Friday, December 27, 2013

Ta da!

Understand weapons ARE the big equalizer. Up until the introduction of very efficient weapons that did not rely on strength (think the revolver, first), might DID make right. Not morally, but any moral argument put forward could be beaten to the ground.  –Rory Miller

2 afternoons training with Tylik.

Mostly stancework (using the long form, although said stancework translates to all the other forms as well as, uh, standing. My most eggregious sins continue to be 1)failure to have the pelvis tilted at the right angle (which in turn messes up everything else all up and down the body), and 2)allowing my knee(s) to collapse inward (which in turn messes up everything else all up and down the body). Erroneous foot position also looms large. Some arm position stuff- bad crossing of centerline, not having arms low enough to guard against groin kick, and spreading arms too wide as if in a "ta-da!!!!" dance pose (which is NOT Tai Chi). Going over one or two tiny snatches of the form and being utterly dazzled at how many things you have to pay attention to in order to make a seemingly simple 180 degree turn. As soon as I start focusing on pelvic alignment and arm position, I forget foot position and torso turning... and vice versa.

We also did some Chen dao (actually got through the whole form). Many of the stancework items we'd been working on came up again here. I was able to troubleshoot my least favorite movement in the form- keeping in mind that the things I don't like are always the things I feel inept at. In this case, it was a motion that Tylik performs like an avenging sword goddess and I perform like a lame chimp on opiates. But I think we pinned down what I was doing wrong this time.

I felt really good about the progress we made both days. I have a very limited attention span, and my knees start hurting after only a modest amount of stancework. But we broke the time up into managable chunks, and switched to sword ("And now for something completely different!") just as I was about to start tearing my hair out over stancework.

It also felt very good to work on forms. I have so neglected my formwork. I am so unhappy not having a regular Tai Chi teacher/class nor a regular Kung Fu teacher/class. I miss forms. I miss Tai Chi. I miss Kung Fu. I miss striking and kicking.

Also- having spent almost the entire month on the bench for injuries, I have been very unhappy at not being able to train. It was so nice to get some training in.

Another good thing: my plantar fasciitis- while not totally gone- has slacked off to an amazingly relieving degree. That PF sucked so bad, but it did serve to be a constant un-ignorable reminder to watch my posture and balance and foot position 24/7. I was bad about doing my exercises, but the things Tylik showed me on her last visit about how to stand and step made the difference, I think. I really hope that these adjustments are now automatic and permanent, and that it will both avoid future PF as well as improve the way I move around in general.

Holy cow, Rory Miller left a comment on one of my blog posts.  He probably Googled himself and went to see who the heck has posted about five hundred of his quotes. Hope he doesn't think I'm a stalker. I suspect that attempting to stalk Rory Miller would be a special kind of suicidal.

FYI, tattoos on the side of the ribs hurt like a mother. I have a small tat on my flank that has previously held the record for being the most painful... but the flank at least has a small layer of fat, and the side of the ribs is skin over bone. I've never had a tat still hurt nearly a week later, either.  Additionally, I can't put on a bra because the spandex would go right over the tat. It really is obscene and terrible for me to go around braless. It also made the Tai Chi interesting. Tai Chi is pretty much the only workout that is even on the table sans bra, and I had to wear layers of billowy clothes that completely concealed my body. Somehow, Tylik has no trouble seeing my knee turn in or my pelvis tip wrongly- I think she has X-ray vision. But seriously- these body parts were not visible by any stretch of the imagination, and it really makes a point for how those particular stance errors fuck up your posture in such an obvious way that she didn't need to be able to see much to tell what was happening.

But as far as the tattoo- Lindsey did an awesome job. It is very meaningful to me to have tattoos- which are all martial-arts-related power glyphs to some degree, in my case- done by a fellow martial artist, and a back belt teacher of mine to boot.  Makes me want to let him ink me up head to toe, ha ha. I'm working on a Sak Yant inspired design, contaminated with Chinese elements. It's going to take a lot of time and research, though.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


"Are you armed?"

"Of course I'm armed. I'm Dauntless, aren't I?"


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Back to work

In order to resist [suffering] for a long time, we have to be able to move the mind somewhere else. Beyond the body, beyond the sharp teeth of Pain. We can keep on suffering stoically….. or we can use it to learn to move our consciousness at will. Pain and fatigue exhaust the body until the rational mind, not the least intrigued by all of this, decides to take off and leave us free to explore other states of consciousness. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Photo: this is from the Grappleton. That's Chris. ;)

Thursday lunchtime at Bellevue. I was so excited to see Chrisanne come in. I haven't seen her in months.

You standing, partner in open guard. You grab hir left ankle with your right hand, place the heel on your hipbone, step your left toe in against hir butt and your rt heel to hir left hip. Bend your knees a bit. Pinch your knees together on hir thigh. Your elbow should be flared.

Now clamp the foot under your arm and let your right knee turn out so that you can drop on it, then onto your back. Do not drop straight back unless you hate your training partner and want to break hir ankle.

If you can't finish the ankle lock, do a technical lift to get to back to standing, while thrusting your arm out to straightarm opponent in the chest to keep hir off you.

It's always exhausting to do reps of a technique that has you getting down and then up, down and then up, down and then up......

Now, same opening, but when you try to finish the ankle lock, opponent hops hir butt over your foot. You respond by keeping that foot clamped under your bicep (I found it really helpful to clench my hand on the ankle/heel), continue the roll in the same direction and end on your knees. your toe should be hooked over opponent's thigh right at the groin. (If you stay choked up really tight on that foot, you really have no choice about that and it's one less thing to have to think about.) This is kind of nasty, so I was really happy to be working with Chrisanne on this, and not with some big spaz (or with Hostility Boy, who was there today... lovely to see you home for the holidays buddy...NOT).

One roll with Chrisanne.

The Thursday no-gi class is gone (I was expecting that to happen). There is now an open mat at 4:30.

The unfortunate thing is that there is a Monkey Bar Gym class and a Boxing class at 5:30, which means that if you want to do open mat and then regular class, you have to either stay for one of those things (and commit to 3+ straight hours of hard exercise) or have an hour to kill.

Today, though, the MBG had not begun yet, and no one else showed up for open mat- so Kelly and I (who had coordinated to meet) ended up having two full hours to roll no-gi. It was great.

I spent a lot of time on the bottom as usual, but I did manage to do a little bit better at keeping her off me in order to play a little more open guard and even try for a few subs and other techniques from guard (a weakness for me).

We gave each other some good feedback, and did a little experimenting (most notably with Del a Riva). We also did a small amount of standup.

I overextended my left elbow. It wasn't Kelly's fault, it was an accident. I was able to continue, but it hurts. I'm irritated that this happened my first day back on the mats from my sprained-toe-benching. I had planned to do two classes tomorrow and one Saturday, so I hope it's going to be functional in the morning. My toe is a little painful but almost fully functional.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Proving Grounds II

Physical force is one of the most effective ways to get what you want. “Violence never solved anything” is not just a myth, but one of those statements of breathtaking absurdity. Violence has solved most of the problems that people have had until the modern era (it’s pretty much the only thing you can do about eating and not being eaten). Weapons make violence easier and safer.  –Rory Miller

We had a five-woman bracket in no-gi. That was awesome. I had to fight all four of them. All tough ladies who fought good hard fights. I was so tired.

The first two, I didn't know. I had weight on them- which I used- and experience on them. I felt reasonably in control most of the time. Both were very flexible and squirmy, though. They made me work for it. I got the first one with a papercutter and the second one with an RNC.

Amy was next, and I knew she'd be harder. We ended the first match (which is timed) with no subs. I was on top most of the time.

Now Hadley, when I was really tired. She got me with an armbar.

I got a nice hip throw on one of them, I think it was Amy. Excited about that.

I thought they were going to have me fight Amy again, but they didn't. I came in second.

Notes: I have ethereal control, yet I don't think I have really found a way to use it in BJJ. There were two points today where I got in position for an RNC in such a way that my arm around the shoulders felt just like a key sliding into a lock. I then failed to finish it promptly, because for some reason I have a pattern of doing everything very slowly and deliberately... which gives the foe time to escape. Now, many people slam subs on too hard, and I'm usully advising people to slow down and be careful. But this is where I should be exploiting my control. I should be slamming faster and harder. I know I have the skill to do it without injuring people. I'm not sure what the mental block is.... I'm beginning to suspect that I'm trying to set a good example because I don't want them to start slamming things on *ME*. It's hard enough to get some people to chill out and quit slamming things without having to try to explain to them why I am doing it and yet they should not. In comp, though, I should let myself employ that advantage.
Since my hands are always freezing, I wear cotton fingerless elbow length gloves everywhere, indoors and out. Today  figured it would be plenty toasty in the gym, so I left them at home. Of course my hands and feet were blocks of ice, while my armpits were like faucets. I kept sticking my hands in my armpits to try to warm them up, because I was worried about my grips. Next time, bring gloves **AND** warm fuzzy socks.

