Isabella Farley (center)
Diaries of a White Belt Pt. 2
Written by: Isabella Farley
Edited by: Samantha Montague
My hands are sweaty and my heart is racing, but I remain calm. My focus is evident. Every takedown, every submission, every guard pass, and every escape is replaying in my head. I am visualizing the details of every technique that would allow me to dominate. I have spent many hours training for this moment, sweating on the mats, and being tapped out repeatedly. I am prepared. The pain of many chokes has caused me to improve my skills. We drill the same positions hundreds of times and start it all over again the next day. During every movement, I must be as flawless as possible, because one mistake can end it all. I believe in myself and in the effort that I have put forward. I am the end result of my blood, sweat and tears.
My headphones are blaring in my ears. I jog in place to the beat of the music to warm my muscles up. My pulse beats faster and faster as I wait for my name to be called. There I stand, alone. My thoughts are on my victory. I will succeed. I will stand on that podium. I have proven countless times than I am a champion. I shall succeed yet again because I was born to do this. With every breath I take, I can feel my dreams getting closer.
Suddenly I hear my name called. It is finally my turn. I bow in respect as I step onto the mats. I shake my opponent’s hand and then the referee’s. I feel alone however I am in a crowded room, with just my opponent. Our eyes meet as we anticipate each other’s attack. I try to stay focused on the many months of preparation, and all of the injuries, that have led me to this moment in time. The ruckus in the background does not prevent me from hearing my coach’s guidance. The sound of his voice keeps me calm as I prepare to battle for the win.
The moment the match begins I see my opening. Without hesitation I go for the take down. She is caught off guard by my quick movement and is fighting to keep her balance. With my adrenaline pumping, I go in for the kill. I achieve full mount after a minute of grappling on the ground. I make sure to stay still for three seconds to get my points. My coach tells me to “get to work” (this being the code to submit my opponent and attain my victory). My coach never calls out the submissions that I am to carry out. My opponent is given no opportunity to anticipate my next moves. We will not assist her in preparing her defense.
My prowess is witnessed upon her face when I attack her neck. She reacts by freeing up an arm, to stop me from deepening my choke upon her. The choke however, is a well-constructed and rehearsed distraction that allows me to grab her arm. This strategy comes naturally to me because we have rehearsed it so often. Firmly isolating her arm and head, I can now safely grab her wrist. I squeeze my elbow in the groove of her neck to prevent her head from moving. The submission is mine. I submit her with my favorite technique, the Americana. I feel her hand feverishly tapping on my thigh and a great wave of happiness comes over me.
I am a champion. I am on the podium.
Thank you very much for reading! Hope that you enjoyed! – WBBJJ.com
You can follow Isabella via her Facebook page.
New No Gi single leg takedown defense video submitted to us from our friends at the Warrior Collective! Enjoy!
Here is a working link for the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championships taking place in Abu Dhabi. This event ends on Saturday, April 19th. Click the text or the photo to watch!
Nicolas Gregoriades is Roger Gracie’s first BJJ Black Belt. As we all know, it takes an average of ten years, and approximately $100,000 to earn a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt (when you calculate academy fees, seminars, tournaments, apparel, etc). Click here to download Nicolas’ eBook to find out all of the details on how he was able to master BJJ in 4 years!
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“Very few Jiu Jitsu black belts on the planet have traversed the globe to learn the secrets of Jiu Jitsu like Nic has, he’s the Indiana Jones of BJJ” – Eddie Bravo, founder of 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu
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I hope you all enjoyed the read!
– Tony Peranio WBBJJ
“Reservations” by Lauren LaCourse
I am pretty nervous about my upcoming competition.
I am competing at a NAGA tournament on May 10th, which means I’ve got only another month to prepare. Funny. That sounds like such a long time, especially since I have been begging my professor to let me compete for the past six months. However to me, here and now, it doesn’t seem like such a long time.
Two weeks ago I went to an all female open mat. I also attended an all female seminar on Sunday. The more I train outside of my gym, the more I realize how far I have to go. It sort of feels like I have been training under a rock.
(Photo Credit – Zachary Holston)
At my academy there are two other women that I train with. As for the rest of my time on the mats, it’s been spent having to deal with guys quicker than I am, bigger and stronger than I am, or better than I am (sometimes it’s a mixture of those things). Therefore when I attend Jiu Jitsu functions with other women, it is like the blinders are taken off, and my contentment comes to a screeching halt.
I have no tangible way to gauge where I am at in my training, as it relates to competition, since the type of people I would compete against (female, white belts, my size) aren’t readily available for me to train with at my gym.
It is frustrating.
Regardless of how prepared I think I am, I have absolutely no way to be sure of how prepared I actually am.
(Photo Credit – Yogi Studios – Becky Gibbons)
I suppose the only thing I am sure of, is that I’m scared. All of the people who say that “it’s a learning experience” and “it’s only your first competition”, have yet to make me feel more assured.
What if I am terrible? What if all of the work that I have put in wasn’t enough? How would I deal with failure? Will I be a coward? Will I shrug my shoulders and say “I gave it my best shot”, and never try again? Will I stay determined? Will I use a potential loss as fuel to become better?
As I write this, I am beginning to realize why I am so afraid. This competition will reveal which characteristic I have more of; cowardice or determination. And also, I will know firsthand if the adage is true, “You can’t lie in Jiu Jitsu”.
The question remains, will I be happy when I finally learn the truth?
