Thursday, December 29, 2011


What you do instead of your work is your REAL work. –Roger Ebert

Thursday: 132.5

Met CK and MM at lunchtime, and spent 4-5 hours round-robin sparring.

As yesterday, we were on a wood floor, so no takedowns and very little groundwork. MM and I did go to the ground once and had a long struggle there. He's the one who took me down. He took back mount, but I defended the choke and shucked him off neatly. I got on top and mostly stayed there, but couldn't sub him. Finally he totally gave up his back, and I latched on- but as I already knew, he is smart enough to keep his chin down, and I just couldn't get in. It was close, though. Eventually I had to bail out of the spar from pure exhaustion, and conceed the win to him. It was fun, though. I would have done better if we were wearing gi's!

They were both doing a Dragon technique a few times which involves a 360-turn, and I was so close to being able to jump on for an RNC- but they were both just a wee bit too tall. With someone a bit slower, I could have leaped for it- which I have done on occasion with others, successfully- but they are both too quick. Anyhow, we were not allowed to do chokes/headlocks etc on CK because of the neck problems she is having right now.

When it wasn't my turn, I mostly watched and learned- but at one point, when they had been going a long time and I was worrying about stiffening up, I went through a little Southern Mantis and Green Dragon. Mantis seems good, although I want to check a few things in my notes. Having a little trouble with Green Dragon- I have neglected it too long. I will be able to rebuild it when I review my notes, though. (Again and again, I thank whatever whim/fortune/precognitive flash/deity/MA fairy that caused me to transcribe everything right before I lost my teacher and class.)

I am not doing that well with either of these people at belly-to-belly range. They are both VERY strong, have incredible root (CK is like a tree), and vast skill/technique. They were both suggesting that I not work so close up, and I hope I'm not being too much of a stubborn and clueless lower-level student to argue... but I think I was holding my own as well as could be expected given the experience and size inequalities. I have serious conviction by now- borne of extensive sparring experience with multiple people of varying levels- that I simply **must** work close in. Every single time I don't, the same thing happens: they bash me a few times as I'm disengaging; then they bash me some more while we're at distance, since everyone's reach is longer than mine and they can reach me while I can't reach them; then they get in a couple more bashes as I'm moving back in. That sort of thing frustrates and demoralizes me very quickly. It's better to just get close and stay there. And really, it DOES work a lot better on most other people than it does on CK and MM. They are fairly comfortable sparring pressed right up against me (although I did have them both backing off from time to time when I drove in with lengthy unbroken chains of aggressive strikes), but a lot of people just aren't. Besides, being pressed right up against the opponent in standup is just vertical BJJ, in a lot of ways. I find myself using a lot of the same skills- which are improving the longer I train BJJ. Anyone- even really experienced people that I respect a lot- is going to have a hard sell at this point trying to get me to spar unarmed at anything more than kissing distance.

They wear goggles to spar, and CK is not happy with me that I decline. I said that she is the boss and if she insists, I will do it- but not willingly. I know it's stupid and dangerous, and if I get my eye poked out I will have vast regret and only myself to blame. But dammit, those goggles drive me bugshit. Not only are they uncomfotable and distracting, they slip and fog up- especially with the close-up stuff I do- and when I put them on today, the undersides totally obscured my view of MM's legs. This is unacceptable, as MM kicks hard, often, and accurately. After about two minutes, I pulled the fooking things off and threw them across the room.

CK plied me with another one of those sinful coconut tart things from the Chinese bakery.... so evil.

She was exasperated and amused to hear that D (like CC) is avoiding sparring with me, and had actually told me to my face that I have poor control. Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ (LOL- I stole that one from Otto; been looking for chances to use it!). It's not that I am proclaiming MYSELF some supernatural pillar of striking precision and accuracy, mind you- it's been a constant litany of experienced and skilled MA'ists who've sparred with me a LOT (a lot more than CC or D) who are constantly praising my excellent control. CK says it's CC's and D's issue- and I agree. It still sucks for me, though, since I have very little opportunity to spar now due to lack of partners. And it's just insulting. In fact, it's insulting enough that if they bring it up again, I am probably going to get a little huffy with them. There are few enough things that I do WELL in MA... and even fewer that I am able/willing to CLAIM: "I do this well." But drat it, I have excellent strike control for sparring, and anyone who says otherwise is wrong. So there.

I had planned to go to evening BJJ, but after all that sparring, I was just too darn exhausted. They wore me out. I had a bit of a struggle trying to stay awake on the drive home, so I think I was right to take a pass. I slept poorly last night, too.

I think that's the last I'm going to be able to see of CK before she leaves town, but MM and I are planning to meet up 2 mornings next week. These were good workouts. I'm so glad I didn't wimp out and fail to meet up with them. After we were done for the day, I drove them to Shaolin. Told them that I was no longer in the class... they didn't ask me any questions, for which I'm very grateful (although CK I'm sure is very curious... making me all the more grateful she was so nice about me not wanting to talk about it). I was afraid being with them would trigger another deep depression about losing the Kung Fu class and all, but I've been doing reasonably okay the last few days. I'm sad that they are all at class right now as I type this, though.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


"A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for."-- Grace Murray Hopper

Saturday: 130.0. FOD: Snake Versus Five Animals.

Sun: 133.5 (WTF?!? Okay, I had a couple of extra cookies and things, but not enough to account for that. I'm calling it a hormonal thing.) FOD: Five Animals.

Mon: 135.0. (Yeesh! I really have not been snacking that much!) FOD: Leopard 3.

Wednesday: 132 (Okay, that's more like it).

I met with CK this morning, and we spent several hours doing grueling stance work- the kind where you're just standing there, or doing something seemingly easy like taking a step- and it's a more intense workout than a BJJ roll. Knees, pelvis, lower back, the crease where the trunk meets the top of the thigh. Note: engage the backs and sides of the thighs more, and try to open up that crease area more... about two minutes of that (just STANDING STILL, mind you) made me feel like I'd been digging ditches for eight hours straight... but it seems to take some of the strain off my bad knees.

A little tai chi. Then a sinful lunch. Then back to the gym for sparring. Her back is all messed up, and I didn't have my contacts in, so we were going fairly easy. I got her with the same trick that I got her with this summer- heavy bridging on both of her arms, doing a bunch of stuff with one hand to keep her attention, then suddenly popping the OTHER hand up into her chin. There is a lot of this in Hurricane Hands. I got her with it several times, to my surprise- I'm sure it will stop working soon! I was also getting her a few times with a trick I've been using on her for years: I kick or feint, she blocks, then as she lowers the knee, I nail her with a follow-up kick. It works best if I do both kicks without setting the foot down. Another thing that worked for me a few times was dropping into a low scissor stance with and underhand looping claw to the groin or lower belly. I should mention that besides her back being all messed up, she is very heavily medicated- which I'm sure has a lot to do with the fact that I was able to land anything at all on her.

We did not discuss my life disasters, to my relief. I told her that I had had a really ugly few months and did not want to talk about my life- and she was good about it. She twice brought up SK, and I gave short noncommittal answers and moved on quickly. She was playing with her phone at one point, and put on the ring he always used ("caffeinated rattlesnake")- that hurt. But I did okay overall, emotionally.

MM e-mailed me to ask if we could get together to spar a couple times while he was in town, which is great. I'm considering it a compliment that he asked. He'll kill me, of course.... I would sure love to get him on the ground and tap him out with a BJJ technique JUST ONCE. I couldn't manage it last time he was here, although we rolled around for a long time, and I came close with a number of things. He is REALLY strong, has significant weight on me, and besides his Kung Fu and Karate, he has some Aikido and other things in his tool kit. He is a formidable opponent indeed. He and CK and I will probably work together tomorrow afternoon. It's great to round-robin spar with the two of them... we can go for hours.

Acrobalance at the circus school. There were only five of us tonight, three intermediates and two advanced, so we did some challenging stuff and it was very much fun. Willis was basing for all of us, and having a challenging time, because we were all very differently shaped. It went from 5-foot me to a 6-foot student; and two were very skinny while one was a pear shape and one an hourglass. All of these sizes, shapes and weight distributions called for different balancing methods and post placement for him. I am doing well. Now that I have the hang of getting into the rear plank, I am much less clumsy- and my balance is always excellent. Gawds, but this stuff is an intense core/abs workout.

Friday, December 23, 2011


I was working at a club in Newark, and somebody bent over, and his gun fell out on the floor. Everybody began checking their coats to make sure it wasn't their gun. -Wanda Sykes

Sunday FOD: Catherine Dao.

I had wanted to work on Green Dragon as well, but turns out I only had enough focus to work on one thing today. Today has been pretty bad. It has been a persistant pattern that when I feel a bit stronger (like yesterday), it is almost always directly followed by a nosedive back down into the bowels of Hell (like today).

Monday FOD: Black Crane One. Did it both regular and mirror side; fumbled a bit on the final reap for ther mirror side, but otherwise fine.

I dared to weigh myself today. 132.5. Besides the business-trip-slash-food-orgy and my lack of training, I've been finding that with my new work schedule, the urge to snack at work and in the morning after I come home is very difficult to resist. Today I bought 100-cal mini popcorn bags... those keep my hands and mouth busy for a while... and juice boxes, which I like to eat frozen with a spoon (likewise occuppying me when I might otherwise be trolling for something more calorie-laden).

