Tomorrow, I leave for Long Beach to compete in the mundials (Portuguese for "world championships for folks who want to break your arm or choke you unconscious"). My coach Seth Shamp and my teammates Ryan Hanseler, Hameed Sanders, Jeff Shaw, and Jason Mask are going to compete as well. It's the biggest and most prestigious tournament that I have ever participated in, so I am a mixture of excitement and nerves.
Since I've had my blue belt for less than a year, I know there will be people in my division who have been training for a lot longer than I have. There might be someone more technical, more knowledgeable, more flexible, faster, stronger, or with better cardio. But my competition is not something that I can control. The only thing that I can do is bring the best Kim Rice that I possibly can. And that's what I've been working on!
My training camp has consisted of the following:
1) Lots of drilling and positional rolling. I figured out my strengths and weaknesses and did my best to improve both. I don't focus on advanced moves. At my level, I don't feel like I need them, as long as my basics are solid. What I do need to know are the counters to advanced moves, so that's what I've been drilling.
2) I've been trying to get as flexible as possible. I'm no yogi pretzel, but I've been doing a lot of Bikram yoga. I gradually feel myself getting more bendy and that's translated to some noticeable improvements on the mats.
3) Getting swoll. For the first time in my life, I've made it my mission to get as strong as possible. For better or worse, I have the body type that if I casually glance at a barbell, I start to put on muscle. So I decided to embrace it. I started doing crossfit, and yes, I got a lot stronger (see exhibits b and c).
Here's a picture of me before training camp:
and this is a picture of me now.
Even more frightening, here's a picture of me, post-training camp and post-pug snuggle:
As you can see, we both mean business.
All in all, I'm feeling pretty confident. My jiu jitsu is solid and I'm in the best shape of my adult life. Yes, a given person can beat me on any one of the above mentioned areas (technique, flexibility, speed, strength, cardio), but no one is going to beat me in ALL of these areas. I feel somewhere between "pretty good" and "very good" across the board. If I lose, it will not be because I didn't train hard enough. It will be because my opponent was legitimately better than me. But I am going to show up at check-ins with the very best Kim Rice of 2012 that I can bring. And that in itself is something to be proud of.