This blog post was written by Lauren LaCourse of WBBJJ.com
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: Lauren’s Facebook
Featured in this match is Sarah “The Bully” Smith! She is a BJJ White Belt that has tapped out a Purple Belt in competition in the past. Keep an out for her and like her page by clicking here.
Excellent short film by Lorenzo Perez documenting his first journey to an IBJJF tournament.
As I’m winding down and about to go to bed the night before a tournament, I go to put something on my computer to watch. I have to make a decision. Should I watch something that will put my thoughts on BJJ, or something that will distract me? Throughout my competition career I’ve gone through a number phases on how I direct my racing thoughts and jitters.
Originally I watched BJJ content. I would watch matches of my coach, Rodrigo “Comprido”, and other competitors that would get my heart pumping; like Felipe Costa or Demian Maia. I thought that this stress may better prepare me for the dump of adrenaline I would get the next day. I fell out of this habit because I think it would just keep me up all night, my mind living out everything that may happen the next day.
Later, I got into watching videos that were more about training and not competition. My favorite of this type is the Arte Suave series, which is a Jiu Jitsu “video magazine” that features insight on high level fighter’s training and their inspirational stories. Other titles in this vein include, A Day in the Zen which follows the training camp of Mario Sperry, and Choke with Rickson Gracie.
For a time I moved away from all material about Jiu Jitsu and tried to find something to just put me to sleep. What I find best for pure sleep is watching foreign language films. I wouldn’t watch a good foreign movie like City of God or Pan’s Labynith, but something more on the “B movie” level, possibly something produced by Telemundo. For a while you will try to stay awake, trying to figure out what’s going on, but eventually sleepiness overcomes you and you give up on following the movie.
Nowadays, the night before a tournament, I like to watch an inspirational fictional movie like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. I like a good movie where the underdog comes out of nowhere and saves the world because, in all honesty, we all see ourselves as the hero going up against the odds. Like Luke Skywalker, I’m the farmboy no one heard of, who brings down the empire. Watching these types of movies gets me in the positive mindset that every good competitor should learn to adopt. I am a lifelong fan of Frodo and Luke, however recently I’ve been gaining inspiration from the third Harry Potter film, “The Prisoner of Azkaban”. The underlying message of this movie, helps me lay out my mental game plan for BJJ competitions.
Harry Potter and the “Prisoner of Azkaban” teaches the prerequisite of fighting and wizardry alike; the management of fear. You may be naturally talented and learn every move the first time you see it. You may be a gym rat that trains ten times per week and gets kicked out of your facility nightly. You may be a cross fit monster that never tires in training. You could be like me and hit everyone with your spider guard sweeps. All those skills you have built are just in the gym. All your training can’t make you any less vulnerable to the crippling effects of fear as your opponent stands in front of you. That is unless your “Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor” taught you the Patronus spell.
In this movie, Rowling introduces a new premise to the series with the creation of the Dementors; hope draining monsters that use fear to control their victims. The first time Harry is confronted with a Dementor he is overwhelmed with fear and he is crippled despite his talent and training.
“They feed on every good feeling, every happy memory until a person is left with nothing but his worst experiences” Professor Lupin explains to Harry.
Before my first tournament everyone told me I was going to win easily. I felt good in the days leading up to the event. The night before I watched “Arte Suave 2” and imagined how I was going to crush like Andre Galvao the next day. I made weight and felt ok but when I got called to the mat something else happened. Across the ring was a heavily tattooed representative of Miletich fighting systems, a camp known for their aggressive fighters. As my heart began to pump I was overcome by visions of all the different ways that my opponent was going to hurt me. I thought my talent and passion would carry me through, but the next thing I can remember after shaking hands is him on top of me, forcing my own shin into my throat with an improvised self-gogoplata, causing a woman in the crowd to scream. There was no chance of initiating my spider guard attack I worked so hard on at the gym. I blacked out for much of the rest of the match as my adrenaline rush shunted blood away from my hippocampus to more vital systems. Needless to say, I lost my first match.
After Harry learns how helpless he is to the dread inducing capabilities of the Dementors, he finds help from a seasoned wizard, Professor Lupin. He teaches that the only way to overcome a Dementor is to utilize the Patronus spell which can only be accomplished by maintaining a certain state of mind. A wizard must block out the interference of the dementor and remember their happiest memory. It is a mindset that decides victory or defeat. Harry eventually learns to control his fear and throughout the rest of the series he stands up to the negative feelings driven by the Dementors.
What allowed me to get closer to my potential in BJJ is when I learned that confidence is like a magic trick. There is no such thing as real confidence, it is all an act we play to convince ourselves that we are not afraid. It is acting as if you are confident when you don’t want to fight, and would rather run. It is a highly subjective mental battle to keep this state of mind in the face of conflicting thoughts. It is a magic trick that you cast upon yourself.
In the “Prisoner of Azkaban” we never learn what memory Harry uses when he drives away the dementors (and save the day at the end of the story). Maybe Rowling didn’t want us to know because the battle against fear is in ourselves and not seen by anybody else. All the world sees is what comes out on the mat, but inside each of us know that we have won, if we controlled our fear.
Before every match I still want to curl up in a ball and cry when I see a scary looking opponent across the mat. I summon my greatest memories of when I was strong, when I was alert, when I was happy and I pretend to be all those things. In the Harry Potter books a successful Patronus spell is indicated by the emergence of an animal form from the wizard’s wand. When my magic spell succeeds, and my confidence takes control of my fear, you may see the emergence of a spider (a totem of my spider guard).
– Jim Barrett