Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Brown belt happenings

It's been a while since I've updated the blog and a lot has happened since my last post. I've had some great wins and also some enlightening losses. I've also made some big changes leaving my my full time job last year for a part-time one in order more whole-heartedly pursue my goals in Jiu Jitsu.

I'm excited for what this year has in store for me, but since it's been a minute, here's a quick recap of some of my favorite BJJ happenings since my last post.

IBJJF Atlanta Pro 2016 - won my division and the open weight class.

IBJJF Atlanta Summer Open 2015 - won my division and the open weight class in gi and no gi. 
IBJJF Atlanta Winter Open 2015 - won my division and closed out the open weight with my awesome teammate. Then, we both got promoted to brown belt!

Friday, November 21, 2014

All Gold Everything - IBJJF Atlanta Open 2014

I'm always a little late writing these posts, but better late than never, right? :)

The Atlanta Open this year was a seriously great experience. Team Roberto Traven came out in force and took the whole thing by a super large margin, such a large margin that Gracie Mag wrote an article about it. Here's the official point spread per the IBJJF results page:

1 - Roberto Traven BJJ - 704
2 - Alliance - 342
3 - Gracie Barra - 198

This victory was a complete team effort which is a large part of why it felt so good.

It's really awesome to be a part of something that really does feel bigger than yourself. Of course, everyone on our team wanted to win their individual matches, but the unique part was that a lot of that desire to win was to score points for the team. And the reason for this seemingly skewed ratio of desire for team success over personal success can be attributed to the man himself, Master Roberto Traven. 

Master Traven pushes everyone on the team to be their best regardless of who they are, where they come from, their age, goals, anything - none of it matters. He only cares that you are willing to work hard and will always try to do your best. I think this is something very special and is largely why he is truly revered by every member of the team. 

This moment meant so much to all of us because it meant so much to him. 

I love my team. 

Looking a bit more closely, some of my favorite people on the planet, the Roberto Traven Ladies team, absolutely crushed it at this tournament! I'm super lucky to get to have so many awesome ladies to train with on my Jiu Jitsu journey.

In addition to an AWESOME team success, I had a little success of my own as well winning my division and the open weight division. I'd never won an open weight division before so that was a pretty cool feeling. Plus, the fact that I had several tough matches with some very tough ladies made the victory that much sweeter. 

Let's just say it was a pretty freakin awesome day :)

Much of the photo credit to Preston Smith Photography - he's awesome, you should check him out.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fushida COMPLS Women's BJJ Gi Review

I've trained and competed regularly in the Fushida COMPLS women's gi for the last 8-9 months and it's held up extremely well despite rigorous daily use. This is my new favorite gi for both training and competition. It fits the female form perfectly, is constructed really well, and is aesthetically appealing without being overdone. 

I would say the sizing chart is very accurate. For reference, I wear an F1 and I'm about 5'1" tall and weigh between 115-125 lbs depending on the time of year ;) Two of my training partners also have this gi, and they were both able to use this size chart to accurately select the perfect size as well. 
Fushida Women's Size Chart
The Fit

This gi fits me really well which is a rare find for my petite yet athletic build. 

The jacket is the perfect length for my long torso at ~25.5in / 65cm lapel to hem after washing and hang drying and gives ample room in the shoulders for my relatively broad back. The sleeves are the perfect length as well at ~25in / 63.5cm lapel to hem after washing and hang drying. Plus, the sleeves minimally taper and are wide enough that I never worry about them passing IBJJF standards. 

Side rant - why do all women's gis seem to over taper?? Thank you for keeping it wide, Fushida :)

The pants are also cut to accommodate the female hip without over compensating (another common issue I find with women's gis). Plus, they don't create the 'diaper' effect many gi pants do - win!! The pants are straight from the hip through the leg and have a single, unobtrusive logo on the left pant leg. The pants tie with a black nylon rope and offer ample tie loops totaling 4 across the front to ensure a secure fit.

The pants were just a tad long when I first got this gi but shrunk to be the perfect length at ~33.5in / 85cm after washing in warm and tumble drying (keep in mind I'm only 5'1" and am mostly torso...).

