Thursday, August 29, 2013

Inside the mind of a fighter - an Interview with Casey Jones

Ever since I entered the martial arts world, I’ve found myself intrigued by those brave souls that decide to fight in the cage.  They seek out the octagon.  They crave it.  They want to step in there more than anything else.  I am fascinated by what drives these fighters.  What makes them tick?  What makes them want to get in that cage?  I love to interview people, so when I found out that Casey Jones was going to be coming over to Dirty Bay MMA and training his stand-up game, I knew that I was going to ask him for an interview.  I am so thankful that he agreed.  It has really been an honor to watch him go through this process.  To Casey I would like to say, “You are a warrior, you have fought the good fight, you have trained well, you have prepared yourself for battle and you have already won.  I am proud to call you my jiu jitsu brother.”  I asked his Coach at Iron Dragon to give Casey a shout out, and here’s what Beard Jitsu had to say, Casey has been awesome training for this fight.  His attitude and hard work were everything I could ask for as a coach.  Casey is my first blue belt and I have no doubt he will win this fight however he chooses, either standing or on the ground.  I'm proud to have him representing us at Iron Dragon MMA / Solis Martial Arts and of course Beard Jitsu.  Last word of advice is to just go out there and have fun, and show Houston what we are all about.”  Thanks Beard for those words. 