Tuesday FOD: Dance Of Life
Friday lunchtime BJJ at GB Seattle.

130.5. I have the munchies, but I'm sticking mostly to the frozen juice boxes and popcorn, and keeping meal portions small and frequent. The small, frequent meal portions really seem to be the key to weight control for my particular body.

While waiting for class to start, I jumped Vince- but he just rolled over, groaned, and lay there while I keylocked him on both sides. So I went over and jumped Bryan, which of course did not go so well for me. After he smashed me all over the mat, he told me that I'm getting better. He always adds, "I Know it doesn't SEEM like it. But you're getting good enough that we all have to step up our game on you." If you say so.

I got to drill with a nice visiting white belt woman; hope I get to work with her again before she leaves.

Standup setting up to pull guard- but you don't pull guard- once you get your back on the ground, grab both sleeve cuffs and keep both feet on opponent's hips. Then grab hir rt ankle with your left hand and pull yourself under hir till you can wrap your left leg around the OUTSIDE of hir rt leg, foot on hip. Shove with your rt foot (still on hir other hip) to overbalance opponent. Then squeeze knees together and hip up to bow hir other leg out and knock hir over backwards. Note to KEEP HOLD of both sleeve and hip, not only does it make it harder for the opponent to get up or to escape, it makes it easier for YOU to get up and get on top. Also note that I really, really, really need to break my terrible habit of gabbing people's pants cuffs with my fingers inside.

Failed butterfly sweep; opponent throws weight the other way. You go with that to the other side, AGAIN remember to keep ahold of both that sleeve and that pants grip so that you can pull opponent under you as you take the back.

Lots of drilling reps; but I'm glad we didn't do a third technique, as these were both kind of complicated. My partner and I tried our stupid sides a few times just to say we did, but we were both so clumsy that we switched right back again after a couple of reps.

A few rounds of pass guard vs sweep. The white belt girl was good; she gave as good as she got.

A roll with Vince, then a reeeeeeeeeeeeally long roll with Dominick. I did reasonably okay surviving with both of them, although as usual my sub attempts were insufficient. I seem to be doing well while I keep moving- I stay on top, get side control, get front mount, get KOB a lot. KOB is good for me- I can't really pin them there, but I don't have to- it seems that with my flexibility and teeny-ness, people don't usually realize I've slid into KOB until after I've been perched there for three seconds. As soon as I start getting tired, though, I end up on the bottom again- and once there, as usual, I tend to stay down there and not do much of use. Even so, I was reasonably happy with my performance against Dominick, who most often spanks me when I spar him- he's good, he's also strong and flexible and about 17 or 18. I was pleased to be able to keep going as long as I did with him, at my age and after such a long hiatus. I tried a lot of gi-tail wrapping (and a little belt wrapping too). I didn't have stellar success, but I think that once I really get the hang of how to efficiently wrap people up in their gi's, that will be a really good part of my game. It's a skill that my small, quick hands and flexibility will translate well too. Dominick finally got me with a gooseneck wristlock braced against his chest while I was trapped underneath.

We ended up going till 2:15. Open mat is supposed to be over at 1:30. Everybody else was long gone, but I think Rodrigo hung around longer just to let us play.

The downside is that I was way too tired and sore to go to Sleeper tonight. I hate it when that happens.

Right shoulder is still aching some, and neck is sore after being choked a lot today. You know you're had a good BJJ session when by the time you drive home, you are so sore and stiff that it takes about ten minutes (and some serious whimpering) to get your spots bra off.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


"To die will be a great adventure." J.M. Barrie

I have a recurring nightmare in which I am trying to drive a speeding car along a crowded, twisty highway. I am in the backseat. I am leaning over the back of the frontseat, barely able to touch the steering wheel, with no access to the pedals at all. It seems an apt metaphor for how helpless I feel in the grip of my negative moods.

Emotions are not wrong/bad. They are what they are. Emotions come. The heart wants what it wants. We feel what we feel. We have no control over the emotions we feel. Flagellating oneself for the emotions one feels is futile. Denying the emotions one feels is futile.

Sometimes emotions that we are feeling are not only painful, they appear to take on an actively destructive role to the point that they become the enemy.

The mind, heart, and body are not only capable of eating themselves, they are capable of attacking one another…. in a seemingly endless cycle of pain.

Where is safety if one can't be safe inside one's own mind and heart and body; inside one's own self? Where are the resources to survive when the self is striving to destroy itself?

If one's strength is rooted in the sense of self, where to find strength when the self is divided and one side is fighting the other?

A warrior whose survival depends upon trusting instincts, has trusted instincts that led to disaster. How does one ever trust instinct again? If the lesson isn't "Don't trust instincts"- and it can't be- then what is it?

A warrior faces down a fear with great courage- and got mowed so completely that hir entire being embodies the concept of defeat. Again, what is the lesson? From whence comes resolve to face any fear again?

Form Of the Day: Sil Lum Tao. I have not been able to bring myself to do the FOD for weeks. Today I did this one and the Southern Mantis fragment. It felt really good. It felt really terrible. All Shaolin is still drenched in the essence of my betrayer. I still cannot transfer ownership. I want this to be mine and not his.

What can I do with my BJJ to make sure that as it evolves, it is MINE, and will remain mine even if I should lose my teachers sometime in the future?

What needs to change in the student/teacher relationship so that one can be respectful, loyal, even personally fond of one's teacher- yet the essense of the art is not so much as one with that person that if you lose hir, you lose the art as well? That if s/he betrays you, your art betrays you as well? That if s/he causes you pain, your art causes you pain as well? That if you lose respect for your teacher, you lose respect for your art as well? That you are defined only as a function of that teacher, or can be defined only in respect to that teacher?

This would be a lot simpler and easier if MA was simply sport to me. The spiritual aspect is its best strength and its worst weakness.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


A wounded deer leaps the highest. -Emily Dickinson

Lunchtime BJJ at GB Seattle.

Pulling guard from standing, situp sweep, failed situp sweep transitioned to kimura.

I drilled with a new white belt woman that I've never seen before....

King of the hill, pass vs sweep. Everybody swept me, but I made them all work hard for it- except Prof Carlos of course, who swept me in about half a second.

One roll with Vince, then I was exhausted and took my jacket off. But Prof Carlos was motioning me over.

8 minutes... a long time of which was spent trapped in scarf. For a good while he was choking me, and I was able to jam my hand in there well enough to not have to tap, but I couldn't get away. He just kept slowly tightening. I'm never sure if he's wanting me to tap or wanting me to hold out when he does that. I held out.

Evening BJJ at Sleeper. Cindy was not there, so Eric was teaching. It was just us, a big wrestler guy, and a female boxer... so Eric got a real workout, round-robin style. It was supposed to be gi night, so I made him put on a gi top (although he didn't have any gi pants). I collar-choked him a lot. Poor Eric, he's not a big fan of gi!

CK is going to be in town from the 26th to the 4th. I waffled about seeing her at all, because it is almost certainly going to sink me into A Mood. In fact it's sinking me into A Mood already, just knowing she's coming. Haven't decided if I'm just going to keep my mouth shut, or if I'm going to tell her that I'm no longer SK's student. Either way, I am *NOT* going to discuss details. I'm just not very happy about the idea of her getting erroneous details from other people.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

double-legs and aerial silk

With developments in technical competence and the application of the technique in training, grading, or competition, the self confidence of the student improves. He sees his improvements as successful efforts on his part. Success breeds success, and success breeds self-confidence. The two go very much hand-in-hand. A successful and confident student looks forward to training and enjoys the learning environment. A happy student learns faster than an unhappy one because he enjoys what he is doing, and because the skills are consciously and subconsciously associated with pleasure, they are retained for longer. In that the reverse is also true- that failure breeds lack of confidence and dissatisfaction with training- the learning environment has to allow for the student to succeed in what he is doing, no matter what his level of ability or competence. Tony Gummerson, "Teaching Martial Arts"

Lunchtime BJJ at GB Seattle. There was "beginner" and "competition class"- back to back, that's a challenge any day, so I decided to ease back in and just do the beginning class. It was SOOOOOOOOOOOO crowded in there today. It was really hard to get enough space to do the techniques. Prof Carlos took a step backward and would have stepped right on my partner's face if I hadn't stuck out an arm and blocked his shin just in time! Two guys were flailing all over the place, and I was THIS close to getting up and going over there to tell them to take it down a few notches- that is just not safe when you've only got three square feet of mat space and other people's heads all around you. One of them was a blue belt, too- he should have known better.

Opponent in side control: you bridge and frame, take the arm nearest hir head and cross it over your body to stick under hir armpit. Twist to belly, get to knees. Double-leg from there. Note that if you hop to your feet first, you get takedown points. Otherwise no points for this.

I drilled with Kelly, who was wearing a fresh blue belt! Awesome. Z also has his blue (about time- I was tired of getting wiped all over the mat by that little white belt!)

I would have really liked to get a chance to roll with some of these people that I haven't seen in a long time, but I think if I'd tried to do the competition class after that, I would have upchucked halfway through.

Fronts of thighs are killing me from the kneeling double-leg takedowns (we did about a bazillion reps).

