Wednesday, October 31, 2012


"I've had 56 students win gunfights in the past 5 years.  I also had two students that died because they were unarmed when they were attacked.  Carry your f***in gun." - Tom Givens (Rangemaster)

Now that my sinus infection is being medicated, hopefully soon I will 1)stop feeling like crap, 2)stop skipping classes due to congestion, headache and exhaustion, and 3)be able to smell my food again- I've gained a few pounds while I was ill.

  Amusingly enough, I was trying to do a good deed by entering a charity raffle, and I just won a "chocolate pizza".   OMG!!!  Well, it would take a stronger woman than I to turn THAT down!!! Ha ha ha!!  Yes, pre-diabetes in a cellophane wrapper... but it was for CHARITY, so that gets a caloric free pass, right?

Monday Form Of the Day: Northern Mantis Bo form

Tuesday FOD: Spear Hand fragment

Wednesday lunchtime BJJ at GB Seattle.

From standing: opponent attempts to double-leg you, you sprawl and catch guillotine. Opponent hugs one arm over your back and steps to the same side, stands as upright as possible, uses knee to break down the back of your knee, takedown to side control. Opponent places both elbows on the far side of your body and postures up to shuck the neck hold.

Person on bottom: bump up (DO NOT SHRIMP OUT!) so that you can take the arm nearest the opponent and place the palm on your ear. Turn (STILL! DO NOT SHRIMP OUT!) just enough so that you can get that near knee in to touch the elbow, Black Crane style. Now bring your OTHER leg up and over the head (DON'T SHRIMP OUT!), push opponent away with your legs, and replace full guard. If you can catch that arm as you bring the leg over, and scare your opponent into thinking you're going for an armbar, so much the better. S/he will posture up and basically help you return to full guard.

Can you guess what I couldn't stop myself from doing? Yes, for some reason I felt that my life depended on shrimping out. I also had a really hard time grokking where the arms were supposed to go at the beginning of that second sequence. Carlos came over and kept going over it with me again and again until we both started to get frustrated with one another. I really hate it when that happens; especially when I'm working with a white belt that I don't know (can I possibly look any *more* like a moron now?).

Women's class... I usually can't make any of these; on my Wednesdays that I have off work, I am generally at Cindy's. She did not have class today, so here I was. There were only three of us today. We went over a pendulum sweep, then played with some spider guard, then I sparred both of them. I am not used to all-women settings, so it was interesting to observe the difference in my own mood. I felt less pressure- less of a sense of girding my loins, setting my jaw and preparing to charghe into the hostile breach.

Followed by: "all levels". The prof folded the line tonight (he had done that this morning as well).... as in, the highest belt gets paired up with the newest white belt, the 2nd highest belt goes with the 2nd newest person, and so on. As luck would have it, it was almost all blue belts in class tonight, and I ended up with Lindsey again.

Side control: slide your knee and elbow in to pinch off and isolate the bottom person's arm. Segue into scarf. Press the far side of the opponent's face toward you and step your foot over the head. Keep the other foot braced in a good position for balance, up on the toes. Armbar. I was having some trouble with this... and finally figured out that I have done similar things in Cindy's no-gi classes, but with the gi sleeve in the way, I was having a little difficulty figuring out exactly where the elbow was as well as the orientation of the hand.

If the opponent pushes at your knee, loop your arm overtop and trap hir with hir own arm crossed over hir throat. Get your arm under hir head, gable grip and squeeze to choke. It works much better- and hurts more- if before you gable grip, you take the arm that you put under the opponent's head and use your fingers to crawl it across the mat like a spider to tighten up. It kinks the head to the side a bit and makes you want to tap even before the person starts leaning into the choke. As soon as I saw this detail, I remembered it from Cindy's classes as well. It's a tiny thing, but it can really make all the difference.

If they're still not tapping, you can stick your arm between hir knees and turn the knees away from you. This- done correctly- apparently was making the choke worse, but when Lindsey did it to me, all it did was torque my back (which would have made me tap, anyway).

One roll with Justin and one with Ted. I was on top most of the time with both, but only finished one sub (a sloppy choke on Justin). I tried that baseball bat choke I've been experimenting with, and Justin spun with me to keep me from tightening it- we did three full 360's, and then started giggling so hard we had to stop. His front mount defense is getting really good. The few times I actually managed to mount him, he immediately got on his side- and he is just large enough that I can only get one knee touching the mat when he's on his side, so I would not get points for that. He is also defending really well against the armbar, and against all chokes.  I got three or four KOB's of three seconds or more on Ted. Seriously, they just lie there. I'm aware that I'm arguably doing it "wrong" by not posturing up and yanking them into a bow while I'm doing it- but I'd still get points if it was a comp, so why do they just lie there? I understand that if it's a white belt, they might not know what it is (or that I'm getting points for it) until I tell them... but these blue belts ought to know better. I also tried that alligator-roll thing with Ted, but I could tell even before I rolled him that I didn't have the arm controlled well enough (which is where I failed the last time I tried it, too). So there is that yet to work on. I am getting a little quicker at setting it up, though.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Whoopie, I'm on drugs!!!

