Tuesday, May 31, 2011

BJJ on a wood floor.....

....it looks a lot like this (see pic), only over one's entire body.

Archery is, therefore, not practiced solely for hitting the target; the swordsman does not wield the sword just fort he sake of outdoing his opponent; the dancer does not dance just to perform certain rhythmical movements of the body. The mind has first to be attuned to the Unconscious. –D. T. Suzuki

Saturday's Form Of the day was the Tai chi long open-hands form, for the third time. I was finally able to get through the whole thing. Need to transcribe that one. Sunday's form was Five Animals. I feel mostly okay about that form. Today's form is Leopard Fist. I was at work alone half the night and it was very slow, so I was able to do two reps of that one as well as two reps of six or eight other forms.

SK and I had planned to go to Cindy's lunchtime class today, but I found out last night that Cindy has dropped the lunchtime classes again- argh! Probably because enough people weren't showing up, but the only reason I haven't been there was because of my dead finger.

Normally I would have suggested we roll outside in the grass instead, but it was raining, so my next option was to repair to my (non-MA) gym. Problem is, they don't have mats there. Not that this would necessarily stop us. We are defense-oriented martial artists, and as RS would probably say- "You never know when you may have to grapple someone on a wood floor,"

Gi's seemed more practical than no-gi. Grappling on the wooden floor turned out to not be quite as painful as I'd feared (although we got plenty of bruises); the real problem was the SLIDING, the lack of purchase for me on the bottom- trying to scramble into turtle or anything else on my knees was like Bambi on ice.

We even began from standing (cuz we're just suicidal that way).

SK was frustated because he couldn't sub me at all today, and asked if I'd been taking it easy on him Sunday. I said no, that he just had a small bag of good tricks, and on Sunday I got refreshed on what they are- so today I was ready to avoid/defend them. He's not doing anything wrong- in fact he rolls really well for a two-stripe white belt- he just doesn't have enough technique to do more, and it is frustrating to him. He complained that every single thing he tried, he seemed to be doing it correctly, yet I had a counter to it. I said, "Well, yeah, that's what it's all about when you're rolling with a higher belt."

We rolled for two hours straight, then had ice cream.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


A man who knows that body and spirit are part of each other doesn’t need anyone to remind him that he is alive, nor does he have any reason to upset the ecological balance. Only the sky above his head and the earth under his feet. His body is the only home. It is the only thing that never abandons him, the only one that truly belongs to him. Such an individual is a threat to every form of established authority. A wolf that can’t be tamed. He is not under anyone’s orders and doesn’t accept dogmas because he already has within himself everything he needs to face life. When streams of power flow in the veins of your body, dependency on external factors is reduced to a minimum. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Today's Form Of the Day is the Tai Chi long open-hands form, yet again. I had prolly 96% of it by bedtime last night; I'm going to rep it again as soon as I finish this. Getting kinda tired of this one, so I hope I can get through the whole thing and feel decent enough about it to go on to something else. This is one long-ass form. Even doing it in "micro-fu" fashion, one rep takes an eon.

Spent all day today cleaning out the storage closet (no, I didn't get it all done- but I got a lot done). I was savagely attacked by a shelf. I caught it with my head, and then it knocked over its buddy which I caught with my shoulder. I didn't even get a counterstrike off. This is why you should just never do housework. It is too dangerous.

I should have taken a break before kung fu, because by the time I got there, I was tired and had a little headache and wasn't really in the mood to focus. Luckily I was able to suck it up and get down to business, and actually ended up having a very, very productive class.

It was just SK, JM and me. SK wanted to start with sparring, so we did a few rounds of BJJ, starting from standup no less. JM gave me quite a challenge, which is a little discouraging since she hasn't trained in a year- but I was able to tap her a couple times and she didn't tap me (came close with a ezekiel once). She has been doing pilates, and it is apparent in her core strength and also her legs (both of which very very muscular and strong to begin with, now moreso). Had a bitch of a time trying to get out of her closed guard (moreso because we weren't wearing gi's). I am down to 125.5, and it is making a noticable difference (not a good one).

I am vexed to still be getting tapped by SK, altho it wasn't what I would call a rout. He hasn't trained in six or eight months either, but I'm taking him back to Cindy's on Tuesday and am going to make a more concerted effort to try to drag him in there at least once in a while (even if I have to bribe him by paying his mat fee). As soon as he's back in practice, he'll be creaming me again, I'm sure. It's slightly comforting that most of the subs he's getting are kung fu joint locks instead of common BJJ locks (altho a lock is a lock, it can be argued). I'm not sure whether it's a good or bad thing that he chose to wristlock the OPPOSITE wrist from the one that Carlos jobbed last summer- now they both twinge.

They both managed to take me down once, but I resisted many many more attempts, and am reasonably pleased with my takedown defense tonight. I am less pleased with my own (pretty nonexistant) takedown efforts.

After BJJ, we worked on Spear Hand. Corrections for me:

Make sure that with the deep lunge, the arms are straight BEFORE you go down- left arm lower. Do not bend at the waist.

The parry as you come up is NOT with a straight arm. It must be bent at the elbow.

The knife hand is supposed to be a willow palm. Well, we are not exactly sure what it's supposed to be, but it's either a knife hand or a palm-heel... so if we're doing willow palm, that kinda covers all bases.

After the wrist release, the left arm covers the chest and fists under the right armpit- do not chamber. Then for the next movement, you can brush that left hand directly up the right arm and under the right wrist.

For the pull-apart immediately following that, the right elbow is bent and fist is at waist, not as low or as far back as I have been doing. The hammer fist immediately after that is not as large a motion as I have been using. The power is all in the hip twist, not the arm swing.

For the hop and upward-press-block with push, come straight into that without taking time to chamber the arms first. The power is in the hop forward, not the arm chambering.

Next piece: Arrrgh, this spastic Northern Mantis crap...

Circle rt fist in towards your own ribs and then roundhouse punch towards north at chest level. The elbow is bent.
At the same time, left hand hooks outward and the left arm circles out and them comes in to meet the right hand. Grab right lower arm with left hand (slap).

Left hand hooks downward and out in a large circular motion. Right hand circles upward and out in a large circular motion, with an uppercutting fist. They are both moving clockwise, opposite each other. They meet at chest level, right hand fisted (palm up), left hand grabs lower right arm (slap). (This arm motion is similar to the one near the end of Bung Bo Kuen) At the same time, violent hip-twist to east, land in hill-climbing stance with left foot forward.

(SK mentioned that I do not need to have my toe turned in quite as much as I was doing, and I responded to that by turning the toe in even more until the foot was almost pointing backward- just because I can, and it amuses me to see him cringe.)

Turn rt palm over, advance left hand a bit and turn palm up, as if you are locking an opponent's elbow. Pull both hands down toward your rt hip as you shovel kick forward with the right foot. Your torso is actually leaning a bit BACK as you do this.

Turn abruptly north into hill climbing stance (left foot fwd) as rt leg shoots out behind (do not chamber the leg first). Slap rt elbow very forcefully into left palm. You can be bent over a bit at the waist as you do this.

As if this wasn't enough to cause my brain Death By Mantis, we went on to rep the little Mantisy thing that we'd learned on Thursday. Corrections for me:

At the beginning, step back into horse with the left foot.

Make sure at the end to have the left elbow bent in front of chest and the right arm *NOT* too far thrown behind.

SK had me work this sequence against the heavy bag to practice using the hip shifts to power the strikes, and also to get the punch and kick in the second movement landing simultaneously.

By then it was a half hour to class end, and SK wanted to do *MORE* sparring. This time kung fu sparring (BJJ could also happen, but you had to remember that strikes/kicks/illegal moves were valid).

I am surprised and pleased that I was able to maintain such good focus through this class fulla hard work, and somehow carry that focus into what turned out to be one of my better sessions of sparring.

He tried to take me down about a zillion times, but I felt very solidly rooted to the floor and could feel my center of gravity well under his. He could barely budge me. I was doing fairly well at "soft-focussing" my vision at his chest area. I was able to step on and pin his foot several times without looking down. I did get sucked into chasing flurries of Snake strikes a few times, but as soon as I noticed this, I backed off and refocussed. He wholloped me with several of those even so... he likes to bitch-slap you upside the head and on the cheeks when he does this, and it's humiliating and infuriating... but I refrained from getting pissed off and thus more aggressive and sloppier.

He also nailed me repeatedly with big circular kicks- crescents and sweeps. It was obvious that his Adderall had worn off, and he was getting pretty spastically animated- throwing out all sorts of Capoeira moves and weird Monkey techniques. I was chiding myself for blocking kicks with my hands again- this is a terrible habit of mine.

