26 November 2010

Sports Psyche Paper on Anabolic Steroids

So I wrote a paper my final semester of college on steroid usage in MMA. I tried to be impartial and keep my opinions to myself on what I thought about Steroids. That being said it was a sports psychology paper, so enjoy!

    Use of Steroids in professional sports has become more and more prevalent. With the emergence of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as a new professional ‘must see’ sport, the governing bodies have started to crack down on the abuse of all forms of steroids. Steroid use has repeatedly been found in MMA fighters and the psychological effects have had more negative effects than positive effects on the performances of MMA fighters.  So why do MMA athletes use steroids? And what are the drawbacks psychologically, from using the steroids?

Use of anabolic steroids has for some time been widespread among competitive sportsmen and women, who selfadminister[sic] doses of up to 100 times the recommended therapeutic dose, and use combinations of multiple oral and injectable [sic] preparations.”(Williamson)

Baseball players, football players, and professional wrestlers have all admitted to, or have been caught using steroids. They claim the steroids enhance their athletic performance. The psychological side affects range from

reports of violent, criminal behavior in individuals taking AS(anabolic steroids). Other side effects … are euphoria, confusion, sleeping disorders, pathological anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations. (Kuipers)

One thing that seems to also be a problem is when the athletes try to stop using steroids, the psychological withdrawl symptoms can be very severe includidng “aggressive and violent behavior, mental depression with suicidal behavior, mood changes, and in some cases acute psychosis.” (Kuipers) In July of 2007 pro wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife, child, and himself during a ‘roid rage’ episode. The psychological affects can greatly harm not only the athletes, but even the people around them.
In the past eight years, the three major commissions, Nevada State Athletic Commission, California State Athletic Commission, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship have had Thirty one fighters test positive for some form of steroids.

Two fighters, Jeff Monson, and Kevin Randlemann both admitted to using steroids or trying to alter their urine tests to not get caught.”(potato)

In 2007 there were fourteen major professional fighters that had failed to pass their steroid tests. In an article posted on Cagepotato.com an interesting trend was seen “Of the aforementioned fighters who were accused of steroid use after fights, 11 were successful in those fights, while 18 were unsuccessful.” (potato)  Two of the fighters in this article were repeat offenders. Josh Barnett and Kimo Leopoldo were tested before their fights and failed; they were not allowed to fight.
The two most common psychological side effects are,

‘roid rage,’ a manic rage where the user displays episodes of outright aggression and/or violent feelings and actions”(CESAR)  and “ users may suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility(CESAR)

Both of these side effects can have very negative effects on MMA fighters during their fights. If the fighter does start having any of the psychological effects of steroids they make the fighter lose focus, which can be very bad. They make mistakes leave openings, and end up being more vulnerable. Another problem that happens, is when the fighters start to cycle off of the steroids, they do not have as effective of practices and training. If an athlete has multiple practices where they perform to a lower standard, or can feel themselves getting ‘weaker’ it can start to negatively affect athletes psychological stability. Not only are the effects a negative, but the Sports commissions have made it very costly to break the rules.
Is it worth it to break the rules for a better physique, and better practices?  Many of the athletes claim they had only used what doctors had prescribed to help them get over surgeries, or overcoming major injuries. One of these injured athletes, Dennis Hallmann, said after testing positive for steroids

I honestly think that taking steroids is counter-productive for MMA, they do not improve how you punch or how good you are at subs. They actually hurt your cardio which is the biggest factor in MMA. (potato)

Many others were not even aware they had used an illegal substance, at least four of the MMA fighters mentioned in the cage potato article claimed they had picked up supplements from national stores like GNC and Max Muscle. Not one of them had realized some of their supplements would make them test positive for Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. In the case of Ken Shamrock his brother commented that “Why do you think he crumbles before the big fights? He's got no psyche. He let steroids give himsteroids a false sense of security and the moment that stuff is gone he's no longer superman.” (potato) Losing that edge it starts to make the fighters doubt, and if they do not go in confident, they lose the fight before they can even start. And the governing sports commissions usually fine the athletes, then suspend the fighters anywhere from a few months to indefinite bans.
  Athletes in all sports have been coming under harsher and harsher punishments for steroid.  With more MMA fighters losing in cases where they have been found to have steroids in their system, it is getting harder and harder to justify using them. They psychological drawbacks to using the steroids do not end up giving the fighters the edge they had hoped for and in the long run end up hurting them even more in the long run.

14 November 2010

Cutest BJJ’er I’ve ever met…

So I have met probably the cutest little BJJ girl ever. Her name is Bailey and she is a very hard little worker. Check out her practicing in class. She’s going to be a champion!

