Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday evening BJJ

I just want to say that GOODWILL ROCKS. I found a white A2 Bad Boy gi, lightly used, for ten bucks and change. I have to paper-bag the waist a tad, and the jacket's a titch too long, but it's workable- and I'm not going to try to shrink it, because the sleeve cuffs are right where I want them.

"I talked to LD and she is interested in doing Chen with you. Next step would be getting you both in contact to set up times, which I was thinking of doing once she gets back to me next.

The two things she's worried about are that she'll learn too slowly (I told her I really thought this wouldn't be a problem for you as a teacher) and that she might not do her homework enough for you. I suspect you'll be fine...."

"No, I'm right there with her on that- we could just go at turtle pace, and even if neither of us did anything outside of class it'll still be more than either of us are doing now. ;-) (Just kidding, I truly am still working on forms regularly, just not as MUCH as I would like to be. Still working on pelvic alignment too.)

I guess this means I need to stop dithering and decide whether or not I really want to commit to this."


(CC:) After being told that I'm on the bench with a sprain...

"If you're on the bench, then it's a great time to work on chi training! :-D"


The March Revolution date has been moved to the following weekend. Unfortunately, I asked for the OLD date off, and now I am scheduled to work on the new date. I may be able to affect a trade, but this might well scud all chance of going to that competition.

Monday evening BJJ at Cindy's. We got started a bit late because Cindy was chewing out a couple of the kids for horsing around too much in their class just before ours. We also had to finish early because the capoeira class was right after us. Not liking this evening-class thing nearly as well as the lunchtime class. Sigh.

I was drilling with a new woman, the mom of some of the kids in the kids' class. She kept apologizing for being slow and uncoordinated, but she was doing fine for a newbie.

We were doing a couple of very basic drills- the foot-crossover escape from front mount to replace full guard, and upa. Those are things that I taught my BJJ 101 students, so I felt fine coaching Leilani (the new girl) through them a bit.

One timed spar with George. Noticing anew how much clumsier I am in no-gi. I tried to guillotine him- it's been long enough that I didn't remember that that never works on him. He lets me sink it in, but he never lets me get guard or any other position that will allow me the leverage to finish it. So I gave up on that, and tried some other things. He just toys with me; lets me get good positions and an inch from a sub, then he escapes easily. I thought I had him once with a kimura- I was in a good position, and I thought, "Ha- you let me go a little too far that time, now I have you!" I'm not sure why that one didn't work. I should have asked him.

I was being good about not trying to rear-choke him until after I got hooks in- Cindy's always on my case about that. I forgot to say this morning that I had been good about letting go of fruitless grips/positions. I was not quite as good about that tonight, just because I feel more unsure of what I'm doing in no-gi.

(pic- Elliot)


Monday morning BJJ at Gracie Seattle. There were about twice as many people there as there used to be back when I was regularly doing the weekday morning classes last year. Good thing we have a bigger mat space- we'd never have been able to jockey all these people around in the old loft space.

Warmups- still struggling a bit more than I should be with the warmups- I hope I get back in the groove quickly.

A little standup- fighting for grips. With Bryan and JM. I didn't seem to be doing too badly at this. I think my shortness is helping here (at least within the confines of the defined drill).

Takedown: right elbow grip, left collar grip, pull the elbow to get the opponent to step. Hook the ankle (Keep the toe on the floor- I kept wanting to pull my foot up to the back of the knee for some reason). Push opponent forward (keep elbow low, and push with it) and trip hir.

Same opening, but opponent steps out of your hooking foot. Drop to your knee and pick hir other ankle. Pull/push hir around TOWARD the leg you have trapped, dump hir on hir back. Let go of the lapel (this was the step I'd been flubbing last time we worked this, and I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get around the straight leg and why I kept getting pulled into closed guard). DO NOT let go of the foot. Go around the leg and get side control.

Guard pass: grab pants at inside of knee, go under thigh with other hand to grab belt. Slide over opponent's thigh with your knee, keep that outside leg stuck straight out. Do not let go of the pants grips till you have your legs out of hir reach and get side control. I caused Bryan to make faces when I ground my knee up his thigh- I guess his groin injury is still not fully healed. Sorry buddy.

Bullfight. I have trouble with the moving around to side control, because my arms are too short (even on Bryan, and he's shorter than the average bear) to keep grips at the knees and still get my shoulder up to pressure on his solar plex. I'm lucky if I can get above his crotch.

8-minute timed rolls. Fred keeps sidling over to press up against me while we're standing in line waiting to be paired up- and Prof Carlos was like, "Stop that, *I'm* going to be the one to pick who goes with whom." Dex first, then Marc (he called me "Nemesis" again- hee hee), then Fred. I was being a little cautious with the right hand, but aside from a few twinges, it was okay. I seemed decently competitive with Dex and Marc (no taps for anyone); Fred worked me over, though. He was actually going kind of hard. I was on the bottom most of the time. He didn't get any taps, but he came close a few times and I managed to escape. Nelson was watching, and he told me I'd done well.

I heard Prof. Carlos yelp, "Taptaptaptap!" That got my attention right away, because I don't think I've ever seen/heard this guy tap to ANYBODY. Then he started howling, and holding his ribs. Uh oh. Rib out. It was just like when it happened to Jim last year. Both of them got it in the same spot- down low around the floating rib area... My own rib injuries were higher on the torso (and obviously not in the same realm of agony). Twenty minutes later he was still lying there on the mat with ice packs on his ribs. Poor guy. I wonder how long this is going to bench him.

Bree turned me down AGAIN for a roll. I said, "The longer you stall, the worse it's going to be for you," She responded, "I'm afraid!"

I relayed to Dave the message that his training blog readers want him to enable comments on his "Side Control" blog. I don't know if he will consent, but I did pass the message. He actually looked a little startled at the suggestion. I wonder if he's one of us who is still surprised to hear that anybody's actually reading their blog.

(Pic- Shawn, Kevin and Rodrigo)

Deadly key missiles

AAAAARGH.... Cindy is rescheduling, and dropping the lunchtime classes. It's understandable, as there tend to be only three or four of us in there most days. Not really worth her time, but it was a sweet deal for US, as we got a lot of personalized attention! That was way too good to be true forever- sigh. Getting into Seattle for evening classes is a PAIN and a HALF. I spend longer sitting in traffic (one way!) than I spend in the class. Then when I get to class, I'm already tired and grumpy and stressed before we even start. And often late, to boot.

Sunday Kung fu. I was less than 5 min late this time, hey, that's an improvement! SK, DD, and JM were all wearing their sashes. I really hope SK isn't going to start requiring that (of ME- I don't care what they do). I know he'd like to, but he's anxious that if he gets too strict with us, we'll quit coming to class!

We started working on Five Points Of The Star, and I was being mindful of the corrections I'd gotten on Thursday (although SK did come over and straighten my torso once, so I must still be leaning sometimes).

Just before the back roll- make sure to hunch way down and hide as much of the body as possible behind the thigh. Also- go up on the toe! Yes, the very thing I spend most of my time in this class trying to remember to NOT do- you're actually supposed to do it here. The pike kick is straight back- don't anticipate the rest of the roll and start listing to the side until AFTER the kick. Also, don't roll too far up onto the neck before making contact with the kick. The culmination of the roll here is on the LEFT shoulder- straighten the RIGHT leg and keep eye contact with the opponent until you straighten and turn.

The jumping kick- both the kick and the preparatory knee hike- are straight ahead, not out to the sides.... and preferrably contact with the ball of the foot. We worked this kick and the pike kick against pads. I had to hold pads for Nemesis (sigh). I was trying to protect my finger, so I was even more hesitant than usual. Every time he kicked the pad, it went flying and I had to chase it across the room- but I wasn't about to risk broken fingers trying to hold onto it. I just had to make sure it didn't go flying into the MP3 player or the plate glass window.

