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. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Keiko Raca Girl’s / Women’s Gi Review

I received the white / pink Keiko Raca Girl's gi as a gift in December of 2010; I've trained and competed in it regularly ever since. Since this gi's held up so well for me and I couldn't ask for a better fit, I wanted to write a review in case this may also be your perfect gi. 

To help gauge the accuracy of the Keiko sizing chart, I wear an M4 and I’m approximately 5’1.5” tall and have ranged 115-125 lbs while fitting this gi. Thus, I would say the sizing chart is pretty accurate:

The M4 Gi Top:
The Fit-

I love this gi top as it definitely caters to my proportions. I have a long torso and a broader back for my stature, thus I appreciate a gi that gives a little room. If you have an athletic build, this gi top provides room in all the right places without being over-sized

The jacket is of sufficient length for my longer torso and has wide enough sleeves that I’ve never been concerned about meeting IBJJF requirements at a tournament. 

The gi top may have shrunken very slightly in the first wash; however, it wasn’t significant enough to be noticeable. I’ve washed this gi top on a regular basis since I first received it and it’s still in great shape.

The Feel-

The gi top has 4 patches and and a pink accent trim. I think the patches are arranged in a very attractive way: one logo on the front of the jacket along the left lapel, one on either shoulder, and one square logo on the top center of the back of the jacket. The pink trim runs along the hem of both sleeves and along the bottom of the jacket. The jacket material is lightweight, but never stretches with training. 

The gi top also has a pretty thick collar that’s maintained its stiffness over the last year and a half of use.

The M4 Gi Pants:
The Fit-

I’m just as big of a fan of the pants of this gi as I am the top. The pants are of a lower rise (typically my preference) and have a straight fit through the leg. I would say the pants are on the shorter side; however, I have proportionately short legs so these pants fit me perfectly. If you’re on the higher side of the height range for a particular size and you have a shorter torso and longer legs, I would be a bit concerned the pants wouldn’t be long enough to meet IBJJF standards.

I’ve washed the pants regularly since owning them. They've held up very well and, despite shrinking very mildly, they still fit just as well as when I first received them.

The Feel-

The pants have one unobtrusive red and black Keiko patch located on the bottom of the right pant leg. The pants are made of 100% cotton with reinforced stitching in all the right places; thus giving the pants a smooth yet durable feel. The fabric may stretch very slightly during training, but it’s not enough to be noticeable. The pants have a rope tie that sits right at the hips and always stays tied during training. 

Overall Thoughts:

Thanks for the photography Mom.
She said I had to include her 'action shot' :-)
This is my favorite gi for training and for competition. It has a light feel without sacrificing a stiff collar and a high level of overall quality. For an athletic build, I would say the sizing chart is very true to size;  if there’s any room for error, I would say the weight ranges could reach a little higher for any particular size as the jacket is generous in the right places. I would recommend this gi for both training and competing as it’s light yet durable and has always passed IBJJF standards for me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pan Ams 2012 - A Reflection

After about 6 months of not competing due to various obstacles, I finally got back out on the big blue mats at the 2012 Pan Ams this past March.  I’m very grateful for this overall tournament experience as I feel I learned a lot about myself, Jiu Jitsu, and where I may fit best in the sport.

I learned how to prepare my way.

In the past I’ve allowed pre-competition nerves to really dictate my frame of mind the days, hours and minutes before I compete. When allowed to, my mind seriously fixates, inevitably causing an absurd buildup of self-expectation. This buildup always ends up affecting my mindset during competition and makes losing feel much more catastrophic than it should.

Not this time.

Although I was well aware that ‘game time’ was drawing near, I kept my mind elsewhere during the few days before I competed. I refused to fixate and induce anxiety as I’ve done in the past. Even the night before I kept a calm mind, forcing myself to focus on relaxing memories and I actually got a goodnight’s rest: a first for me before a tournament. It was not until the hours before I competed that I allowed my mind to focus on the task at hand. A well-timed warm up and a calm transition of thought really helped me go into my matches with a ready body and mind.

I’m sure most people have their ideal way to ready themselves to compete; I’m just so glad I found mine.

I learned I am strong.

I think strength is more than a physical measurement; to me it's also the ability to push yourself further than you ever have before. It takes something special to keep going even when your body says no or the odds against you seem too large. This tournament was the first time that I lost yet I still truly felt I could not have done anything more. I left everything on the mat that day; I even remember telling myself over and over again in my last match ‘everything you got’ as I was all too aware of my very tired body, nearly numb hands, and a clock quickly counting down. It makes me feel very proud and strong to know that my body obeyed my mind and I held up the ‘never quit’ reputation of my very supportive team. 

Despite the loss, I know I am strong, and that’s a really good feeling.

I learned, though strong, I am small.

This tournament in particular brought light to the fact that I may just be a bit small for the Feather weight class. I often forget my stature, but when I see photos of myself next to my opponents I'm definitely reminded. Even my coaches noticed and advised to potentially dropping classes. In retrospect, I did feel much closer in size to the Light Feathers in the bullpen and I weighed in almost 5 lbs light (my mistake of course).

Considering these notions, I've decided to stick with the very clean diet I was keeping before the Pans and see where it takes me. I’m interested to see how much smaller my body will allow me to get and how I will do at a new weight. Regardless of weight though, it's just a good choice for my body overall so there’s no downside; well, other than desperately missing sweets. J

Overall, I’m incredibly grateful for this tournament experience. Although I indeed hate to lose, I’m excited to take my experience and use it to learn, progress, and come back stronger (though smaller J). My Jiu Jitsu journey is still young; I’m excited to see where it will take me.

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