Grappler’s Heart Tournament

The 2016 Grappler’s Heart Tournament has come and gone. What an amazing experience it was. Jiu Jitsu fighters from all over the US and even one from the UK came to compete. For more than half the athletes, it was their first time competing.
What made Grappler’s Heart so special? It wasn’t because there were big names like Galvao or Cornelius. There were no flying armbars or flashy finishes. It was the heart and determination shown by each athlete. It was the thought that went into every movement to adapt it to the athlete’s abilities. It was the fact that these warriors put it all on the line for the chance at a gold medal. There were no excuses, only hard work, blood, sweat and tears. Well, maybe not tears. Every single person left the gym feeling exhilerated and accomplished. All of them ready to compete again.
UPMA brought two athletes to compete. Both Nolan and Amaris fought their hearts out and both took home a silver medal. It wasn’t the medals that made the day. It was the look on their faces and the feeling of accomplishment that they left with that day. After losing her first fight via armbar, Amaris jumped up with a big smile one her face, ready to go again. When asked what he liked about competing, Nolan said “Getting to test yourself against other people at your level”. Wow. Most adults I know don’t have an outlook that positive.
Hopefully, this is the first of many events for Team UPMA. We are in the process of helping the fine people at Dream Jiu Jitsu form a category for people with special needs at an upcoming tournament. We hope to add to our list of competitors, with the ultimate goal of finding a suitable opponent for each and every one of our students. Everyone should have the chance to test themselves against someone else at their level.
Thanks, Nolan!

Prevention of Bullying for People with Special Needs

There is a lot of talk these days about the problem of bullying. Many of us had to deal with bullies as kids. Sometimes, even as adults, we still find ourselves dealing with a bully. Unfortunately, this is often times an even bigger problem for our friends with special needs. Individuals with special needs are often seen as different and that alone can be enough to draw unwanted attention from a bully. Involvement in a martial art can not only help kids in dealing with bullies, but it can stop the situation from arising in the first place.

Training in the martial arts builds confidence. Kids that have the confidence in their ability to defend themselves will find it much easier to stand up to a bully from the get go. Usually, this takes care of the situation before it escalates to a physical altercation. The training itself helps children to overcome fears they may have about what may happen in a physical altercation. Bullying is very often an attempt to hide the insecurities of the bully. An insecure person won’t spend much time on someone with self confidence.

At the same time, being involved in a martial art can help prevent potential bullies from taking out their insecurities on others. For one, it helps to alleviate those insecurities. As stated above, it helps to build self confidence. It also teaches a respect for individual differences. On the mat, we are exposed to all different types of people. Everyone has to find a way to overcome their particular set of challenges. For example, a 5’4″ woman is going to train a lot differently than a 6’0″ man that is extremely over weight. However, both can be successful martial artists. Just imagine if you shared the mat with a disabled individual. You would gain so much respect for the way this person had to adapt in order to succeed.

Training can also help to alleviate stress. Whether it is the stress of feeling different or dealing with pressure within the home, a good workout is a healthy way to release pent up frustrations. It will also teach an individual to deal with feeling uncomfortable. Whether is is getting out of breath from a round of hitting the bags or dealing with the pressure of someone on top of you, one can learn a lot about themselves through martial arts training.

A good martial arts class also teaches it’s students discipline. Students learn to respect their instructor and other students in the class. All of this serves to support the good work that parents are doing at home. The biggest part of raising a child to be a happy, successful, kind adult lies with the parents. All the aspects of a martial arts class can serve to support what parents are doing at home.

Finally, a martial arts class helps to foster friendships. Very often individuals with special needs find themselves isolated. That bond of training together week after week helps to form friendships that can last a lifetime. It also helps students to feel like they are part of a group, which in turn, can help them to form friendships outside of the academy.

Training in a martial art has many wonderful benefits. Usually we think of the physical benefits, like increased strength and balance. It also has so much to offer an individual mentally. It helps people learn to deal with a bevvy of issues. Bullying is just one of them.

We Stand with Ian

We Stand with Ian

Have you ever heard of a jiu jitsu fighter by the name of Ian Matuszak? No? Well it’s about time you learned his name. Ian is a huge inspiration to us here at UPMA. He was born with Cerebral Palsy, but hasn’t let that stop him from training and competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He is a wonderful example of just how much a person can accomplish if he doesn’t let preconceived notions stand in his way.