09 November 2010

The Blue Belt Triangle Part 1

Martial arts are hard. I will never nock someone who does a martial art. In many martial arts though it does not take very long to advance through the belt system. For everyone in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu though, it is a little different.The average amount of time it takes to get from white to black belt is 10 years. For many, that is a huge commitment, but when they finally do get there, they are more than ready, and there is a HUGE sense of accomplishment. Making it to black belt for a guy is hard. For a female, it is even more rare. It’s so rare, that at the most prestigious tournaments, they are forced to have brown and black belt females compete together, just so they can fill divisions. I’m not saying that male BJJ black belts are a dime a dozen, because they aren’t. But when looking for a black belt female, it’s like a needle in a haystack.

So where does the decrease start? True there aren’t many females that do BJJ in the first place. But there has to be a point where the amount of females that are in BJJ start dropping off.  The points where both men and women start to disappear are relatively close in time. For women, this point is near the end of their white belt, beginning of their blue belt career. For men the point happens a little later, mid blue belt to almost purple belt. I like to call this the Blue Belt Triangle. It is just like the Bermuda Triangle in the ocean. Tons of BJJ’ers enter this area like a ship into the Bermuda triangle, and like many ships, some are never seen again. The ones that make it out of the Blue belt Triangle, tend to be a little battered, hardened but in the long run much better jiu jitsu players for the time put in. My coach Marcello says that other than your black belt, (which you will spend most of your jiu jitsu career at, if you make it there) you blue belt is the place where you will spend most of your time. Sherdog and other online forums are littered with with ‘Blue belt blues’  forums. This is of course different for everyone but blue belt is a huge step. It is also where the biggest difference in skill is at. Think about a brand new blue belt, a few days in, he’s definitely not a white belt, but compared to a guy who is about to get his purple belt. The difference can be staggering. So why does this happen? And how can we maybe get more people to stick with it so the field becomes deeper, and the competition, as well as the technique become better?

fujibluebelt

I’m going to hit on the women’s Blue Belt Triangle for now. Mainly because just about 2 months ago I escaped this triangle and became a purple belt. As excited as I am for being a purple belt, I know I was already having trouble finding competition as a blue. In my almost 4 years of Brazilain Jiu jitsu I have seen over 25 different females at my jiu jitsu school. Vanessa, who is a brown belt and just had a baby, is the only one that has been there longer than me. out of the ones that I have seen start, 12 no longer do jiu jitsu, or made it our of white belt. 3 are white belts that have been there less than a year. 2 have their blue belts and have moved to other parts of the country. 3 are newer blue belts at my school but do not come regularly now that they are blue belts, The last two are white belts that are advanced and will hopefully be promoted soon.

The biggest obstacle for females in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is getting started in it. There aren’t many females, and walking into a room full of guys who possibly train MMA or roll hard, is intimidating. 32204_538765532808_41701517_31807248_2707849_n Even if a female and a male are the same height and weight, a guy is going to have that physical advantage. Now  turn that into pairing a small female with a bigger muscular guy, even just to train techniques in those first few months, it gets down right scary. The first day I went into class there were three females there. So it wasn’t so bad. Vanessa immediately started talking to me and was very friendly. She was a blue belt at the time and made things much easier to get use to. The first time I had to train with only the guys I was terrified and it showed.

I will give the females at my school credit for one major thing though, half of them are mothers and juggle very hectic schedules while still trying to train when possible. I think the pressure of after college, getting careers, or starting a family life, play a huge roll on why women don’t get past blue belt. Many females like Vanessa, Lindsey, and Allison had been doing Brazilian 58839_544652096088_41701517_32040769_479936_nJiu JItsu, before getting pregnant. While Vanessa just had her baby and still has a little bit until she can probably train again, she was coming to practice even into her 6th and 7th month of pregnancy. Getting back into jiu jitsu after having a baby though is rough. So when they do come back to practice it’s an awesome thing. The major events in our lives can be difficult but there are always ways to work things out.

Probably the most noticeable place to see this Blue Blue belt Triangle is at tournaments. At major tournaments there are tons of white belt females in many divisions. The blue belt divisions are almost cut in half with participants. By the time purple belt comes around there are only three or four females in a division. Finally the brown and blacks, compete together. At the more localized tournaments, there are always female white belts with a few different weight divisions. Occasionally there will be one or two  blue belt weight classes, but more often than not, it’s more of an open weight class. By Purple belt, they IMG_0174struggle to find more than one or two if there are even any. I’m speaking mainly from my experience. I’ve not done smaller tournaments on the coasts so I’m not sure how the breakdown is out there. Every year I hope to see more females sticking around. But in the three years I was at blue belt, I never competed against the same girl more than one tournament. They were all blue, but they all disappear.