BJJ isn't about doing a technique against resistance, it's about doing techniques that your opponent doesn't expect, and catching him off guard or off balance.  Kaungren

Jiu jitsu is one of the few obsessions wherein you can walk into a roomful of people and say, "Wow, my butt hurts so bad from last night," and not only does no one think you're twisted, half of them agree that their butts hurt from last night too.

Whoopie, I'm on drugs!!! I'm on three different prescriptions, and one of them is a new inhaler. I'm always very excited to try a new  sinus medication... none of them have done doodly squat so far, but hope springs eternal. I also have antibiotics for the sinus infection.  The allergist wants me to repeat the skin scratch tests.... the last ones I had done were on the east coast and with 1980's technology. I told her I'd attempt to get a referral for that.

Friday evening no-gi at Sleeper. Cindy had to leave, and put Lamont and Terry in charge. Tyrannical despots! They made me do pushups for "speaking negatively" (ie, making a self-deprecating comment about my ability)!

Variations on Keylock from side control: If my little puny hand won't go all the way around the guy's thick wrist, I can try gripping the meat of the hand (which is something we worked in Kung Fu, so I can do that). Turn hir palm away from me.

Alternately: Use the arm farthest from hir head to hold the near hip down, then tiptoe around over the head. Backsit and scoot backward so that you are shoving hir head with your butt and and kinking hir neck. Now you have plenty more room to crank the lock.

Variation on armbar from guard: shove one of the opponent's elbows across, then hug around hir shoulder and underhook the armpit with your hook hand. Hug hir tight against your chest, open guard (I had better luck if I put a foot on the hip at this point and used it to hitch myself around a bit further), and try to rock/maneuver hir enough to underhook the leg. You may be able to sweep from here. Otherwise, you can armbar the arm that s/he has crossed over.

We played with a couple of other things, but my brain was little too full at that point to fully absorb those.

I rolled with Terry, and asked him to put me/let me get in bottom half guard so that I could try to get out. Some of those efforts led to replacing guard.... Lamont suggests, though, that if my sweeps and subs from guard are weak (which they are), I'm better off trying to escape out the side and get on top or scramble.

I rolled with Lamont and *almost* completed a pendulum sweep on him... that was cool. I did complete a kimura from guard, which I'm not sure I've ever finished live before. I've tried it a lot, and Cindy is always carping on me for 1)not being in a good position before I go for it, and 2)using too much arms to push the opponent's arm away, instead of using my body.

Then Terry put me with the new guy and had me go over a basic guard break and pass to side control. Terry had already taught the pass to him, so I just had to nitpick details. (Trying to push my hips to the mat THROUGH his own knee, putting up the knee on the side instead of between my legs, bending over instead of crouching with good upright posture, leaving WORLDS of room while moving to side control, knees on the mat in side control, lack of any semblance of Shoulder Of Justice.)

Terry again. Lamont had an idea for a new exercise. Whenever he saw me in a position where he felt I ought to be doing something explosive, he would yell "EXPLODE!" and I had to do *something*, fast and hard- while Terry let up a bit in order to allow me to do it.

Things got a bit heated in this match... Terry was goading me to chinstrap him at one point, and I refused- so he retaliated by crossfacing me to within an inch of my life. I called him a Bastard. Lamont informed us approvingly that we were "fighting like brother and sister".

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Half guard rocks.

If you sometimes feel a little inferior... Always remember that YOU were once the fastest and most victorious little sperm out of millions.

Saturday Form Of the Day: Cannon Fist
This did not happen. Nor did any Form Of the Day happen on Sunday. It's been a rough few days. My sinus infection has begun to involve my ears, and I believe the time has come to slouch to the doctor and submit to being prescriptively medicated. My normally poor sleep being even poorer due to this ailment, I was also woken up on Saturday by Teddy- who was having a hypoglycemic attack. He was trying to walk through a wall, and getting all confused when that wasn't working out for him. I had to take him to the ER. He is okay. More chipper than I, indeed.

Cannon Fist deferred to Monday. I had to look up one small transitional move.

Tues FOD: Box Form (now making sure to do the spear hand on OPPOSITE sides instead of doing it on the same side through both cycles... all it takes is making a mental note on cycle 1 which side it's on)

(Two paragraphs of whining about the health insurance system follow. Feel free to skip!)

Arrrgh. Although I actually *have* health insurance right now for a change, the guy at the asthma and allergy center who made my appt told me that they wouldn't pay without a referral. I said, F it, I'll pay you cash. He was like, "????" I said, "I have been very sick for two months, and I just can't deal with all the red tape and time delays that are going to be involved in that. I just want to get in, NOW." ("Now" being not until Friday.) He also told me that I have to stop all decongestants for three days before the appt. I laughed at him. Sorry, that is not going to happen. I can barely function at this point even while popping handfuls of Sudafed and Nyquil, and spraying that horrible acid up my nose. The pressure in my sinuses is such that my entire skull will certainly explode messily all over the walls if I just let it go.

