Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pan Ams recap

I'm am walking around with a big, idiot grin on my face, after winning double gold at the Pan Ams.  I am extremely grateful to my coaches and training partners at Triangle Jiu Jitsu and the rest of Team Royce Gracie for their jiu jitsu awesomeness and team effort in preparing for this tournament. I am also thankful for my swimming, crossfit, and yoga buddies for the kick ass conditioning! Here are some points I took away from the experience. 

1) Women want matches, not guaranteed medals.
This was the inaugural year for the female masters division, and being over 30, that’s where I was automatically placed upon registration. One-by-one, other women entered the masters division until our numbers reached a whopping grand total of 4. And none were in my weight class. .

I started freaking out. What if no one else entered my division?! I did not want to fly to New York to simply watch a tournament. Later, I found out that we could move down to the adult division if we wanted to. I did so – and one-by-one, so did everyone else.          

I was proud that all the masters women opted to enter the division that would give them the most matches - not the division that would give them the guaranteed medals. 

I have no doubt that one day there will be enough women in jiu jitsu to support a masters division, but it seems we are not there yet. In due time, friends, in due time. 

2) Renzo Gracie is a jiu jitsu super hero. I was watching my teammate Jeff Shaw's match, when something in the background caught my eye. My other teammate Harold Hubbard had dislocated his shoulder - BAD. It was twisted at an awkward, grotesque angle that was so terrible that I could not stare at it directly.  The human body is NOT supposed to bend that way, Now, as many of you know, Harold is a big, giant pain in my ass. I daydream about heel-hooking him on a daily basis..Yet, it was hard to see him in this much pain. My attention shifted between cheering for Jeff and checking back to make sure Harold was ok. But I couldn't look at the latter for more than a second or 2, before I had to turn away in disgusted horror. (True, this is the reaction I usually have when I look too closely at Harold. But it is all a matter of degrees). Then the unthinkable happened. Renzo Gracie himself jumped from the stands, hopped over the barricade, and popped Harold's shoulder back in place, giving him immediate relief! Just like a jiu jitsu super hero! And just as suddenly, he disappeared back into the background.

3) My coach and I figured out what I need to work on. They say that winning is affirmation and losing is information. And that's true for the most part. But upon reviewing the matches that I won, it is still apparent what my weak points are. As I have said before, the blue belt is a nebulous realm with no clear end point. In Brazillian jiu jitsu, people can spend as long as a blue belt as folks in other martial arts will take going from white belt to black belt. This is quite a formative period and it is not to be rushed. And with so much as still a big question mark, it is worth a lot to get specific guidance about I need to do to improve. By constantly competing and reviewing my matches, I am starting to figure out what I am doing right and what I need to fix. 

For a  write-up on the female medalists, check out /beauty-and-brawn-at-nogi-pan/

Overall, I had a wonderful tournament, but it is time for me to once again focus on training in a gi, Oss!

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