Helpful Tidbits for New Competitors

 

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If I could share my experiences… I would begin with this.

I took some time off to chase my BJJ Journey and did a little traveling and really just dig deep into my Jiu-Jitsu game. Every once in a while an event will happen that will snap a person back into reality and realize that every moment is not to be taken lightly and that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Try to make it a point to speak to everyone, smile and make that contact… life is so short when you really think about it, take the time to smell those roses!

I cannot count how many seminars and privates I have had over my five years in this sport, but I can tell you who is no longer with us and that is a hard reality to acknowledge. Maurice Zingano was my very first seminar and he ran it like a true Brazilian… (If you know what I am talking about, then you KNOW what I mean).  He was an amazing person, and taught me how to ‘paint the mat with the back of a hand’, yes that would be the Americana. Along the way there have been so many people that I may have taken for granted and did not acknowledge, but the reality is that I am very honored and grateful for everyone who put me in an arm bar, triangle and every other submission you can dream up. When I see new white belts getting frustrated when they are arm barred, I want to run over to them and tell them that it is ok and everything will be alright! I have been arm barred so many times, I am sure it is probably a world record. But IT IS OK!! We have all been there, we all remember the days we were ‘rag dolls’ and at some point it will pass, maybe not today or tomorrow, but at some point a light will go off and the tables will turn… but it takes time and a little bit of pain, and it is not easy. If it were easy everyone would do it, and that is exactly why new white belts are so important, they need that nurturing and coaching. Ok, well unless you get the “BREAK DOWN GUY” then…. I mean, at some point there has to be a limit – Sorry small Machado joke.

My conundrum for my experience at my gym tonight, I was working with a white belt and at first I was not looking for mistakes, but then they spotted it out for me. I am not a big fan of points; I do not like stalling… either submit me or get out of the way. While talking I had to remind them to collect the points first then submit. I was trying to think of small things to help them, small tips or pointers and then it started…

I wanted to ramble off every single scenario I could think of and how to defend and turn it around, but I knew that while I was talking a haze was quickly forming over their eyes and then it came to me. I had a seminar with Sean Roberts a few months ago and he said something that at the time was meaningful, but until tonight it really had not set it. We tend to get caught up in our BJJ game, almost to the point that it is robotic. Example: I am going to move here and then do this and then… to here and there and then…  But if we stop and really just STOP and take yourself away from the situation and look at it, there are things right in front of you that are so blatantly right in front of your face, it is like what the… I can do that?! I remember a tournament I attended and I was watching two female blue belts, one had secured a good half guard, arm under the head and holding onto the other girls shoulder, but all she was thinking was kimura… kimura… kimura. But it was not there, she tried and struggled and her coach even shouted, “IT IS TIME TO THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX”! She was perfectly set up for the Ezekiel and never once looked in that direction or thought about it. That is the kind of robotic mode I am referring to. We get into these patterns and muscle memory that we think we need to hit certain points to get to the next transition, but every once in a while… there does not need to be a robotic response and there will be something simple right in front of your face that was there all along, but you weren’t shown that it could be done… your Jiu-Jitsu fundamentals will save your life 9 times out of 10. Think I am kidding? Try to roll one time without shrimping… I can guarantee it will be the worst day you have had in a long time. Sean Robert’s game is smooth and simple, there was no flashy moves here or there it was so fundamentally sound it was ridiculous… he made a guard pass look like a walk in the park! He said that he tries to make his Jiu-Jitsu simple… KEEP IT SIMPLE. Trying to explain this to a bright eyed white belt was probably a little boring and let’s face it when we were white belts we did not want to ‘listen’ we wanted to show the world we were ready.

Explaining how to get to this point was harder, personally I like to listen to some Bach and slip into a hot bath and simply play a little mental Jiu-Jitsu chess in my head. I tend to think about Jiu-Jitsu all day long (when I’m not surfing the web for hot pictures of guys), no seriously, I think about it a lot… sequencing moves, defending, responding, timing. I will go back to rolls I have had and look at it from a spectator’s view to see why a move didn’t work and what I can do to change that move…

My rambling is what made me stop talking to the person that brought this on… so back to topic:

1)      Keep it simple – Fundamentals will save your life 9 out of 10 times.