It is very frustrating to actually have insurance and not be able to use it- but I just know that's going to take twenty phone calls, and they're probably going to bust me back to square one and make me see a GP.... who will want to re-try all the entry-level treatments that have already failed me, and it would take forever to work my way back up the chain to the specialists. Seeing as how the specialists themselves haven't been able to help me thus far, I do not want to see a GP who is going to be patting me condescendingly on the head and asking "Have you tried Benedryl?"  Arrrrgh.  Then I will probably get laid off again and lose the insurance and be back at square one *anyway*. I'd rather just cut to the chase and pay- although it would be nice to be able to save the money, especially if I'm about to get laid off.

This is part of the reason I hate going to the doctor so much. And don't even get me started on the health insurance system. (Well, any more than I already have...)

Wednesday FOD: Sil Lum Tao

Thursday lunchtime BJJ at GB Belle.

Today was my day to shine, as we were doing all positional sparring from half guard (evil chuckle).

The prof said "Pair up," I grabbed John. Prof: "One guy ees going to start on the bottom-" I lay down. "Top guy ees going to start in half guard." John and I looked at each other and immediately started giggling wildly. He is probably the person in the school who bitches and whines the MOST about always being trapped helplessly in my half guard.

We did that for a while, then we did King Of the Hill from half guard. A couple of people did manage to get out of my half guard (after considerable struggle), but many failed utterly.  I passed *everybody's* half guard. Short legs and tiny feet help in this respect. As long as I'm careful with my balance and don't let them tip me over, I can almost always pass. I stayed down for almost the entire KOTH session without losing and having to go back in line; and that almost never happens.

Working with this position for the whole class; for once I truly felt like I belonged on the mat as the equal or better of anyone in the room (except the Prof, naturally... but even he had to work a little to get out of my half guard (he was nice and didn't smash, of course)).

Evening Competition Class at GB Belle. I had to pick up Stella at the vet's, and so arrived late for basics class- which is just as well, since basics class did not seem to be happening for some reason. So I spent about 40 min working on Cannon Fist, Kiu Two, Five Points Of the Star, that Dragon drill that CN showed me (which name I am blanking on at the moment...something about a pearl....), all of the Black Crane drills, and silk reeling. I haven't done any drills in almost a year. Luckily, the Black Crane drills came back promptly, but I really need to print out my transcripts of the Tiger drills and go over those before they go poof.

Opponent has you in spider guard. You grab hir left pantleg with your left hand (cross grab), grab hir left sleeve with your right hand (same-side). Step back with the foot that is on the same side that you have all the grips. Yank. Opponent should slide sideways so that you can drop right into KOB. I am working against muscle memory because there is a dance step that is being invoked here, which wants me to step back with the wrong leg. I have to stop and think.

Opponent has you in spider guard. You grab both pantlegs, slam hir ankles together, smash hir soles to the mat, and pass.

Opponent has you in spider guard. You grab both pantlegs, step back a bit, and crouch to dislodge the feet. Now step to one side and pull the near leg to you, push the far leg back- so that your arms make an X shape. You should be yanking hard enough that the opponent comes to you (and turns sideways) more than you stepping toward hir. This one was the most difficult for me. It is (as Carlos pointed out) a blend of the first two. I kept wanting to grab sleeves (my partner had to correct me) or turn my body the wrong way.

Note for all three moves ending in KOB- try to have your body upright and elbows pasted to your torso- there was a lot of straight-arming going on around me, which is dangerous.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Get your @ss back in here!!"

Never forget that self defense is about not being there, using awareness, avoidance, and de-escalation to eliminate the need to fight.  Fighting is what you do when you’ve totally screwed up your self defense. Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder, The Little Black Book Of Violence

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Belle.  I was relieved to see Justin walk in just before we lined up, because everyone else on the mat was a giant, and I was looking down the line thinking, "Ack, who am I going to work with?" Thursday morning seems to be Big Boys' Class. (Carlos has commented on that as well).

First: Opponent is on hir back and you are kneeling beside hir knees. Overgrip both legs with your arm and hold tight at the thighs. Place forehead on mat. Cartwheel over to the other side. Do not bring both legs up together- one after the other. Try to get some shoulder pressure while you're at it.

Opponent is in your guard with one of your knees pressed to the mat. S/he attempts to scoop your other thigh up on hir shoulder preparatory to passing. You turn, cross your arm over your chest and place it on the mat, circle your leg up and around, and stick it back in there for butterfly guard or closed guard. Amusingly, the guy beside me was turning too much (allowing the opponent to take his back) while I was not turning enough (allowing the opponent to flatten me out). Carlos demoed both errors and instructed us to try to find a happy medium. Note that you really need to turn all the way into inverted guard, but not so far over that you are presenting your back. Also- unglue your hip from the mat.

Same "airplane" that we did yesterday: bottom side control to replace full guard. Slight variation- the arm that we put over the shoulder yesterday, this time we wrapped it around the bicep and tried to catch the belt from there. I couldn't manage that either, but at least now I have two different options to try.

