Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hitting a Plateau

Do you ever feel like you've hit a plateau?  Like you are just stagnating at a certain level?  Like no matter what you do you just can't seem to improve your weaknesses?

This is how I feel right now.  I know all the things I need to do but I just can't seem to make my game change.  I need to make my mind think quicker and retain more knowledge...but I can't figure out how to make it do this.  I learn things in class, drill them, and understand them, but as soon as the day is done I seem to forget how to execute them.  I spar and my coach yells for me to do things but by the time his voice processes through my head and I think of what he is saying the opportunity is gone.  I see openings but by the time my head processes what to do the openings are gone.

....I have my good collar grip, I'm breaking the posture, I'm going for the choke -- he postures waaay back -- ooh, I should hip bump sweep.....

Do I get it? NO.  By the time this thought gets to my brain the opportunity is gone. 

It's the same with transitions.  I know how to transition from one thing to the next....but when I spar my mind seems to forget.  I shoot a triangle, they posture.  I know I should switch off to an armlock or an omaplata but do I do it? Of course not.  The thought doesn't even seem to cross my mind.

WHY??? I don't understand this.  I have been doing jiu-jitsu for years, why am I having so much trouble all of sudden?  I need to be quicker and transition faster.  I know these things, but why can't I do them?

No matter how hard I try, it doesn't seem to be enough.  The harder I push myself the more I seem to shut down.  I go into class thinking about my weaknesses with the plan to conciously think about them and try to fix them.  I try, and try, and try, and the harder I try without results the more frustrated I get.  I push myself more, I tell myself to relax and not get upset, but I can't.  I go insane.

I feel lost...

I don't know what to do to take myself to the next level...

I need help...

Pans - Day 3/4

Pictures and Videos coming soon!

Pans - Day 3: Local Competitor Videos & Pics!


Leo Dalla vs Alessandro L. Gomes Almeida

 Isaac July vs Omar Sabha


Nakapan Phungephorn vs Aldo Januario de Oliveira

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pans - Day 2

So I know today is day 3 but I want to recap day 2 before I say anything about today.

Yesterday was my day to compete.  I woke up early, took a shower, and got ready to go.  I left nice and early so I could get to the venue with pleanty of time to check my weight, settle in, and relax before my bracket was up.  I got there at 10:00am and my weight was 160 -- great! that's 3 pounds under!  I ate some granola bars and an apple throughout the day and drank some water and Gatorade.  I kept weighing myself throughout the day and my weight never went above 160.5 (which I don't get because I was drinking a lot!).  Forty minutes before it was time for my bracket to go I decided to start getting warmed up.  I like to warm up early because I always get nervous jitters and running around helps me to get rid of them.  My bracket was called to the warm-up area at 1:20 so I went from running around the back hallways to bouncing around in the bull pen.  I was in there for an hour before they called me to get my gi and weight checked.  Surprisingly I was pretty relax this whole time, even as I walked onto the mat. 

Michelle Welti (DTJJ) vs Brooke Goldsworthy (Crispim BJJ) 
We shook hands and the match began.  Brooke crouched down low - I knew this meant she was going to try to pull guard.  She backed away from me as I came in to get my grip.  I remained in the center of the mat to wait for her to come to me.  I wanted her to play my game.  Time was ticking by and she wouldn't come to me so finally I went to her.  I grabbed her lapel and she immediately pulled guard.  I held her up, her feet weren't closed yet - this is not so bad, I like the top, I'll just pass to the side and submit.  Oh no, she grabbed my ankels - I can't let her sweep me, I am not starting this match down to points.  She ended up sweeping me.  She was in my open guard in combat base.  I tried for submissions, and I tried for sweeps but she was holding her positions and not wanting to move.  I was getting frustrated.  All of a sudden I here someone call out "30 seconds left!"  No, I refuse to lose in the first round again.  I MUST get a sweep!  I tried so hard, but was unable to do anything.  The buzzer rang - I lost. 

