The Proving Grounds Invitational

static1.squarespace

September 10, 2016 will put Utah on the world grappling map. The Proving Grounds Invitational is a brown/black belt only tournament that will feature 3 pools of ridiculous  Jiu-Jitsu talent in a winner-take-all, submission-only event. The winner of each tournament bracket, -160 lbs., 160-190 lbs., and 190+ will walk away with $2,000 all for the privilege of  beating people up all nigh!

This tournament is an exceptional blend of big name grapplers like Bill “The Grill” Cooper,  World Champion Grapplers like Brandon Ruiz, UFC Vets like Tyson Griffin and Jerermy Horn (did you know he has 91 professional MMA wins with 63 submission???), Bellator Fighters like Alexander Huddleston and Scott Thometz, local ninja nightmares Jacob and Jason South, Utah legend Justin Ellison, and many, many more! To top it off, Proving Grounds is giving away a sick AR-15 from Reactive Gunworks!

If you are anywhere near Utah (like, within a 400-mile radius) you DO NOT want to miss this event! Tickets go on sale Tuesday, August 9th at 10am. For more details on the event, the gun giveaway, and to buy your tickets, visit www.thegaragemma.com

13912618_930692950389600_8734830247643060657_n

13882376_931214627004099_6717980244400385478_n

13876417_929925750466320_6970822095296225838_n

Summit and Submit II – The Events

IMG_1211

Summit and Submit II is rapidly approaching. In addition to grappling, there will also be other events that will count for points toward becoming tournament champion. Most events will be scored 3 points for 1st place, 2 points for 2nd place, and 1 point for 3rd place. At the end of the weekend, the person with the most points wins! Here are the events:

Mat Carry – Most carries over 10 miles scores 3 points, second scores 2, 3rd scores 1 point.

*Barbell Carry – Most carries scores 6 points, 2nd scores 4, and 3rd scores 2 points.

*Jiu-Jitsu Tournament – 1st place scores 6 points, 2nd scores 4, and 3rd scores 2 points.

Spinning 65 lb. Barbell Throw – Furthest scores 3 points, 2nd scores 2, 3rd scores 1 point.

Freestyle 45 lb. Barbell Throw – Furthest scores 3 points, 2nd scores 2, 3rd scores 1 point.

Barbell Man Crank – Fastest time for 1 round (24 squat, 24 lunges, 24 split squat jumps, 24 squat jumps) scores 3 points, 2nd scores 2, 3rd scores 1 point.

Backpack Push-up – Most reps scores 3 points, 2nd scores 2,  and 3rd scores 1 point

*These two events will be the hardest of the weekend, so are worth double points.

Bonus Points – 10 pound weight plate carry (the entire distance) scores 2 bonus points, heaviest backpack at truck scores 2 bonus points. In both instances, if someone has to carry some of your load on the way back, you lose the bonus points.

There you have it! Remember to let me know ASAP if you are planning to come so that we can be planning!

Summit and Submit II

IMG_2733

Summit and Submit II is rapidly approaching! We have decided on the third weekend of August to return to King’s Peak in the High Uintahs. This year’s trip will be a 3-day trip rather than a 2-day; likely Friday, Saturday, Sunday as the sooner we get there, the easier it will be to find tent and tournament sites. Saturday, Sunday, Monday is also an option, but again may limit our location choice. We will likely go with whatever works for the most competitors. We will decide within the week, so give us your input ASAP!

Like last year, we will be hiking 10-13 miles each direction carrying mats, backpacks, and a few other assorted goodies that we will use for challenges throughout the weekend. Remember, this is a combination grappling/strongman/endurance event (all at altitude), so don’t skip out because you think you’ll get destroyed on the mat. Even if you have no intentions of trying to win, Summit and Submit is a life-changing adventure, so come anyway! That being said, it may also be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, so don’t take it lightly. Start preparing immediately! We will also have a complete list of challenges posted within the week, so you will know what to work on.

We are just over a month out, so start planning now! This year’s event promises to be much bigger than last year, and every bit as epic!

