We may remember that 2014 was good. But 2015? Yowzah.
Sheep! I could go the obvious route about sheep and flocking and yadda-yadda-yadda, but then I’d feel a little sheepish about it. Ba-DUM-tish!
Once more (with feeling) these are just some of the important days, notes, and highlights in my year.
-January: After reviewing the requirements for entry into the Bachelor of Physical Education and Coaching (BPEC) program, I arranged with former Professor Gord Sturrock to become an assistant coach for the Hyacks’ Wrestling Team out of New Westminster Secondary School. I helped out with their first tournament of the season: the Western Canada Age Class 2015 Championship, where they all wrestled to a podium finish. I attended Battlefield Fight League’s 34th card featuring a hefty line-up of friends and training partners: Jeremy Kennedy, Shawn Albrecht, Micah Brakefield, and Christiaan Allaart. Christiaan’s opponent would no-show to the weigh-ins, forcing him from the card. Micah would lose to Ash Mashreghi via questionable stoppage, but it was an exciting fight nonetheless. Shawn would win a unanimous decision and put him as the #1 contender in the Featherweight division. Jeremy would win a unanimous decision (including a 50-43 score) to claim the Featherweight title belt. My seat-mates were Sterling Redlack and Stu Deleurme – invited down from Kelowna by BFL to honour Cam’s passing – and Matt Dwyer – former BFL Middleweight champ and current UFC fighter.
-February: Keri and I moved from our place off of 240th and into a newer place on the Haney Bypass. We moved the big objects during my study break, and got the rest during the month. With cement floors and ceilings – plus underground parking – it is an upgrade in layout, noise (the lack thereof mainly), and time saved by not scraping frost. The stairs don’t go down to the parkade, which is a touch annoying, but that’s a mild complaint honestly. The Hyacks went to the BC Provincials at the Abbotsford Agricultural Rec Centre at the end of the month, and several team members made the top eight to get onto the podium. I also attended a tournament, the 2nd Marcus Soares Invitational Championships, my first of the year. I opted in for Gi and No-Gi, feeling decently confident in my stand-up. Since this tournament only awarded points for submission attempts, I probably would have been safer to jump guard ASAP, but I wanted to test myself. I lost both of my rounds, but hit an amazing lumberjack sweep in my No-Gi match. Then I proposed to Keri. My friend James from Caliber Media was there to help with pictures of the moment. She said yes.
-March: WarPath hosted their first card in about two years. I am sad to report that it was not up to their usual standards, plagued by delays and a lineup that was not finalized until the night of the event. Of note, my friend and former opponent Creigh Sullivan won via dominant fashion, securing a triangle choke in the first round. Battlefield’s 35th card occurred on the 28th, featuring well-known talent such as Nick Ghaeni, Jamie Siraj, Matt Baker, and my friend and former teammate Christian Tremayne. It was a great night to watch the local talent grow, as well as see their corners evolve. Notably in attendance were UFC bantamweight veteran Sarah Kaufmann, and ONE FC featherweight Champion Bibiano Fernandes. Christian won with crisp boxing and slick transitions, getting the Unanimous Decision. Keri and I celebrated our 2-year anniversary with some lovely relaxation.
-April: Keri celebrated her birthday in conjunction with the Easter Long Weekend, which made for quite a time for all. Apparently people know us as fans of Doctor Who, as many of her gifts were Doctor-themed. The final weeks of my classes finished, and then exams. During that period I had enough stress to lower my immune system and catch a cold and a low-grade fever. Despite that, I managed to pass all of my classes and up my GPA. One more course to register and pass, and then I am accepted into my Bachelor’s program. Keri scheduled an interview at the end of the month at Ridge Meadows Hospital, and her professionalism and knowledge made her a sure-fire hire.
