Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Black Craney Wing Chun with a Tiger twist

Tuesday morning BJJ in Bellevue (aka The Danger Room). Same techniques as yesterday morning. Same drilling partner as well....not that I mind, although we probably should have grabbed somebody with a different body type just for a more varied experience. But everybody else paired up quickly and Dex and I were left standing there staring at each other.... so okay.

Focusing on refinements. Pendulum sweep: grab nearer the ankle than the knee. It's not about lifting the opponent's leg. It's all about the leg in hir armpit. Armbar: hip up nice and high so that your crotch is right in hir armpit and there's no space.

Breakfall to tactical standing: Carlos wants us to guard with an arm at nose level. I got corrected because I was holding mine at brow level. This is going to be a bit of a challenge for me. CK has whapped me in the head with a sword whenever I let my guard arm drop below brow level, so I have been completely brainwashed to keep it up there. I tend to be wary of an arm strike coming in (if not necessarily a sword in most hypothetical cases!). But I can see that in most hypothetical cases, it makes much more sense for the standing opponent to be kicking at you (on the ground) as opposed to trying to strike you with hir hands. So I need to adjust my tactics for the situation and not rely on the "standard response".

Positional sparring: Dex and I let each other work the sweep/armbar, giving just enough resistance to make it a challenge.

Open mat: I had to take a little break, as I was very sweaty and tired. But once I got my breath back, I did a few rolls with Carlos. I am having zero success with my clumsy choke attempts on him, although he is leaving me gaping openings to try them. he is also still reversing me at will with laughable ease. I tried to keep off the bottom, but it is very physically and psychologically daunting to feel/see yourself going down with this very strong, long-limbed, rubbery person descending upon you like a big shovelful of dirt on top of your own coffin.

He really tires me out quickly, as I am trying to stay on the move. Holding still for even a moment means that he is getting holds and placing his feet in places that I know I am not going to like, so I am constantly jitterbugging around trying to displace whatever he's setting up. I am hearing a mental "Squelch-POP" every time he places a foot on me- like a suction cup sticking on. I do not want his suction cups sticking onto me- anywhere- I figured that out pretty quick.

He was doing much the same thing that Cindy was doing with me on Friday- letting me try some different things and seeing what worked and what didn't. But he wouldn't wait forever- if I tried four or so things and was getting nowhere, eventually he would jump up and spin us around and now we're somewhere new. As if I had X amount of time to figure it out, and if I didn't- "fail" and move on to a new test.

When we were done, he did put on Very Serious Face and told me that I had gotten better. I couldn't tell for sure through his stilted English if he was saying I'd gotten better over the course of the rolls we'd done TODAY, or if I'd gotten better since he first rolled with me almost two months ago. Oh well, the important part was "BETTER"- I'll take "better" any way you want to give it to me.


Tuesday evening BJJ. It was cold and rainy enough today that we went inside. It's sad when we can't practice outdoors any more. I won't miss those humongous mosquitoes, though.

No CN again, no JB... sigh. I have been bugging her by e-mail to come back to class, at least come do a little BJJ. What responses I do get back are noncommittal. JM and SK are getting more slipshod about coming to BJJ as well- since I have been missing so many evening classes due to work; they get lazy when they don't have the peer pressure of me (and my carpool) to prod them to class.

I had a small headache on the drive in, but I took some drugs when we got to the community center, and luckily it died down a little ways into the class time.

We started with a few forms to warm up. The usual few we have been working on lately, and Lun Qi again... then SK asked me to pick a form. I picked Wood Monkey because we haven't done it in a while (that was why I had been picking Lun Qi these last few weeks, as well). JoE looked anxious (yeah, this is why we need to practice this one), but we reassured him we'd go slow.

Then we worked on the same two-step Wing Chun techniques we'd done last Tuesday. I drilled them with JM for a reeeeeeeeeeeally long time. JoE had to drop out because he was having back spasms. He asked if anyone would be willing to walk on his back a little- and as the lightest person by far, I decided that that should probably be me. I hated to miss the drilling (Lord knows I need the practice), but he must have really been hurting to ask.

When I got back from walking on JoE's back, the others were doing the Black Craney Wing Chun technique that CN had taught JM and me in the park on Saturday. Thank Gods I'd practiced this extensively- although Ihad only practiced it on the one side (and was just starting to feel proficient enough on that side to start practicing the other side). Well, now we were going to do it with actual partners, so I braced to get completely confused again. I tried it a few times on SK (just on the good side), and then started drilling with Nemesis. After drilling it about a zillion times, slowly, I started to feel brave enough to try it on the opposite side- and it worked, coolness. It worked even better after I added a knee to the groin at the end of the sequence- it just seemed to flow right into that so well. Level up!!!

After a while, SK came over to nitpick at me- he wanted me to stop doing such an exaggerated loopy rebound before the final parry/strike sequence. Oh, great. That exaggerated loopy rebound was my mnemonic for comprehending how to DO the darn thing (JM's suggestion that I "bounce" off the opponent's arm). Luckily, by then I had done enough reps that I was able to modify it without getting too discombobulated. I commented to Nemesis that it didn't have as much power without the loopy rebound- to which he responded, "But this way is faster." True. It was also more direct. With the bouncy, loopy rebound, it was Black Craney Wing Chun with a Dragon twist. With the bouncy rebound removed, it felt more like Black Craney Wing Chun with a Tiger twist. So that worked for me.

I considered making Nemesis take his shoes off before I would uke for him- I didn't really trust him kicking me in the side of the knee with his tennies- but I decided to see how he'd do first. He actually did really well with the control on that- and I told him so. I did make him take his shoes off before he started doing the close-in cat-stances, since he had already stepped on JM's foot and caused her to bench herself briefly while she bled and then put her own shoes on.

After we had drilled that thing forever (I am going to be doing that in my sleep tonight), we went through the dao-vs-bo sequence a few times. There was some confusion as to which staff was mine, as JoE had brough an armload of unmarked bo's, and I had no marks on mine (as I have not paid for it yet). Finally JoE and SK identified my bo because it was the shortest one in the stack (altho it is still a bit too long for me!) and it also had blood smears on it (which they decided was only appropriate for any weapon of mine). Yeah, I thought SK was pulling my leg- but when he handed me the staff, we all observed that it does indeed have red smears up and down the length. I don't know what caused this, but it truly does look like I beat someone to death with the thing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

"That doesn't feel right,"


I was dismayed to weigh myself on the scale at the Seattle school and see it say 139. True this was right after breakfast and a can and a half of Dr. Pepper, and wearing sports bra, undies, tank top, bike shorts, and full gi- but still, eight pounds???! WTF?!? I need to weigh the gi by itself. I was thinking it was going to be about 4lb. Either the gi is a lot heavier than I thought, or my home scale is weighing light (how bad would THAT suck.... argh!)

Monday morning BJJ. Prof. Carlos asked me where I'd been on Saturday, and I told him that I work every other weekend (at least). He also asked me about my "karate", so I took the opportunity to tell him it was kung fu. He asked if I was a black belt, and wanted to know if it was a similar belt system to BJJ. He seemed impressed that I'd been training that for about 4 years.

One of the purples- whose name I can't recall- is no longer purple. I looked him up and down and said, "Something's different.... I don't know what...."

Bryan was there too. I haven't seen him in forever, so it was nice to see him again.

Breakfall to tactical standing up. Pendulum sweep. Armbar from failed pendulum sweep. I drilled with Dex. Struggled a little with the pendulum sweep, especially on my right side. Gods, my sweeps still suck so bad. When we did the armbar, I got a correction from Carlos- I was grabbing the sleeve cuff when I should have been grabbing the tricep. After I got that problem fixed, I had a second one: I was letting go of the leg so I could grab the sleeve cuff again. I have a confession to make: I am a cuff-grabber. Sleeve, pantleg. I often don't know what to do with it once I have it, but I know that controlling a limb is a good thing- so I just latch on and cling like a doberman puppy. I am beginning to see how a tricep grip is often superior. Harder to get, though- especially in no-gi. I am going to try to remind myself to go for that tricep more often. Anyway, the armbar felt so insecure to me when I didn't have that cuff. I said to Dex, "Can't you just pull your arm right out of there? It feels like you could pull it right out." He said, "No, it's tight." When it was his turn, he said, "That doesn't feel right." "Toldja." "That feels weird." "I'm going to try to pull my arm out next rep." But I couldn't pull it out- so I guess it was okay.

Positional sparring with Dex- I know he's an MMA guy, as well as a white belt, so I was carful to give him my speech. I know he works with Bree, though, so I thought he'd be okay. And he was. Pass guard vs sweep only, then pass guard vs sweep or submit, then start in guard but anything goes. I seemed pretty competetive with Dex, but who knows how much he was holding back.

I had to leave at 1pm to go to work, so I could only say for one 7-min match of open mat. Dex again. It was a fun roll; neither of us got a tap. I would have liked to get a roll with Bryan- sigh. And I wasn't even feeling dog-tired, either, like I usually am by the time open mat rolls around.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bouncing Crane

131.0….. ladies and gentlemen, we have passed the halfway point! Next month I will be seeing my 120’s again. JM told me today that the 7.5 fewer pounds “really shows”.

Conditioning boot camp. It was just me and JM, and one of her housemates. He gets discouraged because he can’t keep up with us MA-ists… he usually does about 1 third of the easier part of the workout… today he didn’t last very long at all.

Since it was just JM (tae kwon do background) and me (dance background), there were many kick exercises today. Spinning kicks, flying kicks, leg-sweeps, combos- some travelling, some more focused on fine targeting.

At one point, JM was collapsed spread-eagled on her back while we waited for her to catch her breath (this would be after the “exploding” clapping pushups- agh)… I finally called over, “You better get up, or I’m going to come over there and put you in side control!” Some random passerby did a double-take, and asked me if I trained at Gracie Barra Seattle with Rodrigo.

