Monday, May 30, 2011


And no that's not a mantra I'm just telling myself to make it so. :)

I've been on and off the mat, trying to get back into training the last 3 months following my initial post-surgery rehab. I've been on a strict weight lifting regimen and unable to train much because just lifting would exhaust my hip/shoulder to the point of often being unable to train (or train long) that day or sometimes 1-2 days following hard lifts. And even when I did train, I wasn't able to do more than a few rounds and was very nervous about tweaking my hip or shoulder and had to move carefully to avoid many positions...BUT...not today!

For the first time in over A WHOLE YEAR I trained 100% pain free today! It probably helped that I didn't do any physical activity on Saturday and only rolled for 10 minutes with my favorite training partner on Sunday, so my body was feeling great when I went in this morning to train with Megan for the Mundials. I'm not going, but one of our female blue belts is and I wanted to help her get some work in at the special Mundial Memorial Day practice. After drilling and warming up, Seph asked me if I was going to train. My response was, "yes, but I don't know how many rounds my body will hold up for". But my body did GREAT! It didn't betray me today. Not at all.

I trained hard, and without thinking about my hip or shoulder at all the whole time! I know my strength still isn't 100% but this is the first time I've been able to really train without worrying about the angle my arm or leg was at in literally over one year since I first tore the hip and shoulder. Okay, during the last positional sparring round I felt my hip starting to tighten up but I actually lasted all the way to the end. And once during rounds I had to break the order and take an extra 3 minute round out because my asthma was acting up from my cardio lacking after almost 8 months off real training (holy crap, it's really been that long!) but otherwise I couldn't be happier!

Jiu-Jitsu is fun again!

After being injured for so long, between the initial injuries and the months of ignoring what I knew to be true, then finally getting both surgeries and doing the rehab, to getting back into jiu-jitsu (probably a little too early), I actually forgot how much fun jiu-jitsu was. I can't wait to get back into actual shape and get back into competition! I will be a different grappler. New and improved!

It is a little frustrating that this moment of bliss finally arrived the week of the Mundial...if only it had been 3-4 weeks sooner, then I could have competed. But at least I'm healed! My doctors rock!

Soo...yeah...I need to go ice my hip because after training earlier, it is tight and achy. But I made it! It's all uphill from here! Woohoo!!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

2011 ADCC Invitee...Ryan Hall!

Yay!! Ryan received his invite for ADCC earlier this week. I'm so happy for him! :) I know he wanted to do the trials but he unfortunately missed both. :( He missed the east coast trials last fall due to a torn thumb ligament that affected his grip and missed the west coast because of an ankle injury that affected his ability to train hard in preparation for (and to make the new day of weight requirement since he couldn't run either) the tournament. And he wasn't sure if missing the trials would preclude him from being able to attend this year. (Huge sigh of relief!) I can't wait to see how he does two years later, one rank higher, and possessing much better competition and training experience under his belt!

Ryan leaves mid-way through next week for a Mundial training camp in San Francisco with Felipe Costa, Caio Terra, and others. And he already has plans for an ADCC training camp in August-September with some of the best. Good luck, Ryan! :)

And good luck to the other Fifty/50 competitors heading out to the Mundial this year: Seph Smith, Ostap Manastyrski, Kenny Savercool, and Megan Lomonof! (Wish I was going with you all!)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A generation of participation trophies, ribbons, and now...BJJ Belts? (pt 1)

I had a couple conversations regarding belts with a few of our students today and a topic touched upon in both was that of belt promotions.

The first conversation was in relation to kids belts. It seems that many BJJ kids programs have created their own belt structure due to their preference for what they perceive to be a necessary marketing tool. It is designed to give the kids a regular promotion as a physical representation of their improvement. One student related how in TKD her niece's had a belt test every 6 weeks. BJJ used to be anti-mcdojos, but are we heading in this direction too?

The initial BJJ belt structure was organized so you would be at a given belt for a fair amount of time (years, plural) before being promoted. How many gyms follow the official IBJJF belt protocol for kids (or adults)? Not many from what I've seen. The kids at the tournaments have all sorts of belt colors, some even follow the adult system (against IBJJF official regulations).

We decided when we started our kids program last fall that we would follow the official IBJJF guidelines instead of designing our own marketing gimmick (gag). We wanted to commit to the intent of the system. In doing so, we ended up demoting 2 of the kids who transfered from elsewhere so their skill level would match the belt we would give them. And contrary to the popularly held belief in martial arts (including BJJ) marketing, neither child minded at all. In the 6 months our kids BJJ program has existed, we have not broached the subject of belt promotions with the kids at all. And only one of them at one time inquired how to get a black belt, when told he couldn't be awarded one for a while and it was explained that he would be told when he was ready for promotion, he dropped the subject and never brought it up again (he's eight).

All the children work hard every day, they learn, ask questions, train, and have fun! We are even taking the majority of them to their first BJJ tournament next weekend in Ashland, VA. But because we don't emphasize earning a physical representative of their improvement to outwardly express it, they don't need one. As children will do, they simply follow our lead and example. And ultimately isn't it better for them to be learning to enjoy the process of earning success instead of being focused on an outward representation of it? Isn't that more of a lifeskill than anything?

Has our society's desire for participation ribbons and trophies and the idea that everyone earns the same rewards begun to ruin our culture and by extension BJJ? I believe to some extent it has. Everyone is not created equal, some are more naturally gifted physically, some mentally, and others with sheer determination and drive. Shouldn't rewards go to those who shine? Otherwise, they aren't rewards at all...they are in fact, meaningless.

Shouldn't we teach our kids at a young age that they can have anything they want, but only IF they work for it. That if they choose not to, they can't complain and demand/expect the same rewards of those who do? Shouldn't they be taught to win and lose graciously instead of being forced to believe in the idea that no one wins or loses? Because, in life, that simply isn't true at all.

Elsewhere in our society they are being forced to believe a fairy tale. But what about when real life happens and it shatters that vision? Will they be prepared?

What happens when a generation of children become adults that don't know how to work hard for (and appreciate) success or how to win and lose with dignity?