IMG_1236

IMG_1207IMG_1241

IMG_1215

Fighting For 1st – Lessons from Jason South

I am blessed to be surrounded daily by brilliant ninjas. I consider myself to be a respectable purple belt, but am humbled by at least one of my training partners nearly every time I step on the mat. I’m blessed with the opportunity to roll frequently with brown and black belts, super technical purple belts and some of the most talented blue belts I’ve ever seen. Honestly, I feel like I have the best team and training partners anyone could ask for. Every time I step on the mat, there is something to learn from my opponent.

While I learn volumes on the mat, occasionally, a simple comment off the mat changes everything I know about Jiu-Jitsu. One of these moments came in April 2011 where I had made the heavyweight no-gi finals of a local submission only grappling tournament. One of my teammates, Jake South asked when I was up next. I excitedly replied, “I’m fighting for 1st or 2nd right now!” Jake’s brother, Jason, quickly responded, “No. You are fighting for 1st.”

I had lost perspective. Subconsciously, I had already accepted that I might not win. Without realizing it, I doubted myself. I eventually did lose in a 20-minute battle, but the lesson will stick with me forever. I am always fighting for 1st.

Thank you Jason South.

Jason South is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt (Unified BJJ – Pedro Sauer Team) under John Carlquist, the current Steelfist MMA Pro Welterweight Champion  (12-2), and training partner to guys like Court McGee and Josh Burkman.

Starting Today

Post written by Arlo Gagestein

*I originally wrote this post on May 6, 2015. I wanted to repost because this past weekend, Richard Call, competed in the No Gi Worlds and came home with the bronze medal! Congrats Richard, I’m proud of you. There’s no doubt in my mind you’ll be a world champion!

12196331_10102831137669466_5526996092105337964_n

I was hit today with an aha moment. Why it took so long, I do not know. I routinely share quotes such as:

Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” -Earl Nightingale

and

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now” – Chinese Proverb

So, with even with this “Go For It” attitude, I for some reason intentionally hold myself back from becoming the person that I could be. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t let myself go by any means. I am still on track this year to accomplish the goals I set for myself back in January. They are legitimate, lofty goals and I’m proud of my progress, but I know deep down that I can do more. As a perk of my profession, I stay in reasonably decent shape. I am strong, have good endurance, and am leaner than the vast majority of Americans. I also feel confident that I have a good enough conditioning base that given a dedicated month, I can prepare for just about anything. A big beach volleyball tournament? I can be ready. A big grappling tournament? Just tell me when it is and I’ll get to work. A marathon? Barring injury, I’m confident I can do most anything with a month’s preparation.

I was training a 27 year-old jiu-jitsu athlete this morning whose #1 goal right now is to become a world champion by the time he turns 30. Richard has a goal and he is going for it. He also knows what he needs to do to reach his goal. He has lined up a team of people he believes can get him there. He has top level training partners, an amazing jiu-jitsu instructor, a fantastic professional strength and conditioning coach (like that shameless plug?), and such targeted focus and dedication to his goal that I have no doubt he will eventually reach it (like in the next 3 years).

10703855_10204074983409369_1142311796732084529_n

Pushing him through the workout today, I started to think about competition. I have competed A LOT, in a number of different sports. I love competition. Whether volleyball, jiu-jitsu, obstacle racing, or our own private, invitation only combination strongman/grappling tournaments, I love the atmosphere, I love the challenge, and I love putting myself against like-minded individuals. The thing is, I eagerly jump in regardless of my preparation. I’m fit enough that I usually do decent just going into competitions “off-the-couch”. Watching Richard train this morning, it dawned on me, “With the work he’s putting in, in very little time, I’m not going to stand a chance against this guy on the mat.” He has only been doing jiu-jitsu a couple of years. I have been training for seven. He is a lower belt than me, but challenges me every time we spar. I’ve been in a rut, deceiving myself to believe I can compete with anyone in my division with a month or so of dedicated work. But it is nonsense. My friends and my competitors alike are going to leave me in the dust because THEY are willing to put in the work NOW. Richard already beats me frequently, and before long it won’t even be close.

