Saturday, December 27, 2014

Reflections on My First Year at Purple Belt: 2014

 I traveled quite a bit to referee/compete/work for US Grappling. I won, lost, learned, and got better. I traveled as far away as Chicago and Delaware, competed in my first "super fight" (I still think that term is silly), made the difficult decision to switch teams, and very simply......learned a lot. I competed in Judo, competed in NoGi for the first time since ACL surgery, and did a lot of consideration in terms of how to maximize my training.
Training hard, or training a lot is not enough as the sport continues to evolve.
It's not simply "time on the mat" but the quality of the "time on the mat" you spend.

Did a lot of study on expert skill acquisition, read a lot of Malcolm Gladwell, and as a result began drilling in the mornings before work with my new team at Zenith BJJ in addition to training at night and various open mats around the area.
 "Win or learn."
 I competed at the elite/black belt level at 66kg in Judo but continue to realize I have to focus on one sport in order to maximize my competition results. I miss Judo, but the style of play continues to become more narrow due to ever increasing rules and restrictions and I no longer enjoy winning as much as I once did. The biggest hurdle was overcoming fear/coming back from ACL surgery to compete at that level again.

 Hit the road for a short BJJ road trip and trained in Maryland and Virginia.

 En route to Maryland, stopped and trained at Revolution BJJ with the one and only Andrew Smith (US Grappling) and got folded up by room of tough brown and black belts.
 Stopped in Va Beach to train at Gustavo Machado's school en route to Richmond (not really on the way but whatever).
 Switched teams to focus on sport Jiu-Jitsu and because I was not getting the results in competition I expect for myself. I now represent Zenith Jiu-Jitsu under Sean Spangler.

 Closed out my  busiest year in Jiu-Jitsu competition to date: 11 tournaments, 1 super fight, and a Judo tournament early in the year for good measure.
I have yet to win a Gi Division at purple belt featherweight, but finished the year at US Grappling's Richmond Submission Only with  my best performance to date with wins by brabo choke and a wrist lock from omoplata. I had tournaments where I didn't medal at all (usually in combined weight classes) and a box full of 2nd and 3rd place medals. The biggest gains were not medals or placing but rather an overhaul in my approach to training.
Like a former coach of mine once said, "If it was easy, everyone would be good at it."

Good luck and happy trainings in the new year. The grind continues.

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