The toe, to my relief, did not seem to be a factor. (Thank Gods, now I can go back to class after this work rotation.)

Not sure how to improve the exhaustion factor. I ate an enormous scrambled egg breakfast and was well hydrated. I'm glad that I didn't try to do gi today as well (although Hadley was bummed). I think there's still a significant adrenaline dump effect going on. My nerves were perhaps a bit better than the last Rev and PG. Still there, but not with the dramatic draining weakness. 

Hey!! I won a free Revolution registration at the Grapplethon! (I think the worth of that actually leaves me in the black.)

My assistant wanted to know why I was a little late on Saturday morning, and when I told her, she gave me ten dollars to donate.

The take from the Grapplethon has hit TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Holy cow!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have decided to get a Dauntless Flame tattoo. I made some temporary tat stickers to get the size and location (left side, far enough to not interfere with the existing kanji) right, but still waffling on color/outlining. I'd like it to have red/orange/yellow, but I think it's going to require some back outlining.  I'm going to get Fire tattooed on me on the winter solstice, which I find subversive and amusing.   ;)

Saturday, December 7, 2013


So often I have witnessed things I would never have believed possible that I am more than willing to keep my mind open to the idea that our bodies are home to forces that we don’t fully comprehend. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Spent 5 hours at the Grapplethon, 11:30pm to 4:30 am. I wasn’t rolling the entire time, but I was rolling a lot. If we ever do another one of these, note that we had plenty of people around midnightish; they started dropping off around 2am. I would have been more use from 2am to 6am. But by 4:30, I needed to have a nap because I was due to spend the entire Saturday at work. At least I was able to watch the live stream at work, because The Big Bad Boss is usually not here on Saturdays.

I got to roll with 4 ladies that I have never worked with before.  They were all asking me lots of questions- technical questions as well as getting-along-as-a-woman-in-the-gym questions. I’m still kind of dumbfounded when people do this; I keep wanting to look over my shoulder for the Gandalf-like figure they must really be seeking advice from.

I deliberately did not wear my belt. A handful of people there knew me, but it was really nice to be anonymous and no-expectations with most of the crowd. Although one of those women asked me (in tones usually reserved for speaking to movie stars and royalty) , “You’re a brown belt, right?”  LOL. See what I get for trying to fly under the radar?

I also rolled with a few guys that I don’t know, and Peter, and Chris, and Griff. I was really happy to roll with Chris, because it’s been a long time. I had to peel him out of his sleeping bag. He had one of those subzero REI cocoon-style sleeping bags set up by the side of the mat along with a grocery bag of food, and he kept disappearing into his little camp at intervals.

I missed Lamont, and also Terry and Chelsea (although I spied the latter two suspects on the live feed later).

Griff not only spent the entire 24 hours on site, he spent most of it actively rolling, and taking the time to roll with almost everybody as well as teaching us stuff. He’s lost about half his weight- I barely recognized him. He tweaked my kneebars (pinch knees together, do not triangle legs), armbar off a failed keylock (turn little finger side of blade hand to floor and lift the propping forearm up a bit) and a few other things that I immediately forgot but I hope will come back to me later.  He actually remembered my 16-min fight in the elevated ring in October (I think he might have been reffing that fight… Gods, I was so spacey) and made specific suggestions about things he observed. That was cool.

It had made over $7000 by the time I left, with over 12 hours to go (and- I assume- the biggest crowds to some Saturday afternoon, as it coincided with the onsite promotions class and BBQ).  Twenty-one black belts on the mat for this (BEFORE promotions). Luiz was apparently promoted to black belt. Robert promoted to purple.

Amanda Loewen has her brown belt. It's a relief. It's kind of ridiculous for a purple belt to be able to fight Tammy Griego for over an hour straight without getting disassembled. I found out she has only been training for just under 4 years. Wonder if she has experience in a different MA.

Toe was mostly okay- I made a little shriek once when I caught it on Griff’s jacket as I was trying to replace guard- it hurt some but was reasonably functional. I did start to hurt more as the night wore on, though. I am going to have to be judicious about training this week. I’m seriously worried about making weight,  especially if I can’t train as regularly as usual.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Fuck!!! I'm on the bench.

I have a tournament in eleven days!   :(

Sunday, December 1, 2013


And the scary part is, this is only one of about a dozen of their bedspreads that I Must Have. Somebody please talk me down.

You Shall Not Pass

In combat, neither a knife nor a gun is used for winning fights. Get over that. They are used for killing people. That is a profound difference. –Rory Miller

Sun: 129.5

Sunday lunchtime BJJ in Seattle. I had e-mailed Kelly and also posted on the GB Sea FB page trawling for some Fun-size people to come to this class, but again it was a bunch of huge guys and me. Then later on, Casey and Cindy came in- so that was a little better!

I ate a huge carb-heavy breakfast this morning, so I wanted to work.

I spent about 40 min rolling no-gi with Peter before class. He's so huge and muscley, but he's really good about letting me work without being *too* condescendingly nice. He was leaving me just enough room to get out of stuff, *IF* I was really squirmy- so that was good practice, since I need to be more squirmy.

As usual, positional KOTH. Today, two purple belts and a brown belt literally just threw up their hands and surrendered to my bottom half guard. They simply could not pass (without Hulk-smashing), and finally just gave up trying and conceded defeat. Casey complimented me after class on my game, which is flattering, but I don't really consider this a positive. I said to Peter, "One of these days I'm going to be able to actually *DO* something with this bottom half guard instead of just lock it on and throw away the key.... and then you're all going to be screwed."

After class, Cindy was kind enough to work no-gi takedowns with me. We did 50 each.

Double leg: Lower level. Then step almost between opponent's feet with right foot. drop to right knee. Place hands on BACKS OF SHINS. Just place them there, don't clench. (Cindy doesn't like where I'm grabbing nor how I'm grabbing.) Prop left leg out to side, foot on mat. DO NOT BEND OVER AT THE WAIST! Place body right against opponent. Turn into opponent- you're not facing right into hir, but getting close. Stand up. DO NOT REMAIN ON BOTH KNEES! Place head against opponent's armpit. Odd as it seems, this feel like the key pivot point. Don't fixate on trying to lift the legs. It's about that erect body posture pressing at the right angle.

There are a lot of counterintuitive details in this. I don't know how Cindy keeps her patience. She must have explained to me about sixty times, and she still didn't slap me when I kept doing it wrong.

I crunched my right big toe on her shin. After hopping around and cursing for a few minutes,  I was able to finish the takedowns session, but when I got home, I iced it and then put jow on it. I hate injuring toes. They're so little and stupid, but it's really impossible to do martial arts with injured toes- especially the large ones. I hope this is not going to bench me. I have several days off this coming week, and I want to train a lot.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Overwrap, underwrap

Shootouts with handguns generally follow the “Rules Of Threes”. They take place at three yards (or less),  are over in about three seconds (or less), and you will fire about three rounds. – Lovette and Spaulding

Fri: Dreamed about guns all night.

Today my right foot does not hurt. This is momentous. I woke up one day in April with random and severe plantar's fasciitis, and every single day since then, putting my right foot on the ground has felt like stepping on razor blades. Today- just as randomly- it is gone. For good????? Please?????

Sat: 128.5

Saturday all-levels at Seattle. It was very nice to see (and hug) Rodrigo and Lindsey (black belt Lindsey, not blue belt Lindsay).

Standup: Touch foe's right wrist with your left- don't grab, just cup. Step in with left foot and seize bicep with right hand as you bring right foot INSIDE and wrap it around opponent's right shin. Sink your level. Your belly should be right against opponent. At the last second, turn so that you are starting to go around the corner as you take down.  This is gnarly- you could easily pop someone's knee.  Angus has really good balance/grounding, but I wonder how this would work against someone my size.

Top side control: As opponent turns into you and puts arm up, overwrap it with the arm closest to opponent's feet. Go all the way around till hand is on opponent's back. Pop up the knee closest to opponent's head. Spin around to back and replace side control. This was a complex arm-braiding exercise, but once I got it, it was nice and smooth.

