This year has been a really trying one. After winning the Europeans I returned to the US and resumed my training in hopes of winning my 4th straight pans title. Going into pre camp it was the best I have ever felt, my Jiu Jitsu was sharp and for the first time in a long time I was relatively injury free. Than all of a sudden things changed. I started getting severe head aches to the point it affected my vision. At first I thought it was fatigue, to be a champion in our sport we have to push our limits, some times this takes a toll on our bodies. I had felt these symptoms before so I thought with rest they would go away. They never did and I was forced to withdrawal. My whole life seemed to stop, and my focus was on getting healthy. Up next was worlds and it was extremely hard to see my team, my friends and my students prepare and not be along side them in competition.
Fast forward to now, after seeing a lot of specialist and undergoing a lot of test everyone knows theres something wrong and everyone has there own ideas how to fix it. There treatments range from getting shots to changing my diet for 6 months, I have no idea who's right or who's wrong, all I know is how I feel. If I train to my limit I feel sick, if I don't I feel ok.
So with caution I competed this past weekend at the Chicago open. My goal was just to compete to see if I could. My focus wasn't going to be about winning or losing but having fun. To go through the emotions of competition, waiting in the bullpen then stepping on the mat was amazing. Although my mind was as sharp as ever my body definitely was feeling the strain of competition. In the gi division absolute finals I came up short against Vitor Oliveira. For those that don't know Vitor is a very good guy and an amazing competitor. After it was over I felt weak, but could still walk. Although I didn't win I didn't feel like I was dying either. On the first day of the Chicago open I learned that I can still compete.
After being up most of the night I decided I was not up for no gi. After talking with Comprido I changed my mind. In the finals of the absolute division my body fatigued really bad and in the very end I was able to pull off the win. Although I had won I did not feel like it.
On the mats we win and we lose, and the lessons we learn make us better in life. On day 2 I learned that I do have well defined limits and I should listen to my body more. This is something I took back with me to San Jose. I'd like to say thank you to everyone who supports me, and to all the competitors I've faced past and present, you've all taught me so much. No matter what team you are from we all love the same thing! Keep training and hopefully I'll see you at the next competition!