Strange Injury. Do I Still Deem This West Coast, Best Coast?

TL;DR – Messed up my neck/shoulder, but the recovery is going well. Although I am not training right now so I’m lowkey depressed. You live and learn. Also talking about some gyms in Las Vegas + The Bay Area. 

For a recent work trip, I had the opportunity to go to Las Vegas and San Francisco. I was so excited to check out the fight capital and the big-name gyms in the Bay area. All very exciting until I realized:

  1. Traveling for work is NOT traveling for fun
  2. Scheduling is a big issue
  3. Work won’t cover my Ubers/Lyfts to training
  4. So… the conversion between CAD -> USD is heartbreaking 
  5. Also, drop-in fees! I was taken aback. Sigh, all done within reasons I understand.
    But still. 

After taking all this into account, I was only able to drop into 3 gyms – Cobra Kai Jiu-Jitsu in downtown Las Vegas, Guardian Gym in Oakland and San Francisco BJJ in San Francisco.

Cobra Kai Jiu-Jitsu – A gym tucked away in a little plaza on Oakley Blvd. You can see the Stratosphere Hotel in the background. I gotta say, walking west on Wyoming Avenue from the Strip was sort of sketchy. I was told that they’re gentrifying the entire area (think – quiet street, boarded up shops everywhere, missing coats of paint) – I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into. Glad I made the trek though. It’s a really friendly place. I participated in the no-gi class with their teacher Rodrigo. We were going over side mount escapes. On top of getting decent rolls and no injuries, I was really happy with my experience here. Of course, if I had the time, I would’ve loved to check out Sergio Penha or Robert Drysdale’s gyms too. 


Rodrigo and I @ CKJJ

San Francisco BJJ – I heard that Caio Terra would be around. If you don’t want to finish reading this post, I’ll be the first to tell you that he was NOT around the Tuesday I visited. I stayed for 2 sessions of no-gi with Denny Prokopos (I believe this used to be a 10th Planet SF) and had a good chuckle, as Denny’s lessons had a dramatic/comedic flair to it. I drilled technique with the only other girl there. It was nice to drill with someone my size- it had been a while since I’d seen another girl on the mats (which speaks to my inconsistency). Overall, I had some challenging rolls (everyone’s hooks were quite sticky- I had trouble passing one guy for the entire round). Again, if I had the time, Bay Jiu-Jitsu, Empire Jiu-Jitsu and Ralph Gracie were on my list too (oh well, next time!).


Kristen, Denny and I @ SFBJJ

Guardian Gym – I found the gym via the Matsurfing map and really supported the nonprofit work they do. Kids train free there and supports a lot of youth programs. They accept donations for drop-ins. A very honest environment and cool space, but they’re apparently moving to a larger location (a bit further into Oakland, though) soon. I attended an incredible no-gi open mat on Sunday with my friend Ivo. I had a great time, and could tell that I landed a great group of higher belts because I came out injury free! I rolled with someone 3 times because we were roughly the same size and weight – I could truly practice my techniques and movement a lot more. So seeing how successful Sunday was, I opted to come back on Wednesday with Ivo’s coworker who actually trains at Guardian.

Open Mat @ Guardian Gym

Ivo and I. Been told my mouth guard makes it look like I'm missing teeth.

We did a beginner’s no-gi class. I partnered with someone roughly my size. Everything was going well- technique and drilling all worked fine, it was all great, until the roll. I don’t know what happened (typical BJJ answer) but I was in side control at some point and perhaps it was from the pressure (because there was no hint of submission) but the joints in my neck cavitated (these are all words from my friend in Chiropractor school). Imagine knuckle cracking. Except on my neck. It sounded like a semi-automatic rifle going off (too soon?) and my partner kind of dropped me and screamed. Again, never had this happen to me before. Here I am trying to catch my breath and refocus my vision, and everyone’s stopped to make sure I have no numbness or tingling sensations flowing through my fingers. I was even foolish enough to try drilling with someone, then realizing that the pain had traveled to my shoulder/I could not even complete the motion of leg dragging. I sat out for the entire round, very frustrated but not stupid. It just sucked that it was my last night before going home and I really wanted to get some good rolls in. But I’m not stupid.

If there’s anything I learned, traveling for work is not traveling for fun. I work in media production/marketing/communications/creative. That field. What if I had to run some type of production the next day? Oh sorry, I can’t do my job because I messed up my neck and shoulder in jiu-jitsu? I’m not out here to get fired (especially also since I just started a new gig). I’ve learned that I need to be more careful and stick to rolling with higher belts, especially if I am away from home. 

Pro-Tip: Unless you’re on some insanely expensive travel/medical insurance coverage, BJJ is usually NOT covered. My company will definitely not buy me the highest level of World Nomads Insurance, let me tell you that!