Saturday, February 18, 2012

Academy Hunting Homework #5: Ronny Lis BJJ

I was so excited this week about starting out at my new school that I jumped ahead in documenting my experiences training at academies in Austin and left out a few very important experience I had. I want to take a step back and talk about Ronny Lis BJJ.  I was only able to take one class at S. Austin Gym before Ronny left to go to Brazil for an extended period of time.  The class I took was not instructed by Ronny but I did get to reconnect with a few old friends and learn a few new tricks. 

Randy Vera, a brown belt under Ronny Lis, instructed our class.  The warm-up had familiar elements to it.  However, this was the first school I visited that incorporates balance balls into the warm-up.  I am a white belt at the balance ball and could use a LOT of practice.  This experience inspired me to get a balance ball of my own.  I am still working up the nerve to stand on the ball.  I'll have to continue to work up to it. When I was googling videos for this blog I was really amazing to see how and what people can do with a balance ball.  Some of the exercises I learned and continue to practice at home can be seen in this video.

Randy and his fiancé brown belt, Tessa Simpson are no strangers to me on the mats.  We trained together for several years at Relson Gracie Austin.  It had been three years since I last trained with either of them.  It was nothing short of a happy reunion.  Outside of training with Sawyer Morris, Tessa was perhaps the second most instrumental training partners I  have had in my earlier years as a blue belt and an early purple belt.  Training with her had a huge impact on my training and development.  We would push each other to be better, faster and more technical.  People  always commented on how similar built Tessa and I are.  Not only do we share similar body types, we share similar work ethics and a common love for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  I consider myself lucky that I had her to work with as we strengthen each others abilities up the ranks.  Randy was also an extremely important training partner and teammate throughout majority of my training at Relson Gracie.  I was over joyed to be on the mats with both of them again.
Tessa & me @ NAGA Hawaii

Randy has been instructing Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu for as long as I've known him.  It came as no surprise that his expertise and strength as a teacher were apparent during the class I took at Ronny Lis.  I wish I could of taken a class with Ronny before making my finally decision, but I am grateful that I got to get a slice of life on the mats at Ronny Lis BJJ.  It wouldn't be fair to say I got an idea of Lis' style of Jiu-Jitsu which I understand has some very different elements to it. Ronny did make an appearance at the end of class just in time to conclude it with a prayer as I am told that is how each class ends.

 I am told that Ronny Lis is no longer teaching at S. Austin Gym.  To learn more about Ronny Lis and his association visit them online.  Big thanks to Ronny Lis, Randy Vera and Tessa Simpson.  Thank you for your hospitality and for sharing your insights with me.  I'm so happy I was able to make it in and train with all of you.  It was nice to take a walk down memory lane.  I hope our paths cross again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rise Of The Phoenix: New Beginnings @ Gracie Humaitá Austin

Jiu-Jitsu is like life. Sometimes everything is clicking and your game is on. Then there are other times when all you're doing is getting your butt kicked. The good news is nothing is forever. Change is inevitable for all of us. You just have to keep moving forward no matter how hard it gets and know that it will all work out.  I've learned a lot over the past six months, but ultimately, I've realized how little I really know about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s a never ending process and it all starts with the most important step, choosing where to train and what team to represent.

When I started Jiu-Jitsu, I didn't research or train at any other academies before starting out. If not for the encouragement of my instructor and long time friend, Phil Cardella,  I wouldn’t have begun in the first place.  I have no regrets.  I would not be who and where I am if not for where I’ve been.  I wouldn't have met all the amazing people, learned and achieved my goals either. I was so fortunate to be a part of something unique and amazing at the right time and place.   Before I separated from my old academy, I'd never even trained at the other academies in Austin.  Then over the past six months, I trained at six different academies. Each was special in its own way. I felt welcomed and comfortable everywhere I went. I got to know old friends even better and met new ones. I learned, grew and was inspired.

There were several factors that led to my decision to join Gracie Humaitá, Austin.  The compatibility of teaching and learning styles was the most important factor. Already having an established relationship with teammates/training partners and instructor was a bonus. It was also important to me that I be a part of an academy, team and under an instructor I respect and would be proud to represent. I felt right being on those mats with my new/old teammates and instructor.  But still I was nervous and excited my first day of class. The energy was high and everyone was happy to be together again. This is the beginning of a new era for all of us and we all know we are a part of something great in the making. Being around familiar faces and training with all of my favorite training partners is like being among family. I'm humming again when I roll and train. It's a weird habit I have when I'm happy on the mats, I hum. I'm thinking about Jiu-Jitsu outside of class-replaying technique like a broken record in my head. I'm hungry to learn and train. At Gracie Humaitá Austin I know I'm in good hands and will continue to grow and learn. I just hope that I represent this team well. I am so honored and blessed. Everything has worked out better than I ever imagined.

However, I'm not in Kansas anymore. The system and structure are completely different from what I’ve known.  It's as though I transferred from public school to a elite prep school. No colored Gis (white or blue). No stripes, just belts. I couldn't help but feel sad saying good bye to the two stripes I fought so long to keep attached, but it’s time to let go of past systems and embrace new ones.  I could not ask for a better instructor.  Donald Park is not only fountain of wisdom but extremely supportive, attentive and caring instructor and person.  The training at Gracie Humaitá Austin is top notch and there are amazing resources at your fingertips.   I feel like I am studying Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in an entirely new way that makes sense. It's also clicking for me mentally, which is always a good sign.   

It wasn't an easy choice to move on. But in order to move forward sometimes you most let go. Through my “gypsy” Jiu-Jitsu experiences, I've grown so much on so many levels.  I'd like to think I've gained some wisdom in the process that I'll carry with me on my journey.