Casey will be fighting on Saturday, August 31, 2013 in Legacy Amateur Series 13.  He is going into this fight in the 135 pound weight bracket.  This will be his first fight with Legacy.  Thank you again Casey for the interview and good luck on fight night!
What all martial arts do you train and when did you start training? 
Well now I practice Jiu Jitsu, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai Kickboxing and some wrestling. Then I try to put it all together for Mixed Martial arts. But I didn’t start out training at an actual martial arts school. I just by chance met my good friend Rich Casteneda through a friend and ended up training with him in his shed. He trained in Kuk Sool Won, and since I had no fighting arts experience period, I was an open book. Rich is also just a lover of all martial arts so he knew of Jiu Jistu and had friends that knew other forms of fighting that came by to train occasionally. So I picked up what I liked and threw away what didn’t seem to work for me. Richard eventually took me to Iron Dragon to expand our knowledge, and Rich humbly told me there wasn’t anything more he could teach me and we needed to know go to an school to learn more. So here I am 3 years later. And a side note, I still learn something from Rich every day when we grapple so the teaching never ended. I really do want to thank him for really being my bridge into the world of martial arts I wouldn’t have ever started this awesome journey if not for his willingness to teach me.
At what point in your training did you know that you wanted to get in the cage?
It’s hard to say when or if there ever was a specific moment. But I know that I began to feel that I was supposed to do this. Because I had never been particularly good at any sport. Mostly because a lot of sports like track, football, basketball all really depended on you to be fast, jump high, be strong or big. And I was none of these things so fighting seemed to be the only thing were you wanting it more than that guy across from you in the cage, actually played a factor in you winning or losing. Even though I wasn’t naturally aggressive or anything I seemed to be able to use it when I needed to.
Do you have any specific short term goals in BJJ?  MMA?
Well a short term goal is to win an amateur title for sure. Even though it’s just amateur that would be so huge for me. And of course over time when you fight you develop different reasons why you do it, and now I want to become known for my coaches and their schools to help them grow and prosper. Because my coaches like Bryan (Beard Jitsu) who is my Jiu jitsu coach helps me so much and has been supporting me the whole way through, and Vincent Serrano who is now my Muay Thai coach and has put in a ton of effort teaching me even though he has only known me a short time. I want to help them along with Master Jason white, who is the owner of Iron Dragon and got me my first cage fight, to build up their schools and business. That’s what I feel I can do in return for all they do for me.
What are your long term goals in BJJ?  MMA?  Or other martial arts that you train?
My long term MMA goals are obviously to get into the UFC and fight for that organization and go as far with it as I can. But that’s everybody’s answer pretty much. But I would eventually like to be teaching BJJ and No Gi, and MMA in either somebody’s school or my own school. Because I really do love coaching and teaching the newer guys that come in.
Do you have any aspirations to cross over to the professional fighting circuit in the near future?
Yes I do, as I said before I’d like to attain an amateur title and either stay and defend it for more experience depending on what myself and my team thinks, or move on and begin a professional career.
Preparing for a fight is physically and mentally grueling work.  Tell us how you managed your schedule and training and how did you prepare yourself mentally for the fight?
Well I’m 22 years old now so I’m still slowly making my way through school, so when schools going on that’s one more thing to worry about. But I work at San Jacinto hospital on the weekends part time, usually just two 12 hour shifts on Friday and Sunday night just to keep money coming in because, no money means no gas no food and without those things training isn’t too likely. But I chose to work weekends so that I could have all week to train. So when people at work would ask why I don’t work during the week I used to say because I have to train. And they would ask “train for what?” or “Oh cuz you work out during the week”. And since most of them don’t understand and give me this look like I’m just lazy or something. But I can’t expect anyone who doesn’t practice martial arts or who has never trained hard for anything to understand what I mean. So now I just say I don’t work during the week because of school to avoid the frustration.
What advice can you give those out there who might be thinking about getting in the cage to fight? 
Make sure you are at a good gym and that the coaches feel you are ready. Don’t just walk in a gym and say you wanna fight. You might, but that won’t stop somebody from pounding your face like a drum and choking you to sleep because you don’t know what you’re doing and just don’t have the experience. And I might be referencing a few of my early cage experiences. I do feel I starting fighting too early, mostly because I wasn’t a natural talent to I couldn’t rely on aggression or strength in there and really just need to be good at the arts and be technical. I’d say if you’re a guy who is picking up stuff pretty quick and are getting all areas of your game worked on (Striking, Wrestling, Jiu Jistu) then maybe about six months and see what your coaches think. I only was at Iron Dragon Maybe 3 months before my first fight. But I asked for it and Joel Scott gave it. Haha. Even though that first one got fight of the night, losing just isn’t okay anymore. I got a lot of good experience taking all those early fights but it left me with an ugly record to climb out from under. So make sure this is what you want and you’re willing to give up some things to make it happen.
BJJ is my passion, so I always want to know...what's your favorite submission and go to move? 
I would have to say, even though it’s nothing special, the rear naked choke. I’ve gotten two of my wins by RNC and the reason I prefer chokes to armbars, especially in MMA, is because a guy may let his arm pop to get out of it in MMA. But with a choke he can be tough all he wants, he’s still going to sleep.
What motivates you to keep going and what helps keep you on the right track?   Is there anyone that inspires you or someone that has been a big influence on your decision to train BJJ/MMA?
Honestly I think training actually keeps me on the right track in life outside of the gym. If I’m not doing right in life, my training will suffer because it can mess with head when you’re not doing what you’re supposed to and you’re consciously aware of it. Well all my training partners and coaches are such a big part of my motivation because I want to do well for them and for our school so that’s always a driving force. I also want to do well for my family my grandparents my little brother who for some reason looks up to me and my wonderful girlfriend Nicole. But mostly for my Mom, she’s had a rough life a lot of things have not gone well for her but somehow she keeps this upbeat attitude and is always smiling and trying to be happy. She’s been my biggest fan through all of my ups and downs in this sport and I know she will continue to support me always. She gets so excited when I have a fight coming up and wants to make posters and shirts and has all these ideas. I feel that by doing well and winning and giving her something to be proud of and excited about is something I can do for her to keep her smiling.
What would you consider the biggest life change as a result of your training?
I’ve really grown up since I began training. This growth has been evident in my 4 year relationship with my girlfriend and I’ve gained a lot of maturity over this time. And as I said before, my training keeps my life in check. So it’s helped me really grow as a man. Because as an amateur fighter, not even a well-known amateur fighter, you end up having to do a lot of the outside conditioning training on your own. So I’ve had to learn to keep myself accountable to the things I needed to get done if fighting means that much to me. So it’s also taught me accountability.
Where do you see yourself in the BJJ and MMA community in 10 years?
If my body holds up, possibly still fighting if I make it to the big show. And even if I am still fighting I might be teaching MMA or jiu jitsu classes as well.
Tell us something we might not know about you.  Do you have any jiu jitsu ink?  What do you like to do in your spare time? 
Well let’s see, I’m a Nurse Tech at the hospital going to school for nursing. I love outdoor stuff, hunting and fishing; I used to play paintball when I had the time. I loved playing football, hanging out with my buddies from high school. But most of that stuff I don’t have time for anymore. The only thing I really do on the regular is watch movies at night with my girlfriend Nicole when I get home from training but we try to do fun stuff like go to the pier and fish late at night or go to Galveston for the day or something, we find stuff to do. Like I said I work weekends and train all week but you have to make sacrifices for the things you want. If you want it that bad, it’s worth it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Looking back and smiling

