About 4 years ago I walked into the doors of Crazy 88 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and my life changed Forever. Thanks to Julius Park the last three and a half years of my life have been 100% dedicated to training in every way. Day in and day out I have the same schedule that repeats its self just like any person with a full time job. At first I started out at the academy working as a new student councilor From there I was given the opportunity to help out with the kids classes and work with an expert kids instructor in Danny Ives. Now I help out with just about anything you can think of at the academy. Being here from the start and working my way up the ladder has really taught me a lot.
On top of the training full time and being so closely connected to the academy, I am a husband as well. My wife is a successful salon owner/professional so she understands what its like to be dedicated to something you love and really be active in pursuing your visions. She is 100% supportive in everything I do and insists that every decision I make be based around my training, competing and working at the academy.
So far 2012 is just another year on the grind. But every year things get more serious and the stakes get higher. Of course there are times when it is rough and the competitions are not going so well. There are also times when I accomplish things for the first time in my life. On the way to mastering the art of grappling the road will be bumpy and there will be ups and downs but in the words of Steve Young “Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems.”
This past weekend I was in Rio, Brazil competing behind enemy lines at the Brazilian Nationals with some members of the travel team at Crazy 88! This competition is notorious for being the toughest tournament in the world for the lower belts (blue-brown) mainly because some of the top up and coming grapplers can not fund the traveling costs for the international tournaments. This is actaully my third time competing in Brazil and my second time competing at the Brazilian Nationals so I was fully aware of how tough this tournament is. I was coming off a 1-1 performance at the European Open so at that point 2012 wasn’t all that great competition wise! Physically I seriously injured the MCL in my knee around April so I was unable to compete in the Pan Americans. Another obstacle that the process presents. Only choice I had was to get it better and keep on going.
Coming into this tournament I was feeling good physically and mentally. I arrived in Brazil about 4 days before I competed so I got a chance to adjust physically and get some training in. This is very important for me these days because I am getting older so I need some time to calibrate my body to the traveling. I use everything I have physically and mentally for about 2 hours straight for a competition of this magnitude so preparation needs to be serious. The blue belts competed on Friday and they all did great. Every blue belt meddled at the tournament which is pretty crazy considering how prestigious this competition is and to get a %100 medal rate from blue belts is a great accomplishment. Pretty much unheard of!
After a few days in between it was time for the purple belts to compete Sunday. I was extremely focused and very prepared. This doesn’t always ensure a victory, but it helps.
I fought in a total of four matches in my weight class and one match in the open division. There were multiple place winners from previous “Grand Slam” tournaments in the division. Each match I had was extremely intense. As I said before, you have to give it literally everything you have from start to finish. I exchanged a lot of different positions and had to put a lot of pressure on my opponents. I made it to the finals of the middleweight division without being scored on. ALMOST! My opponent was given two points because I was getting excessively warned for multiple infractions that I almost had no control over LOL but thankfully I was able to win the semi finals match giving me the berth into the 2012 Brazilian Nationals Purple Belt Middle Weight Division Finals. WHEW. With a sentence that long you know its important. HAHAHA. I met up with my teammate Keenan Cornelius to close out the division. This was actually Keenan’s third international title from the “grand slam” series of tournaments this year. He is now one step closer to history.
In the open division, I faced a solid competitor from Barbosa BJJ in Sao Paulo. I was winning the majority of the match until I made a crucial mistake by having my position off by about a margin of an inch. I ended up losing a tough match on points 8-4. I have already corrected and drilled the position that got me in trouble on Sunday. I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
After the tournament I was able to relax a little bit and enjoy some food and lay on the beach. It was a great experience to be there with my little brother who also medaled and my wife. Because I train so much I do not have a social life that consists of partying and going out. The people I hang out with most are pretty much my little brother and my wife. So to be able to share an experience like this with my two best friends was awesome. I wish I could write about all of the activities or victory partying we did but honestly…..we just relaxed and laid around LOL. Like I said I am a homebody so I prefer to stay in over going out any day. I am very happy with my victories but I never let my self get satisfied with anything So my focus goes right back to competition and training for the World Championships in five weeks. Today I got right off the plane and into my home gym to do an intense movement workout. This evening was regular hard training as usual. There is absolutely no reason to take off from training for any reason other than an injury. I do not agree with taking a few days off after you win a tournament. Right back into the fire we go because you never know when your hard work will truly pay off. The team is sharp and our system at Crazy 88 produces real bonafied international competitors every year so every day we challenge each other. As awesome as everyone did at this tournament……WE ARE JUST GETTING STARTED!!!!!