So what should be done to help keep females in the sport, to get them past that blue belt slump? First, invite friends to train, make friends with your guy teammates’ girlfriends, wives, fianc├ęs, sisters etc. and maybe get them to come in train as well. When there is a new female in class go out of your way to help them, make them feel comfortable, and get to know them. My female teammates are some of my best friends, and almost like sisters. Push the other females in whatever road they want to take in their jiu jitsu careers. If they want to do it just for fun, then push them to come in, learn more technique, and relax at practice. If they want to compete, push them to compete with you, push each other and always make sure to keep each other positive. One of my teammates would feel horrible if we text messaged her and she didn’t go to practice. So every chance we could we would send messages to see who would be at practice to train. It kept everyone coming more often. If you know of girls on other n41701517_30781044_7225 teams, try to visit their school or have them visit your school. Nothing is better than getting a whole new group of girls to visit, and trade experiences with. Try to establish a women’s only class/ team, if your school has a decent amount of females. When there is an option of going to women’s only class, more females tend to stay because they can get use to jiu jitsu before diving into a full class with a mix of men as well. Or at the very least organize a time at an open mat for everyone to get together. Try to hit up a women’s only seminar, or a women’s only competition, etc. Finally, with all of the social networking websites, try to make contact with other women out there that train. The more we encourage the other females we know to keep pushing the more of us will get past that blue belt hump and progress through the belts.

08 November 2010

Impromptu Open mat

So even though it was Sunday Michael and I went over to the gym because a few people were there to roll for open mat/ mma. It was cool, I got to meet a few more of the guys Don and Aaron. Both have mma fights coming up and were working hard on everything. I went with Jared, an white belt who for only a few months of training is doing awesome, and really seems to be grasping how to work hard on only using technique, and trying not to muscle around. The best part is he will admit any time he uses it. Michael and I rolled, of course, and we always go for a while. I tried so many times to submit him, but no way was it going to happen… he’s got such a smooth technique, and it’s great to go with him. After I sparred a few times, Michael went over some techniques he had been working on, showed a bunch of things I hadn’t seen before, I think I’m really going to like this school.

I do miss Indy though. It’s going to definitely be weird not going in and seeing my jiu jitsu family, but at the same time I’m excited to add to it. It’s definitely some mixed emotions. Tomorrow my mom flies home, I move into my apartment, and there is a full day of BJJ! I can’t wait to see the school with classes running! Also Marcello comes Friday for a seminar up here, I’m excited to see my professor! The Gambred team has a tournament, the Revolution BJJ tournament, and a few of the guys are fighting so it’s a big week! I’ll keep everyone posted as more happens!!

02 November 2010

I told you changes were coming…

So for everyone who doesn’t know Thursday November 4th I will be moving across the country to Olympia, WA. This for me is a huge/ crazy step. It is something I need and want to do though. I got a great job with a great company. I have a bjj school to train at out there, and I’ve even got a few people I now know out there.

So Today is my last day at work. The rest of the week I will be packing up my life into boxes, and on Thursday, I do a cross country road trip. I will be at every practice I can get to until then.. I will take pictures, video, whatever I can, because I am going to miss everyone terribly.

To my team in Indiana, I will still try to keep a list of Midwest bjj tournaments updated for you. For my new team, I will keep a new list of bjj tournaments for us. I promise to keep in touch with Indianapolis. I will be on the lookout for belt promotions from you guys, and any time I’m in town, you better believe I will find my way into the school.

I’m so sorry to the ladies on my Indianapolis team… I’m going to miss Vanessa kicking my butt all the time. For Alison and Lindsey, you guys are amazing blue belts and I can’t wait to hear about you getting your purple belts. Easton, keep going to practice, that blue belt is in sight. Beth, keep at it so you can beat up Paul. To any new ladies, keep at it, work hard, I look forward to seeing you when I come back

To the BJJ young adults,you guys are amazing. I wish I had found bjj at your age. Edwin and Mikey, I know you guys will take the bjj world by storm and become amazing blue belts, and eventually black belts. Hollie and Becca you ladies are hilarious, keep everyone smiling, keep working hard, I want you guys to beat me up when I come back to visit. Tony, stick with it, you have some great teammates, and you will be able to progress with them so much.

To the rest of my team, thank you so much for being a part of my bjj family. I know it’s only been four years but I look at you as an extended family. Marcello, you are an amazing professor and I am so lucky to have wandered into your school first. You have shaped my jiu jitsu, and I am honored to be one of your purple belts. I am also so relieved that I found an affiliate school of yours to train at. I don’t think I could fully ever leave the association.  Junior, thank you for being my first black belt interview. You are an outstanding black belt, mma fighter, and instructor. I can’t wait to see you compete in both, again. I will miss your attention to all of the details, you pushing me to be better, and work harder. Thank you so much.

I promise to be back, I already know when it will happen for sure. I want pictures of everyone when they get promoted, when they compete, everything that happens.

To Gamebred Jiu Jitsu. I can’t wait to come out and help however possible. You guys have made me feel so welcome, even though I have only been to train once. What ever I can do to help your guys’ game, any questions I can answer I want to help! I love jiu jitsu and hope to make the gym and team a better place.

So 7pm will be my last bjj class for now in Indy. I’m taking pictures, maybe getting video, all will be posted, I love you guys. Now on to the new adventure! wish me luck! Please stay tuned!!!