Then, just to throw us into total confusion, a slightly different version wherein you UNDER wrap the use your other hand to press the head to the mat.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Dawn Patrol

A knife is anything portable and sufficiently thin to cut. I’ve found eyeglass earpieces that were sharpened to scalpels and plastic toothbrushes sharpened to puncture. A knife is primitive- no matter the skill and technology that went into it, the knife is an exemplar of more primitive, less civilized times. –Rory Miller

Ben posted that the Dawn Patrol Open Mat in Bellevue (6am to 8am) was on for the morning after Thanksgiving, and I was impressed with his doggedness, so I "like"ed it. Then he PM'ed me and said, "Does this mean you're coming?" I had to work all night till 7:30am, so I said, "I'll throw my gi in the car and see if I feel up to dropping in for the last 20 min."

I got there and stuck my head in, and called, "I see a lot of guys sitting around on the mat yakking and not much rolling!" I also saw Hostility Boy- so I stalled a little, hoping he'd flake off... and thank you God, he did.

Ben and Aussie Dave were kind enough to stay for another hour, during which the three of us did rotating 8 min spars with no jackets, and they attacked my legs every which way. It was great. Although this does point up what an incredible body of work I have on my plate to become proficient at this sort of thing. It sure is a a different game in no gi. It sure is a different game at purple and above. Combine the two, and damn I have a lot of learning to do.

Ben got my arm trapped up over my head three times. The final time, he baited me into it... I resisted sticking my arm up there for some time, but I finally did it, and on he clamped.

I wasn't sure how I would like doing an open mat on my way home from work in the morning, but I really enjoyed that. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stubborn bitch


Sat: 127
Sun: 127.5

HOLY FREAKIN' CRAP. Amanda Loewen did a sub-only comp today and went SIXTY FOUR MINUTES with TAMMY GRIEGO. Bow down.

Mon: 127.5
Tues: 127.5
Weds: 128.5 (I had a McDonald's meal after work.... it was a long day).

Evening BJJ at Kirkland.

Back mount escapes. Defend against choking arm, lie back to the NON pillow side (follow opponent's pointing fingers) on hir thigh, use matward hand to remove hook as you keep weight on hir chest, grap pants on the OTHER leg and remove that hook as well, take side control.

Same thing, only opponent is a little more of a barnacle this time- perhaps grabbing half guard- and you have to put your elbow back and grind on hir jaw. Cindy made a bit deal of emphasizing to Izzy that THIS IS NOT MEAN.

Now, opponent tries to mount as you escape. Grab the leg and shove it between your knees, replace full guard.

Positional sparring from back mount with Izzy and Chelsea. I am very obviously still slumping.... although I will say in my own defense that both of these ladies have very solid basics and are very strong, and at least a couple of weight classes above me. Must remember to not try to work standup with Izzy- JUDO ALERT. That did not end well for me. I did get a sorta-takedown on Chelsea, though. I couldn't set her upfor the livestock takedown nor the backtake with sit, so I ended up doing some crazy thing that incorporated both. Got her down and got side control. It was exciting. (This victory turned out to be very short-lived, as you will soon see.)

  Lamont and Terry had both come schlepping in during positional sparring, and would not let me leave. I was tired and slumpy and already frustrated, and not in the mood to get tromped by Terry and Lamont- but I almost never get to see them any more, so here we were.

I got put with Chelsea first... and almost an hour later, there we still were.

Trapped in bottom half guard a lot (surprise surprise). She doesn't seem to have good command of many sub options, otherwise this would have been a rout. She does not like to tap, either.... she did a couple of hard crossfaces and other things that I might normally tap to, but after we had been fighting for about eight years, I didn't want to tap to that. Nor did we want to quit, even though Terry offered to swap one of us out. Eventually we started good-naturedly calling one another "stubborn bitch", etc.

Then I was on top (holy cow) and trying to finish a gi choke, and she didn't seem to be fighting too hard. Thank you God, I'm finally going to get this. I could hear her and Terry talking to each other in coversational tones, and although I couldn't catch what they were saying, I assumed he was coaching her. Then she snarled abruptly, "Get **OFF** me!!!" and I popped off, startled. "Sorry! I didn't feel a tap." Turns out they had been discussing the looming end of class time (and the capoiera class that was wanting our mat), and had agreed something along the lines of "we're stopping now." only I was focussed on what I was doing and not hearing this. And of course the stubborn bitch would not signal this with a tap! Ha ha. I apologized again. I hope she's not irritated with me. It was a really good fight.

Terry wanted to leglock me a couple times before we got kicked off the mat. I was ready to fall over- tired and stupid enough to hang off his turtle with one knee between his feet, even though I know better.

Kitsune: "Your girlfriend is tough."
Terry: "This I know."
K: "And stubborn."
T: "Again......."

I keep having these recurring nightmares about my cats getting either lost or killed, or me searching frantically for them, or me forgetting that they exist and then remembering too late in a panic. I've had them all my life. This is one of the dreams that I tend to have in response to too much stress. I have assumed that the cats were metaphors for all sorts of things. Earlier this week I had one wherein I "forgot" that I had a cat, then went searching frantically for it later, expecting it to be dead- only I did eventually find it and it was alive and in good shape. That's the first time that ever happened. I didn't know what to think when I woke up.

Last night I had another one of the standard "forgot I had cats" dreams, only this time I actually asked someone to verify that I had had them.... I was trying to get some sort of explanation or at least confirmation of WTH was happening. I didn't get any answers, but again- deviation from the script.

I'm beginning to think that the cats are a metaphor for "soul loss". I have an acquaintance in the clergy who has a speciality in this. If I keep having these nightmares, I think I am going to need to gear up to ask him about it. I feel like there's nothing I can do about it because I cannot journey. But maybe he would have some suggestions.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Just experiment.


Knife is not a precision skill, not at the serious level. It is a matter of intent and will. –Rory Miller


Ow! Lower fronts of thighs! From all those reps of the leg-squeezing takedown! I put some salicylate patches on them. I have been taking a ton of allergy drugs lately, so I don't really want to dump oral ibuprofen on my poor liver which is working too hard already. Besides, at least this is one of the pains that says, "You worked hard, and it was good." I can bear that sort of pain a lot easier than the type which says, "You have an eight-pound sandbag sitting on your face and you can't draw more than a sip of air at a time."

Evening BJJ at Bellevue. Four professors on the mat for a Friday night, and only the most junior one spoke any English.

To my surprise, there was a girl! Lindsay was so giddy to see me walk in. She said that she has been feeling crappy all week, but is better now and really, really wanted to have a hard sweaty workout. Well, after that, I would have been an asshole to run out right after drills, especially as there were no small guys in there tonight (unless you count Prof. Herbert).

Armbars from mount. Herbert demo'ed them with a crossing of your free hand to press on opponent's opposite shoulder. I'm not sure how practical that is for us weak mousies. I like taking that cross-hand and placing it on the mat, snugging it right up to the opponent's throat. Lindsay was impressed with the effectiveness of this detail. Also: Prof Herbert was grabbing the pants as he lay back. This is always a challenging detail for me, and I struggled to remember with every rep, as per usual.

I made Lindsay promise to not heel-kick me in the face, and then she went and did it anyway- got me right in the nose. Then she was exaggeratedly hesitant and gentle for the rest of the class, even though I was shielding my face with my hand and telling her repeatedly to not worry about kicking me in the back, top, or side of the head.

Second technique- this was sooooooooooooooooooooooo cool. I have never seen this before. Same setup from mount, only instead of putting up the knee in BACK of the opponent, you put up the knee in FRONT of hir, bring THAT leg around in a big sweeping loop over hir head, and place the top of your foot on the back of hir neck as you sit back. Armbar. I like it, I like it! Lindsay struggled with it- partly because she was being so paranoid about kicking me in the head. Finally, I said, "I'm going to cover my face, I want you to do it faster and not worry about kicking me." Then she got smoother.

A little positional sparring from mount. Then I did a few no-gi rolls with Lindsay, starting from standup.

She mentioned several times that I was feeling really strong and aggressive and heavy tonight. I admitted that what I was mostly feeling was relief and some excitement that I was actually fighting someone who didn't outweigh me by 50lb or more, for a change. There really has been even more of that than usual, lately. Lindsey is about 136, but feels 15lb lighter, and her wrist is small enough for my hand to encircle, and our strength and skill levels are comparable. It was the first time in quite a while that I didn't feel like a pomeranian at a rottweiler gang fight.

