Friday, April 29, 2011


When I cannot wrap my mind around the movement to send the correct signals from my brain to my body my system shuts down and everything stops.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Returning to training after a layoff of any kind is very hard on an athlete psychologically. It is difficult to get through the frustrations of physical limitations and there are so many defeating moments that nag at us and infiltrate our confidence.

Have faith. Crawl before you walk, Walk before you run. Know. Move forth and know that you can and you will if you are willing to risk what it takes to go through the process.

Love in and of itself is never enough. The pleasures must always outweigh the pains. Applaud yourself each two steps forward and forgive yourself for each one step back. Forgive yourself.

Who we used to be are reference points and moments to learn from. If we spend our time trying to be what we once were we will never become what we can be.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How Lucky Am I?

Yesterday I asked a friend of mine how he was doing to which he responded, “I’m fine but I’m sort of going through a midlife crisis.” 

“You’re too young to be going through a midlife crisis,” I said hoping to make him at least feel young-ish.

“It can happen at any time,” he replied in a somber tone.

“I know.  It happened to me this morning,” I confessed… and we laughed!  I like that we can speak respectfully of serious matters and still find the humor in our lives and ourselves. 

I had spent a good part of my morning wondering about ex-boyfriends and where their lives had taken them.  I Googled a few.  This is the extent of my stalking zeal.  Google.  Without the internet in the palm of my hand I would have gone back to sleep.

They are doing well!  At least so it seems according to sites like LinkedIn, etc.  I tell myself that since they have found their way to good careers that they must be happy in all aspects of their lives.  I certainly hope so!

I do not spend my time regretting the end of our relationships.  I do not think about what could have been.  I do not think of ways to break up their happy homes to reclaim what was once mine.  I do not wish we were still a couple.

I am more narcissistic in my thoughts. 

What I think about is, What have I become?  Or better yet, When will I become?  I beat myself up about being lazy and think that I am even lazy about that.  This is because I have accepted my laziness to a degree.  I describe one of my sisters as a, Go-Getter!  I describe myself as a, Come-Get-Me!

I spend more time sleeping or daydreaming than any other particular activity or better said, inactivity.  I prefer to nap than watch TV or do whatever it is people do to fill their time throughout the day.  Some mornings I wake up and shower and get ready to leave home only to ask myself, Is there anything I really have to do today?  Really?  When the answer is NO I will crawl right back into bed and make no qualms about it.  I can fall into a slumber in the middle of a four shot Americano.  

So on the occasions when I do get a bit woe-is-me Maybe I should be doing more to further my career What is my career When will I decide what I want to be when I grow up When will I grow up Why do I refuse to make simple phone calls and send emails Why not go back to school Learn something but what what what do I want to learn Will I ever find a way to be financially stable Shouldn’t I be more concerned about seeking out the love of my life What is this life When will I do more more more… And anxiety starts to fill my blood stream and I am overwhelmed with some unnamed fear that reminds me of my youth.

I wallow in this space throughout the day. 

According to the free online dictionary:  “wal·low intr.v. wal·lowed, wal·low·ing, wal·lows
1. To roll the body about indolently or clumsily in or as if in water, snow, or mud.
2. To luxuriate; revel: wallow in self-righteousness.

I am in bed in my thoughts so Yes, I wallow.

Then there is a shift in focus.

I think about fight training.

And from out of nowhere I begin to think, How lucky am I?  And I am immediately filled with happiness and inspiration.

It is the right of the young to dream and work toward becoming professional athletes.  But look at me!  What an extraordinary place I am at at the age of 37!  My coaches are cultivating a fighter!  And we are still just in the early stages of this future career.  They are grooming me to go Pro!  What an absurd notion!  What a wonderful reality!

How lucky am I?!

So lucky that I am content again and can get back to the business of having a quality nap before going to training.
photo by Gerald Fontejon

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gimme the Ball, Coach...

This is my mantra.  This is the mindset I am working to get back to.  The girl I used to be did not doubt that she was the best player to handle the situation.  Gimme the Ball, Coach.  I am your point-guard.   I will beat her to the hoop.  I will make the play for the assist.  I will go to the line for the game deciding free throws.  Gimme the Ball, Coach.

I am signed
up for the Samurai Jiu-Jitsu tournament on May 8th which is sponsored by Fabricio Werdum Combat Team.  My weight class is up to 140 pounds and although Lucas Pires just gave me my first stripe I definitely still feel like a BabyBlue Belt.  I am constantly humbled, challenged and intrigued by how much more there is to know; How technique will eventually allow me to match up against these larger women.

