Friday, April 29, 2011

The Mundials are out...

Once again I will miss the Mundials due to injury. :(

After asking me if I could do a couple positions/movements this past Saturday, to which my answer was "no", Ryan informed me that I couldn't participate in the Mundials. I cried again. Dammit. I've spent over 3 months rehabbing, adding strength and conditioning, everything I could to push myself to make it back in time for the World Championships. I really thought I could make it. I was so frustrated when I was told there was no way. And the worst part is, I can't really argue with the assessment. What do you do when your coach asks you to do a simple technique and you can't?

You see, I've been training and hard too, so no one realized how much trouble I was still having in some positions...because, well, I just avoided those positions at all cost. But Ryan is right, there are too many I have to avoid because of my hip and what if I can't avoid them. Then what? But knowing that doesn't make me feel better at all.

How do you stay motivated to work hard when you know you won't be able to compete against people your size and level for FIVE months? The curse of being small means that local tournaments never have people in your division. And now it will be a full year from my last competition until the next. Especially, as I probably wouldn't even be able to think about entering divisions against bigger people for another few months as well. Being injured sucks. And healing, but not quickly enough sucks too. Ugh.

But to keep from being too negative, even though it cuts into my training time, I've really enjoyed teaching all the classes while the guys are in Toronto competing at Grapplers Quest. It's exhausting to be on the whole time, especially yesterday, but it's really cool to see the progress the students are making. Also, it looks like our numbers are back up for the women's class. The ladies were a little irregular in their attendance for a few weeks for various reasons and it's nice to see a bunch of them back in regularly again. We got up to 11 in one class last week and 9 in one this week. So fun!! :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Emirati Women Set a Precedent

An article in an online newspaper in the UAE about the UAE women's jiu-jitsu team competing at the Abu Dhabi Pro

Emirati Women Set a Precedent
By: Amith Passela

ABU DHABI // The Emirati women's jiu-jitsu team gained much-needed exposure from their first international competition last night.

All seven participants, making their debut on the international stage, lost their first-round games at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championships. All of them, however, declared they would return stronger for the next staging of the event in Abu Dhabi.

"Our biggest challenge was to get on stage in an event telecast live and in front of a big international audience. We have overcome that hurdle," said Rachida Mubarak Belfakir, after her defeat to Megan Lomonof, of the United States, in the white/blue 63kg and under weight division at the National Exhibition Centre yesterday.

"We all knew the fights would be very, very tough. Yet we wanted to get on stage and fight against opponents with more experience. We are not exposed to such training but we want to change that culture and become athletes by our own.

"This championship was a learning curve for all of us. All of us realised how much work we need to put in to reach the level at which we just competed. I think we got about 30 per cent experience from these fights.

"I would like to think we are on the right path and with more intense training, we will reach a good level. It is up to us now to increase our workload and then keep improving by participating in competitions regularly."

Belfakir has ambitions of becoming a black belt and to compete in the World Professional championship. She has trained about a year and has participated two local competitions, winning a silver medal and a bronze.

"We are a group of friends and we are very serious of pursuing a career in jiu-jitsu," she said. "Our parents didn't have any objections when we asked for their permission. There are several other Emirati girls in training but they don't want to fight in public. But we, seven of us, have decided to move forward. We have given the Emirati women a start and I am sure more will follow us."

Of the other Emiratis in the 63kgs and under, Issrine Idris was outclassed with a choke-lock from Niceye Whissell of Canada and Charlotte Baumgarten of Germany had Latifa Hassan out early with a hand-lock.

Maha al Rumaithi went down to Tamino Kaori of Japan and Samira al Rumaithi went the full distance although losing by 17-0 to Eman Isam Bilbaisi of Jordan.

Soud al Mir, who went down to Allison Tremblay of Canada in the 63kg and over weight division, wasn't disappointed either.

"There is no reason for me to get disappointed," she said. "It is the other way around. I am very excited and happy to have participated in a big competition that has drawn a big audience and seen live on TV.

"Like all my friends, I am going to continue with the training and get better. This was a real good experience for all of us. Jiu-jitsu is new for the Emirati girls and I am sure it will get bigger and better with time. What we need here is more competitions."

Latifa Akhassay, al Mir's colleague in the same weight division, was beaten by Eirin Nyguen of Norway.

Caroline de Lazzer, the Emirati women's coach, also made a first round exit to compatriot Michello Nicolini in the black belt 63kg and under.

"It just goes to show how tough the competition has become," said de Lazzer, the 2006 world champion. "Those opponents the Emirati girls competed are those who are pursuing in becoming future world champions. My students are just beginners. It was the experience for them."