I didn't get any great takedowns, but I got a nice guillotine off one of her attempts, and there was some good standup struggling in which I felt at least competant. On the ground, we both gave as good as we got- she got a few taps, I got a few taps. I focused on trying to fight my way out when I found myself on the bottom, instead of giving up. She has good mount skills, so it was work... but I just kept telling myself that we were evenly matched and that I *could* get out if I just tried hard enough.

She got "tiny package" and a few variants of same on me, and I asked her to keep doing it... by the end, I was seeing these techniques coming a little sooner, and getting better at defending them. For Lindsay, it was head-and-arm triangle. The second time I got it, I grinded on her kind of mean, and said, "Don't let me get that arm up there again.... if you do, I'll make it hurt worse next time!"
Then she got *my* arm isolated up there- twice- and failed to capitalize on it, instead transitioning to armbars (both of which I escaped). I explained that if I was stupid enough to let her pin my arm up by my head, she should keep me there and tap me out instead of transitioning- each transition gives me an opportunity to escape. She's not comfortable with head-and-arm choke. Well, I'm not really comfortable enough with them to TEACH them, but I told her that if she had me well trapped with my elbow to my ear (that position sucks.... it's a bear to get out even if the entire rest of your body is free), that she should just keep me there and experiment until I tapped. That's what I do.

I lay there and let her grind on my head and arm for a while, trying different holds and hopping from one side to the other. After she'd tapped me out a few times, we restarted. Later on, she got me in some weird position that had my arm pinned in a sort of inside-out, bastardized, mutant omoplata variation. She started to transition into something else, and I stopped her. "You have me pinned really well here, and you have an arm... see if you can just bend it in some way that will make me tap." So she experimented, and she eventually found an elbow lock.

By that time, everyone else had left except for Casey and the black belts, who were playing Dancing Bears on the exercise balls. Casey was griping at Lindsay that he wanted to go, so we quit. But it was a very good workout, and I think we both got good learning points from it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Whenever you say "sorry" to me, it's after you just did something really effective."

“Is it worth the paperwork?” Campfire Tales From Hell

Evening in Bellevue. I had promised Kelly I'd be there for no-gi tonight. I failed to account for an hour and a half trapped in gridlock on 520. I shuffled in halfway through the class. Carlos glared at the clock and then glared at me. I apologized to him, then to Kelly. I was just in time to do two spars in a row with Prof. Herbert (I must be making the most awful impression on this guy) and a half of one with Carlos (he had to quit because his lip was bleeding- not my fault, the guy he was rolling with before me).

Because it seemed nonsensical to spend an hour and a half in traffic for two and a half rolls, I stayed for Advanced Class. Prof. Herbert was teaching, which was interesting because he has almost no English. They did the same thing to Carlos when he first got here, though- they just threw him in and we all had to muddle through it together, but he caught on pretty fast. The only real problem presents when somebody has a question. Then it becomes kind of impossible.

Herbert must be a judo guy.... of course all BJJ black belts do masterful throws, but after you've been around a while, you can still tell the judo guys. They got it goin' on. 

Shoulder throw setups. Do not wrap opponent's arm around your own neck when you turn. Jerk hir arm down hard with your sleeve grip as you punch upward forcefully with the other arm, socketing opponent's bicep into your bent-elbowed "nutcracker" grip. The hip contact was rather emphatic as well (I was wincing during the demo, hoping that poor Prof. Doug was wearing a cup tonight). I think
I did mostly okay with this, as after one correction on my not-enthusiastic-enough upward punch, the other black belt guy (whose name I did not catch) simply stood over me and harrangued me to go faster, faster, faster, faster!! He had a million corrections for Kelly, whom I could tell was beginning to get a little frustrated. But hell, throws are complicated! It takes a lot of practice. I'm really glad for my previous experience with them, even if there are sometimes details that the BJJ teachers want done differently.

Standup, judo grips. The side that you are holding the lapel, that's the foot you want in front. Take your hand off the lapel and switch it to the wrist of opponent's hand (where s/he is holding YOUR lapel). Take your other hand off opponent's elbow and grab your OWN lapel just below hir grip. Step back with the same-side foot and snap your hips and entire torso to the side as you jerk the opponent's lapel grip off you. Now twirl in and shoulder throw on opponent's OTHER shoulder... the side that s/he was not gripping the lapel. That took coordination, especially to do it fast.

We spent 3/4 of the class on this throw. Then....

Butterfly guard pass (Herbert says "gward" just like Enrique! Hee hee). Place your right arm under opponent's left knee and grip the pants near the knee on hir right leg. Press your chest down on the knees and force them to the floor on your left. Place your forehead right on the mat. Now twitch your legs out and stretch them behind your so that you can tiptoe around to the opponent's side. As you get over there, grab hir cuff with left hand and use that hold plus the one you still have on hir knees (this hold has not budged) to stretch hir out- helped along with the press of your head, which you now move from the mat to hir side. To end this drill and go to the next rep, we cartwheeled to the other side. Prof Herbert praised my cartwheel.  (Score! I only took a few years of gymnastics as a grade-schooler, but it still comes in handy. Most other people had a lot of trouble with this.)

A little positional training from butterfly gward. On the last portion, I said, "Sorry about this," to Kelly and started pushing her head around- first up so that I could pass, then down to the mat so that I could pull my foot out of her half guard.

Kelly: "It's ok, don't apologize."
Kitsune: "This is kind of mean."
Kelly: "But you need to do more of that."
Kitsune:  "....."
Kelly: "Whenever you say "sorry" to me, it's after you just did something really effective."

"I tell heem to go harder on you."

Early I learned that people freak out more when someone tries to close, and that shaped my personality.  Thus, by nature and training, I’m an infighter. –Rory Miller

I am really sick of chicken.

Lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue. Being the last kid picked for the kickball team today got me paired up with Professor Herbert (the new small-size guy with almost no English). It's always a great thing to be able to drill with one of the black belts, but it's also all pressure-y and embarrassing if you are a slow learner and you can't get the technique right.

Judo grips. Pull guard from standing. Square up. Before you can plant that second foot on the hip, opponent does leg drag and moves to side control. We also did a variation of this wherein afterthe leg drag, the personon the ground turned to the side and pulled the outside leg back over to try to replace guard- then standing partner leg-drags to the *other* side.

Judo grips. Pull guard from standing. Square up. Feet on hips. Use left hand to grab opponent's heel, and scoot underneath. You should have your left hip pressed to the inside of partner's right foot, and your left leg extended. This was tricky as it is the opposite of almost every other technique we have ever done from this approximate position.

Now, your left leg circles around to the OUTSIDE and you place it on opponent's hip. (thank you, flexibility... a lot of people were having issues with this, but I didn't, as soon as I figured out what the heck I was supposed to do.) Right leg comes in to pinch together, then you give a little push and the opponent should fall on hir ass. Try to bring your left leg back as s/he falls so that you can get up and you're not stranded there sitting on your own leg.

Repeats of all these drills, faster.  (Another thing that happens when you are drilling with a black belt- he's fast, so you are doing about 3 reps for everyone else's one. This is good, but... puff, puff, pant... wheeze....)

A little positional sparring from the standing guard pull. Carlos was sniping at me a bit because we were having trouble figuring out exactly what we were supposed ot be doing, and with how much resistance. I hope Prof Herbert knows what "sorry" means. I said it a lot today.

At one point Carlos stopped us and delivered a fairly long monologue to Prof. Herbert in Portugese. Then he said to me, "I tell heem to go harder on you."  Lovely, thank you sir. It drives me nuts when they talk about you in Portugese right in front of your face. There was a lot more said than that. I wonder what??   :(  At least they weren't giggling during this discussion.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Anatomy of a slump

Ultimately what I believe, or don’t believe, doesn’t really matter. The only thing that beliefs do for me is close my mind to different possibilities. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

For the next little while we are going to be taking a detour through SlumpLand.  I apologize for being more dull and depressive than usual. However, if you are new to your MA journey and have never had one of these before, please do stick around and watch the show. It's important to understand that this is part of the MA journey, and that they suck, but they do go away.  I see a lot of people put down by their first serious Slump to the point where they quit. Don't let it get you.