The Feel

This gi has a great aesthetic all while providing quality that's built to hold up over time.

You can tell as soon as you put this gi on that it's well made. The fabric has a smooth yet durable feel and the stitching is reinforced in all the right places. Plus, this gi never stretches during training which is a biggie for me; I can't stand it when my gi stretches. I've put this gi through hell and back between my training and competition regimen and it looks just as good today as it did 8-9 months ago.

In addition to the quality, I really love the slightly feminine yet clean design this gi offers. The subtle purple accents - my favorite color :) - and seemingly personal touches really make this gi feel special. Of course the gi is branded, but it's done in a subtle, attractive way that lets you feel like you're still representing yourself on the mat.

The beauty is in the details.

Overall Thoughts

This is a great investment gi for the female BJJ practicioner in it for the long haul. Although this gi may be a tad pricier than the average female gi out there, it's going to fit well and it's going to hold up over time.

Bottomline, this gi offers an attractive, classic design and a level of quality you can't beat.

Pros: Great fit for the female form, accurate sizing, durable construction, aesthetically appealing

Cons: The only con I would note is the gi weight. With my belt, it comes in at about 4 lbs. For someone who cuts weight for tournaments, this can be a big factor when I'm close on weight. BUT, I would say the pros mentioned above definitely make it worth cutting the extra pound or two.

Family photoshoot sillyness for your enjoyment...my Mom and Dad are the best :)

Thanks for the photography help, Uncle Mark!! Check him out for all of your photography and video needs at Atlanta Studios!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What a great day - IBJJF Pan Am 2014

Competing at the 2014 IBJJF Pan Am tournament last week was a truly amazing experience. I worked hard and it paid off, nothing more validating than that!!

I felt really good going into this tournament as I was on weight, healthy, and had done everything I could to prepare. I went into my division with a cool confidence and ended up placing first after winning both of my matches by submission. Needless to say, I was more than a little bit excited :)

First match - win by armbar
I felt good after my division, so I decided to do the open weight division. Knowing that I was going to be one of the smallest girls out there, I didn't really put any pressure on myself to perform. With this sense of ease, I was able to get out there and just have a good time. I really surprised myself when I won my first match against a medium-heavy weight, won my second match against a heavy-weight, and placed 3rd overall! 

It was so exciting that I made this face...
Probably saying something like:
'Holy $#$!, I can't believe that just happened. HA!'...

Doing well in the open weight division was such a cool and unexpected experience. I went to Pan Ams with the sole intention of winning my division, so placing in the open weight was icing on the cake.

Plus, it's always enjoyable for me to get to stand my tiny light-feather weight self up on the podium with the bigger girls...

Hey, who let that child up there?!
Pan Ams 2014 is officially in my book of favorite Jiu Jitsu memories. A great day shared with great people all doing something they love, I couldn't ask for much more - WELL, except maybe for my teammates to also do well. Oh wait, that happened too! Team Roberto Traven BJJ CRUSHED it with ~35 competitors taking home 27 medals!! Success is even sweeter when shared with those you care about.

I am so incredibly grateful for my amazing Jiu Jitsu family. I could never have accomplished what I have without the people who push me to be my best everyday and support me on my journey. HUGE thank you to every one of my training partners and to Professor Roberto Traven; without you, I have no success. Also, another HUGE thank you to my sponsor, Fushida Sports Corp! It was truly an honor to get to represent all of you on the mat! I hope I made you proud!

Roberto Traven BJJ         Fushida Sports Corp

Now it's time to get back to the grind. Train hard, fight easy. 
IBJJF Worlds, I'm coming for you!! :D

AND a very special thanks to Preston Smith Photography for documenting this day for me!! Now I can relive it as many times as I want and for that I am sincerely appreciative!! :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

IBJJF Worlds 2013 - 2nd place - YESSSSSS

Thanks for pushing me to be my best Professor Traven!

Despite the pretty much year-round training season I tend to keep - Worlds is definitely the culmination of it all for me. I felt like this year was going to be pivotal for me (haha, I suppose I think this every year...) because this year was my first time competing as a Purple belt. With little frame of reference as to how I'd do in this arena as well as a quite sizable division - I was definitely feeling the pressure.