For a second successive day the organisers failed to have a fight-card and the results, and not only had the public and the media confused, but some of the competitors too.

Katrina Weilbacher, from the United States, in her first appearance at the Abu Dhabi event was still wondering around long after the day's events were over to find out if she had to fight for a third-place play-off.

"Usually the fight schedules and the results are announced over the PA system so you know when and whom you fight next," she said. "There is a lot of confusion. I still don't know if I have to fight in a play-off for bronze."

Weilbacher went down to South African Penny Thomas in the black belt 63kgs and over in the semi-finals.

"I was in a triangle for about three minutes but lost the fight," she said. "Penny is one of the best in the world. The competition here is much higher than I expected with all the top fighters from around the world."

Thomas will meet the world champion Gabriella Garcia, of Brazil, in today's final. And Weilbacher, who lost in the World Cup final to Garcia in Los Angeles last year said it could be anyone's final.

"It will be a very close and exciting contest," added the American, who has crossed path with both. "It will be like a toss of a coin for me."

The finals of all weight classes and categories will be worked off today from 11am at the National Exhibition Centre.

The National: Emirati Women Set a Precedent

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jiu-Jitsu in Hijab...Female Competitors at the Abu Dhabi Pro

I've posted a quick article and some of the preliminary results from the women's divisions at the Abu Dhabi Pro on the Grappling Girls Guild Website. Click here for more information.

Also, new BJJ/Grappling events for women taking place now through August have been listed in the calendar section. Check in to match up your vacation time with one of them! (And please feel free to send me more if you have any brewing that I don't know about.)

A special congrats to Fifty/50 student Megan Lomonof for her hard work, dedication, and composure for earning a spot to compete at the Abu Dhabi Pro as a 14 month white belt, then going out and competing in her first big tournament ever (and first tournament as a blue belt) and coming home with 2 submission victories, many lessons learned, and the ability to believe that there was nothing different she could have done to achieve a greater outcome. (Megan lost in the quarterfinals but put up a brave fight the whole way). We look forward to seeing her get out to more tournaments in the latter half of 2011!

Monday, April 11, 2011

iPhone...sending BJJ technical instructions from Abu Dhabi

I miss Ryan. And on top of this I hate being home alone, I'm used to noise all the time and I just cannot sleep when it's quiet. Consequently, I haven't slept well since he left. I'm perpetually tired all day, yet unable to fall asleep at night. Tonight I plan to leave the TV on all night and see if keeps a low hum at an appropriate decibel for me to sleep soundly. Fingers crossed...

This hasn't been an easy weekend. Ryan's grandmother passed away last week, the night before he left for Abu Dhabi. He was going to stay home, but his mom thought he should still leave to compete at the World Pro. Trying to stand in for him as best I could, I went to the wake on Sunday and the funeral today. This was a side of his family that I haven't met as often as the other side so, as I was recounting the last two days' conversations to Ryan via Facebook chat, I kept confusing him by getting names mixed up, lol. Plus, he was chatting using his iPhone so there was a huge delay from message to message, making things more confusing when there was a question, haha. :)

Ryan's bummed about his performance this past weekend in the higher weight class at the nogi tournament and by losing to Vagner Rocha by advantage in the absolute, but he's getting good training in with Murilo Santana this week and looks to perform better back in his regular weight class this coming weekend. He's also looking forward to the arrival of our student, Megan Lomonof, who flew out today to Abu Dhabi, where she will compete in the women's white/blue belt division. She's been working hard and I know she will make us proud, regardless of the actual outcome. Good luck to them both!!!

Btw - You know you are addicted to BJJ when your boyfriend/coach is sending you instructions for how to do a particular sweep using FB chat on his iPhone from the other side of the world, lol! (This was going on in between my messages describing my day with his family. I guess we are a strange couple...)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New G3 Female BJJ Spotlight Member

The other day on Gracie Mag's website I read an interesting article about the first Female Arab Purple Belt. Her name is Ghalia Ogden-Smith and she is a female running a BJJ club in Beirut, Lebanon. Reading about Ghalia's amazing efforts inspired me to search her out and learn more. I asked her if she would be willing to answer some interview questions for the Grappling Girls website and was thrilled when she agreed.

To read about Ghalia's efforts to teach BJJ in Lebanon, check out the article on Gracie Mag: Pregnant Purple Belt Heads Men's Class in Lebanon

To read more about Ghalia herself, check out this interview on the Grappling Girls Website: April Spotlight: Ghalia Ogden-Smith

Enjoy!!! :)