Category Archives: personal goals


A week ago on a rainy day, I sprained my ankle on my way to work. I should have gone home because I almost broke my other foot that same day. X-rays and CT scans later, I have a few small longitudinal lesions on my tendons which is disabling my ability to bend my toes. I decided to tough it out last Friday and head with R to the gym to start training again.

I think I lasted all of 10 minutes into the warm up when I jammed my toes horribly and had to get a bag of ice to calm down the re-aggravated injury. Needless to say, I didn’t start training that day. I stayed to watch the class but it made me even more frustrated knowing that it’s difficult for me to learn without actually putting my body through the paces. Class was attacking from the turtle position and the resulting clock choke. R promised to drill this with me at home when the foot starts to behave itself.

Saturday was a local BJJ tournament hosted by our gym. R spent the day refereeing on one of the mats and I brought the pup along to watch the competitions. It was exciting to see old friends and teammates compete and do extremely well on the mats! It just made me realize how much I seem to have fallen behind in my own training.


I have just under one month to get back into it and hopefully register for my very first tournament! I would have been officially training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for eight months at that point and want to get used to that ‘OhmygodI’msonervousIneedtothrowup’ feeling. I’m told you don’t really get used to it per-say. It’s more that your body is accustomed to the adrenaline and doesn’t think it’s nausea. Superb.

I’m on a goal to drop weight and train hard for the next 5 weeks.

Here we go, wish me luck!

A weekly update!


3 weeks until I leave for NYC, and with 5 days lost in Chicago for a work-related trip, time is flying by! I’ve only made 2-3 classes/week these past few weeks. Because I’ll be away for almost 2 weeks from May – June, I’ve picked up lots of overtime at work which subsequently leaves less time to train. :( On the other hand, R has concocted some stupidly crazy cardio workouts to push me through. I don’t usually quote him, but here’s his idea of a ‘fun’ workout.

A deck of 52 cards… the goal is to work up to the point where we can complete the deck of cards at the end of the workout as the final cardio “push”. For example: After a good hour of technique, dri…lling, sprints etc. we would break out the deck of cards. Hearts would be burpees, diamonds would be burpees, clubs would be crunches, spades would be triangles. Final goal to work up to – the entire deck completed without rest between sets.Shuffle the deck thoroughly – if you get an ace you would do 11 of that exercise, J/K/Q you would do 10 and then just follow the numbers from 10 – 2.For example; if the following 4 cards came up: Ace of Hearts, Jack of Diamonds, 3 of clubs, King of spades – that would be 21 burpees, 3 triangles and 10 crunches.

If we were to make it through the whole deck of cards that would be a total of 190 burpees, 95 triangles and 95 crunches – all completed without rest.

This is a slightly modified version of a routine I stole from an old boxing coach. Mine is better (or more evil) depending on your point of view.

I don’t think we’d make it through the whole deck on the first go of course, but it would be a cool thing to work towards. I figure if we’re able to sail through that at the end of the main part of the workout we’re in pretty good shape.

Did I mention I love burpees?…

Our big grapple party is this weekend as well! I’m spending the day cleaning the loft and giving the mats a good cleaning before our friends come over! It’s looking like it’ll be a great mix of friends from both gyms!

My new Fenom Gi also arrived a few days ago! I’ve already washed and sent the Kimono through the dryer once to shrink it slightly. The Fenom A1 gi is a little larger than my Red Star A1, but a more detailed review will be coming once I’ve run it through a few classes! On my first attempt at trying it on, it’s incredibly soft weave was definitely noticeable!

Feels like burning.

I’ve been fairly consistent with training the past few weeks and I’m now officially down to the last 6 weeks before heading to NYC. I’ve got 8lbs to lose to make 128lbs. (with a 2lb allowance with my gi on)

I still tend to favour guard attacks from one side, and it’s become fairly obvious as I’m nursing repetitive mat burn on both my left knee and left elbow. I’m hoping to pick up a pair of knee pads this weekend at UFC FanExpo being held here in Toronto. Speaking of which, it’s only 4 days away until UFC 129! I conceded and decided I’m going to watch the fight with R and his gym after we spend the day at FanExpo.

I’m noticing is that I only tend to get mat burn when I’m wearing my gi. I don’t seem to have a problem when it’s bare skin exposed to the mat or wearing a rash guard. Considering my gi is made of 100% cotton, I can’t imagine it’s abrasive enough to give rash burn. I’ll definitely have to test it against my new Fenom Lotus gi that’s hopefully going to be arriving sometime this week.

