Post 2nd place win in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championships
It's been a few days since I placed 2nd in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championships. I walked away with a 2nd place win, a new broken finger (now up to 3 broken fingers in the past 6 months) and a many new lessons learned. I am truly proud of my self for this accomplishment and have a renewed sense of confidence. However, getting here was not easy.
I made several sacrifices along the way. I've devoted hours upon hours on a daily basis preparing my self for this tournament. I incorporated new training regiments into my raptor. I cut 8 lbs (after ballooning out after the Pan Ams) to get back into the Light Feather weight division. I starved my self and worked my self into exhaustion on a daily basis to get on that podium.
Did I have any doubts? To say that I didn't would be a lie. It's always a gamble when going after any dream. If I've learned anything in the 30 years of my existence, it's that you have to take risks, work hard, be dedicated 100% in mind, body and spirit. Most of all you must believe in your self in order to make your dreams a reality. I've overcome some of the hardest of obstacles. But in the end I know that I made the right decision and that I am on the path that I am intended to be on.
Several times on my road to the Worlds my dedication and confidence was shaken and I could of found many reasons to throw in the towel. A pending job opportunity, intense emotional experiences and losses and financial concerns stood in my way. But I endured through these hard times and continued on in pursuit of my dreams.
So this is how the day of the Worlds went down...my 1st match ended up being a result of a strange mess up. The mat coordinator some how put me into a match that i was not supposed to be in. After my opponent quickly jumped guard, I escaped, passing her guard and landed her in my guard the ref called time out. My adrenaline was pumping hard. I had successfully transitioned out of a bad spot into an advantageous position of attack. To have it end with an abrupt foul up was extremely frustrating. But after relaxing for a bit on the sidelines I realized that I had gotten exactly what I wanted...a warm up match.
I had just been talking the day prior with my friend Angie about how she wished she had a warm up round before the 1st match of the tournament and I had agreed. How nice would it be to have one match on the mats to get you used to the texture of the mat, get your adrenaline pumping, clear your head and alleviate any stage fright jitters. And there I was with the answer to my request, a warm up round. A round where I got my blood pumping, body warm, brain firing and in this case I was even offered a mental and physical pre-test in being able to stay calm while I transitioned from a tough spot to a position of dominance. Although frustrated by the incident in the end it was just yet another blessing in disguise.
As I waited, I returned to my normal warm up routine...music obnoxiously blaring into my ears, eyes closed and my body lightly moving to the rhythm of my theme music. I relaxed my body and cleared my head. After about 14 min of waiting on the sideline a heavy set Brazilian man, incidentally the same one that had mess up earlier spoke to me in a broken English-Brazilian Portuguese accent indicating that I was next. Here we go Shama...It's go time!
I stepped out on to the mats dragging my feet along as to dry up any stress sweat that had accumulated while waiting to go on. The mats were slick and my feet glided along with ease.
Earlier on in this adventure when I landed at LAX I turned on my phone and a friend of mine had text me saying that the brackets were up and he had research on my 1st opponent. As I waited for our plane to park at its designated gate I called him. He told me about my 1st opponent, her accomplishments, her game and what to look out for based on the videos that he found on her. My 1st match was going to be tough and I had to play it smart and safe with her. I was also on the heavier side of the bracket...it would take 3 wins to take home the gold.
Even though I was sitting on a plane on my way to the Worlds I still had a hard time accepting the fact that I was really going to the Worlds. I was really going to compete in less than 3 days. But for some reason this conversation with him made it all sunk in and my stomach dropped a bit. I muttered " I am getting nervous". He laughed and assured me that I had nothing to be nervous about. Followed up by an encouraging pep talk that made me fell more at ease and then we hung up.
Although I was grateful for the support, I had decided that it would be best for me this time round to do limited if no research on my opponents. I felt that the less I knew at this point the better. With the tournament only days away If figured it best I didn't get caught up in who it was that I was competing against or get fixated on their prior accomplishments and techniques used to win. It didn't matter how I studied them...all that matters is how I was going to do. I was going to go in there and play my game regardless.
So there I found my self on the mats facing Carla Franco, last years World Champion, this years Pan Am and European open champion. As guessed she was tough as nails. She played a quick and aggressive game. I made several attempts to submit, but was repeatedly shut down. I transitioned from position after position for a full 7 min. In the end the match concluded with her face down on the mats, my self on her back, her breathing deeply with exhaustion and a winning score of 15-6. One down...2 to go.
She commented on how exhausted she was after that match, wished me luck and then went on about her way. In went my headphones, on went my socks and I quickly returned to my "happy place" to prep for the next round.
Round 2...time to kick some butt! My next opponent was Van Milnes a short Asian girl from Universal Strength . Once again my submission attempts were unsuccessful. But I held my own in transitioning from position after position for the next 7 min resulting with an ending score of 10-4 or something close to that.
After winning the 2nd match it dawned on me...I am going to the Finals!!!! Holy crap it's really going to happen. As much as I wanted the Gold, I was also fantasizing about devouring a deep dish pizza and a pint of beer. Having been deprived of the simple pleasures in life for over a month and a half...I was ready to indulge! She is what stood in between me and my victory feast. Only 7 more min or less to go...
A huge smile was permanently plastered on to my face as I walked back over to the bull pen. While I waited in the bull pen amongst the sea of other competitors I entered into my final tranquil state of mind. I relaxed, breathed calmly and cleared my head. Only one more match, you can do this!