Luckily, all of my hard work paid off. I fought 5 tough matches and ended up taking 2nd place in my division.

Match 1

Match 2

Match 4

Right after the finals match
I lost in my finals match to a very tough girl with 2 stripes on her belt. I was pretty upset after the match as I felt so close to something I wanted so badly. But after about 10 minutes, I shook off the disheartenment and began to really be excited and proud of what I'd done.

It was an amazing experience and really validated all of my hard work. I'm a very determined person - possibly borderline obsessive :) - and ever since I was a brand new white belt, I've had my heart set on being a World Champion. Although I didn't get there this year, I feel closer than ever and I'm truly proud of how far I've come and how far I intend to go. I love Jiu Jitsu and everything positive it has brought into my life; I can't imagine my life without it. Now time to keep preparing for next year :)

Thanks for pushing me to be my best Professor Traven!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

New York Open 2013 - A great trip

I had an awesome time on my trip to New York City for the NY Open. It was a weekend filled with Jiu Jitsu, friends, and family; what more could a girl ask for? 

I traveled to New York on Friday and spent the day with my aunt, uncle, cousins and Granpda. It was great seeing them and their company really helped keep me relaxed. They even came and watched me compete the next day which made the experience that much better.

I went into my matches feeling good and ended up winning my division and placing third in the open weight class. 

IBJJF New York Open Female Purple Belt Open - Anna Light Feather Weight

I don't always do the open weight class when I compete since I'm a light-feather weight; but I was really proud of myself for getting out there and doing well. It was a really great experience. 

IBJJF New York Open Female Purple Belt Light Featherweight Division

After the tournament, I spent the rest of the weekend with some of my favorite BJJ ladies in Times Square. We had a fabulous time eating, shopping, and just enjoying each other's company.

         NYC 2013 - AWESOME trip. Worlds here I come!! :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Purple and Silver, I'll take it - Pan Ams 2013

Pan Ams 2013 was a blast! My first IBJJF tournament as a purple belt and I got second place in my division. I lost my finals match by only 2 advantage points to a 4-stripe purple belt. I usually take losses very hard, but I did my very best against a more experienced girl, so I'm actually extremely proud of myself and super excited to do well :) The feeling of self acceptance / pride despite losing really makes me realize how far I've come as a competitor and person, and how much confidence Jiu Jitsu has instilled in me.

I trained my butt off (literally and figuratively) to get down to my light-feather class and to be sure I was as prepared as possible to compete. It never ceases to amaze me how difficult tournament prep can be but also how much I enjoy the challenge and the disciplined routine it creates for me. My BJJ journey has definitely taught me the true value of self discipline and helped me to realize how much strength I have inside me.

Now it's back to the routine in prep for the NY Open and Worlds. So excited to see what the rest of the tournament season holds!! Hopefully that silver will soon be gold :)

Side note: After competing, I always go hard on the 'bad' snacks for a few days...just to gross myself out enough that I can't wait to get back to my strict diet. See my GIANT cookie bag below for reference... post-competition snack shopping tends to get a bit out of hand :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

'My Christmas present to you' - Purple belt!!!!!

Saturday 12/23/12 was an amazing day.

Before regular Saturday morning training, Professor Traven promoted me to purple belt. As he tied on my new BEA-utiful belt, he said 'My Christmas present to you'.

Best Christmas EVER.

The whole experience was a bit surreal as I feel like it was just yesterday that this journey began. I know the road is still long, but receiving a purple belt from Professor Traven really makes me realize how far I've come.

Jiu Jitsu has added so many positive things to my life. It keeps me focused and inspires me to work hard and improve everyday. All I can really say is I'm extremely thankful Jiu Jitsu found its way into my life.  I'm completely in love with the sport and I'm so lucky to be a part of a team that truly epitomizes hard work, strength, and family.

Team Roberto Traven!

Monday, October 29, 2012

BJJ Bag - Dakine Mission Pack Review

If you're looking for a highly functional yet practically sized bag for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the Dakine Mission Pack may be the bag for you. Whether going to and from the gym or traveling to tournaments, this pack allows me to carry everything I need to train / compete in a comfortable, efficient manner. The pack is intended for skaters, yet I find the design intentions transfer very well to accommodate BJJ gear. 