I am still clumsy with this. However, a plus for today: I was able to help Justin with a suggestion. He had done this yesterday as well, yet likewise was still not feeling solid. He was having the most trouble with the lift itself. I pointed out that it was a three-point effort, and turns out he was not utilizing the belt point to its full potential (lucky guy, *he* could reach it). He got lots better after that.  Also- we have worked together enough to develop a comfortable shorthand for feedback... if it seems like he is confident with the technique, I'll pick out some little detail that he could tighten up (for instance hug my legs tighter) and wordlessly cue him (for instance, by wiggling my legs a little in a token effort to escape on each rep till he regrips).  I did that several times today- and it feels nice to be able to help a teammate improve, as well as feel like I a)have something valuable to give, and b)know how to impart it well.

Also- twice, the prof stopped us to mime the technique with an error in it and ask the class what was wrong. Although in both cases, I had been committing the crime in question (blush), in both cases, I was able to immediately ID it when I saw Carlos perform it. Note that one of these sins was "Clench-n-Cling" (tm)... I'm getting better at that, but I'm still doing it sometimes (esp in bottom half guard), where I am reluctant to release my death grip on the legs long enough to do anything to accomplish getting out.

One roll with Justin. I really wanted to try that baseball bat choke, and I got front mount and top side control repeatedly so that I could try- but he was doing a really good job defending chokes (and everything else, in fact). I complimented him that he is reliably able to recognize what I'm going for and accurately defend it. I couldn't get any subs on him, although I stayed on top quite a bit. I even tried the Technique Of the Day, and *almost* got it.


Basics class: Adrian began by saying we were going to "take it easy" and had us do just easy stretches for warmup. "Take it easy" took on a new meaning for the rest of the session, as we did rotating spars with everyone in the room. One minute between spars (and not one minute prone and puffing, but you had to fix your clothes and find a new partner in that time; there really wasn't a chance for water- very little rest).  For some reason, the pervading mood was just really intense- not bouncing off the walls or maiming people or anything, but we all seemed very focused. By the third round, we were all wilting- but we pushed it.

I was much more experienced than most of the people in the room, and for some reason I was just inspired to be spewing coaching advice at all and sundry today. Everybody's white belt mistakes seemed glaringly spotlit in my mind.

Luiz- Lord, that guy's new nickname in my blog is "Gorilla Glue". He was giving me *NO* space to do anything; plastered up against me all the time like he was trying to meld us into one being. It was very effective.

Ben- I was trying to do ANYTHING but end up in his damned half-guard, which is dreadfully redundant at this point. I did anything to try to get someplace else, ANYPLACE else- including diving willingly right into his closed guard. I'm normally pretty good working in top half guard, and I tend to go there happily with most people, but NOT BEN. No matter how many times I go in there thinking "It's going to turn out different this time," It doesn't.

Dave (yeah, another one... call this one Tall Dave): he's getting very technically good, and he kept setting up subs that made me go, "Oh Sh---," but then I kept getting out. Finally I realized that this was not due to any particular skill on my part, and I told him, "You're doing everything right, but you're giving me too much space. If you just tighten this up and  close in, your game is going to improve about 200%."  It would be scary if he and Luiz had a love child.

Albert- this is the spazzy white belt who slams subs too hard and hurt JP a couple of weeks ago. When we knelt down and looked at each other, I gave him the Serious Eye Contact and the "I'm old and breakable, you're stronger than me, take it easy, don't slam subs on" lecture. Luckily, he was already wrung out and exhausted to the point that I actually had to keep chivvying him to move.  

One of the brown belts peeked in as we were finishing, and made an awed comment about how hard we were working- he said he could hear everybody breathing hard in there.

Competition Class: No fresh meat came in for this class today, except for Casey (who was also tired from rolling with the prof earlier)... so Carlos was trying to bully everybody from the basics class into staying. After I had lain spread-eagled on the changing room floor for five minutes, I was up for it. So were Ben and Tall Dave. Albert wanted to leave. Carlos was like, "How old are you?!" He sometimes rags on the young guys and tells them that they have no excuse to be tired. Albert is 22. Carlos guilted him with "I'm 28, and I did the 6:30am class today, then the morning class...." After everyone bantered about it for a while in the lobby, they filed tiredly back in, and Albert was edging toward the locker room... I pointed at him and yelled, "Hey! I'm FORTY! Get your ass back in here!!" Everyone cracked up, and Ben fist-bumped me. Carlos yelled, "And thees ees her TIRD class today! I can see who I'm going to match up first!" He kept floating around out there indecisively a little longer, and I crooked my finger at him and pointed commandingly to the mat until he slouched in.  It was hilarious. It did have a selfish motive, though- Albert's good to work with as long as he's too tired to be spazzy, and he is also learning more/better technique in that state. The more he learns, hopefully the spazz will fade out.

So- more rotating spars, with everyone. We were all too tired to do anything *but* good clean technique. I feel like we all got a lot of good work done today.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday evening

A warrior is a master at facing conflicts, and conflict is what stands between us and the fulfillment of our desires. Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Wednesday evening gi class at Sleeper. Yes, I wore the belt. I did not want to, but Cindy wants me to, although she did say she wasn't going to force me.

Opponent is in your guard. Get 2 end-of-cuff sleeve grips. Open guard and hip out a bit, keeping knees together, then quickly  open to butterfly guard. Opponent steps one foot up, in the middle. Hook your toe behind the knee and place other foot on opponent's other knee, pushing it out as you sit up. Place your hook foot on the mat. Pull opponent's arm between hir own knees and switch grips. Reach over hir shoulder and grab a handful of the back of the gi (if s/he is posturing up, grab the lapel instead). Dump hir and go to side control.