Watching him push himself in the gym today i realized I need to up my game. Sure I can be ready physically for a competition in a month, but how far ahead of me will everyone be who have already started and didn’t wait for a deadline. Chances are they will destroy me. I am a huge believer in ALWAYS being ready for competition. I hold myself to a relatively high level of fitness so that I CAN jump into competitions “off-the-couch”. But I am cheating myself. I know I can perform at a higher level. Not just good, but great. I know I my fitness can be better, but I have been avoiding what it takes because it is hard. I have opportunities to push myself daily, but frequently let these opportunities pass by, making excuses that I have business stuff to tend to at the gym, justifying my good, but sub-optimal fitness by consistently doing only the workouts that are getting me closer to my 2015 goals.

After watching Richard work through his first circuit (I was busy doing other “important” things of course), I jumped in for the second circuit. I went through one round and it was hard. The second round was harder. I considered bailing out, shamelessly because I had other stuff to do. In the end, I stuck with it all four rounds, embracing the suck because that is what everything but my body screams at me to do. Everyone I’ve trained with knows I love a challenge, that I do things the hard way, that I thrive on being uncomfortable doing things that suck. Trouble is, even when I put on that facade and suffer alongside my friends and clients, I’m holding myself back. I’m not giving 100%. ICAN give more and I WILL give more. I will no longer put off optimal fitness. I am starting my pre-competition month NOW, without a competition on the horizon. I will no longer avoid the work because it sucks. I’m fit, but I want to be at the highest level I know I can be.

Richard – I’m coming for you! Jeff, Lucus, Tiny – you too.

Jake – it pisses my off that you are so much better than everyone, but have no doubts, my conditioning will be better than yours.  😉

Don’t Get Taken Down – Lessons Learned from Brandon Ruiz

Post written by Arlo Gagestein

Almost 6 years ago, the second time I ever competed in BJJ, grappling superstar Brandon Ruiz gave a pre-tournament seminar at the weigh-ins. If you aren’t familiar with Brandon, he is a 5-time member of the USA Grappling Team, winning team titles in 2008, 2009, and 2014, as well winning seven individual world championships and 15 world level medals through FILA/UWW, IBJJF, SJJIF, NAGA, Grapplers Quest, and Pancrase. Any heavyweight 2nd degree Machado Jiu-Jitsu black belt is intimidating. Throw in the fact that he is also a world-class wrestler with such an impressive resume and and Brandon is downright scary! Needless to say, while attending his seminar, I paid attention!

4601531

While this seminar was years ago, there are several things he taught that I still use today. One thing he covered really stood out to me. Brandon said studies had shown that in wrestling, 70% of the time, the person who gets the takedown wins the match. Now I’m not a mathematician, but those sounded like pretty good odds. I decided then and there that I wasn’t going to let anyone take me down the next day. No matter what else happened, I was going to get the takedown or stubbornly resist until my opponent pulled guard.

I knew next to nothing about takedowns. I had been attending BJJ classes inconsistently for about a year and a half, and prided myself from fighting on bottom. I headed back to the hotel with 3 friends I had convinced to compete with me, and we spent the next couple hours flipping through a Dave Camarillo book looking for easy-to-learn takedowns. I picked two I thought I could pull off and we practiced throwing each other on the beds for 15-20 minutes before turning on Jet Li’s movie Fearless and drifting off to sleep.

At the tournament the next day, I arrived to find a long road to medal contention. As a 195 lb. white belt there were 12 competitors in my gi bracket and 11 competitors in my no gi bracket. I had my two newly learned moves and I had set my mind to avoid being taken down at all costs. I knew nothing about takedown defense, but was confident enough in my strength, athleticism, balance, and determination that I felt I could avoid being taken down by any white belt at the tournament. Even if I had to just stay standing until my opponent gave up and pulled guard I was okay with that.

Amazingly, my game plan worked. Opponent after opponent eventually went to the ground out of frustration and I quickly submitted them. I even hit one of my new takedown techniques a couple of times! As I was awarded my gold medal in the gi, I began strategizing my no gi competition. Brandon Ruiz’s takedown tip had been a goldmine! My game plan was the same. Everything went fine until the semifinal.