Eventually SK switched me out with JaE because I physically could not hold the pad high enough for Nemesis to do the jump as high as he COULD. So then I found myself with JM. I gritted my teeth bracing for her to start giving me corrections- on TIGER MATERIAL, my own style, in the basic defining Southern Tiger form that I have been working on since long before she ever joined this class, and right in front of the most senior teacher- but for once she kept her mouth shut... for which I was grateful. In that sense, I'd actually rather be working with Nemesis. He beats the crap out of me, but at least he doesn't play "teacher" with me nearly as much.

SK wanted to work some Tiger-oriented self defense drills, but JaE's arm wasn't up to that tonight. (Note- we will likely be doing that next week, so I'd better remember to wear my contacts). So instead we worked some more on the Tiger Versus Crane flying kicks. DD got out his notebook- a venerable behemoth volume the size of a 70's couch cushion- and they spent about an eon debating whether or not there is supposed to be a drawing-in of the left foot before the box kick. I hate it when they do that during class, while the rest of us are standing around wasting time. I just keep doing reps and leave them to their debate. Once again, there is the amusement of SK trying repeatedly to pin DD down to "So how do YOU WANT us to do it?" and DD responding not with a straight answer but more philosophical musings on comparing and contrasting the various versions. In the end there were four versions- and he still won't tell us which one he wants us to use. (rolling eyes)

Note- do not go up on the toe during the box kick.

When class was finished, I asked SK for the key so that I could get out the front door, and he tossed it across the room and nailed me right in the forehead with it (to the amusement of all). Nice aim. Paybacks, however, will be forthcoming.

(pic- Lindsey.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Knives are the COOLEST things EVER.

Drove into Seattle Thursday lunchtime and again class got cancelled (rats!). Cindy was there this time, but when I walked up, she was on the phone telling Lamont to not come in... "You just don't even want to grapple with me today, because it wouldn't be pretty." I'm like, "Ah, one of *THOSE* days, eh?" Bummer to not have class, but it's fine. I'm actually very happy that we have a good enough student-teacher relationship that she can just tell me, "You know, I've had a phenomenally shitty morning and I really need to bail out of this class," and know that I'm going to be cool and back her up on that- as opposed to, "Here's somebody that I have to grit my teeth and do the song and dance for." I'm so much more comfortable when I know we can just be real to each other.

Another couple days to rest the finger, anyhow. Maybe the universe is conspiring to make me rest that finger.

Thursday evening kung fu. SK told me in the car that CM had e-mailed him and they'd discussed some things about the class. I was happy; I had asked CM if he would touch base with SK and offer some encouragement/advice, so that was really nice of him to do that.

Three cycles to warm up- one person holding the kick pad, one person flow-sparring (1- just arms, 2-just legs, 3-anything goes), one person doing an endurance/conditioning exercise (1-low horse stance with pennies balanced on knees... you know you're in trouble when SK breaks out his pennies....2- plank pose on elbows, 3-low horse stance holding a weight straight-armed at chest level). I had to hold the kick pad for Nemesis... always a workout in itself.

Monkey-in-the-middle self-defense techniques. Good thing I wore my contacts. Had to go a bit light because of the finger. I did most poorly against the hair grabs. I HATE hair grabs. SK gave me grief for growing my hair out again and then bitching about it.

Despite the finger, I actually did a halfway decent job holding RNC's and even rear bear hugs (!) on Nemesis tonight. It's not like I would have been able to DO anything to him- but he had to work harder/longer than usual to shuck me off or reach any part of me for a counterattack. SK always yells, "NICE!" whenever I do a flying leap onto someone's back to latch on an RNC (I have to get a running start to reach Nemesis' neck).

Knife work. This was the most fun I've had in a long time. And not even just the attacking (although of course that was the best); the defending was a lark as well. I loooooooooooooooooooove knife work!

First me defending against Nemesis (he had the knife). The fact that I was up against NEMESIS and still having fun is telling. I dunno, I just felt like I had everything under control (for a change). I know I've done a lot more knife work than anyone in that group, and even SK seems to consider me some kind of badass knife fighter (heh heh heh). Not that I did everything perfect, but it just felt like the playing field was a lot more level.

The spar is much more adrenalized when the knife is in play, and everyone is so hyperfocussed on it. The only time Nemesis got the drop on me really bad was when he had the knife in his right hand and threw a haymaker at my head with his LEFT fist. Often, the attacker with the knife doesn't think to use hir other strikes.

JM with the knife, Nemesis defending. It looks like people are better about remembering to keep their guard up when the knife is in play. I had been noticing that with myself as well (I'm bad about remembering to keep my guard up).

Me with the knife, JM defending. I was DROOLING to get out there and start slicing and dicing, LOL. The first thing I did was start slashing low to her thighs, since no one else had done that. Caught her completely flat-footed. (HA! GOTCHA!) Darted in and totally hamstrung her a couple times. I also did a lot of slashing to her fingers and wrists whenever she was foolish enough to let me get within range of her guard.

I made a point of backing her into a corner... it took two "deaths" before she wised up and stopped letting me do that.

I did wide horizontal slashes to the midsection, stabs to same, overhead ("Psycho shower-scene style") stabs, wide looping attacks. I found that she tended to freeze up whenever I quickly switched the knife from one hand to the other and came in, or whenever I quickly changed the grip (horizontal to overhand, etc) and came in, so I exploited that. I am pretty dextrous with juggling the knife around, and the other way that served me well was when she closed and controlled my knife hand, I was often able to switch the weapon to the other hand and stab her.

I'll never forget one of my very first knife seminars several years ago- SK and I had gone together. At the beginning, they just had some of us sparring (one person with a knife) as an initial exploratory thing. I had the knife, and SK and I were rolling around on the ground- he effortlessly got my knife arm well pinned, and I proceeded to switch the knife to the other hand and totally gut him. The whole class clapped and cheered uproarously for me, and I was so pleased with myself, because I had figured that out all by myself. None of the previous sparring "attackers" had even thought to switch the knife to the other hand. I think that same high-intensity "fixation" that both parties tend to get upon the knife itself tends to make you forget you can switch hands- just like it tends to make you forget you can also punch the opponent with your free hand, or kick hir.

So anyway, I could see JM getting a little frustrated, so I reassured her that she was doing fine- I was getting her quite a bit, but I was also going really hard and fast on her. I said, "If you sucked that bad, I'd be going slow and easy on you." She says that she just doesn't seem to click well with the knife in general. I wish I could take her (and SK too) to the Insights Defensive Knife classes. Too bad they are so expensive.

That was a blast... I hope we do some more of that.

We finished with a run-through of Five Points of the Star. SK tells me that:

1)I am still doing some leaning of the torso (notably during the double Tiger straight punches with front lunges)

2)There are still some things that I am not fully extending

3)I continue to sometimes cheat the circling-inward part of the double Tiger straight punches.

All stuff that I know about; I still need to clean it up.

When we bowed out, we noticed that SK had a perfect dusty outline of a bare footprint in the middle of his black t-shirt; it was funny.

I didn't have any notable accidents with the injured finger, but just the generalized jarring and bumping around had it sore and throbbing on the ride home. Not too bad; just bad enough that it was seeming to say, "Hey, don't forget I'm HURT, here."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hey look- some actual jiu-jitsu!

I drove all the way into the city at lunchtime only to find that Cindy's class was cancelled- how's that for lovely timing?!?

Wednesday evening BJJ at Gracie Bellevue. If you've seen the Robin Hood movie with Kevin Costner... it was a pretty bad movie, but one cool thing I remember from it was Robin wading ashore from a ship after being imprisoned out of country for years. He was so happy to be back in England that he dropped to his knees and kissed the wet sand. I felt like doing that to the mat tonight. But it seems like a good way to get an infection, so I refrained.

The heater was blasting, and I have been on the bench for two and a half weeks- the warmup almost killed me.

I was the highest-ranking student in the room tonight. That still feels bizarre. Lots of white belts, lots of baby blues.

You can tell it's competition week. Prof Carlos was driving us. Lots of cardio drills tonight. Mostly stuff that I normally wouldn't have too much problem with; but I was flagging tonight due to my out-of-shape-ness.