Next: add a kimura. You can step over the head to finish.

Opponent is in your closed guard with hands on the mat at your hips (or you can yank hir forward to put hir there). Open and scoot out just enough to get room to sit up. Reach over shoulder and get kimura grip. Hip out as you fall back. Replace closed guard if possible- make sure top leg is high enough on hir back to keep hir head down. Hip out a bit more. Clasp hir arm close to your chest and make sure hir elbow is bent. Curl your body up to finish- DO NOT just push hir arm away from your body.

Spars with Terry, Lamont and Soni- Soni is getting very good. Her biggest problem is keeping her base- once she learns that, she's going to be hard to handle. I noticed that the one thing I bugged her about last time- making sure that if I got one deep collar grip, she needed to defend against me getting a second- she had that down pat this time. I tried several times, and never caught her out.  Terry and Lamont tapped me left and right as usual.


Porphyrophobia: fear of the color purple.

Monday FOD: Kiu Two
Tuesday FOD: Leopard Three

The Layoff Games: Things are not looking rosy. I am on the "low seniority" list (colloquially known as "the bump list"). That  means that even though there are not supposed to be any positions eliminated at the Bellevue branch during this round of layoffs (there will be at least one more round, in the spring), any of the laid-off technologists at *ANY* branch can choose to "bump" a person off the bump list and take hir job. Although this means that we on the bump list will be absorbing most if not all of the layoffs, normally I would say I had a low chance of being bumped because I work graveyard- and nobody likes that shift. However, the boss told me this morning that one of the technologists expected to get a pink slip is a graveyard tech at another branch. So- if that person wants to stay on midnights, and is okay with commuting to a different branch (commuting being much less of a factor when you're dealing will off-hours like this), s/he will be bumping me. I can almost see the glitter of the axe.

Trying to sleep this week has consisted of strings of stress nightmares- although few of them have involved material from last fall, so as long as that remains true, I can endure. Last fall really puts a lot of things in perspective. Even the layoffs, which I would probably be stressing over a lot worse if not for the thought, "Even getting laid off (again) is not going to be half as traumatic as last fall." Whatever shit life wants to throw at me is just bugs on the windshield right now.

Lunchtime BJJ at GB Sea. I warmed up with some reps of Leopard Three (both sides) and Kiu Two.

Guard pass: opponent grabs cross-collar, you grab both lapels overtop the arm and bring elbow firmly to your ribs to pin hir arm. DO NOT MOVE HIPS- hips stay square- turn sideways by bringing just the knee out. Push the knee down, get up on toes and tiptoe to the side, side control.

Prof reminded us to posture up at the beginning; I was a little smug to observe to what extent this annoyed my partner, who kept reaching for my lapel and then having to heave himself up to strain for it. In turn, when I was on the bottom, I noticed  how much he was *not* posturing up, and how much easier that made life for me.

Next: Bottom person grabs half guard as the top person is passing. Note: LOCK it. I tend to get sloppy about locking it up because I'm too busy thinking about what comes next.

 Bottom person: Make sure the top arm goes OVER opponent's shoulder. It quickly became apparent that I needed to be speedy to accomplish this, because if I did not get the arm into position pretty much immediately, as soon as the guy's weight came down on me I would be pinned and it would be impossible to do so.

 Try to grab the belt in back (this was not happening for me; my arms were waaaaaaaaay too short.) Place matward hand on temple and curl under opponent, ducking head as close to hir thigh as possible. I wanted to ingrain this in particular- Cindy (and anyone taught by Cindy) loves to crossface the crapola out of you when you're trying to do anything in bottom halfguard.  Unfortunately, the more I curled underneath, the more impossible it became to achieve any semblance of getting that belt grip. Oh well, I could still make it work without it.

Now: Assuming your face is safely deep, take hand off temple and grab opponent's pants at knee. Switch the legs. Stretch opponent's leg out (again, not happening for midget Kit). Now hook the outside-leg toe under opponent's thigh (note that it must be above the knee). Push into opponent so that s/he will reflexively push back. Go with the push and lift the opponent into the air with your three-legged table: That belt grip (if you be so lucky), the knee pantleg grip, and the hooking toe. I was able to make it work most of the time without the belt grip.

You're not trying to flip hir- although you maybe could, keeping in mind that this is not a good position from which you can scramble on top. You're trying to play "airplane" with hir back half just enough to drop hir between your legs and replace closed guard.

This had a lot of steps, and was also new to me, so I was feeling some anxiety. I was also drilling with a white belt, who was a bit lost. I did okay, though- and was even able to contribute feedback and suggestions to him.

Gotta share this, for those not on Jiu jitsu Forums:

For quite some time I've been trying to encourage my 8 yr old daughter to join the kids BJJ class where i train. I never pushed it strongly. She'd say "no way", I'd drop it until it was time for registration for the next season's sports, and just suggest it as an alternative to the swimming, skating, or dance she usually picks (not that I think there's anything wrong with those activities -- I just want my little girl to be able to protect herself if someone has bad intentions).