That being said, Ian has an even tougher battle facing him. He was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer and will soon begin chemotherapy and radiation treatments. His wonderful friends and team mates have started a fund to help pay for his treatment. We hope that you can help Ian by donating whatever you can to fund treatment for this amazing man. We look forward to seeing him win this battle and go back to a different kind of fighting. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Ian!

To contribute to Ian’s treatment fund, go to: ¬†

What is Jiu Jitsu

What is Jiu Jitsu

Many of you know that Coach Kristen recently won gold at the 2015 Pan Jiu Jitsu Championship. You may also know that this is one of the biggest tournaments in the world. What many of you don’t know, is what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu consists of.
Many people hear the term Jiu Jitsu and automatically associate it with Karate or other traditional forms of martial arts. Or perhaps people just think it’s that thing they do in the UFC. So, let’s take a moment and clarify how it is different. Let’s start with traditional martial arts, things like Karate and Kung Fu. When you imagine Karate you probably think of katas. Katas are a series of movements, usually punches, kicks and blocks, arranged in a particular order to help students learn to string these movements together. In Kung Fu for example, these movements are usually also intended, in some way, to mimic the movements of a particular animal such as a tiger or crane (think Kung Fu Panda). These can be a lot of fun, but generally speaking, they aren’t very effective in real world situations. The other thing that may come to someone’s mind is the UFC. The Ultimate Fighting Championship has gained many fans over the last several years. Most every fighter in the UFC has at least some Jiu Jitsu training, but it is only one aspect of what goes on in the cage.
So, what is Jiu Jitsu? It can most easily be summarized as ground fighting. It has been said that upwards of 90% of all fights end up with at least one person on the ground. While this number may not have be somewhat inflated, the fact remains that most fights end up there at some point. So what happens when one or both parties end up on the ground? Traditional punches and kicks go all but out the window. This is where Jiu Jitsu comes in. Think of it like wrestling, only meaner. While wrestling relies solely on keeping an opponent down, Jiu Jitsu aims to also subdue that opponent. This means that while on the ground the Jiu Jitsu practitioner will be looking for a way to choke or manipulate his opponent’s joints. In a real life situation, that joint manipulation is intended to cause injury, perhaps just enough to allow you to get away from an attacker. In the gym, these submissions are carefully applied to allow one’s sparring partner to “tap out” or give up.
You may be asking yourself at this moment, “Why would I ever want to practice a sport where my partner is trying to choke me?” As previously stated, while Jiu Jitsu is a very effective self defense tool, it is also a safe sport to practice. The key to being a successful student of Jiu Jitsu is to leave your ego at the door. People most often get injured by not tapping out simply out of a reluctance to “give up”. We learn from our mistakes, but only if we can stick around long enough to do so. At Unlimited Possibilities we take safety one step further. Students are not taught how to finish a submission until they have proven that they can let go when a partner taps and that in turn they can tap out at the appropriate time.
Hopefully, this has shed some light on what it is that we are practicing. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Coach Kristen. She is always willing to help.

New Year, New Possibilities

New Year, New Possibilities

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am not good at keeping people informed about what is going on with me. Hence, the long period of time without a new post. Well, with the new year comes a chance to do many things better. So, here’s to keeping you informed about what’s going on with Unlimited Possibilities.
First an update on the end of last year. On Dec. 7th, 2014, Team UPMA once again was part of the annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks. As usual, it was a great event. There were vendors from all over Southern California and hundreds of new friends to meet. We had a booth complete with a punch out type game where everyone could earn prizes just by doing the most basic move in all of martial arts. It was a big hit! On top of that, Team UPMA was able to raise $820.00 for Autism Speaks. Money that will be spent on research and providing services to people with autism in our community. We owe a big thanks to our friends at Koral US for donating one of their amazing gis for our raffle and to our brothers and sisters at Brazilian Top Team Long Beach for all of their support.
We all thoroughly enjoyed a break over the holidays to spend time with family. Come the first week of January, we were back to it with all of those bright, shining faces returning along with a few faces that had been absent for a long time. With the new year comes new goals. Our number one goal this year is to increase the number of students that we serve. Martial arts has so many benefits to the individual and we want to share those benefits with a community that is grossly under served, the special needs community. Our biggest obstacle is getting the word out. There are thousands of people in Orange County and Long Beach that can benefit from our classes, we just need to let them know that we exist. This includes bringing fliers to Regional Center and partnering with community centers in different cities.
We hope that 2015 will bring great things for Unlimited Possibilities and that we can truly live up to our name. Stay tuned for more of what we have planned for 2015 and updates on our progress. As always, we welcome your feedback and assistance in helping us grow.