I seemed to be doing fairly well at fighting on the centerline, keeping my guard up, and picking the right times to lunge in. I was stringing together some attack sequences to keep pressing in on him- not quite as well as I would have liked to be, but markedly better than I usually manage. Doing decent at parrying/blocking incoming strikes (yeah, I was eating some, but I successfully defended a much greater percentage).

He remarked that I'm "getting a lot better that this." Boo-yah.

Very productive class- lots of hard Mantis work bracketed by two heavily-sweaty sparring sessions. Very tired now.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


People talk much about ecology and the need to slow down the crisis of the global ecosystem, but there can be no solution to the problems of nature unless we can find nature within. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Today's Form Of the Day is the Tai Chi long open-hands form- again. I discovered that I do *not* have video on this one, and when I went through it last night, there were a few blank spots.

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Seattle. It was promotions/pictures day, so we spent a lot of time standing in a line clapping, and then some positional training and open mat.

JB got a stripe! Bryan got promoted to brown, and Peter got promoted to purple. Cornelia, Bianca- heck, almost everybody got a stripe, including me. I knew it was close to time, but I wasn't really expecting one since I've spent so much of the last six months on the bench with one injury after another.

Pass guard vs sweep with JB, then the black belt from Ballard whose name I didn't catch (he told me that I have good base!). Then a roll with Bianca and one with Cornelia. My finger got pretty smooshed with Bianca, since I kept having to stick my fingers in my own collar to defend her gi chokes. She didn't get a tap on me, though, which I consider to be a good showing (especially with an injured dominant hand). Cornelia did get a tap, but it took a long time. We must have rolled for fifteen or twenty minutes straight. She was on top more than I was, but it wasn't a rout. At last I stuck an arm out too far, and she armbarred me.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Guillotines and headlocks

Turn your body into a temple and nature starts talking to you. It brings you back to a wilder, more authentic state. Nature is not just a name to identify what we have not yet covered with concrete and asphalt. It is life lives without fear, without sense of guilt; life not enslaved by the artificial rules of a society which has lost it center. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Today's Form Of the Day is the Tai Chi open-hands long form. Haven't done it yet, but I'll get in a rep before bed. I did get in a few reps of that Mantis thing from yesterday.

127.0 this morning wearing no-gi outfit.

Friday evening BJJ at Cindy's. Only the die-hards there on Memorial Day weekend Friday: me, Leilani, Lamont and George. We worked on triangle drills. Always a good one for me. Maybe after eight or ten years of triangle drills, I'll be able to pull them off! We also drilled a way to take the back starting from guard.

Rolls with Leilani and George. I still have to favor my right hand- and ask them to not grab it- but I can kinda function now. I am having to do some different things- for instance, the first thing I usually do at the start is to grab a deep cross-collar grip with my right hand. Since that hurts right now, I have to find other things to do. Might be a good way out of a rut.

I repeatedly tried guillotines and headlocks on George, but couldn't finish any. A couple of times, though, he made weird noises- and I thought he was about to tap. Once I asked him if he was okay, because it seemed like he was about to go out. No luck. Cindy didn't like all my headlocking, since she said it made it too easy for George to go to my back.

It's so nice to be able to roll some, even if it's light rolling. I've really missed it.

All Mantissed out

When human beings lose their connection to nature, to heaven and earth, then they do not know how to nurture their environment or how to rule their world- which is saying the same thing. Human beings destroy their ecology at the same time that they destroy one another. From that perspective, healing our society goes hand in hand with healing our personal, elemental connection with the phenomenal world. –Chogyam Trungpa, Shambala: the Sacred Path Of the Warrior”

Today's Form Of the Day is the White Crane Walking the Path fragment.

Did a three-and-a-half-hour stroll on the Bridle Trails trails... not exactly difficult exercise, but exercise nonetheless. I was down to 125.5 this morning. I'm not actively trying to lose more weight right now, but I've just been too busy to cook or eat, so I have grabbed a Slimfast in place of a meal a number of times this week. I wouldn't mind coasting right down to 124, if this trend keeps up- but I probably don't want to let myself get any lighter than that.

Thursday kung fu. We did some Three Step Arrow. I need to work on making my stance more square-shaped and not so long/linear. I also need to fully extend strikes. During the press-blocks sequence, the hands roll with palms toward you between each transition.

Spear Hand. Don't be quite so circular with the initial arm movements. For the deep lunge, arms straighten and THEN let the lunge drop to the floor. No bending at the waist.

In response to my recent complaints that Bung Bo Kuen and Spear Hand have such differing flows that I now feel like I don't grok Northern Mantis, SK gave us a short sequence that really helped bring together the reboundy bounce of Bung Bo Kuen and the hip-turning torque focus of Spear Hand. I think this is cribbed from a later part of the Spear Hand form.

Stand straight facing east, feet together, hands chambered.

Turn north and step left foot out into a north-facing horse. With violent hip switch, bring rt elbow fwd into left hand at shoulder level.

Look east, right hand rotates overtop in a hammer fist at chest level, continues rotation downward and toward chest, then shoots outward from chest to punch east, while left hand slaps inside of rt wrist. Feet switch with violent hip shift to front stance facing east, left foot forward (toe turned in).

Curl left hand under rt wrist in hooking motion, bring both arms down to hips with a pull-apart motion.
Then immediately circle back up (close to body, don't throw them out wide) and right punch straight fwd, left palm slaps inside of right albow as you twist hips hard into seven stars stance (rt foot fwd)

Hop forward into horse stance facing south, Hooking with right hand, then pull both arms violently across body at shoulder level, ending with left bent in front of chest and right straight at right side, horizontal.

Geez, I'm glad I transcribed that tonight... I'm tired and almost blew it off, but I had a hard time piecing it back together... by morning it woulda been gone!

We ended with some reps of Kiu Two (at my request). I was embarrassed at how rusty this has gotten, but it did come back with a little work. I did several reps with Nemesis. We had to try a number of times before the strike sequences solidified, but we did get it.

SK keeps bugging me about the Tiger drill homework. I had said that I really needed someone to stand there and just throw strikes at me so I could improvise- and I do need that- but he keeps offering me the services of fellow students to do that, and I guess what I really want is some non-kung-fu person who doesn't understand what I'm doing and won't be critical- will just stand there meekly and be clawed. I begged off this time, pleading that my brain was in knots from being Mantissed half to death- but I won't be able to dodge this much longer. Maybe I can use the heavy bag to try to get some idea of what I want to do.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Perhaps even more than the dogma of scientific philosophies, the gloomy ghost of many different religious doctrines planted the seeds for the rejection of the body. Doctrines of renunciation according to which life is a sin to be amended. Doctrines born out of the fear to be truly alive. In their eyes, the Earth is nothing but a vale of tears, a place of suffering, nothing more than an obligatory stop on the way to reach better destinations. The body is a heavy burden pinning us to the ground, an obstacle on the way to Heaven. Not only are body and soul not in harmony, they are antithetical principles at war with each other.
-Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Yesterday's Form Of the Day was the Three Step Arrow fragment. Today's Form Of the Day is Five Points Of the Star. Several reps of both (no rolling on the ground for Five Points, as I was doing it at work), plus a few reps of Hurricane Hands, Silken Needle, and Spear Hand. Bit of trouble with the sequencing of Silken Needle. Need to remember that there are THREE dips, not just two, and then the pushes to the sides go 2 hand, 2 hands, one hand. Then the elbow strikes. I keep wanting to throw in some extra reps of techniques. I also found time to add a few paragraphs to my incomplete notes for Five Points.

Evening BJJ at Gracie Seattle. Took me two hours to get there, so I was 30 min late and missed all but one of the drills. Guard pass, grabbing the insides of the pants at the knees and pushing one leg to the ground, putting the other on your shoulder, and circling toward the DOWNWARD leg (a bit counterintuitive).

Rolls with JB and Ian. I tried setting up triangles on JB twice. I didn't really expect to finish them- and I didn't- but just looking for them and trying to set them up is a step forward.

I was pretty happy with my work against Ian, altho he was kind enough go light on me due to my broken finger. I was on top a lot, got a lot of side control, mount, KOB. I set up a bunch of chokes, some of which seemed like they should get a tap, but only one did (an RNC, and I had to crank on it for a long time). Gi chokes are difficult with the bad finger. I had to favor the finger, but I'm happy to be able to roll at all.

The skin is starting to peel all off the thing, just like the index finger did... ick.