We didn't really get a new technique drill; we did some review reps on two basic guard breaks from earlier in the week (both of which I've seen before, luckily, since I wasn't here earlier this week).

A little positional sparring- pass guard vs sweep only. I was working with white-belt Carlos; his base was really good and I couldn't sweep him although he's only got about 15lb on me. I complimented him on that, but warned him to not let me keep grabbing the half guard. I was able to pass his guard; it was nice to not have to worry about the triangle.

One of the things I like about Prof. Carlos' teaching style is that he always makes me feel that he is geniunely delighted to see me show up for class. He asked me where I'd been... I was expecting him to roll his eyes about the stupid little finger injury, but he put on his Serious Face and told me to drink fruit juice for inflammation. A long barely-intelligible discussion followed, in which he used the word "shit" while talking about flushing toxins out of the body, and groped for a more acceptable English word, and apologized when he couldn't find one. Okay, I'm up for juice, juice can't hurt- especially as housemate has a cold which I don't want to catch, and I also donated blood this week. I can tell by the way my head feels that I haven't been careful enough about rehydrating.

The second hour was "competition training" hour- I'm not sure what happened to the Wednesday evening no-gi, as it is still on the schedule ALONG WITH "Competition Training". Anyhow, I did not want to test the finger with CT quite yet, so I slipped out.

When I got in the shower, I was interested to see a layer of dead skin on my injured finger peeling off in one big piece, encompassing the entire outermost finger joint. I had noticed during the first week of the injury, when it was swelled up like a sausage, that the skin was whitening as if was dying from being overstetched. I guess that even the low-key amount of rubbing on gi and mat tonight was enough to slough it off. The finger did okay tonight, but I was being careful- and it was more cardio drilling than grappling, so it was a good way to start easing back in.

(pic- Dave, aka SIDE CONTROL)

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's ALWAYS about DESTROYING. Well, duh.

Almost went to BJJ this weekend. Wanted to. Bad. I'm going nuts here. Then I made the mistake of brushing my hair out of my eyes with my right hand, and it hurt so bad it's not even funny.

I'm not afraid of pain, but I'm very afraid of reinjuring the bad finger and extending my bench time for several weeks longer than necessary. Tuesday, though. I'm going in Tuesday no matter what (well, unless I get called in to work on the midnight shift again Monday night).

OMG, these stupid little digit injuries drive me crazy. It's just a FINGER (or a TOE), for cryin' out loud. A digit is not worth losing weeks of training over. Makes me want to just chop the durn thing off and be done with it. At least then it won't get reinjured.

Sunday evening Kung Fu. I was late again. I find that without the carpool, I tend to be less self-disciplined about getting out the door in time. I need to improve that.

Five Points Of the Star. I haven't done this form in a while, so I was a little worried that it would be rusty. However, I *have* worked on the mirror form off and on in the past several months. It turned out to be fine. Nemesis was really struggling through the first few reps, though.

There were only 3 of us (not counting SK), and there wasn't enough room in the dojo for us all to do the form correctly. It's crazy how much ground this form covers. I just changed direction on the fly whenever I was about to collide with the wall or with Nemesis.

We picked three techniques out of the form to drill with the heavy bags and/or pads held by classmates.

Dragon Rides The Wind: Don't cheat the full arm motion. Don't turn the hips all the way over. Keep the hips facing sideways till the very last snap of the kick- then turn them, but not all the way. SK corrected me on this, and then I overcorrected the opposite way... grr. The striking surface is the heel, of course, but again- it doesn't turn till the last second. Also- I want to come up on the toe, and I need to stop doing that. "Stupid-side" Dragon-Rides-the-Wind is dismayingly clumsy. Must practice this more on the side that we DON'T do it on in the form.

Front forward lunge with double Tiger straight punch. I had to cheat these a bit regarding hand position, as there is no way I can do Tiger straight punches on a solid target with my finger the way it is. Remember to drive off the back foot and DO NOT COME UP ON THE TOE (see a pattern here?)! SK kept coming over and stepping on my foot to call my attention to it.

Turn sideways and rake, then return with Crane's beak. I had to do them all on the left side. The rake here is not a big motion with the shoulder- more of a "bitch-slap" (according to SK). The entire body moves with the strike, but not exaggeratedly so. Do not stop the motion between the two strikes, make them flow together. The chambering arm on the Crane's neck motion is important. The chest is supposed to open up a lot more than feels logical to me.

Then the bear-hug defense-to-throw sequence. We always belabor this bit whenever we work on this form. After some five years of coming back to it, I feel fine about it at this point (and in fact JM complimented me on the throw- twice). We keep talking about bringing in our BJJ gi pants so that we can do the throw properly.... it involves grabbing a clawed handful of your opponent's groin and using it as part of the leverage to haul hir over, so of necessity we have to alter it a bit when we're working with people we don't actually want to castrate. We usually end up grabbing a handful of the pants on the inner thigh, and more than one pair of pants has been ripped beyond all repair and modesty while working this technique. I was wearing my rather expensive House Of Dra black cotton wrap pants today, and I shook my finger in first SK's face and then Nemesis' in turn as they prepared to throw me- warning, "Don't you rip these pants!!" This was another technique I had to do on the "wrong" side tonight, because I could not properly grab a clawful of pants with my right hand... so I got a little discombobulated. Even though I have practiced it on the left side, I have never done it with a live uke on that side.

After that, the front roll (which has four different takedowns built in, before you even start looking hard) to sweep. Mind you, this is a DIFFERENT sweep than that Snake sweep, and it's not an Iron Broom either. A sweep is never just a sweep around here.

SK wanted us to work the sequence on each other and find more takedown options beyond the obvious four. I like this roll as a Monkey-style attack where you hit the opponent's knees with your shoulder blades and knock hir down as you roll over top of hir; if you have good body coordination (as I do), you can deliver a lovely axe kick right to the schnozz, and then you're on the ground on top- which is just where I want to be.

Note that if the opponent is still standing when you go for the leg switch kick, it is a "check" style kick to the ANKLE- not trying to blow out the knee as I was attempting to do. JM found that amusing. I was like, "Why on EARTH would I NOT being trying to destroy the knee at this point??!?" and she laughed, "It's ALWAYS about DESTROYING with you!" Well, of course. I am a Tiger. Tigers destroy. And this is a Tiger form, no less. Well, SK does not want me to annihilate the knee at that juncture because the following sequence of moves are rendered null and void if you fail to check the ankle. (Who cares; I'd rather just shatter that knee and be done with it! Sigh.)

We worked on the sweep, too- JM and I both failed to sweep Nemesis- because he is NEMESIS. I pronounced that it was like trying to sweep a tree, and JM agreed. SK didn't like the way I was hooking the ankle ("You're being too NICE"- this after I was discouraged from shattering kneecaps; see the mixed messages he gives me?!); he wants me to STRIKE hard with the kick. It did work better that way, although I tend to not feel very confident in my sweeps. I prefer to hook the ankle and then attempt a takedown with the assistance of a kick with the second foot- and perhaps grabbing the ankle with my hand as well. I just feel like I have more options that way- and also, as soon as you're down, I'm already latched on so that I can swarm on top of you- which- again- is just where I want to be.

SK talked about wanting us to stop thinking of forms as a set of rote motions and think of each technique as a MULTITUDE of different options for applications.

I gave Nemesis a ride home, and we had a long interesting discussion/debate about the merits of different types of armour.

Got an e-mail from CC asking if I'm still alive. I can't decide if I should try again to press him for more regular classes right now. I still haven't really figured out what I'm going to do as far as trying to adjust my training schedule to accommodate more Kung Fu practice on my own; not to mention that possible Tai Chi tutoring thing.

I really should have been hauling my lazy carcass into the (non-MA) gym to work on forms while I'm off the BJJ mat with my finger injury. It was an opportunity to 1) get caught up on some things I've been stinting on, and 2)avoid wasting a lot of time and getting out of shape. However, I found that once I was off my frenetic hamster-wheel schedule of continual classes, I became embarrassingly sedentary and it was hard to get motivated to get into the gym. I'm glad to say my weight hasn't increased, though.