After we punched and kicked trees for a while, CN showed us a Wing Chun sequence. I got the first part fine- ton sau with palm-heel at rib level, weight shift to cat stance and then shovel kick. However, the second part stymied me- shift weight again, hands trade levels and go into Black Crane parry/strike combo. The way the arms were circling made absolutely no logical or kinesthetic sense (which is typical for Black Crane, if you ask me). It took me a long, long time to catch on. Finally JM suggested that I think of the right arm as BOUNCING off the opponent’s arm and then circling back in and under from that. InsecureDefensiveJealousResentful Beastie grunted from somewhere behind my gallbladder; I ignored it and tried her suggestion- oh, NOW it all makes sense. At least the right arm does, which means I can autopilot that arm and focus on forcing the left arm to submit to my will. I thanked her gratefully- twice. Hey look, I have the maturity level of an adult today.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

How *NOT* to act in Cindy's school.

Friday night no-gi BJJ at Cindy’s. I was drop-dead tired…. I so need to find some time somewhere to catch up on some sleep! But there was no way I was going to miss Cindy’s class again if it killed me- and I thought it might!

Warm-ups were brutal. Again, she had a bunch of new stuff…. She must spend her spare time huddled at a corner booth in Starbucks with the ghost of the Marquis De Sade, both hooting and giggling while they come up with these new exercises. I suggested that before the next class warmup, she should pass out barf bags with the school logo embossed on them. Another student then suggested that Cindy had upped the workout because I was showing off. We had been instructed to walk on our hands… I was just doing as I’d been told.

We worked on a takedown involving snapping the opponent’s head down, sprawling, trapping the arms (hey, I can do this part, I remember it from other technique lessons), then driving through and putting the opponent on hir side. Then either 1) throw the legs away, or 2) post to block the legs from trying to get half guard, and get side control. Then a neck-cranky choke. Cindy does love those neck-cranky chokes.

I worked with a female student I’d never seen before- I didn’t even get her name, as she had to duck out early. She was small but tough. I had to whimper/grunt once as she thumped down on my ribs, and her neck cranks were pretty fierce as well. She does need work on that arm-controlling move, though. When she had to leave partway through the drills, Cindy paused and saw her run out the door, and asked me, “Is she okay?” “Yeah, she’s fine, she had to get somewhere.” Cindy made a suspicious face at me, and that same student who’d been ragging on me before said, “Sure, sure- we’ll find her passed out in the parking lot later.” Everybody is so ready to believe the worst about me!

So then I had to work in with that guy and Ian (the teen student that I worked with in this class two weeks ago- not the spazzy teen from Gracie’s Bellevue, I hasten to add- Ian is good to work with). I was glad to be working with him, because the next drill we did involved breaking the closed guard, then standing up and basically leaping on the opponent’s chest with one of your legs over hir shoulder and then transitioning into an armbar. It was crazy- but Ian was nice and controlled.

Then I had a roll with him- it was almost competitive; I spent a bit too much time trapped defending on the bottom to call it equal. I think I did somewhat better than last time, though. Neither of us got a tap, and we both tried stridently for a number of subs. I tried for a few chokes, but I still don’t feel very secure with the no-gi chokes- so it was mostly keylock and kimura attempts for me. I did try kimuras from a number of different positions. I’m starting to get better at being able to recognize the opportunities and set them up correctly.

After Ian, I had a short break, and I was watching Kaungren rolling with a big new guy. The big new guy was spazzing completely out of control- to a scary degree, especially being so BIG. I actually started to get up and go tell Cindy that she’d better step in and and put a stop to him before we had a serious accident on our hands…. But I could see that Kaungren- although he was having to work- was going to be able to take care of that guy. Also, he has already admitted that he enjoys pwn’ing noobs. So I decided that he did not need rescuing, although I continued to watch somewhat anxiously- especially when the Spaz started messing with Kaungren’s legs. This is not the type of gentleman that we want monkeying around with kneebars and heel hooks. At one point, they both crashed heavily and thrashingly to the mat, and Cindy called over to ask THE SPAZZ if he was okay. That made me think that she was quite aware of the whole thing, and had come to the same conclusion that I had about Kaungren being very capable and willing to take care of business… so we should just let him finish the job. It was a very nice display of good jiu jitsu technique versus rampaging, frothing bull. It would have been gauche of me to rise up and give Kaungren a standing ovation when he triangled the big spazz, but I almost did. The spazz tapped (I wasn’t sure if he would), and Kaungren let him go (I wasn’t sure if he would)- LOL. It was probably pretty tempting to squeeze just a TEENSY bit more.

At that point I figured the show was over, so I started rolling with some other folks. Cindy had a handful of giant NON-SPAZZY guys in there that I hadn’t met before, but they were excellent to work with. They were careful and controlled, didn’t crush me, and worked just enough to push my limit. More kimuras and keylocks- some that worked, some that didn’t- a few chokes, most of which did not work.

Cindy had informed me earlier that when we were scrambling, and I put my opponent in my closed guard, I had just reversed myself and given up two points. Duh. I felt really dumb, but that is exactly the sort of thing I need her to fill me in on, because I have never paid attention to it before. She told me to never willingly go over onto my back, to make the opponent WORK for that every single time. I think that’s a good philosophy for me to keep in mind, and perhaps it will result in me finding myself trapped on the bottom slightly less often.

Anyway, I was rolling around with one of those gentle giants and I heard from off to my left, “That sucks, doesn’t it? You do that shit to me, I’m going to do that shit right back to you.” Uh oh. One could almost feel sorry for anyone with so little self-preservation instinct that they would try a douchebag move on Cindy Hales. Almost. She makes you suffer so much when she LIKES you; I don’t ever wanna find out what it’s like to be on the Naughty List.

A minute later, she went nuclear. “You think you’re going to come into my school and go rough with my guys?!!! You think you’re going to come into my school and smash me?!!! Look how big you are!!! And I’ll STILL beat you!!!”

Um, yeah. O_o I would bet my dog and lot on the outcome of THAT contest… and I wouldn’t be putting my money on the big guy. I’d be on my cell calling him an ambulance.

I thought for a minute that we were in for an even bigger show- this one was going to be NC-17 for extreme violence and gore- but she got it under control. I’m so relieved that she did, and that it didn’t get any more out of hand than that. Must admit, though, that it gives one a warm fuzzy feeling and a healthy dose of school spirit to know that one’s teacher is willing and able to beat the shinola out of someone for going too rough on “her guys”. I like being one of Cindy’s “guys”.

Well, the Big Spazz apologized to Cindy, and Cindy apologized for losing her temper (I’m not sure she apologized to HIM, but she apologized to other people), and it all cooled down. Since he apologized, maybe he’s redeemable: not inherently an a-hole, just one of those people who doesn’t understand how MA schools work. I think a lot of these newbies come in thinking that we’re learning to fight in here, so that’s really how you’re supposed to act- that’s how we treat each other on a daily basis. Or at least that’s how you have to act when you come in in order to get respect or be accepted. They’re not evil, they just don’t know any better.

I probably looked like a deer in headlights when Cindy headed for me, but fortunately she switched gears fluidly out of Berserker Mode and back into Patient Helper Of the Lame and Halt. We rolled for quite a while. She gave me some helpful instructions, but spent much more time just letting me try this or that and see for myself what was working and what wasn’t. I often start to get frustrated and flustered with that when it’s not flowing for me, but she was being really patient- so I didn’t feel pressured or frantic to come up with The Right Answer immediately. Nor beat myself up mentally when I couldn’t do so. I think more of that would be very helpful, and let me relax enough to just explore. If I can relax and explore, I may get a better sense of the body/motion mechanics that will get me to *understanding* what to do- as opposed to memorizing techniques like spelling words on a list.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ding Ding Ding

JoE asked me the other day why I get such a jolly out of kicking him in the groin. I do love a good groin kick/knee; after all, it's one of the targets that- as a mouse-sized person- is at handy range. It's also a great Plan B if whatever technique I'm trying to do is not working. Here's something that always works. Not rocket science, folks.

I like to make sound effects when I kick a male classmate in the groin- usually some variation on "Ding!" Or "Ting!" and then grin evilly. Sometimes I can't restrain a giggle. I just want to register that yes, I did get it- and it would have hurt if I wasn't such a nice person. I'm sure that my male classmates are happy for my excellent control while I am going for these. Anyway, JoE said that it reminds him of a Mario Brothers video game, where you jump up and hit the little brick box with your head twenty times and get a gold coin and a "Ting!" with each hit. Love that association. I told him that I'd kick him in the groin even more often if I thought I'd get a gold coin for it. He said, "Level up!!" I think that's hilarious. Now whenever I kick him in the groin, he's gonna hear me holler, "Level UP!!!!"

Your forehead- my heelprint.

Thursday evening kung fu:

Sooooooooooooooo tired, again.

Small class- just me, SK, and Nemesis (the diehards)… CN and JoE showed up a little later.

Nemesis and I each nominated a form for warm-up. He picked Tiger Versus Crane, I picked Lun Chi. It had rained during the day, so the grass was pretty wet- I was hoping to not fall on my hiney doing flying kicks on wet grass- but we were fine. Since there were only two of us doing forms, I asked, "Improvement points?" But SK said, "It's just warm-up." Is that why we're not getting feedback on warm-up forms? I'd like to get at least one improvement suggestion per form, as long as we're doing them. I'll ask him if that would be possible.

Then we did a few rounds of Snake Versus Five Animals. Oooo, I haven't done this one for a while. It unfortunately has an opening very similar to Three Step Arrow, which I have worked on a lot recently- so I had a few false starts that turned into Three Step Arrow. After we'd done it a couple of times, Nemesis and I were asked to do the form together (it's a two-person form). I again stumbled a bit, but finally we got it together. Until, that is, we got to the shoulder lock at the end. I have never been able to make that particular shoulder lock work on Nemesis, and I've tried on multiple occasions till I was just about spitting with frustration. Joint locks don't work well on him in general- he has rubber joints- and the height difference just makes this particular lead-in completely inffectual for me. We've tried to come up with all sorts of work-arounds, and it just will not fly. JoE had just walked in at that point, so I did the technique on him to prove that I really could do it- I just can't do it on Nemesis because he's a FREAK OF NATURE (as I loudly informed him, to his amusement).