Monday, May 23, 2011



Form Of the Day: Hurricane Hands

I did a little Hurricane Hands this morning, and I had also done a couple reps last night, making sure to add in all the lost bits.

2 hours at the (non-MA) gym for formwork- mostly Mantis and Dragon. Bung Bo Kuen, Southern Mantis, Three Step Arrow, Spear Hand, Dragon Plants the Seed, Little Red Dagon, Touch Bridge, Box Form. Also Hurricane Hands, Catherine Dao, Chen Dao, Jian form, Tai Chi short open-hands form. Dao form seems okay now; Jian form took a couple reps to put all the pieces back together, but I think it's okay.

I did each form four or five times, facing a different direction each time- to avoid, as Jodi wrote about once, getting reliant of visual cues.

I know that some people (BJJ folks in particular) are contemptuous about formwork, but I almost always leave a session feeling that it was time well spent physically, mentally and spiritually. The real challenge- as Ginger and I have been recently commiserating- is getting one's butt into the practice space and getting started.

I feel good enough about Hurricane Hands at this point that I'm going to print out a form list and start cycling through Forms Of the Day.

Evening BJJ at Gracie Bellevue.

Carlos was raving about JB's hip throw in the no-gi competition! He was impressed!

We drilled a hip throw, a guard pass for when the opponent has put one foot in spider guard, and a different guard pass ending in a KOB, then to side control.

I had a few painful moments with the injured finger. In particular the throws, my partner kept clamping that hand in his armpit as he went down. I think it may have been a little too soon to go back to BJJ. It also depends on what exactly we're doing, though.

Carlos blew me a kiss on my way out. He's so funny. Even funnier hopped upon Vicodin. He looks less like a chipmunk today, but you can still see the swelling in his face.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Black Dragon, Northern Mantis

Today many people spend eight hours a day sitting before a computer or behind a desk, forcing their bodies to an unnatural stasis. Overworked minds, inert bodies. Depending increasing more on an immaterial form of technology, we confine the body to a subordinate position. We grow detached from it. We forget its magic. We forget its power. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

The Form Of the Day is Hurricane Hands. I ran through the parts I know a few times in the morning and also after work.

Sunday kung fu.

We worked on some Black Dragon stances, walking forward and backward. Then using the same movements to do a simple parry and counter. The Black Dragon doesn't feel very natural to me. I have to really focus to get the hands right, and I have to really focus to get the feet right, and I can't focus on both at once. It gets even harder to focus with a live opponent. Worked with JM first.... it took her a little bit to get in the groove, but once she did, it felt as solid as all of her Dragon feels. She is *so* a Dragon practitioner, she just might not know it. Then I switched to Nemesis, and the hand that I had been using to slide up JM's arm to her neck just slid up Nemesis's arm and kept on sliding up, and sliding up, and sliding up. I had to switch to a reap, and I wasn't very happy with that app either.

We did some Dragon Plants the Seed, which I knew but was new to the other students. A couple of run-throughs of the Spear Hand piece. I have practiced this quite a bit, but everybody else is still pretty bobbly on it, so we didn't get a new piece. SK used "Northern Mantis" to describe this form at one point, and I said, "Wait a sec, I thought this was SOUTHERN Mantis." Nope. Okay, now I'm confused, because the flow and energy of this is NOTHING like Bung Bo Kuen. I've spent so long trying to pound the bizarre energy and flow of Bung Bo Kuen into my head- and having various other people trying to pound it into my head- and I feel like I've kind of got a handle on it now, and had the mindset "this is what Souther Mantis is about" but this is TOTALLY different. Spear Hand is not about the bouncy reboundy thing, it's all about violent hip twists and the energy generated with same. We did the form one piece at a time, focussing on how every single strike came from the hips.

Some of the slow structured sparring. I was reluctant to try this with my injury, but got talked into doing it as long it was reeeeeeeeeally slow and controlled. JB was up first, and thought that she was going to be sparring SK, butt hen SK put me up instead. JB was relieved, and said to SK, "You're scarier." I propped my hands on my hips and gave her an acid glare. Everyone cracked up, and she apologized and gave me a hug. I said threateningly, "Now I'm going to make you pay."

It went fine, though. Once, she knocked me down and then jumped on top in front mount- everyone counted "One... two.... three....." Then later I did the same to her.

At first JB said that she'd never want to do a tournament again, but tonight she was already weakening. She's still going to be in town for the August one.

SK was kind enough to stay for an extra 20 min and go through Hurricane Hands with me. There was an embarrassing number of small bits that had fallen through the cracks, but I took notes on them and I'm pretty sure I've got it all straight now. I'm going to have it be the Form Of the Day for at least one more day, though.

Revolution 5/11

I would have made weight if I'd been competing- 127.5 Saturday morning (and Sunday morning too).

Form of the Day Saturday- Hurricane Hands. I ran through what I could remember a couple of times in the morning and also in the evening, and retrieved about three quarters of it. There are still three blank spots. I searched everywhere for my notes. No luck. Same Form Of the Day today. I repped it a few times this morning. I sent SK an e-mail to see if he could come to class 10 min earlier tonight and go through it with me.

Revolution: The site was different this time... much smaller, and in that way less intimidating-seeming. The no-gi turnout in particular- both competitors and spectators- seemed a lot fewer people than my two previous Revolutions. Since my busted finger and I were not competing, I was wearing a dress, and it was amusing to see how many people didn't recognize me wearing something other than baggy white pajamas. Carlos and I passed within a handspan of each other in the hallway. Cindy was standing right behind me in the bathroom line. Lamont was talking to JB sitting on her right while I was sitting on JB's left. None of them recognized me.

Cornelia and handful of other female blue belts were competing, and I think they combined them all into one bracket (Cornelia got gold- yay!), but there was a grand total of two women signed up for no-gi (both in beginner). So if I hadn't scratched, I probably wouldn't have had anyone to fight in no-gi. Alecia had decided to not compete, or I would have had to fight HER for sure!

I think I was more nervous waiting for JB to compete than I have been waiting to compete myself. My stomach was all acidy.

JB won her first fight by running the time out with 2 points up (for guard pass). The girl kept holding JB in her guard and trying to triangle her, whereupon JB did the same thing she always does to me- heavy stack followed by (eventually) pass to side control. I was taping it for her, and I think the vid is going to be jumping up and down when she passed guard and then spinning all over the place (with screaming) when the beanbag came in. I was so excited that I shut it off before taping the rep holding her arm up, and I was kicking myself for that later.

Her next fight was a muscular and slightly shorter girl. They fought standup for the entire match. The other woman was using a ton of energy flailing around trying to yank JB down, but with poor technique. She wouldn't come close enough, and her balance was terrible. I know that these sorts of things are a lot easier to see while you're sitting on the sidelines, but when I saw that girl almost knock HERSELF over with a lapel yank, I had to shriek, "JB YOU CAN TAKE THIS GIRL DOWN!!!!!!" Rodrigo turned around and snarled at me because he didn't agree with my advice. I'm embarrassed and regretful that I irritated Rodrigo- I should have kept my coaching advice to myself, and next time I will- but I still think I was right. I have spent 5 years being taken down by JB in kung fu, and I know she had the ability to take that woman down. It was obvious that the woman was getting really tired. The problem was, so was JB. They were both holding onto each other and staggering around like a couple of drunks, puffing heavily. Finally the beanbag arrived. They got another minute, and unfortunately the opponent got a takedown and landed in top side control, so JB ended up losing by 2 points in overtime. JB looked like a limp dishrag lying on the mat. A bunch of people surrounded them, and then somebody turned to me and mimed puffing an inhaler. My heart sank, because I had already chewed JB out for failing to bring an inhaler. I yelled back, "She doesn't have one!" Much scurrying, and finally an inhaler full of God-Knows-What bearing the lip-prints of God-knows-whom emerged from the crowd.

I know JB was disappointed in her performance against that opponent, but I know she would have squished her if she's been able to breathe adequately, and not gotten so exhausted (partially due to not being able to breathe adequately). Anyway, I am always happy to see people (especially women) fight for the takedown instead of somebody just pulling guard.

Jim got silver- I saw one of his winning fights. I don't think Marc placed, but I saw one of his losing fights wherein he had what seemed like a really nice triangle for much of the match, but couldn't finish it. I talked to him after, and he was frustrated, because he said that's the same thing that happened to him in his last tournament. Peter got gold, and tapped one of his opponents in 39 seconds (he didn't end up getting the "Vicious Submission" prize, but was in the running till somebody else got a 29-second armbar). John lost both his fights because he kept getting swept. I saw Alex kill some guy 13 to zero. I didn't see the results for the kids, but I'm fairly sure E-man steamrollered the competition as usual.