Sometimes, it’s nice to be reminded about the beginning of the journey.  I am always excited when I meet someone so new to the sport that they are just glowing with excitement and anticipation.  They look at you with eyes shining.  They can’t wait to roll with you and test themselves and learn from you.   I am not the most athletic chick on the mat.  Not the most coordinated.  Not the most fit.  Not the one people ask for help.  But last weekend I got to train with some really cool newbies at Girls in Gis.  It was a privilege to train with them.  To show them what little knowledge I have about jiu jitsu.  They reminded me of a time not too long ago when my belt was fresh and white and clean.  They reminded me of a  time when my white belt had an empty black bar and was devoid of dirt and blood and sweat and tears.  I left that event with a full heart, smiling, happy, knowing that I had helped someone.  It may not seem like much, but it was just what I needed.  Sometimes you need to be reminded about the beginning to see how far you’ve come.  The journey, it’s so personal and unique for each person.  It will always be an honor when I can be a part of the beginning. 
As I tried to find the right words for this post, I remembered something I had read.  It was from Mark Johnson’s book “Jiu-Jitsu on the Brain”.  I just felt it was worth sharing.  Even though my belt is now blue and it is getting worn and frayed, I still love to remember the beginning, because without the beginning there would be no journey at all.
“The black bar on your belt represents the beginning; it’s blank, like your experience in jiu-jitsu.  You will be introduced to a new world, one filled with red-belted masters and wonderful techniques and weird uniforms and dealing with your own ego and frustration and knowledge and exhaustion and bliss.  It all begins with a search, a search for fulfillment or exercise or confidence.  The search has brought you to jiu-jitsu and this is where you begin.”

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Meet Vincent Serrano

I want to start by saying thank you to my coach Vincent Serrano for allowing me the opportunity to do this interview.  I've known Vincent for several years now and as fate would have it he's now my instructor at Dirty Bay MMA.  I knew early on after meeting Vincent and watching him on the mats that he had a gift for teaching. But, you have to see it and experience it to know what I am talking about. Vincent can be a hard task master.  He doesn't see your age or what you might believe to be your physical limitations.  He will push you beyond your limits at times.  He will expect you to give him just a little bit more than you think you can give.  Even if you don't believe in your abilities, Vincent sees beyond that.  He sees what he knows you can become.  I am proud to call him my coach, my instructor, my friend.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.  Thank you Vincent!

Meet Vincent Serrano.  Vincent is a Brown Belt and the Head Instructor at Dirty Bay MMA in Baytown, TX.  Dirty Bay MMA is an affiliate school of Solis Martial Arts Academy.  We are proud to be a part of Team SMAA!  Vincent currently teaches all classes.  We are excited to watch our small gym grow and blossom under his leadership. 

Dirty Bay MMA currently offers the following classes: 
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – Monday & Wednesday / 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Muay Thai Kickboxing – Tuesday & Thursday / 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Wrestling – Tuesday & Thursday / 7:00 – 7:45 p.m.
MMA Sparring – Tuesday & Thursday / 7:50 – 8:20 p.m.
No-Gi Open Mat – Friday / 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

How long have you been training Jiu-Jitsu?
I'm honestly not sure, I just know I started BJJ when I was a junior in high school and don't ask me what year I graduated either it’s been too long.  lol

How long have you been training Muay Thai?
I started when I was a freshman in high school.

What other martial arts have you trained?
I've trained Jeet Kune Do, kickboxing, and a little boxing. I've dabbled in others, but nothing too serious. My main styles are BJJ and Muay Thai Kickboxing.

