Thursday, January 31, 2013

Purple belt Thursday

"This is a beautiful moment we're having. Can we please fight?" -Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Thursday Study Hall was an open mat- Dave (this would be just-got-his-purple-belt Dave #14 out of the 755 Daves at this school) and I rolled for almost a full hour.

After we were done, I spent about 7 minutes watching Prof Sean wreck Peter. It was quite amazing. Peter was working his butt off, sweating buckets, red-faced and straining. Sean might as well have had a beer in one hand and the cable remote in the other. He never looked like he was trying hard. Peter asked me if I had any suggestions, and I had to tell him sorry- I hadn't been watching it with a "coach" eye; I'd just been marvelling at how relaxed Sean's game was.

Advanced class (look Ma, I did two advanced classes this week!). It was Purple Belt Thursday. There were about 4 blues, everybody else was purple (and it was a big class).

Shoulder throw setups, then the entire throw. We spent most of the hour on this. I always forget to resecure both judo grips after every setup while my partner is working. Forgot again tonight and got reprimanded for it. Also- stupid side was very stupid, but I worked both sides as best I could.

We were doing the one where you hook your arm under the opponent's arm sort of like you're carrying a potato sack over your shoulder- Doug suggested that during the setup, I scrape my bicep right up the side of the opponent's body as I'm setting up. That improved things nicely.  

Shoulder throw fail- opponent sticks hip into you. Drop to both knees between hir feet and pull hir over your shoulder.

Closed guard, no resistance- opponent tries to pass in various fashions for 3 minutes. I'm noticing how I almost always want to pass on my left. That means that my opponent's right side (probably hir "smart" side") is set up to defend. Tonight I tried some passes on the other side. I need to try that more often.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday evening

If anyone strikes my heart, it does not break, but it bursts, and the flame coming out of it becomes a torch on my path.   Hazrat Inayat Khan

Wednesday evening gi class, Sleeper Athletics.

As great as it is to have a small class, it always means you're gonna work your buns off. We started out with just Jalen and Axel and me. We picked up two additional people later on. First, though, drills of that same takedown. Axel stood at one end of the mat and I stood at the other, while Jalen had to run first to me, take me down, then run across the room to Axel, take him down, etc for a total of ten. Axel and I had to do calisthenics (burpees, pushups, etc) while we were waiting our turns- so no downtime!  Everyone got a turn in the middle. Note that if you're not careful how you land this takedown, the opponent can roll you and end on top.

Next: you are in bottom side mount. Frame up, make room, shrimp, matward knee in, replace closed guard. Double sleeve cuff grips. Go to butterfly guard. Feet on hips. Shrimp out a bit, bring left leg around to "lasso" opponent's arm and hook toe behind bicep. Make sure your knee is bowed OUTWARD and not inward (or s/he will push it down and pass). Bring your other foot to that same side of opponent's torso and press the top of the foot to the ribs. GRAB THE PANTS AT THE KNEE on the side of the opponent that you have no feet. (I kept forgetting that part). Push opponent; when s/he pushes back, load hir onto you and then shove hir off to the left. Keep that pants grip till you get opponent on hir back. Roll up to KOB. Baseball bat choke, moving body all the way behind opponent's head and then placing forehead on the mat.

Second technique: start the same as before, but after you get the lasso (again, make sure knee is bowed OUTWARD), place your rt sole on opponent's same side bicep just above the elbow. As you do this, you want to be SITTING UP, not flat on your back (that was my big challenge this time). If you can't sit up, that means you need to shrimp out more and get your butt further away from the opponent. Now- grab behind opponent's tricep on your "lasso" side and yank hir in for a triangle. Your spider-guard foot is the one that goes OVER opponent's neck; the lasso side is the one that you need to bring hir arm in.

Cindy gave me my pick of drill partners, and since I had picked Jalen last time, I picked Axel this time.

Sparring with everyone. I was informed that I was under no circumstances to be in the same position longer that 30 seconds.  I really wanted to try that gi choke that we had practiced in the Old Farts' class last week, and I tried to set it up a few times on Axel- but all of my partners tonight were way too frisky for me to finish setting it up. I was *very* tired during the sparring- the lack of breaks and the sprints-with-burpees interspersed between were brutal. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Standing guard pass

we only suffer when we hold onto an objection to some aspect of reality.

Tuesday evening advanced class at Bellevue GB.

Guard pass: begin in closed guard, opponent has 1 cross lapel grip. You grab that sleeve cuff with your same side hand, and opponent's pants at the thigh with your other hand. Elbows in. Place one foot sole on mat- on the side that you have the sleeve grip, so that opponent can't grab your ankle. Turn your other shin out and use toes to stand up. At the same time, break the lapel grip by forcing oppnent's arm across hir own body.

Now: Stand fully, do not have legs too far apart. Switch your sleeve cuff grip to a cross grip. Use the other hand to push down on opponent's knee. As the knee goes to the mat, step out with that same side leg so that your ankle and the opponent's ankle are glued together. Now, kneel over opponent's thigh with the near (inside) knee, then put the other knee down in front of opponent's ankle. Side control.