Yes, I'm still working on the pelvic alignment. It still feels like walking around with a broomstick up my butt. The chronically sore spot on my upper back feels a little weird, but I think it's just because it's not used to the new alignment- It seems like with the hips tucked under, that upper back area will be less likely to curve in an unhealthy fashion, and will probably be the better for it (eventually).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Flow and Mantis

Thursday night Kung Fu.

Although I was doing some badass tabletop horse stance at the beginning of class, I was dismayed to find halfway through the class that my knees were hurting pretty bad. They had been hurting on Sunday after class; I assumed from all the twisting and hard landing involved in the Tiger-Versus-Cane crescent kicks. The right one is noticably more painful than the left- it feels like there's a swollen fruit stuffed in there- and that's the one that twists in that sequence that I repped a million times on Sunday. However, I have done literally NOTHING for the last three days but lie around and read books. It seems that this particular malady is not helped by bed rest (or needs more than three days of it.... which is never going to happen).

We spent the entire class time tonight doing a slight variation on the build-a-form game. Each person in turn added one move to the sequence, but we were supposed to stick to mostly hand techniques- and mostly stay in one place. Stance shifts were okay, but no travelling or going to the ground.

Also- special emphasis on continuing the energy of the previous movement. I assume SK did this because we are currently working on Tiger Versus Crane. One of the main concepts of Tiger Versus Crane is keeping the energy flow unbroken through the entire form. Of course that is true for ALL forms.... but with all the flying kicks in TvC, it makes a very noticable difference in both power and exhaustion level whether you are doing that or not.

I eventually noticed that all of my contributions to the sequence were Northern-Mantisy. I had to chuckle when I realized that I had done that because I've spent the last two weeks doing everything with the index finger on my dominant hand stuck stiffly out to the front- essentially a modified Mantis Claw. My subconscious was either in Mantis Mode from doing that.....or...... I was subconsciously choosing techniques from the style that was least likely to reinjure my bad finger. I hope it was the latter; it's neat to think that my subconscious fighter-brain is at a level that it automatically makes adjustments for handicaps. Ideally, in a real fight, that would mean a greater ability to continue fighting efficiently in spite of injuries that are serious enough to hamper physical function.

We did beaucoup reps of this, since we were in drill mode instead of the circular build-a-form formation... thirty reps of the sequence after each addition. As usual, it was hot enough to bake an apple pie in the classroom- so it was a sweaty cardio workout.

After the reps, we took turns being the defender and doing the apps.

Individual forms time. I did a few reps of Cannon Fist, then some Bung Bo Kuen In the Mirror. I didn't really have the energy (or the knee function) to work on TvC, but there were just a few minutes left to walk through the setups for those two tricky flying kick sequences a few times.

My finger is mostly functional at this point for light-to-medium tasks, although it still hurts some when I try to do certain things with it. If there was anything on the schedule except COMPETITION TRAINING, I would want to go in this weekend. However, I am anxious about putting the finger through the Trial By Fire that is Competition Training. I'm going to be really torqued off if I took two weeks off and then I reinjure the flippin' thing even worse on my first class back. I should probably do drills for a bit and ease carefully into the actual rolling, depending on how things go. Thus it is probably wisest to delay till Tuesday. Sigh.

(pic- Nate's promotion)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Yo, Leopard Student

Got an e-mail today from Lamont, asking where the heck I am and what's going on. I told him about my ailing car, and the finger. I still wince when I try to click the mouse button with it- so I don't think it's ready for jiu jitsu yet. But today is the first day I even dared to TRY clicking the mouse button with it.

Also got an e-mail today from CM (the Tiger Master):

"Yo, Leopard student. What are you up to?"

Have to grin. I told him that I've been having a hard slog with my MA this year, and about SK leading the group, and about seeing RS in November. CM and RS are on different sides of the political schism. CM is sad about it, and sometimes asks me about RS. RS is sad about it too, but isn't quite ready to consider coming to the table. Anyway, I told CM about how RS is doing, and also mentioned that RS thinks I am overtraining and should take a 6 month break from either Kung Fu or BJJ. CM immediately advised sticking with the Kung Fu- surprise surprise! Heh heh.

He commented in regard to SK teaching all the classes,

"SK is a good teacher and will uphold the traditons."

I passed that tidbit along to SK... he needs all the encouragement he can get. I also asked CM to drop SK a note as well, if he can.

"Buck up, young Jedi. Things will turn around. Give your spirit some time to relax."

(pic- Carlos and Kevin)

Disaster Stalks the Fish

That fish thing is apparently a very deep philosophical musing.... bear with me....

Sunday night kung fu. A few run-through's of Black Crane One. I am still forgetting to bring the hands up through the CENTER before the lunge and press-down.

Then a few reps of Tiger Versus Crane. More work on that same strike-to-flying-crescent-kick sequence that we've been working on for- what, three weeks? And it's still not right. Practicing the strikes against focus mitts. I'm still failing to keep the right arm circling continuously all the way around. As is typical of me, I can focus on getting the hand positions and targeting right, *OR* I can focus on that centrifugal right arm; I don't have enough brain cells to do both at once. What usually has to happen in these sorts of cases is that I just have to rep the easier part a million times till I can put that on autopilot and focus on the more complicated part. Problem here is that both parts are complicated.

I did figure out that I have been making things unnecessarily hard on myself by trying to torque legs and body through too much of the turn; it's okay to turn more initially and also to lift the left knee up to help hike my body weight into the air. Bringing the left knee up also forces me to remember to get the weight fully on the right foot before the jump.

After the focus mitts, SK made me do the sequence with barbells in my hands (He asked me if I could do the sequence while holding 2-lb barbells, and I said sure- examined them later in the class and found that he'd given me THREE-pound barbells, the sneak). That was quite a bit more exhausting work, but it also made it harder to do it WRONG, because when you do it wrong with 3-lb barbells in your hands, you drag your entire body violently off course.

The others seem to think my flying crescent looks impressive... I can feel that I'm still not getting the centrifugal force right... if they think it looks good NOW, their socks are going to be knocked off when I get the rest of the kinks worked out of my balance problems. I'm already crescenting way over my head and getting the proper 180-degree turn to the appropriate target. I can still FEEL my body working against itself, though.

It needs about a zillion more reps, and I get tired after a dozen. Flying crescent kicks are a lot of work.

We also spent some time on the closing three-kick sequence (rt foot inside-to-outside flying crescent to west, rt foot box kick to north, rt foot inside-to-outside flying crescent to south). I am stopping the energy after each kick, and I need to figure out how to move my feet in such a way that the energy continues through all three kicks. For much of this part, sliding the relevant foot along the floor in a curve from center will suffice. I just have to remember to do it. After the box kick is the sticky wicket. Apparently you have to let that right foot swing back down AND BACK without pause, as you twist your body 180 and let that second upward swing carry into the flying crescent. Mama Mia. It's hard. I only had time to try a handful of reps, and I can almost feel how it's SUPPOSED to be.... but not quite there yet. And by the way, there's nothing that looks more spastic and ridiculous than trying this. I wanna work on it someplace where nobody is *watching* me work on it!

Every Sunday we read a chapter of the Tao Te Ching from each of our respective translations and discuss it. JM has a version with singularly lovely illustrations... written by a gentlemen whom we have all agreed was high when he did the translation. We can follow the parallels through all of the other versions fairly easily, then we get to her book, and she usually has to ask, "Uh, we *are* on chapter thirty-six, right?" Because hers bears NO resemblance. It is usually three times as long, wandering in nonsensical hyperbole that leaves us either rolling in hysterics or gaping at each other and asking, "WTF?????" (As if this material wasn't inscrutable enough to begin with.) There is a "commentary" section on each chapter that's even nuttier. Let's just say that great liberties are taken with the original work, and this author is convinced that he Gets It in a way that no other philosopher ever has or ever will. That much I think we can get behind.