Dakine Mission Pack | Back View with BJJ GiThe Dakine Mission Pack comes in various color options categorized by Men's & Women's; although, many designs seem unisex so I'd recommend checking both out. The specs are the same for all color options: Volume - 1500 cu. in. [ 25L ], Size - 21 x 11 x 8" [ 53 x 28 x 20cm ], Weight - 2 lbs. [ .9kg ]. 


'Board Carry' Straps - Gi Carry Straps

This is my favorite feature. As you can see, these straps work very well for carrying a gi. I'm sure you've encountered your gi taking up the majority of the room in your bag, but securing your gi to the outside of the pack really frees up space on the inside and allows for efficient packing.  

Large pocket w/laptop sleeve

2 Main Storage Pockets w/ Laptop Sleeve and Internal Organization Pockets

The pack has two main storage pockets, one large zippered pocket with a padded laptop sleeve and one smaller zippered pocket with an internal organization area. Both pockets are of pretty good size; I typically fit extra training clothes / hoodie, lots of snacks, an iPad, headphones, a travel scale (I put it in the laptop sleeve), and other small miscellaneous items in the main 2 pockets. 

Additional Exterior Pockets

The pack has 4 exterior pockets all with zippered closures and fleece lining on the interior. Three of the pockets are on the sides of the pack and are very useful for storing smaller items in a organized, accessible manner. The 4th pocket is on the back of the pack and expands into the main storage pocket. I use this pocket for my camera as it has a padded cover for protection and is relatively hidden. 

Dakine Mission Pack | Side View with Gi

Look and Feel:

Organization Area w/Printed Liner
Stylish Design Options

Dakine offers highly varied yet consistently stylish color options. Most styles have one color scheme on the outside of the pack and an accent color / print on the inside. I have the 'Houndstooth Grey and Yellow' option. 

Support Straps & Padding - Comfort

The pack has 2 sets of adjustable support straps, one set that clips over the chest and one padded set that clip over the hips. I've found that when utilizing all the support straps, this bag is very comfortable to wear even when packed full.

Overall Thoughts: 

The Dakine Mission Pack is very well made and designed for functionality, comfort, and style. The main appeal for a BJJ practitioner in my opinion is the 'Board Straps' (intended for a skate board) on the back of the pack as they easily double as gi straps. This allows you to utilize the internal pockets for other items instead of your gi taking up an entire pocket. The pack also offers plenty of additional smaller pockets that allow for added organization and accessibility. I love this backpack and use it every time I travel for BJJ tournaments. 

I would highly recommend this bag for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu purposes due to the quality, comfort, and highly functional yet efficient design the Dakine Mission Pack offers.

Here are the Women's color options currently offered on the Dakine website for the Mission Pack; although, you can always find additional (usually past season) color options on other sites too if these don't suit your fancy. I would also recommend checking out the Men's (Unisex...) options too.

Dakine Mission Pack - Women's DesignsDakine Mission Pack | Women's Summer Designs

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Not the dreaded cauliflower ear! Headgear for Women in BJJ

If you're a woman in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I'm sure you've sometimes worried about getting the DREADED Cauliflower ear....well, after about 2 1/2 years of training BJJ, I finally started to get it. Of course, I was freaked out...I definitely didn't want to have a mangled looking ear the rest of my life. LUCKILY, With my Mother's help (a licensed and practicing nurse), I was able to get my ear back to normal in about a week or so. I f you don't have a highly knowledgeable resource to help you, just go to an ear, nose, and throat doctor to assist with the treatment / draining as it needs to be addressed quickly and properly.

Despite our success in getting my ear back to normal, I definitely wanted to make sure it didn't come back...BUT, at the same time, I also had zero intentions of training BJJ any less. So, finding the right headgear was crucial. 

I'd seen many of the guys' headgear at the gym before, but they all appeared to be much too large for me. I knew if I ended up with something cumbersome or uncomfortable, it was pretty unlikely that I would actually wear it. So, I turned to the all-knowing internet for answers, but despite a thorough search, it became apparent that there just weren't that many headgear options out there for women... 