I was so mad, and dissapointed, and frustrated.  I couldn't believe I lost in the first round.  I honestly thought  I was going to win gold.  I wanted to cry.  I gathered my things and returned to the stands to watch the remainder of my braket.  Brooke Goldsworthy ended up placing third in the bracket.  First place went to Jessica Eve Richer of team Gracie Barra Long Island.  And 2nd place went to Alexis Dufresne of team Carlson Gracie.
Hours past as I watch the rest of the women's blue and purple belt divisions.  Time was closing in on the Women's Blue Belt Open.  I cleared my head and was ready to make my comeback in the Open.

Michelle Welti (DTJJ) vs Hana Fischer (Alliance SP)
Match starts and I immediately get my grips.  Hana also gets her grips, a huge power grip around my arm and to my belt.  Great, gotta break this and get my posture - she's creating an angle, she wants to throw - break that grip NOW.  I broke the grip - we gripped back up, same grip.  I broke it again.  We gripped back up, SAME grips - ugh this is getting frustrating. Oh no, I just got thrown.  I won't let her take my side...turtle up.   I reached for her leg to drive he back.  She was big and sprawling hard - I just couldn't pull that leg under.  New plan, sit through to guard.   I tried a few time to sit through to guard but had to revert back to the turtle.  Eventually I got to the half guard. I need to sweep to the top, I can't let this 200 pounder stay on top.  Let's try to get to deep half and sweep, I don't think I can lift all her weight with a hook sweep with my bad knee.  Oh shit, she has my arm and is going for a paint brush!  My shoulders are bad!  This hurts so bad...  Tap.  I lost again.

I learned a lot yesterday.  There are many things I need to work on.  But the number 1 thing is my confidence.  I know I am better than most, if not all, of the girls out here, but for some reason when I get to the mat all my confidence goes out the window.  I start to fear losing and it crushes me mentally.  I need to search deep inside myself and figure out why this is.  It is only then that I will start winning the titles I deserve.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pans - Day 1 Con't

I got to the tournament, paid $10 for parking, and made my way inside.  It's a pretty big place, not as big as the venue for the World's, but still pretty big.  There were all the usual stands -- Atama, Jiu-Jitsu Pro Gear, Keiko, Vulkan, Gracie Mag, the Brazilian BBQ, and the Acai ice cream with granola and sliced bananas on it (soooo good!).  I took a couple pictures and then started trying to find the stand to pick up my event t-shirt.  I wanted to get my t-shirt right away because there were already a lot of people there and I didn't want them to run out of size small.  At last year's World's I had to get a medium that I don't even wear :(  Eventually I found it -- downstairs in the competitors area.  I had never seen a line so long to get a shirt!  I was a little worried they wouldn't have my size, but after standing there for 45 minutes I found out they did!!

I went back upstairs and found a good seat to settle in at for the day.  I watched hours of matches and finally left the tournament a little after 4:00pm.  It wasn't over yet but most of the blue belts were done and the next 3 hours of the schedule were supposed to be white belts.  I did want to see the blue belt male open division but it wasn't scheduled until 7:00pm and I just didn't want to sit through all those white belts to see it.  My drive back to my hotel is supposed to only take 15-20 minutes and it took me an HOUR!  Ugh, traffic was so bad.

Now I think I am going to head over to the 24 Hour Fitness and do a little cardio and kill some time!

Pans - Day 1

When I got to my hotel last night I was a little scared.  It was dark and rainy, my room was all the way in the back of the building, and there were weird people sitting outside.  I was planning to go to Walmart to get some food and drinks and other stuff I'd be needing for the next few days, but decided to stay in because I didn't want to walk past those people again.  I talked to Dave on the phone for a while and then went to bed.  It was only like 10:00pm here but it felt like 1:00am.  I ended up waking up at 5:00am (equivalent to 8:00am back home, which is like sleeping in for 2 extra hours for me) went back to sleep and woke up again around 7:00am.  I got dressed and went to Walmart.  The neighborhood I'm in is not actually bad like I originally thought.  Like two blocks away there is an amusment park, Knott's Berry Farm - America's First Theme Park, and tons of stores and restaurants and a mall!  I feel much better now :)

 I got all my groceries and have settled in a bit so now I am ready to head out for the day.  Check out the venue, watch the white belts and blue belt males compete.  I want to get my event t-shirt today too so that I can get a size small -- at last years Mundials I had to get a medium and I don't even wear it because it is too big :-( 

Well, I'm off -- I'll take pics while I'm there and post them for you guys!


