Friday, September 28, 2012

No Five Guys tonight.

Many people train and prepare by walking along the way of the warrior, but never discover, or maybe just forget, what battle they have been training for. The battle rages in front of their eyes and they don’t realize it. The small psychodramas of daily life distract them to the point of taking away their global vision and making them forget why they set out walking the warrior’s path in the first place. Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Friday lunchtime BJJ at GB Sea.

Carlos is competing this weekend. He mentioned it while we were lined up. Someone commented, "I guess you won't be going to Five Guys tonight." Oh, that guy got such a glare.  ;) I spoke up, "No- he's already wearing a saran wrap shirt under his rash guard!" Which he was!

Same stuff we did yesterday, only we started from standing double-legs (grab the calves, not the thighs), and the attackee was to snap the attacker down and end in sprawl with hands hooked under attacker's armpits. (My bad wrist wasn't very happy about being thrust to all fours repeatedly- and I had a fairly enthusiastic partner. Bruises on knees too.)

My partner tried to tell me I was using the wrong arm and leg, because I was working against her post... I knew it was the correct arm and leg, but it took us a while to figure out that if you leverage it correctly, the opponent can post till the cows come home and it won't make any difference.

I also figured out today (don't ask me why this didn't occur yesterday- but this is why I like doing sequentials of the same class) that HALLELUJIA, in live rolling I don't actually have to strain my brain to remember which arm and which leg it's supposed to be- because if I do it one way, it's this technique- and if I do it the other way, it's the sweep that Carlos showed Ben and me a few weeks ago. Even better: to defend one, the guy has to lean in one direction, and to defend the other, he has to lean opposite. If only I can keep my wits about me, I can try one and then switch quickly to the other and have him help me sweep him.  I've been trying to not turtle so much, but now I want to turtle all day long and try to catch somebody with this.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Did you puke?

Stealing from the gods the fire of passion and creativity to lighten our life is just the first step of the trip, not the destination. Passion and creativity are not our private property, not our very own toys. They are the sparks lighting the fire of a big tribal camp. Having talent and not cultivating it is a crime, but cultivating it without sharing its fruits with others may be even worse. In its highest form, the way of the warrior is that of the bodhisatva: putting one’s talent at the service of a superior destiny. Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

4:30 basics class: no teacher today, so we just did round-robin sparring. Ben repeatedly gets around-the-neck gi chokes on me, mostly from the back but also other positions. Must work harder on defending that, with him.

5:30 competition class: we did the same thing we did this morning, and also a variation: stopping at the hip-to-hip with you in turtle and opponent having your lapels: you trap the arm on the side nearest the opponent, stick the OPPOSITE leg out, and then place the shoulder nearest the opponent onto the mat. Now you do the same thing we did this morning. It was just enough difference to confuse me. Also, the stupid side is REALLY REALLY stupid with this technique (both variations)! I am letting my arms fly up and back too much while rolling on top of the opponent- when I tried it on Carlos, he trapped my arms over my head (Twice!).. embarrassing!!

Drills of both variations for a long time, switching partners.... then short spars with everyone (no closed guard or half guard allowed- keep moving)... then shark tank with Casey in the middle. We all walked around and around in a circle as he sparred Carlos. Every couple of minutes, a guy on the sidelines yelled a different number, and whichever person was assigned that number jumped in while the previous opponent jumped out. Casey had to bail after a while, and the rest of us got a turn in the shark tank. I find this game really fun, although being in the middle sucks mud.

Saw Casey again on the way out, looking green.... "Did you puke?" "Yeah, a little."

I usually eat after I get home and shower, but not tonight- gonna have to wait a while, because I think if I tried to eat now, I'd puke, too....  You know you've had a good workout when you think you're going to puke....

Apparently Ritchie choked Ron out in last weekend's tournament- golly. He used the same cross-collar choke from guard that he got me with when I fought him in the "mock tournament" a couple months ago.

I'm going to show you how to tap

In addition to physical confrontations, symbolic forms of fighting between reality and individual desires are the daily bread of anyone who is alive.  The physical violence that the hero … has to deal with is the most dramatic example of  something that everyone experiences in daily life: conflict. Conflict with friends, lovers, people who cut you off in traffic. Internal conflict with one’s laziness, weakness and lack of discipline. Conflict between desires and possibilities. Conflict between dreams and closed doors. Conflict between one’s ideals and ones’ behavior. Heraclitus was right when he said that conflict is at the root of all things. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Saturday FOD: Little Red Dragon
Sunday FOD: Frolic Of the Five Animals
Monday FOD: Spear Hand fragment. Note that it is the right arm that does the rising block.
I'm counting today as an exercise day. One of my instruments was busted, and I had to hoof samples to the hospital across the street. It's six minutes there and back if I hustle. The back corridor is about a block long, and deserted- so I did sprints.

Tuesday FOD: Southern Mantis fragment. This one seemed particularly rusty.
Shin splints from the sprints! Ow. (Can you say that six times fast?)
Wednesday FOD: Bung Bo Kuen

From the Insights list:

2/1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment

Wow. Incredibly moving. The power and emotion on every face, in every movement.