I was up against a stocky wrestler who despite me efforts quickly took me down. I was successfully able to keep him in my guard, but because of the takedown I was down on points. Then, he stood up! I knew I was in trouble. He was up on points and avoiding me on the ground. I stood back up, and he immediately took me down again. After a brief scuffle on the ground, my opponent stood up for a third time. The person who gets the takedown usually wins. He was using my own strategy against me. I knew that the next time he took me down I had to submit him, and quick. As he took me down, I threw on a desperate triangle and tapped him out as the time expired. I was lucky enough to be part of the 30%! I won again in the final, walking away with two gold medals in the white belt division.

Arlo (the tall one) and Justin with the first grappling medals of their career.

Arlo (the tall one) and Justin in 2010 with the first medals of their grappling careers.

Winning my weight class qualified me to compete in the absolute competition against the winners of the other weight classes. Amusingly, the gi and no gi absolute tournaments ran simultaneously and I was supposed to fight in both at the same time. Flustered I ran back and forth explaining the situation and opting for my no gi match first. Once again I faced a stocky wrestler who easily took me down and choked me out in about 30 seconds. The 70% wins again. This time not in my favor.

In the absolute final for gi, I faced an experienced judo player. Assuming he would eventually throw me, I immediately tried one of my new Camarillo judo throws. I was instantly heels-over-head and slammed to the mat. Lesson learned. Never try to throw a judoka with a move you learned out of a book the night before. Once on the ground, my opponent controlled me very well, never overly threatening, but staying ahead on points and preventing me from any offensive efforts. Once I scrambled to my feet and was quickly thrown again. Time ran out and once again the 70% won. I lost on points largely because I allowed my opponent to take me down.

In all, I faced 10 opponents at the tournament, and in 9 out of 10 matches, the person who scored the first takedown won the match. Brandon Ruiz’s advice was spot on. It has remained in the forefront of my mind with every competition since. I’m still not great at takedowns. Sometimes I get the takedown; sometimes I get tossed or double-legged. Frequently when I do get taken down, I lose. Usually when I start on top I win. It was an important lesson, and one I will always remember. Thank you Brandon Ruiz.

Our Ninjas Featured in Jiu-Jitsu Magazine!

It was an honor to have a handful of our ninjas appear in the October 2015 issue of Jiu-Jitsu Magazine!

Now yesterday their adventures were also featured on Jiu-Jitsu Magazine’s website! This article is a fantastic example of our mission at Jiu-Jitsu Advantage to blend strength and conditioning with jiu-jitsu! Check it out here:

http://jiujitsumag.com/rolling-on-top-of-the-world/

JiuJItsuMag

Boldly Going Where No Mat Has Gone Before

Post written by Arlo Gagestein

What kind of fools would haul jiu-jitsu mats 10 miles to have a tournament at 11,000+ ft.?

What kind of fools would haul jiu-jitsu mats 10 miles through the wilderness to have a tournament at 11,500 ft.? You’re looking at them.

The weekend of August 14-15th this year was one of the greatest of my life. It was brutal yet majestic, intense yet calming, painful yet invigorating. My friends and I are frequently guilty of doing questionable things. We are all uber-competitive, extremely physical, slightly masochistic, and potentially short whatever wrinkle of the brain it is that tells people they probably shouldn’t do something. The weekend marked the realization of a dream that has been several years in the making; a high altitude jiu-jitsu and fitness tournament that we christened Summit and Submit. In a nutshellthis was our weekend:

  • Hike 10 miles into the High Uintas with fully loaded packs while carrying jiu-jitsu mats
  • Compete in a round robin, submission only jiu-jitsu tournament at 11,500 feet
  • Compete in a weight throwing contest (Where did the weights come from? Fabulous question.)
  • Build a corn chip fire to cook dinner, eat, hike for water, go to bed
  • Wait out morning thunder storms, then jump out of tents at the sound of a huge rockslide
  • Hike King’s Peak (highest peak in Utah at 13,528 feet)
  • Pack up camp and haul mats back out 10 miles
  • Eat 24 soft tacos on the drive home

The idea for Summit and Submit first entered our minds a few years ago when I was visiting my wife’s grandparents on a ranch in California for Thanksgiving. We were sitting around one evening and a show came on about a prestigious cooking competition where people received a random invitation to an event the next evening. Upon receiving the invitation they busted their tails to prepare what they hoped would be the competition winning recipe.