I wanted something comfortable and low profile that provided sufficient protection without being excessive. 
Asics Junior Headgear for Women in Brazilian Jiu JitsuWith these attributes in mind, I finally decided to purchase the Asics Unisex Gel Headgear Junior. 

I LOVE it. 

For only about $18, this headgear is a steal. It's meant for teens, so as a 5'1" ~118 lb female, this headgear is perfect for me.  

The Look

The Asics Junior headgear has 2 sets of adjustable straps, one set fitting behind the head and the other set fitting over the top. The headgear has a slim look from the front and back (for headgear) and covers just as much of the ear as needed without being over-sized. 

Asics Junior Headgear for Women in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
The straps are made out of a tough, woven, canvas-like fabric that's smooth to the touch. The straps loop through the edges of the hard plastic ear cups that are covered in a blue (or red / black) slightly stretchy fabric that has a soft yet durable feel.

The simple design not only minimizes bulk, but also allows for easy cleaning. I hand wash / soak the headgear in hot soapy water (pulling back the stretchy blue fabric to clean all parts of the ear cup) then dry with a towel and hang in front of a floor fan for complete drying.

I've worn this headgear for about 4 months now and  it's held up pretty well despite frequent training. There's some noticeable wear on the fabric, but nothing too significant and nothing effecting the functionality of the headgear. 

The Feel

The chin strap has an adjustable hook and loop closure and a cushioned chin cup for added comfort and fit. (*Just be sure you line up the velcro on the strap correctly as it can scratch if drastically misaligned. If aligned properly, this isn't a problem at all.)

Asics Junior Headgear for Women in Brazilian Jiu JitsuThe inside of the ear cup has a gel lining for padding and shock absorption and ventilation holes on the outside allowing for breath-ability and relatively unobstructed hearing. 

The straps behind and over the head fit snugly and slide minimally. It takes a few tries to get it right, but, when fitted properly, this headgear stays in place very well. AND, as an added bonus, I've found it actually helps to keep my hair back and out of the way as well (I expected the opposite!).

When I originally purchased this headgear, I only intended to wear it when my ears were sore; but since wearing it really doesn't bother me at all, I never train without it.  I'd much rather prevent cauliflower ear than try and get rid of it. This headgear provides complete protection while maximizing comfort and minimizing the 'I look stupid' feeling wearing headgear can often cause.  :-) Check it out ladies!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hard work. Experience. Progress. Worlds 2012

The Hard Work

After the Pan Ams this past March, I made the decision to try and drop from the feather weight class (129 lbs in a gi) to the light feather weight class (118 lbs in a gi). The goal was to make this change for the IBJJF Worlds at the very end of May.

I wasn't sure I could do it as I needed to get to a weight that I'd likely last seen around age 12 in only about 2 months. So, needless to say, the task was a bit daunting...

My uncertainty must have been apparent for after just a week or so in, my Professor had a talk with me. He told me if I just committed 100% then I could definitely do it, and he thought I'd do very well if I made the change. The decision was clear at that point; if he thought I could do it, then there was no reason I should think any differently. Sometimes you just need a shove in the right direction from the right person.

It was a somewhat grueling 2 months of a very strict diet and lots of extra cardio sessions, but on May 30 I left for Los Angeles weighing 117 lbs gi in hand and feeling very confident in my own strength and discipline. 

The hard work was over, it was time for the fun.

The Experience

As it typically proves to be, the hard work was more than worth the experience I gained at Worlds 2012. I loved every moment on those mats and the experience really re-solidified my love for the sport and competition. Not only did I learn a lot and gain valuable experience on the mat, but I did pretty dang well too. 

Worlds 2012 is officially in my hypothetical book of favorite memories. I can't wait for Worlds 2013; only about 10 more months to prepare... :-)

Third place. I lost in the semi finals, 
but put up a hell of a fight.

The Progress

I returned to training with many learnings and excitement to continue to work hard and improve. I also received a stripe on my belt from Professor Traven. I never thought a strip of athletic tape could mean so much to me, but gosh, does it. 

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