Thursday lunchtime BJJ at GB Belle. Ambushed John for a little warmup before class. I do this to people regularly, but I guess I haven't done it to him before. I sneak up behind them and take their backs and (slowly, to give them time to react) slide in a choke. He just sat there.

"Are you just going to sit there and let me choke you?"
"Oh, am I supposed to fight? I thought you were going to show me something."
"Yeah- I'm going to show you how to tap, in a minute, if you don't do something."
"I already know how to tap- it's my go-to move!"

Opponent in turtle, you sprawl on top N/s. Thrust your arm down beside hir neck on the cross-side (ie, your right arm goes on the rt side of hir neck). Tiptoe to the side that your arm is on, so that you are hip to hip, and grab both lapels under hir arms. Note- do not put your knee down here. For some reason I thought I had to wedge my knee up against the opponent's, but prof wants us to stay on the toes.

Now, jump your FAR knee to touch hir knee and use the lapels to pull hir over so that you are sitting in back mount. I continue to struggle a bit with remaining upright while doing this- I tend to want to roll too far onto my back.

Escape back mount: grab the feet and push them backward to force the opponent's knees to bend. PLace your left shoulder on the mat right outside her knee and roll onto it intil you are upside down and your toe touches the mat. Now thrust both feet in the air and throw your body across opponent's lap. You should be facing the feet. Hug the thighs. Do not try to skip the thigh-hugging step and go straight to side control. I asked why I could not do this, and Carlos kindly demonstrated why I could not do this- he easily escaped long before I could get in position to secure him in side mount.

Also- you cannot get too hasty and cheat the shoulder-stand or toe touch, because if you do, it's harder than heck to get your body all the way across the opponent's body.

Drills of this, to exhaustion.  Apparently we looked really good and were working hard, because Carlos kept telling us how proud he was of us (this of course makes me work even harder- I love to hear this).

I lost a stripe during the drills, and the prof- who is a huge stickler for having all your regalia neatly in place on the mat- pulled me off the mat and made me stand there while he replaced all of my stripes himself... apparently they were too ragged, and two more of them had squished together, so at that point it looked like I had TWO stripes instead of four.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Your underpants are on Candid Camera!

…Violence… is the most international and oldest language there is. It is common to all societies. It is attached to the very fabric of life. Depending on their fighting ability, every animal on earth ends up taking on the role of predator or prey. Not only nearly all animals fight, but even the cells inside our bodies fight against germs and bacteria. No one who lives in a physical body can completely ignore the language of violence. Whether by choice or not, anyone may have to deal with it. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

I did just the competition class today. Got in five min early and watched the end of the basics class. That white belt that I don't want to roll with because I think he's too spazzy and slams subs on too fast- he slammed a sub on JP. JP yelled "!!!TAP!!!" and snapped something a little snippy at the guy and walked out. My analysis was correct.  If I ever get assigned to work with this guy, we are going to need to have a little talk before we start.

I rolled with Casey for a while, just easy flow-rolling.

Then An came in wearing street clothes and carrying his camera. Carlos asked him where his gi was- both gi's in the laundry- so he made An put on a loaner gi and get on the mat. I think An had just wanted to hang out and take some pics. ;)

He took some pics of Casey and me rolling, and Casey got markedly more energetic- I said, "Ha ha, you don't want any pics floating around of you getting subbed by me!! Thanks a lot, An!"

Then I rolled with An while Carlos took some pics. At one point, I was in top half guard and An's pants were creeping down in the back enough to show a few inches of his blue plaid boxers- Carlos came right up and took a close-up of this. An was turned the other way and he couldn't see, but I started cracking up and said, "You're going to find a few surprises on this roll of film!" He said, "Hey! I have kids!"

Between the two of them, I spent an hour of nice, not too intense sparring. Tried the baseball bat choke a few times, and didn't finish- but I got a couple of chokes and an armbar on An.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


’This is my way; where is yours?’ – thus I answered those who asked me “the way.’ For the way- that does not exist. –Nietzsche

Monday FOD: Iron Needle.
Tuesday FOD: Free choice. I picked Touch Bridge.

Pic on the GB site: Bryan got another stripe! I'll have to ask him if he can smell that black belt yet. I'd so love to be there when he gets his black belt. But since I'm only at about 1 in 4 of the particular classes he hits (at best), I have about a 25% chance of catching it.

(Ye gods, is this promotion cycle ever going to end? Before anyone starts eyeing *ME*? Usually they do a bunch of promotions over the course of two or three weeks, and then let it mostly lie for three or four months. This batch of promotions has been dragging on for two months straight.... everybody and their sister and their dog are getting promoted.....eeeee.....)

Some e-mail discussion between the Turtle Drum facilitators about adding more formal ritual elements to the event. They really want to do so; I lean toward simplicity. we agreed to do a little experimenting and see how it goes over.

Lunchtime BJJ at GB Sea.