-May: Keri began her training and orientation for her job, traveling to Royal Columbian, Surrey Memorial, and Ridge Meadows. Then she got an e-mail from ARH asking if she was still available for shifts on the Maternity ward. While the timing could have been better, it does mean that she could pick up casual shifts from both hospitals and thus have a decent amount of hours. My summer semester started, and a day earlier than I had previously believed. Fortunately I caught my erroneous belief before the start, so I managed to appear prepared. The end of the month meant Proving Grounds VI in Bellevue, a tournament I was quite eager for. It was the same weekend as the IBJJF Mundials which saw a lot of my friends and teammates compete. Unfortunately I came up short in my tournament thanks to a call that should not have been made. The experience soured the day for me, but the evening was able to pull it back thanks to Battlefield 36. It was BFL’s 5th Anniversary. and the card featured five title fights: three amateur titles, one inaugural kickboxing title, and one pro title. My friend and former teammate/coach Christiaan Allaart would suffer a loss via guillotine choke in the first round, going unconscious and making him unable to claim the Featherweight title. Christiaan would also retire from MMA following his fight, leaving him able to concentrate on his family and his job teaching BJJ. Friend and former teammate Christian Tremayne would weather a hard first and second round before going on to win the final three rounds to win the vacant Lightweight belt via unanimous decision, 48-47. Friend and former co-worker Tylor Nicholson would be unable to continue the inaugural kickboxing bout due to receiving unintentional illegal blows; that coming after his opponent missed weight by 5 pounds. Chris Anderson would defend his Middleweight title via KO in the second round; Ash Mashreghi would claim the vacant pro Middleweight title via RNC in the third round.
-June: The first Saturday was a taste test at Austin Gourmet, a wedding catering company. We selected a 3-bean salad, southwestern potato salad, spinach and feta cannelloni in a white sauce, and a beef lasagna. All of it was amazing, filling, and not greasy. While eating, we chatted about the general layout of the Old Mill Boathouse, and got some experienced input on where the head table should go. The staff at Austin Gourmet were very pleasant to deal with, and we recommend them to anyone looking for a caterer. The next Saturday was the CBJJF 3rd Annual Provincial BJJ Championships, hosted in Abbotsford at the Events Centre. I volunteered with the set-up and the scorekeeping, plus I competed in Gi and No-Gi; medalling in both. The following Monday I attended a seminar hosted by top Featherweight competitor Gianni Grippo, learning about a berimbolo set-up. Friend, roommate, and teammate Jordan and I would complete the Grouse Grind for the first time in many years. It is quite different now with a lot more completed staircases and fewer rocks to scale.
-July: After a few false bookings, I booked and completed my Standard First Aid & CPR level C + AED certification; a prerequisite not only to graduate from my program but also to start my fieldwork courses in the fall. The two-day course was a lot easier than the provided First Aid Reference Guide suggested, but there are skills that I want to continue to practice. Keri and I went to lunch with my cousin Courtney, finally allowing the two of them to meet face to face instead of relying on stories from me. Professor Cobrinha returned to town for a two-day seminar, concentrating on the double-under guard pass and utilizing a Kimura grip in a variety of ways. My cousin Mike came down from Kelowna to participate as well, which was fun. That same weekend I attended Battlefield Fight League’s 37th card, which was aired on the Fight Network. My teammate and friend Shawn Albrecht fought but fell prey to a superior stand-up game despite his control of the ground game. UFC Bantamweight fighter Sarah Kaufmann was in town to coach her teammate and fellow professional fighter Ryan Janes to a successful and exciting Middleweight title defence. A day later my parents arrived in town for a quick vacation, allowing for an impromptu reunion of sorts followed by a family engagement party.
-August: Longtime friend Jordan tied the knot in a wonderful, simple, and fun Hawaiian-themed ceremony; myself and longtime friend Niv were the groomsmen, along with fellow Edmontonian Jan. Friend and training partner Matt Kwan would host an open mat at his new academy On Guard BJJ, and receive his well-deserved and long-awaited brown belt. I volunteered at the Katana BJJ Roots BJJ Challenge III, and ended up competing rather spur-of-the-moment. I had enough warning to invite my cousin Courtney to come watch, it helped that the tournament was at the Richmond Oval. I took gold after two good matches, and I got another two takedowns. I would make my way up to Kelowna to attend a Rafa Mendes seminar – thus completing a third seminar by one of the best BJJ Featherweights in the world – and managed to get in a couple of training sessions with the beasts at RDC Jiu-Jitsu. While there, I went (or tried) wakeboarding, and then had a blast on a huge tube — until it flipped and launched me into the air. Apparently my body made a very unmistakeably loud noise when it hit the water. But, no injuries to report from that! Amanda and I (and everyone else) pulled a surprise engagement party for Keri (and for me, but one of us had to be in on it). Finally, Keri and I managed to sneak off for a week-long trip to Alberta to visit my parents and test-drive some Subarus. We managed to avoid the massive windstorm as well.
