEVEN!

Congrats to Mary Anne Hutchison and Leah Buckley for joining their peers Megan Lomonof, Kenna Benesh and Tammy Dominick at the next rank!!

Leah has been training with us for almost a year coming from an MMA background then by way of Dan Simmler's in Boston. At her last tournament she bumped up to Intermediate and performed exceptionally well against blue belts from other area academies.

Mary Anne was the very first woman to walk in to join our women only class in January 2009. This 115lb woman stuck it out when there was no one good for her to train with for almost the whole first year. So many times in that woman only class she received a private lesson because no one else showed up.

At last night's women's class before the promotion ceremony we had 9 women in class (plus me teaching) and then 2 others showed up for the promotion! We've come a long way since the beginning and couldn't have done it without our first female student!

A special congrats also goes to Mike Donaghy and Ben Bullock who solidified their spots at the next rank through their performances this past weekend at the Copa Nova!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Anniversary...kind of

5 years ago today I competed in my first Advanced Division at Grapplers Quest. This was back when 12 months of BJJ meant you were considered an advanced female competitor. A terrifying thought, lol!

I had about 14 months of Jiu-Jitsu under my belt. My first fight was against a woman who had been training for 3 years. I lost by a triangle. Then I got to fight again against a Purple Belt who had been training 8-10 years and had just placed at the World Championships (the last year they were held in Brazil) a few months prior as a blue belt. I had never even seen or heard of a female purple belt before then! It was probably a good thing that it was nogi and my clueless self didn't know who she was at the time. Haha! Somehow, I managed to lose on points. Probably, I was so spazzy and technique-less that it was difficult to control me, although I can guarantee I wasn't putting her in any danger.

In my first match the woman put me in a body triangle and afterwards I remember saying that I didn't know why I was having so much trouble opening the guard. I'd never been put in a body triangle before that day, I didn't even know it existed! It's crazy to see how much the students know about BJJ today, when I think back to how little we were being taught back then compared to today's standards.

My opponent's coach in the second match was none other than Ryan Hall, himself a newly minted purple belt, about to go on to win the Advanced Absolute that day. Maybe his first Advanced Absolute title? (I should really know whether that's 100% accurate, I guess, haha). This was Ryan before he had won a single superfight match/division. (Although, he went on to win his first superfight a few weeks later.)

Celebrating 5 years since the day I met my awesome boyfriend! :) ...unfortunately though I'm celebrating without him, since he's in England until Monday. :( BUT, I am heading over to my brother's house tonight for some of the most amazing chicken fajitas ever! My favorite meal. So excited!! :)

Monday, October 10, 2011


Ryan is away on his longest consecutive absence since we started dating 5 years ago. I can't take this any longer! I am never scheduling him a trip this long again (unless I get to go with him, lol!)

I trained twice today but didn't get in the run I had planned. So I am getting up early tomorrow to start my new lifting workout, then I hit up yoga at 12pm. Then I'll grab lunch and head to the gym to work on some admin stuff. The kids class starts at 5pm (We are up to 15 kids now and one of our new little girls surprised us with her improvement today and renewed aggression. I was worried she wasn't going to really like BJJ but today she sure showed me!) I don't know why, but I just think it's so cool to watch little children execute proper technique. It's amazing what they are capable of learning if you have the patience to teach it. Then after the kids class, we have the women's class (we are up to 23 ladies!), then Basics (I'll probably rest or grab a snack during that class) then finally I train at 8:30pm.

I'm trying to figure out how to manage lifting, yoga, running, and BJJ on top of the actual work I have to do each week and balancing it out. I thought when I quit my job last year that I would have plenty of time for all the training I need to do, but really I probably do as much work with the gym that I did before at my government job, lol! And I feel a lot of pressure to be ready for the NoGi Worlds, especially after so much time off. I'm not worried about my technique too much because I know my Jiu-Jitsu is actually way better this year than last year. I am trying to get back in shape! Four weeks to go!

But only one more week until Ryan comes home!

Broken Shmoken

I did indeed break my thumb. This knowledge is courtesy of a new student of ours who happens to be a doctor and was more than happy to pronounce my metacarpal (or something) very broken. I took a week off training (prior to the thumb actually being pronounced broken) and then returned slowly, taping my hand such that I can wave like a real princess. Makes me feel pretty...except for the whole can't bend my fingers, perma-stick tape and throbbing pain at the end of class problem.

Luckily though! I took one day off during the week last week then two days this past weekend and it appears to finally be healing! 4 more weeks to NoGi Worlds. Is it possible to prepare in 4 weeks after spending over 1 year unable to train hard? I'm not sure. But Val did say that I was rolling very confidently today...meaning that I didn't appear to be worried that my body would give out somewhere unexpectedly. I think today is officially the first day that's happened since February 2010.

Hot damn!

Friday, September 23, 2011

So much goings on

My brain is all over the place working on 18 things at once. Today was supposed to be my first day off in weeks, but Seph called in sick. Luckily, one of the other purple belts filled in to teach class this morning, but I had to be here and decided to stick around and get some more tasks accomplished.

