Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Don't just go giving away the milk for free...

You'd think that you can wear anything to train in, but over the years I've learned that certain outfits are not as appropriate as others for Jiu Jitsu training. Let's just say that I've learned the hard way that some articles of clothing have embarrassing "defects" when wearing them in Jiu Jitsu. I've also learned that even when worn under a Gi, I am not mishap free.

Personally, when I am training, the last thing I care too much about is what I look like. I am way more interested in the functionality of my outfit then appearance. Plus, I am there to train and learn Jiu Jitsu. I mean, I smell like sweat (some of it isn't my own), my hair is a mess and I am all red in the face. I am not exactly looking my best anyhow. And who gives a damn! It isn't a fashion show, it's a Jiu Jitsu academy!

I have seen a lot of new women come in to train unknowingly wearing outfits that were appropriate for regular working out, but completely inappropriate for training Jiu Jitsu. Here are some helpful suggestions on what I've found that does and doesn't work for "rolling" in Jiu Jitsu.


1. Sports Bras: For all practical purposes, don't just wear a sports bra. It's a BRA! If a toe, hand or finger gets caught in it, it leaves little to the imagination. Even under a Gi, like I said, mishaps can happen.*

2. Sports Bra shirts: These look like a tank top, but have a built in bra. These do not work well either. Although it covers up more of the mid section, the same accidents can happen as can happen in wearing a sports bra.*

3. Cotton tank tops: The biggest downfall is that they stretch out easily. They typically don't last long because of this factor. Not to mention once they get stretched out, it makes it easy to look straight down your shirt.

4. Short shorts: If they are tight it's okay, but if they are loose than that's a different story. Wear some booty (fight) shorts underneath and you'll save yourself embarrassment.

*of course in some cases one has no choice but to strip to the bear minimum to make weight for competition.


1. T-shirt: You can't go wrong with a good ol' fashion t-shirt, it serves a dual purpose of covering you up and soaking up some of the sweat!

2. Rash Guards: I don't wear rash guards often, but some people swear by them. They are perfect for Jiu Jitsu and can help to cool the body and absorb the sweat.

3.Board shorts: Perfect for no gi or if you are new and haven't bought a gi yet. Watch out on the length, too short is no good. Most of the time women's board shorts are a little too short to wear and I usually wear men's board shorts cause they are longer. But if you want to wear shorter shorts, then tights or fighting shorts are ideal underneath.

4. Leggings: Tight fit leggings are also ideal to roll in. They too can help to cool the body and absorb the sweat. Lululemon makes some great leggings and they last forever!

5.Gi: I know they are not cheap, but if you really like Jiu Jitsu it's a good investment and they last a long time. Not to mention, no gi and gi training are two totally separate games. Best to learn both!

Keep in mind these are only my own personal suggestions in order to avoid awkward incidents on the mats. I know personally how uncomfortable it can be. Perhaps you think I am being a bit too modest, but I think it's better to have a reputation for kicking ass as opposed to showing it on the mats!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In a Brazilian Nut Shell...

If you haven't guessed by now, I am madly in love with Rio and won't shut up about it. I have to say that being back home in Texas has been bittersweet. I developed a very strong connection with Brazil. I felt completely at home in Rio. I was the happiest I've been in a long time and I met some of the most amazing people. To be honest, after Rio, Texas just ain't cutting it anymore.

A year and a half ago, one of my closest friends gave me the "Eat, Pray, Love" book on CD when I was going through a hard time. I found the book to be an inspiring story and it was exactly what I needed to hear at the time. The book left me dreaming of what my "Eat, Pray...whatever" adventure would be like.

Finally, in July I left Texas for my exploration of South America. It took a year and half after I read "EAT, PRAY, LOVE" for my voyage of self discovery to manifest , but in waiting for it, I learned the valuable skill of patience. Although I didn't know how, I knew I'd return a different person.

I may have gone to South America for a vacation, but I was also there to get down to business. I had a lot of goals to accomplish. I consider myself to generally be a pretty laid back person but I am also extremely motivated by creating and accomplishing goals for myself. I am also a master list maker and enjoy the satisfaction that goes along with checking things off as they are accomplished.

Training Jiu Jitsu was goal number one. I knew that the Jiu Jitsu would be good, but it completely exceeded all of my expectations. Training at Gracie Tiujuca helped remind me of why and how much I love Jiu Jitsu. I guess you could say I fell in love with Jiu Jitsu all over again.

Another goal I had was to photograph the city, culture and document my experiences. Rio nurtured my creative side. The culture and scenery are stunningly bright and colorful and the natural lighting is amazing for photography. I can't imagine ever running out of inspiration. Every day was a new adventure to document.

Surfing in Rio and swimming in the ocean every day was also a goal of mine. Growing up in Hawaii, I have and always will be a "water baby". I love everything about the ocean. I find being in or near the ocean to be very therapeutic. The smell, sounds and feel of the salt on my skin makes me happy. While in Brazil, I got some great surf sessions in and spent virtually every day at the beach even if it was just to jump in and out of the water for a few minutes.

I don't think I full understood what it means to be "on my own" until I hit the road and explored a new part of the world by myself. I enjoyed learning about a new culture and lifestyle. I loved meeting new people and experiencing life to the fullest. But most of all I got to know myself better.

I've learned more and more over the years to just relax, be flexible, go with the flow and trust that everything will work out as it should. This trip completely reinforced those beliefs. I was also reminded that when things don't go as planned it isn't such a bad thing after all. Sometimes it can actually work out even better than ever imagined. I had a lot of time to get to know myself on this trip. I've learned about what I am capable of and that I CAN do anything I put my mind to.