Anyway- tonight's chapter made reference to fish in deep water, and when we got to JM's translation, the line came up as "Disaster stalks the fish."


Long moment of eyebrow-climbing silence.


That is going to be the new buzz phrase in this school. It might be the name of a new form.

Finger is improving steadily, although not as quickly as I would like. I can do light tasks with it now, as long as I'm careful- I don't have to do everything with that finger stuck stiffly out to the side. I was hoping to get back to BJJ class this week... or at the very least, go in and watch some classes. Then my recently-repaired car went belly-up again. Obviously the correct problem was not ferreted out. Back to the shop with you. Back to transportation deficiencies for me.

(Pic- Jesse)

Friday, January 14, 2011

One-handed Kung Fu

Thursday kung fu.

I picked up SK for the carpool, and he said, "So what's the REAL reason you wouldn't stay for CK's evening class last week?"

"I told you- I'd already had my turn with her earlier... it was your turn."

"Okay... sometimes you're good at that, but this time you're not."

LOL. You have to be careful when you're trying to BS a Pisces. Not only are they more likely to see through you, they are more likely to call you out on it. He says he'd rather get an "I don't want to talk about it" as opposed to a bad snowjob. Dang. Snowjob is so much less awkward.... but only as long as the other person is accommodating enough to refrain from confronting you on it.

JaE was in class tonight, even though his right arm is pretty much nonfunctional. My right hand is still nonfunctional. SK is having surgery on his broken wrist the first week in March. (The good news is that he's expected to get 100% function back with no PT and a short recovery time.)

It must be challenging to try to design lesson plans when 50% of your class is crippled. I noted that at least we WANT to be in class so much that we still show up crippled. Then Nemesis pointed out that that might have something to do with the fact that we are crippled.

SK did have to change lesson plans on the fly, because neither JaE nor I could do the hard striking drills that he had been planning to work on.

We did some easy basic hand strike drills, then kick drills. Then some Kiu Two. I was definitely feeling those couple of missed classes- I felt so rusty. I did Kiu Two with Nemesis, and we worked mostly on the flurry-of-strikes section. I can't do the sweep one-handed. Eventually I smacked my purple finger on Nemesis' bony wrist, and had to go out and hold the finger in the drinking fountain.

Then a little Chi Gek. SK wanted people to match up with someone nearer their size, so I got JM. The combo of playfulness and competitiveness that JM and I often fall into (CN refers to it as "playing GOTCHA") had us trying a little harder to kick each other than to do the drill correctly. Chi gek is one thing I do fairly well, though- my ballet experience lends itself well to balancing on one leg and shifting around for long periods of time. I do have to keep hopping in on the opponent in order to keep in range with my short legs... but that means s/he has to then hop away, and usually compromise hir balance a lot worse than I compromised mine.

After that, Monkey-in-the-middle with simple self-defense techniques- with the right hand (EVERYONE'S right hand) out of commission. I was anxious about doing this; it seemed like a good way to bump my sore hand- so I was working in slow-mo. It's also more difficult to ATTACK with no right hand, I found. My initial defense reactions are very right-hand oriented. I found myself trying to bring my left hand up the centerline and adapt that to what I would have been doing with my right hand- instead of coming in from the left side.

Individual forms time. One rep of Hurricane Hands, then a few reps of Cannon Fist. Even doing forms hurts the finger... I was going easy, but even so, it started to throb after a while. After Cannon Fist, I tried a few of those Tiger-Versus-Crane kicks that I'd been strugging with last week, but that is also not very finger-friendly. Back to slo-mo.

I got a text from Cindy wanting to know where I've been and when I'm coming back! It's nice to be missed. I hope next week my hand will not be hurting so much, and I will be able to at least do drills.

(pic- Julie and Bianca)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

And for the grownups- Seattle tournament Jan 29

Kids-only tournament in Seattle, Feb 5

French fries

I had McDonald's fries before work. I've only had them maybe 2 times in the last six months. I've heard other people say that after resolving to eat healthier, after a while they didn't even WANT their old bad foods- that they didn't even taste as good. I was skeptical.

Well, the fries didn't taste as good. I was surprised.

Not that I ever had a *habit* of fast food to begin with. My Dr Pepper addiction would be a much tougher nut to crack.

Finger: still purple. I can't really tell if the outermost knuckle will bend, since it is still too swollen to fold down even if it did work. I can touch things with it now, lightly- without gasping in pain. Still not ready to try rolling with it, though. If it follows the pattern of previous digit sprains, it may well not be fully operational by March- which would eliminate the possibility of competing in the March Revolution. Undecided about that anyway. I hope there would be no further drama… but I'm not certain. More worrisome is that I don't feel a whole lot more confident in my ability to get out from underneath. I'd like to have a sense that I've made strides in that area, before spending a second tournament stalled in bottom half guard.

(pic- Rodrigo, on the left. Am I crazy, or does it look like the guy on the far right of the pic has six toes on his right foot????)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Knees 2.0

I have a brand-new set of knees. Well, not really. But that's the mnemonic I'm using.

I just recently got my motorcycle out of the shop. Fortunately, they had a "parts bike" in their lot that matches mine, and I think I got back a machine that has more of the "parts bike" on it than my original. The section with the ignition switch in it is from the "parts bike", so I was surprised to find that my motorcycle key doesn't even fit it any more. I have to use the ignition key from the "parts bike".

How is this relevant, you may ask? Well, now that I have a new set of knees, my old posture is just not going to work for them any more than I could force that old key to start the new motorcycle. The new body will only run with the new alignment. (Or so I'm trying to convince myself.)

I can feel muscles on the backs of my thighs right above the knees engaging- and complaining that they are not used to working this hard. Lower back is saying, "Hmmmm…. I'm not really sure if this hurts or not…. but I'm tired and grumpy." It's pretty exhausting; I'm tired of doing it, tired of thinking about it. I feel like I'm walking around with a broomstick up my butt all the time. I hope it gets easier soon.

The sprained finger looks like a burned sausage. I thought I'd be able to do one-handed BJJ, but any bumping or the slightest pressure on the finger makes me dizzy with pain. It's going to need a few days, at least. Benched. Sigh. Should be able to still do some kung fu formwork, although I am not looking forward to the centrifigal Crane arm-swings that we will likely be doing tonight.

I will say that it's not as crippling as having a thumb sprain; although many of the same difficulties persist- with typing, dressing oneself, opening a can of cat food, etc. I can hold a pen only with great difficulty, so work tomorrow is going to be interesting.

I'm going to consider hosting Turtle Drum last night to be a workout. I was really relieved to see Bill show up, because using a djembe or my big frame drum was out of the question. Luckily, I was still able to play my bell drum, my Remo Sound Shapes, water drum, and rattle. Without a giant djembe strapped around my waist, though, I ended up dancing and chanting more than I am usually inclined to do.

It was a decent turnout, but pretty chaotic at times. There were a few rhythmically-challenged folks present, including one dude who was not only pounding at complete random but doing it LOUDLY, with a large frame drum *and* a medium-sized ashiko. Sigh. Whattaya gonna do. Fortunately, he was sandwiched between Bill and me- but he even pulled the two of us into a train wreck a few times. It was a challenge to find and start rhythms that would hopefully be simple enough for this guy and the other beginners to follow, not QUITE inspiring enough to encourage Arrythmia Guy to spin off in a solo, have enough building potential for the more experienced drummers to not get bored (you can only play "Fanga" for so long), and be sustainable in the face of someone thumping randomly into your right ear. I stayed beside Arrythmia Guy much of the time, keeping it simple, and making sure he could not only hear me, but SEE my drumstick, and maybe use that to help him try to stay on beat.

My dance was very MA-ish last night; pieces of Box form were popping up, and inside cross blocks, and a few circular kicks- but it didn't seen Dragony, which was a little unusual. More tai chi flavor than anything. 180-degree hopping turns. The balance was exquisite. Some really low shifting stances, too.