Heading to Cali -- ALONE!

This is the first time in my 23 year of life that I have ever traveled alone. It’s a little scary but kind of fun. I feel like I am being forced to grow up a little bit and becoming more independent. I am traveling to Irvine, CA to compete in the IBJJF: Pan Jiu-jitsu Championship. I wasn’t supposed to take this trip alone, but due to unexpected circumstances I had to. I was pretty stressed out this morning – I had to work before leaving for the airport, and the entire time I was at work I was on the phone with the travel agency making changes to my trip – cancelling a flight and changing the car rental. After being on the phone for what seemed like forever, I finally got things straightened out. After getting of the phone I felt like one weight was lifted off my shoulders and another was put on. I am about to travel to the other side of the country to compete in the second largest tournament in the world – ALONE!

Dave Trader was supposed to bring me to the airport but because of those unforeseen circumstances he was running late. Those of you who know me know how crazy I get when I am feeling stressed. So finding out Dave was going to be a little late got my heart rate going and I could feel the stress coming on. Luckily for me, Dave is awesome and knows that I got nuts about this kind of stuff and he suggested I drive myself to the airport and just pay to park. Initially my heart sunk at the thought of not being able to see him before leaving for this trip – my first trip alone, to a big tournament. I wanted to wait for him so I could get some last minute words of wisdom before the tournament, but then I decided it would be best to just get to the airport and not stress myself out too much. I can always talk to him on the phone right? :-)
Josh was in between clients on a long break so he said he would take me to the airport. (Thanks again!) My flight was scheduled to take off at 2:20pm so getting to there airport at 1:00pm gave me plenty of time to get through security. So I head to security dreading the long line I’d have to stand in, but luckily for me there was almost no line at all! I flew right through that (no body scanners) and headed to my departure gate. When I got to my gate I saw there was a flight delay! Ugh, I wished I had waited for Dave! We didn’t start boarding the plane until 2:45 and didn’t take off till after 3:00! This pushed our arrival time back to 6:00pm – hopefully this doesn’t effect my car rental…I know they are weird about you picking your car up within a certain amount of time. I’m sure things will be fine – why do I always do this to myself, stressing over nothing!

Anyways, now I am bored on the plane with nothing to do. The last two times I traveled out to California I traveled on Virgin America, which was awesome. They have TV’s behind every seat and you can watch TV or movies, play games, listen to music, order food – it even shows you a map of where you are, how fast you are going, your altitude, and your ETA! Today I am flying American Airlines and I must say I am very disappointed. The only thing for you to do is watch the “feature film” on the one TV they have for every 3 rows. Fortunately for me I was interested in what they were showing – a documentary on how bad the education system and teachers in America are. Now that that is over there is nothing to do again, so I thought to myself, what better time to write a blog entry! As soon as I land and am able to connect to the internet again I will post this!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

US Grappling: Submission Only - March 19th

This past Saturday was my first ever submission only tournament.

No points.

No time limits.
Roll to the tap.

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous going into this. More nervous than I let everyone believe. I was nervous because in class and at tournaments I don't find myself finishing a lot of submissions. I am the only female in my school so most of the time when I roll I am going against someone who is larger and stronger than me and just won't try any techniques and will just sit there and defend or hold me down out of fear that they will get beat by a girl, so then I find myself having to use all my might just to execute basic techniques on these guys, let alone finish a submission.

But despite being nervous about the potential of long matches due to my lack of finishing skills, there were things that made me more relaxed too. I didn't have to worry about giving up any points or having to race against the clock to win the match. I could take my time and roll the way I wanted -- tight, controlled, heavy.

I was most nervous about my no-gi match because I don't really train without the gi very often. I am so used to getting my grips on the gi and now I have to grip a sweaty wrist!?  Once we got to the ground I felt much better - my nervousness left, and I was having fun!  I stayed in dominant position the entire time - half guard on top, side control, mount, back control - and after 12:30 minutes I finished with a rear naked choke.  I was so excited!

