Thursday, August 27, 2009

Don't be so hard on your self

Being good at Jiu Jitsu does not necessarily come naturally for me. It has taken a lot of work for me to get to where I am now, and I still have a long road ahead. One of my challenges is keeping focused. I have a somewhat chaotic mind, which works out to my benefit creatively. But this same mindset can some times cause difficulty when learning Jiu Jitsu techniques.

I also have a tendency to be very hard on myself, especially when I am not able to do something that I feel I should know. I also get flustered sometimes when I am learning something new and I can't get it right immediately. Being hard on myself pushes me to do better, but it can also obstruct my focus.

The other day I was trying to do this move. One I've done many of times before. I watched the move done and then when it was my turn to do it, I had a complete brain fart. I just couldn't focus and my coordination was completely off. The more I tried it, the more I failed, and the more I became frustrated. The more frustrated I became, the less I was able to learn.

Jiu Jitsu requires both physical and mental strength. Strategy and technique allow even the smallest person to have an advantage over the largest opponents. Being able to come into a class clear-headed and focused is obviously beneficial. I am learning that when I spend time fixating on my weaknesses, it ultimately holds me back.

How do I fix it? I have to remind myself that I cannot expect to do a move perfectly the first time. It is through repetition that mental and physical memory develops. The most important part is to take care of myself both physically and mentally. I also have to remind myself that I am not perfect, how ever much I strive to be.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Pros and Cons

Being a female athlete in primarily male dominated sport isn't and hasn't been an easy task. Just yesterday I heard that the president of the International Olympic Committee announced that Women's Boxing will be included in the 2012 summer Olympics. Even though women have been involved in boxing since 1905, it has taken 104 years for women boxers to gain recognition on a worldwide level.

In this day and age women athletes are still battling the prejudiced opinions that women don't have a place in sports (especially in "violent" sports i.e. boxing and MMA). Some say female athletes are not taken seriously and are objectified. However nothing is more insulting then the outright mockery made of a sport as displayed in videos like this:

Although I find the overall stupidity of this video especially amusing, it is the comments that I find most interesting. Of course the majority of the comments were along these lines: "wow it's too hot watching this girls in a "catfight" awesome". But one of my favorites was "Yes, this is a sad joke. Good looking girls that clearly don't wanna learn the move. Let’s make it legit and at least have them train in a gi and on proper matts". The most offensive part of this video in my opinion isn't the fact that these women were on the beach in bikinis; it's the poor demonstration that Daniel Puder gives of an arm bar from the guard.

Although women athletes are challenged in gaining respect among men and women, there are some advantages. One of the advantages to being a female athlete is that most marketing is targeted to those that are more inclined to pay attention to and or purchase a product that has a spokeswoman. And there are fewer women athletes than men, which creates more opportunities for women athletes to obtain sponsorships and product endorsement.

Everyone has or has had to fight some sort of stereotype. But strength can be found in overcoming these barriers. Respect is something that is earned and it starts by having respect for yourself.

On a side note: I hope that Brazilian jiu jitsu becomes an Olympic event with in my lifetime. That would be AWESOME!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Show and Tell

Although jiu jitsu is gaining popularity world wide, it still has not become a widely recognized sport or martial art. When people ask me to tell them about jiu jitsu, the best explanation I can come up with is that it involves "joint manipulation and choke hold submissions". Still most people look at me like I am speaking in tongues.

The most common question I get after someone watches one of my ju jitsu matches on youtube is "How do know who wins?" To most people the match just looks like two people rolling around on the ground, then they abruptly stop and one person is proclaimed as the winner.
To be honest, I didn’t understand the strategy behind a match or even just the basic fundamentals of what was going on until I started training. Then I finally began to see how a winner was determined.


In 2007, after training and competing for four years, I finally got the opportunity to compete in my home state of Hawaii. My childhood friends, close family friends, and my entire family, (except for my sister), witnessed me in action for the first time. Never before did I have such a huge cheering squad. After I won gold in my division, my Dad said to me, " I never realized how athletic you were...and scrappy". And I bet you can guess where both of those traits come from?

In 2009, I won my first gold in a major championship and nothing brought more joy to me then having my sister and best friend there to share that moment. When my Mom watched my matches online a few weeks later, she called me and said, "Watching you compete brought tears to my eyes to know that I have such a strong and powerful daughter". Having the support of my family and friends (even though they still get the positions and submission confused) is priceless and crucial to my success.


Until jiu jitsu becomes a household word, I will probably find more creative ways to explain it. No matter what, it is a sport that I have come to love. If I can get someone excited about the martial art or to even become a participant, it’s all worth it to me.