Leading a drum circle- especially one with a Shamanic focus- is like chasing a bunch of colorful paper streamers across a parking lot through a windstorm, trying to catch them all and gather them into one cohesive horsetail. Only it's not so much catching and tying them as trying to create a streamer of your own that is shiny enough and "sticky" enough that all the other streamers are drawn to bunch together with it of their own accord. In the meantime, you have to be constantly monitoring the currents and making adjustments, as this is a fickle wind. The more beginners (beginners at drumming, as well as beginners at energy work), the harder it is to pull it all together. It is a lot of intense energy work, which is mostly why I'm considering it a martial arts workout- although the drumming and dancing is a physical workout as well.

It turned out pretty well, though. Arrythmia Guy seemed to get a little better melded by the second hour. The guy with the camouflage Remo has become a much more proficient drummer over the last few months, and is almost at a point where he can act as an anchoring force. The Digeridoo Guy was there, and he started some nice songs. Thekla was there to chant. There was also a new woman- Susie- I've never seen her before, but as soon as she walked in, it was like she was glowing. I forgot what I was doing and was propelled across the room right to her. She started off tentative, but she obviously knew her way around dancing energy work. Three or four other people got up to dance, too... it's always so much easier to keep the momentum flowing when people are dancing. Trying to keep a drum circle going with no dancers can sometimes feel like "trying to run away from lava while wearing swim fins" (and if you haven't seen the gut-busting illustration that goes with that phrase, hie ye to the Hyperbole and a Half website and check it out!)... and I can't dance myself unless there are enough strong drummers that I am not needed in that role.

If the rest of this year's drum circles go that well, we'll be sitting pretty.


Sunday Kung Fu. I have missed the last two classes in a row, so it was a relief to get back.

Black Crane One. Make the first section of movements all one continuous swirl with no breaks. Don't get lazy with hand position on the Crane-serves-drinks pose. Also- both the hands and the foot are strikes in that motion, so don't do it like a dance step.

Tiger Versus Crane. Unfortunately, last week when I wasn't here, they were working on the centrifugal arm-swinging thingie that leads into the first big flying crescent kick, which is my particular trouble spot in this form. For some reason the momentum is stopping and the energy is grounding out right before the jump- it feels like my arm motions are trying to drive me downward while my legs are trying to drive me upward. We worked on that some more tonight, and it's still not coming together for me. The kick itself is feeling even more powerful, though. It almost makes a snapping sound in the air. If I can get all the pieces assembled, it should be awesome.

Note that the target of the kick- as well as all three of the hand strikes- are toward the east (same opponent). The first rt arm swing is straight up, and that arm continues the circle all the way around without stopping or changing direction.. No elbow-bending at any point. Acknowledge all of the hand strikes.

Note also that the very last kick in the form is toward the south. For both of these kicks, if you fail to turn enough and/or begin the kick too soon, you won't be able to get all the way around to the intended target.

Fully extend the Crane's beak strike at the beginning. The first high cross block to the north- make it snappy and blocking forefully upward BEFORE you turn, not just as an afterthought at the apex of the turn.

Then some Black Crane drills- apps from the last two, which are the long ones, against multiple opponents. We took turns having one person in the middle while the others attacked. They were all laughing at me, and I couldn't figure out why. Apparently there is something humorous about the fact that I hit the same target precisely every single time (in this case, groin, throat, just-below-the-knee, in succession). Well, that's the TARGET, right? That's the idea.

Note that in the drill with the kick-and-backfist… it's okay to put the foot down after you knock the opponent to the ground, if you need to do so in oder to change position for the kick. It is not necessary to hop on one foot over to the fallen person so that you can reach hir to kick hir again.

In the drill with the throw- after the cover-and-corkscrew punch, as you turn to the east to get ready to kick, use a Black Crane guard arm frame. Not only does it provide extra protection in case you fail to jam the opponent's leg with your kick, but it also sets up the arms correctly for the double corkscrew punches so that you don't have the wrong arm on top.

As we were sitting down for the meditation, SK said, "We've all had our sessions with CK last week, so let's all pay attention to our PELVIC ALIGNMENT…" I moaned.

(pic- Cindy)

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Yes, I have finally met the elusive and legendary Cornelia. And she sprained my finger in the first four seconds of our very first spar.

I took photos, but they don't do it justice... it is black and purple and three times as large as it is supposed to be. Of course it is the index finger on my dominant hand, too. Dang.

Medium-small woman, about 145lb, blonde, unassuming-looking. As soon as she introduced herself, I exclaimed, "OH, you're the judo black belt!!"

Open mat only, today... I spent the entirety rolling with Cornelia, except when I was icing my finger. She is good.

I figured out after the first throw (as if "judo black belt" wasn't warning enough) that I do not want to do standup with this woman. Unfortunately, every time I tried to get to my feet, sprawl on her shoulders, or otherwise get my center of gravity above hers, she stood up- and things rapidly went to hell for me when she stood up. She wouldn't let me get away with pulling guard, either... which meant we started every spar with me sliding into bottom half guard or bottom side control. Needless to say, I mostly stayed down there.

(Ugh- it's so hard to type with no functional right-hand index finger)

Cornelia's favorite sub is armbars from the top. She must have set up two hundred of them. I'm glad to say that she only finished one... although I'm a little frustrated with myself for letting her set so many up. I'm further glad to say that I think I got two or three subs for every one of hers. She was mostly getting me with trachea-crush chokes. And after the first couple, I wised up and firmly adducted that elbow the second she placed that arm there. I got a few gi chokes on her, tried some kimuras but didn't finish any, tried some keylocks, which were a total fail- her shoulders and elbows are too flexible. She is like Sonia in that way- don't even bother trying keylocks. And while I was compromising my balance trying the keylocks, she took the opportunity to reverse me.

She has a couple of bad habits... most notably, giving up her back, and letting one arm get trapped up beside her head, begging for a head/arm triangle. I didn't manage to finish as many of those as I wanted to. I was trying to do the telephone-arm thing, but not being able to quite finish- and every time I got close, she used her superior strength and weight to reverse me. I was only able to finish them by scooching up and lying on her shoulder while I used my weight and back-arch. Messy, but it was the only way I could get her.

It was a lot of fun, she's great to work with.... all except for the finger. I don't like the look of it. It looks way too much like digits which in the past have been troublesome for periods of two months. It may well be more colorful tomorrow (although I fervently hope it will have shrunk some), and I'll try to get a decent pic.

(pic-Kaungren, apparently just realizing that he forgot to cut his fingernails!)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Death, taxes, war, pestilence, and pelvic alignment

I wish I had never HEARD the words "pelvic alignment".

I didn't go to the gym today, but I got a MAMBO-WORKOUT anyway. (That phrase swiped from my ex's daughter, to whom anything warrenting a particularly intense adjective was a "MAMBO-fill-in-the-blank".) I spent the entire day at work on my feet paying attention to my pelvic alignment. And it *took* attention- literally, if my mind wandered for fifteen seconds, my body was independantly reverting to its former posture.

After two and a half hours of this, I felt like I'd done four hundred squats. I was exhausted and my thighs were straining. At that point, it was tempting to say, "That's enough work for one day," but I'm feeling as if it's sort of like quitting smoking- it might be best to just push through the initial period of torment in one chunk. Detoxing from poor posture.

Whenever this gets hard, I just think about the concept that this might be the key to my chronic knee pain. The idea of doing forms without having it hurt.... what a seductive notion.

Next priority will be the neck/head (and by association, the upper back) alignment- but for right now, it took all of my attention just to focus on the pelvic alignment.

After work, I power-walked for an hour to the auto mechanic. That would have been fine if not for the cold rain (yes, it's STILL raining). I like walking. Rain- a different story. Ah well, it was a good workout.

(pic- Dex's promotion)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Nelson is back.... and blue!

It sucks when your car is in the shop. Raining and cold. I whimped out on lunchtime class.... partly because I did't want to ride the motorcycle in the freezing rain, and partly because the headache I went to bed with last night was *still* lurking about when I got up.