How would you describe your teaching style for Muay Thai and for Jiu Jitsu?
Great question! The way I think about it, I never teach my students anything, I show them how I do it and let them figure out their own way with my supervision. I’m small and fast, so some things I can do that some people can’t, so I am always helping my students adapt to their body. In BJJ my style is very aggressive, always going for takedowns, always attacking, submissions, always staying on top and staying active. Basically it's a wrestling style BJJ game. If we get put on our backs our main focus is to put them back on their backs, so you will hardly see us trying to recover our guard. We love to smash guards and make you submit. lol

For Muay Thai it's the same as BJJ, very aggressive and very explosive. I show everything - kicking, punching, elbows and knees. We do a lot of combinations. I never show to just throw a single punch or a kick.  When we throw a strike, expect a powerful, very aggressive combination to come right after.

People can be intimidated to start training martial arts.  What would you say to someone who is out of shape or on the fence about training to encourage them to give it a try?
There's no such thing as "out of shape". There's always going to be someone who is faster, stronger, and has a better body than you. It doesn't mean you’re "out of shape". Out of shape is negative and I really don't like negativity around my gym.  We are all here to help and lift you up. You honestly never know how you feel about something if you've never tried it. I encourage everyone to give something you've never done a try.  Sometimes people are still on the fence about it, so I invite them to at least watch a class. Once they see our class and see how I am with my students, it usually makes them want to try. My students are very friendly and they will give you their last water if they had too. My students and I are always picking people up off the ground when they think they are too tired to keep going. When you experience something like that first hand, it's really amazing, and that's usually when people try out our class and make a life changing decision. We are all one, if someone falls we don't leave them, we stop, pick them up, and keep moving, even if we have to carry them. I love my ninja clan.

Do you have any long term goals for yourself and your training? 
My long term goal for myself is to make my clan bigger. By clan I mean my students/friends. We are a very close team and I make it a point to get to know my students in and out of the gym. One of my other long terms goals is to help my students reach their goals, whether it's becoming a black belt, owning their own gym, or becoming doctors, scientists, etc. I love my job and I love lending a hand. If you become one of my students, expect to get pushed past your limits in and out of the gym. My goal for training is too keep training and passing on my knowledge. Right now I'm all about the gym. I also plan on fighting very soon. I'm very comfortable and very motivated where I'm at. My technique and my skills have gotten so much better since I started teaching and training with SMAA, so look out for my comeback, it's going to be mind-blowing for you.

Tell us a little something about Vincent Serrano off the mat. 
With me there's no such thing as "off the mat".  I'm always thinking about training. I'm always finding ways to improve. I'm always coming up with new ways to make my training and my clans training better. So the mats go wherever I go.  lol

Friday, August 2, 2013

Anything is possible Tasmanian Devil Girl

I love the fact that my daughter and I train together. I affectionately nicknamed her Tasmanian Devil Girl on the mats. We have been blessed with some of our best memories because of jiu jitsu. Training together and going to seminars and attending Girls in Gis events and our Team SMAA open mats has given us countless hours of bonding time. Jiu jitsu allows us to push each other, talk to each other openly and support each other. I love that. The thing that I don’t love is watching her struggle. Lately I’ve been watching her feel defeated and broken. I feel helpless not being able to help her. Not having the right words to say to comfort her. It’s hard being a Mom sometimes. I want to protect her from everything bad in this world. On the mats I want to protect her too. I don’t want her to get hurt emotionally or physically. So, it’s a fine line we walk as jiu jitsu Moms. How do we let go enough to let them grow, but still protect them when we need to? I guess we will figure it out together. In the meantime, I will continue to support her and encourage her and even push her. I will pick her up from her first part-time job and help teach her how to drive and when she lets me, I will teach her to master the kimura from half guard and escape from side control even when it’s a 200 pound sweaty dude. And one day, when she’s ready, the bread and butter choke will be waiting for her. So, all you other Moms and Dads out there training with your kids, what do you do when you see your kids struggling on the mats? My wish for everyone today is peace, love and great Jiu Jitsu!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Duct tape and good friends

I don’t talk too much about my Muay Thai training.  She’s more like a good friend, while jiu jitsu is my true love.  But, I have to say that after a good solid year of training under Vincent Serrano I do know that I have made progress.  I never was hoping for huge improvement, I do Muay Thai for fun.  Well, because let’s face it, it is fun to punch and kick and knee and elbow people.  It’s a lot of fun.  I was really nervous about a full on Muay Thai class.  I’d only done cardio kickboxing before.  Very safe, impersonal even.  But Muay Thai, it’s face to face, in your face, in your space, people kicking you and coming very near close to punching you in the face, and actually punching you in the body.  Way outside my comfort zone.  But, I love Vincent’s teaching style, and I decided from day one that if anyone could help me improve it would be him.  He’s got the patience of ten thousand teachers!  So last night, nothing particularly amazing happened, except my gloves started literally falling apart, little pieces at a time all over the mat.  That’s the by-product of a year of Muay Thai training.  Now, I think it’s time to get out the duct tape.  These gloves started this journey with me and they are going be in my corner till the duct tape won’t hold them together anymore!  :D

