Monthly Archives: April 2011

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!)


Fenom Kimonos – Gi Review

Just ordered a brand new gi! After waiting for our gym’s current supplier of Red Star Gi’s forever, I went ahead and ordered a Fenom Lotus Gi – White as an early birthday present for myself! Reading some of the reviews online, its positive feedback combined with its great price seem to be a worthwhile purchase.

My current Red Star – A1 isn’t a great fit, but then again I’m not shaped like a guy. I’m 5’4″, 136lbs and my measurements are: 34″, 28″, 36″. I’m your typical curvier female. The first time I washed my Red Star Gi, I lost about 2.5 inches off the pants and now they’re more like ‘gi capris’ as we like to call them at my gym. The kimono jacket fits perfectly, but now they both go through the washer/dryer on a regular basis.

At first I didn’t think I would be going to train as often. But, washing a heavy-weight cotton gi EVERY day was getting really tedious. I wanted at least one other gi that was lighter for the upcoming summer training season. My current gi weighs close to 3.5 lbs, which is 3.5 lbs I could save cutting weight. I’d like to eventually settle in just under 130lbs with my gi on.

Why I chose the Fenom Lotus Gi: I had heard great things about the differences between female-specific gis and the traditional sized gis. I was looking for something comfortable, that would fit well and wouldn’t fall off or rip apart when I trained hard.

I just honestly couldn’t stomach butterflies, flowers and hot pink gis. Who said that being female and training just as hard as the boys that you can’t blend in? The Fenom gis have a simple logo without being too obviously feminine. With a gothic script ‘F’ embroidered on the shoulders and pant leg, it’s simple design is what really appealed to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are plenty of 16-year-old girls just dying to wear the newest Kyra Gracie gi. I just don’t wear pink.

There was something special about the Lotus gi that really appealed to me. I’ve got a large lotus flower on my back that was inked a few years ago. I have a bit of an emotional attachement to lotus flowers.

Delivery should be within 2-3 weeks, and I’m looking forward to giving the complete review with photos!

*All photos taken from

A Black Belt is…

A white belt that never gives up.

The first time I saw this quote scribbled on a whiteboard in R’s gym, I smiled to myself not knowing the implications this quote truly has.

I finally finished my last night shift this week and after a quick power nap, I grumbled as I reached over and tried to hit the snooze button on my phone. The pup was already trying to crawl into bed with me so I knew it was time to get up.

I spent about 15 minutes rolling around in bed contemplating whether I needed more sleep or if I should pack my bag and head off to the gym to train. It’s times like these that I have to overcome that self-doubt that I can ‘always train later’, or even ‘I’ll make up for it tomorrow.’ Instead of giving myself excuses I’ve found it’s best just to pre-pack my bag and don’t think about ‘why I should go’, but rather, ‘what am I going to learn today? What do I want to work on?’ Overcoming some of the struggles I’ve always had with confidence, dedication, emotional stability and mental focus are just a few of the things that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu help me to improve on.  The idea of never giving up is something I struggle with. In many aspects of my hobbies, I’ve always excelled in the initial excitement and passion. It’s the diligence that I lack. The very idea of not giving up scares me a little because I see the very few dedicated BJJ practitioners that move up in rank with each belt. The numbers thin out significantly for a variety of reasons. I don’t plan on being one of them.

Mouth guards… and other protective gear.

Class was side mount escapes to guard and an arm bar attack. It was actually a lot of fun, but I realized during the warmup that my cardio’s dropped off the map again and I was pretty gassed by the time we moved on to positional training. FAIL! All my hard work the past few months seems to have really tapered off. I’m a little disappointed in my own progress.

Regardless, I still had a great class yesterday. I paired up with S since we’re the same experience level, and only 20 lbs heavier than me. He’s considerably stronger than I am, and it was only really noticeable after the 4’th time he swept me from side control. It was frustrating to say the least, but I learned a great deal about playing to my advantages, and using my (lack of) weight to a better advantage than my current strategy. Apparently my instructor says I’m trying to be heavy, and I’m really not. 😦 I’m at least on-par with some of the guys in class, but tend to be lighter than most.

Still fighting off a little whiplash from the O-soto gari class we did earlier in the week and wasn’t sure how hard I was ready to go, but it didn’t matter once we started. We had a few good rounds, and managed to drill the side control escape pretty well. I was on top during one round and caught S’s knee under my chin as he tried to bring it through to get into guard. I heard a pretty loud crack in my mouth and even though all my teeth were intact, my brain was still a little rattled and I’m more than thankful that I didn’t have my tongue between my teeth at that point. I think it’s definitely time to get a mouth guard…

In retrospect, most of the people I train with in class don’t wear mouth guards, at least not until they start to roll. In fact, I think most guys don’t even wear cups – which is kind of to their disadvantage when I’m trying to pass the guard leading with my knee. I feel horrible, but I’ve clipped a few good friends and can’t imagine why wearing a soft cup wouldn’t help. Maybe they just like the pain?!

