Monday, January 31, 2011


The European Championships are over, the 2011 tournament season has begun...

Ryan had high hopes for the first tournament of the gi season. Unfortunately, things didn't quite go his way and have caused him to take another hard look at how he's been training and how the training in the academy is going for the students. It's time to switch gears in multiple ways...

This tournament showed Ryan that he needs to focus more on himself and his own training and less on his students. The thing about Ryan is that he is one of the most generous people I've ever met with his time on the mats. He's never been able to watch someone do jiu-jitsu incorrectly. I can't count the number of times I've seen him start coaching a random person at a tournament because they are having a hard time finishing a triangle or pulling someone over he's never seen before after their match to offer a little advice. He actually can't stop himself from helping, lol! If he is this way with strangers, you can imagine how much more it exists in his own academy. As a professional, he should be selfish with his training time, but he will glance over and see a student doing something wrong and immediately stop in the middle of his rounds to assist them. Watching Ryan interact with his students, inspires me to be a better coach and competitor every day.

It's tough to run an academy and be a high-level competitor, you're being pulled in multiple directions every time you step on the mat. Although it's also refreshing to be at an academy where the instructors consistently go above and beyond to help their students, even at the detriment of their own training, it's time for Ryan to re-focus on himself this tournament season.

The future will see the brown and purple belts stepping up a little more on the mats at Fifty/50 to lighten Ryan's load a bit. The first real example of this was seen on the mats this weekend while Ryan was in Europe competing. The purple belts that are Ryan's closest training partners, regular students like anyone else, spent hours during open mat answering questions and freely assisting the lower level students. It's nice to see them gain the confidence in their abilities to impart their hard-earned knowledge to others.

Today, two of the adult male purple belts played soccer against the kids to help them warm-up in a fun way before class. I didn't tell the men before they started that one of the 9 year olds plays on an Olympic Development team. ;) The look on one of the purple belt's face when the child legitimately faked him out and scored past him was PRICELESS! The guys were great sports and the kids had a blast. It's so fun to see the team coming together!

It's been 2 years since we began with just under 20 students. It's always a trial to manage the time when all the full-time instructors are still trying to make their way competitively, but you can't go wrong if you consistently re-evaluate where you are and truly want to see your students succeed beyond your own abilities. When constantly striving to be the best you can be, you can never fail. This is why I have faith in Ryan. To come this far having been essentially coachless for the better part of his time in Jiu-Jitsu, is an amazing feat, one which others would be able to sit back and be proud of. But not Ryan. He will not rest until he reaches his goals. He is a fantastic role model for the students he intends to bring along with him. I expect to see Ryan, Rick, and Quang making a splash at the IBJJF Houston Open on February 12.

Ryan helping a little kid after one of his seminars...

January's Grappling Girl at G3

Check out this link to the January Spotlight on a Grappling Girl at the Grappling Girls Guild.

January Spotlight: Sofia Amarante.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

108lbs...I'm wilting

So my goal of getting bigger and stronger by the Mundials this year looks to have gone out the window. I was 108lbs on my scale this morning. :(

I guess the good news is that I am already losing some of the fat I had put on but since I have so little muscle-tone my weight is below where it should be. Everyone else in my division is always dieting and cutting down...except me. At first, I thought it was awesome to be small enough to make weight even if I eat junk food every day. But really I'm just too small.

After the Mundial last year, I decided that I was going to put on at least 5lbs of muscle. Instead, the surgeries seem to have caused me to lose about that much and I still have some extra flab to get rid of before I begin building the muscle back up. The trick though, is to do it slow so I gain the weight in the right places and don't just bulk up all over. I guess the most I can hope for at this year's Mundial is to be back up to where I was last year and just hope that being able to compete with two stable joints this time around will help me be more successful.

I missed swimming yesterday because I ran out of my inhaler and can't exercise without it and then had to take Ryan and Jake to the train station instead of going to the pharmacy. But at least last night's snow didn't get in the way of me going to my first post-op Yoga class today! Poses on one arm or one leg were a bit rough, especially on my bad sides, and I can tell that my arm is a LOT tighter than before. But I did it!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Back in the Saddle...almost

Timeline - I am just shy of 3 weeks post-op from my hip surgery and almost 12 weeks post-op from shoulder surgery.

My hip physical therapists are awesome, I enjoy this practice much more than the one I went to for my shoulder. I will use this office next time I have an injury for sure. They see a ton of young (and relatively young) athletic individuals. I like the way they talk to me and the way they work with me. Plus, they are all - to a one - energetic and personable. It makes for a much more pleasant therapy session.