I didn't think I would fall so hard for Rio, but I am still under its spell. Rio is my "every" city! It's that city that has everything I could ever want, a place I have been searching for, for a long time. In some ways it reminds me of Hawaii but on a much larger scale. There are mountains to climb/hike and oceans to swim and surf in, nice people and beautiful scenery everywhere.

Since I've left Rio, I have been wearing a string bracelet that says "Brazil' on it. I've been wearing it as a reminder of a place and a time I was most content. If I am having a stressful day I can look down at my wrist and be reminded of the joy of Brazil and it makes me feel better. I intend to wear it until it either falls apart or until I return to Brazil, which ever happens first. At times, I am seriously contemplating selling everything I own and moving to Rio. Perhaps I'll just keep saying that until it actually happens! But no matter what the future holds, I now have renewed sense of appreciation for who I really am. This was the eye opening experience I've been waiting for, and I look forward to many more to come. Thank you for reading my posts. This is the last on Brazil...for now. I've really enjoyed writing about it and sharing my experiences with y'all!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Buzios-A Slice of Heaven on Earth

I was born and raised in Hawaii, been to Italy, traveled the United States and parts of Canada, but Buzios was one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The beaches are pristine and the water is crystal clear. The locals are laid back and friendly. It was like I stepped into a different world after two weeks in Rio. There are much fewer cars than in Rio and virtually no traffic. Everything and everyone moves much slower in Buzios. It's a wonderful place to hide out and relax for a weekend or longer.

Buzios, a small fishing village, first gained international attention when actress Brigitte Bardot and her boyfriend in the 1960's, escaped there to get some peace and quiet away from the paparazzi in Rio de Janiero. She fell in love with Buzios and ended up spending months longer than she had planned.

Buzios is a peninsula with 20 beaches located 105 miles northeast of the city of Rio de Janiero. Buzios is an ideal spot for ocean sport lovers, party goers and those that want to just relax and do nothing. The west coast beaches are calmer than the east coast ones that are ideal for ocean sports. Armação and Geribá are most popular for surfing. Manguinhos is best known for windsurfing.

Fifty years after the "discovery" of Buzios by Brigitte Bardot, it has been transformed into one of Brazil's hottest vacation destinations. I had visited Buzios during the off season which left the cobble stone main street of Rua das Pedras and beaches of Buzios virtually empty. I was told that during peak seasons (November-March), you have to reserve your accommodations months to a year in advance, the streets are packed with tourist and the beaches are just as crowded as the ones in Impanema. The night life is booming at full capacity, especially around Carnival time.

Getting to Buzios from Rio de Janeiro is an easy task by air, boat, bus or car. I took a 2.5 hour bus ride from Rodoviária Novo Rio(the Rio de Janiero bus station) to Buzios for 64 reals ($36 US) round trip. These buses are super clean, comfortable and have air conditioning. Compared to companies like Grayhound, these buses are 1st class.

While in Buzios, I stayed at one the of the nicest hostels I've ever seen, called the Nomad. This hostel has beach front access, an open court yard, and free breakfasts with ocean views. They have female dorms, mixed dorms and private rooms ranging in price from $35-$190 reals ($21-$110 US) depending on the season. Buzios also has five star hotels similar to those I've stayed in in Italy.

Buzios reminded me a bit of Capri Italy, both very magical places. Buzios is great to visit with friends, as a romantic get-a-way or a place to go and meet new friends. If you are an ocean sports lover or outdoor enthusiast, you will be in "Ocean Heaven". If you love to shop, lay out at the beach, eat good food and party all night, than Buzios is great for that too! My experience in Buzios was very memorable and I can see why Brigitte Bardot fell in love with Buzios.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Do you believe in the power of the belt?

It is said that your Jiu Jitsu belt harnesses all of your "power". A belt is not just something you wear around your waist in Jiu Jitsu. A belt is a symbol of your knowledge and experience. Your belt naturally ages with you as you progress. A worn-out belt is a sign of how much and how long you've been training at that level.

A few days ago I was talking with a friend and training partner of mine. She told me that someone had commented on her worn-out belt (she trains more than anyone I know). She then went on to explain she runs her belt through the wash regularly! I was completely shocked! Your "power" is in your belt! It's blasphemy to wash it down the drain! OK, perhaps I am a little too superstitious and over dramatic, but I need all the power I can get!

I was online looking for other articles on the topic of "the power of the belt" when I came across this great blog entry. Check it out...
The Jiu Jitsu Fighter

So on the way to the airport, bound for Brazil, you can imagine how I freaked out when I realized I had left my belt at home! How was I was going to compete and then train for 24 days without my belt! Forgetting my belt was a huge deal! As Megaton jokingly told me at the Rio Open, "what sort of warrior forgets her belt?"! Fortunately, only in Brazil would they have Jiu Jitsu belts for sale at a posh mall like the Leblon Shopping center.

Without my belt, I had to let go of my superstitions and look at my situation with a glass half full outlook. Now I have two belts, one I bought in Brazil and the original one I started out with. What a great souvenir! Also, the truth is that the power is not in my belt, it's the whole package underneath the belt. It is me! The endless hours of mat time, classes, and additional training got me to where I am now.

I see things differently on the mats since my trip to Brazil. I've realized that the color of the belt belt doesn't matter as much, it's the growth that does. However, I haven't completely given up my superstitions. No matter what, I still believe in the belt and the "magical powers" it possesses. But in the end, what it all comes down to is what I've been taught and how effectively I can apply it.