This fall, she finally decided (on her own!) that she wanted to try it. She loved it immediately, and even expressed interest in competing in the up coming local tournament. So I sign her up for that, and try to make sure that she doesn't have too lofty expectations. She responds by declaring that she's going to win. I ask, what if there are not enough girls, and you have to fight boys? She says, "I'M GOING TO WIN". I ask, what if there are not enough smaller kids, and you have to fight against bigger, older athletes? She says, "Daddy, I'M GOING TO WIN"

So, with a grand total of 5 BJJ classes under her brand new white belt, she enters the tourney. Her strategy was both hilarious to watch, and actually brilliant. She didn't know very much of course, so she just stuck to what she did know: a couple of Judo throws. She'd get two points for the takedown, transition to mount if she could, then immediately stand up. When the other girl got up, she'd grab her, throw her down, and just keep on repeating the process racking up the points. She goes on to win gold in the tourney. Not a large field to go through, but she still did what she said she'd do, and intelligently did what she had to to make it happen.

So afterward, after fawning over her and congratulating her, etc, I eventually turn to a conversation about what else she could have done when she had the mount and the other girl's arms were fully outstretched. She stops me cold, and says, "Daddy, you're not my instructor -- WHITE BELTS DON'T TEACH". As I began to pluck that dagger from my chest, she followed that up with: "besides, I won gold, how did you do in your first competition?"

Pic: The gal on the right is Gina, whom I work with sometimes at both GB and Sleeper. The gal on the left is Elaina Stowell from Foster BJJ, who has recently published a book about her BJJ journey: Flow With the Go. The dude in the middle (whom you may recognize from a blog pic earlier this week) is Jeff, a brown belt from Foster who runs the Revolution tournaments.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Walk Of Shame!

Even some of the best people I know live by the “I just wanna do my own little thing.” Satisfied with the happy little island they created for themselves in the middle of the ocean of the surrounding disharmony, they look at life from their seat in the audience. I consider this attitude one of the main causes in the mediocrity in the state of things. Often for creative people the beauty of their inner world can become a handicap. Too caught up by their subjective experience to learn how to dance through the physical world.  The result is that, limiting themselves to the cultivation of their own spiritual world, the most sensitive people leave to the most careless the management of collective reality. Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Yow, sore body today. Especially the right front thigh (the sit-up sweeps?).

Basics class at GB Seattle. A bazillion people on the mat today. I got to drill with (short) John (I don't know what to call him...there are too many Johns, and they are almost all blue belts now...), which is always lovely.

Single-leg setups from standing- that same one we've been doing forever. John suggests I try to get the elbow up further. I like the way he gives suggestions: "It's up to you, but..." like I said- good partner.

Defense against opponent sitting up and grabbing your leg while you are standing (prep for X guard, De La Riva, etc). Grab the back of hir collar and the far knee, step out (spread the feet) with the outside leg, step backward with the outside leg, then lift the inside leg and place it behind opponent's butt. Flatten hir out and sprawl into side control. Apply copious Shoulder Of Justice.

My instincts want me to move the inside leg (the one at opponent's crotch) because that feels like the one "in danger" somehow. I really have to stop and force brain to override gut and do those TWO steps with the outside leg first. The initial step gets the leg out of the way so that the opponent can't trap it or stretch it out. The second step gives you something stable to stand on so that you are able to lift the endangered leg. There is just no shortcut here.

Speaking of short- being so, it means that it's difficult to give "good shoulder" and hold that leg away at the same time. Even with short John, I kinda hand to pick one or the other. I chose S.O.J, although if I have an opponent with really squirrely legs, I might need to switch that up. This shortness problem may mean that I will need to settle for top half guard  instead of side control. (Where can I buy six or eight inches?)

Another note: When I am the one doing the sitting up, I'm not sure why I always want to make life more difficult for myself by forcing myself to do a full armless situp. Yeah, the abs can always use the exercise, but let's get practical here. There is nothing wrong with putting the hand down and using it to push into a sitting position- and hey, look how much easier and faster that is.

Note that the stupid side is particularly stupid with this technique. If you're going to stand up and let someone grab a leg, let 'em have the left one and not the right one.

Escape from top half guard: swoop in with one arm under the head and other hand attacking the leg, sit out, Swing the leg up and out, turn belly down again, side control. (Yay, even more S.O.J.!)

I badgered John to do more shoulder pressure with both techniques. I think he was just trying to be nice, but I said, "Come on- grind it- more, more!" (hee hee)  He was wearing a patch from Thirteen Hands, Lindsey's new school in Fremont. I miss Lindsey. I told John to tell Lindsey hi from me.

I also saw Sabrina. I haven't seen her in forever. I knew she had come back and was training, because I saw her commenting on the school website. She is now a BLUE BELT one stripe!!!!  Whoo-hoo! I congratulated her.