There was only one other woman registered in no-gi, and we were worried that she might be a lot heavier. Luckily, she didn't look huge (although her thighs were really muscular). They fought for the takedown for a while- the opponent was hauling down on JB's neck, but didn't seem to have anything to do from there. Carlos: "YOU control the neck! YOU control the neck, not her!!" I was so excited when JB got a beauteous throw and two points. But then some squeezing and oxygen deprivation occurred, and JB had to tap. After that she could barely breathe for several minutes. She really, really did not want to scratch the second match, but since breathing is kind of important while you're trying to fight someone, she decided she had to. It would have been really embarrassing to have the ambulance come and everything.

JB ended up with silver for gi and silver for no-gi, and she earned team trophy points for both of her schools, so that was pretty good for a first tournament!

Alex didn't make weight for no-gi.... one pound over. I said, "Don't you want to go out and run some laps around the school building?" "I already did that." "Can you go pee?" "I already did THAT three times." Bummer. The next time I saw him, he was stuffing his face with pizza!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Action Plan: nose meets grindstone

Like a martial artist who has developed an exceptional technique, but who doesn’t have the wisdom to know when to use it, Western culture has in its hands the technological potential to turn the planet into a paradise, but has no clue as to how to enjoy it. Rather than being used as a means to enrich our daily lives, the evermore sophisticated technological inventions become a way to take us further away from our bodies and our nature. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Well, that was a sobering practice session. Okay, that was a HORRIFYING practice session. Like, Psycho-shower-scene-horrifying.

I spent one and three quarters hours at the (non-MA) gym tonight. I only managed to rouse myself to haul my ass in there because I made a threatening deal with Ginger. I haven't been there since- I can't even remember. (Mildly amusing to see that they still haven't fixed the broken knob on the water fountain). It was a sunny, gorgeous Friday late afternoon, and the place was quite empty.

I started with many of the forms I had worked on yesterday and had issues with. Before going to the gym I plumbed my online notes and printed out any that I had on those particular forms. I also wanted to visit some of the forms that I felt would probably be the dustiest ones.

Neither the bo nor the dao grips were being very pleasant on my broken finger, so I told myself I'd minimize the quantity of that work (famous last words).

Starting with the bo. Spent some time just doing basic movements with it and getting re-acclimated. Frustrated to find that the double hand switching drill just would not come back to memory even though I spent quite a long time trying to puzzle it out. A lot of other techniques came back promptly, though, including the turning-180-while-spinning-the-staff thing that gave me such fits (last summer? It couldn't have been the summer before...?).

Northern Mantis Bo Form. Good to see that it had only a couple of minor bobbles. I did it five or six times.

The bit of Southern Mantis form that I got from JoE. I had to reconstruct it laboriously from my (thankfully reasonably complete) notes. I need to go over it with JoE and make sure I have all the little details correct, but it's reasonably okay.

Leopard At Dawn. Moderate reconstruction to get that one back.

Chunk of the Snake Dao form. High-moderate reconstruction, but I got it now.

I thought I'd touch briefly on Catherine Dao before putting the dao away, and was relieved to get through the first rep with only a couple of minor bobbles. Then I tried to do it again, and it fell to bits. I wasn't expecting much from my first run-though, because it wouldn't have surprised me to have it be very hazy... I guess in that torpid mental state, it floated up just fine from the subconscious, but as soon as I started *thinking* about it, it slipped away. I shoulda just let it lie and come back to it later, but I got stubbornly frustrated and ended up working on it for some time. At last it was MOSTLY okay and I decided to let it go for now. One thing I was happy about; that weird ending that I have struggled with so badly for so long came back right away.

I thought I'd touch briefly on Chen Dao before putting the dao away (you'd think I'd have learned my lesson) and was very troubled to fish up the opening sequence after a couple minutes but only brief flashes of anything else. Yeah, it's been a long time since I practiced it, but I must have logged HUNDREDS of reps of this form once upon a time. I had assumed it was hardwired in there somewhere. Heck. Again I got stubbornly frustrated and wrestled with it for a long time. I reformed a few random chunks, from which I tried to build on- often if I can grope a chunk or few out of the ether, and get my brain to go on autopilot while I rep them, more will come flowing out. These chunks felt distressingly foreign. I then realized that they were chunks from the jian form. No wonder. At last I had to give up. I cringe to think how disappointed CK would be if she knew I've let Tai Chi forms get this bad.

Wood Monkey. Some reconstruction; I reformed most of it with a couple of dim areas.

Hurricane Hands- OMG. I was able to do the beginning sequence, then added the intro which I had forgotten the first time, then I blanked out completely. After much struggle I was able to build the end portion. The middle just wouldn't come, try as I might. It upset me. A lot. I know I haven't been sleeping well (which lends itself to blonde moments), and I've neglected my forms, and we don't have the regular in-class time to work on them any more, but it really has not been that long since I busted my butt on this form and I can't believe I'm losing it. Seriously, do I have brain damage? Early Alzheimer's? I was able to resurrect SILKEN NEEDLE- which I regarded much more casually, neglected for much longer and did not work on even 1/10 as much as I did Hurricane Hands- but not this? I'd drink a gallon of battery acid before I'd face SK and tell him that I have forgotten Hurricane Hands. Reclaiming this one- along with the Tai Chi forms- are going on my priority list slightly below "breathing". Maybe above it. Please God, let me have notes somewhere.

I was so upset by my epic failure with HH that I had to quit and go home.

As soon as I got home, the first thing I did was to dig up the very earliest postings on my training blog (On the Jiu Jitsu Forums site, where I started it first) and start to comb it for bits of form notes. I scanned about two months' worth before getting frustrated. Nowadays I make sure to descriptively notate new chunks of forms I'm learning (and if I'm being really good, also copy/paste them to my online technique logbook). I was vexed to see that back when I started the training blog, I was not nearly so thorough about describing technique. Gonna search for paper notes later tonight. If I can't find any, I don't know what I'm gonna do.

The second thing I did was to look for my video file of CK doing Tai Chi forms. I have all the Tai Chi forms in there with the exception of the long open-hands form. I have Catherine Dao as well (which may not exactly be classifiable as "Tai Chi"). I pulled up Chen Dao and used the vid to reconstruct the form.

Dammit. I have let this happen so many times, and every time I do it, I swear I'm never gonna do it again. Well, this time I am REALLY REALLY REALLY NEVER GONNA DO IT AGAIN!!!!!! Concrete Action Plan time.

Action plan:

1) Form Of The Day. Starting tomorrow, every single day is going to have a Form Of the Day. I must do- at bare minimum- a micro-fu version of the Form Of the Day at least once. No excuses, no exceptions. If I feel reasonably good about it and there aren't any memory holes, that's all I'm going to insist on. More work, reps, note-taking, mental reps, whatever- is desireable, as time and circumstances may allow. I often picture MA techniques while I'm sitting in traffic, practice bits of whatever we're working on in Sunday class while I'm waiting for the microwave to finish my dinner, write notes during idle moments at work. Those odd moments throughout the day will now be primarily foccused on the Form Of the Day. I am also going to make more of a conscious effort to harness random niblets of unproductive time to squeeze in a couple more of these little micro-practices- or at least micro-musings. (I'm going to include the random unfinished form "chunks" as well as completed forms in this list... but not drills or anything else, for now.)

I'm posting a form list on the bathroom wall, so that as soon as I'm upright, I will know what my Form Of the Day is. As soon as I get through one circuit of the list, I'll make a new list comprised of just the weaker ones. Wash, rinse, repeat till I know all of my forms again. Therafter, I'll replace the list with two jars of labelled tokens or something, so as to make sure I regularly cycle through all the forms but in random order. If some seem to need a greater commitment of ongoing attention, they can have more than one token in the jar- or I can decide at the end of the day to toss that day's token back into the "working" jar instead of the "done" jar.

Reassess this plan in three months. That's August 20. If I can see earlier that it's not getting the job done, reassessment can happen at any time.

The Form Of the Day tomorrow is Hurricane Hands. If I am unable to do a complete rep of this form by bedtime tomorrow, The Form Of the Day on Sunday will be Hurricane Hands. And the next day, and the next, until I can do it. At which point I will begin the bathroom-wall list.

2)Look for notes on Hurricane Hands. If I can't find any, I know there have got to be a few random hints in my training blog, altho it would take an eon to ferret them out. Rebuild Hurricane Hands and Tai Chi forms.