So the worst one one of these that I've had thus far was in Kung Fu, and it lasted a full 7 months. Man, did that one bite. Most of them tend to last a few weeks. I can only speak to my own experience with them- maybe other people's slumps are different. I haven't figured out, as of yet, how to make them go away. Fighting harder as they descend seems to make them worse. The law of negative returns kicks in. It's like the Universe has decided to tap me out, and the Universe is a 350lb black belt with PMS, so struggling against the inevitable seems to only prolong the process. Tap tap tap. There ya go, Universe. You win. Now let's restart.

The last time I had one of these, I had finally figured out that part about "fighting harder only prolongs the process", so instead of spending a long while denying what was happening, and then struggling in futility and frustration like a fly in a web, I simply acknowledged that I was having a slump and validated my emotions about it. Then I tried a fresh tactic. Instead of increasing my training hours, I cut out all sparring and just did drills for a few weeks. I think it's critical to **NOT** stop going to class. Your conditioning goes to hell, if nothing else. TV and video games start to look attractive again. Your diet goes out the window and the weight starts coming on.

Positional training actually is worse than free sparring at this point.... unfortunately, while it's fairly easy to avoid sparring for a few weeks (with the exception of the odd class where the teacher decides that's all we're doing for that day), it's impossible to do just drills and opt out of positional sparring unless I want to fake an injury. Being a straightforward person with a low BS tolerance, I don't want to go there. So there will have to be some positional training, but I'll just have to deal with it as best I can.

Avoiding sparring and just doing drills minimizes the amount of failure that one has to deal with on a daily basis. It breaks you out of the Deadly Failure Spiral. It's critical to be able to deal with failure- in MA, getting our asses kicked repeatedly is how we learn- but when you're in SlumpLand, it's difficult to keep this in perspective.

Tonight- after pummelling, keylocks, figure-4 armbars and the same takedown we did this morning- I had to do positional sparring with Dave and two medium-sized white belts. Now, Dave has been a prince to me lately, and he only wants to help, and I truly appreciate his efforts. But I've been doing BJJ long enough to be able to tell when you're handing something to me. It doesn't make this better. It was actually easier to cope with being smacked down soundly by two white belts than it was to cope with Dave dialling his performance to just a half notch above mine and then handing me a guard replacement at the end. But it's the thought that counts, and I have enough presence of mind to will myself to accept it- if not with as much grace as I would wish, at least without openly snarling at him. I once got snippy with Ben during a Slump- this was like three years ago- and I immediately felt awful about it and still do to this day, so I try really hard to be mindful to not take out my frustrations on my teammates.

I'm hoping to come up with at least one new tactic to experiment with during this Slump. Still looking for a method to actually make it go away.

Izzy got her first stripe today, which is awesome.

Next stop: Vanquishville

Writing advice:

If you try to edit the passionate to make it more clear, you will ruin it.

If you try to edit the clarity to make it more passionate, you will ruin it.

Run with the type of good that you have. 

 –Rory Miller


That gal who murdered me at the comp last weekend got her purple belt this week.  I should have her to fight in gi for future Revolutions, I hope.

I registered for Proving Grounds II for just no-gi.

Monday lunchtime BJJ in Kirkland.

KOTH from various positions. 

Then Cindy and I drilled no-gi standup: one hook behind the head, other bicep grip of some stripe. Then duck under on the bicep side (keep very close to opponent, head up) and hug from the back. Gable grip. Place feet behind opponent's feet, toes out. Situate center of gravity ABOVE opponent's COG. Then sit, with opponent in your lap. (If you fail to place your center of gravity above hirs before you do this, you will pull hir down right on your belly.) Hooks in. Choke.

A little sparring with Cindy and Dave.

The Defeatist Beast was hanging hard on my back today. I couldn't seem to do anything right, and I wish I could say that I even gave a shit enough to be frustrated. In the land beyond Frustrated lies the blighted kingdom of "Why Bother? I can't do this. Fuck it."  I hate finding myself here, but it seems to be a regular stop on the tour. There doesn't seem to be anything to do but put one's head down and push through it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"You're Kanye"

Amateurs ask, “Could I take him?” Professionals ask, “How would I take him?” Campfire Tales From Hell 

There will be a Northwest Grapplethon at Gracie Barra EdmondsDec 6 and 7, to fundraise for victims of the Philippines storm.  You can sponsor me!
Kelly sent me the vids of my matches. The only thing she missed was my sweet takedown (!) There wasn't much to see. Me on the floor and the other ladies riding me like a hobbyhorse.

I said to Kelly:
"As usual, I need to learn how to get the hell out of bottom half guard. Both of those girls were REALLY strong and had mucho face pressure on the whole time, which was making it really hard to do anything. But I have to start taking risks and trying to scramble near the end, because I have nothing to lose, even if if opens me up to subs. I knew they'd been on top the whole time and were surely up on points.

It's hard to shift from thinking "survival" (ie, don't get subbed) to "competition" (ie, pay attention to points).  I feel like I've accomplished something if I avoid the sub, but that's not really where my full focus should be in this situation."

Sunday BJJ in Seattle.  There were two guys who weighed in at around 180/185. The rest were all well over 200. And then there was me. Peter apologized to me. I told him that he needs to recruit some smaller guys for his Sunday class. But it's okay. I don't mind working with the big guys as long as they're not going to put me in the hospital- and they were all colored belts, so I figured they'd be fine.

Kitsune: "I just have to sublimate my ego and realize that I'm not going to be doing a lot of winning today, that's all."
Peter: "And you have such a big ego, Kitsune. You're like Kanye."

Peter likes to run this class as KOTH from multiple positions, so that's what we did.

Cindy came in about halfway through. After class, she and I did about 15 straight minutes of no-gi takedowns. She wants me to COMMIT to the livestock takedown. She wants me to drive my headlocking armpit down like I'm spiking a football, and kick that foot out really hard and wide.  I'm still having hesitancies. I still feel like it's not going to work, and the failure will leave me with my back to my foe and my arm twisted behind me (which would suck mightily).  If it does work, I'm completely paranoid that I'm going to break my opponent's neck. (Cindy: "They teach this takedown to three-year-olds! This isn't mean!!")

On top of sleeping poorly at the best of times, I normally have nightmares when I'm too stressed out (usually work-related). Since Autumn '11, I have had runs of nightmares from August through November. Had a dilly the night before the comp, and I thought it was comp nerves... nope, they are still coming. There's no place to run when one's own brain is acting as your enemy.  "Whatever you do.... DON'T...FALL....ASLEEP!!!"

Holy crap. If you see a guy named Kevin Thompson running around, don't piss him off. He won the Revolution prize for "vicious submission" in gi (15 seconds) **AND** in no-gi (5 seconds)!!!!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"Oh my God- *HER*!!"

I believe in the primacy of infighting.
–Rory Miller

So, I did not medal today. But other good things of note happened.

Lindsay lost one and won one, and ended up with 3rd. Shannon lost one and did not do another. Carlos won his bracket. Suranjan won several fights that I saw (both gi and no-gi... I think he's the only one of my regular training partners who entered no-gi, other than Tagir, whom I did not see at all today- wonder how he made out...) don't know what the final tallies on Suranjan's brackets were. Saw Angus win one and lose one.  Ben won his bracket (He was up against Ed in the final, and Ed gave him a bye by way of collapsing theatrically on the mat and covering his head with both hands... to much hilarity and teasing in the GB sector of the bleachers).  More results when the list comes out.

I wanted to be there for Shannon's and Lindsay's fights, but it was nervewracking to be there for 6 hours before I even weighed in. In the past, when I have done both gi and no-gi at this event, there's a release of pressure after the gi portion. Either you won- and you think, "Okay, if I bomb now, at least I did well in this half"... or you lost, and you think, "Okay, I have nothing to lose... bonzai!!!"  Today, though, I got to sit around all day getting more and more nervous.

I did get to warm up Lindsay and Shannon with a little light flow rolling, and give Shannon (who was struggling with nerves) a pep talk... so that was definitely worth being there for.

I was watching Hadley, because I knew she was in my no-gi bracket. Saw her going for guillotines right and left, so made note to be particularly careful of that. There was supposed to be one other woman in our bracket, but neither of us knew her... so I didn't get to scope her out during the gi fights.

Bree and Ross were on staff. It was- as usual- impossible to hear names being called for weights. Even when it was on loudspeaker, you couldn't understand what people were saying. So whenever I saw Bree come out with a clipboard, I went over and offered to herald for her. By God, everybody sure as hell heard, and understood. (smirk). Lamont said, "Damn, I'll have to get you to do that for *my* tournament!"