Then more strike and parry practice….. Not so much drill form as we'd done on Tuesday, but more of a two-step and three-step sparring practice. High jab followed by low uppercut: parry and counter. Eventually we started to vary attacking sides and alternate the high jab with a high "haymaker" type strike. I was sighing inwardly because my available training partners consisted solely of the people who can't seem to stop injuring their classmates. I looked them both sternly in the eye before we started and said, "Be CAREFUL, and let's go slow." They still both thwapped me a few good ones, but nothing especially destructive. I do start to cower out of their range once they conk me a few times… I can't help myself, it's just self-preservation instinct. It's what separates me from the moles in the Whack-A-Mole Game.

For a while, I was working with CN- that's rare, and very wonderful, as I feel completely safe with him. As a result, I get braver, and close in, and think, "Wow, I can finally actually get some hits in and see what that feels like!" The dismaying part of this is that my *own* control occasionally starts to get a bit ragged and I sometimes hit him harder than I meant to. Nothing on the level of what Nemesis does- but hard enough to get an "ow". I feel so terrible when I do that.

I am not very happy with my performance in general with the parry-and-counter stuff we did. It took me a while to get into the groove, and even once I did get it smoothed out, I tended to rely on the same small arsenal of techniques. That's not necessarily a bad thing, in the big picture of practicality… but it would be good to be comfortable with a bigger toolbox.

One thing I was very pleased with was my hook kick. At one point CN asked wonderingly, "Can you hit me in the HEAD with that?" I tried it, and got to his clavicle easily. "Yes, I could reach your head, but it would not be clean and controlled if I did." Prolly couldn't reach Nemesis or SK, but anyone under 6 feet tall, I think I could hook kick in the head. At least with my right side. Left is slightly less flexible and smooth. It makes it easy if you're latched onto the opponent's arm to use for balance. I also like the way you can start a big swirly continuous physical and energetic flow with a hand technique (like the parry) and just feed it into the alternate-direction curlique with the hook kick. Very Dragony, and it can pick up an amazing amount of speed and power.

We didn't get any individual forms time tonight…. I had been hoping to work on Southern Mantis with JoE, or ask one of the teachers for help with another form. But I was pretty tired, and I'm not sure if I would have been able to muster up adequate focus for that anyway. Next time.

I talked a little with SK on the way home about the possibility of trying some sparring practice with padded helmets/vests and the like. The Powers That Be in this group are pretty opposed to using such things- the thought is that it encourages sloppiness. JoE uses pads in the hapkido group that he crosstrains with, and one theory is that this explains some of his control issues. SK said that one of the guys he had to spar for his black sash test in Portland is a Tae Kwon Do black belt who is used to using pads in that art- and he didn't seem to have ideal targeting or sparring control unpadded. So I said, "Well, maybe it would make things even worse, then… but we don't have much to lose by trying it." We're not getting anywhere fast with this issue. I don't think it's a forgone conclusion that you get sloppier with pads. You can delineate your ideal targets with X's of colored tape. SK seems to agree with me that it would be a good idea to experiment and see how it goes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New blue belt woman, stage right

Lunchtime BJJ at Bellevue. I saw a girl!!!! She was wearing a 4-striped periwinkle belt- it was so faded that I honestly couldn't tell if it was blue or purple. Well, I was in line behind her either way, so it doesn't really matter! Turns out she is Shawndee, a blue who has been training for 4 years, part of Dex and Bree's crowd. She said she plans to come in regularly Tues/Thrs lunchtime at Bellevue. That would be great.

We were doing all the same stuff we did last night. I worked with Shawndee. I noticed a minor thing or two that she wasn't doing quite as instructed, but I kept my mouth shut until she asked, "Am I doing ____ right?" At which point I told her my observations, then I mentioned that I had been in class yesterday and did these same things, that's how I know- so I wouldn't look like I was being a know-it-all in the face of a higher belt.

When it came time for sparring, she creamed me- the extra two years of training really showed. I was on the bottom defending desperately almost the whole time.... she would distract me by fighting for a sub, and then slap on an armbar while my focus was elsewhere. If she's competing in the tournament, she is going to clean my clock! But she is a worthy adversary, and very nice- so I do hope I get to work with her some more in the future.

We did some positional relays, and the first person I got paired up with was Eric- a gigantic purple belt. Carlos was laughing at me and asking, didn't I think that guy was too big for me? I yelled, "NO!" and then the whole class was laughing at me. Well, I fended off Eric's replacement of guard for a little bit, and he was nice to me, but that wasn't much of a contest.

I relayed my way through a few more guys (all white belts again today- except for me, Eric, Shawndee and Luiz), and actually won against one of the brand new ones. I clamped him into my closed guard, and he looked at me and asked, "Am I supposed to be submitting you?" I said, "No, just reset." Actually I should have kicked him back into line and stayed on the mat, since I bested him- but I didn't feel like taking the time to explain that to him, so I just jumped back into line.

I also had one roll with Ben, who armbarred me twice (a bit embarrassing, after Shawndee had also armbarred me twice today). Ben was very careful about it, though- he put them on nice and slow and controlled, and I thanked him kindly for that.

After that, I felt like a washcloth that had been soaked, wrung out and tossed on the locker room floor. I hung around a bit and womanned the timer, hoping to get a second wind and have another trouncing at Shawndee's hands- but I was whipped, so I left.

I had kung fu tonight also, but I will have to try to update that tomorrow- it's almost midnight, I'm exhausted, and I have to be at work early in the morning.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The trachea choke plus the "I refuse to tap" guy.


Astonishing, considering 1)the amount of jiu jitsu I've missed this month due to work, and 2)the heinous diet crime I committed the other day. But since I appear to have gotten away clean with that, we don't need to talk about it any more!

Five weeks of dieting, seven pounds down, Eleven weeks to the tournament, seven and a half pounds to go. Cakewalk. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm... cake.........

Morning BJJ in Seattle. Rodrigo misses me and my slacker buds (hee hee); he asked me about them! I miss him too. He seems to be having Prof Carlos do all the classes unless there is simultaneous class in both locations.... so without JB as an incentive to drive into Seattle, I have been bereft lately of Rodrigo-taught classes. At least he still shows up to lunchtime classes, even if he's not teaching, so you don't forget what he looks like!

Additionally, there are almost never any women in Bellevue in the evenings or in Seattle in the mornings, so once again we are back to the state wherein I am almost always the sole source of estrogen in the room. This morning, that caused Prof Carlos to pair me up with black-belt-Kevin for drills. Coolness.

Carlos didn't like my halfway-down-to-the-floor pushups today.... he came over and put his foot on my back and pressed me all the way down to the floor.

Stand-up: covering and moving in for double-leg clinch, posture up and control opponent's arm, side around to the back.
Then starting from turtle with sprawled opponent on top of your head: cross-grab the knee, stick the leg out, swing your butt in and recover full guard.
Thirdly, a similar technique involving grabbing the opponant's belt/waistband instead of the knee.

Positional sparring. I got paired up with Benny. I've worked with him very little, but SK had worked with him for a class and reported that he was "crazy", so I was a llttle nervous. *Everybody* (including Kevin) got my don't-kill-me speech today. Back mount. Benny was slightly rougher than I liked, but not terribly so. I seemed to be doing okay.

Then timed rolls. I drew Nic's son (I forgot his name again.... why am I so bad with names this week? Early Altzheimer's setting in). Those were a fun couple of rolls. I did better against him this time than I had when I fought him a couple of weeks ago. We seemed pretty competitive. There were two times that I was certain I had an armbar, I was already mentally accepting my medal- but he pulled off an impressive escape at the last second (for which I praised him).

For the next round, there were three or four oddbits left along the wall to take a break (including me). Nate (of the Incredible Cauli Ear- it keeps getting bigger and bigger- how big can it get????!??) invited me in and asked Carlos if it was okay. Carlos gave me a significant look with raised eyebrow, like "Are you sure?" But I have rolled with Nate before and he is nice and controlled, even if he is about as tall as a telephone pole. I did okay here as well- I think Nate is using me to play catch-and-release, but that's fine, as I get to work some stuff too.

Kevin told me that I am trying to roll "too much like a man"- and that I need to adapt my game for my unique size. That I need to move around more and stop clamping onto random grips and positions and then just clinging there for dear life with muscle. This is not news to me. I am clinging because 1)I don't know where to go from there, and 2)If I'm clamped on and not presently being subbed or in imminent danger of being subbed, I'm reluctant to give that position up for fear of ending up someplace worse. But he's right.

He also told me that I'm focussing too much on subs and I ought to concentrate on position. LOL. He doesn't see enough of me to realize how sub-deficient I actually am.... but it's good to know that my recent project of trying for more subs is actually manifesting to the point where it's noticable.


Evening BJJ in Bellevue. JM and SK were there for the first hour (gi); I stayed for the second hour (no-gi) as well, since I am insane.

I crept up and RNC'ed JM as she was stretching out on the mat, which led to an almost 10-min roll. It served well to warm us up- a little too well, as we were exhausted and sweating going into the actual class warmup.

Prof Carlos was walking around shaking everybody's hand- and he came over and stood near us, watching and smiling, until I pinned JM well enough so that I could stick a hand out and shake without letting her escape. Then I back mounted her and pulled her around so that she was facing him and released one of her arms just long enough for her to shake as well- then we continued. Carlos asked if we were friends, and we both started laughing.

