Rise from the ashes

Rise from the ashes

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hibernating in a hotel room in Morristown New Jersey

We are here for Grapplers Quest. Today is no-gi and just Melissa and Dani are competing. Dani is finished, a silver medal around her neck. Melissa has yet to fight. All the guys are there watching and supporting.
Me? I'm on lock-down in my hotel room with a terrible hacking cough. I got next to no sleep prior to what turned into a 10.5 hour drive and the cough that I was sort-of-successfully keeping at bay, reared it's ugly head in full force. I slept for 3 hours after breakfast and I'm just having a snack and then it's back to bed until the troops return from battle.
I'm fighting no matter what. It'd be nice to be fully healthy, but I'll make the best of it! This is my first competition since breaking my arm at Joslin's (competition) in November. I need to get my feet wet. I need to start somewhere. I need to deal with the pressure. I need to uncover my weaknesses (although, I still feel rusty and I am acutely aware of my many glarring holes and deficiencies).
I'm excited. It's a priveledge to be able to compete at all.

Monday, June 15, 2009

An utterly amazing week of training jiu jitsu

Royler Gracie Seminar: Thursday June 11, 2009

Monday June 15, 2009: Royler Gracie & I after a 2 hour private lesson with Melissa

Rafael Lovato Jr. taught for a week after the Royler seminar. Amazing!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

350 days left

So, today was my first day back in a gi since having surgery. It's been one month and it felt amazing! I loved every second.... I couldn't stop smiling. I felt good out there too. It was all coming back to me. I know I'm rusty, but I don't think it'll take too long to work out the kinks.

When I saw Jonny today, he said 350 more days. He, like me is dreaming of worlds next year. He quit his job so that he could have more time to train... He said he can always go back to working if jiu jitsu doesn't work out. And I think he's right about that. Might as well give this a real shot. Might as well go for broke.

I'm not really scared of failing. I'm scared of not living up to my potential, of not giving it my all.

So that's my plan this year, to give it my all. My plan is to become world champion 2010.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Worlds 2009: Day 4

Jorge finishes his first fight in 26 seconds by armbar. Unfortunately he lost the second fight... Dammit. If he had won that fight, he would have been in the semifinals and gotten a bronze medal at least.

I talked to Saulo after about Jorge's last match and he said that Jorge was a little bit late on a lot of what he was doing. And he said the reason was that he trains with us. He said that there is no one to challenge Jorge at our academy. (We have no other black belts, 2 brown belts, and only a hand full of purple belts). He said that Jorge is suffering because of this, in terms of his jiu jitsu. He said Jorge is sacrificing himself for us. And it's great for us, it's working for us (4 blue belts compete, 4 medals). It's just not working for him, in terms of keeping his jiu jitsu game sharp.

So Jorge said he will try again next year. And we who are here on this mundial trip have decided that next year we're going to make sure he goes to San Diego to train with Saulo, Xande and crew before worlds for a month... or at least a few weeks before worlds.

Worlds 2009: Day 3

Josh and Rui fought. No medals today. That's the game, as Jorge would say. It's a little bit of a let down compared to yesterday. It was a great day of watching jiu jitsu and seeing some of it's bigger players.

As far as my own game goes and what I want to work on for worlds... I want to make sure I have an arsenal of take downs and I want to get better at pulling guard... I want to be able to do both. I saw a lot of people stuck and stalled in stand up (because I guess no one wants to end up on the bottom). BUT, if you have a take down game and it doesn't work, if you have a good guard, you can pull guard instead.

Additionally, I want to work on flying armbars/triangles, because I saw a lot of people in stand up with their arms fully extended.

Regis' girls from maxersive have phenomenal guards... I hope he comes back to our academy at some point so I can learn from him. Fortunately, Jorge has an amazing guard too...