To my surprise, JB was there as a spectator for gi- so it was nice to hang out with her for a while and bug her some more about coming back to train. She also was kind enough to french braid my hair.

They did not do all the women first in no-gi- as they have done in the past-  so we were waiting around a while. Hadley and I finally found the 3rd competitor in our bracket- Rachel- and the three of us hung out and bonded a bit. It really helps me to be friendly with my opponents. I like to know that they are not ruthless bitches who are not going to try to heelhook me. It helps with my anxiety.

Unfortunately, one of the two advanced-bracket competors scratched- so they busted the other one down into our bracket. Hadley took one look and sucked in a gasp of horror. "Oh my God, **HER**... she's really good." 


Nothing against this gal- it wasn't her fault that her opponent scratched, and it's only fair that she get to fight- but of course this wasn't ideal for the three of us. It meant that not only were we outclassed, it meant that somebody was not going to place. Since we three intermediates had already sort of bonded, we closed ranks and Hadley briefed us on what she knew about the advanced woman's game ("She's REALLY strong.")

I had to fight Jonette (the advanced woman) first. While dismaying, this was a good opportunity for a few reasons. My entire point of doing these comps is to deal with the adrenaline dumps, the nerves, and the mental hurdles involved. While it's great to be friendly with your opponents, dealing with an intimidating unfamilar fighter is probably more of what I *need* for my goals.

I don't remember many details from our fight. Kelly got some of my matches on tape, so hopefully I will see those later and be able to dissect myself more. She was hella strong, fast, explosive. Although I was nervous, and I began to tire halfway through the match, I did **NOT** experience the crippling drain of energy that I have habitually felt starting in the bullpen and culminating in me feeling weak as a kitten after the first 20 seconds of my match. I felt calmer. I was breathing much deeper and more slowly. I did not panic or quail when Jonette lunged repeatedly at me in a very aggressive manner.  It wasn't perfect, mind you- but this is really what I'm working on, and it went much better today.

It was very much a battle of strength on strength. She was on top most of the time, with excellent pressure on my face, and I was forced to muscle in order to stave off the subs. But stave them I did, and I was able to match her muscle for muscle (not bad for Gramma). I managed to dredge up some energy from somewhere and use it to get out of her front mount and replace guard near the end, but it was too late. She won on points. It was a good fight. She fought nice and clean, and I thanked and congratulated her sincerely at the end.

Hadley and Rachel fought, and Hadley won. I did not get to fight Hadley today, which was disappointing (especially as she was the only one that I'd fought before and had any intel on). Lucky Duckie Rachel got out of having to face down Jonette. I think it would have been good for us to get to fight everyone in the bracket... but so it goes.

Rachel and I. I got an opening to set up Cindy's livestock takedown, and- although I felt a little bad about it- I took it. I may not have been fully committed- but the balance just wasn't right to complete it- I turned it into a hip throw. To my extreme ecstasy, that worked. I'm really happy that I got that takedown. Less happy with the landing. I was in control, but I had her headlocked and I couldn't seem to find a way to transition to something more useful (note to ask somebody for help with this next week). I held her down for a while, but I couldn't just sit there all day, so I clumsily tried for a mount, and the next thing I know she was on top. To my dismayed surprise, she turned out to be extremely strong as well. Again with the excellent face pressure. Finding myself in a second muscle-on-muscle battle, I again staved off the subs but didn't have any gas left to get out from under. Again I made a break for replacing guard at the end, but too late. A second loss on points.

Hadley and Jonette. Rachel and I were both squatting in the bullpen cornering Hadley (who was also being cornered by at least two other people from different directions). I had advised Hadley to not go strength-on-strength with Jonette, who was obviously more compact and muscular than long-limbed Hadley. But Jonette sucked Hadley into her muscley game, despite Rachel and I yelling advice to the contrary. They strained together for most of the match, and then at the end Hadley started scrambling and taking some risks. She set up a couple of subs in quick succession that came within a hair of succeeding- but Jonette toughed them out, and won on points.

I felt a little bad about the three of us ganging up on her like that, and made a point of sincerely congratulating and thanking her again after the bracket was done. But obviously she did not need our help- she went through us like a scythe through wheat.

It will be interesting to do some more sub-only comps and see how these strength-on-strength battles play out with no time limits. Both of my opponents were working very hard- and of course I was too- but since I was able to stay calm, breathe well, and focus on conserving energy, I wonder if I could have eventually tired them out and then turned things around. Of course that is exactly how we fun-size colored belts deal with strong white belts.

I gave Ross a ride home (for which he bribed me with strawberries and reset the clock on my dashboard), then I had a white cheddar baked mac-and-cheese, garlic bread (with cheese) and cookie (without cheese) orgy.

As usual, I was so paranoid about making weight that I ended up weighing in at the top of the bracket beneath me. This means that my opponents are usually at the top of our *own* bracket and thus have a distinct weight advantage. The ladies in the 129-and-under bracket (yep, I weighed 128) looked so incredibly tiny, with biceps NOTHING like the guns on Jonetta. Their wrists are probably slimmer, too- I might actually be able to get a good grip around a wrist, which would be a huge help in no-gi. I really should shave off those last 3 or 4 lb and commit to planting myself in that bracket.

Friday, November 8, 2013

James' juicy neck

Chi, outlaw Taoist wanted in vain by the inquisition of Western science; the breath of a God forgotten in a mortal body; nightmare of the laws of physics; Zen warrior of our will; fuel in the engine of the universe. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

I almost didn't go in tonight because of the twisted ankle, but I wanted to work it some.... I knew I just needed to not do anything stupid. I wore the brace and stayed strictly on the ground. It was an open mat, which is probably a good thing.

I rolled a bit with Casey (no jackets) and then for a long time with James (also no jackets). I seemed to be doing fairly okay with James, even though he's big and muscular and technical. Very shortly I found myself zeroing in with razor hyperfocus on his succulent neck. Guillotines, head-and-arm chokes, RNC, baseball bat. I was also using head control a lot- pushing his head to the mat, hanging on the back on his neck.

He pointed out that sometimes when I slap a guillotine on, I don't fully commit to jumping closed guard. It's true. Reason A) I play almost no closed guard... but at a tournament, it may be reasonable to expect that I might be fighting people that I can actually get my guard closed around. There's a shocking notion. Reason B) If I'm not positive that the guillotine is on really well, I don't want to jump guard because I know that if it fails, I'm on the bottom- and I suck on the bottom, so I do **NOT** want to be on the bottom. But I need to be mindful of this tendency in myself, and make up my damn mind if I'm going to jump guard or not- and if I am, to do it wholeheartedly.

I had really been hoping to get in more rolling time with women this week... but I think that long session with James was really valuable. He was being really nice and helpful even though I was grinding terribly all over his neck. I'll have to thank him personally if I win anything tomorrow.

I can't help but notice there's a T-rex on your crotch.

I expect the threat to have the advantage in size and strength; or to be crazy (mental instability or on drugs). Because almost all of them were one or the other.  I think it makes sense, since you’d have to be crazy to routinely attack bigger and stronger people. –Rory Miller


Hallelujua! This is gratifying, in light of the fact that I wanted some carbs so badly yesterday that I was on the verge of tears. I went to Safeway (hungry and grumpy) and I stood there in front of the freezer case and stared at the creamy white cheddar baked mac and cheese for some time, while people streamed past and gave me odd looks. Then I bought eggs and mushrooms and went home and cooked a scramble.

I'm wondering if I should register for no-gi only at the next Proving Grounds (sub only) in Dec.
It feels very pressure-y to me to fight blue belts in tournaments. If I blow through them, they will (rightfully) resent that they had to deal with me in their bracket- and if they blow through *ME*, that's embarrassing in front of all those people and all my teachers. (Go ahead, call me insecure, I know.)  Also, at that small tournament, there was just not enough time to recover from the gi fights before having to go back in the ring for no-gi. You have worry about those looooooooooooong matches when it's sub-only. It can get hairy.

Lunchtime BJJ in Seattle.

I can't believe I waited till the frackin' morning before the comp to twist my ankle. I haven't had any injuries of note for months, and I've been training a lot lately. Well, I twisted my ankle this morning doing drills. To be perfectly honest, I twisted it while trotting around to my partner's feet end between guard pass reps. It doesn't seem very bad ATM, but I wonder what it will be like in the morning. If nothing else, it's distracting and I'm going to worry that it might collapse on me- in particular during no-gi standup. I doubt it will be an issue once we're on the ground- especially since I won't be doing any spider guard or DLR. Argh. At least I was able to locate my brace.