2)      ROBOTO was a song, not a way of life… THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!!!

3)      Break down your game, MENTALLY and on your free time, not during a match.

 

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If you are ever in the area, please stop by Red River BJJ in Wichita Falls, TX… Either passing through or here for a short visit and maybe stuck on the base, visitors are always welcome!

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And remember…

You do NOT have to be Great to START,

But you have to START to become GREAT!!!

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Jiu-Jitsu Adventures

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Spring break quickly approached with plans for Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX! This was probably the coolest family trip we have had yet, filled with camping, dinosaur tracks, huge dinosaur models and tons of fossils. Yet, this spring break was also a little off the track for myself because I was able to swing over to Austin and visit Relson Gracie Austin Association gym. If you have been keeping up with my blog you will note that I have previously written about Helio Gracie and recently Relson Gracie. I contacted Christy Thomas and showed her my blog and chatted about why I want to meet Relson, but this would be impossible for now since he is at his main gym in Hawaii. Even though I would not be able to meet Relson Gracie this trip, I did get the opportunity to not only attend a class, but also roll with the academy’s First and Only female black belt, Christy Thomas.

Relson Gracie Austin Association 2014

Relson Gracie Austin Association 2014, Christy Thomas and Me

If you have read my blogs, you will understand what a deep regard and huge amount of respect I have for Relson Gracie… Christy taught the class the day I visited and she went over techniques that were taught when Relson was at their gym. Indirectly, she gave me a small part of Relson’s teachings and that was just awesome, and I am still in awe of that day. Christy is a great instructor and no doubt full of experience with tons of insight and like many other black belts I have met this summer, she has a love for Jiu-Jitsu and you can tell by the way she wants to share the art. As I progress up the belts, I have noticed that the higher the belt the less there is a “I can beat you” attitude, but more of a “let me help you” approach. At least this has been my experience with higher belted females, their attitudes are just so humbled and eager to teach. When I have a black belt say, “that was good, but let me show you this”… I am always appreciative that they have taken the time to give me that small gift of knowledge. What made this trip maybe even more so of an epic adventure was knowing that my coach, Ben Lozano also made this trip to the same gym when he was a blue belt. I have kept in contact and talked to my coach, and he is such an inspiration and really understands where my Jiu-Jitsu journey is taking me… Not everyone’s journey is the same, but mine happens to follow closely to my Coach.

2014 Jiu-Jitsu has taken me to California to meet top level athletes and meet some amazing women, Lana Stefanac, Kristina Barlaan and I can’t even rattle off all the names of the women at the San Francisco Bay Inspire. I was also able to attend the Sean Roberts seminar at North Dallas Brazilian Jiu Jitsu hosted by Joseph D. Shelley and recently visited Relson Gracie Austin Associations Only female black belt, Christy Thomas. E-P-I-C start of the 2014 season… Next stop Matshark Submission Only Tournament and then the WBJJF tournament, after that I think I am going to just let it all soak in… at least until I get another wild hair up my @$$!!


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~ The Journey NEVER Ends ~
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Remember if you are ever in North Texas, please stop by in Wichita Falls and come in to Red River BJJ!!! You do NOT have to be Great to start, but you have to START to become Great!!