Aerial silk at the circus school. This was really fun. I think I was the biggest *and* the least flexible person in the room. That was so weird!!! That has never happened to me before, not even in ballet! The class was full of these tiny skinny pixie-like Asian girls, who could tie their bodies into pretzels and looked like they would blow away if I sneezed on them. It's good, though- it'll push me to work harder. I can see that I do not have the body to be a star pupil at this particular skill, however!

There were only three silks and eight students, which I wasn't very happy about at first- but it turned out to be fine, because we silk virgins (five of us) could only work for a few minutes at a time before we needed to rest our hands and shoulders. I have a lot of upper body strength and a lot of muscle in my arms and shoulders, but it was still challenging. A great workout, and fun! It will get more fun the more technique we get, too.

Rt shoulder is still painful- the one that was painful at Acrobalance a few weeks ago, for no discernable reason. The time span and the lack of any apparent actual injury is worrying me. I was also noticing- during the intensive yoga-contortionist warmup- that I have a painful knot below my rt shoulderblade. I think I may have a permanent knot of some type there from my rib-out early this year- a hunk of scar tissue or something. Lovely. I hope it's not related to the shoulder pain.

I was worried that my broken finger would hamper me in the silk workout, but it didn't as far as I could tell- so that was a relief.

Friday, December 9, 2011


During the rapid improvement period in skill learning, students are motivated by their rate of improvement. Their desire to learn is created by the success that they achieve. Concentration and commitment are facilitated by the rapid rate of technical development. However, once the rate of learning begins to slow down, it requires much more effort on the part of both the student and coach to maintain the attention and work rate. Eventually the leveling off of improvement begins to have a negative effect on the learning environment, which can bring about a reduction in performance. Tony Gummerson, "Teaching Martial Arts"


I actually did some jiu jitsu today! Twice!!

Lunchtime at GB Seattle: Sweep drill, pass guard drill, triangle drill. I got to drill with Bryan, lucky me! One roll with him and one with Marc (lucky me again!) I was afraid my performance would be abominable after two months off the mat, but I did fairly well. I'm glad it wasn't Competition Class today, though- that would probably have killed me.

Prof. Carlos commented that he hadn't seen me in "Seex Months". I said, "It hasn't been that long! Two months." Bree said, "Brazilian time." Ah.

Marc tried to choke me with the tail of my gi jacket, and I noticed that his own jacket was all rucked up around his shoulders.... so I grabbed the tail of HIS gi jacket..... and there we were both lying there with gritted teeth and gi tails wrapped around each other's necks, both trying to choke each other, till we started giggling.

He also caught me in an inverted triangle by doubling up on himself while I was on top. I knew he was flexible, but I hadn't thought he was flexible enough to do THAT. After I tapped and complimented him on it, he said, "Yeah, I've been catching a lot of people with that!" I'm sure.

Evening at Sleeper: Cindy has apparently been Living in interesting times the past few months- two car accidents, home break-in and burglary, a breakup, her dog tore an ACL, there were a few more things in there that I forget... we both agreed that the last six months or so could do with a rewind. Anyway, her back is still messed up from the second car accident, so after armbar drills (from mount and then from guard), she had her wrestling coach Sid teach us a few moves.

Opponent turtled- knee on head, grab under the back of the thigh and flip hir into a front roll (the knee on head prevents hir from going anywhere else).

Opponent turtled- get one hook, then hook your other toe under hir ankle. Arch back, and opponent face-plants. Then you can choke. (When you are about to face-plant, you tend to stick your head up and expose your neck.) If you hook your ankles together, you can get a bow-and-arrow, and if you're REALLY sadistic, a bad neck crank.

From the back: reach under opponent's armpit and grab wrist. Rolling-pin your body up hirs while pulling the wrist under. Then you can sit out (facing hir feet) and put all your weight on your elbow (which is planted on hir arm), while retaining that wrist. Now the subs are legion. You can also pretend you're trying to stuff hir hand in her own opposite back pocket, whoch forces hir to roll over. Now- armbar or keylock.

Double-leg takedown.

I drilled with Jalen, who appears to be maybe 11. He's an average-size eleven-year-old, which means we are just about the same size. He's good. I had one roll with him after drilling. I managed to get and hold front mount for a while. I'm learning to suss out who I can get away with front mounting and who I can't. Front mounting anyone bigger than me who is not brand-new is usually a one-way-ticket to sweepsville. Jalen did sweep me off front mount once or twice, but I held it for a while. I also got the takedown, which surprised and pleased me- although I took advantage of a failed takedown attempt of his to do it.

I had one roll with some other guy that I've never seen before. Again managed to get and hold front mount for a long time, but he was doing really well at defending the keylocks-etc and I couldn't get the tap. Finally choked him from behind. By then, I was done for the day.

Went on a business trip last week... man, life on the corporate credit card is plush. I skipped dinner all three nights and still ate about 5x the amount of food I normally eat. The company HQ has a candy machine and a pop machine that won't take your money, and a grill chef who will make you whatever you want for lunch. If I worked there all the time, I'd weigh six hundred pounds. In addition, they are a *BIG* account for the local Hilton, so said Hilton treated us like royalty... including a decadent breakfast buffet (with bacon, even). It's a good thing I don't do business trips often.

I'm back up to 130, which wouldn't be too bad, except that it is plain from looking in the mirror that I haven't just put on 6lb of fat- which would be easy enough to take back off in a few weeks- I've also lost a visible amount of muscle and the shape of my entire body has changed. Dismaying how quickly it happened. Hey, that free snack machine had these AWESOME honey-mustard and onion pretzel things. Packets of mini Toll House cookies, too.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Southern Mantis

The 70-80% level of technical excellence can be achieved relatively quickly; however, to attain the remaining 30% or 20% requires a disproportionate amount of time and effort. Tony Gummerson, "Teaching Martial Arts"


I'm relieved to not be gaining a lot of weight. Besides the "almost no exercise"thing, I have (as Georgette says) been "craving comfort food"- partly because I'm depressed and partly because it's really really cold.

JoE wanted to work on the first section of the tai chi long form again, so we did that for a while. Then Southern Mantis.


After the first turn, the stance is a cat stance, but shifts into a front stance with the strike.

The first backfist- look at the target over the right shoulder, but do not turn the shoulders/torso. Torso remains facing south.

Just after the cat stance with curving-up topfist: as you skip forward with that circular punch, the left hand is doing a southern Mantis-handed clearing motion in front of your body. (This is *HARD*- it doesn't really seem to make kinetic sense- yet)

The low splitting motion just before the head grab- these are also southern Mantis hands.

Head grab and knee up: the reason I was having trouble getting my rt knee past my inturned left knee to do this knee strike is that when JoE does it, he pivots on the posting foot as the knee goes up, so that the toe is no longer turned in. While I had barely been able to squeak out the technique with my toe still turned in, I needed to stop and clarify that- because the next move has you turning to the left. If my toe had remained where it was, the next move would have rotated my left leg 360 degrees at the hip and busted the thing right off.

New part: after you smash the bad guy's head on your knee, turn to south in horse and chamber left hand at waist. Right hand describes a small counterclockwise circle and ends pressing toward the floor palm-down at groin.

Without stopping, bounce out of that strike into another small counterclockwise circle and Mantis-fist strike rt hand across your waist to the east. Torso does not turn- remain facing south.

Without stopping, bounce out of that strike and turn east in cat (left toe in front), rt forearm across chest and palm warding toward north just under left armpit. This had should be all the way past the body. As it snaps into place, left hand comes over it and strikes to east at neck level with poking southern Mantis-finger. This strike begins at centerline breastbone and the arm follows a looping corkscrew path, curving a bit to your rt and ending with the palm facing north. Very southern-Mantisy, it looks awesome when JoE does it- I am clumsy with it. I can see how it's SUPPOSED to be, though.

JoE is not happy with my flow in this form (a perpetual problem for me, especially in Mantis material). He doesn't like the pauses. He made me try to do it really fast, to get rid of the pauses.

We then did some Box form, at JoE's request. I was able to confidently answer all of his questions. I feel pretty good about most of my Dragon material. *He* looks clumsy in *this*. I couldn't criticize his motions (well, I could, and did, a few- but then he fixed them), but the flow needs a lot of work. He was pausing too much (ha ha... I'm totally serious!) It's good that we have different strengths, so that we can help each other learn.

We ended with a little sparring, slow-mo because I didn't feel like putting my contacts in. The slow-mo- with him- really points up 1)where I leave holes, and 2)how I let him tie up my arms (often getting one or both actually crossed over my centerline). I didn't let him take my back and knock me down to RNC me this time, although he did take me down once, and then perched on top of me and punched me in the head. I was able to mime ripping his testicles off, but eventually had to cry uncle and admit that although he may be neutered, I was dead. I wish my sweep skills were good enough that I woudn't get pinned with him on top like that all the time.

As usual, I had a hard time dragging ass out to do this this morning. My body was happy afterward, though.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"If you were naked, I'd have no problem"

It is important that when a new activity is being introduced, the practices that immediately precede it are will known to the student and the general movement pattern is similar to the new skill. The advantage of this strategy is that the student is confident in his own ability and has a starting point to work from. Having an existing frame of reference makes any demonstration or presentation of a new technique all the more effective for the student, because he can quickly relate it to his own existing range of skills. With similar movement patterns, the rate of learning is much faster than with different ones, because part of the skill is already known. Tony Gummerson, "Teaching Martial Arts"

Yeah, there's another blog post title that'll get a few extra hits.......