Stealing Julia's idea, I painted my toenails and fingernails with the five belt colors. The Prof was the only one who noticed... but he got a huge kick out of it.

As often happens on Friday, we did mutitudes of fast drills.  Spinning armbar from side control. "Slide into home" guard pass. Del a Riva pass.  I was having a lot of trouble with the DLR pass, trying to clear my partner's foot off my knee. He had long legs, and to keep ahold of the lapel as instructed, I had to bend far over and strain.

My partner was a nice white belt fellow named Luis. My very first rep of my very first drill (the spinning armbar), I kicked the poor lad in the head. God, sometimes you just want to slouch off the mat and call it a wrap when the very first thing you do goes like that.

Because all three of today's drills involve to some extent zooming your crotch toward your drilling partner's face, it wasn't long before I spied something a little peculiar. Several reps later I was able to confirm that it was indeed a Sharpie petroglyph of a dinosaur- complete with a talking-balloon that said "Raaaawwr!" on the bottom edge of Luis' gi tail where- when the gi was tied- it would lay right over his groin.

During the water break, I said to him, "By the way.... I can't help but notice that you have a T-rex on your crotch. Is there a story behind this?" Apparently if there was one, he didn't want to share, because all he would say is that his roommate graffiti'ed his gi. I had to tease him about that a few more times, though. I mean, you have to be ready to take a little ribbing when you come into a dojo with a rampant T-rex on your groin.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Don't give me any spazzes!"

When you play for those stakes, social violence is…well, stupid. You understand what the guy wants and if it makes him feel all big and bad, then so what? It’s no problem to you to give him that, because you know what high stakes are. Campfire Tales From Hell

I pinged Lindsay and Chrisanne and Kelly, but none of them could come in and work no-gi with me today. I went in anyway, and Tagir was lurking about, so we rolled no-gi for an hour and then did the combined beginner/advanced class. It was down to a pack of newbie whites, Lance, and us.

Jamie had us do some interesting new exercises. We had to stand on our hands with our feet on the wall (bellies to the wall) and "walk" sideways. The turn our backs to the wall and do it again. It was easy for me to keep my balance, but my biceps got tired quickly. Could also feel core engaging big time.

Del a Riva sweep. Ah, white belts. Mine was having so much trouble lifting his hips up high enough to scoot to the side, and I also had to explain how to avoid breaking one's shoulder when one is being swept in this way. He still groaned pitifully every time he hit the mat. Poor guy had to be all of 22, if that. I remember how painful it used to be for me, too, before I'd had it done to me a fajillion times and got used to it.

Partner has DLR, you put hand in back of collar and drive into hir with knee, s/he pushes back, you flick trapped leg out and go to side control. You may need to sitback to clear the other leg.

Finally: Same as above, only when you get to side control, partner throws arm over your shoulder.
Finish with spinning armbar.

A little positional sparring from DLR, then from side control.

One spar with Tagir, and one with a different white belt (I had said to Jamie, "Don't give me any spazzes!"). This one was pretty good, although using too much strength (he was skinny enough that I could take it). He was huffing and puffing like an overweight badger. It made him gas quickly. I told him that that was his thing to work on.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cancellation.... and some TMI

I don’t think conflict is a physical problem most of the time, and even when it is a physical problem, there are minds and social rules and the world involved. The more of those elements you can manipulate skillfully, the better off you are. Sometimes you play the cards, sometimes you play the person and sometimes you play the table. –Rory Miller

Well shazbot- Amanda's a no-show. There are no other female purple belts registered. My gi bracket is cancelled.

Evening BJJ in Kirkland. I'm giving myself points for effort, but it really just does not work to try to do MA classes the day after working a graveyard shift. I took a Nyquil and did get a few hours of sleep, but it was just not enough. I felt like something on the bottom of someone's shoe.

Unfortunate timing of hormonal cycles means that this week- today in particular- I have felt as if I had two gigantic, swollen, painful pumpkins sitting on my chest. It seems as if they are taking up the entire room. It hurts just standing still, nevermind being squooshed beneath Izzy's excellent top pressure. (Sorry for the TMI, men... but you should take this moment to thank the patriarchal deity of your choice that you don't have this crap to deal with, because it's terrible.) I really hope I make weight, because another unlovely aspect of this time interval is randomly gaining a few extra pounds of water retention overnight.

Same keylock/armbar/kimura sequence as Monday. For some reason I had the idea that the kimura wants a 90 degree elbow. When you're doing it flat on the mat, the arm actually can/does go almost straight by the time you start pulling up on the elbow. Cindy notes that I am being sloppy about making sure the opponent's wrist is pasted to the mat throughout. Also, she recommends "monkey grip" (ie, no thumb).  I feel insecure with this grip, but I can't get a decent grip on 99% of people with the normal grip (their wrists are too big around) so I guess I have nothing to lose.

Flow drill: side control, keylock, backsit with good "kickstand", front mount, dismount with backsit (mind your kickstand again), side control, keylock, wash, rinse, repeat.

This was cool: From side control, isolate the near arm with your elbow and thigh. Sneak your own gi tail into the hand nearest opponent's feet. Feed it over opponent's chest and beside hir neck and grab it with the hand behind hir head. Palm down. Bonus points if you can keep the tail hidden under your cupped hand and/or dig into your opponent's face to obscure the fact that you're sneaking it in there.

Now: Give a little tug to snug it up. Mind that your arm around opponent's head is snug enough that s/he can't pop hir head out. Now lean away, toward hir feet, making an X shape. Don't worry about that near arm now, it doesn't matter. Place forehead to mat beside hir hip (if you even get that far).

A little positional sparring from side control. I was not doing well against Izzy, and feeling more and more exhausted. I had really, really wanted to ask her and Dave to roll with me afterward (no-gi), but I was just limp.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

More asymmetrical than ever

Martial arts are one among the many means to come in contact with our perceptive potential. During the practice of martial arts, we go back to a primordial simplicity. No need of drugs, objects, or external substances to help us. We are left alone with our bodies. We don’t have to wait for things to happen, we make them happen. It is like Zen archery or like climbing mountains: we use the body as a takeoff runway for inner skies.   -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path


Tuesday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.  It was pretty amusing to see all the tape and Advil getting passed around before class, among those who are doing the evening training camps.

Standup: opponent throws cross jab. You throw up "Black Crane" type elbow shield and change level. Scoot in and try to get an elbow strike to opponent's ribs. Then grab for double-leg takedown. Opponent defends by spinning out and grabbing headlock. You grab behind knee and around waist and take down. Now: same headlock escape and armbar as yesterday. Today we grabbed the pants as we sat back for the armbar.

I had some issues with the way that this differed from what we did yesterday. I didn't like the reaction to the headlock not involving fighting the neck hold at all. I can see that if you take the guy down, most of the danger is past- but if that headlock is on well and good, I'm concerned that he might break my neck or choke me out or otherwise put the screws to me before I can take him down.

Asymmetrical choke, again. I actually got praise for this by Carlos.

King Of The Hill from top side control and then bottom side control. I got really destroyed by everybody today in KOTH. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to get destroyed by Otavio Sousa. Maybe another morning.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Five days out

Unarmed arts only exist for emergencies you didn’t see coming. If you can predict it and plan it and force is unavoidable, it is stupid to go in without a weapon. For that matter, without getting every advantage you can. –Rory Miller

Evening BJJ at Kirkland.

Same techniques we did this morning. Additionally: Keylock, failed keylock to straight armbar, failed straight armbar to kimura. Note that this kimura requires both a switch of handholds and a "standard" motorcycle grip wrist turn.

Positional training from side control.

Then a couple of rolls with Izzy and a couple with Dave (both gi and no-gi with Dave). Dave was being a prince helping me out.

Found out that Izzy has a lengthy judo history. Now I feel a little better about how poorly I am doing against her... she seemed to be catching on scary-quick, and now I know why!!!

I've been having a great couple of weeks BJJ-wise, and I wish I could pinpoint why. It's not that I have been getting more taps or tapping less; in fact the scoring has been on the lower side for me. But I have just been kinda feeling like I sort of know what I'm doing. Wish I could bottle it.

Tournament in five days. I would shank somebody for a piece of garlic bread right now.