She got me in that wrestler's crade again- she has such a fetish for that. She said, even as she was squeezing it on, "I know you don't tap to this, but...." I replied, "It HURTS, if that makes you feel any better." I came within a titch of having to tap to it after all- not because of the pain, but because she had my head pressed down into my own gi lapels and she was also lying on my face. I was being suffocated in both of our gi's; could barely breathe and it was hotter than ten saunas under there. I didn't tap, but I did give her side control so that I could get some air.

Wow, she is so good at sinking her weight down. She feels like she weighs three hundred pounds. I was getting very close to having to ask her to go lighter on my poor ribs.

As we were doing triangles in the warm-up, Carlos came over and hald his flat palm out, indicating that I was to hip up higher and touch his hand with my toe. I was already up almost vertical on the back of my neck. Heave-ho, holy crap. I have great abs, but they do have their limits of exhaustion. He's right, though- I do need to get my hips up higher for my lame triangles, and maybe someday they won't be so lame.

Carlos teases and picks on me constantly- even JM commented on it tonight- but he is also pushing me, which is a good thing. So far he is managing to stay
just this side of obnoxious. (grin)

I drilled with JM, and SK got Jeff the purple belt. Good for him. At least he didn't get another Spazzy White Belt tonight. It was a slightly smaller class that usual tonight, but still a nice turnout- yet Jeff and I were the only colored belts in a sea of whites!

Same techniques as this morning, with the addition of a majorly cool sweep from turtle. I was a bit daunted and said to JM, "I don't know about this one..." then I tried it, and it worked so beautifully. I then said, "This is SO COOL!!!" When it was her turn to try, she thought the same.

No time for positional training tonight; we had already gone over by 10 min. I was dithering about staying for no-gi... I was pretty tired, and I had already done enough BJJ today to satisfy any taskmaster. But when I saw that most people were
lighting out, and it was only going to be 6 or 8 students, I girded myself to push through the last 50 min. I am trying to do better at pushing through exhaustion. I am also trying to do better at not using "I already went to a class this morning," or "I'm going to another class tonight" as an excuse to skip out when I really should continue.

I'm glad I stayed, because we worked on some neato-takedown stuff. Double-leg drills, double-leg to taking the back, then a tripping takedown from there, to a choke that I've never seen before. It was a cool-looking choke and I was excited about it, but I couldn't make my partner (white-belt Kevin) tap to it. It was a trachea choke, and I got uncomfortable with how long and how hard I was holding it. In fact at one point I thought he'd passed out (to a trachea choke?). I've worked with
white-belt Kevin fairly regularly, and haven't noticed him as being one of those "I refuse to tap" people- but he seemed to just not want to tap tonight. I didn't want the tap bad enough to crush the guy's trachea and murder him for it, so I gave up.

A few short free rolls with Kevin. I had to ask him to not bow-and-arrow me so fast and hard (he cracked my back!).

Then I rolled with Carlos. He gave me some pointers, and I think I did reasonably okay. I almost had to tap to his leg wrapping up mine... his bony ankle!! It was grinding a hole through my shin! I also wristlocked myself once, which was embarrassing. He apologized as I was shaking my wrist out, and I said, "It's not your fault, I wristlocked myself!" And yes, I did continue to try for a variety of subs.

It has occurred to me that even though I'm not sure when CN's semester begins, it is probably imminent enough that he will be gone before my essay is due.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wing Chun strike and parry drills

Tuesday night kung fu. Man, was I ever tired. I did get some sleep during the late morning/early afternoon, but not enough. As a result, I was a slug while waiting for class to begin, and didn't make much constructive use of the time. I did go slowly through a few Tiger drills. That was one of the things that I had planned for my aborted trip to the (non-MA) gym this weekend. Geez, it is dismaying how quickly the choreography starts to slip through the cracks if I don't keep up on the review. I only got through three of them (there are about ten or so) Luckily, I know I have good notes for these. Must find time soon to review them.

We began with a few reps apiece of Bung Bo Kuen, Little Red Dragon, and the Northern Mantis Bo form. I noticed contamination of Mantis energy in Little Red (Dragon form sandwiched between two Mantis forms). Must be mindful to switch gears. The flying kicks were lovely, though. JoE once again became frustrated with Bung Bo and dropped out. I need to make sure he is not standing near me next week, because I am not going to slow up and wait- I need to be focussed on flow. But I don't want to be messing him up.

I was expecting more dao and staff, but we were set to work on Wing Chun strike/parry drills. Partner up, both sun punch left, parry right. Then switch sides. 2nd drill: same thing, only sun punch to chest was replaced with backfist to the side of the head. Switch sides. 3rd drill: attacker knees at groin, alternating legs- defender does low press blocks. 4th drill: attacker punches, defender sidesteps, pak sau's, and punches to ribs. Switch sides. 5th drill: attacker punches, defender ton sau's with one hand and palm-heels to attacker's ribs while sidestepping. Switch sides. I worked the first three drills with SK and the final two with Nemesis.

I had to be practically at kissing distance in order to have striking range- so their contrastingly long arms and the fact that their heads were very high targets were causing some challenges. SK was nice enough to sink into low horse for me when I mentioned this, so that our heads were at the same height. He couldn't shrink his arms, though!

My shoulders got so tired and sore- especially the right one that got viciously shoulderlocked by that spazzy teen last night. We were all literally dripping in sweat. Then the platoons of hungry giant mosquitoes arrived! Ack! Nemesis and I kept halting the drill to slap mosquitoes off each other.

I was doing mostly okay with the drills, although at the end of each one when the attacker started switching up sides randomly, I continued to struggle a bit with making myself wait those extra two seconds to be sure which side the attack's coming in on. I always want to jump the gun. I did, however, notice that I was doing better with the "which hand do I parry with?" dithering. I didn't have to think about it too much... till the end when I was starting to lose my focus and my attention span was drifting away. The ton sau's were the weakest in that regard. But even they were better than they have been in the past.

The footwork could have been a bit cleaner as well. I was getting in close enough, and at the right angle, but it was challenging to try to not get so focussed on the hand techniques that I wasn't paying attention to where my balance was. We were supposed to finish in a cat stance, and sometimes I was finishing in a lunge. I did a little better when I added a follow-up knee to the groin to my sequence- then I had to have the weight up off the pertinant foot in order to bring up the knee! I'll be so happy when I get to the point where I can integrate the upper and lower halves of my body better, and make them support each other's efforts in harmony. This is a problem in BJJ as well: I can only seem to focus on one half at a time.

I'm not sure where this random choice of exercise came from. It might have just been because JaE was there tonight, and he almost never is, so someone would have had to walk him through all the staff/dao material. But I'm wondering if CK was talking to CN and/or SK about Nemesis and thinking that this sort of thing might be good control practice for him and JoE. It's funny, though- I had been bemused to notice how much Wing Chun was cropping up in my own technique while I'd been sparring with CK during her visit. I think I had more Wing Chun going on than Tiger, even. It seemed to be working fairly nicely for me, and I've gotten much better at keeping my techniques confined to the appropriate "box" instead of letting them go too wide (a major persistant problem for me in my early study of Wing Chun).

Then CN wanted us to show him the dao-vs-staff sequence that we've been working on, so I paired up with JoE for that part. CN wants to video this to show DD. I so do *not* want to be on video... I hope he will agree to leave me out of frame.

CN told us that he would not be at any classes at all during his first semester. (sigh) He didn't address Conditioning Boot Camp... I wonder if that will disappear as well.

Today I repped my belt.


My jeans are falling off my hips, which I guess is not the world's greatest tragedy (although they are good jeans and I will miss them! I hate jeans shopping!). I dared to try on my "medium" size tie front yoga pants yesterday. They are from a Thai company; I guess the women over there all weigh 75lb... a "medium" fit my 124-lb body like they'd been made for me, back when I first bought them). Those particular yoga pants are one of my best measuring sticks for good body proportions. I got them on- without having to hold my breath or lie down to do it! They are a bit snug yet. In another three pounds, they should be plenty roomy enough to actually do MA in again. Unfortunately, at that point, I will have to pack up my 3 or 4 pairs of "large" size ones, as they will not even stay up at all when I am at that weight!

Last night I was literally on my way out the door dressed for the (non-MA) gym, gym bag in hand, when our graveyard tech called in sick to work. So I went. I felt guilty because it's been too long since I've gone to the gym and I need some practice on some drills and forms. I particularly wanted to check out the flying kicks in Tiger Versus Crane and make sure they are okay, since JB and I were busy choking each other last week at class while the GOOD boys and girls were working on TvC. But coming in on the graveyeard meant that I got to ditch today's 11am-8pm shift, which meant: BJJ Monday night!!!!! Woo-hoo!!!!!

Tonight I walked out of class NOT feeling embarrassed to be wearing my belt. This is still enough of a rarity to be notable.

I showed up in time to participate in the 30-min takedown class (which was about a 20-min takedown class this time, as Professor Carlos called us all into the lobby to watch a vid on Pat's computer. Pat had vid of the Revolution match where Carlos got scandalously slammed. Ouch. It hurt to watch).

We worked on a couple of different variations of a takedown wherein you slide your leg between the opponent's feet and then trip hir over it. I liked that one, since it didn't involve having to pick the guy up. (All these throws have judo names, of course, but I can't remember any of them, much less pronounce them.) I got to work with three-stripe white belt Carlos (I need to come up with a nickname for him, there are too many Carlosi in this school).

After a second warmup, the class proper began. I kept TSWB-Carlos. Defense against standing choke from the back, to a hip throw, to a variant tripping takedown in the case that the attacker should have his knee between your legs blocking the hip throw setup.

Then we started on the ground with one person having the back, choking... defending the clock choke by yanking your lapel out of reach, followed by a basic hipping-out escape and then rolling over to get side control.

Thirdly, starting from same position, the person trying to get the clock choke was given an alternative choke option for when the opponent yanked the lapel away.

