Time Off / Creating a Plan

I decided to take an extended leave of absence from training. By extended, I mean about 5-7 days. It doesn't seem like a long time, but for someone who goes 4-5 days a week/2 hours a day; it seems like a lifetime. I had gotten to the point of absolute exhaustion leading up to my last tournament, and having reached my first major goal in jiu jitsu (win a competition match) drained a lot of emotion out of me.

I don't want jiu jitsu to feel like a job. I have so much fun going to practice everyday, and meeting new people while I train/compete. I need to find a way to keep a competitive spark while maintaining my love for the art of jiu jitsu. After reaching my first major milestone, I felt like I had nothing else to work toward, because I hadn't defined my future goals. As a result, I've decided to create a new long-term plan that consists of major milestones along my journey to blue belt. This plan consists of many points that deal with both the competitive and fun aspects of the sport. Here are a few tidbits from what I've been planning.

1. Attain the rank of blue belt in BJJ
-- This one is fairly obvious. Most people's number one goal in martial arts is to keep reaching for the next rank. I am currently a third rank white belt (about 7 months training), but I don't feel like my skill level is anywhere near the level of our blue belts. Especially when you look at people like our blue belt Julian Vega. That guy is a freaking prodigy. Also, since I'm being considered for our competition team, our black belts have already discussed with me about "being held to a higher standard." I got a lot of work to do before I can legitimately call myself a blue belt.

2. Win a medal at a regional competition
-- This is a logical progression from my first major goal. I think that I was about 5th place in the last tournament. I want to be top 3 next time. That means working on my strength and cardio, and eventually cutting weight down to 169 (20 lbs ughhhhh).

3. Bring my family to a tournament
-- I'd love to have my wife and sons watch me roll sometime. Win or lose, it would be a lot of fun.

4. Make a personal "position" plan
-- I have started to record myself rolling, so I can pick apart different pieces of my game. I hope to develop a good plan of action to develop in areas that are my biggest weaknesses. Escaping side control and the mount are definitely two things I'll be starting on first.


Those are only a few of several things that I've set as goals. While it is good to maintain good professional goals within the discipline, I think that (for me) it is necessary that I also focus on having fun. I don't want to risk burning myself out.

I'll save that for getting my purple belt :)


The First Day of Practice After a Tournament

The first day back from a comp is always hit or miss with me. Our school is closed on Sundays, leaving me with a day to contemplate my mistakes/triumphs from the previous tournament. I'll often times work on some things in my living room that I want to bring to practice with me on the following Monday. This past Sunday, I worked on the running escape from side/back control. It seems that I always find myself in this position when people pass my guard, and I really wanted to work on at least getting back to half-guard from the position. (hit it twice tonight!)

Going into practice tonight, I was really excited to tell our black belts about the tournament, and how I managed to squeak out a win. I also wanted to roll with the guys who stayed in Baytown this weekend to attend a seminar with Elite MMA's Hai Nguyen. They had a lot of great things to show me too. A lot of what they worked on started in butterfly guard (something I'm completely deficient in). So it was great to learn tons of new stuff to work on.

I did both regular and advance BJJ classes tonight, and I managed to do pretty well. I did get tapped out quite a bit, but my focus was on trying to use my legs more in controlling their body. I think that I was moderately successful, even drawing a few compliments from fellow classmates. I gassed pretty quickly about halfway through advance class though. It sucks, because that is the class that our black belts watch closest to gauge our progress. Oh well. The next belt test I get invited to will probably be for my blue belt, and I'm nowhere near that level of skill yet. So I have tons of time to practice and build my stamina.

I'm super excited about the IBJJF tournament coming to Houston. We needed a world-class tournament to come down here, and now it provides us with a great chance to prepare our guys for Pan Ams later in the year.

That's it for now, but check back soon for another review. This one is for the Jaco compression short/cup combo.



I finally got my first win today at the Fight to Win tournament in Austin. It was a long time coming. I finally have this weight off my shoulders. Won a close match 2-0. It was kinda funny, because I have no recollection of the first half of the match. NO IDEA how I actually got two points, but I remember being dog tired with about a minute left. At that point I had the guys leg stuck in half guard, and I decided that I should focus on not letting him pass into mount for 4 points. So I spent the next minute blocking his knee with one forearm and protecting my neck with the other arm. I ended up being in 5th place overall I think, but I'm really not sure. Fight to Win tournaments are so freaking unorganized.