Asymmetrical chokes

What’s your opponent’s strength? What will he be relying on? Deny him that. While remembering that, if he’s good, he knows you’re going to try to deny him that, and will be devising ways to prevent you from denying him that- while trying to deny you your strengths too. -Campfire Tales From Hell


Lunchtime BJJ Kirkland.

Standing headlock. Fight the arm at your throat while turning your face into enemy's ribs. Do not turn face toward crook of elbow.

Place free arm about hir waist. Swing your leg back and go to one knee to put the party on the ground. Side control. If s/he clings to the headlock, grab your own wrist and post on hir face while you posture up to pry it off. Note that to use the full strength of both arms, you want to use the hand on top to clasp the wrist on bottom.  Note also that if you are a tiny Kitsune, this may not be sufficient against a behemoth and you may have to resort to some squirming and twisting to pop your head out.

Side control flow drills. SC with gable grip, backsit, front mount, dismount, SC. Rinse, repeat.

Same, only no gable grip- elbow in the ear and opposite hand controlling the hip nearest you.

Asymmetrical choke. Side control with your arm under opponent's head. Grip gi at far shoulder. I found an ouside grip better- ie, I tended to get too bound up if I tried to grip in the lapel. But you have to be able to keep hir down, so do what you need to do. The arm nearest opponent's feet, push that under and across your own chest until you can grip behind the collar. Now flip your first forearm over hir face and choke with forearm. You need to make sure you dig in well under that jawbone, because s/he is going to be straining hir chin down as soon as s/he realizes what you're doing.
Some positional sparring from side control.

A roll with the new guy (I think he's another "John"- I need to retain his name, because he's a really nice guy. He uses a lot of muscle, but he is aware of it and chagrined by it. He's very polite. He seems to be having a lot of fun. I hope he stays.) and one with Cindy (no-gi, with copious standup). Almost got a tomoe nage on the new guy- it wasn't very clean and I couldn't get on top after, but I did manage to loft him over. Too bad- it only works on each new person once, so I blew it!

It was much fun to watch Cindy rolling with the new guy, while I heckled from the sidelines.

"You're breaking all the rules!"

Ecstasy is not a faraway, unreachable dimension. It is right here, just a few feet away from the sleep of the senses. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path


Saturday lunchtime BJJ in Seattle.

I had forgotten about the training camp... the visiting black belt who is doing the training camp was running basics class. I hid in the locker room because if I'd gone out to sit by the mat and watch, Rodrigo would have insisted I go on the mat even though I didn't pay for the training camp, and I'm not fishing for charity.

I had a good stretching session, did some Tai Chi short form, then Chen Dao and Catherine Dao with a coat hanger substituting for the dao.

Competition class. Positional sparring. I wasn't doing that great, but I also had a very challenging group of people to deal with. Rodrigo divided us up into pods by size and rank, and I was in the "Small But Mighty" group- Suranjan, Lindsey, Z, Coach Dynamo, a couple of others, but no easy marks.

I love watching Z and Suranjan fight- I told Lindsey that they look like a couple of overcaffeinated ferrets. With ten legs apiece. And rabies.  In a clothes dryer set on Fast Spin. They just whirl in a blurred little furious ball and you can hardly even follow the action.

One long roll with a Small But Mighty blue belt that I'm not familiar with. I spent almost the entire time struggling to pass his guard, with a couple of brief intervals where I found myself on the bottom and he was passing *my* guard. My guard passes are decent- but damn, he played excellent guard.

Then I got Cindy, who had just come in and was nice and fresh. It quickly became apparent the The Move Of The Day was the crucifix. Before long, my objective of "survive" became "try to last thirty seconds without finding yourself crucifixed." We did some standup, too (no-gi). I feel so intimidated trying to do standup with Cindy.  I felt like I was doing really terrible overall, but she told me I was good. It really is impossible to tell how I'm doing when I'm rolling with Cindy.... I just know that lying on the bottom like a possum is bad.

Turtle Drum. This was interesting. I walked in and set my stuff down, and immediately Jen pounces on me because my rug is too close to the altar and there is too much water in my mug (!). "You're breaking all the rules!" I was aghast. I shoved my rug back against the wall and dumped half the water into a plant (this was a mug of water with a little floating turtle candle in it, for the altar). "But if we don't get that many people, you'll need to be closer in than that." "In that case, I'll move." "Oh, do whatever you want." She flaps her hands and walks away.

Five minutes later, here she is again: "Wow, why did I just jump down your throat like that? Guess it's turned into a knee-jerk reaction whenever I see you in here, ha ha."

What the hell????!?!? We had a whole freaking encounter session about her cutting me down with her criticism to the point that I didn't even want to be a facilitator for this event any more. She wants me to come back and run this shindig- ideally next month- but within sixty seconds of my entering the building as a mere participant, she's all up my butt. And the most bizarre part of that was not even questioning the amount of water in my mug, it was the fact that I could see that she was wrestling with herself to try to narrow my list of sins to just those two.... she, like, visibly bit her tongue and stopped herself after the "rug" and "water". What is going on here?  Is she subconsciously threatened by me? Is she a drama whore? Is this just how she reacts to stress? Are we really stuck in this dynamic? I don't want to deal with that from her while I'm trying to run a big public event. That will freak me out.

She also did some of the same things tonight that she raked me over the coals for not doing: she did almost no closing at the end (called quarters at the beginning but did not close them at the end; if you're going to do one, you really should do both), and didn't shill for money, which was the biggest thing we clashed about that last time.

Otherwise: I had brought the "Tom Ox" drum for the first time, and I think it did well. Also, Tiala (doumbek)- had one very nice song with that- egg shaker, water drum, double woodblock, and the large-size ocarina. It turned out to be a flutey and whistley night. That was mostly really nice, although two or three of them did get a little out of hand a couple of times. I had never used the ocarina here before, but when everybody was making a big flute section, I gave it a try. At first it seemed like it was not in a compatible key, but I went up an octave and found a five-note sequence that seemed to harmonize well.

There was quite a bit of toning and chanting, which people seem to really enjoy, so I'm always happy to see that (and help it along). Some dancing, which to me is also a good indicator of a drum circle going well.

Jen was unhappy with the entire schmeer musically. Thekla also felt that there was some weirdness here and there. I thought it went fine. (And oftentimes, even when the more experienced people at a drum circle think it was a disaster, the newbies still had a blast.)

I was pretty much resolved to go back and try facilitating a Turtle Drum again, but now I'm vascillating (again). I'm not sure if I can deal in a constructive manner with having Jen riding my ass and undermining my confidence while I'm trying to focus on leading a group ritual (which is nervewracking enough when you *don't* have an authority figure looming over you with a scorecard in her hand).

Having her experience a completely different eval of the energy than I did makes me question my own ability to read the circle. I might have been tempted to write it off as more clash-dynamic if Thekla had not mentioned something "off" as well. Think I will make an open-ended request for participant feedback on the Facebook group (If my internet connection ever comes up again... sigh).
Sun: 128.5

I spent part of the day in the hospital lobby with my laptop and a bag of candy corn, because internet is still down at my place. The Facebook feedback about TD is very positive. Jen bought up the fact that she dropped the ball on the closing. She feels that there was an out-of-control level of "catharsis" going on. I remarked that I think a certain level of "catharsis" is inevitable for an event that close to Samhain, with the theme of "Release into the Beauty of Darkness", and a few participants had also created a lovely and powerful altar to those who have gone ahead. What do you expect? Kittens and Tinkerbell? I didn't percieve it as having gotten out of hand.

I ranted some more on Facebook/blogs/forums about Schultz/Maldonado and LI, and got some conversations and shares among my own contacts on it, so that's a good thing.

Bree sent me photos of three big bruises that I gave her in class the other day.

I should mention- just in case I turn up dead- that the assassin songbird is back. Phock, phock, phock, against the window. He wakes me up every morning at the crack of dawn and comes back periodically all day long to fling himself tirelessly against the glass. Either constant practice at flinging yourself against window glass is like most other things and you get better with more reps, or he's flitting off to the gym and getting in a little Crossfit between kamikaze bouts- because he's getting better. The inital soft thumps have turned into hard, sharp raps- to the point that I periodically go downstairs to see if he's managed to crack the window yet. He's also figured out that if he goes to the little north-side window, there is some ivy he can perch on and chain his phocks so as to get several blows in succession. So maybe he's not *quite* as dumb as he seems, or maybe he got this suggestion from his asassin decoder ring. I wonder who put out the hit on me, and for how much.