3)I honestly cannot afford to consider buying any electronics in the foreseeable future, but if/when any opportunity presents itself to obtain the means to create, store and easily retrieve video of myself doing forms to keep as a permanent resource, I need to commit to that. I loathe being on film, and I have long assumed that really good detailed notes were sufficient (better, even, because I retain stuff better when I've written it down- hence how much this training blog helps me). Yet I saw today that even my most anal-retentive notes- when I have them at all- are leaving me with the odd foggy detail. Furthermore, I was genuinely intrigued by SK's suggestion that I experiment with regular form-videotaping as a way to try to observe progress. It would help me so much if I could find a way to really see and appreciate progress. I will ask my geek housemate about equipment. Geeks are helpful in that way. Not only do they know exactly what you need for your purpose, they often have (or know someone who has) used equipment you may be able to snap up cheaper- since true geeks are constantly upgrading to better equipment! (Every electronic I own is a hand-me-down.)

There may well be additional Action Plan after I have time to mull it over.

An "acceptable amount"

Five senses working together give birth to the sixth. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Lunchtime BJJ at Cindy's. The first drill was an escape from top half guard that I was quite intrigued by, but it involved gable-gripping under a prone opponent's thighs, and I knew I couldn't do that drill with my injury. Lamont mentioned being less than 100% right now himself, so he asked me if there was anything I wanted to work on. I said, LEGLOCKS and LEGLOCK ESCAPES.

First he wanted to try a certain armlock escape, so we played with that for a while, then we ankle locked each other. I need to pay attention to the orientation of my forearm bone to get maximum "incentive". I also need to make sure to clamp the opponent's knee between my knees, and work the lock more by PUSHING UP than by LEANING BACK. If I don't get the tap, I need to tip over on my side (TOWARD opponent's trapped leg), look over my shoulder which is on the mat (counterintuitive, that part) and arch my back.

To defend, flex the foot in a 90 degree angle. Grab opponent's elbow on that same side and the lapel on the other side, pull hir (or you) forward so that s/he can't lean back to apply pressure. Push your foot through so that the opponent is now clamping far enough up on your calf so as to be useless. Now you can try to move your butt to the outside of hir legs, from which you are often in position to try to get to the top.

We also worked with a leg lock from top half guard. Slide your free knee across opponent's belly and fall to that side, grabbing the leg. Keep your foot (and your butt, which is on top of your foot) right up tight against the opponent's hip. Hug the calf to your chest, and bar the knee by propping it in your crotch the same way you do an armbar.

I need to work these some more, but it was good to finally get the first clue of how to do locks below the waist. I thanked Lamont and told him that was very helpful... whereupon JB, sitting on the bench watching us, said with glum dread, "Oh, great." (hee hee)

Cindy: "C'mere Lamont, I want to see if this hurts"

Lamont: "Oh, hey, wait a minute..." looks at me

Cindy: "Kitsune! C'mere, lemme see if this hurts!"

Kitsune: "Oh, my God...."

So, I know this is quite a cliffhanger- whattaya think, did Cindy make it hurt???!!!? Hee hee. (Although surprisingly, it didn't hurt in the specific fashion that she had *expected* it to hurt... it hurt more from the collateral pressure of her bony elbow in the solar plex as she was enthusiastically cranking a gi-tail choke around my neck like she was wringing out a wet dishcloth)

JB has been rolling really well all week, although she may not feel that way, since she's been going with a lot of really good people who are giving her no slack since she'll be competing. She tapped a white belt guy a little bigger than she. He was muscling to try to keep her from finishing the armbar, and I called to her to hold her own lapel- that little trick works for me a lot, so I was tickled pink when she took my advice and got the tap. After one short whoop and clap, I abruptly repressed applause because I didn't want to embarrass the guy. I just grinned widely and thumbs-upped her as soon as he turned his back to go to the bench. Then Cindy absolutely plowed her from standup about a zillion times. Which says nothing bad about JB's skills (I mean, it's CINDY), but I know that can feel a little frustrating and discouraging sometimes. She will be ready for tournament aggression, though.

I told JB that her face and body language often give off the impression that she's hesitant when facing off from standing. I know that she's worried about takedowns to some degree, but she has a reasonable expectation of being more practiced in takedowns than most people in her bracket. And even if not, we don't want the opponent to see hesitation and anxiety at the faceoff, or they will be encouraged to nuke you. I told her that she doesn't necessarily have to pounce aggressively on the opponent immediately (although there is something to be said for that), but at least have Serious/Focussed Face on. I could tell she was trying to pay attention to that later, although the Serious Face (understandably) slipped some once Cindy started disassembling her.

JB has the new blue Fenom gi. It looks sharp!

We also had a discussion with Lamont about unacceptable language on the mat. I opined that JB's favorite profanity- "Crapmonkeys"- would probably be allowed to slide if she uttered it on the mat, Lamont said no. JB accused me of commenting "Poop" on the mat at some point this week. I didn't remember. I warned her that if she curses on the mat in front of Carlos, she will be doing pushups. If she says "Crapmonkeys", she will probably be required to explain that to him- after which she might be doing pushups anyway. Heh heh.

Thursday kung fu. The weather was beauteous and the classroom was a microwave oven, so we went outside.

Kitsune: "Wow, that's one impressive bruise, Marcie."

Marcie: "Yes, and it's your fault!"

K: "ME??!!?!?" (completely unfeigned defensive surprise... it's not like I would beat the shinola out of the new person)

Entire class: LAUGHTER

She didn't recall exactly what we had been doing at the time, but she professed that she knew it had been me. Then she pulled up a pantleg and said, "But I can't figure out where THIS one came from." She had an indentically large and ugly bruise just below her knee. As soon as I saw it, I *KNEW* that had been from when we were doing the Mantis application out of Five Animals... after I had gotten latched onto her arm and pulled her in, I had started giving her a little kick in the leg. But only on the light side side of medium. I told her what it was from, then said,

"Sorry." (pause) "Sort of."

"It's fine. I should tell you that I bruise easily."

"Good. I should tell you that I like to bruise people."

SK had wanted to do throws, but a few people were concerned about grass allergies as well as skin reactions to whatever toxic sludge the college sprays on the grass. A couple of bad rashes had resulted from rolling around on that particular grass last year.

Hand strike drills (fingertip-leading strikes only). Note that Viper's Tongue should- and can- hit with both fingers, not just the longest one- and it doesn't require coming in sideways. The optimal neck target is curved enough to accommodate.

I had moved to stand directly behind JoE and intermittantly harrass him. Then SK called my name and was grinning hugely at me from the front. "Hi." "Ahh... hi." I thought for a minute that he was getting ready to scold me for harrassing JoE, but then he said, "C'mere." Uh oh. People say that to me a lot, and it puts my hackles up.

After informing me that my "kicks are pretty", he made me stand up front again while we reviewed the first four pieces of the Tiger kick drill- I turned my back, as I usually do when I'm demoing just because that's how *I* prefer to be demo'ed to, so that I don't have to make mirror adjustments while I try to follow. Also, since SK is usually standing up front and explaining while demo'ing facing the class, that lets us jointly cover both views for whomever needs what. This time he made me face the class- as he did not demo *OR* explain, but made *ME* do it. Then we did a bunch of reps of all four in sequence. I turned my back again for the reps... there is a lot of side-switching happening, and it would be chaos for anyone who wasn't REALLY good at doing mirror transcriptions to try to follow.

Next (as I gratefully faded back into the rear portion of the group), we went over the basic Tiger stances: Back, cat, front, scissor, and fifth.

This was a lot of tiger; my calves were trembling a bit.

During the break, SK asked me to show him the submission setup that Preston had taught me. I haven't had a chance to review it and I wasn't sure I could pull it off, but after one positional misfire, I was able to do it- so goodie. As soon as my finger is functional, I'm going to try that technique on some poor unsuspecting white belt newb.

SK asked whether we wanted to work on Five Animals, Black Crane one- and two-step defenses, or split off and work on individual forms. People voted for the latter. I went a little way down the path where nobody could see me, and went through the piece of Spear Hand (aka Punch and Jab) first. We have skipped Sunday class two weeks in a row, so I had actually made a concerted effort to rep this thing over the last week because I knew that otherwise, I would be a big blank this weekend when we return to it. I have been focussing mainly on making sure it is sufficiently Mantisy... especially as it is a fairly recent development that I felt competant to grasp "Mantisy" at all.