(I do want to document and share my journey online, but you’ll notice I don’t use real names, nor do I name competitions or the gym I train at. As much as I have only good things to say about the instructors and the school, it’s a matter of privacy. If you do read my blog and would like to comment, my only request is that you do keep the names/details away from the posts. Thanks!)

Full-time training

It’s back to work for me, but I just took a week off to train, eat, sleep and enjoy a bit of a mini vacation at home.

Between training sessions at the gym, I cooked healthy delicious meals, slept in every morning and took afternoon naps when I could. I had originally planned to train twice a day (mornings and evenings) but after developing mat burn on Day 2 of the training regiment, I knew I had to take it a little easier. I purchased a set of wrestling knee pads online, and since they I don’t have them yet I’m not sacrificing the skin on my knees any longer.

Classes have been steady and seeing the classes for the third time, I’m feeling more confident. I’m picking up more than 75% of the class and I really appreciate the constructive criticism on the finer points of my movements. 

With a competition in NYC under two months away, I’m desperately working on my cardio and easing out 0f my hypertrophy phase. It’s time to lean down and start cutting weight. May isn’t going to be pretty as I try to drop 8lbs to make weight at 130lbs.

R’s hurt his knee a few weeks ago so we haven’t spent any time training. He attended an open mat session on the Wednesday and it was fun just flow-rolling for practice. More training sessions are planned for the following week. More on that to come.

Putting in the hours

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, he speaks of talent and ultimately the dedication and persistence people put forth into developing a skill/habit/character. That magic number: 10,000 hours. As a child, I’d always heard that nothing comes without hard work. Persistence and dedication were the two major ideals that were drilled into our head as kids. As the first born child of conservative first-generation immigrants to Canada this particularly held true for whatever ambitions I had.

Joking that I’m dedicated to ‘putting in the hours’, doing a bit of rough math equates to the following numbers:

Training 5-6 times/week 10 hours week/520 hours a year / 19.3 years. That number is an average which should ‘hopefully’ include competitions once I get to that point! In short, it means that if I can achieve any type of measure of proficiency in BJJ in the next 19 years, I’ll be more than happy. That puts me at an age of…45. I’d be happy if I was still actively training and competing at 45 years of age!

There’s belt stripe testing at the end of the month at the gym, and I’ll be testing for my second stripe. Sort of exciting, and sort of nerve wracking at the same time. R’s going to come over and go over the test requirements next week and put in some extra training. Wish me luck!

Active Rest

I finally took some time off to take it easy and let my body heal itself. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed an awkward pattern to my workouts. I have trouble sleeping – and staying asleep if I haven’t sufficiently tired myself out during the day. I’m unsure if this self-induced insomnia is a good thing or if I’m just overtired.. Either way, it’s doing bad things for my circadian rhythm.

Classes have been very technical-based all weekend. We drilled a variety of different takedowns on Sunday and because Monday was a holiday, they hosted a two hour gi choking seminar instead of usual classes. I barely worked up a sweat in either class so I’m looking forward to training with R this weekend and getting my heart rate up.

I’m thinking of going to the gym and hitting up a good workout today with some good cardio and a strong leg/back workout today. If there’s one thing I’m lacking it’s the back strength to maintain and perform pull-ups. I’ve finally installed the hard points in the loft, now to go and purchase a 14′ climbing rope for the rope climb I’m going to install in the loft. Yes, I live in an pretty awesome space.


The workout was rough, and didn’t go as smoothly as planned. I was feeling tired after the first 30 minutes on the elliptical, and quit early and headed over to the free weights for some dead lifts. I paced myself through the lifts and my lower back started to spasm on the back extensions so I finished up the last of the back workouts and called it a day. Overall it felt pretty good to lift some weights again even though I was more tired than usual.

Not really looking forward to working nights again. March is a killer month for me as I hit the part of the work schedule that has very few day shifts and plenty of nights. Looks like I’ll be sleeping through most of March!

Goals for 2011

I wrote these goals down in the beginning of January, and thought that it would be a good idea to post them here as well. Seeing as it’s already February, I have to say that all the goals are coming along nicely.