Before class, I used the mat to run a couple reps of the rolling portions of 5 Points Of the Star and Wood Monkey. Also sneaked up and choked Steve from behind, leading to a short warmup roll.

People I have not seen for a while- Z and Bree. Unfortunately I did not get to work with either, and we lost Bree by the second round of drills (she was honking on her inhaler before we even started).

Positional sparring from back mount with one hook in. I was with Angela, so I did not have great success here (and better on escaping than on attempting to hold/sub).

Eight minute spars- Angela (triangled AGAIN, dangit!), Steve, a small purple belt guy (Carlos was working me today, putting me with all higher belts!) I got subbed a couple times by each of them, but also spent some time on top, and am not displeased in whole.

 I am really noticing that I feel much less defeatist when I have people in guard. I can't say I'm actually PERFORMING better, but my mindset is more "Okay, I have guard, time to work on this," as opposed to "Okay, I have guard, now I'm F'ed and it won't be long now,"
Wednesday evening BJJ at Sleeper. Eric and Lamont were teaching. Grip fighting, standing arm drag to the back, pendulum sweep, sparring. Lamont hurt his back and thus did not leglock me tonight.

I sparred Sonia three times. Lamont wanted me to run a clinic on her and see how many points I could rack up while he practiced refereeing. I couldn't do it. She's only been training a couple of weeks. When I roll with a brand new person, I want to let them work some- not just smoosh them.
Hey, I got a triangle on Terry. That was cool.

I Youtubed a little baseball bat choke from mount. I was looking for a good, easy no-gi choke from mount that would not fail due to short and weak forearms or a light frame that is easy for the bottom person to buck off. I didn't find one right away (suggestions, anyone? I need a CLEAR and English-speaking vid, preferrably with different viewpoints so I can see), but I found this and decided that I wanted to choke somebody with it. Unfortunately I did not get front mount on anyone this afternoon, and the only person I got it on tonight was Sonia- but I am going to continue trolling for victims.

From: Lamont

From: Lamont- Subject: Training on Wednesday
Are you going to make it in?
From: Kitsune- Subject: Taining on Wednesday
I'm going to try.... You need somebody to leglock?
From: Lamont- Subject: Training on Wednesday
Absolutely. See you tomorrow

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Remembering who I am is the only thing I really need, but it is a never-ending task, because forgetting is very easy and equally easy is not realizing I have forgotten. Maybe our ideas, words and opinions remain the same, but inside a light fades. We are still who we are, but just a little less intense, less passionate, less alive, less of the person we can be. When this happens, what we need is to go through an experience that turns the switch back on. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Saturday no-gi at Sleeper.  I did indeed seem to have a better class today for having rested. As much as I like Friday and saturday lunchtime class at GB, and Friday and Saturday evening class at Sleeper- I think the timing of trying to do all four is just leaving me scraping the bottom of the barrel (physically, mentally, emotionally) every time I get over to Sleeper. I think I might train more effectively if I just pick one class on Saturday and one on Sunday.

You are in opponent's closed guard. Make L's out of your hands and socket them in opponent's armpits. Place forehead on opponent's belly button. Stretch arms and back. Stand up. Crouch back down (posturing up) with one knee up in the hole you have just created. Break guard and pass to the side *OPPOSITE* the one with with the knee up. Make sure to get the underhook. Side control.

Same opening, except after you break guard, back out. (Note: when backing out, keep the feet wide apart so that opponent can't sit up and capture both of your feet.) Sidle back in with the rt toe in front. Grab opponent's rt foot near the toes with your left hand. Dive outside hir rt hip (rolling on the shoulder closest to hir head). You want to catch opponent's left knee with your rt leg as you go over. Once on your back, figure-4 your legs around opponent's left leg to keep it out of your way. Now you can do a figure-4 on hir rt shin and brace on it while you use that toe hold to bend the ankle TOWARD the big toe. The pain should be in the ankle. (Note- tap early with this one, as it is one of those subs that doesn't hurt until it's almost too late)

You are standing, opponent sits up and threatens one of your legs. Step backward and swing your butt towards hir, and squat down right beside her with your arm around hir neck and palm over the ear. Sit back and apply Shoulder Of Justice. You have your other arm and both legs to keep opponent's near leg in the air. As long as that near leg is in the air and you have good shoulder going, that person ain't getting out nohow. You can leisurely jack hir far arm up and try to pin it with the same hand you have around hir neck, then kick your legs free and take side control. Cindy does this to me ALL THE TIME. I never want to sit up and threaten her leg while standing- because the next thing I see is her butt coming at me, and then I'm tied in a knot and tapping.

Rolls with all three of the men who were present. I got tapped a few times, and I didn't get any taps, but I still feel reasonably okay about my performance (esp as it's no-gi, my weaker aspect). I did a bit of guard playing with one guy (I'm trying, Carlos).  I'm just trying to get out of the mentality of feeling defeatist in that position.