Friday FOD: Iron Needle
Sat FOD: 3 Step Arrow fragment
Sun: Silken Needle
Mon: Chen Jian

Tues: Jian, again. Yesterday was the last stone in the jar, so today was the restart- and I picked Jian again. This is obviously straight-sword-and-Needle week.

Wednesday: Did not exist
Thursday: Sil Lum Tao
Friday through the following Wednesday: Did not exist. This has been a bad week.

Series of nightmares on Monday, including one in which something new and particularly disturbing happened- for the first time in about a decade, I reached for my knife in a nightmare and the thing wasn't there.

True, I have not yet replaced my broken serrated knife. I'm still carrying the straight edge, but have gotten a little lazy in that I've been putting it not in my waistband or cargo-pants leg pocket as has been previous habit, but in my shirt pocket (where- if I needed it- there would be a delay as I would have to first think about what pocket it was in, and then dig past all the other crap in my pocket to get to it.) Now that I am sleeping in the tent, I have also gotten lazy in that instead of having the knife right where I can reach it while I sleep, I've been leaving it on the counter or hearth.

This nightmare illustrates a disturbing disconnect between me and my warrior self.

It's also bothering me a lot that when I fly to Delaware on a business trip at the end of the month, I will have to leave my knife at home altogether (unless I want to pay $50 to check a bag) and be totally unarmed for three days in a strange city. I do not like that feeling. No pepper spray either. &%#$^&% TSA Security Theater.

Congrats to Gracie Barra Seattle, which kicked butt at last weekend's Revolution.

Tuesday: Another nightmare, during which I thought about reaching for the knife and didn't even try this time. I had some kind of small blunt untensil in my hand, and decided (?) to make do with that, even though the guy I was about to engage was about half my age, three times my size, had already beaten the crap out of at least one person further up the hallway, and was ranting like he was seriously high. (Hey, at least I was still willing to pile in; that's good, right? That guy was scary!)

Wednesday: Acrobalance. I discerned during the warmup that my right shoulder was sore and weak (Why- when the most martial thing I've done with it lately is open a stuck ketchup bottle for my housemate??). I also noticed that I seem even more wobbly than usual on poses that involve standing on the left foot.

Allover, I was doing a little more poorly this week in acrobalance, altho I think part of that had to do with the guy who was my partner for most of it. He was new and clueless as well, yet somehow decided that he was competant to teach me (yeah, those types of people aren't just in BJJ class!) At one point, he slid his foot down to brace against the inside of my knee while I was in the Chinese splits, and then instructed me to swing my leg to the inside- umm, sorry dude, that is not physically possible unless I saw it off first, or you move your damn foot!

I gave an instruction tonight too, though- I couldn't help it. I try really hard to remember to keep my mouth shut unless it's a class I am actually officially supposed to be TEACHING- and moreso when it's only *my* second class in the school. But the (male) assistant teacher tried three or four different ways to tell a teen girl how to fix her posture so that she wouldn't get pulled too far forward by her partner, and finally I couldn't stand it any more and I told her "stick your chest out". She did, and immediately was able to balance after having fallen off about ten times. So I forgive myself.

Ironically, I seem to be more balanced on upside-down techniques than on rightside-up ones.

I would have liked to practice being the "base" a little more, but once again I was by far the lightest person in the room. Not that that means I can't lift someone a lot heavier than myself, with the proper form- when I did contact improv, I once had a six-foot-two male ballet dancer jumping up and sitting on my shoulder, and he must have weighed twice what I do. But I figured that since I don't know what I'm doing in this class well enough to always *HAVE* proper form, I'd better be conservative.

Being the lightest also made me the default for "Hey, Kitsune, come over here and let this brand-new guy lie down and try to balance you upside down on his feet" even though it was only my second class. Luckily, as a martial artist, I know how to fall down. And here they have something I don't have in MA class- SPOTTERS, whose job is to save you when you're about to do a face plant or go cartwheeling over the railing into the arena below.

Note that there were several clothing malfunctions tonight, mostly involving trying to stand on people's thighs, and having one's foot slip on their pants or tights. I think what I wore tonight is the wise choice- bike shorts with yoga pants over them. That way if people are having trouble getting purchase on my pants, I can just take them off. When I was standing on my partner's thigh (the pose in the photo, incidentally) and he suggested an alternate direction of balancing, I said, "It's not the orientation that's making me slide, it's your pants. If you were naked, I've have no problem." (You know, I really ought to take more time to get to know a class and its students before tossing out commentary like that.... but the teacher was repeatedly making reference to the position of her "ass" and our asses as well, so I figured if she could get away with saying "ass", I could get away with suggesting that a guy take his pants off....)

Thursday, November 3, 2011


If even for the blink of an eye you can control two of the other guy’s limbs with one of yours, either with angle or timing or some sort of clinch, then the opponent is in grave danger. - Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

(Kitsune to CC and D)
Are we on for Thursday at 6?

Looks like D will be here…I will be visiting a friend at a hospital but will try and be back in time for the tail end

(K to D)

you really don't like to waste time with socially pleasant extraneous words do you!?!


Tigers like to just get to the Point. If not all Five of them.

Some evil person has been stocking the cookie jar in the communal kitchen with Halloween candy for the past couple of weeks.

Thursday FOD: Touch Bridge

JoE wanted to work on the Tai Chi long form, so we did that for a while. Then more Kiu Two, which again took the bulk of the time. He had a cool armbar app for the salute, of all things. JoE loves those armbars.

He wanted to work a Wing Chun drill of CC's, and we bumbled around trying to remember exactly how it went. Next time I see CC (if I ever do- geez that man is flaky about meeting... he's bailed again for tonight), I'll need to review that.

A little sparring- again not too great on my end, although once again I avoided most of his copious takedown attempts.

Last time I sparred him, though, I had let him GET MY BACK AND TAKE ME DOWN- **TWICE**... he did the same darn thing today (only once, though). I need to not let him do that again- I'm still not quite sure how it happened, so if he *does* get that on me again, I need to call a time-out and reconstruct exactly what he is doing and what I ought to be doing in order to stop him.

I did get front mount on him and hold it for quite some time, although he was doing a pretty good job defending his neck. He normally does not have any trouble tossing me off front mount (few people do), but today I prevented this by constantly shifting my weight around- sometimes sliding almost off into a side control, then back on again (while constantly attacking the throat). He was only able to get me off him in the end with a hair grab (OOOOOH how I hate those!!)

I asked D to work on the Green Dragon form- Plum Blossom Fist (who makes up these names???!? I wonder how many of these bizarre form names can be traced back to poor translation skills).

First arm-circle: make sure the back of the rt hand SLAPS, and pull left hand all the way to centerline.

Elbow strikes- fold arms more, so that elbows are overlapping

Second arm-circle: end with a snap.

Both arm-circle parts: note that these are cat stances and not Seven Stars. For some reason I keep wanting to do Seven Stars.

New part, after the 2nd arm-circle.....

Little hop to the right (south), Black Crane guard to north (Rt palm at left jaw, left palm outward at left thigh).

Left side kick north to knee level. Rechamber. Do not set foot down.

Bring both straight arms down, circle to your rt, then over head, As you give a little 180 degree hop to face west. Hands continue circle in a karate-chop motion to north (rt one on top and in front), continuing to your knees as you bend a little, facing west. Now arms circle around to your left, overhead, face north again and end in karate guard position facing north. Left hand is on top and in front, you are in a north-facing cat with rt toe in front. This entire arm-circling sequence is continuous and flowing.

Scissor step rt foot to west in front of left. High blocks to west, elbows leading. Left, then right.

End by pulling rt Mantis hook back to rt shoulder, step west with left foot and turn north in a high horse. left palm-up knfe hand strikes to north neck height. The power comes from the torque in the turn and Mantis-hook pull.

Now into the previously learned hop-and-turn-and-kneel section.

Those elbow circle-block things are going to need a lot more work- I am still a bit confused. I want to be doing low palm-heels as I pull out of each one, but apparently you don't.

We practiced the Kneeling-with-Leopard-fist guard section as well, and D keeps harping on me that my flow is not continuous enough (thus the energy is not recycling, and I'm chopping the power off of all the strikes). Also (as always) my shoulders (all of me, in fact, but especially my shoulders) are too tense. Part of this is a mental block- when I loosen up these big arm-circle things, it makes me feel that if I was actually hitting anyone, it would be like those chicken-flap hits that women who've had no self defense traning always do. I wish I could see CN do these- it would probably help a lot. Anyway, after he'd had me rep it about a bazillion times and I'd loosened up to where it felt distressingly flappy-armed, I watched him do it and said, "It looks almost like Monkey." He didn't seem to like that observation much, but it did. The two slappy strikes at the end of the two arm-circles at the beginning of the form also look Monkey-like. So I did the section as I would interpret Monkey doing it. D said it looked much better. Well okay then. Dragon + Monkey. There's one ugly deformed nuclear-fallout baby for ya. But I'll experiment with it.