Halfway through the drills, Prof. Carlos added a third person to our drill team, that teenage dude- I know his name, but I'm blanking on it right now. I hate being in a three because you get fewer reps. Oh well.

After short positional sparring (with Teenager) and even shorter water break- a THIRD warmup- ack! It had slipped my mind that after the basics class on Monday night is the "advanced" class. If I'd remembered that, I would have bailed. By the time I realized my error, I couldn't duck out because that would have left Teenager drill-partner-less.

Advanced class techniques are as of yet too advanced for me to comprehend, and tonight was no exception. Tonight was omoplatas- something I'm not very spry with anyway- and these were COMPLEX setups. If I find myself in an omoplata-ish position by accident, I can sometimes recognize it and make some attempt to finish it off, but I can't really set one up from scratch at the most basic level- let alone the ones we were doing here. Teenager was more confused than I was (if that is possible). First we did a little spider guard, just moving around with it- I can handle that much, and so could he. Then we did a drill involving pretzeling the legs around in a very confusing fashion. Teenager and I had to call the Prof over to walk us through it slowly and painstakingly. This is always a trial, because it is really difficult to ask/answer questions with the language barrier. Prof. Carlos reprimanded Teenager for his very existance on the mat (as the "advanced" class is supposed to be three-stripe-white and up only), but didn't kick him off (probably because that would have left *me* drill-partner-less). Prof seemed to be losing patience somewhat with our ineptitude, and said (more than once) that this was why the class was three-stripe-and-up. I felt bad for the kid, but I wasn't doing much better than he was. In fact, with a few exceptions, the majority of the class was not doing much better.

After stumbling through that drill (sort of), we were shown the first advanced-setup omoplata. Teenager and I just looked at each other in helpless dismay. I said "You first!" (I know, I'm such a slimeball!) We had to call the prof over to help us again. At which point he reprimanded us both regarding the fact that as the higher belt, *I* should have gone first.

Second advanced-setup omoplata. Lordy lordy. This one was even worse. Muttering the steps aloud to myself, I plunged in (first!), and- incredibly- found Teenager in my omoplata. "Holy crap, it worked! Quick, get into position again before I forget what I did!" I buzzed though it several times, and then walked him through it. Professor Carlos came over to look while Teenager was doing his fourth or so rep, and pronouced it (with surprise) "Perfect!" Whew.

No more Advanced Class. Fine to watch, but not to do. I am not ready for this level of complexity yet.

Note to self- ask Luis or Alisson to teach me how to say "CONFUSED" in Portuguese. That is a word I really need to learn- and surely the one that I will find most often useful to be saying to Carlos and Rodrigo. (It will probably become my BJJ nickname, LOL! I hope it is somewhat lyrical!)

Positional sparring- first with the Teenager, then with Dave (too many Daves in here too... this one is going to be "Lucky Dave", for the Lucky gi he likes to wear), then with Dave (see what I mean?). The 2nd Dave already has a nickname: Hudge. Thank goodness. He looks just like yet a third Dave. I'd be confusing those men with each other even if they *weren't* both named Dave.

Teenager- to my complete surprise, I tapped him out. When we reset, he leaped upon me like a starving lion on a fat bunny and manhandled me violently into a shoulder lock. Slam, crash, boom. It was scary how fast and hard he went.

I have been reading archives of other people's training blogs, and one of the things I remembered from BJJ Grrrl's earlier days is the observation that whenever she got anything on one of the spazzy male white belts, the guy would "Captain Caveman" out and try to murder her on the next round. I haven't really experienced that kind of thing, since I rarely tap anybody. "Ah, so THIS is what she means...." Well, I am not going to be intimidated by this particular Specimen of Spazz.

I said firmly to him, "Go SLOWER and LIGHTER- give me time to tap!" He roped it in a bit, but was still pulling some unnecessarily rough tricks- grinding on the face and that sort of thing. Lots of muscling, too. Luckily he's not that big, and I was as strong as he. I was pleased that I was staying calm and doing a decent job of analyzing things. Instead of going muscle-to-muscle- even though in this rare case I could've gotten away with that- I analyzed how to brace my arm against my own thigh so that he couldn't muscle me into an armbar (although the cords were standing out in his neck with the effort); I analyzed how to turn my body so that he couldn't muscle my arm into a kimura (his eyes were bugging out); I analyzed how to press a bit closer to him so that he couldn't muscle me into a faceplant on the mat (his teeth were gritted and he was huffing and puffing). Yeah, I was on the defensive a lot, and I also spent some time stuck in that ol' familiar land of bottom half guard. But on the whole, I'm fairly happy with my performance against him. I'd be happier if I could effortlessly KOB the little rooster and then choke him out... but I didn't let him steamroller me, and he just about killed himself trying. I barely broke a sweat and was breathing normally.

Professor Carlos stopped us at one point and chewed Teenager out for trying to put a kneebar one me (no joint locks below the waist are allowed in this school till blue belt). That's the second time recently that Carlos has reamed somebody for doing something to me that he considered potentially dangerous. That's nice... it makes me feel as if he's looking out for me a bit, like Rodrigo does. I hope that means he is also looking out for JM and JB and the other white belt women as well.

Dave #1 (Lucky Dave): I had not given Teenager my go-light-on-me song and dance; I did give it to Lucky Dave, because he is a one-stripe blue. He was nice to me. We had a competitive roll- in fact I believe I was in the lead. Not sure how much he was going easy on me.

Dave #2 (Hudge): Gave him the speech, then I was on top of him for almost the entire roll. Again, not sure how much he was throwing the roll- if at all. Giving the go-light-on-me speech makes it more difficult than ever for me to try to discern whether I am actually having a competant roll vs whether the opponent is just letting me have stuff. Anyway, it seemed fairly easy to dominate him positionally. I did dig around for a number of subs, but didn't finish any. Prof. Carlos saw me mount the guy, and called that I should have KOB'ed him first to get the extra points. So I hopped off on the opposite side and KOB'ed him. He just lay there, till I finally said, "Don't just lie there; I'm getting points for this." Then he pushed me off, and I hopped back to the original side and mounted him again.

I stayed till the bitter end tonight, till Carlos kicked us all off the mat. Despite the omoplata farces, like I said- I felt like I adequately repped my belt tonight. That feels really good. I hope I will be feeling this more often in the future.

Got home from class and found that the sick tech is sick again tonight. I had really been looking forward to Tuesday lunchtime in the Danger Room- even moreso after I had a good class tonight- but I said yes to the work. As tempting as it is to prioritize training over work- especially now that I am on-call and have amazing control over my own schedule- training doesn't pay the bills (in fact it generates some). So this is the time to grit one's teeth and be a grownup.

It's a little funny to think of myself as a conesseur of canned tunafish. But Safeway brand canned tuna = fail. A lot of the time, the cheapie generic brands of things are the same product as the name brand- sometimes they are even made by the same company at the same factory; it's just wearing a different label. I have just gotten through a Costco pallet of canned Chicken-Of-the-Sea, and since I no longer have a Costco membership, I decided try the cheapie tuna. There's about half the amount of tuna in the can, it's a lot darker and mooshier and less appetizing looking. I'm glad I only bought three cans (just in case of this very finding). There are a few other cheap brands on the shelf, I'll give them a try before I go back to C.O.T.S.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chicken teriyaki = ambrosia of the Gods.

CK and I met at 9:45 and worked until after 1. Well, we worked for about 2/3 of the time and had uncomfortable discussions for the rest.

We did more of the same type of light sparring that we'd done the other day- some with strikes, some with no striking (like Contact Improv), some with just me striking. We also did a variation which focussed on circles and spirals. Sort of a Dragon/tai chi mix of energies. I really liked that. It let me play with connecting techniques together and letting the energy continue and flow through more than one technique. That is a skill I would really like to cultivate and work more on.

The pace and intensity we were working at was allowing to me to analyze my opponent and pick the best targets by looking for what was open- something I have also wanted to improve upon. It was also allowing me to experiment a little with different techniques, since I wasn't in frantic-mode and feeling like I needed to stick with the small handful that I am most comfortable with.

I told her what I had been observing about how she seems to always know where my weight is and be constantly guarded against potential kicks from the lighter foot- but that I am often getting kicks in when I hop-switch to kick with the other foot, or when I do more than one kick without setting the foot back down. She thanked me. Then after that I didn't get so many of those. Darn. Oh well, I owe her some feedback to allow her to improve as well.... then we both get something out of this.

She also mentioned how much of an adjustment it was for her to focus on my center, compared to the center of her most common sparring opponent- who is over six feet tall.

Still having a lot of trouble relaxing, especially when we first get started. Ten minutes after we began, my shoulders and arms were tired and there was an ice pick of pain under my left shoulder blade. I did better as we kept working, but when we were done and got back in the car, that ice pick came back and hung around a while.

CK insisted that we sit down and talk some more about issues in the Shaolin group. She said that the last time she had visited, I'd been in a very angry state about banging my head against the glass ceiling, and that by contrast I now had a "palpable aura of sadness". We talked some more about the same issues; not really any new material except that I did discuss with her how having a certain more junior student assuming an informal "assistant teacher" role was causing me problems in class. To my relief, she validated that 1)I'm not a horrible person for resenting that, and 2)that's inappropriate behavior on that other person's part. She thinks that CN and SK should be putting a stop to that kind of thing, but we both agreed that neither of them is likely to address or even recognize that particular problem. The informal nature of our class makes it easy to let such things slide. She says that I need to set boundaries.... sigh... that would be difficult for me in this particular situation. Although I *have* resolved to start asking for individual forms help again, and be firm that these be private one-on-one interactions. CK also mentioned that she suspects this behavior on the part of this person may likely be based in hir own insecurities- which is the same theory I was musing over myself a few weeks ago in my training blog.