1. Consistently work on my cardio to be able to attend 5 BJJ classes a week (I’m at 4/week currently)
2. Be able to climb the rope, with just my arms – no legs!
3. Be able to do at least 10 pull ups.. (I can currently do 3)
4. Do a handstand! (This is more difficult for me than you think)
5. Begin to compete in both gi and no-gi tournaments
6. Climb the CN Tower, and shave 10 minutes off my previous time.
7. Maintain my current weight. ( I currently weigh in at around 130lbs.)

1. I’ve been almost going to 7 classes a week (if you count back-to-back classes of gi and no-gi as two classes) On average, I’m training almost 2 hrs/day which is far exceeding my goal! We’ll see how long I can keep this up. I realize that I need to temper my training (read: addiction) a little since I’m starting to skin my knees, toes and feet on a fairly regular basis. I also went out and bought a pair of capris to hopefully save my knees from the repetitive mat burn.

2. I’m having my friend come and install the climbing rope at my loft next weekend – super excited. I’ve got 14′ ceilings, and plenty of room to start working on climbing.

3. I’m still stuck at 3 pull-ups, but doing more extended flexed arm hangs. I think I’ve put on some weight and thus making it more difficult to lift more bodyweight. I’ve also gained some strength so it seems to be all balancing out without any significant improvement.

4. Step 1: Learn to tumble properly. Going to work on this on Sunday during training. I have a fear of rolling over.

5. We move into a new gym facility in March, and I’ll have to see how well my training is going by then, and hopefully start to join in with some of the competition classes if my head instructor thinks I’m ready.

6.  Scratch this one. My knees don’t take any sort of impact well anymore. No stair-climbing for me.

7. Okay, so I have a problem with scales. Or I perhaps I should say I can’t find a freaking scale that’s correct. I’ve weighed myself on 4 different scales at different locations and they all fluctuate in reading my weight!! So, I’ve decided to take the average. I currently weigh 135 lbs and starting to panic a little. I’ve put on more muscle mass than I thought and in return I’ve lost about 3 inches (1 inch each from my hips/waist/chest.) I’m concluding that although my body is exchanging the fat for muscle mass, it means I weigh.. more. I’m sure once I lose the rest of the fat and get leaner I’ll cut back down to 130 lbs. Perhaps it’s time to invest in a proper scale too.

A (De-)Motivational Tool

I remember the first time I was ever yelled at by a coach. I was training  with our club’s swim team at the pool, and was probably around age 7 or 8. I had been swimming almost before I could walk, and my grade school routine included swimming twice a day. Once before school, and once after. 

I distinctly remember hanging on the edge, trying to catch my breath, and thinking ‘I can’t do this anymore’ as they we watched the pace clock’s colourful arrows tell us when the next swimmer was to start. My coach’s booming voice (though he was just a senior in high school) yelled across the pool: “You’re not tired, keep going!”

I shook my head vehemently as I clung to the side of the pool. He came over, picked me up by my armpits and planted me on my feet as I barely registered being pulled out of the water. Standing on the deck, I stared at my feet, embarassed that I was singled out amongst the other kids.

“Do you want to be here?” He asked.

I nodded quickly.

“Then get in and swim.”

And with that comment he picked me back up and dropped me in the pool.

I remember the frustration, the heat in my face, but most of all, the renewed vigour with which I swam that morning.

I can’t say that it was probably the best way to treat a child, or that the experience didn’t change me. However, I know that every athlete, every individual has their own ways of being motivated by their coaches. There was something about the tone of disappointment, and the way you were spoken to, that they believed you could do better  – that was what motivated me.

Some things never change.

I went to my first beginner wrestling class this morning after all the ‘hype’ I had heard from rest of my team. The wrestling instructor had an impressive resume, and his style of teaching was tough, brash, and you could always count on him for a good workout.

I had come off a night shift and hadn’t slept yet, since class was fairly early on a Sunday morning.  I figured I could use the extra workout and even hit the morning BJJ class right before wrestling. In retrospect, going to back-to-back classes on no sleep and no food (I don’t eat on night shifts, since my stomach is sensitive.) wasn’t really a good idea.

The BJJ class was good, it was a review of back control and back escapes with RNC and collar chokes we had worked on the previous week. I saw one of the regular girls in class, and headed towards her when I noticed we had a new girl in (her first week – yay!) and grabbed us as a group of three. I even had a chance to roll with one of the larger guys in class, and worked on positional sparring near the end of class. This was great because it provided a real challenge to a few things I had been practicing.  Note to self: Guys vs. Girls post for the future.

