Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Ribeiro Family

                Today was an incredible day at our Ribeiro academy!! There were over 40 people there for an unforgettable promotion day. We had a black belt get his first stripe, a brown belt get his first stripe, a blue belt earned his silver star and got promoted to purple, and a brown belt earned his black belt. This was our coach’s first black belt he’s given without Saulo or Xande, and it definitely went to a deserving brown belt. Overall, the atmosphere was unlike any other – mostly because we all knew the belts were being given out except for the two who received them. To have caught them by surprise required a lot of stealth planning on our coach’s part and it was totally worth it! To see so many members of our Ribeiro family there in support of these guys and all the hard work they’ve put into their training was a great moment.

Our RJJA Family (sorry it’s blurry I’ll post a better one soon)
                After the promotions we had open mat and I have never seen so much fun being had on the mats. People were psyched to see each other again and everyone was incredibly friendly and a great workout plus a great time were had by all. We then all met over at a place to celebrate (and yes, we all took freezing cold showers at the academy first… 40ish people and 2 showers = interesting experience). I know I’ve talked before about how much our academy feels like a family, but let me tell you it really is. And not just our academy, we’re a Ribeiro family. I honestly cannot tell you the last time that I was laughing non-stop for over 3 hours. We all hung out and talked about anything and everything, and it didn’t matter who you were or what you did because everyone was there to have a great time. I know I may sound like I’m slightly exaggerating on the course of this day, but let me tell you – I promise I am not. I feel so completely rejuvenated and ready to delve back into the books after today. How can a day spent with your jiu jitsu family be anything less than awesome, and just imagine that you also get to celebrate some well-deserved promotions!  

I know some people in my life, and probably some people who don’t even really know me, think I’m absolutely crazy for being so in love with jiu jitsu mostly because I’m a girl in this male-dominated sport. I know they’re wrong – especially after days like today. Yes, jiu jitsu is wonderful for reasons I’ve already talked about like the mental and physical challenge and the life lessons you learn – but one of the best parts is the family that you gain. Today I really learned what it means to be a part of the Ribeiro jiu jitsu family and to have people that will be your biggest supporters because I saw it first-hand. And I know that if other people knew exactly what that meant they would be less incredulous, because our Ribeiro family is definitely worth being a part of. So congratulations to everyone today! And to everyone else… keep up the hard work! Remember what’s on the walls of our academies – a black belt is a white belt who never gave up!


How Stress Affects Me

 Here’s a probably not-so surprising fact: I am fully stressed out. I’m not exactly sure when it started, probably after getting back from break. I’m dreaming about renal physio, I can’t seem to get drug names to stick in my brain, I’m behind on DIT, and with professors using the catch phrase “you’ll see this in June” every other sentence, I think it’s fairly understandable. What I didn’t know was that I was even that stressed, until I had an *almost* full breakdown on the mats yesterday. Yes, I know this is a public blog, but I know I’m not alone here. Essentially, I just couldn’t get a sweep down while drilling and all of a sudden I just hit my frustration limit – and I just couldn’t handle it. (And here I’d like to apologize to the guys I may have freaked out when I started talking in a pitch only dogs can hear). I took a step back and realized it wasn’t the sweep that was getting me, it was everything else, but somehow I let everything build up to the point that it affected me on the mat. And let me tell you, that made me very unhappy. I always saw BJJ as my escape from the stress and craziness of the world. So imagine my dismay when I realized it had followed me into my “safe haven”.

What I imagine I looked like while freaking out.

So why am I telling you this? Because I realized that’s perfectly okay. A year ago, I would have just quit what I was doing, probably grabbed some ice cream on my way home, and let it affect the rest of my day. What did I actually do? I took some deep breaths, refocused, and pressed on. I finished the lesson, did some open mat, then went home and finished studying for my exam. I didn’t quit – I persevered. The stress obviously didn’t just go away with a few deep breaths, but I have learned to deal with it much more effectively. Med school is really tough for everyone; and since we’re all super type A personalities we take “losses” very hard. Doesn’t matter what those losses are – I consider getting behind a loss, or having to take a whole weekend off of studying for a CDM exam a loss. I even consider it a loss when I zone for a few minutes in class and somehow miss something important. Those losses haven’t changed, I still have those the same as I did last year. What’s changed is my ability to deal with them, and realize that I didn’t lose. BJJ has taught me that – the only time you lose is if you fail to learn a lesson.  
After a night of BJJ