That section- as well as the part with the Mantis hook- is confusing my brain because it's transitioning large vertical circling to large horizontal circling and back again. That seems Dragony, but my body and brain aren't assimilating it very well at the moment, so I don't think I've done anything like that in any of my other forms (Dragon or otherwise).

We did some sticky hands, played with the Wing Chun drill (we couldn't figure out out either... will have to ask CC).

D's going to be out of town for most of this month. He seems to want to bolt the rest of Hurricane Hands as soon as he gets back. I hope he's not planning to blow town for good before he teaches me the rest of Plum Blossom Fist. Unfortunately, I can't really hold the remainder of HH hostage, because D learns new form material about 10x faster than I do.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Sunday FOD: Iron Needle
Monday FOD: Southern Mantis fragment
Tuesday: did not exist.
Wednesday FOD: Sil Lum Tao

Today I went to Acrobalance class. It is indeed a lot like "Extreme Contact Improv For Martial Artists". It was fun. I did one lift with the teacher's assistant, and he immediately asked me if I was a gymnast. Well, yes, back when all the continents were still one land mass. Then he had somebody else lift me, while he hollered across the room to the teacher, "Jenny! Look! It's her first night!" Ha ha.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


In all athletic disciplines, it is the internal work that makes the physical mat time click, but it is easy to lose touch with this reality in the middle of the grind. - Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

Friday did not exist.
Saturday FOD: The Dance Of Life.

I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't meet my goal of getting to 2 BJJ classes this weekend. I just could not seem to rouse myself to do anything at all Thursday evening through Saturday afternoon.

I had to chuckle at the new posting on the Hyperbole and a Half site, about depression. I would like to have my depression form an impervious exoskeleton like Allie's. Unfortunately, my depression is not a steady state of uncaring nor an upward slope of recovery- my depression looks like an EKG readout. Whenever I have a few hours that feel almost bearable, and I think, "Hallelujia, the worst is over," or "Hey, I'm going to survive this," or some such, next thing I know I am plunging to new depths of the abyss. I have learned better than to ever flirt with the notion that it can't get worse- because there's *always* worse.... even when you feel certain that it can't possibly feel any worse.

I did drag myself over to CC's for class on saturday afternoon- although D ducked out, and CC ducked out himself after about half an hour. He set me to work doing Sil Lum Tao on the wooden dummy, so I did that, then some reps of the Green Dragon bits, then Hurricane Hands and HH In the Mirror, Five Animals and FA In the Mirror, Dance Of Life.

It looks like I might not be able to get into the aerial silk class for a while due to scheduling issues. I'm now trying for the acrobalance class.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Players tend to get attached to fancy techniques and fail to recognize that subtle internalization and refinement is much more important than the quantity of what is learned…. Depth beats breadth any day of the week, because it opens a channel for the intangible, unconscious, creative components of our hidden potential. - Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

Sunday FOD: Lun Qi
Monday FOD: Cannon Fist
Tuesday FOD: 5 Points
Wednesday: nonexistant
Thursday FOD: Kiu Two

JoE and I got together to train on Thursday morning, and ended up spending almost all of it on Kiu Two. Mostly him doing Snake One, me doing Snake Two.

Note that during the "flurry-of-Snake-strikes bit: After the right high Snake Strike and the left low Snake strike, that right Snake needs to retract almost all the way and get down to your left elbow so that it is low enough- and far enough to the side- to intercept the next strike.

Do not hurry through it so much that you cheat or skip the bong sau.

Also- make sure to have range on the kick to the rear leg. I usually have to hop in a bit.

Next time we meet, we need to work on me doing the Snake One side and him doing Snake Two- also the Southern Mantis, which we did not get to at all today. Another (eventual) thing I would like to work on with him is Snake Versus Five Animals- since these two-person forms are really much better to work on when you actually have two people.

We did about 10 min of sparring at the end, and he smoked me. I am leaving way too many openings. Another thing I tend to do with him is to forget how well-rooted he is- he is always hooking legs and trying to throw me or take me down, and I can usually defend the first attempt, but sometimes leave myself overbalanced and vulnerable to his follow-up.

One more thing- remember the street name (Belmont)- I got a little lost again trying to find his apartment.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


The next phase of my martial growth would involve turning the large into the small. My understanding of this process is to touch the essence (for example, highly refined and deeply internalized body mechanics or FEELING) of a technique, and then to incrementally condense the external manifestation of the technique while keeping true to its essence. Over time, expansiveness decreases while potency increases. I call this method “Making smaller circles”. - Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

The FOD some two weeks ago- the last time I drew one- was Spear Hand, and today I hauled myself up out of the Pit Of Despair enough to force myself to do it. Also the Green Dragon fragments (must add that to the FOD jar) and a little Hurricane hands (including that tricky throw that I'm going to have to teach next time). The first time I sketched through Spear Hand, it felt like one of those moments when your Self disappears and some MA deity steps in and says, "Let Me ride you for a minute and show you how it's done." Always breathtaking, especially when it's Mantis. The throw was also fine, for all my worrying.

If I'm not going to be disciplined about making blocks of time to practice kung fu, I need to add the drills and a few other random things- which are not precisely forms- to my FOD jar. Otherwise they will never get practiced.

I should also unload all the weapons, kicking pads, and other peraphernalia from my Jeep.

Mentally and emotionally I'm still feeling fairly overrwrought approaching anything kung fu-like, but physically it felt really good.

I do not want to abandon kung fu. It's really hard because literally *EVERY* single technique, drill, form, and other random bit that I know was imbued into me by SK, and it all reeks of him. Every scrap of it is full of memories of him and associations with him. I think I need to somehow find a way to transfer ownership of the material so that it doesn't continue to feel like me working on HIS stuff. It needs to become MY stuff.

I'm trying to gear myself up to attempt to go back to jiu-jitsu (which would probably be a vast relief for anyone who started reading my BJJ training blog and is now wondering if I'm ever going to stop thrashing around in my tortured psyche and do some actual jiu jitsu). I have this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday off. I'm supposed to meet JoE on Thurs morning, and CC/D Thursday evening. Tentative goal- at least one Gracie class and one Sleeper class during those three days.

Also- it might be helpful to work on something new. When I first stopped going to kung fu class, I was considering taking the opportunity to try some capoiera. I don't think right now is the time to do that, since capoiera was one of SK's things, and it'll probably make me all depressed. However, CK's sister is an aerialist at Emerald City Trapeze, and aerial silk is something I've been wanting to try for a while. They also have an "acrobalance" blass, which looks like it might be vaguely the same type of partner-lifting dance/acrobatics that a few of us were branching into from the contact improv. Their waiver makes it look like they might not let you take classes if you don't have health insurance, though… so I'm trying to find out.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Who am I? Grief/detox/processing

Loss of the friendship is still number one on my distress-o-meter so far.... but I'm starting to look ahead with a clinical interest to the time I'm really going to start freaking out in earnest about the question of my very identity as a martial artist/warrior now that SK and my kung fu group have been amputated from my life.

In the Shaolin tradition, at some point (usually after reaching black sash level, which is intermediate level) it was common to leave the temple to wander the world. Some came back years later to continue training, others didn't. If you didn't leave the temple when your teachers thought you were ready to, they kicked you out.

CK often references her own having been "kicked out of the temple"... DD declared her so when she moved out of town four years ago, even though she was a mid-level white sash at the time.... everyone always considered her a more advanced MA'ist because of her other arts and teaching skills.

I had no intention of leaving the temple, ever. Never even entered my mind.

One of the things I liked about Shaolin is that there was really no ceiling on what I could learn- I was never going to be "done". (Also, I never thought I'd approach CK's level of skill, nor approach black sash.) I fully expected to still be training under SK when I was 100 years old.

I certainly never expected to be leaving like THIS. I had my doubts about the class surviving after DD abandoned it, but I always figured that even if the group disintegrated, I'd still be able to get together with SK regularly and train. It never once crossed my mind to think what would happen- or what it would be like- or what I would do- if he was just....gone. Forever.

If this was another era, and my teacher had died, as his senior student I might be expected to take over teaching the group. If SK had actually died, I'm not sure what I would do- but I would have at least felt some responsibility to honor his legacy by thinking about and providing in some way for the rest of the junior students.

My teacher's not dead, and I haven't reached some level of rank that causes me to feel it's time to take walkabout from (or get kicked out of) the temple. This is a lot messier, more confusing, and without honor. It feels dirty and unfinished.

One could view this, however, as the universe (or God/s however you may define such) kicking me out of the temple.

If I were seeking some kind of higher meaning in this, one could wonder if there is something else I'm supposed to be doing now.

Hey, wait! I'm not ready! I wasn't done yet! There is still so much I wanted to learn from SK!

I am left with a very fundamental question: Who am I now? Who am I as a Shaolin practitioner permanently separated from her temple? Who am I as a warrior permanently separated from my mentor?