I bailed on Kung Fu this evening, too, but that was altruistic. SK would have picked me up- which is why I didn't tell him. This is MM's last class with us (well, with them) before he heads back to school. If the carpool had had to rush me back to the eastside to shoot up my diabetic cat after class, that would have meant everybody else couldn't go out with MM after class.

Fortunately, I had a backup plan.... BJJ in Bellevue, which is a much more do-able motorcycle ride than all the way around the lake to Seattle and back (my motorcycle is too small to legally go on the highway, so I have to take the long way around).

Thursday is Rodrigo's night to teach in Bellevue, so that was cool, as I don't get to many of his classes any more. He has made a point of asking me to try to get to more Wednesday evening classes in Seattle, since there are several new white belt women there. But without JB to train with in Seattle, there is less incentive for me to drive all the way in there instead of going to Bellevue, which is a much shorter and less trafficky commute. As soon as they start tolling the 520 bridge in a couple months, there will be even *less* incentive.

I ran into Rodrigo walking into the building, and while he was saying hello to a guy who was standing outside, I pulled open the door and stood behind it. When he walked up, he took the door, walked around in back of *me*, and shooed me in- brushing off my "I was holding the door for *YOU*!" Have I mentioned Rodrigo is a cool guy?

The only thing that made me happier than seeing Nelson walk onto the mat was seeing a blue belt tied around his waist. I haven't seen him in months, and he is one of my very favorite people to work with. Especially now that he has dieted himself down to 150. Holy crap. He's only 21 pounds heavier than *ME*. I said, "If you don't stop this, you're going to be in *my* weight bracket!" He mentioned that he is discovering that the ribs are vulnerable to injury when you're this size. Yeah, tell me about it.

Alisson and Nick (who is now teaching the kids) were both wearing new purples. I don't know Nick very well, but it's ABOUT TIME for Alisson. Doug was saying about a YEAR ago, "When is Alisson going to get promoted? I'm tired of getting my ass kicked by a blue belt!"

Side control to armbar. Rodrigo went into a ton of detail during his demo, which was great. Then a variation in which the guy pulls his arm out and grabs his own gi lapel- whereupon you transition to kimura. We drilled forever. Nelson was working really tight, and every single rep, he got tighter and faster and better. I'm really glad that I was drilling these particular techniques with a really good partner instead of some yahoo slamming the subs on too hard and fast. Having kimuras slammed on HURTS.

After drilling forever, we did positional training forever- starting in side control with top person having bottom person's arm trapped with a grip on hir own lapel. Nelson and I pushed each other. He was good at not letting me get the same trick on him twice, though. That's something I want to improve on myself.

It seemed like forever, and that's because it was. We didn't stop at 7 to change from "basics" class to "advanced" class as usual (at which point I was planning to bail)- we just kept going from 6 to 7:30, then open mat. I was too wiped by 7:30 to do any more.

I had had fair warning from Side Control's training blog that Rodrigo is On A Mission to wrest back domination of the Revolution tournaments in 2011. So I was ready for him to be a little more driving, a little more picky; and he also let it be known that he does not want people tutoring their partners during the drill- especially if they can't do the technique themselves. "Don't teach your partner, I'll do that."

There's a small tourney on the 29th; Rodrigo specifically asked me to let him know if I could do it or not, so that he could talk to the other school owners and see if he could make sure I would have someone to fight. That's thoughtful; although I feel a little pressured; as I am not even sure if I want to do the next Revolution (or compete again at all)... but I think I'm going to be on the work schedule for the 29th anyway (must double check tomorrow when I go to the hospital). He did mention that he was going to check with Cindy as well about sending people to the tournament. I think Cindy's new schedule has done away with gi BJJ completely. Tournament is gi only. But I'm just relieved that there seems to be open communication between Rodrigo and Cindy.

Rt elbow is still sore, and Nelson left me with a big dark bruise on the inside of the same elbow. I have to work all day tomorrow, but I hope this elbow will be back in comission by Saturday.

(pic- Lindsey and Carlos)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How to avoid disembowelling yourself with your own sword.

Lunchtime BJJ in Seattle. I really wanted to make an appearance at Cindy's this afternoon- but I had a 2pm scheduled with CK, and Gracie Barra Seattle has what Cindy's unfortunately does not: a SHOWER. I look/smell so foul after a BJJ class, I don't even want to stop for GAS without a shower first, so there is no question of going to a second class in that state.

Even more unfortunately, the condition of my car necessitates an overdue trip to the car hospital.... which will make it impractical to go to Cindy's tomorrow lunchtime either. Working Friday and Monday. I might be able to make it to Cindy's lunchtime next Tuesday, assuming the car is repaired by then. She probably thinks I've died.

Anyway- same techniques as last night. I got to work with Steve, a small-size 4-stripe blue who is great to work with.

I had to be reminded to keep that gable grap during the clinch- and also during the scarf/headlock reversals. I also had to be reminded to keep my head/posture up when doing the clinch so that I don't get guillotined.

Problem: during the scarf/headlock rollovers, I whacked my ulnar nerve ("funnybone"), not just once but multiple times. I slapped some jow on it when I got to the community center with CK, but it's still pretty tender- and radiating funky weirdness all along that arm. (My right arm, of course- my sword arm, when I had a class scheduled with CK, drattit.)

King-of-the-mat positional sparring from headlock/scarf. I last about three seconds in this position on top of a big guy. After several rounds of immediately getting rolled over, I started switching to side control the second we said "go"- whch is kind of cheating the whole "positional training" concept, but heck, that was just not working out for me.

Timed spar with Marc. Very competitive. He has unexpectedly flexible hips, and is really good at making a little space and replacing guard when you don't think he'll be able to pull that off. All of a sudden, there's a leg between you- and it's like, "Damn- where did that leg come from?" and there you are in his guard again. Every time he put me back in guard, I cursed softly.... after four or five times, we were both laughing about it. He's good at triangles, too- which is fortunate for me because I get to work my triangle defense/escape, which still is wanting. I got out of one by stacking him hard and then shoving his thigh aside and passing. Escaped a couple more by quickly underhooking both his thighs. But I had to be pretty quick.

Open mat- I challenged Bree, but she was having asthma issues and had to bail. So I jumped Marc again. Another good competitive roll. Because I felt challenged by him- but not hopelessly, helplessly overmatched- I was consciously doing a little better at getting out of my game-plan rut and trying some different tactics once I observed that he was using the same set of techniques successfully against me multiple times. I finally managed to tap him out with an armlock. I had to work for a while to get it. I was perched on top of his shoulder, but he kept shoving away the ankle I was trying to park beside his head. Once I managed to accomplish that, I grabbed for his pantleg to try to bow him (that was an unusual tactic for me to experiment with). I had to let go of the pants, though, to keep the arm. He gable-gripped his hands to try to defend the armlock, but I wrapped his wrist by grabbing my own gi lapel. It wouldn't have worked against a big gorilla- and for a while I didn't think it was going to work on him- but I kept at it for a bit, and wore him down, and he eventually lost the gable grip and had to tap. I hardly ever tap Marc any more- and he really makes me work for it when I do- so I was pleased with myself.

Jamie just started yoga. He said wonderingly, "Some of those women in there are so flexible that thay can stand with their feet apart, put their heads right down on the mat, and go up into headstands!" So I had to show him that I could do that. Gracefully. When I was upright again, I glanced down the line, and all the guys were watching me with identical gawping expressions. LOL. Someday I'll walk on my hands for them, and then they'll REALLY think I'm Hot Stuff.


Tai chi with CK. I asked her to show me the new form that she wants to teach me next. It's a jian form. Pretty cool. She thinks it has a lot of Dragony energy in it. I can't really tell by watching.

We did some more Catherine Dao, some more Cannon Fist. More moving-from-the-center, more alignment. It is a bit frustrating that the second I stop focussing on the pelvic alignment, it slides right back into it former bungled state. I mean IMMEDIATELY. I literally have to say it to myself every twenty seconds. CK says that it is a process of actually changing PHYSIOLOGY as well as posture, so it's not unusual for it to be that much work.

