PanAmania: More details
As I mentioned, the PanAms are this weekend, at CSU Dominguez Hills. For those of you who don't know, the PanAms is one of the biggest Brazilian jiu jitsu tournaments in the world. Hundreds of people come to compete, from white to black belt, and it's a veritable who's who of the grappling scene for the celebrity stalkers among us. Check here for more details: http://www.ibjjf.org/pan2009registration.htm. But if you look at my division, don't tell me who I'm fighting! I don't want to know.
There are numerous divisions for people to compete in, categorized by belt rank, and then subcategorized by weight. And for the men, further subcategorized by age; 30 years old and older fights masters division, and then there are senior 1, 2, and 3. The women do not have old fart divisions, which means I sometimes have to compete against teenagers. Lucky me.
So since there are weight divisions, one of the main characteristics of pre-PanAms week is the collective lamentations of people trying to lose poundage by avoiding eating and drinking, stepping up the cardio, using those weight-loss suits that make you look like a baked potato wrapped in foil, sauna- and steam rooming. If you ever saw Vision Quest, the 80s movie starring Matthew Modine as a wrestler trying to cut weight to qualify for a ridiculously low weight class, you know what a drag it must be to try to make weight.
And the weigh-in situation is different now. It used to be that you'd weigh in the day before, which means that if you cut 10-15lbs, like some crazy people do, you could put at least a little bit of it back on before you fought. But nowadays, you step on the scale, make weight, and then step on the mat. Theoretically, this discourages people from cutting that much weight. Theoretically.
Note how I say what a drag "it must be." This is because, as some of you know, I don't cut. I have chronic fork-in-mouth disease. I was actually walking a couple pounds lighter than I normally do, so I was going to compete in the 152 and under division. I was walking at about 147, and since one of my gis weighs about 4 lbs, that would have put me right at 151. But nobody else signed up for that bracket besides me, so I've been bumped up to 163 and under. This means I get to eat whatever the hell I want, unlike most of the people around the academy. They are looking drawn and pale and cranky, and they are stepping on the scale a LOT. And my weight is back to its normal ~149/150, so I would have been cutting it close/screwed anyway.
Another characteristic of the grappling community in SoCal (and probably elsewhere) when we are getting ready for a tournament is that people step up the training. I have been doing two-a-days for the past couple weeks, and I am covered in bruises, ache like an impacted molar, and feel really freaking weary. I trained for a couple hours this morning, and although I taught the beginner class tonight, I didn't train then; I am done until I compete on Sunday. My body and my brain need a rest. This is the hardest part, in my opinion. You want to keep training because you're worried you'll forget everything you think you know, and/or that your conditioning will go out the window. But I won't, and it won't, and like I said, I need the rest. (I'm saying this so that eventually I will believe it.)
The stress is almost palpable, and now with everyone on Facebook and Twitter, you can read people's status updates about how much they weigh, when they leave for the airport (if they are coming in from out of town), and how excited they are. I'm intending to feel excited, as opposed to nervous. I heard that the physiological characteristics of excitement and anxiety are exactly the same; it's just the meaning we assign to those characteristics that causes them to register in our minds as the one or the other. So it's just as easy to opt for excitement as it is to opt for nerves! And it seems to be working somewhat. My resolve will be tested, though, because I have basically three full days of tournament to get through before I compete; the event starts on Friday morning with white belts and then progresses through Saturday and Sunday with higher belts. The women's brown/black divisions starts at 5pm on Sunday.
That's me. Women's brown/black. It's my first time competing in this division, and it is going to be surreal. Not only am I likely to be in the same pool as world class chick grapplers, but it will also be the first time I'll compete in prime time, with the aforementioned female champions, but also with the male champions. It's like that bit on Sesame Street where the TV screen is split into 4 and there are like 3 puppies and one kitten, and they sing the song about how one of these things is not like the others. On Sunday afternoon there will be a bunch of world champions--and me. I'm sure you get now why I'm a bit addled. But in an excited way!
In other news, happy belated birthday to my dad, who celebrated yesterday (Tuesday). I love you, Dad! And happy birthday tomorrow to Steve72 and another friend who shall remain nameless. Here's wishing you all lots of cake and very little sharing.
Marcel is going to be mad because I just mentioned Steve72 and I'm about to mention him again. I saw him at the Grapplers Quest in Del Mar this past Sunday; he was reffing and competing, and I drove down to say hello. It's always a pleasure to see him; he really is a great person. And I'm not just saying that because it will drive Marcel batshit crazy. That's only ONE reason.
While there, I also got to see the infamous Vogel brothers (well, they are infamous to me, hailing as they do from Philly) and even more surprising, Midget! Midget is apparently one of the GQ muckety-mucks, traveling around to help put on the events, in addition to all the other stuff she does at Gracie Tampa, which some of you may recall is where I like to go train when I'm visiting my parents in Florida. Rob Kahn, a Royce Gracie black belt, runs the place, and he is an awesome guy. He's from New York, so the first time I met him, I felt like I had known him all my life. Midget has also been busy being good at grappling, because Royce awarded her her brown belt last night!! Congratulations, Midgie!! You earned it!
Also, don't forget http://budobeachparty.com/!
Oh, and I talked to my agent yesterday; I had submitted the first full draft of the narrative summary of my proposal, and he liked it! It needs work, and I need to be less snarky and let the humor happen naturally, but I'm on the right track. He's going to give me line by line feedback next week, which I will be able to focus on once I'm done competing.
In the meantime, I'm just glad I don't have to cut weight, though I have to be careful not to chunk up since I'm not working out for the next 3 days. Tomorrow Mikebyrd, Klint, Andrew, Burdo, and Trey arrive from Richmond, VA. I'm picking some of them up at the airport in the evening and having dinner with the rest of them beforehand. New Breed is going to be packed as of tomorrow, when people start to come in from all parts of the country. It's definitely going to be sensory overload this weekend! I'm very excited! (NOT nervous!)
Maybe I'll go to the movies tomorrow to get my mind off things. We shall see.