Then more Mantis and Dragon stuff. The fragment of Southern Mantis- which is now disturbingly half blank. I know I have at least partial notes on it, so I need to review those before all memory of the thing fades. A rep of Bung Bo Kuen, which actually felt competant enough (and Mantisy enough) that I left it at that. I attempted to do the Northern Mantis bo form with a short stick I picked off the ground, but that was a bit too mentally jarring. Must go over that one soon with a real bo- especially as we are unlikely to get a chance to work on it this semester. Despite the fact that this is Mantis/Dragon semester, the Sunday meeting spot is bo-unfriendly.

Three Step Arrow fragment: part of that was dim as well, but most of it came back after a couple of tries. The really tough part (the machine-gun strike sequence) had good Southern Mantis energy and acceptable technical correctness.

That's all the Mantis I can think of, without checking notes to be sure. Dragon stuff next. Box Form- still has that little blank section, but the second half of the form and even the random little frags are roaring with energy. It's so odd that this seems to have emerged as a seminal form for me (in spite of repeatedly forgetting pieces of it). CC is so contemptuous of this form as beginner's drek that he refuses to even work on it with me. He also insists that CM cribbed the form from some other kung fu faction, heh heh.

Dragon Plants the Seed. Need to review some hand positions from my notes.

Touch Bridge- a couple of foggy spots, but all but one of those worked out after a few tries. That one missing technique is within reach, I can feel it- next time it will come. Again, the energy seems to be very good and the technicality acceptable.

Little Red Dragon- I just micro-fu'ed this one swiftly, because I have worked on it recently as opposed to most of this other stuff, and feel pretty good about it.

Then I picked a few of the forms that I think I've neglected the longest. Iron Needle, Silken Needle. Both of which I had to work a bit to reconstruct the foggy parts, but both of which came back fully. Energy came back too. I don't think even CN and SK have retained Silken Needle- the last time I asked them to work on it with me- a really long time ago- they both stumbled all over it. And I *know* JoE hasn't retained it, because the last time we were asked to trot it out for RS, he stumbled all over it too. I need to be particularly careful to not let this one go to seed, because there is a disturbing lack of backup help with the thing.

Somewhere in here, SK wandered over and helped me with that troublesome bit of Box Form. I was disturbed (and embarrassed) to find that I had completely blanked on one entire technique (the Leopard Fist) which explains the lost piece of the puzzle. Now that I've forgotten bits of this form multiple times, it will be a priority to make thorough notes on it.

When next I work forms, I need to make sure I hit Kiu Two. That is just one hellishly complicated form, and we didn't get to work it in finished form nearly as much as I would have liked to before Snake semester was over. I don't wanna have to relearn all those complex strike sequences, so additional reps in the near future will be vital. Hurricane Hands is another one that needs a couple reps soon.

Forms going to seed, in a big way. I feel so guilty that I can't seem to motivate myself to find the time I need to give these. Whipping off a few reps regularly is a heck of a lot less work than trying to reconstruct a form that's melting through the lowest screen-level of my memory. I have too many forms. The me of two years ago, when I was burningly frustrated with not being able to get any new forms, would be appalled to hear the me of today saying that. I am seriously missing the last 30 min of each Thursday class that we used to spend doing individual forms stuff. I know that the sparring practice which replaced it is more important (with the caveat that I can't do any sparring till my finger heals, and SK seems to be shelving most of the sparring lately probably due partially to that). I also know that class time would be better utilized by doing that on our own and grabbing SK before or after class for a quick question or two.

On the positive side, the energy of the forms is definitely there- and there in a way that is stylistically distinct, in most cases. I'm not entirely sure if it is reliably there upon call, but I'm starting to suspect it is heading to that state- which would be wonderful. I have been frustrated in the past with the hit-or-miss consistency of stylistic energy- sometimes I'm just in the groove and sometimes (especially with Crane and Mantis) I'm not.

At another point during my individual forms practice, SK appeared a second time and called me to come back to the yard for a few minutes. He lined up those of us who are in the Sunday intermediate class and had us do the piece of Spear Hand. Thank GODS I had this ready (and that I didn't leave it to do last-minute on the weekend). I was the only one who could perform it reasonably- a couple of slight what-comes-next pauses that were entirely attributable to my uncomfortable awareness of SK/Marcie/RM standing there watching. Even JM- whose form memory is maddenly reliable, precise and perfect- was tripping all over it. Okay, it's not nice of me (especially as I don't really want our whole group to look like idiots in front of the new people), but internally I allowed myself a brief moment of gloat. I was slightly less gloaty when SK made me do it again by myself while EVERYBODY watched (arrrgh), but I got through it okay.

JM commented that my "forms are so pretty" which she has said once or twice before and it always knocks me out. I long to have my forms look like *HER* forms- she is always so crisp and precise and elegant and technically excellent. I feel like a shambling one-legged drunk in comparison. Still touching to hear her say that. It is plain that she is making a conscious effort to try to buck up my poor self-confidence, which is sweet of her and much appreciated. I thanked her.

SK mentioned on the walk back to the car that when he had come to look for me working forms on my secluded section of path, he had located me partially by scent. LOL. I was wearing my "cupcake" skin lotion today. This led JM to comment that I always smell like dessert, and that whenever she spars me, she gets hungry. My response was that that probably is not a mental space that I want to encourage in a sparring opponent, especially one that is working Tiger.

SK asked if today had been an "acceptable amount of picking on Kitsune".

"There *IS* no "acceptable amount of picking on Kitsune". The very concept of picking on Kitsune is a wrongness."

"But seriously, was that an acceptable amount?"

"That was kind of a lot of picking on Kitsune. What's up with that anyway?"

He wouldn't answer till *I* answered, after defining "acceptable amount" as "won't make you quit coming to class". I stated that it is very pressure-ful to be made to stand up in front of the class, but- reluctantly- "as long as it's stuff I can actually **DO**...." "That's the idea." "Are you going to tell me the idea?" "Just to make you do more in class." Sigh. I **AM** doing it- I'm just doing it in the back row of the group.

He did mention that he is pleased with me for working on stuff outside of class. As much as I beat myself up about not putting enough time in, I do make sure that at the very least I have readied whatever I know we are going to be working on in class that day. Quintuple-y so if I messed any of it up the previous week. I know that he is frustrated that other students put in even less time outside of class (ie, infintesimal if ANY). It was nice to get a little stroke for that effort. Nice to have it noticed. That's all it takes to make me want to put in MORE effort.

SK also observed- upon being told that I had withdrawn from the Revolution- that that meant no post-tourney Peanut M&M Pig-out. Sigh. It's so sad. I do feel physically better staying right on weight, though. I really do notice even an extra three or four pounds.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


A dog needs only a few seconds sniffing people to decide whether to snap at them, ignore them, or jump on their legs wagging its tail. Damaged perceptions are the only reason why humans need more time. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Seattle.

One of the very few upsides of missing a lot of class is that when I *DO* show up, I get a hug from Rodrigo. :) He and Carlos both regarded my kinky finger for a long time with serious expressions. Carlos pronounced, "Is broken." Bryan volunteered cheerfully, "It's the knuckle. Probably have bone fragments in there."

I did get to flip him off- him and several other of my teammates- so that at least was fun.

After trying various fashions of taping up my fingers, I settled on taping the bad middle finger to the index finger at the top joint. I asked Bryan to roll light a little bit with me so that I could suss out the situation. Carlos didn't even want me to try. He was calling across the mat at me, "How you expect to roll like that, how you expect to compete with that broken feenger?!" I responded, "I don't know if I can or not, that's what I'm trying to find out!"

Lapel grips were the worst; even if I didn't use the affected finger, as soon as I got a hard grip, the pain was shooting across the hand and INTO the finger. Bryan flattened my hand to the mat, then grabbed it and squeezed it medium hard, shifted position, squeezed it again, then two more shifts and squeezes. "Thanks a lot, buddy." "Well, we have to see, don't we?" What a pal. Anything to help. It hurt but was bearable. We rolled a little more and he stopped and shook his head, and said, "You're favoring it." Yeah, he was right. I was favoring it enough that it would handicap me too much to really be competitive.

So I'm withdrawing. Fudge.

(Well.... that is..... mozzerella sticks. I had some today, since I no longer need to fret about making weight.)

Since I can do (at least some) drills, I participated in drills (with JB). First a hip throw, then defending the hip throw transitioning into another hip throw. Then, a takedown for when the opponent stands up in your guard. Get two cuff grips, retain the closed guard, but slide down the opponent's legs so that your guard is now cinching hir knees together. Pull the opponent's arms to one side and try to use your knees to tip hir legs to the other side. I was having some trouble with this one. I often couldn't make JB tip until I tried to tip her to the same side that I was pulling the arms- although it is plain to see that this method makes it easier for the opponent to recover (possibly to the point of passing your guard).