So what do you do when they are Bigger Faster Better Stronger?   You still do the best you can.   You still give it your all.

I am tempted to make excuses.  I am tempted to say to Fabricio and Lucas, Please do not expect too much from me.  I am tempted to say, Look how big she is!  I am tempted to say, She has been doing this so much longer, she knows so much more!  I am tempted to allow myself the loss before I step on the mat.   I am tempted...

But I am going to quiet this voice.  Hush now.  Hush, Little Baby don't you cry Mama's gonna sing you a lullaby...

When I step on the mat, I am going in with one objective.  I am going in to Win.

Gimme the Ball, Coach.  I can do this.  Gimme the Ball, Coach.  I can figure her out.  Gimme the Ball, Coach.  I will battle with all my heart and ingenuity.  Gimme the Ball, Coach.   You have taught me well and I will do you proud.  Gimme the Ball, Coach.  Gimme the Ball.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Before I Got Hitched to Fight...

Before I got hitched to Fight I had such fine hands and feet. There have been moments when a friend would say, “Ugh, I hate feet.  They are so ugly.  But you… you’ve got nice feet”.  On the rare occasions that I would go in for a manicure pedicure the pretty Vietnamese girls would often compliment me. “You hab such lubly hans an feet. Beautif-O nay-O.”  They no longer say these things.  Now they charge me more.

Before I got hitched to fight I paid little attention to these particular extremities.  They did not require much scrutiny.  They were functional and useful.  They did not hurt or whine.  These days the joint of my left big toe wakes me some nights. “Hey!” it says, “I’m injured! Ice me! Tape me! Care for me!”  My right big toe dislocates in high heels. “Hey!” it says, “Let’s not do this girlie thing too often, eh?  You’re killin’ me down here!”  And the calluses?  Well.  They do not need to speak.  They are a statement in and of themselves.

The digits of my hands are in rebellion.  They are making me pay for my love affair with Gi Jiu-Jitsu as if I have wronged them in some way.  Every day they suggest we break up.  They hate me for requiring that they hold on for dear life to lapels and sleeves and pant legs.  They are constantly stiff.  They do not wake up when I wake up.  They prefer to sleep in.  They have become lazy.  I have to nag at them to open and close and I find myself massaging them at various times throughout the day.  So needy.

There is some sort of dislocation and/or fracture at the top joint of my right ring finger. It has been there for a couple of months now.  I did not know it was my ring finger until I told a teammate that since I do not have insurance to see a doctor that perhaps I should just have it cut off.  “No!  That is your ring finger!” he panicked as if I was being serious.  So I responded, “But it would just be the top they would take.  I can still put a ring on it.  I can still get married.” Obviously he did not know that I am off the market; That I got hitched to Fight.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Living in the Age of Women’s Fighting

On Saturday  April, 9 at Jackson’s MMA Series: III in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Beckie Lobb (1-0-0) defeated Katrina Branchal (0-1-0) by TKO (punches) in the third round of their 135-pound amateur MMA match.
Beckie is a forty-three year-old former NAGA grappling champion, professional body builder and grandmother who fights out of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Posted by

It was this post that got me thinking about the vast age span of women in combat sports.  From what I can see there could potentially be a 25 year difference.  I would like to see that fight!  I am curious to know what the median age is though I doubt that a study like this could even be conducted with any accuracy.  Who would count the women in Burma and such places?  I wonder at the elite/professional level, who are the oldest and youngest competitors in any of the full contact martial arts?

Jill Morley
My good friend, Jill, jokes about how it is either Child Abuse or Senior Abuse.  She is a boxer and she is talking about being a woman and fighting against girls (young women, if I am to be politically correct but P.C. lacks a sense of whimsy so I often ignore it).  “Let’s hope it’s Child Abuse!” I quip and we share a grin.  

I have 37 years behind me and am known to make bad joke after bad joke about being an old lady fighter.  Be respectful of your elders.  Gentle now, I am fragile.  I am ancient and small like Yoda and the Force is strong within me.  This ole gal can still pick up young men (I wink but this is in reference to judo throws and body slams; and I can!).  Sometimes I will sing, “This old body of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.  This old body of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.  Let it shine.  Let it shine. Let it shi-i-ine!”

I say things like, “it’s not that there aren’t women my age that fight it’s that most don’t start fighting this late in their years”.  Apparently I have been yammering on about things I know nothing about.  I tend to do that.  And I do it with great conviction!  It makes me feel smart.  

