Monday, March 28, 2011

Pan Am Results

No one is back yet from the Pans, but I think I have the general idea thanks to Facebook.

I was going to break it down, but then I realized I don't know some people's last names, and I know almost no one's weight class.  So to avoid giving you incorrect information, or being a douche and not knowing everyone's last name I will break it down like this...

10 Students and Fabio competed.

White Belt -
1 - Silver Medal
2 - Bronze Medal

Blue Belt -
1 - Gold
1 - Silver
1 - Bronze

All of my teammates trained hard and fought well.  Six of them had their preparation meet opportunity.  I am so proud of everyone!!  And like Fabio says, it's not about winning.  It's about having the courage to go.

Paul, who earned his black belt the week before heading to the Pans competed.  I don't think he is coming home with a medal (He is one of three people in this country without a Facebook, so I'm not sure) but I think he showed a whole truck load of heart for going and competing against some of the best black belts in the world, only having worn his for a week.  So I feel a huge congratulations is in order for that alone.

Fabio also competed.  He won bronze in absolute!  I feel blessed to count myself among one of Fabio's students.  Always.  Not because of the medals he wins, or the trophies in his office, but because Fabio is one of the most outstanding human beings I've ever had the good fortunate to come across.  Allie wrote a really great blog about him recently that sums him up pretty well.  So, I won't fart hearts and rainbows about him again.  I will just say that Fabio is one of the few people outside of my family that I truly respect and admire.

No one is home with pictures yet, but a few pictures of my team were snapped by the IBJJF photographers.  I stole them.

Salsa John is on the bottom.  I first recognized him by his hideous ankle brace. =)

This Fabio Reffing. 


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Math makes me feel better.

Everyone from my school going to the Pan Ams is leaving today or tomorrow.  Good luck guys!

Anyway, when we were talking about it someone asked me if I would ever go, and I told them, that this time last year, I was thinking about possibly going this year.  But.....9 months off, and only having made it to seven classes in the three three months means I'm so not ready for something like the Pan Ams.

Anyway, we got on the maybe next year subject, and I said, hopefully by the time next year rolls around, I'll be a fairly decent white belt.

It made me kind of sad to think in a year from now I may very well still be a white belt, BUT then I thought about it, and I realized I train less in a month what I used to train in a week.  So, time wise, I will only get three to four months of time on the mat in an entire year.... in comparison to what I was doing before.   I was doing 4-6 days a week, now I am doing 3-4 times a month.

It actually makes me feel better.  I'd love to train more, but I am happy with my more balanced life, happier home, and more stable... everything.  But breaking it down to actual time on the mat versus actual time passing makes me feel better about my lack of progress in the time that I have been back to Fabio's, because it's really not a lack of progress, it is just less time on the mat.... and I am totally cool with that.

It does not matter how slow I go, as long as I do not stop.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It’s getting dark in here!

Tonight Fabio promoted Ben Aubin and Paul Kimbrel to the rank of black belt!!  It was a pretty momentous occasion for our school as they are his first black belts.  Both Ben and Paul have been with Fabio from the beginning.  Both of them have had major influences in my own game, and I am beyond excited for them. 

Ben getting his Black Belt!!

Paul getting his black belt!

Fabio welcoming Ben and Paul to black belt.

Kyle Staigner was awarded his brown belt.  Easily one of my favorite people to grapple, I am really excited for him and his new belt! Granted, brown is the ugliest of the belts, but I think he will manage.  Lol 

Thomas earned his blue, along with Ricky, Sam. Nick and Rhee!






 Big night tonight!  So happy for everyone!


Though I somehow managed to turn the best night at Fabio's into my worst night at Fabio's.  I had my first break down on the mat.  It was many little things back to back to back to back... to the point I just couldn't help it.  Allie was my safe haven since the bathroom was surrounded by people who I would have been horrified to see me crying.  So, I sat on the mat with my face buried in her shoulder crying like a big sissy for like 10 minutes.  Thankfully Phil was nice enough to use himself as a human shield to hide my crying from the rest of the class.  The whole thing was so stupid, I don't even want to justify it with an explanation.  It was just dumb, and hopefully I will just dust myself off, and keep on going.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This post has ADD

There were several entirely different things that made me a happy little girl last night.

Mostly, I am happy that I am beginning more and more to feel like myself on the mat, and less like a blurry out of focus shadow of my former self.
This is me when I grapple... but less colorful and fun to look at.

There is a guy who has a gi that is a really pretty shade of blue.  It almost looks like a faded dark purple, and sitting next to him on the wall, I told him how much I liked the color.  Turns out, it is just a normal blue gi that he washed with his red one.  Well, after class he brought his red gi in from the car and let me borrow it to wash with my gi.  I thought it was a totally nice gesture, and very unexpected.  My gis are currently in the wash with his.
I am kind of excited to see what it does to my very loved and slightly faded Femon gi too!


