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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