At one point, one of the guys trapped my arm between his legs while I was in top side control, and then tried to stuff my head down there. I said, "Oh no you don't... Jalen's gotten me with that one too many times." The guy said, "Oh my GOD!" and we both started cracking up and commiserating about suffering some of Jalen's more painful favorites.

 I really need to perfect a non-gi choke from front mount. Or better yet, a couple of effective options. I can't really muscle these men into keylocks, and I keep trying to do forearm chokes (one in front and one behind) and not succeeding. When I try to cross-collar in gi, I often can't get deep enough to finish before they buck me off. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wash, rinse, repeat.

The Warrior is not afraid of being afraid. He accepts it, looks it in the eyes, and challenges it.  Refusing to be a hostage in the hands of one’s fears is the act of a Warrior. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

You know you've had a good workout when you wake up the next morning feeling like you've been run over by a semi.

I felt a little better about that when Carlos confessed that he was really sore this morning as well.

While waiting for class to begin, I was whining to a couple of people on the mat about all the del a Heevas (yeah, I'm never going to get tired of that... sorry) we'd done yesterday and how sore I was. One of the purple belts- whose name I'm blanking on an the moment- asked me to demo it, so I did, on one of the blue belts. Then guess what was on the menu today: Another class of del a Heeva's.

While my body was not very pleased to be doing another batch of these babies, it worked out well for me on the mental front.  I grabbed that same blue belt guy, and my pre-class demo was the first he's ever seen of this. I remember the first time I saw this. It tied my brain in a knot. It has a lot of steps in it- in fact it may well be the most complex thing I've seen in here to date. This week is (IIRC) the fourth time this has come around in the rotation for me, and only now do I feel reasonably proficient with it. So I was able to coach the blue belt through it... which helped him (I think it also helped him that I'd demo'ed it on him before class), and also helped me cement it better in my own mind by teaching. He grasped it pretty well (a lot better than I had the first time I saw it).

At this point, when we drill a technique in class, it is almost always something I have seen a few times before. I can usually do it proficiently by the end of the drill session, even if I may need a couple of detail-repairs at the beginning. But then it tends to vanish back into the churning morass that is the ocean of BJJ that I do not yet own. It tends to take about four rounds of "ok, THIS again" before I can start trying it in live sparring and feeling as if I "own" it- it can be part of my game. It also really helps this process when I can hit multiple classes in succession going over the same technique, as I did this week with the del a Heeva's. With each repeat, I can see and incorporate a couple more details, and also feel comfortable enough with the whole thing that I can see the big picture instead of a running mental loop of "Omigodwhatstepcomesnext??"

I really wanted to go to Sleeper tonight, but- so tired. Pretty sore as well- but it's the "tired" that really sinks my ship. I know that I won't notice the "sore" much once I'm warmed up on the mat. The "tired", however, just gets worse.

 I am trying to figure out why I always feel like I weigh about six hundred pounds while I'm dragging around the mat at Cindy's. I didn't feel this tired last night while getting in line for my fourth class of the day. I guess that I am underestimating the cumulative effect of four classes on Thursday + 1 on Friday afternoon = exhaustion Friday evening. I am going to try a little experiment: skip class tonight *and* skip Saturday lunchtime class (boo hoo), and see how my energy level feels for Saturday 2pm no-gi at Sleeper. I will attempt to be well-rested, well-hydrated and sufficiently caloried when I show up for class, and would like to see myself more effective physically and mentally on the mat.

Pic: This is Angus. Look at his opponent's face. I laughed my butt off when I saw this photo, because I know from COPIOUS experience that that is indeed exactly how it feels when Angus breaks your guard. Angus has so many hard pointy parts.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Del a Heevas, redux

The moment in which you know the real measure of your power, you don’t have to put on a show to prove your worth. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Class #2: basics
"Fireman's carry" takedown. I did not do very well with this one today. Even with Ritchie- who is the shortest and lightest person in the class aside from me- it worked better when I just squatted instead of knelt. 

Head and arm choke from sprawling on N/S on turtled opponent. We did it with going neck-to-armpit first, then armpit-to-neck. Grab your own bicep. Sometimes you can finish the choke right there, sometimes you can pull hir into your lap and finish it there, sometimes you do an alligator roll and then run your legs around to catch hir legs- that is very unpleasant.

Note that getting the opponent's shoulder collapsed in and getting your first arm in DEEP are the keys.

We have done this in Cindy's class before; it is more challenging in gi because there is a lot of extra bulk. I could barely reach my own bicep doing it on Ritchie, and only with a lot of shifting around and adjusting while he held still for me. I don't know if this is going to be practical for me to use on anyone bigger than an eight-year-old in a live roll.

Rotating spars with three or four different people.

Class #3: competition

All spars.  Again I was able to spend a decent amount of time on top, but only managed to finish one sub.

The prof put me down hard several times in succession, and informed me that he is going to keep doing it until I start pulling guard and working off my back.

After that, I had Adrian, and I was afraid to do anything *but* pull guard and try to work off my back, in case Carlos saw me and chewed me out for not listening.  I didn't get anywhere, of course, but I didn't spend quite as much time lying helplessly as I had feared I would.