I am finally getting over my desire to always been the defensive player.  Every single grapple last night I went after, (in what I hope was not a tool-ish way) and finally started to go for submissions on a particular person who is less than a good sport.  Normally, I avoid even going for submissions because of that person's general poor sportsmanship.  If getting submitted gets someones undies in a bunch, I don't do it.  Though, I realize more and more that is their issue not mine... And happily, I went for submissions with that person, and found myself pretty successful.  *Toots own horn*

I would like to be have the horns AND halo though.  =) 

I realized my modified BJJ anniversary is coming up!  I started August 9th 2009, but with my hiatus the date my actual training adds up to a year is next month!

And lastly, I got paired up with a huge white belt man that I'd never grappled before, and I was afraid.  But it ended up being a really fun grapple!  He was very, very clearly stronger and larger than I was, but he never just smashed me flat, or muscled my arms off.  He did give me a few pity escapes because it was obvious no matter what I did, there was no way my feebleness was escaping.  And happily he moved without flailing, and if I had to pick a single word to describe the grapple, I would go with courteous.  He was as courteous as you could be and still actually grapple.  I was so happy afterward I thanked him, and told him that I was a little scared of him before we'd grappled because guys his size tend to me really smashy, but that our grapple ended up being  awesome and a lot of fun.  He told me he just thinks about Wizzy when he grapples other women, and does what he would want the guys to do with her.  So, take heart spastic white belts everywhere.  There is hope!  You don't actually have to smash your female partners until their sternums pop.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

How you can help Japan

I'm sure all of you have heard about the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan.  Devastation is an understatement. 

Over 5 million people are without power.
Over 700 confirmed dead, and the total death toll is expected to pass 20,000.
250,000 people are in emergency shelters.
There is a threat of nuclear meltdown.
The emergency food and water supply is running low.
People are missing.
Families have been torn apart.

There have been no reports of looting.  No violence.  No Panic.  

So many people have lost everything, yet all I see in pictures are people helping people.  Patience.  Kindness.  Love.  Loss... so much loss, but togetherness, and unity.  

I want so badly to reach out and help them, but I am limited in what I can do, but I have found many little ways to help, and I feel compelled to pass them on, as in situations like these every single bit helps.  

I know times are hard financially for everyone, but every little bit helps.  You can donate to the the relief efforts through RedCross.

Or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10.

If you don't have any extra cash to help, you can help with your time.
Here, you can view advertisements to raise money.

If you play those farming games on Facebook, you can buy virtual goods.  100% of the proceeds from the purchase of sweet potatoes in CityVille, radishes in FarmVille or kobe cows inFrontierVille will go towards Save the Children’s efforts to provide relief in the Pacific. 

Click a like on Facebook.  The people over at are donating $1 for every “Like” of the “Dog Bless You” Facebook page, up to $100,000.

If you are an iTunes user, you can also donate through them.  You can find the link on your iTunes home page.

And as always, send all the prayers and good will you can to Japan.  They need it now more than ever.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


When I started training, there were almost no girls at Fabio's.  I talked to a guy friend of mine who also practices martial arts.  I told him I was worried about annoying the guys in the gym with my hesitance and general lack of knowhow, as well as my extreme lack of fitness.  I was just your average out of shape mom with zero athletic background.  Surely, I was a less than ideal training partner for the rest of the gym. 

He told me “Don’t worry about it.  All gyms need a pretty token girl.  Guys will tolerate you even if you suck.” 

I understand why he said what he did, he was trying to ease my concerns, but it made me sad.  I did not want to be that girl.  I didn’t want to be tolerated just because I was a girl, and I definitely I didn’t want to suck. 

A few months later in class, I rolled with one of our senior guys.  Normally when he grapples, he moves at the speed of light, but he had clearly toned down for our grapple….  And my friend voice echoed though my head, “Guys will tolerate you, even if you suck.”

After our grapple, nearly in tears I apologized to him.  I said I was sorry he got stuck with me, and how I imaged he would get nothing out of grappling someone like me. 

He asked me why I would say something like that, and I told him what my friend had said, and to my surprise, he got angry.  He told me never let anyone talk to me like that.  He said that I trained just as hard if not harder than a lot of the guys, and that they all respected me because they know Jiu-jitsu is a man’s world but I stuck it out and trained hard anyway, and it was clear that my heart was in the sport. 

From that moment on, I’ve been able to (most of the time) hold my head high when I go to class.  Sure, I know I’m not awesome, but I know I try… and knowing that other people are aware of that too makes me feel better about my short comings.  We all have them after all, and it’s okay. 

And all of that to get to the point of this blog, The Token Pretty Girl. 