Kristina Barlaan’s INSPIRE Women’s Open Mat

Kristina Barlaan's 2nd Bay INSPIRE

Kristina Barlaan’s 2nd Bay INSPIRE

I heard about what Kristina Barlaan’s Inspire program about two years ago, and decided it was at the very top of my bucket list. There was something BIG going on and something that was touching at least the heart of what Jiu-Jitsu is all about, sharing the love of the art.
I have been involved in No-Gi and Gi for five years, and my first year as a blue belt I really began to question what I was doing and why… did I really want to continue, and I really had to push myself to train. I know that I have blind spots, there are moves I know with my eyes closed and moves that are so instinctive that they are almost hazardous… but still, there is something I am missing, something…. but what!? This past weekend I was able to roll with girls in California and WOW!! Slow appearance was black belt Lana Stefanac, and I was quick to approach her to introduce myself and politely ask her to roll with me, and she said Yes! I have said it before and will say it again, if there is ever a black belt on the mat take advantage of it and get out there and tap… ahem, I mean LEARN! Lana was not about “tooling” the lower belts, but teaching as the roll progressed and then submitting. At my gym, if you tool a lower belt your probably going to get “rolled over” by the coach… so it goes without saying, you never do that to a lower belt. Instead as a higher belt, you guide the lower belts and encourage their progress. Lana was definitely into teaching, and it was such a great experience! There are fundamental moves that everyone knows and then there are small tweaks to that move, just little things that can make all the difference, and I feel honored to have the opportunity to have gained this experience. At the very end when most of the girls had left (Yes, we stayed until they kicked us out), Lana showed us a move she had executed perfectly on me earlier… now, this was a submission that I have seen many times before, but I have never got the instruction of how to do it. I will take that little moment and the technique like a small precious baby and tuck it away under my belt and know that when and if I ever have the opportunity I will use it. I had about 30 minutes of roll time with Lana and through the whole thing I felt as though I had a semi-private lesson because the entire time she was giving me these small pointers… and when I say small, I mean inches of difference.

Lana Stefanac 2014

Lana Stefanac 2014

My game is still evolving and I have started to see that where as a white and blue belt may be able to bluntly go into a triangle or an armbar, a higher belt will not be so lucky and there has to be a complete set up… it is a serious game of chess, and that is the part of my game that I am working on. There is the I AM GOING TO ARMBAR YOU, then there is the YOU JUST GOT ARMBARED, and then there is the… I MADE YOU FALL INTO THE ARMBAR. I love my inverted guard, it is so versatile and hard to calculated and sneaky… my spider guard is a work in progress, some days I am spot on and work every sweep under the sun and at those times I tend to be completely oblivious to obvious moves that are hap hazardous, but I get so worked up about completing the sequence that I tend to be blind to the consequences. Taking chances sometimes works to my benefit, while other times I give too much and I am still learning when the right time is to allow those chances to emerge.

Kristina Barlaan 2014 - Women's Open Mat 2nd Bay INSPIRE, San Francisco, CA

Kristina Barlaan 2014 – Women’s Open Mat 2nd Bay INSPIRE, San Francisco, CA

Kristina Barlaan’s message for this session of Inspire was simple: Do not let anyone deter you from your passion and goals, be it Jiu-Jitsu, art, music… what ever you have a passion or drive for JUST GO FOR IT and do not let anyone keep you from it. I know right now, I am searching… not for a new gym or affiliation, but I know there is something inside myself I am yet to discover… I know that there is a link I need and have not found… and I want it so bad I am willing to travel to the edge of the U.S. to find it. There is my INSPIRE, that is my PASSION……. Jiu-Jitsu…… My BJJ Journey.  If you were passionate about something, wouldn’t you be willing to travel anywhere, just to be able to grow from where you were to where you want to be… I am. Everyone rolls differently, and those California girls were definitely a different breed – A Great Growing Experience!! 

Those Charles Gracie Girls are AWESOME!!

Those Charles Gracie Girls are AWESOME!!

During this trip, I was able to stay with a Jiu-Jitsu sister, Carla Torres who is a purple belt under Charles Gracie. There was a few noticeable language differences… but in the end we both spoke fluent Jiu-Jitsu! My favorite moment was when Carla said, “Shimone stop thinking and just do it, you think too much!” I also was able to meet miss Lupe, a single stripe white belt… it was so awesome to be there and apart of her Journey. It was funny because I had only just met Lupe and known her for a few hours before I witnessed a brown belt take advantage of the situation and rolled through Lupe repeatedly instead of stepping up and helping to guide her… maybe it is just because my gym looks down on that, but all I wanted to do was bomb rush the brown belt and go tournament mode on her (….Easy now….). Thank you ladies for the great time and experience, I was definitely in awe of the two of you and y’all made me feel at home and completely comfortable!!

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MARCH is the month to remember… Next stop NEWBREED Tournament March 8th!!

There is still more to come, keep an eye out on my Blog!!

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~ Remember, you do NOT have to be Great to start Jiu-Jitsu, but you have to START to become GREAT!~

If you are ever in North Texas, Wichita Falls, TX… Please stop by and check out Red River BJJ!!!

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