-September: I finished the last round of my Twinrix Immunization, bringing me up to date on Hep A/B, MMR, and Tetanus. Another Fall semester started with an unexpected fire alarm, an expected Violent Intruder Drill, and Fieldwork Orientation. Amanda and Ben had their engagement party, which was a fun mingling experience with mini pumpkin pies! Just as my school schedule became normal, Keri and I jetted off to Florida/a quick Bahaman cruise (BOAT DAY!) for my good friends Jeff and Claire and their wedding! Yay! I helped Jordan get his first sponsorship with Just Saiyan, a company that has a collection of shirts and rashguards featuring costumes from DragonBall Z. Jordan picked up Vegeta and Frieza, Keri grabbed a Vegeta (which can double as child Gohan on Namek), and I grabbed a Goku.
-October: We celebrated my 31st birthday in a low-key style: watching the UFC 192 card with friends. I started getting back to the weights to push my weight solidly into the Middleweight bracket, with the assistance of Twin 1: Jack. The entire household went to the advance voting polls to cast our votes for the Federal election, an action that over 800,000 Canadians joined in on. My Fieldwork site was a voting station, and they didn’t seem terribly busy during the scant moments I was inside to notice them — but that doesn’t mean they weren’t getting a good turnout. Battlefield Fight League held their 39th card, “Halloween Hell”, at the Hard Rock Casino. Friend and sometimes-teammate Stu Deleurme fought for the first time since Cam passed away; Stu unfortunately lost via first round TKO. Mr. Kitty unfortunately passed away, but it appeared to be painless for her. She will always be loved, and missed dearly.
-November: Keri and I went to visit the Shar Peis that Sonja breeds, and enjoyed being once again in a pile of dogs. We had a sleepover with one of the gorgeous dogs, and soon realized that separating a grown adult from her pack was not the easiest task in the world; especially compared to raising a puppy. It was a good lesson to learn, but at least we enjoyed a night of having a dog sleep on the bed with us. I did my first solo stint as a wrestling coach at a takedown tournament. It was a great way to give our youngest team member some competition experience before War On The Floor; a big thanks to the Pinetree wrestlers for ignoring the 25kg difference in weight and giving him several matches. My fieldwork at Maple Creek wrapped up, and I was gifted one of their shirts. More than 10 years after graduating high school I’m finally starting to feel school pride. Finally, I got my seasonal flu shot, continuing the trend I started in the summer.
-December: The month started out with my last tournament of the year: the 1st Annual Vancouver International Open. I competed in Gi and No-Gi, and volunteered all day. My Gi division didn’t go as planned, but I managed a better show in No-Gi, taking Gold. My cousin Courtney came out to watch, and we had a little family reunion with our cousin/my teammate Mike. The first official tournament of the wrestling season kicked off right as I had to write my big Anatomy & Physiology final, but the timing worked so the Hyacks had a coach with them all day. I solo coached four of my wrestlers at War On The Floor, two of them were second-year veterans and two of them were new. None of them have any big holes in their games to deal with, just small things to be corrected in practice and with more experience. Back on the dog front, we puppy-sat the gorgeous little Muji while Sonja tended to the newest litter of puppies. This gave her the opportunity to work somewhat less impeded while giving Muji lots of love and attention. Keri and I had multiple Christmas dinners with family and friends, including some haggis! ‘Twas delicious actually. Finally, I felt my first earthquake on the 29th, a 4.9 on the Richter scale. It was a bit underwhelming, but perhaps this building is a bit more earthquake-ready as compared to older places.
What a year it’s been! I know some of what 2016 will bring, but I’m looking forward to all of it! How was your 2015? Any big highlights — or small ones — that you’d like to share?
–Kiyoshi “The Prototype”
Your #1 Canadian eh?
Respect the Technique, Triangle Army