I don't know what to do with this instruction. I suck so badly on the bottom that I really do not want to be there. I know that I'll never get any better at it unless I embrace it, but geez.... I'd be happier about going back and working on my worst aspects if only my BEST aspects were more adequate than they are.

Note, though- when I roll with Carlos, pull guard and try to work off my back. Sigh.

Class #3: I wasn't sure about this- I hadn't eaten much today, but for some reason I felt like I had the energy to do a fourth class. I started pooping out in warmups, though, so during the water break I drank half of a SlimFast.

"Del a Heevas" again: You have spider guard, feet on opponent's hips. Move your butt to the outside of hir left foot. Grab the heel and hook your rt leg around the outside of hir leg, with your toe on the inside of hir thigh. Use your other foot to  push on opponent's rt thigh just above the knee. You can also switch that sleeve cuff to your opposite hand (so that you're pulling opponent's arm between hir own legs) and get a lapel grip with the first hand.

My most common sin continues to be forgetting to grab the heel. Theer are just a lot of steps in this sucker to remember.

Note that a good lapel grip and pull twists the opponent around to make it even more difficult for hir to catch hirself. This is a very unpleasant takedown.  Done correctly, it results in a face-plant from standing- and a fairly vigorous one. If you do manage to stick part of an arm out to try to catch yourself (It's really hard to resist the urge), it's a good way to break a wrist, elbow or shoulder. I was not very happy to be doing this on my trick wrist, and I got fairly battered, but I lived through it. We were finishing in side control, and my partner was heavy enough to make me scramble to get my elbows framed up firmly on my tender ribs. My partner was groaning every time he hit the mat. As time went on, he started groaning as I braced myself to topple him- just to get a head start on the groaning.

We did a Brazillion reps of this, to exhaustion.... and I was just as glad to not have to do any additional sparring after that- as the capoeira folks were waiting to get on the mat.

That Guy!

Just like animals attack when they perceive fear and weakness, people can unconsciously feel a person’s power and will probably avoid conflict with those who are animated by deep self-confidence. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Sore thighs! The ThighMaster has nothing on upa drills!
Saturday FOD: Catherine Dao
Sunday FOD: 5 Points Of the Star
Allie (the Clear Belt) has been purple-belted. I missed the announcement- because she didn't MAKE ONE.
Monday FOD: White Crane Walking the Path
Tuesday FOD: Kiu 2. I am happy to say that I did not mix up any of the parts today- all of the pieces of part one were in part one, and all of the pieces of part two were in part two.
Wednesday FOD: Tai Chi short form.
Thursday lunchtime BJJ Gracie Bellevue. I wish there weren't so many restaurants on this block. On my way in and out of class- and sometimes DURING, if it's hot and the door is open- I can smell all sorts of delicious food cooking. This I don't need, especially while I'm trying to watch my weight.

I was able to do pushups today, but the trick wrist continues to pop in and out. I almost screamed this morning when I sat up in bed and leaned on it.

There was a recent thread on Jui Jitsu Forums about bullies on the mat, and I referenced That Guy: the one that I knew- as soon as I saw him walk into the room- I wanted to stay far away from. He walks with his arms held away from his body as if he's holding a football in each armpit. He also walks bowlegged, as if he's trying to give the impression that his junk is so outsized that he has to swing his leg wide to clear it with every step he takes. You've seen this guy. I've seen him a hundred times, wearing a hundred different faces, and behind every one of them is an egotistical jackass.

Well, I resolved to never go near That Guy- but to my surprised dismay, Carlos paired me up with him today. As the guy bowlegs his way on over, Carlos says warningly, "You know how to go gentle?" Guy says, "I am a gentleman." Hmmm. We'll see.

Four seconds later, we all saw- as That Guy shoved my head down and sprawled on top, then picked me up in a bear hug and hurled me aside as if he was going up against Brock Lesnar in a ten million dollar NHB match. I don't think I've ever rolled with anyone who used anywhere NEAR that much muscle. Spazzy as heck, too. Fortunately, I was expecting exactly that- and while it was not much fun, I have enough experience at this point to be able to take a beating and mostly protect my breakable parts (ribs!). Carlos stopped us immediately and reminded The Guy to go gentle. I think he watched us the entire eight minutes, and stopped us twice more- once to tell The Guy to not knee-ride me so hard, and once more to tell me to pull guard (???!). I know that's considered the "safe" option, especially against a big strong spazz, but for me it's the worst place to be. Doesn't he know by now that my sweeps suck, and that once I'm on the bottom, I'm just going to be lying down there till I get subbed? I'd rather end up in the guy's guard. My guard passes are decent, even if I can't break his guard and I have to wait for him to open with an attack. I know I need to work on my bottom game, but Hell, most of the time I wind up on the bottom sooner or later anyway- I don't need to intentionally *PUT* myself there.

