This started as a blog about training together as a family, in part to inspire other women & families to get involved. As female participation in jiu jitsu has increased, as we have grown as athletes and as we learned that families training together aren’t such an anomaly, the blog has evolved. Jen gets personal with posts on ambition, challenges & achievements in BJJ, CrossFit & with nutrition, while Tom's posts are more educational, informative and analytical in regards to training. On occasion you may hear from the kids.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Two Weeks - Two Tournaments - Wphew!

by Jen

Two tournaments in two weeks and Marcelo Meleiro BJJ (MMBJJ) showed well at both! I’m humbled by all of the congratulatory messages I’m receiving. First, watching the matches, all I can see are my mistakes and missed opportunities (more on this later). Secondly, the successes are not really my own.

They are a result of patient, skilled and committed coaching by Marcelo, and the support of the students at MMBJJ – from the white belts to the purple belts. No matter how much I hated passing and working the guard over and over and over again - Marcelo knew that was what I needed.

In my teammates, I have a group of brothers, (and Sanya - my “adopted daughter”) who respect my love for BJJ, don’t let me slack, coach me and prepare me for tough matches. These guys and gal show up on tournament day – and even wait around when it seems like I am one of the LAST people to go for the day. Those who can’t be there are with us in spirit.

Of course, I have to mention my dear husband Tom, who persistently encouraged me to try BJJ, and seized the moment the day I finally caved. He’s patient and supportive of me pre and post tournament - even when the stress makes me unbearable to be around. Thank you honey!

I absolutely LOVE the BJJ community. I had the privilege of meeting fellow bloggers Allie from Allie the Clear Belt and Megan from Tangled Triangle. I saw my friend and competitor, Gina – we meet up at all of the tournaments and keep in touch through Twitter. I also met several new friends. (Congrats to Gina’s daughter who took 1st in Gi & No Gi on Sunday!)

Nothing inspired me more than the competing mother of a 6-month old at NAGA. I read on Megan’s blog that she even breastfed in between matches – WOW! Childbirth does a number on your body. Couple that with the stress of a tournament, and the stress of caring for a 6-month old – WOW! This woman deserves the Wonder Woman award!

It’s awesome to be in a room of women and families of all ages, sizes and backgrounds who love BJJ as much as I do. This helps me to feel so much more normal. In my daily life, most folks just don’t get it.

It was also great to see our 8-year old, Hunter, connect with all of the other kids in the room. What could have been long and boring days turned into a great deal of fun for him as he made new friends.

Now for the tournament recap -

Things that helped in tournament prep:
• Turned to a much healthier diet in the weeks leading up to Grappler’s Quest and NAGA. Until then I was still stuck in the holiday junk food rut. In preparation, I changed to high protein, low carbs (I cannot do no carbs), and more fruits and veggies.
• No CrossFit (CF) the week before tournaments. Marcelo always warned me about training too much before tournaments. I was a little stubborn, but now I am a believer. I felt the increased energy and hunger to perform on tournament day. (By the way, it was so nice to have Juan from CrossFit ATP out there supporting us as well! It was a surprise to see him walk in while I was in my match with Allie)
• Good breakfast – I am a big eater! Once I am at the tournament, the nerves keep me from wanting lunch – the good breakfast helps keep me nourished.
• Freshen the playlist – I always add a few new motivational songs to the tournament playlist.
• Pack snacks for the family and a “fun bag” for Hunter.

Grappler’s Quest
I fought a total of three matches in Grappler’s Quest. I had one match in the No-Gi advanced division. They didn’t have a partner for me so they asked a younger and probably lighter girl to fight me. She had already fought in 6 divisions! Although I won by submission, I have to give her the credit for moving up and for fighting so much that day. She is one girl that you will want to keep an eye on.

I fought two matches in the blue belt gi division, winning one and losing one. Biggest lesson learned here is to learn to work with heavier fighters. A battle I have been fighting for years now. I took 2nd in this division.

I won three out of four matches, lost the fourth by submission. All of the matches were tough, and in all I see the errors and missed opportunities.

Lessons learned:
• Use sweeps from guard – need to get more comfortable with these.
• Remember to push the knees – I always push the hips, the thighs – everything BUT the knees.
• Sweeps from half guard –this is a constant battle for me.
• Learn when I lose the armbar and move on to something else right away.
• Several missed opportunities to go to the back – become more aware of these openings.
• Learn how to finish a Kimura – I couldn’t get the positioning right - UGH!
• Don’t lose my focus – sometimes I get tired and confused and don’t pay attention to what I’m doing next.
• Tighter control - The opponent who beat me was a master at leaving me no room at all (absolutely zero), and keeping every move tight. I aspire to be able to do that as well as she did!

Once more I have to give credit to Marcelo’s coaching – he is so calm, patient and to the point in guiding you in every move. He knows when I’m on the verge of losing heart and says what is needed to keep me going and to stay calm. I have 100% trust in his coaching on and off of the mat.

Oh, and of course I can’t forget – a little prayer always helps, with some praising and thanking post tournament!

I will not be able to make NAGA in May so I’m not sure when I’ll be back on the competition mat. Until then I’ll get to work on the long list of things to work on.


  1. Hey girl! I saw your match with Allie, and honestly, the whole fight all I could think was, "Omg, look at her legs!" You have amazing legs! I'm so jealous... despite my best efforts my legs are doomed to chickendom forever.

    Great job, and congratulations! I wish I could have been there!

  2. Thanks Stephanie. Honestly, I'm blessed with my dad's genetics. The down side is I could never ever wear skinny jeans :( So sorry you couldn't be there - I hope we get a chance to meet soon.