Because my friends and I love competition, I immediately contacted my partner in suffering, the Ginja Ninja, and we began strategizing how we could pull something similar off with a fitness and jiu-jitsu competition. The goal was to have various competitions each with a different twist to make the tournament more challenging. Our first was the Cold Combat Challenge, to be held December 30th in a garage in Utah. Next was the Crippled Combat Challenge, where each competitors had an arm tied down so they couldn’t use it. Other tournaments included blindfolded jiu-jitsu while not knowing who you were fighting, and swinging on a cargo net throwing knives at pumpkins. Each tournament included strongman style physical challenges and submission only jiu-jitsu matches without different divisions for weight or experience levels. My philosophy has always been that in a self defense or combat situation, you must be prepared for whatever opponent you come against, and the possibility that both his weight and skill level will match yours is slim. Summit and Submit, a tournament at high elevation was one of these initial ideas. Later after another competitive buddy, Jake, hiked King’s Peak, it was decided that should be the tournament destination.

Fast forward several years, and my outdoor-loving brother-in-law, Adam, is here in Utah for the summer. When he let me know one thing he wanted to do before he headed back home is to hike King’s Peak, I knew the time for Summit and Submit had arrived! With 2 weeks notice (we’ve found if we invite competitors the night before, the tournament is VERY small), we begin to make our plans. The usual competitors (physical freaks and men I know will likely beat me on the mat) were invited and a general callout was given for anyone who thought carrying mats 10 miles to beat each other up sounded like fun.

On game day, we set out, Jeff Moore representing Westside BJJ (Pedro Sauer), Jake South representing Unified BJJ (Pedro Sauer), Richard Call and I representing Mori Academy (Drysdale/Zenith), and my awesome brother-in-law, Adam Tobey who had never done jiu-jitsu before. After a several hour drive to the Henry’s Fork Trailhead in the High Uinta Mountain Range, we pulled our packs out of the truck and got ready to go.

IMG_1166

Enter challenge #1. We brought along 8 lb. and 15 lb. weight plates. Under no obligation, competitors were given the option to carry extra weight for bonus points. A 8 lb. plate was worth 1 bonus point and a 15 lb. plate was worth 2 points. Competitors were encouraged to be discrete in loading plates into their bag so nobody knew what the others were carrying, thus adding a strategic dilemma to the competition.

Challenge #2 also began immediately. Between the 5 competitors, we had 2 sections of mat that needed to travel with us for the next 10 miles and 2,000 feet of elevation gain. We had a notebook to keep track of number of 15-minute-minimum carries per competitor. A solo carry was worth 2 hash marks and a team carry worth 1 hash mark per person. At the end of the hike, the person with the most hash marks would receive 10 points, 2nd place got 8 points, 3rd got 6, etc.

The hike in was fun, but challenging as we struggled to find the best way to carry mats as well as our heavily loaded packs through forests, meadows and thunderstorms. It turns out jiu-jitsu mats are wonderful conversation starters. Nearly everyone we passed stopped and asked what we were up to, then shook their heads in disbelief and admiration at our lofty goal. After about 8 miles of hiking, we finally figured out a decent way to carry the mats in front of us by clipping the straps to our pack with climbing quick draws.

IMG_1247

We bumped into several rangers along the way who confirmed what we already assumed, that we were indeed the only people to ever haul mats into the High Uintas to have a Jiu-Jitsu tournament. They recommended a spot for us to camp and slowly shook their smiling faces as we ventured on our way. The last couple miles, Adam led the charge, getting so far ahead of the rest of us WHILE carrying a mat that we lost sight of him. The rest of us located what we determined was a perfect place to camp and fight, then sent Jeff off to find our enthusiastic companion. We gave Adam two extra points for showing us up, and Jeff an extra point for going to find him and bring him back to our home for the night.