T hen, on to beginner wrestling. I ran back to the change room to pull off my gi and get into a rash guard and some shorts. When I got back, we had already started pummeling. I was paired with the new girl and I did my best to try to explain some of the drills (but what do I know?! I’m a total newb too.) I loved the format of the class, it was pretty much the same way ‘R’ worked me over in our one-on-one classes. Lots of positional drilling interspersed with circuit training of push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, sprawls…anything to get our heart rates up.  

I know better than to take things personally in-class. Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow. But even with that mantra, it wears me down when everything I do is insulted, over and over again. The whole class felt like a series of  ‘this is how you F#$@!’d up.’  I attempted to pay close attention to one thing, and quickly forgot everything else. Hell, I couldn’t even sprawl correctly. I had to reset my brain, and quickly pushed out one circuit of pushups and situps, grabbed a drink of water and thought to myself: “How badly do I want to be here right now?'”

R works me way harder when we train, and tells me I can do better, so why do I feel like shit? Oh right, I haven’t eaten or slept, suck it up and stick through it. I wasn’t looking for an excuse to leave, I was looking for reasons to stay.

So, I did.

I had a moment of self-pity afterwards, though the best thing I heard from R all day was “Don’t worry, when I’m done with you, you won’t need sleep to beat the boys.”

That’s right, I’m gonna be a fighting machine. ;)

On rolling.

I had to practically drag myself off the couch from my nap to get to class last night. I’ve been feeling really tired lately, and taking afternoon naps have been my guilty pleasure.

I finally made it to the gym and met up with B, who’s become my evening training partner. She’s an experienced Japanese Jiu Jitsu practitioner, but only slightly more advanced than I when it comes to BJJ. We’re similar in body size, so we’re ideal partners. That, and I like her, cause she’s not afraid to use some force and make me work during class.

This week’s classes focus on headlock escapes, and the entire class went fairly smoothly. We practiced and drilled until the movements became second nature. I’m finally able to string together similarities in previous escapes we’ve learned and put it all together. My mind’s still going a mile a minute trying to work-in all the little details of every step to the escape, but I realize the real test comes when it’s time to roll.


I’m coming to realize that while I’m in class, I can consciously think about what I’m supposed to do, and where to move. The minute I’m on the mat rolling around, my brain seems to blank out. This particularly happens when I think too much. It’s like, information overload – and next thing you know, they’ve passed my guard and I’ve lost my advantageous position. If I don’t consciously choose my moves a few steps in advance, I lose whatever mental game I had prepared ahead of time.

Rolling with R makes me even more frustrated since I know he takes it easy on me. He purposefully makes mistakes to give me opportunities to attack, to move, to gain positions I’ve been working on. I feel the way I roll with him is similar to the way an anaconda plays with its food before eating. (Bear with my analogy here, I seriously don’t even know if snakes ‘play’ with their food.) I’m always hesitant because I know in some way or another, he’s testing what I’ve learned and I’m awaiting the inevitable.. being eaten…tapping out to another submission. So, instead of attacking, I naturally move to defensive positions and wait.

We’re training on Friday again. I’ve got a week’s worth of classes to up my game. No more rolling over trying to defend myself… I’m going to try to go for the kill.

Step on the mats.

Welcome to a brand new beginning.

It’s January 30th, 2011, and I’ve been inspired by friends and family to start an online journal about my experiences, challenges and triumphs in the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

I’m a 20-something year old female from Toronto, Canada and my journey started not too long ago. I have brief recollections of watching my little brother study Judo and Wushu as a child. I always watched with fascination, wanting to join in but ‘proper’ Asian parenting told me that girls didn’t ‘fight’ like boys did.

In university I was exposed to the UFC by an old ex-bf and remember the excitement and energy every time fight night came around. We watched with earnest as our favourite fighters entered the cage round after round.

Fast forward a few years later and I’ve found myself play-wrestling with a group of friends, and sick and tired of losing to them…all the time, I decided to educate myself a little. I did some research and ended up taking my first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class in November of 2010. With some positive encouragement from friends (and family!) I officially registered and started attending classes (3-4) every week. This is really where this blog starts.

It’s been a solid month of classes, and I’ve made significant changes to my lifestyle, eating habits, and taken up yoga on a regular basis as well! I’ll be documenting my progress as time goes on. More to come on philosophy and mentality, goals, inspiration and my progress!

Please read the disclaimer about this blog if this is your first visit. :)

Names of people and certain places will be changed to protect privacy. Enjoy!


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