Thank you to:  Ze Mario Esfiha, Fabiana Borges, Robert, Dembeck, Darrin Lillian, Sean Cooper, Ronny Lis, Randy Vera and Donald Park. Thank you for having me on your mats.  You all have been tremendously supportive and insightful. I appreciate your kindness and guidance. Even though we may have different patches on our backs, we will always be joined by our common love for Jiu-Jitsu.

Photos from my adventures: 

Gracie Humaita Austin Open Door Series
Cleber Luciano Seminar at Trainers Elite MMA

Gracie Humaita Austin Open Door Series

Helen's blue belt promotion @ Trainers Elite MMA

Cleber Luciano Seminar at Trainers Elite MMA
Rape Prevention Seminar for women @ Gracie Barra N. Austin with instructor Fabiana Borges.

Rape Prevention Seminar for women @ Gracie Barra N. Austin with instructor Fabiana Borges.

Brasa BJJ-Austin one year anniversary & black belt promotions with Ze Mario Esfiha

Brasa BJJ-Austin one year anniversary & black belt promotions with Ze Mario Esfiha

Friday, February 10, 2012

Neocell Collagen Sport Review: Onolicious

I'm definitely not someone who is not afraid to get a little banged up.  However, it is the recovery part I hate the most.  I am impatient and strong willed, being a bench warmer just isn't in my DNA. I wouldn't consider myself "old", but sure feel like it some days. I don't seem to bounce back from injuries as quickly as I used to.  Jiu-Jitsu may be referred to as the Gentle Art, but my body begs to differ. I've injured myself countless times in training and competition. Anything from broken fingers, bruising, black eyes, busted up lips, injuries to my knee, shoulder, neck, back, elbow, ribs and the list goes on. But that's just the nature of the beast and these are battle wounds that come with the turf.   

Most recently I've been battling an on going knee injury. For a long time it just didn't seem like it was healing despite my care and taking a break from training. I was frustrated and annoyed by the situation. I had become a Jiu-Jitsu couch potato. I knew something had to be done. I couldn't think of a more perfect timing than when Neocell to asked me to try out Collagen Sport. 

I started taking Neocell Collagen Sport while on hiatus in Hawai`i. In Hawai’i, my focus was centered on the recovery and strengthening of my knee.  I drank Neocell once a day after working out, paddle boarding, Jiu-Jitsu, surfing, hiking and swimming. I began to notice a considerable difference in my performance, mobility and recovery.  Now my knee isn't 100% healed, but much, much better than where I was before. Neocell Collagen Sport has helped with my recover and will continue to help me come back better, faster, stronger at the 2012 IBJJF World Championship.  Neocell Collagen Sport has also won over my taste buds as my number one choice in protein powders. It has been an intricate part of my knee recovery. 

  • 15 grams Pure Ion-Exchange Whey Protein Isolate
  • 15 grams Super Collagen™ Bio available Peptides
  • Rich in BCAAs
  • Good source of L-Glutamine
  • Enhanced with Exogenous Amino Acids
  • Multi-vitamin Fortification
  • Doctor Formulated

What’s NOT in Collagen Sport™

  • Gluten, Wheat, Sugar & Lactose Free
  • No Artificial Sweeteners or Flavors
  • No Fillers or Synthetic Ingredients


Whey Protein Isolate is THE preferred and superior form of protein for athletes. It’s rich in essential and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), necessary especially after strenuous workouts. BCAAs also play a role in the body’s levels of glutathione, an important antioxidant in the immune system. NeoCell’s whey protein isolate is developed using selective ion-exchange technology, which selects the primary functional and nutritional proteins alpha- and beta- lactoglobulins and other protein fractions for a highly effective and bio-active protein.

2 - Recover

Athletes all too often do not supplement their connective tissues in tendons and ligaments until deterioration sets in, resulting in the typical aches and pains of exercise. Super Collagen® 1&3 undergoes an absorption-enhancing process that uses enzyme hydrolyzing. This process yields low molecular weight collagen peptides for maximum bioavailability. Super Collagen® 1&3 is particularly rich in the amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, and supports recovery, strength, and flexibility of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

3 - Regenerate

L-Glutamine & Exogenous Amino Acids – Strenuous activity burns through your body’s glutamine supplies, which can push the body to rip glutamine from your muscles if it isn’t coming from your diet. L-glutamine is the most abundant free-form amino acid in skeletal muscle and is crucial in the muscle recovery process. The special chemical structure of L-glutamine makes it the primary amino acid that drives nitrogen into muscle cells for muscle synthesis. Exogenous amino acids overall are important for increase of net muscle protein synthesis.

4 – Replenish

Each serving of Collagen Sport™ provides a good source of daily vitamins and minerals as well as the antioxidant power of Pomegranate extract. Increased activity results in higher oxidation in the body, requiring active individuals to counteract with high quality antioxidants. NeoCell’s pomegranate extract is standardized to 70% ellagic acid, an extraordinary antioxidant that fights cell-damaging free radicals generated during exercise.

Although in the past I drank protein shakes regularly after training, I've never been a huge fan of most protein powders. I found that they tended to taste gritty, chalky, and don’t blend well or made me "bulk up" too much.  Collagen Sport works for me because it tastes great and has everything I need and none of what I don't. I drink Collagen Sport several ways, but I am a Hawai`i girl at heart and love my tropical fruits! Here is what I call my "Onolicious" smoothie:

1 cup Coconut Milk
1/2 cup chopped mango
1 banana
One scoop Vanilla collagen Sport. 

If you're interested in trying out Neocell or just want to save on your next purchase check out and save $5 off with code: CIP001
To learn more about Neocell visit: