Thursday, September 30, 2010

The psychological intimidation of the stick

I didn't just blow my diet last night, I NUKED it. Frankie's Italian Restaurant in Redmond is having its annual garlic festival. They have a special menu, plus you can order any of their regular menu items with a garlic quotient on a scale of one to five "cloves". I ate enough fettucine alfredo (with chicken and mushrooms, and loaded with cheese) and garlic bread to feed a third world country, with a near-lethal amount of garlic added. It was probably a week's worth of calories, although I did take home a doggie bag and thus stretched the meal over two days. The upside is that now I will be able to tap people out with my breath for the next two weeks. My sweat is probably pretty toxic as well. I exist in a garlic aura. Can you smell me from where you are???

Kung Fu Thursday. The usual hand strike drills. I had asked if we could review Kiu Two, at least briefly- even though we usually try to keep Basics class material and Intermediate class material separate. So we did a little of that. Then review of stick/club/etc defenses. I worked with JB on Kiu Two and then JB and Nemesis on stick/club.

Interesting how the psychological intimidation factor plays out when someone is coming at you swinging a stick. There is such a small window of opportunity- and before you can even jump on it, you have to have 1)gotten past the freeze-moment, and 2)decided what technique to use. The freeze-moment is a bigger obstacle for me than usual, in this scenario. And even when I've pushed past that, there is a hesitation to commit to a technique, for fear it's the wrong one. Yet if you fail to fully commit- in that split second you have to decide- the next thing you know, you're being whacked with the weapon.

Going from JB to Nemesis was also disquieting. The TIMING of everything- which I had struggled with against JB- was now completely different due to Nemesis' reach. I had to recalculate everything. It took a lot of brain cells focussed on just that aspect of it, when one's entire brain is wanting to be distracted with "AAAAAAGGH, I'M ABOUT TO HAVE MY HEAD SMASHED IN LIKE A ROTTEN WATERMELON!!!"

There is a terrifying awareness that there is NO room for error; one hit is likely to take you out. I don't think I find even knife defense as psychologically intimidating as stick/club defense.

Individual formwork. I did several more reps of Kiu Two (side A and side B), one rep of Touch Bridge, a couple reps of Little Red Dragon In the Mirror, and a few reps of Box form. I asked SK to look at my Box Form. He was bemused and wanted to know, why that one? Well, I just picked one at random- it having to be one that SK knows- and better it be one that the whole class doesn't know (and thus one that we never do in class time).

SK observed a flow problem in the same area that CN has observed a flow problem. So I am aware of it, but haven't been able to fix it as of yet. It was kind of funny, and kind of frustrating, that we both recognized the issue but neither of us could articulate in English exactly what it was or what was behind it. It was like having one of those conversations where you are finishing each other's sentences and only putting actual words to a fraction of the communication. We discussed it and played around with it a bit, and finally I figured out that it's a balance issue. I have so much momentum moving my "energy ball" 180 degrees that I'm having to stop the flow to try to regain balance for the next move, and to prevent myself from falling over backwards. I'm going to have to experiment with it some more, but I think it will help to lower the stance and focus on gathering the "energy ball" inward and downward instead of holding it at arms' length like a hot basketball. Note, NO PAUSE here. Also note, no pause after the ridge hand strike. Okay to pause after you break the opponent's leg.

Then he asked to see Hurricane Hands. Ack, I haven't done this one for a bit. He said, "Relaaaaaaaax!" before I even began. Sigh. I had to restart it once, but I got through it- a bit clumsily. I knew I'd forgotten the two little kicks that he'd added after I'd learned the form through, so we went over those again- note that they are after the strike to the ground followed by the foot shift, just before the big lunging stretch. Right low kick to knee with ball of foot, inside of foot upward. Left low kick, outside of foot upward. Then the lunging stretch.

One other correction- the closing, no pauses in the loop. Make it bigger and with continuous motion.

I did e-mail my name in for the small tournament on Saturday. I can still bail if I want to. I listed my weight as 135 with gi. It's IBJJF weight classes, so that puts me right smack in the middle of "light" (129-141). So I shouldn't have to fast or stop drinking water or anything nuts like that in the next two days.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Woo hoo- it's Kiu Two!

Tuesday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue (the Danger Room)

John was there- I haven't seen him in months! No professors- Nate led the class in a grueling set of warmups, followed by "king of the mat" takedown practice, followed by short timed spars. I sucked mud today... but in my defense, my group consisted of two medium sized guys and five big guys- and me.

Takedowns- too embarrassing to detail. Me trying to take down Tom...yeah, right.... six feet something; he's lost a lot of weight since he started training here, but he's still a hefty dude; and he coaches high school wrestling. I hope I will do better if I ever get to go against someone my own size. Tom tells me to stop looking down and look at the guy's chest. "Don't look at the mat- you know it's there." Yeah, I know it's there, I'll be kissing it soon enough.

Matches- first I got Marc. He was the smallest person there, although still bigger than me, so I thought maybe I had a snowflake's chance in hell of taking him down. I marched in and grabbed him aggressively. He pulled guard to get us on the mat. I was on the bottom a lot, but he was leaving me plenty of room to get to my knees, etc, and move around. Nate (playing ref) called a halt at one point because Marc had a kimura and I wasn't tapping, and Nate thought my arm was going to snap. I said, "No, keep going- I'm really flexible." Neither of us got a sub, but I think Marc would have won due to being on top more. Pat tells me to remember to get the near side hook in first, before hopping over the guy and trying to get the far one. he also suggests I defend the triangle by stepping over the guy's torso.

Then I got Andrew, whom I knew was going to be tougher. He got me with an armbar, but at least it wasn't in the first fifteen seconds. I was frustrated with myself, though, and forgot to shake Andrew's hand before walking off the mat. That was a good reminder- I wouldn't want to do that at a tournament and look like an ungracious loser.

Next was Ian (Big Ian- not teenage Ian). I said, "Take it easy on me, okay?" (Why don't I just have that tattooed on my forehead?!?) So he did, to the point that he sort of just lay there while I got mount, took his back, KOB... Couldn't finish a sub, though, although my hands are now raw and aching from gripping and scraping on his gi.

Marc again- this time he stopped in the middle of the match because he had me in a triangle and I wasn't tapping. Now I was getting a little irritated. I lose all the time, but don't have me losing until I *ACTUALLY* lose, okay? "I'll TAP if I need to TAP, okay, don't stop unless I TAP." "I thought you were going to sleep." Sigh. Rickson Gracie, do they really think I haven't had enough experience tapping that I don't know when to tap, or am too stubborn to tap??!! "Tapping Ten Thousand Times" my butt. Surely I surpassed that long ago. I must have tapped more than any person living on this earth has ever tapped in their life!!! I know how to tap! So WAIT for the dratted TAP! Don't prematurely tap on my behalf!

Pat said, "You're moving a lot better now." "You've got to be kidding- everybody's kicking my ass!" "Peaks and plateaus.... you never backslide, just peaks and plateaus."

Apparently Pat gave Rodrigo a list of people who wanted their names on the tournament list, and Rodrigo said nothing doing- they have to e-mail! Otherwise, he threatens, we are having two tournaments- The real tournament and Pat's tournament. I want to know which tournament Bianca will be in, so I can enter the OTHER one!


I must have banged up my knees in the Danger Room... it hurts bad enough to whimper a little, every time I try to kneel on one! I also had to Tiger Balm my trapezius muscles and shoulder blade area- esp my left side. Ow.

Kung Fu Tuesday. Small class today- just JM, Nemesis, SK and me. Tuesday class will be moving to Sundays next week.

This quarter is Wing Chun and Snake quarter. So we started with Sil Lum Tao, Leopard Fist, and Snake Versus Five Animals. Once again we were asked to do Leopard Fist in "tai chi" style- flowy and basically taking all the power out of it. Then Sil Lum Tao pretty much the opposite fashion- snappy and with pauses.

Then SK wanted to talk about bridging- since that is apparently one of the more glaring deficiencies that is being seen in our collective sparring efforts. After some rather lengthy discussion on the topic, he had each of us pick two guard stances. The other students had to come up with an attack that illustrated bridging- then there was some further analysis of what the guarding person might do to counter, etc.

I found this useful in several ways, besides the obvious work on the topic of bridging. It was similar to the "freeze frame sparring game" in that it made you analyze the opponent for openings and figure out what techniques would be most practical. Having a small group made it good to do some group-analysis of this as well. In addition- although we weren't told to do this and probably didn't have to- we found ourselves trying to stick mostly with techniques from the style we began with. Being able to work within a particular style at will is a skill I'd like to improve. It was interesting that it never seemed like a good idea to attack with the same style that the guarding person was using (although I did attack JM with a Southern Mantis combo while she was in a Northern Mantis guard stance). It was also interesting that the Monkey guard I picked for my second guard option seemed to be one of the most utilitarian ones of all the ones we played with tonight. I picked it sort of on a lark- it's not really something I've ever thought about actually using in sparring. I thought, "I don't know what the hell I'm going to do with THIS, but let's see," But I was surprised at how well it was working in a practical sense.

After that exercise, SK made us do a bunch of weird pushups from a sort of "downward dog" position.

Then Kiu One, switching partners till we'd worked with everybody. I got SK last. After we'd done a few reps, he inquired, "Is there some reason we're rotating?" I hadn't been doing it consciously, but we were indeed rotating. "I dunno." He grinned widely and said, "That's part of the more advanced versions of Kiu One." Ha. I love it when that happens. I seem to be doing instinctual Snakey things quite a bit. That's so cool.

So then he taught us the opening moves of Kiu Two. AWESOME. I have been wanting to learn this form for years. I was in fact begging for it on a weekly basis a couple of years ago, but was refused. It is a two-person Snake form, with both fighters using Snake (unlike Snake Versus Five Animals, in which only one fighter is the Snake). Watching SK and DD do this form together is jaw-dropping.... the beauty and power and flow.... it positively brings a lump to my throat. I'm really excited about learning this.

Part A: left straight punch at chest; change hand to Snake; pull back on the left side and drop waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down to a deep back lunge (ouch!), while Snake-parrying in a big circular motion; flow back to a front lunge and Snake-strike belly level; Bring right hand up to catch over left wrist to pull-apart; left hand to chamber while right Snake parries down and slightly to the side.

Part B: Double Snake parries to the left; step left and Snake strike left to throat; foot-switch hop to defend the belly by bringing right leg up and around, plant stance turned slightly to your left (remember, speed more important than power here- bring leg straight through instead of circling it too much... and it's a foot-switch, not an advance! This isn't Tiger!); Snake strike with right hand while covering armpit area with left.

After we'd run through them both several times, SK said, "Everybody watch Kitsune- do part A" Gulp! But apparently I was doing the right-hand-over-left-wrist maneuver prettily enough to be worth a demo. Wow. That same sort of motion- with different hand positions and different stylistic flow- shows up in Mantis (Bung Bo Kuen- more prominently in the version that CC taught me) and Dragon (Little Red Dragon). It's cool to see how they are so parallel and yet so different.

We then tried the small section with partners.

JM commented that with Snake Versus Five Animals, we had learned all of part A, then learned all of part B, then put them together. For the staff-vs-dao stuff, we hadn't even been TOLD that they went together until after we'd been doing the bo form for two years, and had more recently learned most of the applicable dao sequence. I commented that this way might be a better way to be able to retain the form for practice at home- because even if you brain-fart on one of the moves, you might be able to figure it out by checking it against the opposing sequence. It'll be interesting to see if it's easier or harder to learn this way.

I gave SK lots of feedback in the car; I know he's trying to tailor class in ways that are most helpful to us, so I try to give lots of feedback about the things that I like best.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Uh-oh, I'm losing them.

Stuck at 130, still. It has become clear that I am not going to make weight for the Revolution unless I resort to Slim-Fast. I'm waffling (Mmmmm, waffles...) whether I want to go for it or just say F it and stay at 130 (that's going to be about 135 with the gi on, and I will probably want to pad that by three lb so that I don't have to fast and withhold water on tournament day). I'm leaning towards "F it".

I have until Thursday to decide if I want to sign up for the small tournament at the new Seattle site on Oct 2. I think Rodrigo needs a psych eval for hosting a tournament the same week he's moving his school.

Oh, I got the Saturday in October off so that I can go to the Rory Miller self-defense legalities seminar. I hope there'll be enough good info to make it worth it, and not just a rehash of what I've already learned in Insights courses. But looking forward to that.

Monday evening BJJ at Cindy's. I would normally go to Gracie Bellevue if I have Monday evening free (assuming JB's not free for class). But with the Seattle branch closed this week, I figured it was going to be even more crowded than usual in Bellevue. Monday evenings in Bellevue tend to be pretty crowded, and bottom-heavy in newbie white belts. Plus Hostility Boy is there, and I always get stuck with him. All this is not normally enough to make me want to commute all the way into the city, but since there was no morning Seattle class (thus we're looking at one commute and not two) I decided to go ahead and do it. SK came with me.

He told me two unhappy things in the car. 1)He's strongly considering dropping his Gracie's membership. His financial situation is even tighter lately than usual. 2)JM is making noises about quitting BJJ altogether. Serious Bummer for me, on both accounts.

JB is planning on going away to college this winter, so we were going to be losing her altogether anyway- now it looks like I'm going to be the only one of the gang left at Gracie's- and maybe the only one left anywhere. SK says he wants to keep training at Cindy's- but he will be down to only two possible classes (since he works days and can only do Cindy's two adult evening classes). I just feel like it's the beginning of the end for him- especially if JM is not training BJJ at all. If she's not training those two evenings, she is going to be making alternate plans for said evenings and pressuring SK to be with her instead of training- and he'll cave. I predict he won't stick around very long. :(

And it's also too bad about JM. I thought she was really enjoying the BJJ. And Gods know she has a gift for it. Probably it's just too much MA. I know she likes MA, but we're doing a heck of a lot of it. The Shaolin alone is 3 classes a week- more MA than that is really the province of Crazy People. She may well just be tired of being one of the Crazy People, and wants a life back.

This sucks for me- it looks like I'm losing a lot of good training partners (not to mention carpool options). Sigh.

I guess there's a silver lining- once I train long enough to pull well ahead of their skill level again, I'll have that edge over them again in sparring. I did give up a distinct advantage when I brought them into grappling! It used to be that as soon as I got any of them on the ground, I had it in the bag! No more. But if they stop training BJJ, it will eventually get back to that status quo again!

Anyway- tonight it was pretty warm up in the Tully's Building. I think this is the first class I've taken over there in gi. It was humid and I felt like I weighed about 300lb.

We did a basic guard break, and then the "seat belt" stacking pass that JB loves to do on me. Then an escape for the person getting passed- stiffen up, grab the opponent's wrists when she dives under your thighs, plant one foot on her shoulder, roll backward, and posture up under her armpit- drive in for a double-leg to side control.

I was the demo dummy first- I took a deep breath and put my cheese graters on to march bravely to my doom. This prompted Cindy to growl, "Yeah, you BETTER put those things on!!", Thus prompting one of the other regulars to comment wryly to me, "Lucky you! Lamont's not here." Cindy didn't get it- she asked, "Why? is Lamont mean?" We all bit our tongues on "NO, *YOU* are!!!" Hee hee hee! So SK got to be the alternate demo dummy. At one point I put my arm up to try to keep some of the pressure off my poor ribs, and she was like, "You better not put that arm up! If you won't let me do the drill, you're gonna make me go even harder!" Ack! She also cheerfully directed us to pressure right down on the opponent's xyphoid process.

After the drills (I was drilling with SK), I did one timed free roll with SK. He tapped me with an arm lock from a very strange position. But later, he totally gave me his back- and I almost had a great choke locked on when time was called.

My next roll was with a teenager I've never seen before (Chase). Chase weighs 112. When I first grabbed him, it was astonishing to be grappling with someone that small. But I knew that he has 10 years of wrestling experience, so this was not going to be easy. He is really strong. But he was puffing and panting a lot. Surprising that his wrestling training didn't teach him to breathe better. He tried very hard to choke me, but I held out. Neither of us got a tap.

After that I needed a break- very tired and hot. That was the last roll of the night, though- the capoiera class was starting right after us, so we had to clear out- if I'd known it was the last roll, I would have soldiered on.

Cindy mentioned possibly adding an open mat on Sundays, to give us more time to work on tournament stuff. That would be awesome, if the timing works out for me. The Shaolin class looks like it will be moving the Tuesday evening class to Sunday evening- at least temporarily (to increase the possibility that CN may be able to show up sometimes). So if the Sunday open mat is in the evenings, that won't work for me. I have to work every other Sat/Sun till 4pm, though- so if she does it in the morning or afternoon, I'll only be able to come to every other one. Still, I'd be happy about that. I hope she means to continue that ongoing, and not just up to the tournament.

Friday, September 24, 2010

At least we don't have to wear clown suits. Yet.

Friday no-gi at Cindy's, with JB.

More gymnastic warmups. You know roundoffs? Cindy makes us do roundoffs, and then roundoffs with an extra 180-twist so that you land facing the other way. Mine are not all that great, but it's forcing me to handspring harder so that I can try to get enough room/time to twist. With the bouncier handspring, the regular roundoffs are lovely. Another student remarked on how much air I was catching. Also- backward rolls continuing into a handstand/handspring and try to bounce yourself to your feet. Those are hard. I can get myself upright, but only to a squat. Front rolls with handspring. Even worse- I landed every single one on my butt. Connor did them perfectly. There's a new show-off in town! I announced, "If we don't succeed at jiu jitsu, at least we'll all be able to run away and join the circus!"

Scissor sweep. Scissor sweep setup, then opponent roots.... post on mat and on the back of opponent's neck, and do "tactical stand" to get back to your feet (or knees). This is good, this might be a way for me to get the heck out from under the bottom once in a blue moon.

Scissor sweep setup, opponent defends the sweep, then you try to do the tactical stand and opponent tries to grab a single-leg. You transition to omoplata. I'm always excited to work on omoplatas- I'm not good at them yet, but I just know that once I work on them enough, they're going to be great for me. I can ball myself up and spin around with speed and agility. I just need more reps so that I know exactly where I'm trying to go.

Next- same sequence, only instead of omoplata, you transition to triangle. Still clumsy on the triangles. Cindy also showed us several alternatives if it wasn't working out- a kimura, a neck crank ("It looks like a triangle, so it's a triangle!!! Ian (pointing sternly at the teenager)! Don't you do this one!" Uh-huh. Gods, she's a trip!), switching to an opposite side triangle. I didn't quite get the neck crank one, but everything else seemed to be working okay for me.

Two long rolls with JB. Geez, she just keeps getting better and better. I got only one tap on her (guillotine again! She was disgusted that I got her with that yet again) I complimented her- I was noticing that every time I try to set something up on her, as soon as I do the initial weight shift or grip, she seems to always know just what to do to counter. I asked her if she really *knows* exactly what I am setting up and how to counter, or if it was just instinctual. She thinks she usually realizes what I'm likely to be trying for, but some of it is also instinctual.

I did notice that in our first roll, she pulled guard almost immediately, and I was on top for most of the rest of that roll. So I pointed that out to her afterward, and told her what Cindy has been telling me, about "never voluntarily go onto your back" and try to stay on top.

Cindy waylaid me on my way out and said that after I'd left class on Wednesday, somebody had taken her to task for being too hard on me. Didn't I tell you she smooshed me that day- see, that wasn't just me being a whiner, LOL. She just wanted to make sure I hadn't taken it the "wrong way". I replied that we were cool- if she had gone that hard on me and then NOT given me a positive backpat at the end like she did, that would have been discouraging. She said, "I wouldn't have done that," and reassured me again that I am getting better.

Are you sure you want to make me that open-ended offer?

Thursday Kung Fu.

I continue to be able to produce insanely low tabletop horse stance during the warmups. Knees hurt, yeah- but what's new. It's got to be the BJJ. I've always had pretty strong legs, but tabletop horse for any significant length of time has been beyond me before this summer. SK mentioned the other day that he was really noticing (while CN was trying to do takedowns on him during the sparring on Tuesday) a BJJ-inspired difference in his core strength and general takedown resistance. It's interesting to see how one MA bleeds into another (pun intended).

Some kick drills, some hand strike drills. One of my choices was the Mantis finger-poke. SK got out his Sharpie marker again and dotted his palm for us to use as a target. Once again he declined my suggestion that his throat would be a much better target. JB forgot to cut her fingernails, so she was trying to not poke too hard. SK said to her, "If you actually draw blood, I'll give you a dollar." I raised my hand and called, "Wait a minute..... what if any parameters are you placing on this offer?" Amid general laughter, and SK's glower, Nemesis asked me, "How bad do you want a dollar?" "It's not the dollar I really want; it's the blood."

After that, we reviewed the basic knife defenses from last week. Also, some basic stick/club defenses. As we rotated training partners, it was interesting to see how your defense had to change when you got to JB- a foot shorter than anyone else. After facing off against the big guys, I was subconsciously relaxing a little when I got to her... and then found to my consternation that her attack angles were all radically different due to her height- what was a straight-in stab for the others was an upcut coming from her- which required a whole different defensive technique. Between that and her abnormal flexibility (which allowed her to keep cutting me even when I thought I had her well pinned), she was getting more blade into me than anyone else in the class had.

I still need to work more on making my defensive technique and my counter ONE step instead of two.

JoE was not there tonight, so I couldn't ask him to help me with Southern Mantis. I should have asked a teacher for forms help, especially since this was the last Thursday for Gods know how long that we had CN... but my focus was feeling really scattered and I didn't think I could concentrate on that effectively. So I worked on mirror forms. Five Animals and Leopard Three were mostly okay, so I only did them a couple of times. Little Red Dragon, Five Points, Leopard Fist- smoothed out some rough spots in those and repped them several times apiece. Then I started working on Bung Bo, and got some good progress done there, I think.

Another photo from July's Revolution. That's Professor Carlos- a guy you want to try to keep away from your toes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gradiations on the concept of "mean"

Busy night on the Dreamscape. I spent the first half working on Bung Bo Kuen. The second half writing some songs for a musical theater production, teaching them to the lead and the chorus members, and then singing the backup descant. LOL. My identity as an artistically creative person is pretty central to me; I guess it's freaking me out a bit that I can't write an essay on an interesting subject. So I decided to re-invent Fiddler On the Roof instead. Sometimes I wonder what kind of chemicals they're feeding all those chickens I'm eating.

Lunchtime no-gi at Cindy's. I got there a little late, because I was just having a little trouble getting off the launch pad today- but still made half the warm-ups. It was two big guys and me..... later on, two more big guys came in, so then it was four big guys and me... so I got to drill with Cindy, which was cool. Hands-on feedback. I also was one of her demo dummies for today, which was a bit less cool.... I'm starting to dread hearing Cindy say- with that eager low rattle in her voice- "C'mere, Kitsune!"

Today we were doing a move I've done before in here: Facing opponent on knees, shove her head down and guillotine, sprawl, then feed her far arm through so that you have both of her arms trapped with one of yours, then go to the side, crossface, get a hook in, pull the opponent out of turtle and choke her from behind. After we'd done that for a while, an escape for the person being backmounted: defend the choke, trap opponent's elbow (this is important, and I kept forgetting it), remove one hook, slide out (keep pressure on opponent's chest the whole time- also important, and also something I needed to be reminded of more than once), turn over and get side control. Thought I was gonna die from the pressure when Cindy demo'ed it on me. I literally couldn't breathe, so besides the incredible pain, I was dealing with actual suspension of respiratory function. She also demo'ed it on Lamont a few times, and after one rep she asked him, "That was nice and tight, huh?" He got up very slowly and carefully, and after another minute managed to groan, "Tight." to which I commented wryly, "Nothing "nice" about that, huh?" I think he and I were unanimous in that feeling.

She also showed us a technique for getting someone off your back by grabbing their head and pulling them over your shoulder, which I was intrigued by since I spend so much time in turtle. I'd love to pull this one off on Hostility Boy. God knows he spends enough time on the back of my turtle that I ought to get a chance to try. Anyway, Cindy demo'ed this painfully on me, and she tucked my nose right into her clavicle so that I was forced to flip myself over- and just slam myself flat on my back, since both hands were engaged in trying to stabilize my neck so that I wasn't choking to death- to then recieve all of Cindy's weight down on my face (I thought my nose was going to break) or simply have my neck snap instead. I asked, "That isn't considered a neck crank?" And she came back again with that philosophy about how if the guy wants it to stop hurting, all he has to do is go where you're putting him- if he fails to do so, it's his own fault. He's doing it to himself. "This isn't mean! This isn't mean, Kitsune!" Holy Crow. I realize that at Cindy's size (pretty close to MY size), in order to succeed in this sport she has had to be ruthless- but her versions of "mean" and "nice" are on a whole different SCALE than a normal person. I hope she doesn't think too much the less of me since she has obviously observed that I don't want to be "mean". I want to KNOW the "mean" stuff, since my primary MA goal is practical defense- but I don't want to be mean to my training partners or even to an opponent at a tournament. I even felt bad drilling it on Cindy- after she'd done it cheerfully to me! I'll do this on Hostility Boy, if I get a chance, but only because he's been a rough jerk on me... and even so, I'll do it carefully and without *gratuitous* extra pain.

Short free rolls- once with Lamont, twice with one of the big guys whose name I can't recall (I've rolled with him before; he's nice- I'll make sure to note his name next time), twice with Cindy. Lamont was letting me work. The big guy was going light enough that I was able to fend him off for a while, but I couldn't maintain a top position on him for more than a couple of seconds. He eventually got me with an armbar, then a kimura. I did manage to pass his guard a couple of times, though. Cindy just smooshed me today. Not in a "mean" way (even by my standards), but quite thoroughly. I'm not sure what her objective was with that. I wonder if she was actually trying to get a rise out of me to see if I would get more aggressive. I know she wants me to be more aggressive.... but no matter how frustrated or ticked off I get, I am not going to react by getting more aggressive on Cindy- that is just suicidal.

After getting face-planted repeatedly into the mat from starting on knees, I decided to get to my feet and try to sprawl on her shoulders/head so that I could attempt to stay on top. This was followed by an "Oh Crap" moment when Cindy got to her feet as well. I knew that this would not end well for me- and it surely didn't. She took me down, hard, effortlessly, over and over- I couldn't seem to do anything about it.

She says that I am still giving up and letting myself be put on my back- and on the bottom- too easily. Yes, the bottom- I live there. My mail is delivered there. She wants me to focus on driving forward- no pulling back, no pulling guard, no turtling, no sitting down, none-o-that. Also, more position before submission. She said, "Don't you even TRY to keylock me from there!" "You're not gonna kimura me from there!" Etc.

At the end, she told me I was getting better. You've gotta be kidding- I could do NOTHING today. She was like, "Really!" and patted me on the back. LOL- I wonder if she just felt a twinge of guilty conscience for spanking me so hard today.


Tuesday evening kung fu. While waiting for class to start, I practiced the Southern Mantis form piece, then some Five Points In the Mirror.

After a few warm-up forms (improvement points focussed mostly on clean stances), most of the class did their dao/bo sequences for videoing, while JaE and I went out in the hall and worked on Kiu One. I stumbled a bit on Kiu One at first- it's been a long time! But it came back.

JaE has some of the most utterly awesome new tats EVER- a Mantis on one inside forearm and a flapping Crane on the other- in silhouette, in a ring, and in white- so they look just like brands instead of tattoos. In fact I thought they WERE brands, and I had to ask to touch them before I'd believe that they were not!

Then we got to all take turns sparring again. Same drill as last time, only tonight CN was the monkey in the middle instead of SK. JB even showed up as we were beginning this part, and she took turns too.

Again I focussed on trying to string together combos, with dubious success. I also focussed on keeping both my guard hands up- I think I'm doing better with that of late, but still not as consistant as I aim to be.

I got another e-mail from CC today- I had gotten one from him on the 11th, and hadn't responded as of yet. I'm pretty frustrated with how much hassle it takes to try to get lessons scheduled with him, and am trying to decide if it's worth attempting yet again to press him for a consistent class schedule. CN wants to change Tuesday evening class to Sunday evenings- in the hope that he may be able to show up more often once school starts- and I am thinking about trying to pin CC down to Tuesday evenings (or maybe every other Tuesday evening).

Here's a better photo of Bianca- she's the one in the Easter-bunny lavender gi.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Writers' Block

I'm having a heck of a time with my "What does your training mean to you?" assignment.

I am finding myself uncharacteristically inarticulate. Anyone who reads my training blog (which, BTW, will be one year old next week) is probably guffawing right now at the thought that I can't come up with a page or two of anything to say about my training. But it's true. I've tried starting from scratch, and I've tried approaching it by beginning with a history of how I first got into training this and training that. I've tried answering a hypothetical person who asks me, "Why do you do this?" In all cases, I get about half a page in and delete in disgust.

Part of the problem is that- while I always felt deeply about this- the point at which normal training transitioned into obsession was somewhat dysfunctional. I had had a difficult breakup, and was using MA training as a drug to try to kill enough time until I came out the other side of the spinning, sucking, endless black-hole-vortex of pain. I literally slept with my jian at night. At the time, obsessive MA training was certainly the best option out of a number of more self-destructive, homocidal and sociopathic paths that I was contemplating. Of course, MA was more than that before.... and is a lot more than that now. But I never fully recovered from that event, and in some respects must admit that I am still using MA training as a drug.

Not the sort of thing you really want to put under the microscope... or confess to one of your teachers. It's even the sort of thing that might hurt one's chances of further advancement in an organization like this, if that was a concern. I could certainly come up with a few pages of what I think CN wants to hear. But (as anyone who reads my training blog also knows) I have a low tolerance for BS. Besides, BS'ing my way through it would negate the point of the assignment- what *I* think the point should be, anyway- since I don't know what CN's point is.

This photo is from the last Revolution; that's Bianca- GETTING choked for a change.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Four Rolls


Saturday competition class. I failed to account for the football game that is going on today, so I was stuck in traffic on the bridge and arrived late (second time in a row, how embarrassing).

Nothing but short timed free spars today. Ron, Hostility Boy, Andrew, and some white belt guy I've never seen before, in a Royce Gracie gi. Ron and Hostility Boy both have new fresh stripes. I congratulated Ron. I did not congratulate Hostility Boy. He was medium-rough on me today. I was on the bottom the whole time, but I did not let that meathead get a tap on me. After time was called, and Prof Carlos called his customary, "HO-kay guys, shake-ya-hands", I sat there and looked at Hostility Boy's back as he retied his belt, and then he reached out and sorta whapped at me without looking at me. I love you too, pal. A day when you're not in class is like a day without sunshine to me, did ya know that? If he'd been raised by orangutans, he'd have learned better manners.

I felt really tired after those four rounds, so I sat on the bench. Rodrigo asked if I was okay, and I said yeah, just tired. I was hoping to get a wind back after a rest, but I never did. So after a while I took off. Rodrigo asked me again on the way out if I was okay- he's a sweetie. Don't know why I'm so tired today, but CN's not available for Boot Camp, so I have no pressing commitments (plenty of stuff I SHOULD be doing, but nothing I can't procrastinate on some more!), so I'm going to just go back to bed.

"Your shoulder is so BONY- it used to have a little padding on it!"


Friday no-gi at Cindy's. JB is out of town and SK had to work late, so it was just JM and me.

I have become infamous in this school for my handwalking (yes, we are made to walk on our hands during the warmup). I still can't do it as well as Cindy, though.

Escape from mount of half guard using the foot crossover- this is one of the very first things I taught my three friends. From there, Old School Sweep to side control. Good to get more practice on this one. I think the parts I have been suboptimal on are clutching that knee in tight against me, keeping it there during the entire sweep, and also I need to make sure I get deep enough. Cindy emphasized that you will get crossfaced and pried back out it you fail to get deep enough- which is what Kaungren was trying to get me to do to JB the other night. JM was kind enough to crossface me when I forgot. It's good to get the multiple-source reinforcement- hopefully that will make it stick better.

As I crawled up JM to side control, she groaned, "Your shoulder is so BONY now... it used to have a little bit of padding on it!" (ROFL!)

Timed free roll with that small woman from a couple of week ago (Her name starts with an E, but is not Eva or Edda or Edna- darn- I'll get it next time). I think I have a little weight on her, but she is very strong and has decent technique. She has very good sub defenses, but lets me get mount too easily. I spent a lot of time in mount, but I had to work a good long while to get a sub (Got her twice with keylocks).

Then Ian. Always a great partner. We kept rolling after time was called, I don't know how long we were going, but it seemed like forever. We were both getting REALLY tired. I was on the bottom a lot, but I did get some mounts, and once he reversed HIMSELF (always nice when they do it FOR you). I couldn't get a sub on him to save my life, though. Tried armbar, keylock, choke, over and over, couldn't get them. Finally he set up a triangle (I need to watch for Ian's triangles); I got out of that somehow, but he transitioned to an armbar and I had to tap.

I could literally see steam rising off my body, so I decided it was time to stop. Connor had come in halfway through, and it would have been nice to get my butt kicked by him once or twice, but I was spent. I'm used to seeing Connor in gi- when he's wearing a shirt, you can see his TEN-PACK right through it. And he's exactly my weight, too. I want to be ripped like that.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Basic knife practice


I haven't lost my weekly pound this week! There's no way I'll be at 124 in time for the Oct 2 "Revolution Foreplay" tournament, and I'm starting to get seriously worried about making weight for the Revolution itself. I very much miss Real Food. The idea of decreasing portions of my chicken/eggs/tuna/carrots diet even more makes me feel weary and resentful.

Rory Miller is doing a workshop in Bothell next month. CK sent me his book, "Meditations On Violence"... I'd love to go to the "self-defense legalities" portion of the workshop, but I'm scheduled to work that day. I'm going to try to get someone to trade shifts with me.

Kung fu Thursday. No CN tonight.

A few rounds of hand strike drills. Emphasis on chambering with as much power as the striking hand. SK walked around and held up a forearm for us to Eagle-Claw. After two counts, I found the muscle/tendon furrows to dig my Eagle Claws into- ZAP! He made an approving-sounding noise, but didn't seem to want to stick around for additonal counts.

Then we worked on some basic knife attack and defense. JoE and I practiced slashing each other. DD came in halfway through the class, so we slashed at him too. Geez. He is so good. I mean, stunnningly, jaw-droppingly, did-he-really-just-do-that GOOD. When you attack him, you usually don't really know what happened- all you know is that a couple of blurry seconds have elapsed, and now your wrist and throat hurt really bad and that your hands are empty-rubber knife nowhere to be found.

Individual forms time. DD asked me what I wanted to work on. I suggested White Crane Walking the Path- but he didn't want to do that one, as he felt a little rusty on it. We just kinda looked at each other for a minute, at a loss. Then he asked what I had felt most insecure with regarding the sparring last Tuesday. I replied that it's difficult for me to eval my own sparring, because I haven't had enough practice- I feel generally clueless. Pressed, I said that defending kicks feels like a weak spot. Then he remembered all my snappy little knee and shin kicks that weren't helping me much because I wasn't following up with anything. So we worked a bit on attacking the opponent's kicking leg as it was chambering, and following up with a second kick. I hadn't even tried to attack the kicking leg; I assumed that once it was chambering, it was too late to do anything effective unless I could reach the support leg (which I never can on SK). Well, after recieving a number of relatively light kicks on my chambering leg which made me stagger, turned me halfway around, and otherwise disturbed me, I see differently.

He also mentioned that SK was coming in on his opponents with bridging arms a lot, and I had seemed to not be dealing with that as effectively as I might be. He bridged my arm and I practiced dropping that arm away and coming over with rolling Tiger claw press blocks to sieze the arm, drag it down and across his body, and go for his face with the other claws. Dropping that bridged arm and folding it inward is counter-intuitive to me; I could see how it was working, but I'll have to practice that before it will seem smooth.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mutual bloodletting

Wednesday night BJJ. JB tried to bail again; but I had told her that she had to text me in advance if she was going to bail, or I'd be annoyed at driving all the way into the city for nothing... she didn't give enough advance notice, so she had to show up!

JM was supposed to be there as well, but I'll give her a pass for bailing- because she fainted in the shower while getting ready. We don't know why.

Traffic was heinous... SK got off work at 5, and we left straight from there, but it still took us till quarter after 6 to get there. We had to stand at the edge of the mat and wait for Rodrigo to notice us and beckon us in, and then we had to do the Walk Of Shame across the mat.

Armbar from standing; and the guard pass where you stand up, reach back to split the ankles, and then go up the outside of one thigh to side control. Must remember to get low enough to control the knee (I wasn't doing that correctly at first). Must also remember to keep that elbow in, or I'm going to get triangled to within an inch of my life. I was working with JB. She complained a lot about her level of tiredness, but was drilling well.

Positional training from guard- too many of us to go at once, so we had to take turns. I got JB and Sonia.

Open mat- I rolled with JB for a long time, till almost everyone else had left. She has a vicious stack- she gets the perfect angle, and drops every once of weight down on you. Once again I found myself almost having to tap to the stack. She also did something else on me- I can't recall exactly what she did, but it was a slightly rough move that made me say, "That seemed like something Cindy would do!" She said, "Awwwwwwwwww- you couldn't give me any better compliment!" LOL. Anyway, I finally got her with an armbar, but she made me work really hard for it. I am having better success with my armbars now that I am sliding way down almost to the opponent's wrist and grabbing my own gi lapel to hold the wrist against my chest.

Then I waved SK over. He already had his jacket off, and thought that made him safe... when I shrugged mine off too, and pointed to the mat, he rolled his eyes and came over. We rolled for a long time as well. He's still using strength to muscle a few things, but since we were in rash guards, I was able to escape a lot of things via the sweat. Finally he got tired and had had enough, and decided to finish me off with a wrist lock.

I collapsed, but then JB crawled over and jumped on me. I thought she was TIRED. Well, she wasn't tired any more- we had another roll, and I eventually got her with a guillotine. I pointed out that I always get her with those, and she needs to watch out... she had in fact successfully fended off a few earlier, though.

Various people had been calling coaching advice to us from the sidelines- including Kaungren (who seemed to have just as much- if not more- advice for my opponents as for me, the traitor!) He was also amused that SK and I had rolled till we made each other bleed (my lip; I'm not sure where SK was bleeding from).... I remarked that we make each other bleed all the time; it's beneath our notice.

By the time I finished off JB for the 2nd time, I was so exhausted I could hardly stand up, and I wobbled a little when I tried to give her a hand up. But it was lots of good, fun BJJ. I always feel like I had a really good workout when my opponent and I are the only ones left on the mat by the bitter end. Neck's killing me, though... obviously I torqued it at some point. Hope it's not worse in the morning.

New rash guard was half-dry by the time I got home... the cotton t-shirts were always still sopping and uncomfortable the whole commute. Still stinky, though.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"It was like sparring a different person."

I skipped Tuesday lunchtime BJJ... I was tired and feeling like I wouldn't be able to focus.

Tuesday evening kung fu. DD did not show up.

Warming up with a few forms. The couple of points of feedback is helpful.

Five Points Of the Star: No micro-fu.

White Crane Walking the Path: From the deep lunge, pull yourself toward your front foot instead of pulling the foot back under you. Also- do not forget to brace the right knee. There is no head bow with the left spear-hand strike.

Black Crane Three- let the foot abduct more during the reap.

Leopard Fist- clean stances. "Yes, it's Snake and it should be flowy. But if you should freeze at any point, it should still be a clean stance"

Kick drills in lines... mostly Black Crane type kicks, a couple of kick combos. Remember to rechamber each kick cleanly before setting the foot down. Whirlwind kicks- about 2/3 of the way down the floor, I started using the momentum of my upper body to drive the kick- and was startled to see the kicks suddenly get DRAMATICALLY higher and cleaner. I felt like I could touch the ceiling, and had a wealth of leisurely extra time as I rotated to make sure all my parts were in the proper positions. I don't know how PRACTICAL it is to do it this way- I can't really keep my eye on the opponent and keep my torso facing toward hir when I'm doing this extra wind-up motion- but these kicks aren't really something I'd use in a real fight anyway. More conditioning/balance practice. It sure made them a lot prettier, though!

After (a lot of sweaty, puffing) kick drills- forward and back rolls.

Then CN placed SK at one end of the gym on the mat, and himself at the other end, with two "pork chop" pads. We had to dive over a stacked mat, do a forward roll, and come up in a defensive position. At that point we would be confronted by SK, whom we had to get past (we didn't have to necessarily engage him, evasion was permissible). The we had to circle around to CN and strike both pork chop pads, which he held in different positions with each turn. We could strike them any way we wanted.

That was good practice, although pretty exhausting after several turns and no rest. By the last few, I could barely lurch to my feet after the roll, and I wasn't in very good shape to deal with whatever SK was throwing at me.

Then sparring- about 4 min apiece, against SK only, like we'd done last week. As soon as I stepped on the mat, SK looked at CN warily and said, "Okay.... what have you been teaching her....?" (All I'd told him about my private session with CN was that it was "remedial sparring help") So I was feeling a little unpleasant pressure from the beginning to pull off something spectacular, and it was difficult to try to relax.

I tried to keep the "combo" concept forefront in my mind, and not do the "one strike, back off... one strike, back off..." type thing. Trying to land strike #2 necessitated getting (and staying) in close. And once I was in there, what the hell, why not do more than two strikes. It resulted in me being more aggressive. Twice I drove SK backward right off the mat. I didn't really notice what he was doing tonight at all- I was doing very little defense.

I haven't had enough practice at this yet for my strike techniques to be instinctual, and things were moving too fast for me to think. It was also harder to watch for the openings. So I don't feel like I did very well. I didn't seem to be landing a whole lot, and what I did land wasn't solid, usually. I got one really good lion's mouth grip to his throat which took him a minute to get out of. I wasn't even getting those good solid low leg strikes that I had been getting last time... I wasn't seeing the openings, and I was specifically looking for openings for the follow-up as well as the initiatory kick. It's going to take a lot more practice.

Once again, though, I seemed to be doing fairly well defending takedown attempts and other attempts to uproot me. Once, we were actually wrapped up- and usually, once we get wrapped up, I know I'm going down (likely painfully). But this time I stayed on my feet and extricated myself- although I had to back off at that point.

SK poked me in the eye really hard once. We had to stop while I waited for the room to clear and waited to see if my contact was going to stay put or not.

After the sparring, we worked on the staff/dao material- first individually, and then the partnered staff vs dao sequence. I worked with JoE.

CN told us that the staff vs dao sequences are going to be filmed next week. I asked for and was granted dispensation to be excused from filming.

On the way home, I wanted to ask SK if he saw any difference in my sparring- but since it was a rather clumsy first attempt, and it's obviously going to take practice to integrate this new stuff to where it's actually working well for me, I decided to wait a while before looking for feedback. However, he did spontaneously volunteer that "Whatever CN was helping you with, it's working. Your sparring is different." "Different, or better?" Since those need not necessarily be the same thing! "Better. It was like sparring a different person." Wowee.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The polyester paradox

I have lots of martial arts training dreams. I have lots of dreams (and nightmares) about being in self-defense situations. I have lots of dreams wherein my training partners from various schools make cameos. Last night, I had a dream which had nothing whatsoever to do with MA.... and yet I and all of the other people in the dream were still wearing blue and white BJJ gi's.

I finally broke down and bought an actual rash guard today. Two, in fact. I didn't get a cheesy logo-fied one; I went to Fred Meier and bought two plain black Under Armour ones.

I have resisted this for a long time. I have been wearing t-shirts and tanks under my gi's, and they work ok... but they do stretch out and get all droopy and baggy as soon as they get soaked with sweat. I have in fact had a couple of near-wardrobe malfunctions. I finally decided that I should at least give these rash guard thingies a chance and see how I like them.

You've got to understand- I survived the 70's. The science of natural selection ensured that anyone who actually survived the 70's did so by virtue of developing a specific set of survival skills. Central among these Darwinian evolutions was the concept: Cotton=good, polyester=bad. The touch of polyester triggers an automatic gag reflex in anyone over 35. The people who did not successfully develop this aversion did not live to breed.

Well, I wore one tonight and it wasn't as hot, nor as wet, nor as annoying as I expected. I'll have to wear them a while to decide what I really think, though... jury's still out on this one.

Monday night BJJ in Bellevue. Hostility Boy, Ritchie, and a slew of two-stripe-and-under white belts- most of them big ones- no women, of course. It's worse than the Danger Room (Tuesday lunchtime class in Bellevue). Call this one the Rampage Room.

I got there in time to do the 5:30 takedown class, but I almost slunk back out the door when I saw that it was four big guys + Hostility Boy. After last week, the only thing I want to do LESS than free-sparring with Hostility Boy is letting him work THROWS on me, God help us all. Professor Carlos had already spotted me, though, and chivvied me onto the mat. Into the Lion's Den. Deep breath, grit teeth, march.

We were working some judo takedowns that I have never seen the like of before, so I was pretty clumsy and clueless. Hostility Boy obviously has some judo experience. I was braced for him to take my helpless ineptitude as license to smash me all the worse, but tonight he decided that since he already knows how to do all these takedowns, he'd play teacher. Okay, I can deal with that. I can even thank him for helping me.

Duck-and-cover from a punch, going to clinch and then takedown. Basic over-the-thigh guard break and pass to side control. Escape half guard by bringing the knee up to block opponent from grabbing your leg and pulling deep, then shoulder-pressure his neck and pry your foot out with the opposite leg. I got stuck drilling in a trio (darn) with Hostility Boy again (double-darn). He actually wasn't brutal with me tonight. He wasn't GENTLE, but he wasn't brutal.

Short timed spars. Ron twice. He is so strong, and his technique is so good. Daniel once. Ritchie once. I sat out the final round because I was afraid that Hostility Boy would be put with me next, and I didn't want to test whether or not his restraint tonight extended to free rolling or not.

I do not want to tap to Ritchie any more. And- unlike Hostility Boy, who just hopelessly outmatches me- I know that my skills and strength are adequate to avoid tapping to Ritchie if I set my mind to it. He seemed slightly less spazzy and aggressive tonight than my previous experiences with him- maybe he's learning- but I was still on my guard. We fought a while, and then I back-mounted and clock-choked/bow-and-arrowed him... carefully, since I suspected he would not want to tap to me. Right-o... as I slowly and deliberately applied pressure, he finally emitted a strangled squawk, and I immediately let go. "Are you okay?" "Erk....... my back......" "Sorry. I guess I should have gone slower. I thought it was slow enough, but I should have gone slower." Subtext: Bovine Feces. I have never cranked an uncontrolled sub in my life, not even on an asshole. I was very careful to not injure you, and you should have tapped. But next time *YOU* are cranking a sub, maybe that whole concept of "Even if *you* don't think there was anything wrong with what you did, if you hurt the other guy, simply accept that it shoulda been SLOWER" might filter through your memory. That's why I said the word SLOW three times.

He uprights himself like an elderly man and twists his back from side to side experimentally. "Are you okay?" I ask again. "Sorry." I did not smile.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


It's amusing- pathetic, yes, but still amusing- how much of a charge my inner Martial Artist gets from just a little individual attention from a teacher. I feel like a dog that's been tied in the backyard for a year, tossed a bowl of kibble every Tuesday and Thursday evening, but otherwise offered no attention or stimulation. Yesterday someone walked by and petted me and told me I was a Good Girl- and now I'm all big-eyed and wiggly and excited.

I wonder how things would be if I could only get a taste of that on a consistant, regular basis.

Saturday, September 11, 2010



Saturday Conditioning Boot Camp aborted in favor of a "one-on-one" with CN. I more than half expected this to be a setup for CN to call me on the carpet for skulking away like a kicked hyena whenever DD darkens the door... A discussion that I was dreading. Happily, he didn't have a peep to say in that direction. My other suspicion- the one about the remedial sparring help- was a winner. But that's a good thing. A GREAT thing, actually. It was awesome to get an entire hour (well, 40 min... he still made me do 20 min of conditioning drills first) of CN's undivided attention, focussed on things that he thinks might help my specific IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITY AREAS in sparring.

He had a few specific new drills regarding balance, targeting, moving around, and other points relating to what he had in mind for me: which was short combinations.

Kicks: Inside crescent into side thrust. Shovel into roundhouse. Things to work on include getting the balance up to par on my retarded side, keeping the energy flowing into the second kick, rechamber the first kick fully, remembering to guard the groin, and in particular remembering to keep my guard up around my head.

One-two head-level punch, duck under, lunge and punch to ribs with inside arm. Things to work on include retracting each fist after the jabs, keeping the guard up (again), NOT bending at the waist with the duck-under, Duck under in the correct direction (toward the arm that the opponent is punching with), have the range so that you are close to but not at full extention, target the rib punch more precisely, (rib-punch with the correct arm (inside arm), and have the power for the rib punch driving all the way up through the back foot.

A lot of improvement points for two- and three-step combos! CN wants me to work these on my heavy bag.

He mentioned that he had noticed me quailing and recoiling to some degree at kicking attacks- and he thinks that once I'm confident with these kick combos, I won't be so trepidacious about what's going on below the waist. He also mentioned the leaning forward at the waist. I'm pleased that many of the things he brought up were the same ones I had pinpointed for myself when I was talking this over with SK on Wednesday. At least I have a decent idea of what is going on and where the issues are.

I so wish we could do something like this regularly. I am starved for some individual and specific attention. Unfortunately, when I used this opportunity to quiz him about his college program, I found out he's going to be schooling for the next EIGHT years. Dismay.

We didn't have a whole lot of time to talk on the drive home, but I did make sure to 1)thank him repeatedly for his time and attention, and 2)express how relieved I have been to see some sparring making its way into the recent classes, and that I would like it to continue. I also reiterated that all three of us women are scared to spar with Nemesis, leery of sparring with JoE, and in addition JM and JB are anxious about sparring with SK.

Oh, and during the conditioning drills- when CN told me to do ten iron buffalos, I told him I could only do about two of those with the back-up curl included. Turns out I was able to do eight. (Well, I did ten, but the last two were pretty crappy, so I'm not counting them.) That was nifty.

Over the next few days, I need to work on my assigned essay (I twiddled with that a little bit at work today), keep working the combos, and I also need to have a form in mind to address in case DD really does show up on Tuesday and pulls me out in the hall. I don't want to whip out my best form, because if I slaughter it in my nervousness, that would be quite demoralizing. Also, I don't want to feel like I'm on an audition or something. Nor my worst form, to make a poor impression. And I can't really pull out any form that CC has tinkered with, either- for politically sensitive reasons. Damn. Maybe he won't be there after all.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"This isn't a jerk move... really..."


Tried on the "medium" rabbit-ear tie-front yoga pants again yesterday. They look good, and are looser; not QUITE loose enough to feel comfy doing MA in. Another 2lb oughtta do it.

The small local tournament on Oct 2 in the new school site- the women's "feather" weight class cuts off at 129 (with gi). I don't think I will make that (comfortably) by Oct 2. The next up bracket goes up to 140- oof! It would be good to get a
little experience with this "Revolution Foreplay" tournament, but I'm not thrilled at the idea of going in at the very bottom end of the up-to-140 group. I'll have to see how I feel (and what I weigh) by the end of the month.

Friday morning BJJ in Seattle. I was still feeling pretty tired this morning, and it was tempting to skip a second lunchtime session in a row. But since I know I'm working this weekend and will miss Saturday BJJ, I got myself dressed and in the car.

No drills, sparring only. We got matched up for short timed spars, for pretty much then entire class time. There were enough of us that we had to take turns on the mat- so you'd fight one, sit one out, etc. There were 4 black belts on the mat, a
brown, 4 or 5 purples... every time I see this sort of thing, I am reminded how fortunate I am to be at a school like this.

Sabrina was there- haven't seen her in a while, and it's unusual for there to be any other women at the weekday lunchtime classes (especially in Seattle). I did two rounds with her. She, like Allie, has improved quite a bit. I could control her,
so I went slowly and let her work. If she did a technique adequately, I let her have it. I tapped her a few times, and let her tap me with a keylock (after suggesting that she pull it further down to my hip before lifting the elbow up). I complimented
her warmly at the end.

Two rounds with Marc. I dominated him positionally for the first round. He did better the second round- trapped me in his closed guard a few times (from which I was having a hard time escaping... note- try to stay out of Marc's closed guard in the future), and got me in a triangle- it seemed like a good triangle, but he couldn't quite finish me off for some reason. I got an approving, "Good, Keetsune!" from Prof. Carlos when he saw me KOB'ing Marc. (yay!)

Amusing interlude: Shawn was keeping time, and standing in the middle of the mat watching Prof Carlos pin Jim helplessly in some kind of excrutiating-looking crucifix-type thing. Shawn said wryly to Jim, "You've got him right where you want him!" and Jim (red-faced and straining) squeaked out, "ME????" and everyone, even the other people rolling, started cracking up.

I notice that in live rolling, I have been making much use of one of last week's techniques: Turning and sitting out to replace the guard from turtle. This is a move that my tiny, compactly-squeezable body is made to do. I've even been trying
for that cool sweep a few times. People jerk their leg out of my grasp before I can actually do it- but it's progress that I remember to try for it. I need to try it on somebody who wasn't in class last week!!

When open mat came, I had to sit for a bit to recover- but then Bryan asked me to roll, which is something to jump at, always. We closed down the mat, everyone else eventually left and Rodrigo came up to kick us out. I was getting frustrated
because I was always hunched up on the bottom, defending, and every time I tried to do something, Bryan exclaimed, "Don't do THAT!" and then proceeded to painfully demonstrate exactly why I should not do that. But he wasn't being much help today
telling me what I *SHOULD* be doing instead... other than waiting for an opening/opportunity (of which he was offering me none!)

He worked with me for some time on armbars- keeping tighter on the shoulder, sitting harder down onto the shoulder, keeping the leg tight in behind the shoulder blades, squatting right down on the head, just TIGHT TIGHT TIGHT, was the overriding theme. Then grabbing my own gi and pulling his arm down towards his own feet to straighten it out before doing the armbar. I felt like I needed to have his lower arm and wrist glued right up against my chest before falling back, but he was saying
that as long as my crotch is snugged tight up into his shoulder, I don't need to fret so much about that part. He also reprimanded me for giving up and letting go of subs that didn't seem to be working... he wants me to persevere longer.

Once again, my performance began to downslide severely as I got more exhausted. I always feel embarrassed after I've been rolling with Bryan for a while and I get so much slower and weaker and less effective.


Very tired and sore. Neck, right shoulder, ribs. My entire body from head to toe is so spotted with bruises that I look like a leopard. I'm probably not going to be bouncing out of bed in a very lively manner tomorrow morning when I get up early for work. And Gods only know what fiendish plans CN has for me tomorrow evening. Whatever it is, it's probably going to hurt too. (SK claims to not know what CN has in mind for Saturday- I asked.)

Friday evening no-gi at Cindy's. I had the whole crew with me, which was cool.

Escape side control to the knees, then to taking the back. Alternately, side control escape to knees, then drive through to get side control on the opponent. I drilled with Ian, whom I always enjoy working with. We were doing the drills fast enough to keep switching and get a number of extra reps in while everyone else was finishing.

Cindy was explaining certain pain-causing details and saying, "This isn't a jerk move... all he has to do to make it stop hurting is move his head where you are trying to make it go.... if he doesn't move his head, and it hurts, that's his own fault... he's doing it to himself! You're not being a jerk or anything!!" We were all chuckling. She is such a hoot. I'm so lucky to have her for a teacher.

Timed spars. I got Ian first. Fun, competitive rolling, no taps for either. Then I got some guy that I think I've rolled with once before, but I don't really know him yet and don't know his name. He was a little harder, but I still did reasonably okay against him. I don't think either of us got a tap, but I had a kimura on that I might have been able to finish if the clock hadn't run out just then. Then I got Cindy. Ack! She was playing catch-and-release. I tried a bunch of subs but she didn't let me have any. She did let me have a few escapes and top positions, so I must have been doing some of those right. One of the most frustrating things about rolling with Cindy is that every time you set up a joint lock on her, she somehow turns the position back into a joint lock on YOU.

Cindy told me to make sure I had a good position before trying to do a sub. Sigh.

JB had left partway through the sparring, and by the time Cindy was done thrashing me, JM and SK were putting their shoes on. I asked them if either wanted to do one more, and JM took me up on it. That was fun. I tried a lot of subs, including some of the stuff that Bryan had worked on with me this morning- but her defense was very good and I couldn't get anything. I had an armbar on once that I was pretty sure was nice and tight... I thought I had it in the bag, but as I fell back, she somehow rolled up and stacked me. It was impressive (as I told her, although I could hardly breathe let alone speak.... I almost had to tap to the stack, it was a really good stack). She was on the bottom most of the roll, though. I did get front mount and beep her nose once. I had to tap once because she was pressing my contact out of my eye... but then we restarted. No other taps for either. Time was called and I whispered, "keep going, keep going!" I forgot all about the line-up and bow-out, so we got reprimanded for not getting in line!

I made a point of giving her lots of positive feedback in the car.

We did a quick drive-by to see where the new site of the Seattle Gracie school is going to be. Well, it would have been a quick drive-by if we'd been able to find it as easily as my Google Map seemed to indicate. We wandered around for a while in the warehouse district. Me: "There's a photo of the building on the second page." SK: "It's a warehouse." (pause as we all look around at the dozens of warehouses surrounding us) Me: "Well, that narrows it down, doesn't it?!"

We did finally find it. It has two "drive in" size doors which I hope will be openable in the hot weather. There are a lot of trucks parked back there, and I don't know if many- or any- of those will be clearing out when we move in... but if some of them do, the parking situation looks okay.

"Sometimes the a-holes _are_ your friends."


We have cracked the 120's! Huzzah!

I have been a little worried that my body has seemed reluctant to want to leave the 132-ish vicinity... I've been yo-yoing around that for a little while now. But I have also been a little bit ill this week, and I also took last Friday and Sunday totally off training- which is unusual. I can still make my goal even if I slow down to losing one pound every two weeks instead of one pound per week. I just don't want to get STUCK!

SK weighed himself before and after our class yesterday, and he lost three pounds of sweat in one class! That's a little annoying; if he ever needed to make weight, he could probably just do one class or spend a while in the sauna and make it happen. Not that he needs to lose anything; he seems to be solid muscle.

I skipped Thursday lunchtime class. I didn't want to, but I just had to pay back some sleep debt. I only got 4-ish hours of sleep per day for the previous three, and I was about at the limit of how long I could keep that up.

Thursday night kung fu. Back indoors starting tonight. I forgot how hot it is in the classroom- whew!

Started with some hand strike drills, against pads- I like it when we get the pads out for that. Although JM and I both scraped our knuckles raw doing Southern Mantis triple-strikes.

Then SK asked what we were feeling most deficient around, regarding the little bit of sparring-type stuff we've been doing lately. JB said "Defending against kicks". I'm good with that... I'm still catching myself sometimes reflexively trying to stop a kick with my hands in an unapproved manner (and worse, leaning over at the waist to do it).

So we paired up and kicked each other- front thrust kick and then roundhouse kick only tonight. I kicked (and was kicked by) JB. After each session, SK asked us to share what seemed to be working for us as well as anything that didn't. Roundhouse- my favorite way to deal with those (tonight, anyway) was to just get inside and focus on my own attack, and then I don't have to try to figure out the "correct" response, because the kick doesn't matter any more. Front thrust- that one's a little harder. What I seemed to be most comfortable with there tonight was a Black Crane one-legged shielding pose (touch your elbow to your raised knee and make sort of a wall). Although it meant eating some of the force of the kick, I felt like I could do it quickly without thinking too hard, and then it was easy to drop that leg into a lunge and bulldoze into an immediate close-up counter. Sometimes if the positioning is right, you can get "bonus violence" in the form of a Black Crane dropping-elbow onto the opponent's leg or foot. Man, do those ever hurt.

Amusing interlude when someone mentioned tickling as a defense, and JB volunteered that tickling is technically legal in jiu jitsu. She then qualified that with, "Well, only if they're assholes..... or if they're your friends...." (thoughtful pause) "...and sometimes the assholes *ARE* your friends." Profound. Love it.

DD walked in while we were working on that stuff- twice in one week, surprise! Since we had an odd number of people tonight and thus a leftover student when we paired up for these kick defenses, DD started taking people out into the hall one by one. I placed myself at the end of the line; figured there would be too many of us to get through anyway.

Individual forms time. One good thing about being back indoors now, there are empty classrooms and I can drag a teacher into one of those to give me individual forms help in private. Neither of the teachers was available to help me tonight, though- and JoE was with DD, so I couldn't get him to work on Southern Mantis with me. So I found a distant hallway to hide in and went through some "mirror" forms. So much dust on them from neglect. Five Animals In the Mirror was okay, since I did that one on Tuesday. I got Little Red Dragon In the Mirror out after a couple of minor bobbles. Both of those forms, for the most part, feel almost as natural on the mirror side as on the regular side. That's cool- that's where I really want to get with all of them. Leopard Three In the Mirror was so poor that I had to do the form a few times the normal way first, and then redo the mirror form several times. It did come back, though. The first part of Bung Bo Kuen In the Mirror felt almost as natural as normal Bung Bo- but I still have only worked the mirror version of that form to about the 1/3 point. Then I tried Five Points Of the Star In the Mirror, and it really started falling apart. I am going to have to go back and put in some serious grind on that one. I was running out of time, though, so I wanted to whip through Leopard Fist In the Mirror. Many hesitant parts in that, and the final 1/3 was a disaster. I hope I can find some time soon to work on these- I know I can knock them back into shape, but I shouldn't let them languish long enough to unravel more than they already have.

As we were packing up, DD asked me if I was going to be in class next Tuesday, and said he'd give me some one-on-one "hallway time" then since we didn't get to it today. Whatever- if we must. Sigh. He's like the absentee dad who never calls and isn't even exactly sure what grade you're in- but he'll pop up a few times a year to take you out for ice cream and buy you an expensive new video game, and expect everything to be all buddy-buddy. I might go along with it and take his video game, if I have nothing better to do that day.... or eventually I just get to the point that I feel we are so distant, the video game is not worth having to waste my afternoon making awkward conversation with this stranger, and perpetrating a mutual facade that we are interested in each other's lives.

Every time CK visits, she guilts DD about neglecting me. Immediately after her visits, DD makes some lame token effort to communicate with me and act like he might be thinking about teaching me something or other.... and then he goes back to ignoring me for another eight or nine months till the next time CK visits. It is so predictable- and after several repeats of this pattern, it is positively pissing me off. I no longer rise to this bait. Just forget it; I would be relieved to just donate my obligatory ten minutes of "hallway time" to somebody who still gives a crap.

So I had barely extricated myself from that awkward
exchange when CN appears and asks if I would be up for some one-on-one time on Saturday. What's going on, did I accidentally grab the aphrodesiac deodorant this morning instead of the regular stuff? But okay, YOUR video game is still worth it to me so far. But what about Conditioning Boot Camp? Instead, he says. But I don't want to take away that time from the other people. He shrugged my concern off. Okay, whatever. What does he want? CK may well have given him a dose of the guilt, too, while she was spreading it around. I hope we're not going to have some kind of painful and awkward long Talk. Of course Insecurity Beastie piped up to suggest that since we've been doing a little sparring lately, CN has noticed with horror that my sparring is so epically pathetic that he feels he must give me some
emergency remedial help. I wonder if I can get SK alone for a few moments tomorrow and fish for clues.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What was your name again? and sparring post-mortem discussions with SK

Wednesday evening BJJ. SK and I drove into Seattle, since JB was coming. I was very happy to have both of them (we missed JM, who had a previous commitment), and happy to get to a Rodrigo class. It's been a while.

Since SK didn't get off work till 5, we couldn't make it into the city in time for Rene's takedown class, but JB did- so good for her.

SK and and I got to talk in the car about the sparring yesterday, our impressions and observations. These types of discussions are really interesting and valuable to me, and we hardly ever have them any more these days, since we almost never get any one-on-one time... so that was really good.

He asked me what I was trying to accomplish with all the low kicks. I told him that at full speed and power, I might collapse the knee or compromise his balance- but that they are probably best as a distracting setup for a more violent follow-up move (I hadn't been getting that far last night). I told him that if I thought I could get something better in, I would- but those seem to be what I can make work at the moment. He thinks I should try to close more and do "corner-turn" type footwork right up against the opponent. Intimidating... should probably at least give it a try, though. If my stances and rooting are really as good as he seems to think they are, maybe I am being too paranoid about being knocked down at close range.

SK wanted to hear any observations I had to share about our classmates' sparring. I confessed that I had mostly been watching HIM because I knew I would have to fight him again, and I was looking for patterns and weak spots to exploit!

He had noticed the difference in Nemesis, but commented that Nemesis had not been making use of his long arms to keep distance effectively, as he usually does. He said that the general effectiveness of Nemesis' sparring went way down. Hmm. The objective of CK's working with him was not to DEGRADE his sparring performance.... hopefully he will be able to integrate things successfully with some more practice.

SK laughed when I commented that I'd noticed JaE chasing his Snake strikes around. We both agreed that JaE presents an intimidating sparring partner- at first we both thought that was because he is big and strong, but we decided that it's really because JaE gives off an aura of authority that makes you want to defer to him- often without even realizing it. SK said that he had actually found JaE easier to spar than he'd expected... he specifically mentioned compromising JaE's balance, and how well that sort of thing had been working against JaE as opposed to how it had *not* been working against me. (Whee!)

I also requested that SK give us a tidbit or two of "improvement opportunities" for each warmup form.

The takedown class ran a bit over (I had to smile when I saw Rene being all teacher-ish while wearing a t-shirt that read "Rancid"), and it was unusually warm upstairs, and Rodrigo was in one of his "driving" moods.... so it was a moderately grueling class. Standing rear choke defense to armlock, then two methods of taking the back from guard (one of which also had a sweep variation and an armlock variation that you could elect to do instead of taking the back). They were a bit complex, so there was a certain amount of beginning to drill, then being inturrupted and sent back to the wall to watch more demonstrations.

I drilled with JB, and SK got Sonia. I felt bad for him since the very first drill involved armlocks- Sonia is double-jointed and almost impossible to lock. But at least she's not a spazzy white belt!

JB bailed after drills, unfortunately- I had really wanted to do some free sparring with both her and SK, and some king-of-the-mat. But I was happy that she had come at all. (She claims she is going to be in class tomorrow and Friday- we'll see!)

Short rolls for position only, no subs. First I got Allie. I handed her some openings, but she was doing really well. I haven't seen her in a few weeks, and she has improved markedly. I told her so, and she seemed very surprised.

Then Sonia and I did a roll, and then I got Peter, who was really nice and let me work some stuff. He's always good to work with. He started going for that "old school" half-guard sweep that he taught me and JB and JM several weeks ago- and as soon as he grabbed my foot, I yelped, "Oh no, no, no, no!" and he started laughing.

Then we were cut loose. By then I was pretty tired (heck, I was tired when we STARTED!!!) but I really wanted to roll a little with SK. Again on the bottom a lot, but defending fairly well... including an armbar escape that left him scratching his head in confusion as to how I'd gotten out of that one.... as I was patting myself on that back for that, he segued into a keylock and tapped me out with that instead. Rats. We were both quite wrung out (and everyone else had already left), but I suggested one more... "Come on- we're not done till we have to crawl down the stairs!" I want to push him and try to work him up to staying for open mat more often. A little later, I was just about to get a chicken-wing armbar on him when he rolled over and gasped, "Okay, I'm about ready to throw up." I said, "I'm glad you said it first," because I was getting there as well. When you're both ready to puke, it's about time to wrap it up. But it was really nice to do a little rolling with him, as it has been a while.

I informed Rodrigo that he was still calling JB by JM's name and vice versa. JB is too shy to correct him, but I know he wants to get everybody's name right. It would be embarrassing twelve years from now when he's tying JB's black belt on her and congratulating her by JM's name! He had also called me Allie once tonight, which was new- I *know* he knows *my* name, even if he still can't pronounce the short "i"! He does try really hard with the names, and normally does impressively well- and there are a lot of people, and vast ever-changing herds of white belts coming and going constantly. He's having a rough month. He said, "What's MY name?" I acted like I was thinking hard, and answered, "Carlos!" Then he said that a couple of guys had called him that this week. Another student commented, "Well, you look alike." and we all cracked up.... On-the-shorter-side white middle-aged guy and towering, young very-dark-skinned black guy! They could hardly look more different from each other! Then Rodrigo suggested that he start calling me Bree. I told him that he could call me Angela if he wanted- because then I'd get to be a purple belt! Now the next few times I see him, I'll have to call him some different names just to tease.

Several people today have asked me about the bruises on my face. Leah had kicked me in the face last Thursday in Cindy's class, and it's ben sore all week, but I didn't see any visible marks till yesterday. I guess all of Hostility Boy's grinding at my face for chokes and stiff-arming my face into the mat and such on Monday night further damaged the tissue injury in that area and left me bruised up. What a prince.

There were eight women in class tonight, including 3 colored belts. Wow.


Tuesday kung fu. Still feeling rather down about what happened last night at Gracie's. We got into the classroom a bit early, and normally I would have wanted to use that opportunity to pull out a mat and pounce on one of my buddies- but I was just not in the mood to get tapped by any of them, and even less in the mood to have any of them HAND me a tap because they felt bad for me. Just didn't want to face it tonight.

We warmed up with some forms. I decided to be all complacent today about it and do everything tai chi speed, so that I was *sort of* "staying in sync" with the slower people.

Then CN had us drag out some mats to spar! I was really surprised, especially after what happened on Saturday with SK and JM.... I assumed sparring would get back-burnered again. I wonder how much CK talked to CN about the sparring.

Anyway, CN had us come up one by one to do five minutes or so against SK. Instant pressure: everybody else is sitting there watching. Instant pressure relief: I only have to fight SK, whom I enjoy sparring and feel relatively safe sparring. I don't have to deal with Nemesis and my physical challenges around him; nor with JM and my personal issues around her; nor with general intimidation around both Nemesis and JoE. JaE was there too, and I have never sparred him before at all. He's big and strong. Not sure how that would go.

Anyway, CN was there to remind us frequently to not get too fast and hard, to make sure nothing dangerous happened, to offer the occasional bit of advice.

As soon as Nemesis started sparring, I could see CK's "fingerprints" all over him (her turn of phrase). It mostly went away as soon as he sped up a little, heh heh. But I could definitely see a shadow of the balance and weight "contact improv" type movement.

I watched JM with some anxiousness. It was apparent that she was intimidated, but she faced it. I made a point of telling her in the car on the way home that her sparring had looked good, which it did. She has excellent kicks, and her centered balance is awesome right up until she gives it away as a freebie gift to her opponent (which she did frequently) Once she grows out of that, though, her balance and centering is going to be one of her best strengths.

JoE seemed to still be having some problems with control, and with getting carried away with the hard and fast. He got one really, really lovely throw (eliciting admiring "Ooooooo"'s from the audience).

JaE, whom I don't think has gotten much chance to spar SK yet, has not yet learned to refrain from chasing and whacking ineffectually at the constant barrage of Snake strikes.

SK made it all look so easy. He looked very relaxed the whole time, and he never looked like he was breathing fast or trying hard. He did five-minute rounds with all five of us, back to back with no breaks. Twice. An inspiration to grow into.

As for my own first round, my number one goal was to stay calm and centered. Particularly since I was still stinging over last night, I wanted to make sure I did not allow myself to get angry and frustrated when I got whapped a few times- or when the barrage of Snake strikes just kept coming. I told myself to not get too antsy about closing and striking; to just play it cool and look for openings. This is not really my usual sparring MO, but I have had to fall into this a bit during all the recent sparring with CK.

Speaking of- SK's good, but he cannot yet compete on a level with CK's vast sparring experience insofar as openings go. Meaning- CK fights like an armored tank; she leaves you few to no openings to exploit... so the ones that SK was leaving appeared gaping and obvious by contrast. So I hung back and did mostly shin/knee kicks- landed lots of good solid ones. I was afraid to try for kicks at waist level, because I know SK's really good at snatching that leg before you can retract- and then you're hosed. I saw a few openings for belly strikes, but didn't land most of them because I wasn't in range (trying to stay out of reach of his long arms). Likewise with the head strikes- I saw some openings and tried for them, but wasn't in range. I did get one perfect sharp face whack, though- we both laughed, because that's HIS game, and it came off looking just like one of his, too- so that was funny.

I was pleased with how I'd been able to stay focussed on looking for openings, and then follow up and try to get in on them.

I was also pleased with my improved attempt-to-successful-hit ratio. I tried vastly fewer attacks, but a greater percentage of the ones I did try were solid. Less desperate randomly-aggressive flailing and hoping to get lucky. More DELIBERATE.

Near the final third or so of our spar, DD walked in- to my surprise and consternation. I immediately found myself much more distracted and much more self-conscious. It was bad enough with everybody else watching- but having DD there makes me so jittery. My second spar, with him there the whole time, I did much more poorly. It was mostly my lack of focus and lack of being able to relax, I'm fairly sure.

In the car on the way home, SK did give me more positive feedback on my stances... he said that he had tried to take me down or mess with my balance several times, and he knew that he was executing the techniques correctly and well, but I was just "sinking" and they were simply not working on me. Nice to hear. Even with as little standup as we do at Gracie's, the experience of resisting takedowns by all those big guys has made a difference.

Another thing- now that I have some BJJ, I'm not scared of being taken down. I always have an excellent sense of where I am and where my opponent is in space. I feel confident about executing maneuvers (including effective strikes) *while* falling, and once I hit the ground, there are more opportunities for strikes and holds from there- even if he's still on his feet. Falling or being taken down is no longer an "oh shit" moment or a failure; it's just another position to fight from just like any other.... and in fact one that I feel more comfortable and confident in than many!

So after the sparring, DD huddled with CN and SK and the rest of us were left mostly to our own devices to review staff/dao material. I worked the staff vs dao sequence a number of times with JM, and drilled solo on most of the dao and staff techniques that we've worked on this quarter. Did the Northern Mantis Bo form in slow-mo, focussing on good hand positions along the length of the staff. Eventually had had enough of that for one session, so I went out in the hall where nobody could watch and went through Five Animals In the Mirror a few times. I have let my work on my "Mirror" forms lapse. This one came back quickly, though, and felt solid.

Good sparring practice. Not too rough, and useful. Would like more of this.

Monday, September 6, 2010

This guy has serious issues.

I didn't cry. But tonight was as close as I've ever gotten to crying after BJJ class.

The first dumb thing (of many) that I did tonight was to get there too early and park at the opposite end of the business complex (where I thought I'd be left in peace) with a magazine. I parked with the butt end of the Jeep facing out- the end with the Gracie Barra bumper sticker on one side and the Sleeper Athletics bumper sticker on the other side. Professor Carlos cruised by on his way in and spied
me there. He made sure I knew that he had spotted me, and my bumper stickers too. Worse, he had Pat The Great Panda in the car with him, to explain to him that the blue "SA" sticker meant that I was advertising his commercial competition on the left half of my bumper while the Gracie Barra logo sat there bold as brass on the right half. Also, what Pat knows, Rodrigo knows. Well, I guess it's all to the good that my BJJ Bigamy will be a confirmed rumor instead of an unconfirmed rumor, and nobody will be surprised when tournament time rolls around.

Odd number of people tonight, so I got stuck in a trio. We did some line drills and some takedown preps and a few other random exercises, then on to timed spars. Starting from standup, which is unusual. That teenager (I remembered his name, it's Richie!) was there, and I was sighing inwardly with resignation thinking I was going to be dealing with his spazzy aggressiveness again tonight. Well, I didn't get Richie at all tonight, and next time I do, I think I'll be relieved.

First I got Steve. He's got at least a foot on me and twice my weight. Starting from standing, mind you. After we'd circled and pawed at each other a bit, he simply picked me up by the lapels, lifted me up, and dumped me on my back on the floor. He did that three more times. I could do nothing to prevent him. Once on the floor, I could no more prevent him from doing anything he wanted. He wasn't being a dick or anything- he was just being what he was: bigger and stronger than me. He simply placed me where he wanted me, and placed all my pieces where he wanted them- and if I tried to place them elsewhere, he simply moved them. I could do nothing about it. It was a very helpless, powerless, frustrating feeling. None of this is anything new, of course. I'm not sure why it was affecting me more tonight, but I was really frustrated by the time we finished. Steve did offer me some positive feedback at the end, but I was not in the mood to listen. I grumbled bitterly, "Well, I had to tap anyway- like I always have to."

Next I got Jim. A little shorter, but even heavier. He was letting me do a few things, but I still faired poorly. At the end, Jim also offered me some positive feedback- about how heavy I'd felt. I asked how the heck he could tell, when I was on the bottom all the time.

(What a grumpy bitch... I hereby vow that next time I'm seeing myself that frustrated, I will stop and take a breath, and remind myself to not take out my frustration by being a grouchy bitch to guys who are nice enough to 1) not smash me, and 2) actually go out of their way to give me positive feedback. And if I can't get a grip and be gracious, I'll take a break and step outside until I can. What am I, twelve? Grow up, Kitsune.)

My next assignment to face in this fabulous good humor was Hostility Boy. I have mentioned him before in this blog by name, but henceforth he shall be known as Hostility Boy unless and until he earns a better moniker for himself. This is the kindest of a vast host of colorful titles I have bestowed upon this particular gentleman in my mind tonight. He's a smallish guy, still bigger and heavier than me, very technical and fast. I've worked with him before, and he's mopped the mat with me... again, nothing new, so he didn't really stand out in my mind much.

Well, tonight he was out to not just beat me, but juice me- and then pee in the puddle that was left of me. I dunno if this guy hates women, or if he resents having three minutes of his precious mat time utterly wasted by being stuck with me, or what. But it quickly became apparent that this was not a game, or practice, or training, or anything like that- this was him on a mission to humiliate me.

He was going way too hard and fast- grinding on my face, yanking joint locks. Fairly early on, after he slammed a shoulder lock on really hard and fast, and after I tapped, I said (okay, gasped), "Put those locks on SLOWER." He didn't even acknowledge that I'd spoken to him. I thought, "Okay, Pal, if you do that again, we are going to have an earnest eye to eye discussion about it right here in the middle of the mat. And you will not ignore me, even if I have to pull out Herald Voice and have the whole gym stop and watch the drama." Well, he didn't slam a joint
lock on that fast again- but he was still going way too rough. I'd be damned if I was going to ask him to gentle up, though.

I spent almost the entirety of the time in turtle or back mounted. Maybe the guy was frustrated at spending the entire session breaking my turtle. Well, did he really think I was having fun with that either? I was only turtled because I couldn't do anything else- any time I ventured to try anything, I was immediately and viciously either choked or locked. So eventually this %#$@&^ started kneeling on my back and dancing around- like I said, spiteful humiliation behavior.

As long as I stayed in turtle or back mounted, I was actually defending adequately- in that he was having trouble tapping me out. I have some skill at defending chokes, and I can hold out for a long time before I have to tap to a choke evenif they have it on pretty good. I seem to be fairly good at withstanding both the pain and the oxygen deprivation of that particular situation. Lots of people have commented on it. I was torqued off at this guy enough by then that I didn't want to give him any more taps than I absolutely had to. I don't like myself when I do that... it's stupid, and pointless, and someday I'm going to sustain a bad injury being a stubborn idjit. But luckily for me, he was mostly going for chokes instead of joint locks in the second half of our grudge match. I think I had to give him one more tap because he bow-and-arrowed my spine at the same time- but I refused to tap to his chokes, no matter how hard he ground on my face.

It was a hollow "victory", though. He is bigger, heavier, faster, more technical, and he can smoke me at will. I can't hope to tap him. We both know it, everybody knows it. He doesn't have to PROVE it, and he certainly doesn't have to utterly degrade me to slam the point home. WTF??!?

I have never approved of the BJJ culture in which some guy goes too rough with you, so your bigger buddy in turn rolls with him and goes rough with HIM. I don't think having your big brother beat up your bully for you helps the underlying problem... I think it's more likely that your bully will just get even meaner and kick your ass harder the next time he catches you alone on the playground. But tonight, yeah- some small mean part of me wished I had someone there tonight with sufficient size/skillz
that I was close enough to to say, "Hey, Buddy, would you mind rolling with this turdhead and grinding his face a little, and then slam on a shoulder lock really fast and hard?" I would have enjoyed watching that. A little. I confess.

I left feeling worse than I have ever felt walking out of there. I know that this is just one of those low points, and I won't let it stop me. But geez I feel crappy right now.

The first half of the day was much better. I spent a few hours with CK and JB, relay sparring with the soft, weight-and-balance focussed work we did on her last visit. Then lunch, then a couple more hours with just CK and me. We went to a park she knew, with organic gardens and orchards all around it. It is a really, really cool place. I'd love to work there some more... not to mention wander around and poke at all the neat plants and trees.

So that training time with CK that JB and I agreed to sacrifice to Nemesis: CK worked with Nemesis for a few hours on Friday. Push-hands and light sparring, and I'm not sure what else. But she said that it had gone well. She wants us (or me, at least, if JB isn't up for it) to try a little of that with him on an ongoing basis. I wonder if it will go as well with a peer as it did with a teacher. I should try.