We also discussed Nemesis and his dangerous lack of control. She has been saying for the last few trips that she wants to get a chance to work with Nemesis a bit and do some push-hands, and maybe a few other things, to see if she can help out at all with this issue. She never seems to get time because she spends all her time with JB and me. So I told her that I am putting in a formal request that she do that at the earliest opportunity and that I will sacrice some of my own time with her to ensure it will happen. It's worth a try, and this problem is just going to get worse the longer it goes unaddressed. She can work with JB, JM and I forever on issues related to our being intimidated by Nemesis, but it's still not going to help much if his habits remain the same and he just continues to injure us.

After the lesson, I gave CK a ride to run an errand and head off to her next appointment of the day. We ended up getting lost after being diverted by construction- which forced us to drive around till I was losing my focus from hunger and we had to stop for food. I do not want to eat out while I'm dieting, but there was no choice. I ended up inhaling chicken teriyaki on rice. I would have liked to take half home in a doggie bag, but I wolfed every last crumb. I used to eat a lot of rice and pasta... I have had neither for a month. I have also avoided anything as sugary as teriyaki sauce. It was so good, I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven. I have been thinking about it all the rest of the day, and will surely dream about it tonight. And it wasn't even particularly GOOD teriyaki... it was mediochre fare from a skanky strip-mall teriyaki/burger takeout joint.... but oh..... yum. I'm weak just reliving it now.

Later in the day, we met up again, with JB, and went through the Catherine Dao form a few times. CK didn't have a ton of nitpicks, so it must not have been too bad. We did work on that ending, which JB and I had been struggling with. The actual movements are a lot easier than what we had been TRYING to do!

Then CK worked with both of us on the light sparring. It was JB's first time with this particular style, so she got the lion's share of time, which was fine. Then CK had JB and me work together on it. Both of us were VERY VERY stiff! We tried to slow it down and lighten it up several times, but it didn't help much. We are kind of competitive, and we also have a hard time restraining ourselves from having it all become about "Gotcha!". She was also being quite aggressive and driving forward a lot- which had me struggling to restrain myself from a knee-jerk reaction of going harder myself and having it just turn into a grudge match. When I saw myself starting to answer force with headbutting return MORE FORCE (I'm a Tiger, this is what we **DO**), I made myself back down and start moving defensively. Lo and behold, lightning didn't strike me down because I backed off. The hope was that JB and I could work on this more on our own. I'd like to try, but we didn't do very well tonight with the relaxing part (which is most of the point of exercise). Well, any attempt at easing into some sort of sparring is going to be better than the big fat nothing that we are currently doing in that realm.

JoE showed up for part of this, and I did a little of the light sparring with him (after warning him to go light and slow). JB attempted a turn with him as well.

There's never enough time with CK on her visits, even though she is nice enough to give JB and me second priority after her own MA teacher. She will be back next month for only a weekend, for the Chen seminar. We may or may not get any time with her then, depending on schedules.

I have to work another 11am- 8pm workshift on Monday, but I am going to BJJ on Tuesday morning come hell or high water. It will have been seven straight jiu-jitsu-less days in a row (not counting JB's and my informal rolling at kung fu class on Thursday). Someone on the jiu Jitsu Forums has a sig about "missing BJJ like a crack addict misses the pipe".... I am relating to that feeling right now. Although if you offered me a roll vs another plate of that chicken teriyaki......... that would be a painful decision. I'd make the correct choice- but it would be painful indeed.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday kung fu... err... Thursday BJJ

Thursday night kung fu. Class was a bit abbreviated tonight due to CK's presence- some of the group wanted to go out to dinner afterward.

After a failed attempt to lure squirrels (both JB and I had brought treats for them, but they were being coy today), I was about to ask JB if she was up for rolling a bit to warm up- but she held her hand out for a hand slap before I could even ask, so great minds apparently think alike. We agreed that we should try to do that more often- it makes for a good warm-up for class, maybe even better than my stretching routine (ideal would be BOTH- maybe I can have time for both on Tuesdays when there is a bit more of a time cushion before class begins).

Class started with a round of hand strike drills. I was getting really good low horse stance again today. When we did the Tiger circular slashing sequence, SK walked around and punched at us to that we could parry his fist and then rip his face off. I did so with such enthusiasm that I almost knocked him down. But then I bobbled the next rep, as I often get confuddled when I try to do technique drills against a live opponent instead of in the air as I do more often. I said "sorry, I got distracted by the spurting blood." JB hadn't been paying attention, and looked over, startled. "Blood? Is someone bleeding?" "Only in my dreams," said I. SK: "You dream about ripping my face off?" CK: "Come on- what else do you think she would dream about?"

After hand strike drills, we had a brief water break. I walked up behind JB and RNC'ed her, and we started to roll again. Then we just kept going. I saw CN, SK and CK working on the Black Dragon form (I intend to try to squeeze that one out of SK in the not-too-distant future). The others appeared to be working on the some of the flying kicks from Tiger Versus Crane- actually, it looked like JM was teaching. JB and I kept going- neither of us wanted to stop.

I am so impressed with JB's jiu jitsu, and I told her so in the car afterward. She doesn't have a lot of flashy tricks yet, but her basics are very, very solid- which I think puts her ahead of a lot of people in the Gracie school with more time under their belts and maybe a few fancy show-off moves, yet don't have good posture and base in guard- and other such weaknesses in very basic skills that will bite them in the butt for a long time to come. I am having a very hard time preventing her from upa'ing me, and I can almost never get front mount any more. In fact, getting front mount became my primary goal tonight, and I did manage to get it several times- with much gleeful triumphant cackling- to her disgust. Hey, she should be grateful I wasn't doing any nose-beeping. This time.

It was also my goal to prevent her from doing that razzafrackin' seat-belting, stacking guard pass that she always gets on me. She did get it a couple of times, so I still have more work to do on defending that thing. She was also doing a really good job trapping and holding me in side control and scarf. I think we ended up 3 to 1 me... She tapped me with a keylock and I tapped her with a keylock and two guillotines. I teased her after getting that second guillotine- "I can't believe you let me slip that in there again!" So when I tried it a third time, she immediately recognized it, spit a naughty word, and defended vigorously (and successfully).

I tried a number of kimuras on her from various positions, and couldn't get any of them to work (dang it). I suspect part of the problem is JB's unnatural flexibility, though- I think a couple of those may have made a normal person tap.

I also tried- several times- the technique we worked at Cindy's last week, where you get a wrapping grip on the opponent's bicep, fold the arm, and then stand up and hoist the person and drag them. It worked sometimes, but when I tried to continue into the kimura like we'd done in the drill, I couldn't make that work.

We also did one match from standup- that was fun, and we both need the practice. It took a long time. I finally took her down with some sloppiness that was not an actual technique, landing in side control. Three seconds, then front mount. Ha! Rack them points!

Next thing I knew, CN was calling us all for the sitting meditation. JB and I had used up the whole class rolling. I felt a little bad, but the both of us have missed a lot of BJJ in the last few weeks, and we really wanted to roll.

When CN asked if he could talk to me privately after class, I thought he was going to chew me out for hijacking the class- I apologized for that. We have been doing that too much, and we need to not let it get out of hand.

But no, he wants to me write a paper about what my training means to me. ???? I replied, quizzically, "Errr- broad subject." He said that he purposefully did not want to give me more structure than that. He also said that he had liked what I wrote about the dao training, and was curious to see what I would do with this. I hadn't considered that couple of dao-training paragraphs anything profound- in fact I thought it was a bit lame- but okay. I could drag nothing more out of him as to either the specifics of what was expected nor why. I have a few weeks, so I guess I will think about it for a while and see what I can come up with. I really hope he isn't pegging this for a testing requirement. I haven't told him that I have decided to not test any further, and wasn't planning to tell him- I plan to go the passive-aggressive route if that ever comes up. I hope CK didn't say anything to him about me, either. This is rather weird timing for this rather wierd request out of the blue.

On the way home, JB mentioned that she's thinking about e-mailing SK about some of her training issues. I think she was talking to CK about it today after I left, and eventually came up with that plan. I think it's great, and hope she follows up. I truly do think (and I told her so) that both CN and SK genuinely care about and are invested in our training, but they just don't always know how to give us what we need from them- especially as they are both pretty new to teaching. We need to be very clear and very persistant in communicating how we need them to help us progress. We have a responsibility to actively help in that process. JB is feeling like she can't talk to CN, which is sad. I am having a hard time figuring CN out. He comes off as being very sincere and open and easy to approach, but I often have difficulty trying to understand what he does and why- and he stalemates me many times when I try to get more clarity. I do feel that he has been pulling away from the group over the past year. And with his imminent return to college- who knows how much involvement (if any) he will have in the future of this group. So I would certainly hesitate to gird for some big heart-to-heart- or dump any angsty issues in his lap- at this point.

JB confessed that she found my training blog. I immediately braced for "How could you write________ about me, you ____ ____ ______??!!!!?!" Really, I don't recall off the top of my head anything particularly unflattering or embarrassing that I've written about her, and I ain't gonna sift back through almost a year's worth of my natterings looking for incriminating tidbits. There are certain people that- if I thought they had found my training blog- I would need to take the thing offline and immediately leave town with the clothes on my back. But JB isn't one of them. I told her, "I apologize in advance for anything I said that I need to apologize for,"..... and I guess that will have to cover it.

I don't know what or how much she read, but apparently the most gripping thing she found (the ONLY gripping thing she's found, maybe- heh) is the Carnal Carpool. She was outraged on my behalf. "I can't believe they are making out in your backseat while you're driving the carpool!!! That is so rude!!!!!!! Why don't you tell them to stop???!!!? Do you want ME to tell them to stop??! Because I will!!!" Thank you. But if I'm too much of a wuss to bring this up with them, that is my problem. We've already got two people acting like junior-high kids, I don't need to join them by playing the Communication Relay Game.