Thursday, October 20, 2011


We live in an attention-deficit culture. We are bombarded with more and more information… the constant supply of stimulus has the potential to turn us into addicts, always hungering for something new and prefabricated to keep us entertained. When nothing exciting is going on, we might get bored, distracted, separated from the moment. So we look for new entertainment…If caught in these rhythms, we are like current-bound surface fish, floating along a two-dimensional world without any sense for the gorgeous abyss below. - Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

Well, Pollyanna is dead. I made one final attempt to work out issues with SK, and got a pathetically inadequate response back. I have done all I can do to try to salvage this, but I can't fix it by myself, and he will not cooperate. So, it's official- I have quit SK's class and he is no longer my teacher- or my friend either. (I don't do Facebook, but I still made a digital-age ritual of it by putting his e-mail addy on my Twit-filter). We're never going to see or speak to each other again. That sucks, and I expect my mood will be roller-coastering all over the place for a fair while to come, and you'll still have to read my whining about it. But the bridge is now burned and the earth salted.... so hopefully closure will be able to come in time.

I was supposed to have class tonight with CC and D, but CC bailed. (I really hope that guy is not trying to set me up with D.... I wouldn't put it past him.)

We went over the bits of the Green Dragon form that we'd done previously. The part that starts kneeling with one Leopard Fist out, I have pretty well down. I need to remember that it starts with the right Leopard Fist palm towards me.

The part with the scissor step:

Begin facing north, rt Mantis hook at Rt shoulder and left hand palm up shoulder level stretched out to the west.

Hop into scissor, rt foot in back.

Unwind to kneel on left knee facing west, As you turn, rt elbow goes up to guard face. As you knee, left palm-heel strikes west at chest level. Rt arm is now at rt temple to ward.

Left hand pulls in to chest, rt hand comes down and left hand circles OVER TOP of it. Palm heel left hand to west again.

Left hand pulls back to rt jaw to ward. Rt forearm strikes forward.

(Note that the strike sequence is left, left, right)

Stand and turn torso to south, sliding into a lunge with rt leg straight. left forearm is at left temple to ward. Rt arm sweeps from rt to left and ends at left knee (palm facing east).

new part: the beginning.

Start facing north with rt Dragon hand sitting on thumb side of left fist, at left hip.

Little hop into cat stance (rt toe fwd) facing east. Both Dragon hands rotate clockwise all the way around, rt hand beginning at 12 o'clock and left hand beginning at 6 o'clock. When left hand gets to noon, being it down to rt jaw in Black Crane guard. Rt hand strikes east from chest in a palm-heel chest height.

Move weight forward so that you are in a front stance. Forearms fold across each other at chest with rt on bottom. strike with both elbows to east.

Skip forward a step to make another cat stance with rt toe in front. Both dragon arms rotate around again, unfolding (so they are going counterclockwise this time). End in a basic karate-style guard with rt hand on top.

After Green Dragon, we worked on Hurricane Hands, and I taught him up to the Dragon throw (but not the throw itself). Note to self that I need to make sure to practice that damn throw before I go back there. It's very difficult to correlate the arms and legs in relation to each other.

After that, we ran through Bung Bo Kuen several times.

D didn't want to spar. He obviously is avoiding sparring with me. I guess I hit too hard for him. Dang.

He reprimanded me about my stiff shoulders again, and also told me that my assignment was to do something fun this week. Argh.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


After making an error, it is so easy to cling to the emotional comfort state of
what was, but there is also that unsettling sense that things have changed for the
worse. The clear thinker is suddenly at war with himself, and flow is lost. - Josh
Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

Rage. We gotz it.

"How are you tonight?"

I know full well that this is part of the "social dance steps" that we are all required to perform in order to get along in polite society. I know that the expectation is to respond pleasantly, "Fine, thank you." Even if the real answer is "Homicidal- do ya want some, you *%^$#& &%$^#^& @#$%98ing %#!@~?" or some variant thereof.

Even in my most mellow moods/times, I have always been perplexed by this one. Why do we ask this? Of random strangers? You are ringing up my Safeway purchases, you don't know me from Winnie Mandela, I am one of an endless string of anonymous customers that you are required to be polite to in order to earn the minimum wage that's barely going to buy your own groceries. Do you REALLY want to hear how I am tonight? **REALLY**?!?? Even if you do, are we gonna hold up the other five people in line behind me while I tell you all about it? And WTF good do you think it would do?

When I was a teenager, I routinely responded to this ubiquitous inane question with "Could be worse." Believe it or not, that response- which ought to be a red flag that this person is antisocial and in a pissy mood- causes people to try to engage you *MORE*. They want to find out more. They want to banter with you. They want to show you that they care. They want to fix you. In the forty-eight seconds before they need to start ringing up the guy behind you.

Grinding that "fine" out in these last two months just makes me want to rip someone's head off and fingerpaint the walls with blood.

Marci, the most junior student in SK's class, e-mailed me to ask what happened to
me. It was so thoughtful and sweet. And depressing.

Friday's FOD: Snake Versus Five Animals.
Saturday FOD: Leopard 3

Sunday FOD: Catherine Dao. Also did a few reps of that Green Dragon fragment, and

the new bit of JoE's Southern Mantis.

Monday FOD: Tai Chi long form.
Tuesday FOD: Black Crane One.

Thursday FOD: The Spear Hand fragment.

This was last week's FOD listing. It is now almost a week later and I am still on Spear Hand. This week did not exist.

I realize that part of my issue is that there is a lot of scheduling chaos and various unusual sources of stress at work- which would be rocky to cope with at the best of times.

The bigger part of my issue is that a huge- and arguably unhealthy- amount of my life (social, scheduling-wise, physical, mental, spiritual, both short- and long-term goals) was structured on and around my kung fu training. Now, with the structure removed, the entirety of my life is closely resembling those vids of the twin towers collapsing.

This is a bona fide pathological addiction. It's probably healthier in the long run that there doesn't seem to be any chance of getting it back, but the detox is hell. I'm not sure I can survive the detox.

For the first few weeks after I quit going to Kung Fu class, I was training a lot on my own time (mostly with Mirror forms). For a while, I think I was getting more
constructive work done than I had been getting done in class. The longer it goes-
and thus the more it looks like I'll never be going back- my will is sapping. Lately, just the thought of working forms makes me feel a little nauseous. I haven't even been able to bring myself to do the FOD for a week.

BJJ is not much better. I have absolutely no desire to go to class.

I feel so filled up with rage these past few weeks. I feel like I can relate to those people who shoot somebody dead for cutting them off in traffic. Seriously- if both restrooms are occupied, if my freeway exit is closed for road work, if I didn't get time to swing by the ATM- I just want to rip someone's head off and fingerpaint the walls with blood.

I've always had a lot of rage in me- but this is rage on steroids.

I'm not concerned that I'm actually going to go postal on someone for real.... but I can't stop myself from being short, curt, brusque, even sometimes borderline rude with everyone around me. I feel crappy for it, but at the same time I'm inwardly congratulating myself- "At least I didn't rip her head off and fingerpaint the walls with her blood! Yay me!"

I was trying to self-analyze today why I just don't feel like going to BJJ... and got a bit of a lightbulb flash on the fact that without my normal life structure- and the EQUILIBRIUM that structure offers- I just feel too unbalanced to roll with the normal bumps in everyday life. Normally, if some spazzy guy armbars me too hard, I might get ticked off or frustrated. Now, the same situation makes me want to rip someone's head off and fingerpaint the walls with blood. (I'm enjoying typing that phrase...quite...a lot......) Then in a split second, that scarlet killing fury frequently shifts to a black sucking vortex of despair ("I want to hang myself with my BJJ belt"). The fact that I can't seem to leave it on the mat is a factor as well. When I'm thinking of going to class, it's like, "Do I feel like engaging that depth of rage/despair and spending the rest of today (not to mention the sleepless night) marinating in it? Or would it be safer and less painful to just sit here and stare at the cracks in the floor for the next five straight hours?"

So.... addiction DT's to be waited out. Rage to be channeled into something, somehow, less destructive than ripping heads off and fingerpainting the walls with blood. Scheduling structure to be rebuilt. Equilibrium.... I'm at a loss right now as to what to do to start trying to get that back.

Friday, October 7, 2011

To Slay Pollyanna

Problems set in if the performer has a brittle dependence on the safety of absolute perfection. -Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

Tuesday FOD: Five Animals. Both the regular and the mirror versions seem very smooth and powerful today.

Tuesday lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Bellevue.

Double-leg drills, KOB drills, butterfly sweep setups. Positional training- try to pass/defend open guard. A couple of rolls- Bree, John, some white belt guy.

A long time rolling with Ben, which was actually pretty frustrating- trapped on the bottom a lot, getting choked and armbarred.

Kung Fu at CC's. Started with some reps and apps of a section out of a Green Dragon form- same form we were working with last time, but a different section. I really like the way this flows; very Dragonesque:

Start kneeling on rt knee, left Leopard Fist extended shoulder level to west, palm facing south. Rt Leopard fist guarding rt side of head.

Stand and bring both straight arms down in front of body, then circle slightly to right. Turn to face south, continuing the swirly circle to parry a low kick off both hands in front of thighs.

Turn west and step with left foot, bringing both arms up and over in a karate-chop motion chest level. Left hand is slightly ahead of rt.

Step west rt foot, circling both hands over head from left temple to rt to strike rt blade-hand palm-up head level to south. Left hand is warding palm-out at left brow.