Drills of this; a little positional sparring from standing guard pass.

Back to work on Friday. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Be my hero



One we learn how to use adversity to our advantage, we can manufacture the helpful growth opportunity without actual danger or injury.  -Josh Waitzkin, The Art Of Learning

Friday evening Old Farts' class at GB Bellevue.

For some bizarre reason, they have scheduled an Old Farts' class in Seattle in THE SAME TIME SLOT. Now I know some people aren't willing to make the commute, but some are- so why would you want to split your pool; why not have the two classes on different evenings??? Each class would be larger, and some people could come to BOTH. I would.

Hip throw setups. I was working with Peter (not gigondo-purple belt Peter, white belt Peter), and he's the first training partner (teachers excluded) in my entire martial arts history to whom I have not had to say, "You're going to have to squat lower." He apparently is a judo guy.

Bear hug from behind. Bring forearms up and drop body a bit to make a little room. Grab opponent's hands and try to keep them  locked together on your solar plex. Maneuver your lower body to the side so that your pubic bone is close to oppnent's hipbone. One of your feet should be in front of opponent's feet; one behind. ("Dog humping leg" position)

Now- continuing to keep opponent's arm(s) if you can- take the knee that's in the front of hir and drop it to the mat between hir feet. Roll over your shoulder, taking opponent with you. When hir back hits the mat, you will be on top, but your back will be to hir- so you have to continue the roll and end in side mount.

If you do it right, there are three possible bonuses: 1)As soon as opponent's back hits the mat, your own shoulder blade is planted on hir chest and your weight can press down to pin hir there while you change position. 2)As you're getting into side mount, you are nicely positioned to trap opponent's near arm right under your arm and on top of your thigh. Lovely segue to armbar or multiple other sub possibilities. 3)As you are getting into side mount, you are also nicely positioned to whack the opponent in the head with your elbow as you turn to your belly. In fact, you are *so* nicely positioned to do this, that specific care has to be taken to *NOT* do so, should this be your training buddy or BJJ comp opponent as opposed to a Bad Guy.

Next technique: You have closed guard. Pull opponent fwd with your legs, while bringing your arms to your chest, up and around to trap one of hir arms in your armpit. (don't forget to move your head out of the way... in fact I raised my hand in class to suggest this, when Doug did not mention it. I don't think I've been in a class *YET* where some pair did not bonk their foreheads together doing this maneuver).

Now: with the arm that you have used to pin opponent's arm, use your hand to sieze hir opposite lapel. Don't yank it taught, because your next move is to use your OTHER hand to reach behind hir neck and stick your thumb in the collar right at the tag.

Now whip THAT arm over hir head and pull. Beauteous choke! Peter was tapping almost immediately, while I still had miles of room to tighten up more. When he did it to me, I noticed that it is kind of sneaky in that it doesn't *seem* dangerous until you're already tapping. I like this one.

Peter is going to give me a swelled head. He thinks I'm Rickson Gracie. He kept showering me with compliments. He actually told me tonight that I'm his hero. Hee hee. He's not trying to come on to me, either- he's married. It seems that he's just inspired that someone tiny and older (he is also tiny and older) can make purple around here.

A short roll with Prof Carlos (the young bucks were having an open mat in the other room). He was going light because he has a hand injury. I got him in closed guard at one point and exclaimed, "LOOK- my closed guard is relaxed!!" He cracked up, and asked me how it's working out for me. I told him that I haven't had enough chance to practice with it as of yet, but look- I'm trying! I also tried to footlock him. I need to be gripping further up on the toes than I am wont to do. When Carlos corrected my grip, I was like, "Geeze, it feels like I'm going to break your toes." So he did it to me, and weirdly enough the pressure is in the top center of the foot, not the toes at all.

Then a roll with Ross, and I tapped him over and over and over without working too hard- while giving suggestions. He gave me one KOB, and I started counting loudly- after that he remembered to scoot out immediately. He pulled me into his guard 4 times with his rt leg going down bent on the mat, whereupon I cruised right overtop it and passed. The 5th time he did it, I stopped and asked what he was trying to do. Turns out he did not have a solid plan, so I said, "Okay, you've done exactly this same thing 4 times now, and 4 times I have immediately passed in the exact same fashion- so that is not working for you; do *something* different." So he put me in butterfly guard instead, and that worked better for him. He is also giving me way too much room when he is trying to get on top- I had enough room to dance the cha cha before easily replacing guard- so I told himto either get closer, be heavier, or get into a different position.

After that, all the young bucks were sitting on the wall played out, and none of them was up for another roll (sniff). So I went back over to the Old Farts' side, and started rolling with a big blue belt, but before we had done more than a few minutes, Doug was flicking the light switch on and off to tell us to GTFO.