When packs were unloaded and weights counted, Jeff had 3 bonus points, Adam and I each had 2 bonus points, and Jake and Richard had wisely chosen not to carry extra weight. A hashmark tally put me in the lead for mat carries with Richard and Adam nipping at my heels.

We then unrolled the mats, put on our gis, and got psyched for Challenge #3, the most beautiful jiu-jitsu tournament the world has never seen. We were awestruck by our surroundings, and stepping on the mat in the midst of such beauty was both spiritual and surreal. Jiu-jitsu at elevation is definitely as difficult as it sounds. It is incredible how quickly into a roll you are gasping for air. For those familiar with jiu-jitsu, you should know that knee on belly at 11,500 feet is horrid. As expected, Jake, a phenomenal brown belt, dominated the grappling portion of our competition (though Richard gave him an incredible match!). He beat everyone to take 10 points. Jeff took 2nd for 8, Richard 3rd, and I settled for 4 points, losing to everyone but Adam (who still pushed me despite 8 less years of experience). Jeff gave Adam a spontaneous jiu-jitsu lesson and we were quick to point out most gyms were far less spectacular, and certainly smelled worse than our current classroom. If his first lesson is any indication of his coming career, his jiu-jistu experience will be beyond epic! Post grappling, we lay on the mats, amazed and inspired by the unusual blending of our love of jiu-jistu, and the majesty of God’s creation.

Next up was setting up camp and building a fire for dinner. Naturally, being the creative adventurists we are, we had to build a corn chip fire (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSkTk2jNZzo). Once camp was set and the fire was going, we begin challenge #4, the weight toss for distance. We took the four weight plates that had been carried up the mountain and competitor by competitor, threw each weight for cumulative distance. Furthest distance was worth 5 points, next furthest 4 points, etc. I threw second and was doing great, easily maintaining the lead until Jake went. Having won the jiu-jitsu challenge, he got to go last on the weight throw. Ever the strategist, he watched and learned from all of us, then figured out a way to beat us, securing 5 points.

After the sun had set and everyone had cooked their dinner and eaten their fill, we strapped on our head lamps and ventured to a small spring to fill our water bottles for the night. After returning to camp, we briefly watched meteors dart across the starlit sky and turned in for the night, anticipating an early morning summit of King’s Peak. Lying in my tent I marveled at the glory of the sky away from city lights, trying to stay awake, but quickly fading into exhausted dreams. Sometime during the night, I awoke to put the rain fly on my tent, blocking the view of the heavens, but providing that extra little bit of warmth. Luckily too, as we soon awoke in the midst of a violent thunderstorm. We waited it out, listening to the deafening crash of lightning much too close. Gradually it passed and we jumped quickly to attention as the rumble of a large rockslide filled the valley. I quickly unzipped  the tent to make sure we were out of harms way, then proceeded to crawl out of my sleeping bag in preparation for the next portion of our adventure.

Once we were all moving and had eaten breakfast, we begin the trek skirting the mountains to the chute we were to ascend en route to King’s Peak. The chute was a brutal monster, steep and covered with moving rocks. The climb seemed to last forever, with the top of each hill exposing yet another steep climb above. Finally we all topped out on the saddle, relief and accomplishment coursing through our souls.

IMG_1203

Looking around at the various enormous peaks, we wandered in uncertainty briefly, trying to decide which was our goal, the jagged summit of King’s Peak at 13,528 feet. Finally we asked some passing trekkers to be sure of which giant peak to climb. Once King’s Peak was identified by map and gps (neither of which we had), we began another painful scramble through a boulder field to the top. At the top, you can see for days in all directions, lakes, trees, and meadows far below.

IMG_1199

Once everyone arrived at the summit, we quickly took the obligatory photos in our gis to verify our trip to the top. Our rest was short, as further thunderstorms threatened to overtake us. We donned our rain gear and began our slow, cautious descent. If the climb down King’s was unnerving, the return down the chute was even worse. Multiple times on the way down, our view of the rockfall we were descending would drop off to the meadow a thousand feet below. We ended up essentially skiing down the middle of the chute, following whatever path promised the smallest rocks. By this time, everyone’s knees were sore from the pounding of the downhill and instability of rocks that moved from under our feet.