Sunday, May 12, 2013

All the right words

My coach Roy Davis said something to me once.  It was a fairly innocent comment during training, when I was second guessing whether I could ever do something.  He said, “Anything is possible”.  I don’t think he realized the impact that tiny little statement had on me.  Anything is possible.  Three little words.  I took those words to heart.  Those words became a catalyst, a spark.  Three tiny little words that I needed to hear at that exact moment in my jiu jitsu journey to keep me moving forward on my path. 

Recently I dropped in on a class at one of our affiliate schools.  I’ve been working late a lot lately and I couldn’t make it to my school.  I had the pleasure of working with the instructor.  At one point he said, “Why do things harder, when you can do them smarter”.  I almost laughed out loud when he said it.  Why?  My husband has been telling me and my kids that for as long as I can remember.  But, I guess I never thought of it in the context of my jiu jitsu game.  It was another one of those moments.  It was just what I needed to hear.  It made me feel empowered in my own skin.  It made me see that my jiu jitsu can be amazing in the body I have right now.  I just have to make my body work for me.  Smarter.  Not harder. 

When you speak or write, remember that your words are powerful.  Choose them wisely.  The words I share in this blog are personal to me, and my hope is to always help and uplift and encourage.  To show others my struggles and my joys and triumphs and even the dark valleys that I’ve gone through.  I hope they even make you laugh or sometimes they might even make you cry.   I’ve learned over time the power of words. are you using your power?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sit up straight!

I thought I had pretty good posture.  Hey, I spent my childhood being told by teachers and adults to "sit up straight".  So, I thought I was doing a halfway decent job of it.  Just recently though, I had one of those moment on the mats, I realized that my posture was terrible.  Actually, it kind of sucks.  So, I'm working on my posture - back straight as an arrow and head up.  For me, it's the little things that eventually add up to create a tiny step forward in my jiu jitsu.  That's all I have for today folks.  Wishing you all peace, love and great jiu jitsu!  :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cool Happenings

Lots of cool things going on.  My affiliate school, Solis Martial Arts Academy, launched a new women's only jiu jitsu class yesterday.  It's going to be every Tuesday and Thursday.  Might pop in a couple times a month (or more, it was really fun).  There were about 17 women there last night.  I had the pleasure of working with someone who was trying jiu jitsu for the very first time.  That was extremely cool.  Our school, Dirty Bay MMA,  is having a women's only Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai seminar on Saturday.  Our hope is to expose women to these two martial arts and show them that there's nothing scary or intimidating about training, and that it can be great fun and a great workout.  Sunday is Girls in Gis in San Antonio.  I can't wait to train and visit with all my jiu jitsu sisters.  So what's going on with all of you?  Wishing you peace, love and great jiu jitsu! :)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Jiu jitsu is for everyone

JIU JITSU IS FOR EVERYONE!  I’ve been seeing some wonderful stories about the diverse group of people we’ve got training the gentle art.  It makes me so freaking happy.  You can be 45 or 61 or 16 or 6.  You can be short or tall or thin as a rail or a chunky monkey.  You can suffer from a mental illness or you can be challenged mentally or physically.  You can be deaf or even blind.  You can be slow as a turtle or quick as lightning.  Those things do not decide whether or not you get to train this beautiful art.  That is the beauty of jiu jitsu.  That is what I love about jiu jitsu.  JIU JITSU IS FOR EVERYONE!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

You can't keep an old gal down

Usually I celebrate my age.  Age is just a number.  In fact, I really enjoy being able to hang with the youngsters in my jiu jitsu class, and even in my Muay Thai class.  If I can make it through the entire class, no injuries, still standing, no worse for the wear, I count that as a victory!  For all the older grapplers out there, check out this cool t-shirt.  You can get one at for a limited time…I ordered mine today.  You can also follow this guy on Facebook at Old Man Jiu Jitsu. 

