• sarahdraht

Competing as a black belt for the first time.

It’s completely normal when faced with something that is intimidating to find a million excuses not to do it.

When you have ten minutes, every second counts.

Excuses and reasons, there is a fine line between those two things.

My personal definition:

A reason: When there is a logical explanation to not to do something that could hurt the bigger picture and or the larger goal.

An excuse: A way to get out of doing something that intimidates me, or that is hard, or that I really don’t feel like doing. An excuse is an avenue to stay in my safe zone.

Fine line between these two things (you can read more on this from my blog post before masters worlds, click here for that)

Battle after battle.

As a younger belt I never understood why the higher belts would sit on the side of the mat during their divisions. Now I realize, sometimes they are so damn tired they need to sit and save every last ounce of energy that they have. So they can do what they need to do on the mats

Everyone moved from my weight division, so I had three options:

1) Cut weight to go down to medium heavy. I was not prepared for this, and was over by 6 pounds with my gi. I could do it, but I was not prepared for it. I knew my matches were ten minutes long, and the jetlag was still affecting me. I needed all the fuel I could get.

2) Take the gold in my division (for being the only athlete), and walk into the open fresh. The thing is. I came to London to compete, and compete as first competition as a black belt to gain experience. A ‘coffee coaster gold medal’ (that’s what we call the medals we call that were given by draw of the division, not earned) would be good for marketing. But not for my Jiu-Jitsu. I would be pissed with myself if I took the coffee coaster medal, and then lost the first match in the open. Totalling to barely one match.

3) I could go up to the heaviest weight division possible (to the point where I didn’t even have to weigh in), where there were two other girls. Allowing me two matches in my division and even more in the open.

My thought process?

After losing my final in masters world last year (that was a very very hard loss for me. I worked my way through my division, and made it to the final for the second time in the masters brown belt open, only to lose on points), I lost to a bigger girl. I need to figure out the puzzle of the larger opponents if I am to be a world champion at black.

Option 3 it is.

I had a million excuses not to option 3 (as I realized the matches are ten minutes long).

I’m tired from jet lag.

The YFBJJ instructing course was fun, but tiring.

I trained all week at Roger Gracie’s Academy.

I’m not feeling 100%.

I haven’t slept well.

I’m dehydrated.

I haven’t eaten very well.

I didn’t have enough protein all week.

My nervous system is shot and I am exhausted.

I have to give my mind credit for the creativity in the excuses that it tried to turn into reasons as I packed my bag the night before, as I got ready in the morning, as we walked to the train station, even as we walked into the venue.

The secret? To get on those damn mats, shake the refs hand, shake the opponent's hand, and do Jiu-Jitsu.

The following is true. I was wondering if it is true and it is.

Every single grip counts, every single movement, how much energy I put into each grip and movement.

Every single minute, every single second counts.

In my matches, Superdave was there, but said minimal things. Why was this? Because we had worked extensively on the strategy and game plan (always evolving as we add more to my game). He didn’t have to say a lot, because the work was already done. He just reminded me of couple details as needed. Todays wins didn't happen today, they happening through the last 1.5 years (hours on the mats, late night texts and phone calls, analyses of opponents and my own game, of strategy).

I had four matches, and all of them went the full ten minutes, every time.

My old self would have been exhausted, I should have been exhausted. But I paced myself carefully, and it was so interesting feeling my opponents. They paced themselves too. In my first match in the open division it probably looks to the untrained eye that absolutely nothing is happening, however, that was a match where every single inch counts. I won by an inch.

In the final of the open, I lost by an inch. In both finals.

In my first black belt tournament at London 2019, I made it to the final of my weight division and the open - losing the final to decision both times.

I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect mentor, a perfect program, a perfect formula a perfect quote to bring success.

As I tried to find the formula to success, the biggest challenge I keep coming across is the only constant is change and we are changing all the time. Every single day, as we live, learn, and grow.

I realized to continue moving forward (and pushing those walls back like I talked about in my previous post: Click here for that post) I need to aggressively and relentlessly continue in finding that next level. The crazy thing is, of course, the next level is hard and uncomfortable, but after a while that just becomes routine.

Get used to it.

So I need to change something else to keep moving forward and evolving.

It’s not about taking once certain course to learn how to organize my life, or one certain book to get inspired, or one big life lesson.

It’s about a magnificent and messy combination of all these things. And each thing serves a purpose for a certain amount of time (whether it becomes part of our routine or whether it comes and passes).

I find I have to be very aware and focused to find these things, and I continually do (sometimes I have to look harder than other times).

It’s about learning one new thing a day.

As complex as we are humans and how our journeys are so vastly different but intertwined so deeply, our learning will be specific to each of us.

The beautiful part is we will share notes and challenges, but with our filters (that are created through our experiences and interpretations of them), even our shared experiences will be processed differently.

Every day is a match.

We need to win as many as possible.

Because the matches are numbered.

Our matches are numbered.

It honestly isn’t about doing a great thing one day

It’s about doing the small things day in and day out and eventually they become great things.

Massive thank you to my sponsors whom I proudly represent:


Joel has been absolutely incredibly in keeping me on the mats. Not just helping recover injuries, but also in preventing injuries. He doesn't know it yet, but I will be seeing him again this week for my shoulder and ribs (haha).

Lynchpin Personal Training

Jay is a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu, but a black belt in weights, conditioning, and diet. His knowledge is next level. Random busywork done to exhaustion isn't going to create strength and power. I am the product of fundamental movements done extraordinarily well (to quote Jason).

BC Kimonos

There is something said about putting on a beautiful, light, and strong gi. That not only looks professional but rises to the occasion in doing everything that I need it to do (and I do not go light on my gis). As much as they look phenomenal, believe it or not they perform even better than they look (and they keep getting better).

Yoga for BJJ

That is teaching me yoga is so much more than just flexibility. It's about connecting the body on a new level that I never knew was even possible. Thank you Sebastian and his wife Stine that he speaks so highly of - for the inspiration of what is possible.

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