It was nice to have a Rodrigo class today. I see much less of him now that I spend more time at the Bellevue satellite, and he is busier with administrative stuff as opposed to teaching, now that the GB conglomerate has mushroomed into half a dozen different pods. I wish I wasn't a little late getting in- having to do the Walk Of Shame before him when he hasn't seen me in  weeks. (It wasn't my fault... there's a really inconvenient train that bisects Seattle periodically and traps all car traffic for 20 min... sometimes it catches me on my way to the school)

Saturday afternoon no-gi at Sleeper. I failed to plan well today. On Saturdays, I really need to shower at GB and get fast food to scarf in the car so that I can go straight from one school to the other in order to be on time. Today I went home for a shower and lunch, and ended up 20 min late. (Walk of Shame, twice in one day! Yes, this one was my fault.)

I had wanted to stick to just drills for a few weeks at least, but unfortunately Cindy was ill- she was there, but not rolling- and Stacy was on her way out just as I was coming in. We were down to Lamont and Terry, and they were just sparring- so I had to fight Terry for several spars and then Lamont. Mixed bag of results.

I had made a comment when I first walked in, about the mat already being an ocean of sweat just from the two of them... Terry sweats a ton, and after every roll, we moved to a new section of mat to try to get away from the pool. It was fruitless. The entire floor was soaked.

One hilarious interlude where Lamont and I were rolling, and Cindy was trying to corner us both- urging me to be rougher and telling Lamont (jokingly) to stop being such a bully. When we finished and were both lying there panting, looking at her, she shook her head and rolled her eyes, snorting, "Ass." We looked at each other, and then back and her, and I said, "Which? Him or me?" "Both- him for being too mean and you for not being mean enough." It was so funny. It can be really enjoyable on the occasions when only a couple of people come in, and you can either get really focused and get a ton of specialized work done, or you can get relaxed and goofy and have a very fun time. Or a little of both. Cindy also told us a great story about competing in an open division against a mountainous woman (Cindy's my size- about 5 feet tall and around 130-ish if that). Apparently  video exists. I told her she has to dig it out for us.

Things have sort of come to a head regarding the belt thing. I have not been wearing my belt into Sleeper on gi days; it just makes me feel too much like crap, and I thought I could get away with it. People are mostly all uniformed up these days, but in the past, it was common for people to come to gi class without a gi, much less a belt. Unfortunately my recent beltlessness did not fly under the radar as well as I would have liked, and Cindy finally called me out on it.

The four of us had a long conversation on the topic. I'll have to incubate it and write more later.

During this discussion, I whimpered that if I keep going into Gracie Barra, sooner or later someone is going to give me a purple belt. Cindy asked me what I was going to do then, and I said that I honestly do not know. She professed that I had better figure it out PDQ. (She also said that she's surprised they haven't done it already- which shook me.) I've been a four stripe blue for a really long time. I don't remember when my last stripe promo was, but it's got to be somewhere around a year ago now- and in December I will have been a blue belt for three years. I have- umm- been sort of lowballing my attendance cards, a little- maybe- which may have bought me some breathing time. I've only been getting about every third or fourth class marked off (and this is not counting classes at Sleeper).

 I don't know if I could actually bring myself to step on the mat (at either school) in a purple belt. I can't even imagine it or think about it. On the rare occasions that I have tried, my brain just shrivels up painfully like a salted slug.

Whew, legs even more painful now. I can barely bend over. Gonna ache big time in the morning.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Intermediate-level Sand Trap of Self Doubt

Changing the world has nothing to do with altruism or with trying to be a good Samaritan. Ultimately, since everything is connected, helping others inevitably means helping ourselves. At the highest level, there is no difference between egoism and altruism. It is a karmic ping-pong game. All our actions come back to us. Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Saturday FOD: Touch Bridge
Sunday FOD: Tai Chi long form
Monday FOD: Black Crane 1 (both ways)
Tuesday FOD: Dance Of Life
Wednesday FOD: Angry Snake Defends Its Lair

Friday lunchtime BJJ at GB Sea.

Tripod sweep: judo grips, foot on opponent's hip on the side that you have the ELBOW, drop (let go of the lapel), turn out. Switch hands on that sleeve grip, grab opponent's ankle, push with the foot on the hip while hooking behind hir free foot with your free foot. Technical lift. Try to keep that ankle that you're holding.

If opponent steps back to try to keep you from hooking the second foot: Switch hips, trade the foot on the hip for the opposite one- now you can stick your other foot between hir feet and kick it backward to sweep. Don't forget to pull your leg back as you get up, otherwise it gets trapped- I did that the first few times.

If the opponent steps back really far, don't try to chase the foot- omoplata instead.

Friday evening no-gi at Sleeper.

Drill: You are in turtle & opponent is sprawled on you N/S. Stick your head up under opponent's armpit, step out with the outside foot, sit out, and go to the back. Stay tight to the opponent.  If s/he has started to try for a guillotine, go to the same side that the arm is on.

Sweeps from closed guard. Sit-up sweep, pendulum sweep, and this new one: Sit up and grab a guillotine. Opponent fights the arm. You slip your hand under hir armpit and behind hir shoulder blade. Your palm should be facing you. Gable-grip with the other hand, cinch it in tight, and pull the opponent over with the torqued-back shoulder leading. If you do it right, the neck is being twisted painfully to the side as well as the shoulder being wrenched, making it quite unpleasant to try to resist (Plenty of "bonus violence".... "A Cindy-style technique for sure" I commented).

