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.