Angst- the role of perspective and distortion

CK and I spent the morning doing a bit more of the slow, light sparring that we had done Tuesday morning. We also spent about half the time doing non-striking balance work type "sparring", which was sort of like aggressive Contact Improv. The object was to "attack with your CENTER" and also to try to stay relaxed and not have a lot of muscle and stiffness involved.

Then we picked up JB and did some formwork- short and long open-hands tai chi. As usually happens, we spent more than an hour on the first five moves of the form. Also, a lot of move-from-the-center focus, and a goodly amount of correction on weight distribution, knee position, and arm altitude.

JB looked awful. I haven't seen her in about a week and a half- CK told me that JB's cat had passed away, but JB hadn't told me- and when I mentioned it in the car, I got a very abrupt "I don't want to talk about it". There is also rumor of some kind of drama going on in her personal life, but I never know what is going on. JB said straight up that she was avoiding everyone and that's why she hasn't been to class, and that she still doesn't really want to interact with anyone. I'm worried about her, but anxious about being pushy. I left her and CK in the early afternoon, partly because my attention span was all used up by then and partly because I want her to get a chance to talk to CK alone about whatever she needs to talk about.

I had really wanted to avoid angsty talks with CK about the Shaolin group. We haven't had a whole lot of time together this visit, which helped in that respect, but we did get into it a bit in the car on the way to pick up JB. Again, I am dismayed at how wound up I am still getting once this topic is stirred, for all that I've tried to let the whole thing go.

CK agrees with me that- with CN pulling back for school- unless DD involves himself more, the group is a slowly-rotting corpse which will disintegrate fully in the visible future. She also couldn't argue with my assertion that we are not doing enough sparring and are in danger of turning into the dreaded "forms factory" model. SK has admitted that both he and CN are anxious about taking responsibility for teaching and supervising sparring, and that's why we're not doing it, even though Nemesis and I have been consistently asking for it (and SK wants more too). I suspect that even the return of DD would not help that, as he was never big on sparring either. Part of this also has to do with the fact that all three women (myself included) are reluctant to spar with Nemesis (and to a lesser degree JoE) because of their lack of good control and the high likelihood of potential injuries for us. Yet neither Nemesis nor we the intimidated will be helped by simply avoiding the whole question of sparring forever. I can't understand why no one but me and SK (and Nemesis, to some degree, from what little I've talked about it privately with him) is disturbed about this whole learning-a-martial-art-without-ever-doing-any-fighting thing. Like spending years upon years learning how to fish, but you never actually put a line into the water. If I was running this show, no one would get above one stripe without being more proficient in sparring than any of us below SK are now. (Developing enough control to be able to spar without injuring your training partners would also be a requirement for advancement, were I the teacher.)

Since neither CK or I had any answers or ideas for that thorny apple, we returned to the topic of forms- and she asked me specific questions about what I am discontented about in that arena. I told her that over the last year, the more junior students have learned several new forms and now have forms resumes that are hot on the heels of my own- yet I have not been given the resources to progress in turn, and am essentially stuck repeating the fifth grade over and over while watching the first-graders catch up to me. I also resent that CN, SK, and even CK (whom I technically OUTRANK in Shaolin!) are given more material by DD whenever the opportunity presents itself to do so, but *I* an never given any more material even though I have repeatedly groveled for it. I have asked CN point-blank several times why he is dragging his heels so stubbornly on giving me any new material, and the man flat-out refuses to tell me. SK refuses to teach me anything new without CN's permission, because he's afraid of getting in trouble for it- so so much for that angle.

And yes, I am aware of my hypocrisy in spending one paragraph bitching about turning into a forms factory and then the next paragraph bitching about how I can't get any more forms. I explained to CK that I'm grubbing for forms because it seems like that's the only thing I have a snowflake's chance in Hades of ever maybe getting... I'm lusting after the crumbs because I'm starving.

CK gave me the talk about how getting more forms isn't necessarily "progressing"..... which I countered with, Yeah, I know- but I can do the same simple form by myself in a bare room for six hours a day for the rest of my life, and yes, I will keep progressing and getting better. But without any tools or feedback, it's slower and more stumbling than I want to be going. Besides which it is monumentally BORING and really hard to stay motivated.

She said something about how masterful I must be at this point on those particular forms, after so much review. I told her that my forms all still suck. Silence. Yeah- It didn't even make sense to *ME* either, even while it was coming out of my mouth.

I have been working on the assumption that my Shaolin forms suck. I know that my Shaolin forms suck in the same unquestioning way that I know water is wet. Part of this is attributable to my own personal neurotic hangups, and part of it is attributable to the fact that I can't find any other reasonable explanation for why my teachers have persistantly held me back to the extent that they have. We have an uncannily talented group of more junior students, that it's difficult to avoid camparing oneself unfavorably to. JM encourages that particular bad habit in me by giving me (a much more senior student than herself) an irritating amount of unsolicited instruction and corrections. I'm sure there's more additional psychological garbage wrapped up in there as well, that I'm not even aware of. Consentual reality through all of these distorted lenses is questionable.

But it's a bit of a mindf*** to stop and wonder- "Hey.... I wonder exactly how much my Shaolin forms really DO- or really DON'T- suck?" What if they don't suck after all? How would it change my training if I found out they don't really suck?

There is really no one that I can trust to give me a truly objective assessment of my Shaolin forms. (Not that I can really cast blame for this; in most cases it's because the person has an interest in being NICE to me.)

CK then wanted to know why I didn't feel I was getting tools and feedback in class. Well, I am- but not at the level that I need and want. As I said, the past year has been spent working on forms I already know. Yes, mine have plenty of improvement to be made- but the bulk of CN's and SK's time is (understandably) spent on those students who still didn't know which foot you step with on the lunge, and such- when I need some more detailed and advanced feedback. They tend to watch the group do a form, and then pick out some of the things that stand out as group-wide problems, to work on those. But I feel like I am having DIFFERENT problems than the more junior students, and I am not getting the specific help for those problems.

I've blogged a lot about this, and I still don't feel like I'm articulating it well- nor do I feel like I'm getting anywhere.

Okay, a starting point:
I think that I need to start forcing myself to request individual forms help from SK (and maybe a little from CN as well) during Thursday "free forms time" again. I have not done so *at all* for nearly a year. Mostly because I couldn't bear for *anyone* to watch my formwork while I was enduring Epic Slump 2010, and partly because it is hard to separate one of the teachers from the class while making it abundantly yet politely clear that JM is not welcome to tag along and watch/assistant-teach.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Trying to figure out what to work on for the tournament

The following is an excerpt of the e-mail I sent Cindy, in response to her request that I let her know what I would like her to help me with before the November Revolution.

At first I thought I was going to come up with a list of the top eight or so specific techniques that I thought I might find most useful- perhaps a couple addressing my weakest areas, a couple capitalizing on my strongest areas, a couple that I just can't seem to make work or just can't seem to understand well. But the more detailed I got while I was thinking it out, the more I thought that the fewer specifics and the more free rein I give her, the better off I will be. She's the expert- both in BJJ and in competing. And not only that, coming from the perspective and experience of a fighter very close to my size. She knows a lot better than I can what it will take for me to improve, and where my weakn- I mean my OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT- are.

So I just offered a short generalized summary of the most pressing issues that I am conscious of:


General weak areas that need help:

My most persistant and frustrating problem right now is that I seem to always find myself defending on the bottom- and I can often get to bottom half guard, and then I get stuck down there. I still need more ideas for useful things to try from that position, and lots of practice trying them- especially against resisting opponents at speed, under the pressure of a live roll. (This problem is less tournament-related than a general ongoing frustration.... almost everybody I work with in class is much bigger, stronger and heavier than me, which makes me more likely to find myself stuck in this situation and more intimidated/defeatist about trying to get out.)

It seems to me that when I roll, I have some moderate success with guard passes and escapes, but my subs and sweeps in general are much weaker areas. I've always concentrated much more on "position" than "submission" thus far, to the point that I still don't attempt many submissions at all and have a poor rate of success with the ones I do try. When I'm on the bottom, an escape (squirming out, getting to knees and turtleing, replacing half-guard or guard) seems like less work and more likely to succeed for me (especially against big heavy guys) than trying sweeps, so I don't even try them much.

So- subs and sweeps in general, and it might be a good idea to just focus on a couple of simple, reliable ones that can be done from a variety of positons- and drill, drill, drill, practice, practice, practice those few items as opposed to trying to get me to absorb a big toolbox of stuff. I am a VERY slow learner and I often have to be taught a thing several times before it starts to stick... and then there's a big gap for me between being able to drill a technique against an unresisting partner versus trying to remember it, recognize the opening, and make the technique work in the speed and pressure of a live roll.

If we had time, same with takedowns- they are weak in general, so maybe pick two good ones and work them to death. I'm much more worried about the subs than I am about the takedowns, though.

Miscellaneous tidbits, specifically Revolution-related:

1) I will almost certainly have to fight Bianca- who is very persistant and adept with a wide variety of chokes, and our rolls almost invariably end with me tapping to her choke sooner or later (again, because I'm not trying many subs myself.). I have some moderate success at choke defense, but more will probably be needed to save me from her. And I need a plan to get her subbed before she can choke me.

2)A few Revolutions ago, there was a white belt woman who got the Vicious Submission title for a flying armbar in about twelve seconds. That woman is probably a blue belt now- and this may be stupid, but I'm all paranoid now about feeling like I need to be prepared for an opponent trying to flying-armbar me right out of the gate. I've never even seen one outside of a video, so I'd like to know 1)what it looks like coming at me so that I'll recognize it, and 2)how to defend. As I said, I don't want to get too hung up on having to WIN (especially as this would be my first tournament), but what I seriously do ***NOT*** want to have happen is that I _DO_ NOT_ want to get subbed in the first fifteen seconds of the match. That would be really humiliating and discouraging.