Basically, I need to work on everything.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Worlds 2009: Day 2

What an amazingly epic day. Everyone medaled. 2 bronzes and 2 golds. Not bad for a small academy from Toronto. Our coach is the best. So many of the competitors didn't have anyone in their corner, or just their friends... And our coach was shouting and cheering everyone on in every match. Jorge loves jiu jitsu and he loves us. [And clearly, being that kind of coach pays off].
It was amazing to see how happy everyone was when Nicole took the bronze and Melissa won gold. I was shouting and screaming myself hoarse. I told Melissa for the past month that this was her year, day, and that she would win. I believed in her, and as she won each match, you could see that she began to believe in herself and her jiu jitsu. She relaxed listened to Jorge and beat 4 tough competitors. I am so proud to say that I train with a world champion. She is my friend and training partner and we plan to repeat this process next year, both winning.
It was emotional. Jorge's first world champion student, I cried I was so moved, Josh cried... it was an amazing moment to watch Melissa as the realization that she won the world championships sunk in. And it was priceless to see her on the top of the podium.
Mikey fought like a champion, a warrior. He quickly finished his first 3 fights with submissions. He had some real battles and in the quarter final he got caught in an armbar. He was up on points, and rather than tap, he popped his elbow, twice, before escaping and winning the match. He arm was fucked. Already swollen, we applied ice, electro-stim, tiger balm, and then wrapped his arm and he went out there to fight in the semi-finals. He brought a war, but lost the fight-his arm the culprit. That gold medal had his name on it this year, and the guy who did win the gold medal Mikey beat recently at the New York open. So, for him, even though he medaled and fought valiantly with a damaged arm, there is this lingering sense of what could have (and should have been). But, that's jiu jitsu.
Tommy won gold. He needed to win 6 fights to get to the final. He won his first match 18-0, and his next 2 fights 6-0. Next was the quarterfinals and Tommy was saying to Mikey that he just wanted to win this fight and get a bronze like Mikey. And I heard Mikey giving Tommy the peptalk of a lifetime, telling him he wasn't going to get bronze but that he was going to win!!! He won the quarterfinals. In the semifinal he fought a wrestler who took him down a few times, but kept getting penalties for stalling the fight. After 3 penalties the competitor is disqualified. And it was a huge upset when this wrestler got 3 penalties and the ref didn't DQ him. This ref seemed new and was hesitant (and debatable in his calls all day). Anyway, after consulting with another ref he did DQ the wrestler. But it was a big uproar. Then, they realized they had mixed up the brackets (something that has never, and should never happen at this level of competition). So these two guys who were in different weight classes and has a massive war ended up having to have another semifinal match (making it take 7 fights to win). Tommy was angry and in his semifinal match because he'd just fought and extra and unnecessary fight; he quickly submitted the guy. He was on fire. His final was legendary. A tough fight. But he stayed cool and ended up winning 12-4. .

I can't wait to do this all again tomorrow. Rui and Josh (our purple belts) are competing. And Melissa can compete in the absolute class if she wants, and she may do it... why not make it two gold medals!?!?!

Notes for me to work on (for 2010):
-improve grip strength and grip cardio (everyone forearms were burning after the matches)
-work on sports psychology to know how to get my head in the game and prepare mentally
-learn the rules and how points and advantages are awarded so I can fight smart
-practice fighting 6 minutes on (full force) and then 6 minutes break.... 6 on, 6 off...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Worlds 2009: Day 1

Well we are here in what is supposed to be sunny California, only it's been rainy and overcast all day. What's worse is it's cold, colder than I expected anyway. I'm exhausted, beyond exhausted actually. Traveling is tiring, especially when your journey starts with the cell phone alarm blaring at 5 AM, which is always wearisome. However, when my alarm rang at 5, I awoke to that sick feeling you get when your body is so sleep deprived it hurts all over. My alarm sounded after I'd accumulated just over 2 hours of sleep. As per usual, I unintentionally waited until the last minute to pack, zipping up my suitcase shut at about 1:30 AM. Then, my friend, mentor and team mate came by, unable to sleep, as the reality of his pending world championship fights swirled around in his mind. He left after close to 3 AM.
Fortunately, I easily caught a few hours of much needed rest here and there on the flights today. Not enough. But it got me through the day until now. And, the day wasn't all rush and travel and blur. I spent a few hours in the hot pool at the hotel, which was heavenly. Went to a fantastic sushi restaurant. And it's only just beginning.
Tomorrow 4 of my friends and teammates fight. And there will be quite the celebration if medals are awarded all around.
I wish I was competing too. I could feel sorry for myself, but I easily cast off the dejected bitter thoughts of life and it's painful and disappointing twists and turns. After all, this is the World Championships, and competitor or spectator, there's no where else I'd rather be.
This is the place to be if you love jiu jitsu.