I guess the point is that I’ve grown. I think everyone has stress in their life (and if not, please tell me what you’re doing and how I can do the same!). For me, that’s unavoidable. What you can control is how you deal with it. (Ask my brothers or parents if I’ve improved from last year – I’m sure they’d love to tell you stories.) I know a bunch of my classmates who run or play soccer or basketball, and that’s great! What I turn to is BJJ. Because I don’t know any other sport where you can walk out of a 6 minute match having tapped 6 different times and still be smiling.


Here’s to Great Training Partners

I’ve taken to reading a lot of other BJJ blogs (a lot out there by women, which is awesome!) during my 10 minute study breaks. So I’ve decided to devote this to saying thanks to all of my incredible training partners. There are so many posts from guys about how girls are inferior and weaker (well, duh that’s physiological…the weaker part we’re obviously not inferior) and should only train with other girls. At my academy the other girls are all under the age of 14 (and remember… I’m 23), otherwise it’s all guys. Don’t get me wrong, drilling and training with the other girls is awesome! Those are some of my favorite days, because you actually feel like you know something. But a lot of days, I’m the only girl there. And the guys at the academy have been incredible training partners on those days. There is never a guy who would turn down a match with me simply because I am a girl.

From the first day I walked through the door (okay, maybe not the first day because I’m fairly certain I was so scared I didn’t talk to anyone for about a month), every guy has been so encouraging and helpful. I am well aware of the fact that every guy there could Hulk smash me at any given point, but I really appreciate that they don’t. And from what I’ve read, this leads some guys to think that means we as women have it “easier”. You know what? Yes. My training partners have made it easier for me to learn how to survive and escape by not simply smashing me all the time. But does that mean that it’s easier for me? Of course not. There’s still this super elusive thing called “offense” apparently that I hope to learn someday.

So here’s the thing if you’re a girl and you want to start up (or have already started) – there will always be a few guys who will Hulk smash you or be crazy spazzy and throw a neck crank your way. But you have to remember, they’re in the minority. Most guys training in BJJ want to help everyone improve and won’t let their ego get in the way. You’ve just got to make sure you find a school that you feel welcome and comfortable at.

To all of the guys who train with me on a regular basis (and the girls that do as well), thank you. Thank you for pushing me to become better and for never treating me as lesser simply because I’m a girl. Every day training I have a great group of guys who are all my teachers and my friends. And a huge thanks should go to my coach for creating an atmosphere so conducive to starting and continuing in this incredible journey and for being the most supportive person there.
I’m incredibly excited for the “women’s BJJ movement” with things like open mats and self-defense seminars; but I also feel incredibly grateful that I have an awesome group of training partners who are essential to continual improvement.

So here’s a big THANK YOU to all of you. You probably never thought anything of it, but I genuinely appreciate it every day.  And to all you girls out there, don’t let fear keep you off the mats! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find some great allies in the guys.


Picking Up and Starting Off

               What’s the first thing you notice on your first day back to school after break? I’d say it’s the pure calm, happiness, and restfulness in everyone’s face. What do you notice on day 2? Sleep deprivation already beginning to take its toll and stress kicking in. And trust me, there’s no exaggeration here – it really is that drastic. The library is already packed and the study marathons have started, with maybe less enthusiasm than usual. It takes a lot of work to get your brain back into study mode, and you can definitely see everyone struggling a little bit. However, we’re pushing on, and hopefully our bodies will readjust to the lack of sleep, high stress levels, and off the charts coffee intake sooner rather than later.

                What’s the first thing you notice at the gym after the start of the new year? A whole bunch of people you’ve never seen before. And honestly, I think that’s great. Even if people only last a few months, at least they started. What I’ve realized is that hardest part to anything is simply the starting. This applies to everything. Starting to study, starting a paper, starting to workout, starting a relationship, starting to run, starting a job. We always dread these things, but it’s not the actual process as much as starting. Once you actually get started, it seems that it’s much easier sailing after that.