This past Friday, I made my way to the swimming pool to get in my first real "workout" since the first surgery on November 4. It had been YEARS since I tried to do a swimming workout, but it's pretty much the only thing I'm cleared for at this point. I used to be a swim coach and knew I could overdue it so I decided to start slowly.

I swam 1,000 yards (40 laps). To non-swimmers this apparently sounds like a lot, but to competitive swimmers, it's the minimum you can do and still refer to it as a "workout", lol! I swam slowly attempting to maintain technical proficiency and alternated strokes every 100 yards, Freestyle, Backstroke, Breastroke. I also included a 100yd kick towards the end. The alternating came right about on time as Freestyle and Backstroke start making my shoulder feel sore after a bit and my hip has had enough of Breastroke after about 4 consecutive laps.

I felt absolutely GREAT after finishing up and was hungrier than I have been at any given point in weeks. Which was perfect because Ryan, Marcel, and I headed to Fogo de Chao in D.C. right after. Despite trying to go slowly though, I was still sore the next day. I guess that just goes to show how out of shape you can get in 3 months of inactivity. Haha!

I am beginning to feel so good that when I watch jiu-jitsu every day, it's super hard not to just jump on the mat and try it. But I know that the best thing I can do is to go back slowly. On Tuesday, I was able to demonstrate a couple guard techniques during the women's class. By today's class I didn't even feel soreness when I demonstrated a couple more techniques. Woohoo!

I have a plan for getting my strength, cardio, and range of motion back and I'm sticking to it. I will swim again on Monday (tomorrow), I have PT on Tuesday, then swim again on Wednesday, do my first Yoga class since October on Thursday, then have PT again on Friday, Yoga on Sat, Sun off, Mon Swim, Tues Yoga, Wed PT, Thurs Yoga, Fri Swim, Sat coach Alex at a tournament, Sun off, Mon Feb 7 - first Jiu-Jitsu session! And of course I have my 1-1.5 hours of Hip & Shoulder home PT exercises that I do every day on my own.

Good news for our women's program - we had a new woman sign up on Tuesday! Then another new woman came in Thursday and I hope she comes back. (She's a dancer and picked up the body movements very quickly.) I'm expecting an additional woman to come in this Tuesday night as well. There were 9 women in class last Tuesday and 8 on Thursday (not counting myself). It's so much fun to teach to a group of them! And I've been talking to Michelle Nicolini online and we are working out a week for her to come visit this Spring and do another seminar.

I'm BACK....Back in the Saddle agaaaiin!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I can walk and Copa Nova recap

My doctor apparently decided not to shave the bone after all so I was able to say good bye to my crutches on Sunday (instead of having to stay on them for 2 more weeks). It was about time though because my arms and sides were being rubbed raw after spending all day Saturday on crutches coaching and cheering at the Copa Nova.

The team did pretty well over all, we sent 1 brown belt, 3 purple belts, 1 blue belt, 1 white belt, and one child. Quang lost his nogi match but redeemed himself securing a dominant win against the same guy (the 2010 blue belt world champion) in the gi division. Quang is expected to put on a good showing at the Pan Ams and Worlds this year at purple belt. (He missed the worlds last year due to a knee injury after placing 2nd at the Pan Ams at blue belt in his first International tournament.) Kenny didn't fight nogi but easily won his purple belt gi division. Rick also easily won his Nogi Advanced Division. There was no one for Rick to fight in the gi so he just entered the Absolute and ended up placing after a difficult loss to a guy at least 30lbs heavier than him in the first round. Seph dominated in his sole match to gold in the Brown Belt Absolute division (they called it a Masters Division since both he and the other guy are both 30 now).

Jonathan Lord (a blue belt who switched over to our gym from Capital JJ 3-4 months ago) competed in his first tournament as well. He went 1-2 in his blue belt division, but he showed a lot of knowledge and a ton of improvement in his movement since he first came to Fifty/50, even securing a couple good single leg takedowns! Jeremy Posner is one of our white belts who's been showing a lot of promise in class and he didn't disappoint in his first tournament either, placing 2nd in his division. He dominated the first couple guys he fought and showed a greater degree of proficiency and technical movement than anyone else in his division. So even though he wasn't able to walk away with 1st place, it was a successful day for him. Unfortunately, none of the ladies were able to make it to this tournament due to family obligations, injuries, etc, but we'll get them back out at the next tournament.