Allie and I were walking a few nights ago, like we often do, and as always, Jiu-jitsu came up.  The conversation went in the direction of girls on the mat, and I flashed back to my friends comment, and I realized Fabio doesn’t have a token pretty girl.  All of Fabio’s girls are beautiful.  I mean that honestly.  Every girl who trains in our gym is beautiful, inside and out.  I love them like sisters.

Allie ‘PitBull’ McClish – Allie is Fabio’s senior girl, my sister, and best friend.  We started our BJJ journey together, and I am so grateful to have her.  Not only to train with, but to understand.  She knows firsthand what it is like to be a girl on the mat.  Something no man could ever truly understand.  The hardest part of Jiu-jitsu can be the mental and emotional aspect of the game, and to have a shoulder to not only cry on, but understand my tears has without a doubt helped me to keep my head in the game…. And to have some to laugh at the embarrassing moments with, someone to not judge you when you get angry, or fail, or just totally blow it.  She is always there for me, and it is nice to know I’ve always got her in my corner.

Erica ‘No Mercy’ America – Erica’s new husband, has been training with Fabio for about two years.  When I started, she didn’t train, but came to most classes.  She’d always been interested in training, so it didn’t take much prodding from Allie and me to get her on the mat, and she took to Jiu-jitsu like a fish to water.  If she wasn’t one of the sweetest people I’d ever met, I might have been annoyed at her instant skill.  The same could be said about her beauty – she is gorgeous.  On top of all of that, she trains like a maniac.  She is easily among the most dedicated of Fabio’s students.  I am so glad she decided to train.  She is the only girl about my size, which makes her a perfect training partner for me!

Mean Joyce ‘MJ’ – Joyce is the smallest person in our gym.  When she started Jiu-jitsu she had to overcome a lot of hurdles.  She had a difficult time getting over the personal space invasion that comes with BJJ, but she stuck it out.  Joyce is very reserved and quiet.  She is an elementary school special needs teacher, and has the heart to match her profession – sweet, kind, and patient.   It is very against her nature to be aggressive.  Recently, though, she has really come into her Jiu-jitsu game, and was dubbed jokingly, “Mean Joyce”.  One of my most exciting moments in class was watching her grapple a much larger person, controlling them, and submitting them successfully.  I’ve really enjoyed watching her BJJ journey, and I love to grapple her.  Especially when she goes all 'Mean Joyce' on me!

Kara Debats – She is Fabio’s newest female addition.  Sadly, due to my hiatus, I missed the beginning of her jits journey but thankfully, I do get to see her outside of class fairly often. Kara is a crack up.  I don’t think I have ever grappled her and not laughed the entire 5 minutes… or even been around her without a smile on my face.  We rode to and from class together tonight, and had me laughing to the point I was almost sick, twice.  Seriously.  Allie is especially glad it was 'almost'...  I'm pretty sure she'd have been mad if I ruined her upholstery, no matter how funny the situation was. 

I love to be around Kara on and off the mat.  Her personality is infectious.

Elizabeth ‘Wizzy’ – She, for the most part, trains at Fabio’s other branch so it isn’t often that I get to roll with her, but I am always excited when she makes it out to Lakeland.  She is an entire foot shorter than I am, so it is interesting to grapple her.  She moves differently than longer people do, and is so tiny and tight it’s almost obnoxious, in a good way.  She told me tonight that she will be making it out to our branch a lot more often and I am really excited to have another regular girl!  Plus, with the smaller people I try to think about each move I’m making, so I don't end up going all ogre and just tossing them around, and I find a lot of the little steps I tend to forget.  Which is always very beneficial, it is also very apparent when I do something that was only accomplished by the size/strength difference, and I try to make a mental note to try and avoid doing that in the future.  I'm so happy she will be around more often!

Roberta – Fabio’s actual girl.  Roberta is Fabio’s wife.  She trained in the past, and earned her blue belt, but even though she is not currently training she is a good person to talk to about the ins and outs of BJJ.  She runs the business side of Fabio Novaes BJJ, but more than that, she is an amazing woman, truly a beautiful person.  She has a positive outlook on life, and is always encouraging and supportive, and she is an incredible mother; her children are joys to be around.  The added bonus of her being so involved is she always makes sure there are shirts for the girls too!.. And if your pink sports bra falls out of your gym bag, you don’t notice and accidentally leaving it laying around in a bus full of men, she’s got you covered.  =)  

And because the girls refused to let me take their pictures, and let me get away with out having to get in front of the camera myself, here I am.  

And, I know taking the pictures BEFORE we got all sweaty would probably have been more ideal, but let's face it... we are all happier once we've gotten good and sweaty and ruined our hair. 

Truly from the bottom of my heart, I love the girls I train with, I couldn't ask for better training partners!  I love the different shapes and sizes and skill levels we have because each person presents a different challenge, and we face different challenges in each other.  I hope 10 years from now I am still standing side by side with them - sweaty with messed up hair.