In other news, Grappler’s Quest is coming to UFC Fan Expo at the end of the month, and R might be competing! Super excited to watch my own coach compete at his level. The provincials we saw a couple weeks ago were pretty amazing, but this should be even more impressive! I’ll definitely be attending and cheering on our team! The most exciting part is getting take home a set of Zebra mats after Grapplers Quest. I finally placed the pre-order in a few weeks ago, and should have a set of mats ready for my place by the first week of May! R and I are throwing a bit of a combined birthday celebration since our birthdays are almost exactly a month apart. We’re having random friends come over and grapple at my place to break in the new mats! I can’t wait… we might even have a playful showdown of my gym vs. his gym. 😉

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.

That familiar feeling.

Finally headed back to the gym this morning after taking almost an entire week off due to my back injury. I’m probably 90% fully recovered, but since it’s a sensitive issue like my back I’m not taking any chances.

It was great to get started and see the regulars at the gym again. We stretched and chatted a bit before class began. It just felt so good to get back into my gi and tumble around. There were a few new kids in class, but nobody I recognized so I stuck with my friends.

Today’s class was a bear hug escape and mount escapes. I tripled up with A and another white belt I’m unfamiliar with, but he looked huge! I hung around A since he’s much closer to my size and I wasn’t going to try to stress my back by lifting anyone heavy. Another blue belt came in late, so once the numbers were even again, A and I paired up for the remainder of the mount escapes. Our general consensus about mount: it’s probably our least favourite advantageous position. Because I’m usually lighter than my opponent, I feel extremely unstable in mount. Whether my opponent is bridging, or attempting a sweep or escape, my instinct is to hop over into side control instead. It’s something I know I need work on, and perhaps might drill it with R later on this week when I have more time to dedicate to it. After the technique drills, I sat out for the positional training as I didn’t want to risk my back on my first day back.

The day was a little nostalgic since I recall this particular class fairly clearly. I think it was the first BJJ class I *ever* attended at the gym, and it was with the same instructor too! It feels like I’ve been at the gym forever, when really it’s only been around 4 months at least consistently. I still tell people I started in January because I think I attended a total of 3 classes in December. In any case, in a short time I’ve made some great friends and worked hard! It’s going to be a good week in class. I can feel it.

Stripe Testing

You’re looking at a new second stripe! Considering I’ve never tested for any type of martial art before, I was a little more than intimidated. Here’s my account of the nerve-wracking, but wonderfully rewarding experience!

R came over the day before to go over some last minute points for the requirements. We did some movement drills, tumbling, and practiced scissor sweeps until the scabs on my elbows?! broke open again. I seem to be stuck in this endless cycle of healing/recovery when it comes to the variety of mat burns on my body. Anyway, moving on! We drilled briefly so that I wouldn’t be overtired for the test, and got an early night’s rest.

I woke up early on Sunday and after a quick walk with the pup, I headed over the gym. I overestimated my time, so I went to hang out with R for a bit before skipping off to the gym since they’re fairly close by.

A few of the guys were milling about outside the gym doors – which were locked. The blue belts were still testing and we weren’t privy to their testing requirements. Most of the guys that I’ve been drilling with regularly were there, and it was nice just to laugh and joke around for a bit before the test started.

I was the only girl (though not surprising) that was testing and we grouped with a pair of guys that I’ve had the opportunity to roll with for a few classes now. It was relief to test with people you’ve rolled with in class. I’m learning that certain people have particular styles that have strengths and weaknesses in all areas. Our head instructor called our names and rotated through the various requirements. I think I messed up during one of the stack pass drills and quickly settled into guard and tried again. We had the opportunity to do all the requirements a few times, and on both sides. Then, came the fun part!

We were then asked to do ‘positional training’ while we switched partners in 5 minute intervals. I have a poor sense of time when I’m grappling on the mats, so they may have been closer to 2 minutes, but they felt like forever! I rolled with A, and laughed when I almost clipped him in the head with a knee. We have a running joke in class that I seem to aim for his head whenever we roll.

At the end of the test, we lined up and congratulated each other as we were called up and given our stripes. It’s a small step in a much larger journey, but one that I’m proud to say that I’m dedicated to.