At various moments during the 16 years that I hardly exercised or played sports I would still find myself daydreaming as I did in my youth of being a professional athlete.  If nothing else, perhaps I can find my way into the OLPGA (Old Lady Professional Golfer's Association) as if such a league exists; as if it is an easy sport to become proficient at.  It is not. 

big brother throws down li'l sister.  circa 1987.

When I first began speaking to friends and family about how I may want to fight a look of worry crossed their faces.  They are after all the ones who will have to take care of me post brain damage and crippling.  With a simple question they would have me answering how my experience in combat sports took place twenty-five years ago when I did karate age eleven to thirteen.  It was as if they wanted me to hear myself say this.  Age eleven to thirteen.

Often they would remind me of how old I am.  Between my borderline senility and arrested development I tend to forget.  They tell me that the body ages.  I find it interesting that they would have to articulate this.  Apparently they do not know that I was required to take Health Class in the 5th grade and in High School.  They tell me that I would have to battle girls in their athletic prime.  I would be locked in a cage with real fighters that will have substantial physical advantages as a natural rite of being born after 1984.  1984?!  In my home we were transitioning from Solid Gold to MTV and having family debates as to whether or not Boy George was a man or a woman as if the Boy before the George was not a clear statement.

Forget 1984. I will likely fight young women who were not yet tadpoles when I was entering college. Bring it! Let's have some fun!

circa 2004
If when I left my twenties someone told me that I would be in the best shape of my life in my late thirties I would have laughed at them and told them it was impossible.  What a ridiculous notion.  Ha!  Especially considering all I had been doing for years was smoking cigarettes, eating greasy bar food and cultivating my beer belly.

But they would have been right.  I am more physically fit than I have ever been.  I could run laps with a weighted vest on around the girl I used to be; A girl that played the entirety of basketball and soccer games and on some days back to back.  It is a good feeling to know that that athletic girl has become an even stronger athletic woman.  Okay, perhaps that girl could out-sprint me if we met today but that is nothing to be ashamed of.  She was fast!

I do not care how old my opponent is.  I will neither overestimate nor underestimate her for any reason.  I will always stand before her with respect.  As long as I am a contender against whomever I face in the cage, in the ring, or on the mats I fully intend to “keep on keeping on”.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What Do You Mean I Am Not Invincible? part 2of2

Being in the company of fighters I learned fairly quickly that fights get canceled all the time. It is part of the sport. This is combat. Athletes get hurt regularly. Everyone works hard for the opportunity to fight and landing a fight can seem almost impossible at times. When your chance falls through it can be devastating. I have seen grown men cry over this.

So I began working on this part of my game early on. After observing it time and again I decided that I do not want to be psychologically and emotionally wrecked by a normal occurrence. So I am not in a hurry anymore even though I understand that my time is limited in this sport. I will fight when it is my time to fight and that is all. I will train and work to be ready for the moments when they come. Incidents and Accidents occur.

I have a very recent back injury sustained while pulling a 6ft 180+lbs teammate across the mats during Jiujitsu training. There is nothing abnormal about this or expecting me even to be able to do this. I simply did not pay close enough attention to my body mechanics during the exercise. I did not know any damage was done until I stood up after the third repetition. I did not know how bad it might be until I tried to jog right after and could not do so without pain. I was in denial for 24 hours and I still fall into that fantasy.
When I am laying down or sitting I find myself thinking it is no big deal; I will be able to return to training tomorrow. Then I stand up and realize that although the pain is not tragic it is there. At moments I feel normal and then a movement this way or that whispers that I must be patient a little while longer.

I am scheduled to fight in one week. I have told the promoter that this is not looking likely. He wants to wait and see. The optimist in me wants to wait and see also. But my coaches are protecting me. They have told me, No. They are realizing that they have to protect me in training also. I have been working on mind over matter. I have felt the personal and private shame of quitting. So now I will not stop. I will cry and hyperventilate and puke before I give in.

In regards to whether or not I should feel bad about having to pull out of a fight due to injury, I do not. Though I do sincerely apologize to my opponent and the promoter. There is that fine line between courage and stupidity. Sometimes it takes more courage to step aside. As long as you know, "This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man".

I will return to the cage soon. Hopefully in two to three months and perhaps versus the same opponent.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What Do You Mean I Am Not Invincible? Part 1of2

Incidents and Accidents.

Sometimes I think that I should solicit a bandage company as a sponsor. I am a walking advertisement for sports tape and braces. Maybe I can get a job as a tour guide for the Egyptian artifacts section of the museum as a talking Mummy. That is a bad joke as mummy jokes so often are. Truth be told I would not be good in that position anyway as I have never found artifacts to be all that interesting. I prefer paintings and photographs. Particularly the ones that look like they have been created by children; the ones you walk by and say, I could have done that. But you did not do it, now, did you?