Evening no-gi at Cindy's. I did just drills again. Basic guard break, disengage, come back in and get KOB, to side control, to mount, to keylock. Didn't tape the finger, was careful. It hurt a bit a few times when I inadvertantly brushed it agaisnt something, but nothing unbearable.

I'm feeling really frustrated. Not being able to do the tournament is a huge letdown. It's been one injury after another, and I'm really really tired of being broken.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The petrie dish

A sensitive body gives back to life its natural intensity. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Thursday evening Kung fu. I am able to do hand strikes in the air now, including most of the centrifugal ones- although I still can't hit anything solid with my right hand.

We started with the build-a-form game. With two newbies- and some of us others seeming to be in a mild state of brain-freeze- we weren't doing very well at this game tonight. I felt that some of the others were picking techniques that were a little too complicated for our new people, so I kept picking basic front punches and other easy-peasy stuff.

Then we worked on the Tiger kick drill some more. SK made me come up front for the third technique. I sneaked back to the rear after that, and he didn't make me go back up there for the fourth. The new people now have all four pieces, so hopefully we will be able to put it together next week.

Next, apps from Five Animals. First the Northern Mantis parry and grab. SK put me with Marcie. She had a hard time catching on to this one. SK came over and gave her corrections a few times. When she mostly had the positions correct, but was being hesitant about it, I started throwing punches at her harder and faster. Immediately she got a lot more authoritative with the parry and pull-down (cuz she had to in order to not get bopped in the nose), and her technique improved about 200%. We were both chuckling a little at the way we were subconsciously circling around each other.

After being told by SK to drop her elbows more, she looked down at her breasts and said that that that was just not going to happen. I responded feelingly, "I understand."

After that one, we did the Snake parry, shifting to back stance, grab the throat, and shift back to cat. Since we'd just spent 20 min repping a technique that had us stepping into cat, Marcie and I both kept wanting to go back into cat stance immediately instead of shifting to back stance. Oops.

I don't think I was a very effectively helpful training partner tonight. I let her go first- I always let the other person go first, both to be polite and to get the show on the road immediately by pre-emptively quashing a discussion about who's going to go first. But I think it might be more helpful to her to have the experienced person go first so that she can study the app a little more before trying to do it. I will remember that next time. I did have us start switching back and forth a few times, after I realized that that would probably help. And it seemed to.

Another thing- I am consciously trying to give a bare minimum of- if any- corrections, because I think she's getting more than enough of that from other people. But she was having a lot of trouble with this sequence. She wasn't solid on the what-comes-next part, much less the apps. I felt like I should try to help her out, but I could tell (because I know the feeling well) that her brain was getting full and I didn't feel like the focus was there for an in-depth picking apart of the sequence. I wasn't quite sure how to handle the situation. Finally- since I could see that she was getting frustrated- I said, "Just focus on the first move- the Snake parries- and then just improvise a finishing counterstrike after that. Don't worry so much about doing exactly what's in the form." I wanted to take the pressure off by having her work one move (and maybe get it right) instead of trying to work a complex sequence of four (and not get *anything* right). I could tell she wasn't very happy with my solution, though. I'm not sure how I could have handled it differently. That solution would have helped me had I been in her shoes. I think she needed something different, though. My recent interest in learning methods and styles has me looking at her like a puzzle to be solved. I didn't find the correct method of helping her this time, so next time I should try a different tactic.

SK is trying to figure it out too... we were talking about it a little in the car on the way home. He said that he gets the sense that she's tired and brain-scattered before we even start, and I agreed. I know she's training someplace else as well, and maybe she's overtraining. I also suggested that since she's had previous MA training, she might be having trouble correlating stuff- sometimes it can be easier to start an MA as a blank slate as opposed to starting when you already have some skill in a different MA. I know I have those correlation/clash issues sometimes. SK said that she is falling into techniques and applications from karate and aikido, and they are not WRONG, so he's not sure how to gently steer her closer to what *WE* are doing without making it sound like her methods are WRONG or substandard. I opined that it might be helpful to stress the style we are working with- as in, "That works well; Mantis would do it more like THIS..." Although those concepts are going to be a little slippery for her to grasp for a while yet, until she gets a decent sense of the differences between the styles. Anyway, a puzzle. A puzzle that it didn't really occur to me to attempt to work on, since I'm not the teacher and I didn't really see it as my problem.... but I don't like feeling as if I'm an ineffective training partner to a new and frustrated student, so that makes me want to work on being a better partner. Also, the fact that SK specifically solicited my thoughts on the matter; that's flattering, and I wish I had better ideas to offer!

Hopefully Marcie won't get too frustrated/discouraged and will stick around long enough for us all to figure out how to help her learn best.

It's interesting to have her join the group around the same time as RM, who is picking up things pretty fast. The contrasts are a real petrie dish for me to watch how different people learn (and don't learn). Since it appears that Marcie's learning style doesn't match the learning style of the majority of this group, I'm thinking that if DD were still running the group, this would be one of those students that he would be completely confused by and just wouldn't know what to do with- and she'd end up dropping out. I'm hoping that with SK at least AWARE of the concept of different learning styles, and wanting to address that and meet the differing needs, that will not happen this time. He's not sure what to do with her yet, but he's AWARE that she needs something different, so that's a healthy start.

SK is going to be absent on Sunday, and he wanted me to teach BJJ 101 to the class. I said that I didn't feel comfortable doing that. So unless CN can fill in- which is a long shot- we will be classless again this Sunday. Sigh.

I miss BJJ. It's been a week and a half. I'm already feeling that whole-body sludginess setting it. It spreads to the brain, as well!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Kinky, huh?

Okay, so the swelling's down and the funny colors are mostly gone, but this just ain't right.

Monday, May 9, 2011



JB is in town, and I can't train with her.

My sprained finger is swollen, bent, and GREEN. Like a Shrek hand.

129.5 This morning, dispite having my workouts for the lat six days limited to one single kung fu class. Yay for me. (And yay for chicken breasts, eggs, and single-serve sugar-free oatmeal packets.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thursday evening

Thursday kung fu.

I showed SK my finger... I'm enjoying showing people my finger, since I get to flip everyone off in the process. Everyone is duly impressed. SK said, "Ooooh-is it supposed to be bent that way?" "No, nor it it supposed to be that size or that color."

It seems to be slightly more mobile and slightly less agonizing than my previous finger sprain- I'm hoping that means it is not as serious and will heal faster! I am tired of being broken!

I couldn't do much with my right hand. A few hand strike drills were okay, but most of them I just did left-handed only.

After hand strike drills, we did part of the Tiger kick drill. SK made me come up and stand in front of the class while we were working on it. He also used me for another demo tonight, and used JoE for a demo too. JM got used for a couple of demos, but it does really look like SK is trying to be conscious of including different people and not having JM constantly at center stage. That will be a good change if it continues.

Then Five Animals. Marcie is up to "Graceful Horse". I can tell she's daunted by it, but this is the most complicated move in the whole form.

Lastly, a little review of the one-step Black Crane defensive drills. I was drilling with Marcie, and I did most of the attacking since there were only a few Black Crane things I could do with my left hand only. I have worked with her very little as of yet. She has most often been working with JM, who gives her a lot of instruction.... I only gave one instruction, and then I shut up. I could have nitpicked, but she was doing most of it correctly.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Finger fail- again


Lunchtime BJJ at Cindy's. I am so happy that lunchtime classes are back at Cindy's, especially since the next two weeks are going to be very work-heavy and my BJJ attendance is going to suffer.

We did round-robin timed spars, starting from standing. Perfect, that's just what I would have wished for. Lamont let me take him down a couple of times, although it was obvious that he was LETTING me. I got thrown by Cindy a whole lot.

Note to self: Cindy wants me to brace my free foot on Lamont's butt and ROLL when he leglocks me.

It only took a couple of rounds before I was exhausted. Felt like I was gonna have a heart attack.

Then I got thrown and landed on my right hand. There was that (now all too-familiar) crackling sound.

It's the middle finger (I displayed it pointedly to them both) on my right (dominant) hand. The distal joint is bent a little funny, there's a purple half-moon bruise under the nail, and the whole shebang is swollen. I can tell you this now, but for the first hour after I did it, I slapped an ice pack on it and was too scared to look at it.

I don't think anything's broken, but it feels sinkingly like that sprain from January... the one that kept me benched for a long time. I'll know more in a few days. Right now, I can't even turn the turn the car ignition key with my right hand. It seems to be only that one finger that's injured, but presently any attempt to use the hand pulls painfully at the injury.