                So, start! Lace up your running shoes, pull out those books, and pour the coffee. I’m determined to make the most of every moment in every day this year, and that starts simply by starting! So it’s day 2, and for the first time in quite a while I am completely caught up on studying. That means I get to go train without feeling guilty that I should be studying, and that I get to sleep a decent amount. Yes, it’s only been 2 days. But if you start right from the beginning, it’s easier to stick with it. And with your newfound free time from getting things done earlier you can do all those things on your list that you never thought you’d be able to get around to.

                How am I doing on my new year resolution? I think I’m doing really well. For every decision I have to make I ask what’s better for me in the long run and it’s actually changing me. I’m eating healthier, I’m training more often, I’m studying more efficiently, and I genuinely am a happier person. I am choosing to go to the library instead of napping, and I’m choosing to train instead of napping! And for those of you who enjoy naps as much as we med students do, you know that’s a big deal. No more excuses – only results. I haven’t quite mastered the whole “not hitting the snooze button” just yet, but nobody’s perfect.

                So whatever it is that you’re dreading, do yourself the favor and simply start working on it. I think you’ll find it wasn’t as bad as you had thought once you actually start. No need to take a giant leap, just start by taking that first step!


New Year Resolutions

                Before we delve into all the greatness that a new year brings, I think it’s incredibly important to take a moment to think about how many blessings were in the previous year. 2012 was a really good year for me – I finished my first year of med school, I had 2 amazing summer jobs that taught me the value of patience and true respect, I finished I&I (probably the biggest blessing), I found BJJ (which, no one outside of BJJ can understand that importance) and I had incredible times with my family and friends. I am so thankful for everybody and everything that I have been blessed with.

                But now, what do I hope 2013 brings? Well this is going to be quite the year. For starters, I will *hopefully* finish my second year of medical school and do well on step 1 of the medical licensing board exams (or USMLE Step 1 if you will). I know that’s going to bring about 6 weeks of studying 14 or so hours a day, but that’s not until May so why think about that yet! I will also get to start working in the hospital this year! Now, since high school that has been a moment I have been working so hard for, so you cannot imagine how excited I am. This year my oldest brother graduates from college, and my youngest brother graduates from high school (in the midst of that USMLE studying no less, so that’ll be fun!). Oh, and I’m going to compete in my first IBJJF tournament, which is extremely exciting. And through all of that I’m sure there will be plenty of other things that come up.


                    So what are my goals for 2013? My best friends will be the first to tell you I often make incredibly unrealistic goals. So this year I’ve decided on one completely reasonable goal: to become the best I can be. I know that seems vague and completely overused, but you know what, it fits about every situation you can imagine. For example – when I wake up I usually hit snooze 4 times before dragging myself out of bed and into school. Instead, I can wake up the first time and review my notes before class thus starting my day off much better. When we have those weird 2 hour breaks between class, I could spend it on social media (re: pinterest), but instead I will choose to study. At the end of the day when I’m desperately in need of a nap, I could go home, or I could drive to the academy and put in a solid workout. Now these all seem like small things, but when done every single day they truly add up.

                You know what also makes you a better person? Spending time with others. I will be the first to admit that medschool has caused me to really scale back on how much time I spend with or talk to friends. And in hindsight, that’s crazy! At a time where you already feel incredibly isolated and sometimes like you’re drowning, what you need is more social experiences, not less. So in that 10 minute walk from the library to my car, I can call up a friend and say hi. It’s the little things.
               So I guess when I boil it down, my resolution is to do little things that will improve my life. Studying a little more everyday will help immensely with the USMLE around the corner. Training a little more and a little harder every day will push me to improve step by step. Reconnecting with friends will help remind me that I’m human and there are people who I still care about outside of my books.

               I hope that people will hold me accountable for attaining my resolution, and I look forward to hearing what other people are going to try and accomplish this year. I’m incredibly excited for what the year holds. So remember, resolutions don’t have to be “work out 4 times a week” although they can be. But this year, I think that making myself a better person will be one of my most worthwhile resolutions yet.

Happy 2013! OSS!