At various moments I wonder if I NEED all my digits to fight since they so often like to fracture, sprain, bruise, dislocate. Perhaps I can just keep the ones that are necessary. I make a mental note about how I should research this on the internet but always I forget to do so and assume this is because I get hit in the head too much. Someone is going to have to take care of me when I am old. I hope someone loves me enough to do that or at least has enough pity for me to put me down gently. Whichever comes to pass I hope that whisky and cigarettes are involved.

All fighters are constantly injured and/or in some physical pain. Most I feel are still so young to be having to deal with this already. I am grateful to have begun my fighter’s life later. I do not think that I would have been better at this in my youth. When we are young we are more fit in body than in mind and when we are old we are more fit in mind than in body. When we are really really old… well that is a different conversation. Today my body and mind are enjoying a time of balance. Today I am older than I have ever been. Today I am all around better than I have ever been.

bruises. sprains. pulls. strains. the shadow of a black eye that's been there a week 
but I am in denial denial denial. 
hairline fractures. dislocations. lost epidermis. scratches. gouges. 
oh you need that bit of skin more than me do you? DNA sample? memorabilia? what? 
push me. punch me. kick me. sweep me. tackle me. throw me down. crush me. bend me. 
smother me. choke me. this is fight training. this is love.
May 19, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Thinking about not training and not fighting is harder than thinking about not eating delicious foods and not drinking refreshing beers when making weight. "Not" is a negative word. I will have to work on rephrasing my thoughts... Tomorrow. Maybe. Not.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This..."

…there’d be days like this my Mama said.”  Knowing this does not make it easy.  Knowing that this too shall pass helps… but only a little.  Fight training can feel a bit like an abusive relationship at times.  From moment to moment, from words that hit harder than kicks to the shin to compliments and accolades.  Coaches do not always have the best communication skills.  They often bark orders at you in their attempt to get you to do more.  Disappointment is often shown with a shaking of the head and comments like, “Did I teach you that?” This is definitely something I have had to change my perspective on.  Although I will say that I am blessed that my coaches seldom resort to this style of “motivation” and when I have something to say they do listen.

My parents never fought in front of their kids so I am not accustomed to being yelled at or being a disappointment to anyone.  Degradations and gruff military style verbal lashings have never inspired me.  So on those rare occasions I have had to teach myself to “hear” things differently.  Now I put the phrase, “I believe in you…” before every constructive criticism, deconstruction, facetious question, grunt and even every compliment.  I know they believe in me.  I know they take pride in me.  But I also know that if I do not remind myself of this that it would be all too easy to have my feelings hurt.  Yes, I can be a bit of a softy for such a tough girl.  And yes, I am all right with that. 

The other tool I have just begun to practice is something I learned from acting classes.  That is to accept critique without voicing an explanation of why I was doing what I was doing; expressing “my motivation”, explaining what I was thinking.  It does not matter.  It is my job to find a way to give the “Director” what he’s asking for.  That does not mean that I do not ask questions when needed to gain a better understanding of what they seek.  Fortunately I am not chided for asking for clarification on things I do not comprehend… although at times responses are not in the most gentle of tones.  But this is fight training, Baby.  This is not a weekly self-help group meeting.  

photo by Jill Morley
When I played basketball in high school my coach told the team something I have found very useful in my life.  He said if you want to get better you have to play with people better than yourself.  This has helped me set my ego aside and seek out those with more knowhow in everything I have tried to learn.  Well, as a woman that weighs most days about 118lbs I have not had to look very far for training partners that are bigger, faster, better, stronger.  I am surrounded by male teammates that constantly pose new challenges because they are all those things and by female teammates of varying size and skill levels offering different obstacles to overcome.

Most days I find myself learning quickly and feeling accomplished and confident at my rate of growth.  There are days though… there are days when learning new techniques have made me so frustrated at my lack of understanding that tears flow without warning; there are days when sparring sessions have left me feeling defeated and wondering if I will be able to be a contender as a fighter.  These are moments when I know this is psychological warfare and that I am my own worst enemy and yet I still cannot get out of my head long enough to get out of my own way.  And these days are hard.  Negativity breeds more negativity.  Failure.  Doubt.  Uncertainty.

But this is love, Baby.  This is no one-night-stand or summer fling.  Somewhere along the way we eloped.  I am married to Fight.  And this love always brings me back to training.  This love always restores my faith in myself.  This love always has me looking forward to the next fight.  This love…