Light positional sparring in that the bottom person tries one of the three sweeps, the top person resists, and the bottom person has to switch to a plan B. Just the sort of thing that causes my brain to go tharn. I tried.

I bailed before sparring time. I didn't spar this morning either. I think I'm going to take a break from sparring and just do drills for at least a little while, till I feel less emotionally fragile.

I noticed that this coming spring will mark 4 years of BJJ. It was right around the 4 year mark that things seriously started to go south for me with Kung Fu. I wonder if there's a pattern here. At around 4 years in, I do start to feel like I can no longer utilize the "I'm a clueless newbie" excuse; I feel like I ought to know a few things, to be sort of "intermediate" level.  LOL, at 4 years I may be looking at my MA and saying, "We need to have a talk, where is our relationship going?" and am unsatisfied with the answer. Unfortunately, high turnover among MA students means that in many scenarios, being a 4-year student means that you are at or near the front of the seniority line... which compounds feelings of "Why is this still not coming together for me?"

I never did really recover from that 4-year-point crisis in Kung Fu- although granted, there were numerous complications with teacher and classmate and curriculum dynamics that were mucking up the works- so if this is round two of that movie, I'm still not sure how to handle it.

The reason this came to mind is that I noticed myself tonight refraining from pointing out an obvious (to me) error in technique to a more junior student. I was thinking "Who am I to correct her; What do I know?" That sounded like such a familiar song that I thought back, and realized that it was word-for-word the very same refrain that was going through my mind that final year of Kung Fu, when I clammed up and stopped giving input to anyone on anything, because I felt too inferior to have anything to contribute.

Well, unless I want to change MA's every 4 years, I'm going to have to figure out how to get through the "Intermediate-level Sand Trap Of Self Doubt" (tm).  

Car troubles, veterinary troubles and sick colleagues have conspired to make me miss several classes these last two weeks.

There is also a distinct possibility that I am about to be laid off for the second time in three years. As much as I would hate to leave Cindy/Rodrigo/Carlos/my classmates, if I get laid off again I am outta here. Seattle is too expensive to live near even when you *can* keep a job.

I consistently get search terms in my blog stats involving "Bianca Bree feet". They are finding me because I have teammates named Bianca and Bree, respectively- and I do mention feet from time to time. But seriously, I've Googled this woman just to see what it is about her feet... and I'm confused. I guess you have to be a foot fetishist to get it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


As a warrior, you are given weapons very few people possess. The self-confidence of a wild animal, a spirit that can’t be broken, the tranquility of one whose roots are too deep to be disturbed by minor events. If you don’t change the world, certainly no one else will.
Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Monday FOD: Box Form
Tuesday FOD: Long Qi

Wednesday lunchtime BJJ GB Seattle.

First, a sweep that was like a pendulum sweep only without opening guard till you're already on your side. Grab sleeve cuff and pantleg (at KNEE, not at bottom cuff). Use legs to pull opponent toward you. Roll hir toward the side that you have the sleeve cuff. Once you're on your side, you can open guard and post hand.

Then, same thing, except the opponent puts hir knee up. Underhook the knee, pull your top half over so that your ear is pressed to hir ankle, yank the trapped arm with you as much as possible, throw leg over and armbar. I was finding it impossible to yank the arm with the guy latched onto my belt- so the prof told me that if the arm wasn't coming all the way, just pull the leg harder.

Drills of both of these, with gradually increasing resistance. Of course- especially since we were dealing with sweeps- *any* resistance meant that I couldn't do the technique. Found myself wanting to do the same to him... but since *I* am not a douchebag, I was a good training partner and fought him hard enough to make him work but not so hard that he couldn't get the  technique eventually. (Why is this such a difficult concept for some people to grasp?? And he was a blue belt, he should know better by now...)

One roll with Prof Dave and one with Bryan. Dave let me do that rolling choke from n/s turtle, but I couldn't finish it because I didn't trap his arm firmly enough with the hand that I had placed behind his neck. Once I hit the roll, I tend to think "It worked!" and then get sloppy with the remainder- which results in not being able to finish. Need to commit to the full sequence.

He also let me get that sweep from side turtle- one of the complemetary pair I'm focussing on. The one I got this time was the one where I roll him over me. It worked very nicely. I know he was being nice and letting me have some stuff, but still- I think this is the first time I've performed that sweep live.

He did an interesting takedown on me which involved sticking both of his feet between my ankles and turning the toes out like hooks, then pulling both in. I've seen similar stuff before, but the hooking toe thing was new.

Bryan- We restarted 4 or 5 times, each time with me circling him on foot for a while looking for an opening. Finally, he just grabbed me by the pantlegs and hauled me in. "Tired of the foreplay, huh?" "Let's get right to it." "Just like a guy." "Hey, some girls like that." There's been a recent thread on Jiu jitsu Forums about how inappropriate this kind of thing is... and I certainly wouldn't have a conversation like this with just anyone- but Bryan's cool.

Okay, I had a really crappy evening practice tonight. I don't even want to talk about it. Maybe tomorrow. I got back in the car and cried. Note that I did *NOT* cry on the mat. That is all.