Finally reaching the bottom, we again traversed the base of the mountain back toward camp. A herd of sheep had moved in, and we joked about them likely being back at camp eating our tents. Upon arrival, our camp was indeed surrounded, but our belongings unscathed. The competitors intermittently crashed at camp, exhausted from a long day of insanely steep travel. We struggled to pack our gear while laying on the ground, attempting to rest in anticipation of a draining hike back to the car carrying full packs and mats.

By 4pm, we were ready to hit the trail. Richard grabbed one of the mats, intent on carrying it the entire way back to the truck. He is a stud. We tied the other mat to a pack to make it easier to carry and decided just to switch the entire pack back and forth between other carriers. Despite the fact that we were already wiped out, the thought of getting home spurred us on and we headed down the trail at a pretty good clip. We stopped once to refill water bottles at a stream, then carried quickly on. We fully anticipated being back to to truck by 7:30-8pm.

The hike back was going well, but 15 miles into the 10 mile return trip, we were beginning to get concerned. For 2 hours we had been saying, “It has got to be just around the next bend.” “We are almost there.” “It’s right at the bottom of this hill.”  Jake and Adam had run ahead (largely, I believe, because I had taken Jake’s old pack so he could carry the pack with the mat, and he didn’t want his pack back!), and Richard and I  were hiking together as it started to get dark. Confident that we were nearly there, Richard proposed we make one more hard push without stopping until we got to the truck. He  picked up the mat and sprinted ahead as I steadily continued into the night. After 15-20 minutes of not arriving at our destination and not seeing Richard, I was beginning to become convinced I must have somehow gotten off the right trail and was now on another trail headed into the wilderness. I was relieved to finally hear Richard and Jeff calling into the dark for me. I  sped around the corner, expecting to see them waiting in the parking lot for me, but instead found them sitting in the middle of the trail, parking lot nowhere to be seen. They too were both worried we had missed something, and were contemplating our next step. Deciding it was highly unlikely all three of us had gotten off on a wrong trail, we pressed on, vowing to stay together. Finally, we saw headlights slowly moving back and forth and were elated to know we at least had found a road. As we had hoped, Adam and Jake were in the truck driving back and forth looking for us and we had finally made it back! They had arrived 20 minutes earlier after also becoming convinced they might be lost.

Relieved and ragged, we tossed our packs in the bed of the truck and collapsed into the cab. Remembering a Taco Bell at the gas station 30 minutes away, we again desperately raced against the clock while trying to find phone service to call our families. They had all been expecting us out that afternoon and we’d had no way to get ahold of them. We arrived at the gas station to see the Taco Bell chairs flipped up on the tables and the doors locked. Not to be deterred, Jake immediately put in a call to a Taco Bell in Evanston, ordering 24 soft tacos, 2 bean burritos, and 38 packets of fire sauce. By this time, everything was funny and we couldn’t help cracking up as he placed the order. Pretty sure they hung up on him and he called right back assuring them that we weren’t high or prank calling (which naturally again caused us to break out in laughter). Crazy how even now as adults, when you are tired enough, everything seems ridiculously funny. We literally could not stop laughing.

Thinking back to what we had just done, and how destroyed we were, it was impossible not to smile. Once someone chuckled, everyone chuckled. The chuckle quickly turned into an all out roar, and we were rolling again. I’m still smiling when I ask myself, “What kind of fools hike with jiu-jitsu mats 10 miles into the wilderness to have a tournament? Why would anyone climb directly up an insanely steep and long rock fall, cheered on by a multitude of sheep, then later ski back down the same rocks fall to save a few miles of travel en route to King’s Peak? What kind of fools would do any of the things we did this past weekend?” Our kind of fools. And we can’t wait to do it again!

Jiu-Jitsu at 11,500 feet.

Jiu-Jitsu at 11,500 feet.