When the gi division rolled around I wasn't nervous one bit.  I was excited to take my time on my feet and try to get a judo throw.  This match was fast, just 2:30 minutes.  I went for a Tai-O-Toshi and landed in side control.  I tried for an Americana but she was blocking well, and then I heard my coach, Dave Trader, tell me to go for the bread cutter.  Next thing I knew, she was tapping!

Out of every tournament I've been to, this one was the most FUN!  I cannot wait for the next Submission Only in Richmond!

Check out the highlight video and photos from the event at!

Monday, March 21, 2011

VIDEOS: US Grappling Richmond - March 5th

US Grappling Richmond - March 5th

Friday night, my teammate Andrew Babeu and I drove down to the night-before weigh-ins in Ashland, VA for the US Grappling Richmond  tournament.  Andrew weighed in at 201 lbs and I weighed in at 157.5 lbs, both of us making weight! We drove back up to Fredericksburg to meet our teammates Josh Wehrmann and Bill Nagle for dinner at Olive Garden for a little post weigh-in feast - yum! After dinner we followed Bill back to his Dad's house (he lives in Fredericksburg) to get a good night's sleep before heading off to the tournament in the morning!

The plan was to wake up at 8:00am and head to IHOP for breakfast.  But at around 7:45AM Andrew thought it would be "hilarious" to set off his alarm and throw his phone into my room to wake me up!  But because I was already awake before he did this and could hear him snickering outside my door, I knew he was up to something. I wasn't sure what, but because I grew up with five brothers I was ready for just about anything.  I thought someone might come running in to jump on me, or shake me awake, or something crazy like that.  Luckily for me, all he did was turn his alarm on and throw his phone at me.  Soooooo......I guess the guys had decided they wanted to leave by 8:00 instead of wake up at time how about you just knock on the door and wake me up.......boys.........sigh.

Michelle Welti (Blue) vs. Lo Menzies (White)
After IHOP we made our way over to the tournament. Our coach, Dave Trader got stuck in the typically awful I-95 traffic on his way down, but ended up making it before my first match started.  I was the first competitor up for Team Dave Trader in my Women's Advanced No-Gi Absolute division. My first match went well - I got the takedown , passed the guard, got the mount and ended up winning on points. My second match was again Lo Menzies, a great competitor from BJJ Revolution in Richmond! She was one of the toughest girls I've competed against. She pulled guard and I almost got caught in a triangle early on. I did manage to escape, but had to give up the sweep in the process. The rest of the match was pretty much fought from my guard, with lots of attempted arm locks.  Unfortunately I just couldnt manage to lock any of them in and ended up losing 2-0...that darn sweep! The next division was the Women's Blue Belt up to 158 lbs division. My first match as against Lo again. We had a hard 6 minute match and she ended up beating me in a very close match on points again. My next match went a bit better.  I got an Osoto Gari, landed in side control, and quickly finished my opponent with an Americana to place second.  My final match of the day was in the Women's Blue Belt Absolute.  I attempted to throw on my much heavier opponent, but missed and ended up on my back fighting from my guard for the remainder of the match.  I really need to work on my judo.  So overall, I placed 2nd in all three of my divisions - not what I wanted but I got some good matches and know what I need to work on.

Andrew Babeu (left) vs. LJ Hand (right)
Andrew, despite his best attempts to convince Dave he should only fight in the teen division, fought in all 6 divisions open to him.  He finished the day with 5 medals overall placing 1st in both the Teen Advanced Gi and No-Gi, 2nd in the Men's Beginner No-Gi  Absolute and No-Gi up to 202lbs, and 1st in the Men's White Belt up to 202lbs.

Big Josh fought in the Men's White Belt Ultra Heavy Weight division and Men's While Belt Absolute, making quick work of all his opponents and placing 1st in both.

With just three competitors, Team Dave Trader Jiu-Jitsu took home 5 GOLD medals and 5 SILVER medals!  Great job guys!!!