Sorry for the lack of posts lately to anyone who has been following. I got caught up with buying books, registering for the new semester of classes, and answering teacher’s emails so my blog was put on hold for a minute. Now that I have established a little bit of a following, I thought I might provide the readers with background information about my training and why it has been about two and a half years since I last competed in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Tournament.
Now starting my second semester of my junior year of college, my mind has not been in BJJ competition mode since my high school training days. When I first got to college (as a seasoned 2 stripe Gracie Barra blue belt) there were no reputable BJJ professors in the area so my BJJ training went on a hiatus and I focused on wrestling, and also began playing rugby. Last year after a long, arduous season (In which my team made it to the Division 1 elite 8 in the USA Rugby National Collegiate Championships) playing open side flanker, my body took a serious beating. The postseason MRI’s showed I had to get extensive surgery on my shoulder for a completely torn labrum and rotator cuff. For many years I have had very serious aspirations of following my father’s footsteps and enlisting in the Army Special Forces (Green Beret) upon college graduation, and the injury severely jeopardized my future. Luckily the Army is still going to take me despite my surgery, but after that close call I knew that I would need to stray away from abusing my body, and rather take care of it and prepare it for the strenuous activities SF has in store for me in the future.
In their youth some kids like to play guitar, others watch a lot of cartoons and movies, and some get wrapped up in the social scene. Maybe I was a little bit different, but my interests were purely sports straight from the womb. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week I have always lived and breathed all things sports. Ok, maybe that is a bit of a stretch, but as long as it is anything but soccer I am infatuated with competition. I played baseball, basketball, and volleyball at very competitive levels and also dabbled in a variety of other sports before I discovered BJJ. With my dad constantly being away in the military, and having to be the man of the house and living with a beautiful mother and older sister, my protectiveness kicked in and naturally I grew up a pretty scrappy kid. Everyone who knows me knows that by no means am I a punk, but I have never been one to shy away from conflict and was also raised to stick up for those who can’t defend themselves. For a skinny kid with no real training my track record was pretty good, which only increased my interest in martial arts. I’m not built to bench press 400 pounds or squat a small car, but with my long arms and speed I had always really wanted to box. Unfortunately, there were no boxing gyms in my city, so like the rest of those morons on YouTube my friends and I would improvise and put the boxing gloves on and have friendly matches. My sophomore year of high school the UFC was starting to go mainstream and was growing more popular than boxing. I began to see the practical effectiveness of BJJ and knew this was the real deal. When I turned 16 and acquired my driver’s license I went on a search and found an awesome Gracie Barra school near my home with a very prestigious instructor who has coached many students to Pan-American and World’s medals. Like most of the other readers of this blog, I began training and fell in love with BJJ.
The combination of strength, flexibility, cardio, and brainpower that BJJ demands had me hooked. Not only is it one of the best fighting systems on the planet, but it promotes one to be a much more healthy human being, both mentally and physically. In all my years of sports I had a handful of broken bones and other injuries, but after only 2 years of playing rugby my pile of medical bills looks like the Diaz brothers’ stack of hate mail on Dana White’s desk. Throughout my grappling career the only real injury I ever had was a hyper-extended elbow, in which my pride got the best of me in a tournament. In other words, the only time I’ve ever been injured I did it to myself. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is, at least in my opinion, is the perfect workout, and I knew I had to get back into it. BJJ coupled with triathlon training would be a dynamic combination to effectively prepare me for the Special Forces. While smashing guys on the rugby pitch is fun and all, I sure was missing the gratifying feeling of making some guy tap and quit with your bare hands. However, being completely dismantled by a higher belt also puts things into perspective and drives me to train harder and continue to improve and educate myself. You just can’t simulate the same feelings in a team sport.
While going through PT on my shoulder I had heard through the fighter’s grapevine that a new De la Riva black belt was teaching at a local karate Dojo-turned MMA gym. I did some research and found out it was the real deal and that he is a very decorated BJJ practitioner and professor. I now had something to look forward to once I was done with PT and my shoulder was healthy once again.
I’ve now been training at this De la Riva school near my University for about 3 months, and every day it makes me realize I should have done anything in my power to have never stopped training, even if I would have had to drive an hour to train. When I go home and visit my same training partners are now purple belts, and a couple have even gotten their brown belts. It is what it is, but now that I am fortunate enough to have this professor at my University, I am training as hard as I can nearly every day of the week (I even finally get to live out my kickboxing fantasies at this MMA school!). I am finally starting to remember half the things I have forgotten, and it’s really hard to fight off that itch for competition so next weekend I am gearing up to compete in a tournament once again.
The tournament is not a major one like a Grappler’s Quest or a NAGA or anything like that, but at $45 for both gi and no gi combined, and with my two year lay off I think it will be the perfect opportunity to start to see where I stand in my weight/belt once again. One of my best friends from my high school wrestling team whom I was able to brainwash into training BJJ is competing, so obviously I was going to go home and watch and support him. I figured if I’m there and my shoulder is healthy, why not get on the mat and give it a go. However, it is going to be on Jay Adams’ show on the Sunshine Network so I hope I don’t get my butt kicked on TV haha.
This post was originally going to detail how I have been preparing for the tournament, and was going to ask how some of the other bloggers that train prepare for tournaments, but I got a little bit sidetracked. Check out the next post for some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament discussion.
Happy training to all,