It would've been really sweet to tap this guy (or put him out- I'd actually be really surprised if he would lower himself to tap to me)- but t'was not to be, at least not today. I came really close to setting up that alligator-roll cross choke on him, but he scooted out just as I was hesitating for a second wondering whether I dare actually go for it. But he didn't sub me, and he didn't injure me, and I didn't have to ask him to lighten up.

Eight matches total, eight minutes apiece, no breaks. The only person who subbed me was Ben, but I didn't get any subs either. I did spend significant time on top with almost all of my opponents (even That Guy, who did get a little less spazzy albeit no less muscley with the Prof's watchful eye on him).  That sweep from turtle- I tried it twice and did not succeed, but look forward to trying it some more. Now that I have a plan from that position and don't feel so helpless, I also noticed that if I have one of the opponent's ankles in my half guard, I may have the opportunity to roll him when he tries to pry me off with his free foot. I tried that on Max and didn't succeed, but I scared him, and he had to move.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ees eet the belt?

If you don’t give up your power and your dignity, no one can take it from you. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Was tired this afternoon, and didn't feel much like going back to class. The 4:30 basics class has been doing less technique drilling lately and more sparring and positional training- which would be fine, except that the class tends to consist of a handful of spazzy white belts plus Ritchie. Having safe, considerate partners (like Dave, whom I had this morning) really makes a difference in both enjoyment of class and in getting anything valuable accomplished. Thus this is turning into one class that seems more skippable of late.

Comp class: all spars. Prof said, "Try to keel each other." Then looked at me and started to explain very seriously that this was only an expression. He also called me "Keeller Keetsune" which is what Lindsey always calls me (without the Portugese accent, of course).

I had cut my nails before class, but still somehow managed to scratch my own face severely enough to bleed all over the mat and have to take a break to hold paper towels over my nose for a while. I also kicked the Prof in the side of the head- medium-hard.

Ben- I remembered to stop lunging right into his half-guard- although that resolution met with mixed success as he often pulled me into it one way or another anyway. I also remembered the defense he showed me for that sweep that he likes- and he didn't get that one on me at all today. In fact, he mostly had to do different things today instead of getting me with the same handful of techniques over and over. This I count as progress for me.

I was in turtle at one point, with Ben on my side- I tried to do a sweep that I've drilled a few times over the years, where you capture the arm that the opponent has wrapped overtop of you, grab the pantleg that s/he has stretched out, and roll hir overtop of you. You end up on top. I have really liked it every time we've worked on it, but I've never managed to pull it off live even though I try it constantly. This time, when it didn't work, I stopped Ben and asked him what I was doing wrong. He didn't know... he said that he's never managed to get that one either. So after the timer went off, we asked the prof to go over it with us.

Turns out you DON'T grab the pantleg (at least for the variation he showed us tonight)- you trap that arm HARD, to the point of overbalancing the opponent if you can. Then (here's the salient point that I was flubbing) you have to stick your leg out behind the opponent. *THEN* roll.  Geez, I really want to get this on someone live.

Lindsey (different Lindsey- girl Lindsey- I've never worked with her before). She seemed a little lighter than me, and I think I was a little bit of a bully with my weight. But I so rarely get a chance to be on that side of the equation! She has an interesting flexibility that allows her to persistantly hook and trap a foot from bottom half guard, which was proving pesky for me.

The Prof- he actually gave me a clue today as to what he wants to see from me when I spar him. He says that I am way too tense and stiff and use too much strength. He seems to think that I roll with him differently than I roll with other people- that I don't do this quite as bad with others. I think I do it with everyone, and I know it's a bad habit to work on. He asked what was intimidating me so much to spar with him- "Ees eet the belt?" No, a major part of it is his long arms and legs. Each limb seems about a mile long, and yeah, that's hella intimidating, especially to someone whose limbs are very short and stubby.

Another part of it (I didn't tell him this; I didn't even really start to parse it until I was ruminating over it on the way home) is that I don't want him to think I'm not working hard. I feel like if I go in relaxed, it'll look like I'm not trying, and/or that I'm a wuss, and he won't take me seriously.... which is lame, since one of the main goals of any MA - but BJJ in particular- is to relax- it actually MAKES YOU BETTER! But it's one of those things where your brain intellectually understands it, but putting it into practical practice is a little trickier.

John's turn to POP

“Ask me about my bruises.”

Lunchtime BJJ Gracie Belle.

Wrist was okay except for pushups. Pushups were not happening.

I showed John that choke before class... the one I got the white belt with last night... regretted it later, ha ha!

Same pass from butterfly guard that we did yesterday. Note that the knees much be on the mat during the sprawl and tiptoe, otherwise the opponent may replace guard.

Another variation, with the same beginning: After you get the opponent's shin glued to hir own thigh and you grab the foot and the lapel, step over that pinned leg and straddle it, clamping it between your thighs. Now let go of the foot and reach UNDER opponent's far thigh (make sure you trap that foot while you're at it), and try to get the belt. The best I could do on a much larger drilling partner was the gi tail. Now sit out (facing opponent's feet) and go to front mount. I struggled with this one, as far as getting the steps in the correct order. I'm really glad I was in class yesterday and had seen the first technique, otherwise I would have struggled even harder with both. Felt bad for the brand-new white belt, who was as lost as a wide-eyed toddler all alone in the forest.