Scissor step left foot to west behind rt. Left hand drops to Black Crane guard at rt jaw. RT hand circles to left shoulder and then down-and-out to groin strike to west with knife palm as you sink into the scissor stance.

Note that all of these arm motions are continuous and flowing with no pauses.

After that, they made me teach them the first part of Hurricane Hands, up to the elbow-grind and palm-heel.

Then D and I did a little slow sparring. They're still on my back about my constant Snake striking to the neck. I also took D's back and RNC'ed him, although I couldn't actually take his back with good form because he's too big for me to get my legs around him. He was cracking up the whole time time, even after I proceeded to throttle him till he had to tap.

I'm still having trouble with the big kicks- I need to react faster and stop freezing up when I see one coming in. Also having some difficulty with his wide right hooks- no one I'm used to sparring really tends to use those, so it's new. I don't know what style he favors, but he uses a lot of Mantis- always a challenge.

I cracked like an egg. I e-mailed SK and asked him if he was ever going to speak to me again. I know, I'm weak and pathetic and I'm a masochistic dumb-ass. But it's been four weeks and I'm going nuts. I want to know if anything can be salvaged, and failing that, I'd like some closure. Either way, I really want him to clear up some confusion about what really went down. He gave me a lot of contradicting information. It's difficult to move on either way when there's so much conflicting information and you don't really understand what happened.

I've been really terrified to ping him, because 1)if he ignores me, that's going to be really hurtful, 2)If we do talk it out, it's going to be a painful and difficult conversation, and and 3)If we're really finished with each other for good and all, I'm not eager to face the finality of that. As long as it was kind of hanging there inconclusively, some corner of my mind could maintain a little Pollyanna fantasy that everything might be fixed somehow and we could all go back to class and relations as usual. But I'm going nuts. I think the time has come to step up and slay Pollyanna- much as that's going to hurt.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


A man wants to walk across the land, but the earth is covered with thorns. He has two options- one is to pave his road, to tame all of nature into compliance. The other is to make sandals. Making sandals is the internal solution. Like the Soft Zone, it does not base success on a submissive world. - Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

Saturday FOD: Angry Snake Defends Its Lair
Sunday FOD: Wood Monkey
Monday FOD: Kiu Two
Tuesday did not exist due to work/sleep cycle scheduling
Wednesday FOD: Box Form

Wednesday morning, JoE and I worked on some Box Form, Kiu Two, Southern Mantis, and some sparring. (We had planned to meet at Volunteer Park; I texted him and suggested his apartment lobby instead due to the rain and cold. Turns out I had his number entered erroneously in my phone. So I apparently texted some random stranger and suggested we meet at his apartment. Hope it's someone nice.) Anyway, we met at the park and then repaired to the apartment lobby.

New Southern Mantis fragment: After the turn and rising topfist.

Little skip forward- place rt foot where left foot was, left foot steps forward into a Southern Mantis stance (I keep wanting to do a cat here...). The rt hand circles back to chamber after the topfist, but continues without pause into a waist-level front punch as you are skipping forward.

Both hands move to center, then down-and-out in low palm-heel blocks (as in Three Step Arrow).

Reach up with both hands to grab opponent's head, bring it down as you bring rt knee up to smash.

JoE thinks this is one of the most difficult sections in the form just because of the tricky timing of the skip forward and the punch.

We went pretty slow and light with the sparring; he hit me too hard a few times, but it wasn't too bad. His Mantis technique is really difficult for me to parse.... I tend to not do very well against him. He couldn't take me down, though, and he tried a LOT. We did end up rolling around on the ground some at the end, during which he is so much stronger that he just pinned me and hit me till I had to cry uncle.

I'm not sure if that was helpful for me or not at this point. It was nice to be able to work some Kung Fu, and it was nice to see JoE again... I hate to lose contact with all the other students in the group that were not part of the conflict. It did churn up my maudlin again some, though.... my mood is poor this afternoon. I may need to ask him to just not talk about class or people from class, since that's what was kind of hard to deal with.

Wednesday lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Seattle. Standing shoulder lock. Then: Opponent tries to double-leg you, you sprawl, crossface, go to the side (NOT the back), and clock choke. THis worked much better when I remembered to switch my hips once I was cranking back toward the head.... but if you switch your hips too soon, the guy can reverse you, so you have to really watch the balance points.

Then, opponent tried to grab your leg while you're at the side. Switch your feet to trap his arm, then you can try to armbar by lifting your rear leg up (this worked beautifully the first time I tried it; my flexibility played to that very well... then Bryan started turning his arm under so that I couldn't do it any more), or else summersault over the person and finish the clock choke (or another sub) from there.

I got to drill with Bryan, who was helpful with the pointers.

Positional training starting with the opponent on your back. I can defend the choke fine, but I can't remove Bryan's monkey-feet hooks to save my life.

A long roll with Z. I spent a great deal of time trying to choke him, and only succeeded once. He's always fun to roll with, though.

I had every intention of making an evening class today as well, but I'm feeling really physically tired for some reason (even after eating). I have to get up pre-dawn for work in the morning anyway, so I think I'm going to let it slide.

CC is talking again about me teaching him (and D) Hurricane Hands. I just do not feel very good about this... especially now that I don't have SK to check clarifications/questions/apps with.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


If anyone strikes my heart, it does not break, but it bursts, and the flame coming out of it becomes a torch on my path. Hazrat Inayat Khan

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Seattle.

Carlos makes us sweat Fridays, and this was no exception. After warmups, we did a shrimping, hip-switching drill involving putting a foot on the opponent's hip and then having him fling it off to the side, then we had to shrimp, re-orient, and put the opposite foot on the opposite hip. It was fine for a while, even though I was with a big guy who was throwing my legs with such force that my entire body was skidding about three feet to the side with every rep. After several minutes, though, hell set in. My upper abs are going to be aching in the morning.

More fast drills, lots of them. Then omoplatas from guard, with the opponent standing up in your guard. I said to the big guy, "You're about three inches too thick for me to close my guard around you!" "(laugh) I think you just called me FAT!" "I didn't say FAT, I said THICK!" I hate that because as soon as the guy stands up, I just slide helplessly down his legs. Just then Carlos came and took the THICK guy away from me and gave me Z instead.

Good spars with Z, Angus, and then Bryan. These were all really fun rolls.

Glenn ripped his pants to the point that they were half off. I commented, "And me without a few dollar bills to stick in your waistband." He exclaimed, "NO means NO!!!" Then JM ripped one of his pantlegs at the knee. Me: "If I'd known it was going to be Chippendales day, I would have made sure some of the other girls showed up."

Friday night no-gi at Sleeper.

Dead bugs- yeah, those upper abs again. Yow.

Guard passes- with the near knee in, with the far knee in, using cradle and backsit, getting rid of those pesky stray arms. Having lost weight since the school moved, I notice that being Cindy's demo dummy hurts even more- it's like bone on bone, and her bone is a lot harder than my bone!

Positional training from closed guard. Got tooled by Cindy and George. I tried hard to just keep working- but man, I was getting tired. Then I went with some new guy and after a while we stood up.... I didn't know that he was a judo guy. Ack! That did not go too well.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Freaky dream interlude

(Being in a) Hard Zone demands a cooperative world for you to function. - Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

I forgot this sweep from Thursday night, and I don't want to forget it, because I liked it:

Start on your back, with feet on kneeling opponent's hips (butterfly style), grip on both sleeve cuffs.

Hook top of rt foot around opponent's ribs just above your left foot.

With rt arm, underhook opponent's left knee. You are pulling yourself to hir, not hir to you. You want to be 90 degrees to hir now.

Rt hand keep grip on sleeve cuff and presses opponent's hand to your own left ribs. Don't open the knee too far out.

Pull sleeve and lift knee to get underneath opponent.

Another thing from last night I forgot to blog about- one of the guys was moaning about how rough Lindsey's warmups are. (hee hee). He said, "I'm coming in late next time!" The conversation was too far across the room for me to speak up and inform him that if he arrives late to Lindsey's class, he'll have to do pushups for so long that he'll be sorry he missed the warmup!

The FOD is the Northern Mantis Bo form.

As often occurs during very difficult periods in my life, last night I had an entire series of vivid, violent and bizarre dreams- after each one, waking up bug-eyed and disturbed.

In one of them, I was one of several escapees breaking out and fleeing some kind of military prison. As the sharpshooters picked off escapees, said gunned-down escapees turned into zombies who immediately attacked their fellow escapees (eyeroll). I and one other escapee made it to the front gate along with one of the zombies. I slipped between them and left my fellow escapee to deal with the zombie while I continued to rabbit for the horizon. When I woke up, I was disturbed because that is atypical behavior for me, even in a dream. True that both the fellow escapee and the zombie were adult men, and that guy probably had much better odds against the zombie than I did (especially since I was unarmed)I didn't know that guy or have any particular loyalty toward him, hanging around to try to help would probably result in getting shot and zombified myself even if we managed to take the zombie.... but still. Not characteristic for me, even in a dream. When I'm upset and depressed, I tend more toward an extra bit of the kamikazee- not running away like a bunny.