Little Alex finally entered her first regular BJJ tournament with normal(ish) rules - she has only competed twice at the kids only tournaments before this. Being able to train with Geoffrey (a new kid with 3 yrs of experience) has been very beneficial for her as she has learned how to continually follow up and attack when her first movement doesn't work. She dominated every child in her 3 matches in the kids beginner division to gold. She didn't have a single point scored on her as she scored takedowns, sweeps, guard passes, back takes, knee on belly (her dad didn't even know she knew that one), and almost secured one armlock. She will be moving up to the Advanced division in her next tournament. It will be much tougher for her, especially because she doesn't know a lot of different movements, but what she knows she does perfectly every time. And it will be better for her growth to move up sooner than later.

Jake Mackenzie and 2 of his black belt friends from FightSports in Miami are here with us for a few weeks to train as Ryan, Jake, and Rick get ready for the European Championships. I'm sooo disappointed that I can't go to compete due to my injuries because there are already THREE women registered for my division! I hardly ever have a division! Of course I have next to no muscle tone at my current weight of 109lbs right now so it probably wouldn't go in my favor even if I could compete.

I can walk unaided earlier than expected and the steps up to the gym didn't hurt as much today as yesterday so I should be happy right now.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

On the Road to Recovery

It's been 2 days since my hip surgery and I'm still surprised that it doesn't hurt as much as I expected. Maybe it's because it has been constantly sore for so long that the post-surgical pain isn't much worse than what I was feeling before. Or maybe my body just got used to pain after 2 major injuries then 2 surgeries, lol!

I didn't know what to expect after waking up because with the shoulder the whole arm is numb for 12-18 hours, but with the hip I guess the local anesthesia is only in the joint and not the whole leg so I was able to sit up and move around on crutches as soon as I was aware enough to move. My sister picked me up from the surgical center and dropped me at home where I napped until Ryan came by with my prescriptions. As it turns out though, I've barely needed any medication other than the anti-inflammatory.

I went to the gym with the guys yesterday, although Seph taught the kids class for me since I can't move easily. I can pretty much do everything I need to, it just takes me a lot longer than usual and I'm exhausted and need to rest for a bit about every 2 hours or so. Jake Mackenzie and Josh Presley (two Canadians) have been staying with us and between Ryan and them, I've had help carrying my things and filling my ice machine. I just got my hip attachment for the machine in the mail yesterday, so I can't wait to get to the gym and try it out today. Ryan and Jake already went to the gym after dropping Josh at the airport to go home, but Ryan is going to come back and pick me up before evening class so I can run the women's program tonight.

We had another kid come in to try class last night, she's a judo junior olympic champ. She is a tough kid and it would be great to see her get into BJJ. Her mom is little Alex's Judo coach and is also planning to come in and try our women's program this weekend. Moving on!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

9 weeks post-op shoulder/ 1 day pre-op hip

Exactly 9 weeks post-op from the shoulder (1 day from now), I will have my hip surgery. The shoulder diagnosis was a bad SLAP labral tear (in the back) and another labral tear in the front of the shoulder. I was also diagnosed with Femoralacetabular (Hip) Impingement, this occurs when a bone growth on your femur (like an extra bump) rubs into your hip labrum until it tears through causing pain, discomfort, and instability, and could eventually lead to arthritis if not treated.

My shoulder is doing GREAT, my physical therapist last week told me that I've recovered faster than anyone he's ever seen! At 8 weeks I was able to start training with partners I trust. I am going very carefully and my partners are making sure not to put their weight on my shoulder if I end up on bottom. I still have to be careful with stretching out or posting my arm. I was almost able to completely forget about my shoulder for a minute the other day until I swung into x-guard and realized I couldn't get up on that side, lol, and had to quickly switch to something else. That said, I definitely notice improvement every single time I get back on the mat. So far, I've kept my training down to 30 minutes or so, limiting it so I don't overly tax my shoulder. I'd be more excited about my improvement if I wasn't looking at going back under for surgery tomorrow.

But at least I was able to take the Murilo Santana seminar last week and roll with visiting female purple belt, Ana Lowry. She has great movement and control so even though she's 30lbs heavier and I have a semi-bum shoulder, I can roll easily with her.

I'm a little nervous about the hip surgery because it's still partially considered experimental by the insurance companies. And they put you in a traction machine that dislocates your hip and holds it there throughout the surgery to give the surgeon room in the hip for his tools. Ouch! I met a guy the other day who had this surgery 5 months ago and still has numbness down the back of his legs. But the good news is that he was looking to get started in Jiu-Jitsu at 5 months post-op having never done it before, so perhaps my goal of competing at the Worlds at 6 months isn't too far-fetched...

Cross your fingers!