Last night I did have a moment though.  One too many people took my back, got on top of my back and smashed the crap out of me.  It was just too much for my old lady body.  I had to tap and sit out the last few minutes of class.  The old back was just not having it last night.  But, I’m not going to let that get me down.  I will get back up and go back to class and hopefully this time I will grapple smarter and keep those youngsters off my back!  Yep, this old gal still has some fight left in her!  :D

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

For my sister...

I started writing this almost a year ago.  I just could not bring myself to post it.  It is very personal.  Then the rape of the young woman on New Year’s Eve happened…and it rocked the jiu jitsu community.  I still waited.  Today I decided I needed to release this burden.  Here goes…this is for my sister.
I share a lot about myself and my family on this blog, but something that most of you probably don’t know is that I had an older sister.  Her name was Melissa.  She was four years older than me.  When I was little I would follow her around and hang on to her every word, and if she asked me to do something (even if I knew it probably wasn’t a good idea) I did it anyway, she was my big sister after all.  We rocked along like this for a while until the little sisters came along and she didn’t really want to play with me anymore, she was four years older than me after all.  But, I have really good memories of her and me as little kids (one in particular involves our house and a red crayon, good times).  And, to tell the truth, she did take me to my first R-rated movie.  It was exciting and a maybe a little bit risky, but it was our secret.  It was something that we did together, just the two of us.  It is something I still smile about, and any time I’m channel surfing and that movie is on, I stop and watch it, because it reminds me of happy times with my big sister. 
The other thing most people don’t know about her is that she was a victim of sexual assault.  I don’t share that with very many people.  It makes people uncomfortable and they don’t usually want to talk about it.  But, it is reality, and it did happen, and she was forever changed by it.  Something broke inside my sister.  She was never the same.  She spent many, many years doing battle with the demons in her mind.  She struggled with her mental health.  She put up walls and didn’t really let anyone in.  How can you just sit and watch someone you love slowly deteriorate a little at a time and not be able to do anything to help her.  Then when you think all is lost, things can turn around.  For the first time in a long time, things were good, really good.  It was February 2008.  My sister was 44 years old.  Out of the blue, one afternoon in early February she dies.  No warning signs or indications that she was ill.  We later find out from her autopsy report that she had a pulmonary embolism.  She went peacefully and in no pain.  She doesn’t have to do battle with her demons anymore.  She is finally at peace. 
You might wonder why I would want to write about this or what it has to do with jiu jitsu.  I had developed a certain sense of security, familiarity, of trust with my jiu jitsu community (men and women alike).  I really thought we were a special, honorable community of people.  I let my guard down, maybe there is nothing wrong with that, but then the rape of the young woman on New Year’s Eve happened.  The social media sites were bombarded with images and postings and it just completely took me to a very dark place.  It brought back a whole lot of hurt and anger.  Not only did my sister’s life change the day she was raped, so did my life, and the lives of my two younger sisters.  It changed my parents forever.  Not only did my sister put up walls, I did too.  I don’t trust people easily.  I don’t open up very easily.  I am guarded and sometimes controlling.  Most men that I meet are a suspect first until they prove otherwise.  Plus, I’ve got a teenage daughter now.  I know I’m probably overprotective with her, and it is difficult for her to understand why.  I only just recently told her what happened with my sister and that was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  I also had to talk to her about the rape of the woman on NYE…by her teammates.  I wanted her to understand what a horrible, horrible abuse of power that incident was, by people this woman thought she could trust.  I wanted her to understand that she has to be extremely careful and aware and prepared, sometimes even with people she thinks she can trust.  I hate that it has to be so different for her than for my son.  I’ve been really struggling with this for the last couple of months, trying to figure out if I was going to post something or not.   It’s been building up, about to boil over.  I always think of my writing as therapy.  I find that when I write about it, it sort of releases something inside of me.  It doesn’t just belong to me anymore.  I don’t have to carry the weight of it by myself anymore.  For that I am grateful. 
I believe that despite everything that has happened we are a special community of people.  I think jiu jitsu was meant for everyone, especially women.  My sister would definitely be stoked at the thought of the smaller, weaker person dominating a larger, stronger person.  In a way, she was struggling with that her entire adult life.  I wish she could see how strong I’ve become, how jiu jitsu has changed me, how it’s changing my daughter.  I know she would be proud. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I have been away too long