In another one, I was an office clerk in a prison (quite the prison theme going here; at least I was on the correct side of the bars this time), and an inmate was telling me and a fellow clerk that he'd had a premonition that my fellow clerk was going to be attacked and murdered in a spectacularly bloody fashion in one of the offices. (Complete with transferred visions; yeah, it was brutal- it was a tiny office, and it looked like the corpse had been stuffed in a blender with the lid off) For some inexplicable reason, I trusted this inmate enough to stand alone with him in a hallway (him unrestrained and me unarmed- I was just a clerk, not a guard), and thank him for doing this to protect my colleague. He didn't attack me, which I half expected him to. When I woke up, that one disturbed me because I had just been berating myself for trusting foolishly- why did I trust *that* guy? I guess I only have to worry about my close friends betraying me and stabbing me through the heart, not delusional prison inmates that I'm dumb enough to meet with unarmed in deserted hallways.

And no, before you ask, I wasn't on any intoxicants or pharmaceuticals at all last night, not even a Unisom- although I wished I'd taken one- hell, a handful- by the fifth or so espisode of this whacko dream series. The 5am wakeup was the limit of what I could bear; I just gave up and got out of bed then. Can hardly wait to see what's going to be playing on the mental big screen tonight. Going to bed these days feels like walking the Green Mile. I've been sleeping on the wood floor for a month, just to try to jog myself out of what feels like a sort of hostile territory- the mere thought of putting the mattress down makes me feel nauseous. I should be getting my camping equipment back in the next day or two... I'm going to set up the pup tent in the living room and try sleeping in there for a while to see if that's enough change of scenery to jog me out of this negative pattern. I will also be able to drape the tent with a blanket and try to get a little more darkness; the eyemask isn't getting the job done.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Wishbone

When we have worked hard and succeed at something, we should be allowed to smell the roses. They key is to recognize that the beauty of those roses lies in their transience. It is drifting away even as we inhale. We enjoy the win fully while taking a deep breath, then we exhale, note the lesson learned, and move onto the next adventure. –Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

Saturday FOD: Chen Dao.
Sunday FOD: Hurricane Hands.
Monday FOD: Frolic Of the Five Animals.
Tuesday FOD: Little Red Dragon. 123.5 pounds this morning... eep.
Wednesday did not exist due to shifting work/sleep patterns.
Thursday FOD: Leopard Fist. 122.5

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Bellevue. Double-leg drills, ankle pick drills (arrgh, more confusion as to which lapel to grab/which knee to kneel on/which ankle to pick. I wish I could tell my left from my right.) Failed armbar from guard transitioning into omoplata. (Note to "choke up" as far up on the arm as possible, as well as keeping a death grip on the wrist or sleeve cuff) Some positional training from closed guard, then one spar with Sonia and one with John. I got one tap on Sonia (armbar), but she made me sweat for it.

Evening BJJ at Gracie Bellevue. Pat told me to "leave all my problems at the door" (Or "leave them on the mat" or some such thing, I can't recall exactly how he phrased it, but he was trying to be supportive. Another nice hug from Rodrigo.

Armbar-from mount drills (note, make sure to get that knee up far enough- right behind their head- make 'em use it for a pillow), then the same setup only going for a collar choke. I got to drill with Angela, which was nice since she gave me some good feedback and pointers. Those collar chokes where you haul on the pantleg are killer... one of the things I hate about them is that you really have no free limb to tap with- and since you're being choked, it's not easy to verbally tap either!

I drew some vicious competition for sparring tonight- black belt Doug and purple belt Alisson. Doug showed me a handy way of tightening a choke, and also tweaked my (minimal) leglock ability. When you roll with Alisson, you tend to spend a goodly amount of time suspended in the air in hip-cracking Chinese splits. He loves X guard, as well as any sweep that involves making a wishbone out of your pelvis. Even knowing this going in, he still got me several times. Neither of them ever hurt me,'s so nice to have a chance to work with good training partners at that level.

Spurred by my re-reads of Julia Cameron- and my desire to keep my brain as busy as possible so as to stay distracted from less pleasant topics- I have started writing weblit. Well, it's not exactly weblit yet because I haven't posted it. But if I can keep at it (Mood is what the cow did; I read that somewhere in the last day or so and it cracked me up... but so true), once I get a big enough chunk, I'll create a blog for it. Still haven't decided if I'm going to connect it to my training blog, or invent yet another persona. There's already some BJJ in it, though. And staff fighting. ;-)

JoE e-mailed me to ask why I haven't been in class. Turns out he might be willing to get together with me and do some sparring and/or formwork from time to time, so that would be really good. God, I miss my Kung Fu class. So much. SK has not even SPOKEN to me for three weeks. Guess I shouldn't hold my breath waiting for him to ever do so again. That's really hurtful. That's COLD, after we've been friends for some five years and trained together 2-5 times every single week; I was his "senior student" (his words, not mine), and by *all* accounts I never did ANYTHING WRONG- aside from my mere EXISTANCE (well, sorry for that, guys)- in the mess that precipitated this situation. He really treated me like garbage here. I thought he was one of those people that one could trust to have one's back- Gods know *I'd* take a bullet for *him*- part of my anger is at myself for trusting him, and frustration that after being this close for this long, I still misjudged him to this degree. I mean, do we EVER learn? By this age I've been fucked over by enough people that I would have thought I could trust my instincts better to spot that sort of lack of integrity- the people who seem to be an integral part of each other's lives and yet are capable of quickly and easily discarding you for no good reason like a used styrofoam cup (You can't even recycle those), and never glancing back or losing a smidge of sleep over it.

It's plain now that he picked that argument- when he texted me and chewed me a new one for letting interpersonal crap interfere with class- in order to provide himself a platform to stomp off in a huff and just never speak to me again- thus relieving him of responsibility to hang in there and try to fix anything. Way to go. Real mature, dude. (Note to self, however... don't ever again get sucked into an argument via texting on a damn Tracfone. I kinda doubt it would have gone much better in person, but I'll always wonder.)

My stew of grief, confusion and anger is starting to congeal with a layer of pissed-offedness rising to the top like that oily layer of fat you get when you refrigerate your leftover stroganoff.

Friday, September 23, 2011


An attorney who in specializes in self-defense told me that of the 300 clients who said something to the police before talking to him, only two managed to NOT hurt their case. Those two didn't help their case, they just didn't hurt it any. If you are involved in a shooting, call the police, physically cooperate with them, but don't say anything except you want to call your attorney. --Greg Hamilton

Today's FOD is Bung Bo Kuen.

Besides the colleague who just got canned, one other is on jury duty for the next five weeks and an additional one is going on an extended medical leave. Getting to class is going to be an ever-increasing challenge for the rest of the year, especially with the weird hours and how crappy I've been sleeping. On the plus side- I'll be able to get my mondo car-repair bill paid off.

Friday no-gi at Sleeper. Side control escapes to take the back. Positional training from side control. I have to duck out before 8 on work nights, so I only got one free spar with Cindy and one with George (was so exhausted after Cindy that I could barely move with George).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This week

you don't stop fighting until the fight is over. You don't need to go down just because you have taken a few hits. As long as you believe you can keep going you will. If you do go down, you are still going to win because you are going to gnaw through his Achilles' tendon and bring him down to where you can rip his head off. -Greg Hamilton

Tuesday: FOD is Tiger Versus Crane.

Today I played with Frolic In the Mirror up to the "skipping Mantis" part.

When I began this "Mirror forms" project, I was viewing it as something that would keep me occupied in periods of not-getting-any-new-material for years to come. It is sobering to look at my forms list and realize that I can actually see the ceiling. After Frolic, Wood Monkey is really the only form that it makes decent sense to work off the opposite side.

I guess I could work the two two-person Snake forms- Kiu Two and Snake Versus Five- off the opposite side, but no one will ever be able to do them with me! All the other forms- including the Tai Chi forms- are encyclopedic enough that they are already doing all the techniques off both sides within the original form.

Wednesday: FOD is the White Crane Walking the Path fragment.

Thursday: The FOD is the Tai Chi short form.

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Bellevue. The thought of food was disgusting, but- remembering how exhausted I got and how poorly I performed after not eating before class- I made myself eat protein and carbs.

Armbar from mount drills (Miriam had us folding up the leg closest to the head to remount; this was new and sort of awkward for me), double-leg drills, some back-and-forth "pick your own takedown", positional training from front mount and from closed guard.

Still too tired to want to do open mat; but it didn't matter today since everyone scattered anyway.

Having a lot of trouble gearing up enough to make a decent effort. I just can't make myself give a crap about much of anything right now.

Kung fu over at CC's with CC and D. Mostly one- and two-step sparring. D is definitely assuming an assistant instructor role instead of fellow student.

Like CC, he complains if I hit even medium-soft.... it's so difficult for me to remember to go that light after five years of going medium-hard in SK's class. Even when I start out being really light and careful, as soon as we speed up a bit, I forget. I got reprimanded numerous times. Sigh.

They want me to try to go for a more varied range of targets; as I tend to stick mostly to head and neck. Again, old habits die hard. Especially when the opponents are a lot bigger and have thick torsos, I just have a hard time feeling confident with rib attacks and such. (Without thinking, I protested, "But *that's* the soft part!" indicating D's head. Oops.)

Also caught myself referring to SK as "my teacher" and that group as "we" a few times, even though I have a terrible dread that neither of those will ever be true again.