Notes on the upa: don't let the guy get all settled in on top of you before you go for it; buck him off WHILE he's mounting. As soon as he goes to hug your head, wrap your arm around his upper arm and grab your own lapel. This takes a little advance planning, as you often need to feed the lapel with your other hand. Resist the urge to grab his shoulder or gi with the other hand. That hand should be punching hard into the air right under his armpit.  I am being way too slow with this technique. Prof kept coming over to stand behind my head and call mount points for Dave because I wasn't bouncing him off in under three seconds.

One roll with John. I mostly stayed off the bottom. I tried to not get too locked up with him (which tends to end in strength-on-strength struggles, which I usually lose), and instead sort of skate and bounce around on top. In the cases where I did find myself on the bottom or in turtle, I forced myself to move and try to get out. Yes, it did open me up to worse- trying to get out of turtle almost always ends with me either in bottom side control (damn!) or back mounted, with those hooks in nice and deep- which is frustrating. But I have to try to get out, and just resign myself to tapping a lot more often while I'm doing it. I need to congratulate myself more for trying to get out- and tapping- than for fetal-positioning and avoiding the sub.  Maybe I just need to try to imagine we're on the street- and if I fetal-position, the assailant is just going to stand up and kick me in the head with his steel-toed boots. This may be one case where the "sport" aspect of this BJJ school is messing up my self-defense mindset. Lord knows I never fetal-positioned in Kung Fu. That's a good way to get the shit beaten out of you. You're not trying to avoid a sub in Kung Fu. You're trying to avoid getting slaughtered.

I set up that choke on him, but when I tried to do the roll, he fought it and ended up in top side control. Rats! I said, "I would have finished that if I hadn't shown you my cards before class!"

Something John is doing really well- and I told him this after we were finished- is that he conserves his energy and waits for me to make a move to sub. As soon as I do, he exploits either the space I created to make the move, or the energy I'm using to power it- or both! to do his own thing. It resulted in me getting intimidated to commit to an attack, because I knew as soon as I did, he'd explode into action and use me against myself (Cindy does that a lot too). He was also doing the "exploding" part really well- you could feel him relax, and suddenly, "POP!!!" He's of an age with me, and I observed to him that this is a really good old-folks' game for us to be playing instead of going strength vs strength on these young-uns.  I'd like to incorporate these lessons from John's game into my own game. I also really enjoy being able to say to some of my favorite high-blue-belt peers, "Here's something specific you're doing that seems to be really working well for you."  I think that's really valuable feedback (not to mention ego-pumps), and I hope more people will do that for me in the future.

There was also a one-stripe blue in there that I've never seen before; mental note to stay far away from that one. He made Glenn yelp during drills, and he was going balls-to-the-wall on Dave later during sparring- really rough.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pop, pop

Inducing a certain state of mind is sufficient to control those who don’t know any other way than reacting to stimuli. - Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Wednesday evening BJJ at Sleeper.

Opponent is in your closed guard. Grab hir rt lapel with your rt hand(cross grip) and hir elbow with your left. Hip-bump to place hir rt elbow on your belly, if it's not there already. Climb or jump the legs up so that you have hir rt shoulder trapped. (I continue to struggle with this- I wish I had longer legs.) Hir elbow should describe a 90-degree angle. Curl your  body to the left like a Cheeto to lock the wrist/elbow. If that doesn't get the tap, and s/he tries to pull the arm back the other way, let it go and turn your body 90 degrees with it. This is a very committed and decisive thigh thing here.... you should be cranking forcefully with both thighs in a scissoring motion and forcing hir head right down. Note that the toes need to point up (I got called out again on "ballerina toes" here).
Move the foot and finish the armbar.

Alternately, from when the opponent tries to pull the arm back the other way: let it go (helped along by your hand locked on the wrist) and quickly hoist your top half over hir back and grab hir lapel (the one nearest you) around her neck. Push into hir- most people instinctively push back- let hir own power roll hir over you to the other side. Now you have hir in clock choke position. You can also get an armbar from here just by catching the arm and straightening up (bonus if you put your hand behind hir neck), or another armbar by lying down and bringing your foot over to finish that way. I like the choke, though.

And yet another option- as they pull that arm back, you throw your knee over it to straddle the arm (the top of your foot is resting on the back of the opponent's neck), then continue the roll till you're on your side. Try to finish the armbar from there. Note that you really need to be tucked up to the person for this to work. If you don't get the tap here, you may be able to force the opponent into a roll, then finish a foot-over-the neck armbar once you have hir on hir back. I think this could be a good one for me- it seems to favor my short legs, and I feel agile enough with the movement to pull it off without kicking the person in the head.