3)I have never really paid attention to the scoring system, what's illegal, and other details of competition (I've never even watched one), so an ongoing feed of informative comments about those types of things would be welcome. I don't want to be giving up points because I don't understand what I ought to be doing in order to accumulate them efficiently. And I'd be completely embarrassed to get DQ'ed for doing something dumb that I didn't realize was not allowed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sparring with CK


CK and I met up at the community center at 9:30. There was some inevitable catching-up chitchat, then she suggested that we spar a little "to warm up". I told her about Epic Slump 2010, and that the Shaolin group is still very deficient on sparring practice, and that I am feeling very out of practice and intimidated. I didn't spar at all with MM when he was visiting. I just was not feeling up for a violent beatdown at CK's hands this morning (and she can bring the Violent Beatdown, I assure you). I suggested freeze-frame sparring, but she's not a big fan of that process. So we agreed to just go slow and light.

I am so very outmatched against CK, it's ridiculous. I usually do my best work close-up, but I can't close with CK- she just crushes me. I have to keep some distance, and of course her reach is longer than mine (although nowhere near as bad as SK or Nemesis). This is one of those faceoffs where you go in with the knowledge that you are just not gonna win this one.

I don't think I got a single head or throat strike in all morning. I was getting some belly strikes, some belly/groin kicks, but mostly what I was getting was knee kicks. You have to be careful trying to kick at CK, because she has very quick and bony knees that pop up to cover, and you end up hurting yourself with the kick more than you hurt her. She was also getting belly kicks in at me, which I find very frustrating- I'm unhappy with myself when I leave myself open enough for her to get a solid belly kick. She was also getting a lot of throat strikes on me.

I observed that I am still falling into the habit of getting frustrated, tense and sloppy as soon as my opponent lands a few solid hits. I also observed that I was very tense in general. It is quite exhausting to spar for long periods when you're that tense.

I made the mistake of mentioning to her that Cindy is trying to get me to observe when an opponent's head extends past her knee, and then grab around the back of the head and force the opponent to kiss the mat. So CK started doing that to **ME** whenever she saw my head come too far forward.

She also commented about how I was keeping my hands resting on top of her forearms the whole time. It wasn't conscious, but with my hands there, I could feel whenever she was about to move and I coud react immediately- I could try to keep her from striking at my neck and head- and this way I didn't have to WATCH her hands; I could keep my gaze on those treacherous feet of hers. This must be something I have started doing in BJJ, but I wasn't aware of it. Will have to take note of whether I notice that next time I roll. Anyway, CK says that the gesture reminds of her her late cat Niko, who used to place a paw on her kittens' heads and bear down... it was noticed at some point that Niko used the same gesture on her humans. This behavior took on the moniker "The Niko Dominating Paw". So after that, one or the other of us would periodically break into giggles during the spar, as we noticed my "Niko Dominating Paw" coming into play yet again.

I noticed that she overcompensated with the backing-up and covering whenever I bent over in low Leopard-strike position- even though I never got anywhere near her and in fact don't think I ever even extended any of the strikes. I also got her once by throwing a circular Crane top fist to the side of the head which was COMPLETELY a ruse to distract her from the kidney kick that I was *really* setting her up for. I also got her a couple times with a second kick after she'd blocked my first one, if I didn't put the foot back down before following up with number two. I balance well on one leg, and I think people tend to assume that after a kick, they don't need to worry about that leg any more until after it regrounds... not so!

Any time I did land any sort of a hit, though, it was like pressing a "GO" button on her- she immediately followed up by closing in rapidly with an aggressive attack. After a few of those, I got more intimidated and hesitant about trying to land something.

Once, she knocked me down and stepped toward me to help me up- only I assumed that she was stepping toward me to drop her considerable solid weight on top of me and flatten me into roadkill. So I balled up and then pistoned my leg out and kicked her in the knee- not that hard, but harder than I'd meant to. She gave me a shocked glare and an "OW!!!" and I felt Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelly bad. She stopped and put some jow on it, so I know it hurt. Then I was trying to be even more careful with my force and targeting, and trying to not kick her again in the same spot on the same knee.... but darn it, knee strikes were the only thing I was having decent sucess with!

We paused for me to hop around and swear a little after kicking her ankle bone at the wrong angle with my toe... she checked the time and realized it was already 1pm. Wow- time flies when you're getting beat up. So we adjourned in order to have a little downtime before Tuesday kung fu class. We had gotten one run-through of the tai chi short form in there during a sparring break, and a very little posture work, but mostly it was sparring. I know she wants to get some stance/posture work done and some formwork as well- and I do too- but I think the sparring practice was very valuable and time well spent.

I got home ravenous, and ate everything in sight.


Kung fu Tuesday. No CN, and a small class- It was just me, Nemesis, SK, and CK- then JoE showed up a little later.

While waiting for class to start, I worked on all of the Snake Dao stuff. It seems pretty good, and I'm particularly proud of the slashy-spinny-flying-kick. I got that tricky footwork sequence, too. (SK peeked around the corner and warned me to not be too hard on my knees, after spending all morning sparring CK.)

We started with some forms- Little Red Dragon, Black Crane Three (walking CK through that one- she hasn't worked it in too long), Northern mantis Bo form (same). Then SK set to teaching CK some of the Snake dao, and told the rest of us to work on the Dao-vs-staff material. Since there was an odd number, I left Nemesis and JoE to work together on that and went off by myself. I went though all the Sanke Dao material again, but since I was pretty satisfied- and my knees were starting to ache- I got my bo and worked the spinning (high and low), turning (both directions), spinning-with-abrupt-stop-and thrust- (both sides, and with same-side foot lunging forward, then opposite side foot). Then I picked small visual targets on the trees and bushes and did the spinning-with-abrupt-stop-and-thrust while trying to develop decent thrusting aim at speed. That still needs more work. Everything is a little trickier with a staff that is too long for my body- but I can't really cut it, even had I the means- because I haven't paid for it.

By that time, my upper arms were starting to get tired, so I went around the corner and practiced Dragon forms. Touch Bridge (flow is seeming a bit better), Long Qi (that one's gone downhill a bit- I need to revisit that one again very soon), Box Form (a little stumble on a couple of details, but I figured them out after a few minutes... it's still a bit too staccato and needs a little smoothing out.... the energy and power in this form is still stunning). I was about to start on Dragon Plants the Seed when SK called me back to work the Dao vs Bo with CK. That took the rest of the class.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Even a dead fish floats to the top.


Yeah, I had some cookies. And some SpaghettiO's. I think the SpaghettiO's were more calories than the cookies- did you know there are 460 calories in a can of those things??!

It was an oven in the Bellevue school tonight. I can only imagine how bad it was up in the loft in Seattle.

I had wanted to come to the 30-min takedown class that was scheduled before the regular class.... but I was a little too slow getting out of the house, and showed up too late. I got to watch about half of it, though.

Standing guillotines, guillotine defenses, breaking the turtle, chokes from the back (ezekiel, clock, and one where you just loop your elbow around opponent's neck, grab your own lapel and squeeze). I drilled with SK. I like chokes. I really want to get better at chokes.

No positional sparring tonight. 6-min timed rolls with first SK, then Jim, and then Steve. I got tapped a couple times, but seemed to be doing fairly well (better than my usual) overall in terms of postions and escapes with these three larger, stronger (and in the cases of the latter two, more senior and technical than I) opponents. I actually did worst against SK, but he did seem to be muscling a bit- not real bad, just a bit. Both of the blues commented that I had done really well. I kept moving, kept (at least pretending as if I was) going for subs, and when I found myself squashed on the bottom, I kept trying to move around and fight it. No more lying helplessly on the bottom. Even a dead fish (as Bryan is wont to classify me when I do this) floats to the top.

By the time Steve and I were halfway through our roll, we were both ready to die. Sometimes we would clinch up and just lie there for a long moment, sucking air and praying that the other would hold still for just a minute longer so we could get a little gas back.

I wanted to roll more, but my body said no way. I had to lie on my back on the floor in the lobby for a while before I felt like I could drive safely. "You okay?" "Yeah- I'm so hot and exhausted, I think I'm gonna puke." "Roll over if you're gonna do that." "Thanks. You're a pal."

Sunday, August 15, 2010


The consequences of my diet are beginning to weigh on my conscience. By the time I get to 124lb, I will have single-handedly decimated the planet's chicken population (both corporeal and embryonic) to a point where the creatures will be an endangered species. German chocolate cake, on the other hand, is a much more renewable and sustainable resource. I really need to put some thought into my level of self-centeredness here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I have no training to post on my training blog this weekend.

132.5..... Yesterday's little doughnut interlude notwithstanding....

An unfortunate series of misunderstandings conspired to snafu my private lesson tonight with CK, to my dismay. It might be just as well... I am exhausted and sleep-deprived, and she is still jet-lagged- chances are high that we would not have gotten a lot of constructive work done. Although we might have been able to get some of the inevitable chitchat out of the way so we could get down to serious business next week. I have booked her for Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

I tried at the end of July to get a lesson with CC for Aug 1.... He finally contacted me a couple days ago and suggested this weekend (Sunday)... today he e-mails me AGAIN and wants to slough me off to next week. Next week is totally booked for me. I'll have to try to pin him down for the weekend of the 21st. This is typical. I think I spend more time attempting to coordinate lessons with CC than I actually spend *IN* lessons with him.

CN is out of town, so no Conditioning Boot Camp; and I had to work this morning/afternoon which necessitated missing Competition Training day at Gracie's. How's that for a bummer of an MA-less weekend? I'm so glad I dragged myself to class last night- I'd be kicking myself so hard right now if I'd stayed in bed.

I am very conscious of how fortunate I've been to have been gifted with as much high-quality MA training from skilled teachers as I have, GRATIS. These people don't owe me anything, and I'm grateful for every minute they have generously and kindly donated to help me out. However, I must concede there is a thing to be said for belonging to a commercial school, where you fork over your credit card and then your teacher HAS to BE THERE, consistently, on time, according to some reliable schedule.