You might be wondering where Mrs. Ibarra has been for the last month.  I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, just extremely busy.  Work has decided to go a little crazy on me, but I’m trying not to let it affect my training like I usually do.  I’ve got to keep my perspective and keep things balanced.  So, on the jiu jitsu front, I went to another Hannette Staack seminar in San Antonio.  It was just as good as the first one.  This time around we worked on deep half guard.  I love half guard, but still trying to wrap my head around deep half guard.  I know you can make anything work for your body type in jiu jitsu; you just have to play with it until you get it right.  I’m going to have to play with this one a bit more to find the right fit.  And that folks is one of the reasons why I love jiu jitsu.   
Saw some really great news today – Hannette Staack and Fenom Kimonos Announce Pro-Partnership.  Check it out here folks.
Sometimes I am overwhelmed by all the good that jiu jitsu has brought to my life.  This is one of those times.  A big thank you to Fenom Kimonos for letting me share my story.  Here’s a link to my interview.  Thank you Fenom! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Milestones and Foam Rollers and LaCrosse Balls...oh my!

This week we are back at our and Tasmanian Devil Girl.  Truthfully, she's more tired and sore than me, probably because she skipped out on one too many classes during the holidays and I didn't.  I've jumped back in full throttle with my Paleo eating...I sort of derailed myself during the holidays.  I also hit a major milestone this week, six whole months without a Dr. Pepper.  Now that's something I thought I'd never say!  I do have a confession to make, I've been cheating on my acupuncturist with the chiropractor.  I have to say that both are great for repairing all the damage I do to my neck and shoulder sitting at a desk all day...yes I said it...sitting at a desk all day.  As rough and tumble as Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu are, sitting at a desk all day not moving is way more damaging to your body.  So, this new chiropractor is giving me tons and tons of good stretching exercises to do.  It's all great stuff, who knew the things you could do with a foam roller and a LaCrosse ball.  My neck and shoulders are going to feel like a million bucks folks, and if you thought they were flexible before, look out!  I'm looking forward to training tonight and then we are going to start a new jiu jitsu conditioning class after our regular class.  Working on the re-creation of Mrs. Ibarra begins....NOW!  :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Nothing to Lose...Everything to Gain

Sometimes I struggle with all the changes I've made in the last three years.  It can be overwhelming, the path to transformation.  I'm not saying I would ever go back, I can never go back, that girl doesn't exist anymore.  But, she's a part of who I am, a part of what helped me make it this far.  So, what do you gain by losing?  I know, I stole it from a TV commercial, but I really like it.  For me it was freedom.  As the pounds came off and the body started doing what it was designed to do I became FREE!  Free from the bondage of an overweight, out of shape, old lady body.  I have days where I regress into that cocoon of the old lady body, hibernate in my bed, become lazy, but what I've gained from training jiu jitsu is a desire to be the best Mrs. Ibarra I can be.  A desire to see just how far I can push this old body.  I've discovered that we don't give ourselves enough credit.  Our bodies or our minds.  We are capable of so much more.  I feel like I am living, breathing proof of that.  Just three years ago I was a slave to pain medication and invasive medical procedures for chronic neck pain.  I couldn't have imagined in my wildest of dreams that I would be doing what I am doing now.  I didn't think that I could ever train jiu jitsu.  When I first began I thought that I would make it a few months and my neck would say no more.  Then something miraculous happened, my neck didn't stop me from training.  I had tons of aches and pains, tons and tons of aches and pains, but my neck never stopped me from training.  So I kept training.  I stopped all pain medication.  I haven't had an invasive procedure on my neck in over three years!  Sweet!!  I didn't give my body the credit it deserved.  It was capable of so much more than I ever thought.  I discovered acupuncture along the way and if you're interested, I've got a great guy!  Acupuncture gets me through the tough times, with my shoulders and knees and for those times when I'm super stressed.  So, give your bodies and your minds a little bit of credit, they are a lot stronger than you think.  Don't count yourself out before you even start.  Take that first step, that big giant leap of faith.  I promise, you won't be sorry.  I know I'm not.  This strength that I discovered, it was inside of me all along.  Jiu jitsu just helped me bring it to the surface.  :)