Several spars- everyone twice, except for Drew (only once). Tried to keep moving, even though I was getting tired. I was delighted to tap a guy with that choke where you begin sprawled on top of the shoulders, get a collar grip and and under-the-armpit grip, and then roll them over you.... the one that I almost broke my own nose with by rolling that big cop over my own face a few weeks ago. It worked this time, and I didn't roll the guy over my face, although he didn't tap immediately upon being rolled and I had to crank it around a little. I seemed to have him well restrained, though, so I was able to adjust until he tapped. He was impressed. I also got him with a keylock. He got me with an armbar.

At one point, my trick wrist popped out, and I had to stop for a bit. Then it seemed okay, so I went back in, but it is being troublesome on and off. Usually when it does this, it pops in and out intermittently for a week or two before calming down. Resting it doesn't seem to be helpful- in fact I'm starting to think it has a better chance of popping back in if I keep working- so as long as I'm not screaming in pain, I guess I'm going to just try to work through it.

Lots of gi burn from the chokes tonight. Crossing fingers that we will not be working any gi chokes tomorrow.

Triangle City

The best commander attacks when the least skilled is still busy making plans. –Sun Tzu

Tuesday FOD: Silken Needle. (2, 2, 1)

Wednesday lunchtime BJJ at GB Sea.

Walked in and there was Vince in a brand new white belt. I said, "What the hell are you wearing? I saw your promotion picture on the web." "I forgot my belt." "ALREADY???!!" I teased him mercilessly for the whole class. He'll never forget it again!

You are in opponent's butterfly guard. Lie on hir stomach and have both elbows on mat tight to hir sides. Kick one leg back (make sure to turn the hips to the side as you do it) and bring the knee back alongside the other knee so that you are pinning one of the opponent's knees in. reach around the thigh and grab the foot. With the other hand, grab the lapel and MAKE SURE YOUR ELBOW IS ON THE MAT. Sprawl. Tiptoe around to the side. Transfer lapel grip to hug the neck. Transfer foot grip to far pantleg. Front mount. Then the bottom person upa's you off. Rinse, repeat. Note that when you are the bottom person, as soon as you know you are about to get mounted, start sliding that hand in for the underhook... don't wait around and think you can get it later (or- worse- grab around the neck instead).

I got to drill with Angela, and we hustled so as to get a ton of reps in.

Positional training from same opening- start struggling after opponent grabs your foot.  It was triangle day for Angela. No matter where the trip started, the last stop was always Triangle City. At one point I jerked my hand out and said, "Oh no you don't, not again!" And before I knew it she had triangled me on the *OTHER* side instead.

After drills, I took my jacket off and sat on the wall to take a break. Carlos was pairing people up for sparring, and he pointed at me. I said, "I need to take a rest first." He shook his head and told me to get on the mat. No one takes a girl seriously when she says she needs a break! So I went with Angus. He usually pounds me, and when I'm really tired it's worse. But it didn't go too bad this time.  

Right rear high rib injury- still hurting.... I had missed a couple days of training last week because I had to work extra, and I was hoping that the extra rest would make that go away....

Monday, September 3, 2012


’Feeling’ other people’s intentions when there is no time  to comprehend is not a special talent reserved for enlightened masters.  Only a bad relationship with our perceptions and a poor regard for our intuition can take this fundamental weapon away from us. Centuries of strict rationalism and skeptical philosophies have contributed to undermine our natural sensitivity. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

YOWZAA!!!! Angela has been promoted to brown belt!!!!!!!!!   I'm so excited!!!

Vince got his blue! (He said to me most pathetically just about 2 weeks ago: "I'm *never* going to get a blue belt.")

Friday FOD: Five Animals. Both ways.

Turtle Drum- went well. Several attendees raving about how it sounded like there were voices and extra drums, extra flutes playing, but you'd walk around and realize that what you were hearing was coming from nobody corporeally present. Cool when that happens.

Some guy walked in off the street and played for a while. He obviously knew his way around a drum better than any of us there- he had all the fancy slaps and soloing going; unfortunately he was completely toasted and thus could not really color within the lines very well. He was a very interesting interlude, but I was just as happy when he wandered off again.

We had a couple of dancers- which we don't always have. It's always better with dancers. I hope they come again. I think they were a little freaked out by the wasted guy, though. The perils of running public events.... sigh.

Sunday FOD: Plum Blossom Fist

Spent a lot of time today researching Chinese mythology. The main takeaway- there are some European elements I've been using that I didn't really realize were QUITE that European. But lo and behold, every single one of them has a Chinese counterpart. I didn't really want to make my WIP *too* blatently Chinese because I'm terrified of making gross historical errors, and I didn't really want to do a crap-ton of research.... but I'm starting to slide toward a greater commitment to just ride with it. Definitely lots more research, though.   :(

There seems to be a strong call for more cultural variety in fantasy fiction.... but on the other hand, writing about non-white or non-hetero/non-monogamous characters still apparently makes some readers automatically pass up your story, and makes it harder to find a traditional publisher if you want to go that route.

Still, some of the crap I've seen lately.... As I commented recently on Mythic Scribes, nothing drives me like reading bad fantasy fiction. I read something and think, "I can do better than this... and this got published."