Ryan was in NYC for 6 weeks training for ADCC. He came home for just a few days before heading to Nottingham, England for the tournament. He fights tomorrow at 7am EST and we are hosting a viewing party at the gym to watch it live. I have never in my life been so nervous about anything.

If you don't know about ADCC, it's basically the closest thing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Submission Grappling has to the Olympics. The top 16 competitors in each weight class participate in the tournament. (Well mostly, 7 have to win a regional trials, 1 is invited if they won the previous tournament 2 years prior, and the last 8 receive invitations based on CV's. However, no invitations are allowed to individuals from someone on the same team that won a trial. So if your team has multiple people at a weight that are better than others, they still won't get a spot.)

I have been super busy at the gym since we are designing new gis, rashguards, t-shirts, hoodies, patches, etc for the team. Soon we will launch an online store for all the 50/50 gear!

The women's class and kids classes are picking up. We currently have 21 women, plus I'm expecting a lady to come in tonight and one other emailed to say she will be here in a few weeks. The kids program is up to 14 now (plus a few teenagers who take the adult classes).

We've recently revamped our schedule and website and are working hard to upgrade many facets of the academy. If you are ever satisfied with yourself, you will stagnate, so we are constantly searching for ways to improve. Big things are coming!

I may have broken and torn my thumb last time I was in NYC training, so I've been in and out of class myself, trying in vain, to get back in shape. Only 6 weeks until the Nogi Worlds! And I want to be back in competition form for it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle rocks!

This was the second time in the last 3 weeks that I was able to go train at Marcelo Garcia's academy and it was awesome! This time I didn't get up there until Saturday night and Sunday is their day off, so Ryan and I spent most of the day revamping the Fifty/50 Academy schedule and website as a whole. Ryan's on a strict diet so no going out to eat. :(

On Monday, I went with Ryan to a special ADCC training practice (the academy was closed due to the holiday). I watched as Marcelo, Ryan, Cobrinha, Batista, and Gabi prepared for ADCC through an hour training session of hard rounds with a few hand picked individuals who came in to help them out.

Later that day, I tried my first HOT yoga class at a place I found just a few blocks from Marcelo's that offers classes for only $5! The class was packed and halfway through I almost bailed, lol! But after a while, I decided it felt pretty good afterall. :)

I grabbed my yoga mat and headed over to Ronin Athletics where I was meeting Ryan and his friend Christian (owner of Ronin) for another training session. I warmed up with Ryan (having cooled down since yoga ended an hour earlier). Then was happy to be able to do a few rounds with Liz (a purple belt at Christian's academy who is my size and very nicely stuck around after their open mat to train with me). Unfortunately, though, my yoga mat didn't make it home. Hopefully, Ryan can pick it up at Christian's later this week for me, oops!

Tuesday, we went in to train in the afternoon advanced class at Marcelo's. The only other girl training at this class was Gabi, but one of the guys agreed to drill with me. I rolled with a few different guys, then towards the end was looking for a new partner and Cobrinha saw me standing and asked if I wanted to roll with him! What a super nice guy! He's in training for ADCC and volunteered to give up one of his hard rounds to go with me. And then Gabi did the same! I know that I can't even come close to mimicking the type of training they need and was so appreciative of the rounds I had with them. It is so cool when you meet people who are so accomplished in their careers, well-known and still super humble and kind.

When we came in for the evening advanced class on Tuesday night, I was excited to see a bunch of other girls. One blue belt my size and one a little bigger that I rolled with last time I was in town. Plus, a purple belt who was visiting from California who I met one other time when she dropped into our academy about a month or so ago. I got to roll 10 minutes with each girl plus 10 with a male brown belt about my size and the last 10 minutes with a male pluma-sized blue belt who was super fun to train with. What an awesome session!

My last training session there was today, Wednesday's advanced class. Emily didn't know I was in town but she was sitting behind the desk and I went over to say hi. She hadn't been planning on training, but being the super awesome, nice black belt that she is, she jumped up to change so she could work with me. We went over hand fighting from the back to secure the RNC. You have to pay close attention when Marcelo show's technique because he only repeats it once or twice and if you miss something, he will find it when he comes by to watch you drill!

10 minute rounds again. As expected, Emily pretty much crushed me easily. Haha! I like that she goes pretty hard with me, because I can tell most of the guys hold back a little bit and sometimes feel bad putting their weight on me when I'm on the bottom, and I can feel them back off sometimes. But even though I know she's also careful, Emily makes me work super hard and doesn't let me get away with any mistakes!

On the bus ride home now. Only $14 from NYC to DC and it includes free internet! Can't beat that! :)

Every joint in my body hurts from training so many hard rounds. It's going to be a while before it gets used to training hard again. And I def need to get back on my strength training before heading into an actual competition. Can't wait for yoga class tomorrow to ease my achiness!