Sunday, February 27, 2011

Photographing Strikeforce Challengers 14

I wanted to send out a quick note talking about the most recent photographic adventure I had.  Last weekend I photographed Strikeforce Challengers 14 in Cedar Park for Us Combat Sports.  It was an awesome experience and  I look forward to the more to come.  Please take the time to check out my shots on Us Combat Sports and you can also purchase prints.  The links are below.  Thanks!

Open work out
Weigh ins
Strikeforce Challengers 14
Gallery of photos 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu San Antonio will be hosting the next Girls in Gis!

Don't  miss out on this awesome opportunity  to meet and train with other women and girls in Texas!  This is a 100% free training day.  Open to women and girls of all levels.  The Relson Gracie female team is excited to be participating in this event.  We look forward to seeing you all and to the good times ahead!  Please tell your friends, wives, girlfriends and daughters!  See ya on the mats!   

When: February 27th
Times: 12:00 PM-3:00 PM
Where: Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu
            7715 Mainland Dr.
            San Antonio, TX

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

IBJJF Houston Open-1st tourney of the year

This past weekend was jam packed full of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as I worked and competed in the Houston Open. I spent some 20 hours over the course of two days watching Jiu Jitsu as a score keeper. To be completely honest, it's probably the longest time I've ever watched that much Jiu Jitsu in the 8 years since I started. I felt very lucky to have gotten an inside look at the sports aspect of Jiu Jitsu.

There were some tremendously exciting matches at this event. I found myself sitting at the edge of my seat during certain blue, purple and black belt division matches. It was no easy task to hold back my enthusiasm while scoring a match. At times during some of the matches I became so engaged that I starting having sympathetic adrenaline rushes, which inevitably led to thoughts about my impending match which was to take place some 18 hours later.

It was interesting to see how some competitors prepared themselves before matches, the strategies they played out, and the techniques they executed. Before matches I saw some variations on how competitors got into the "zone". Some prayed, some danced and others slapped themselves all over. It was good to know that my dancing and jumping around before a match wasn't that as strange after all. I saw a few competitors who seemed to play a strong points game and I also saw competitors who played more so to submit.

In some of the blue, purple and black belt matches I saw "beautiful" Jiu Jitsu being used. I saw techniques that I'd like to drill. The most amazing match was a super tough adult male purple belt who was missing half his arm. His grips were unique and seemed hard to break. He won his division by submitting both his opponent with arm bars. It was the only purple belt match that had everyone in the bleachers cheering. It was inspiring and wonderful!

It was interesting to see variations in refereeing styles. Although they all go through the same classes to become an IBJJF referee, I noticed that some were more inclined to give out advantage points while others tended to give out disadvantage points for stalling. For the most part, I agreed with the calls. I think they did a great job and after working with them, I have a greater understanding and respect for what they do. They work very hard and have to make tough decisions but because of their love for Jiu Jitsu they just do it.

Working the event gave me an inside perspective into the behind the scenes action of running a large scale tournament. There is so much that goes into making sure that matches start on time, the competitors are checked in correctly, that the brackets are correct and every one is trained correctly on how to do their job. After seeing what they do, I realized the ring coordinators have a really difficult job. If they make a mistake it can lead to a huge mess up. I have the utmost respect for their work.

I was so proud of our team. In total we had eight competitors come down from Austin and one from Houston. Georgette did an awesome job in the blue belt open placing 2nd. We both got default golds for our division because no one signed up. Courtney did an excellent job for her first tournament and placed 3rd in her division. Rebecca is getting better and better every time I see her compete. Vidush placed 1st in his division. Anthony, Travis and Austin did well also. I am super proud of them all! I learned a lot from my match and won't make those mistakes again. This experience has become additional motivation for me to move forward with.

This tournament made me realize what I love about Jiu Jitsu. I love the unity and camaraderie in Jiu Jitsu and the bottom line is..... I love to do Jiu Jitsu. But in the future I will not work an event and compete on the same day. It's going to have to be one or the other. Watching Jiu Jitsu that much before a match really stressed me out. I admire those who can change gears like that, but I have to prepare myself the best way I know how to before a match so I can be at top performance. I had so much fun at this event! I met and talked with some of the most awesome people and finally, I learned some new strategies that I look forward to implementing into my upcoming matches. Roll on!

p.s. Big thinks to Donald Park for coming all the way to Houston and spending both days coaching the team!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What is a Stripe?

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there are symbols for progress between belts known as stripes.  You can earn up to 4 stripes before being promoted to a new belt.   Some types of Jiu Jitsu systems awards stripes on white belts, but the Relson Gracie system doesn't. I think it's kind of silly to have stripes on a white belt, but that's just me and what I am used to. Relson Gracie's system begins awarding stripes with a blue belt and not before.

I've been told that stripes are supposed to represent a certain amount of hours on the mats (100+ hours or something like that). However, I don't really think that's the only factor that determines when you earn a new stripe or belt.  I am not a black belt so I am not entirely sure what goes into making that decision to promote someone.  But I've been told it is based on progress and dedication as well as  attitude, contributions to your academy, helping teammates, self defense knowledge, being a good person, being respectful and tournament success.  Each school has a different criteria for earning a promotion. 

Some schools are more regimented than others and have specific areas of knowledge that must be gained prior to promotions.  Whereas other schools are a bit more easy going and they don't have a set formula to determine when a promotion is in order.  Each instructor is different too.

In the Gracie's system (Relson Gracie in my case) you receive four stripes before you are promoted to the next belt level from blue belt to brown.  Once you are  a black belt,  the rules get a little different.  A black belt can have up to 7 or 8 stripes before changing out to the highest of honors that one can achieve, the 9th degree.   Although there is a higher rank than a 9th degree, the 10th degree is permanently reserved to the pioneers of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Carlos, Oswaldo, George, Gastão and Hélio Gracie.

Recently a white belt asked me how long it took me to get my blue belt and how much I trained before I did.  The truth is there is no magical amount of time that it takes to advance in Jiu Jitsu.  Everyone learns differently and I believe promotions are not something to go chasing after.  The point is to learn, have fun and grow.  Just be the best you can on the mats and don't worry about what color or how many stripes your belt has.  It's what's on the inside that really counts.