I'm vexed... this hand might well not be recovered sufficiently in time for the Revolution. If I can't grip adequately with my dominant hand, I can't compete. And what kept me benched even longer with the last finger sprain was the inability to take the pressure of bodies rolling over the injured part.

Just checked my blog archives (handy-dandy, this blog is sometimes!). I sprained my finger on Jan 8. Three weeks later I was sparring again, but not full-bore. I'm still complaining about the finger well into February. This isn't looking hopeful... but maybe once I can stand pressure on it, it won't be so functionally crippling because it's not the index finger this time. There may also be more taping options this time. I didn't tape the previous finger sprain because that just made it hurt more- as well as made it stick out more ("please injure me again!"), but THIS finger has buddies on each side- once the pain dies down some, I might be able to tape the middle three fingers and use a "cup" hand.

I was 131 this morning. I'm going to proceed on the assumption that I'm going to recover in time for the comp. I need to be 129.... preferrably 127. That means that although I'm definitely going to be benched for a while, I am ***NOT*** going to lie around the house eating. If I'm not at work, I'm going to go observe class, or else go to the (non-MA) gym and work on Kung Fu forms.

Fabiana's in town! I wanna get a chance to roll with Fabiana!! Arggh! I hope I am not going to be injured during her entire visit the way I was last time. :(

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Black Dragon

From the Sleeper Athletics Facebook page.... this is one of the dads:

"Sitting in dentist office with Casey today and we are playing a game of who's guy beats who.... He starts off with Spiderman, i counter with Superman, he goes Hulk, i go The Thing, he goes Triple H, i go Fedor, he goes Werdum (smart kid) i go Transformers, he goes Thor, i go Teenage mutant nija turtles, he looks at me and goes "so you wanna play that way do you? I got CINDY!!!!!!!!! game over".........I didn't have an answer to that one, lol."

An hour of Competition Training at Gracie Seattle.

Lindsey and his warmups... the man loves to make us run. I am not a runner. There are good reasons why I am a martial artist and not a runner. Today I couldn't even manage all the running and had to bow out of a couple laps. I managed to do all of his jumping jacks, though (must've been about a hundred).

We worked on transitions from side control to north-south and back again. I need to be better about remembering to grab the pantleg to keep the guy from rolling/shrimping. Other than that, I think Cindy's endless drills on this have gotten me fairly good at it. Unfortunately, even if my technique is clean, ost of the guys can just bench-press me off.

Some King-of-the-hill positional sparring: try to hold side control and north-south versus try to get out. We only had about a dozen people today, and I do not like King Of The Hill much when there are so few people. It only takes most of these guys about twenty seconds to defeat me, so unless we have a lot of "stations" with constant rotation in, I spend a vast amount of time standing on the wall as opposed to doing anything.

Just before I had to leave, Lindsey showed a nice gi-tail choke. I want to remember to try these gi-tail wrap-ups in live sparring more often. In the heat of the moment, I usually just forget all about it... but I like how many of them do not take much strength, so they are probably a good thing for me to be utilizing.

Sunday Kung fu.

I have been practicing the bit of Arrow Hand, and the snappy "Mantis-y" energy seems to be getting snappier and more Mantis-y. We did not work on that at all tonight, though. CN was there, so we were working on Dragon.

First we ran through Lun Chi and Little Red Dragon. These are feeling fairly good to me. CN did a little spot-cleaning on those two, but everything he mentioned was stuff I was already doing.

Black Dragon stances. Walking forward and backward in Black Dragon stance (going backward is easier than going forward, ironically), with a ton-sau-ish parry and a punch. Alone and then with partners.

Then, Black Dragon stance with a bon-sau-ish parry and a punch (standing still). On heavy bags, then on classmates. I had been pleased with the feel of the rebounding energy in that first one; in this one, the rebounding energy was exponentially greater. The parry doubles as one of those little winding-up energy-swirling things that Dragon likes to do before it strikes- it felt like my fist was on the end of an industrial piston. Nor was I drawing from my *own* energy to power it- this is a sloppy habit of mine- I wasn't getting tired at all even though I working it for quite a while. Love it.

We got a chance to cycle through everybody a couple of times... I continue to be impressed with JM's Dragon. I can feel the Dragon energy in it more than in anyone else's (with the obvious exception of CN). She hits hard too. I had to ask her to lighten up a bit.

JM: "You keep circling around me!"

Kitsune: (innocently) "Would I do that?"

JM: "You're trying to get my kidney!"

Kit: (innocently) "Would I do that?"

JM: "I *like* my kidneys!"

Kit: "You only need one!"

Working with Nemesis, he discovered that because of the height difference, he could meet all of my attacks with the same ton sau response- because even though I was striking high and low, to him they were all low. Huh. I was amused to find, when we switched roles, that the opposite was true for me- I was able to meet all of his attacks with the same bon sau response- because to me they were all coming in from on high. With JM, I could still get away with that- but just for good practice's sake, I tried to meet her low strikes with the ton sau and the high ones with the bon sau. I often find myself getting paralyzed trying to choose the "correct" response in drills like this- but this time I was able to consciously relax into the Dragon and with only a few flubs, was mostly okay. Most of the other styles, I can't relax into them enough to do that well.

I was hitting SK pretty hard in the abs (he can take it, and he's constantly nagging me to hit him harder... hope he was satisfied today). Sometimes I went high and targeted his chest area instead. I had been aiming for JM's throat, but I couldn't easily reach the throat on much-taller SK, even with a step in. I targeted his jaw a few times, and was enormously pleased to feel five-o'clock shadow hairs; that's how close I was pulling the strike- every time.

SK: (whimpering noise)

Kitsune: "What? Are you okay?"

SK: "You're putting so much power into that strike- and pulling it just in the nick of time."

Kit: "Well, YEAH.....?"

SK: (whimpering noise)

Kit: "AHEM. My control is EXCELLENT."

SK: "If you hit me in the clavicle as hard as you're hitting me in the abs, you're going to snap my clavicle like a twig."

Kit: "Which is why I'm not hitting you in the clavicle as hard as I'm hitting you in the abs."

SK: (whimpering noise)


Of course, having said that, the next shot should have broken something. But it didn't. Because my control is excellent. Man, I do love me some Dragon.

Sparring. DD shlepped in at the very end and was watching, and I was very awkward and self-conscious as I always am when he and/or CN are watching. I made a serious conscious effort to mind-over-matter this away tonight, and had a very small success- which is better than no success. I had watched SK spar Nemesis first, and saw that SK was in full-on Snake mode. Nemesis was trying to play Snake's game with the Snake.... foolish boy. I watched him chasing the strikes around and trying to Chi Sau the Chi Sau expert, and reminded myself to not get drawn into playing Snakes with a Snake.

Unfortunately, I neglected to manifest a coherent alternative plan... so I ended up spending way too much time backing off, and I ate a lot of his strikes all the same. I did do a couple of my ill-fated kamikaze lunges in, but they didn't work, of course, and at least I didn't just keep stupidly battering like I used to do. I stayed calm, part of the time. Okay, I'm going to call it progress that I didn't let myself get baited in too much. But next time I need to have a few ideas in mind going in, and press some attacks of my own. I was way too hesitant tonight, and way too easily cowed into retreat once hit.

We also got to hear a new legend about CM tonight. The legend goes- a student kicked him in the groin, and hurt his foot.

I asked, "What do you need to condition for that? Same old bucket of sand?" I got a round of laughter for that one.

Next Sunday is the potluck, so there won't be a class that evening. I'm just as glad of that, since I'm on tap to host Turtle Drum that Saturday, plus it's my work weekend- so by Sunday afternoon, I will surely be very relieved to be able to skip MA and go straight home to bed after work.

Silverdrake has pinged me about the Sacred Hunt- he hasn't asked this straight up yet, but it's looking like he might be asking me to coordinate drumming for the Hunt again. Whooo-whee. I had assumed I was off the hook for that- I'd told Aspen that he was welcome to have the role back this year, and it had sounded like he was planning on it. I wonder what's up with him. I guess I'm up for doing it again; although it's a fair amount of pressure- especially on top of the fact that we are going to be at a brand-new site yet AGAIN this year. The Heralding coordination is going to be a lot of work due to the new site, although I got a pass to bring in Dru as an official third co-coordinator (and she will hopefully be my lieutenant again for the Hunt drumming, if it comes to that). The site is supposedly a lot flatter (which is good) and smaller (good for Heralding, bad for the Hunt). I hope it's not going to be terrible trying to find a site for the Hunt. Just trying to keep curiosity-seekers out is a major PITA, tenfold moreso if the site is too close in.