I got to work apps from Catherine Dao, involving grabbing the enemy by the hair (I had to grab CK by the collar instead, as she currently has a buzz cut), chopping her head off, and then swinging the severed head around in a wide circle as you make the next turn. The blood splashes in a lovely arc- nothing is untouched.

One correction she made on me was the spot where I was puling the dao back across my belly for a rechamber before a stab- I was turning the edge outward as I pulled it back and then twisting the sword on the stab so that the edge was inward again at extention. She wanted me to keep the dao in place and remove all the superfluous twisting. I tried it, and immediately objected because that put the edge toward my stomach on the rechamber. I argued that in a melee situation, that would put me in danger of someone falling or pushing against me and causing me to open my own gut with my own sword. That is always embarrassing. She ran the technique both ways and exclaimed, "Huh!" I was enormously pleased that I actually had a practical martial reason for the alteration that I had apparently made on a subconscious level... and even more pleased that CK appreciated my deviation enough to consider it valid. We compromised, and decided to turn the edge downward on the drawback. She further suggested that we both present a united front in insisting to SK that that was the way it had always been. (hee hee)

Whenever CK comes to Seattle, she visits a Chinese bakery and gets these EEEEEEEVIL custard pastry things that probably have a zillion calories in them. Today she also fed me a coconut tart from the same bakery. I said I'd try a small piece... wow, it was yummy- Next thing I knew, I had gorfed the whole thing. Good thing- in that aspect- that CK and her baked good are leaving tomorrow morning. The ten lb I dropped for the November Revolution, I've kept it off throughout the holidays.

While in the International District, she also bought a pair of ceramic cups with a traditional design in nice earthy green and beige- Tigers on one and Dragons on the other. Those being our respective Shaolin styles; she gave me the Tiger and kept the Dragon.

I had hoped to get to evening BJJ tonight in Bellevue as well, but my malfunctioning car put the kibosh on that. I feel bad flaking out on Angela yet again for no-gi.

(pic- Doug's black belt promotion)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Deadly Triangle

Met CK at 9:30 am... we went to High Point Community Center, in West Seattle. I've never been there before. They've got an awesome room... high ceiling, mirrors, wood floor. (Greenlake Community Center is going to be very much unavailable for the foreseeable future due to budget cuts- their hours have been slashed.)

We only had about 45 min to work on tai chi before MM arrived. We worked on Catherine Dao- mostly the closing, which I continue to struggle with.

I declined to spar with them today. At all. I know that this is not a viable long-term solution, but when I contemplate sparring- even with CK, with whom I feel fairly safe- all I feel is anxiety and dread. It's not fun any more... it just makes me feel frustrated and inadequate.

CK and MM sparred, and when they got tired, CK worked with me on Catherine Dao and Cannon Fist. She wants me to use higher, narrower stances- which feels like regressing and wussing out to me, but she stresses that doing it RIGHT in high narrow stances is better than doing it WRONG in deep stances. I insisted that I *could* do the deep stances- yet every time I tried, she informed me that my form was unacceptable due to all the compensatory positions I was using in order to try to avoid bending my knees. I hadn't really seen/understood how bad it was until today. It took her pointing out all the various things I was doing- most of them on a completely subconscious level- for it to hit home. It was quite a disconcerting and dismaying discovery. This is certainly just as bad of an issue in my Shaolin.

"THE DEADLY TRIANGLE"- the point at which my stance becomes wide enough that I start to subconsciously avoid bending my knees. Actually, I guess I'm sort of ALWAYS subconsciously trying to avoid bending my knees.... but there is a definite point at which it starts to show up glaringly as crippling my formwork. "You can't just badass your way through everything" was a statement that was also made, which stung enough to have a ring of truth to it.

We worked some more on alignment issues- pelvis, head, hips. CK thinks that this is the single most important thing I ought to be focussing on for the next period in both tai chi and Shaolin- and that if I can clean up some of my alignment issues, it may actually ease my knee pain enough to go back to the deep stancework. The high stances are a little easier to take if I think that this isn't a *permanent* step backward.

Moving from the center was another big theme today. Hips continue to be tight and inflexible. Even after we'd been working for a while, I still felt like there was a stone column running from my tailbone to the base of my skull- that's how stiff my hips felt. CK made me stop, lie down on the floor, and do hip circles. She knows I can't stand hip circles... I do not have the patience to do hip circles. They appear to be a necessary evil, though!

I have a few specific notes on the two forms, which I am too tired to transcribe tonight, but I will get them down in the next few days. Not too many specific notes, though- it was mostly alignment and moving from the center on our radar today.

Tomorrow will be CK's last day here. I gladly put in a bid for her anticipated small block of time tomorrow between lunch and dinner. She already has an after-dinner class planned with SK and JM... and me, I was informed. I tried to gracefully sidestep the evening class three times- with three different perfectly reasonable excuses- but she knew I wasn't working that evening, and she just wasn't having it. She kept insisting that she really wants me there for the particular class material that she had in mind. She thinks that SK and I have similar major stumbling blocks when it comes to Chen, so she has some specific things planned to work on, that she wants SK and me to continue working on until her next visit. I finally had to put my foot down and state outright (which I was doubly reluctant to do with MM there) that I simply do not want to work in front of JM. It fills me with anxiety, and it would just not be productive for me. Again, avoidance not being a viable long-term solution for *that* problem either... yet it's a step forward for me to be self-aware enough and assertive enough to know that that situation is just not going to be worth the effort for me, and that it's a waste of my valuable time to go through the motions. As soon as I start getting corrections from JM in **CHEN**- in which she has had a grand total of about four lessons, and I have been studying for fifteen years, and yet I have no doubt she'll immediately be more proficient at than I am- I will truly have a nuclear meltdown. We are just not gonna go there, uh-uh, nope- not while my self-confidence is in the toilet to the extent that it currently is.

I did text SK and warn him that CK wants to work on the tai chi short form with him tomorrow evening, so he'd better do some reps beforehand!


Evening BJJ in Bellevue. I haven't been to BJJ since Christmas eve. I got to congratulate Doug on his black belt promotion, which was cool. Hostility Boy now has two stripes on his blue belt, which was markedly less cool. I also saw Jamie for the first time since the huge Promotion 0rgy in December, and congratulated him on his fresh purple. Luiz got *TWO* new stripes on his purple, Manuel got two new stripes on his white- and he has also dropped thirty-four pounds in four months. Wow. Irina now has a stripe on her white belt. I drilled with her tonight.

I was afraid I'd be feeling out of shape after my recent lax training schedule, but the warmup went fine- even though we spent a lot of time running, which is challenging for me with my breathing issues. After the running, I did four full fast, technically precise shrimping circuits, and didn't feel particularly weary.

We started with a standup drill- two cross-jabs to your partner's upraised palms, thrust kick to belly, step in and clinch. Irina- the karate artist- had some SERIOUS jabs and kicks- each kick knocked me back a step or two, and she was going light. So when it was my turn, I felt that I needed to serve back the same high standard- on my honor as a kung fu artist! I didn't knock her back with my kicks, but they were at LEAST as serious as hers... I exercised my skillful control and precision, and pulled them at exactly the right point. I can tell she knows enough to recognize a Serious Kick when she feels one!

Another thing I like about drilling with Irina is that she is all brisk business- no futzing around, so we get maximum reps in. We got two circuits in the time it took everyone else to do one.

Spinning armbar. I can do this, although the fine details still need a little work. In particular, I need to pay attention to snuggling my ankle tight against the opponent's neck and pinning hir head in place with it. We were also grabbing the pants at the knee with the free hand, which I had to keep reminding myself to not let go of.

Escape from scarf/headlock- the one where you clasp your arms around the opponent's body and roll hir first toward hir head and then overtop of your own body to get on top.

Then a little positional training from scarf/headlock, and from north-south.

(pic- Andrew and Renzo)


.......I have a nightmare in which my car is careening down a twisted and heavily trafficked highway at about 80..... and I'm in the backseat, desperately trying to steer the vehicle as I'm straining and stretching over the backrest.