My two coaches at the event, Robert Yamashita and Julian Vega both did well too. I think Robert got a silver in his gi tourney, and Julian placed first in both gi and no gi. No one even challenged him the entire tournament. I really appreciate their support and advice. It had a lot to do with me actually squeaking out a win today. :)

I felt bad for some of the kids and teens though. My friend Joe (14-yr old white belt) actually tapped a kid out, but the ref didn't call the match, and he ended up losing on points. Our other 14-year-old fighter, Brooks, got pitted against an orange belt in both Gi and No-Gi. F2W was so worried about rushing the kids divisions through that they didn't even create a novice and advance brackets. They just threw everyone in the same brackets and said "fuck it". It is kinda insulting actually. (Even worse, they didn't DQ one kid for ankle locking someone, but turned around and DQed a different kid 10 minutes later for the same thing.)

Ever since F2W has been doing joint BJJ/MMA shows, the BJJ aspect has been pretty much an afterthought. It seems that they only host the tournaments to get people to show up to their lackluster MMA events. It was a piss poor event, but I still had fun. After the lackluster NAGAs and this, I really can't wait for the IBJJF to come to Houston in March, so they can show these guys what a real tournament looks like.


Review: Shoyoroll Batch #6 Blue Superlight Gi

After 3 months of waiting, I finally got my new Shoyoroll gi in the mail. I've never owned this brand before, but I knew that all of their batches end up looking amazing. However, does Shoyoroll fall into the "style over substance" trap that many kimono manufactures have fallen into lately? After a week of rolling in this bad boy,  I believe that I have made my decision.

Hit the jump for details.


Practice 2.1.10

I had a busy day at Elite yesterday. I did a half-hour private lesson with Jordan, Gojo Ryu Karate class (with my son Jack), and BJJ class.

I had wanted to get in one more lesson with Jordan before the tournament this weekend, because my escapes are really lacking. However, when I told him that, he insisted on refining my existing game rather than confusing my body with new ideas right before a competition. It ended up being a great idea. We just slow-rolled for a half-hour while he pointed out small things that I could do to get me ready for the tournament.

It's kinda funny that I wrote the previous post explaining my lack of competition spirit/attitude, because it ended up being the biggest thing he pointed out about my game. He said that the technicality is all there, but I needed to flip the switch when I step on the mat. He also noticed that my matches come much later in the day. He suggested that after I weigh in to either leave the venue for a bit, or to sit underneath the bleachers while I wait for my weight class. He told me that just watching BJJ can wear you out mentally and physically. (something I tested when I got home from practice last night) Sure enough, after watching an hour of jiu jitsu competition videos, I found myself exhausted from dissecting the matches. I'll definitely be taking it easy at this next tournament

The group BJJ class was fun too. We reviewed passing the closed guard today. This is by far the worst part of my jiu jitsu game. As a 190 pounder, I oftentimes find myself on the mat against someone who has a massive upper body. While I acknowledge that technique will triumph strength 95 percent of the time, when someone has technique AND strength, it definitely puts me at a disadvantage. All of my weight is in my legs and stomach. My legs certainly help me when I have someone in closed guard, but they don't really help in my attempts to break someone else's. My weak arms often put me in very precarious positions from inside the closed guard, and I oftentimes get swept.

Regardless, I need to work on building some upper body strength if I plan on competing in these upper weight classes. Does anyone know a way to turn stomach fat into arm muscles? Alchemy? Voodoo?
I'll take any help that I can get.

A Quick Note About My Gym

I've been training at Elite MMA in Baytown, TX (DIRTY DIRTY) for about a half year now, and I really can't say enough great things about the guys and girls who train there. When I first walked in the door, they really made me feel welcome to train with them. We have two world-class instructors in Jordan Rivas (Silver Medalist 2007 Pan Ams) and Frost Murphy (Multiple accolades, including over 50 bjj wins). We also have our main gym on the other side of Houston that is run by Jordan and Frost's instructor, three-time world champion Eric Williams. I really couldn't have asked for a better pedigree in a BJJ school here in Houston.

Hit the jump for some videos of my coaches in action.


Laments of a Terribad Competitor

Yes.. I said "terribad". That is an amalgamation of "terrible" AND "bad" that somehow makes the resulting word far worse than either of the words alone.  Unfortunately, I have found that this is what best describes my performance in jiu jitsu tournaments.

As a third-stripe white belt, I've had privilege/misfortune of participating in about 5 tournaments. While I can certainly see a progression in my skill from my first tournament to my most current, I've still managed to lose all six matches that I've taken place in. Aside from one disputable match, I definitely got outmatched by my opponents.

After my last loss at one of our local NAGA tournaments, I decided to take an assessment of my performance in tournament situations. After a couple weeks of self-reflection, I have come up with a small list of things that I can work on to improve my chances in the future.