I still had energy left, so I went over to Sleeper, hoping to catch the last little bit of open mat. But no one was there. (sniff).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Friday, Thursday

Even people who are completely devoted to cultivating a certain discipline often fall into a mental rut, a disengarged lifestyle that implies excellence can be obtained by going through the motions. We lose presence. Then an injury or some other kind of setback thows a wrench into the gears. We are forced to get imaginative.  -Josh Waitzkin, The Art Of Learning

Daniel has been promoted to purple!

Friday evening no-gi at Sleeper.

Before class, I tried to drill that takedown from Wednesday on Terry, and couldn't quite get it- so asked Jalen for help. Still kind of awkward. You are kicking out with the leg on the SAME SIDE as the arm you're using to hug the head. I was reluctant to commit to the kickout unless I felt the opponent's balance already compromised. Terry was standing there like an oak tree rooted in cement, and I felt like if I turned my torso to try to complete the takedown, he would still be standing right there and I'd just be dangling off his neck with my arm twisted up and my back to him (no thank you). Getting the opponent to push into you is critical. Then you are bearing down hard on the head/neck as you kick out. Fortunately, Cindy reviewed the technique and had us drill it, so I hope I have it now.

After that, just sparring interspersed with cardio and (ugh) pullups, and those pullup thingies where you begin straight-armed with the handles at your hips.

Jalen, Terry and Axel. Tried to get a footlock on Terry, and *still* can't manage it. Dagnabbit! I tried the "more relaxed" closed guard  a few times. It only worked on Axel, but this was not surprising- Jalen and Terry are good enough that I can't assume that doing a technique correctly is automatically going to result in it actually WORKING. 

I did the toss-over-the-head throw on Jalen and not only *got* it, this time I managed to get into side mount before he could scramble. He knows by now that I'm trying this takedown, so I was surprised that he pushed into me in standup like that. I think he was giving it to me in the hopes of luring me into some trap or other. Well, I got him this time, nice and clean. I got the no-lapel baseball bat on Axel, which is great- I have been wanting to work on that. He tapped. The next time I went for it, I got one arm positioned and then said, "Don't let me get THIS again," and he defended well.
In the final spar, I had back mount on Terry and a short choke in; it was THIS CLOSE but I was just too damn exhausted to squeeze out the final bit of oomph to finish it. He tapped me with a footlock. He attempted to triangle me a few times, including one that I almost did not escape. I had pressure on his downward thigh and he seemed to be squeezing it to a finish with just the other leg and his arm. I panicked a little and wanted to abandon the thigh and start writhing to escape. But I tried to focus on, "If I control this leg, he can't finish it (I hope I hope)." I got out. Whew.
Saturday: My glutes feel like there are knives poking into them with every step. It's those between-spar cardio exercises!

Thursday: One full hour of sparring with Kelly. I was on the bottom a lot. She tapped me about 4 times, I didn't tap her at all. Had fun, though.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Closed guard and spaghetti-legs

There are times when the body needs to heal, but those are ripe opportunities to deepen the mental, technical, internal side of my game.  You should always come off an injury better than when you went down.   -Josh Waitzkin, The Art Of Learning

4:30 basics. Head-and-arm chokes; and arm-and-head chokes, from sprawling N/S on opponent's turtle. Tighten as much as you can before you roll. You can use your fingers to "crawl" your hand up the opponent's arm toward the big round patch on the back of hir gi. You can roll either way. After having rolled a big guy right over my face and almost breaking my own nose once, I got very leery of the full roll here. I learned *THAT* day that you have to put your face into the space under hir ribs before you roll. I learned TODAY that you can actually turn your face the other way. To make life easier, just make sure the back of your head is going to hit the mat first- that way you don't have to pause and burn brain cells for ten minutes trying to figure out which cheek to lay on the opponent's back.

Ow. Mondo gi burn on chin after doing this.

Positional training from one person in turtle, 2nd person sprawled N/S on top. The class was me, 2 small ladies, a medium-sized 2 stripe blue that I didn't know, and a really tall lanky white belt I've never laid eyes on before. 2 rounds- I had to fight both of the guys, while the women got to pair together both rounds.  :(   Both of those guys whupped me.

Study hall- study hall was quite a revelation today. Today I discovered that after 4 years of BJJ, I do not know how to close guard. Not MAINTAIN it, mind you, we're not even there yet- I am speaking of the simple (heh) mechanics and positioning of STARTING there.

I never use closed guard. I can't get my stubby legs closed around most of the people I train with. The few that I *can*, they simply bench-press one of my thighs to the floor. Once the thigh is on the floor, I feel like it's pretty much over and I'm already beaten, so I let my guard open and mount some pathetic token resistance as the opponent breezes past and settles happily into side mount.

My usual method when asked to close my guard (assuming this is a person upon whom I *can* do so): I grab hir lapels, hike my thighs right into hir armpits, lock my ankles, and clamp. I don't *squeeze* the person with my thighs, but I attempt to mentally forge my legs into an immovable steel frame.

Carlos put me in his closed guard. His thighs were lying on the tops of my thighs like two pieces of overcooked spaghetti.  

It seems that my signature neck-cord-bulging approach is yet again resoundingly WRONG.

Carlos would like me to grab the opponent by the triceps (not seize hir by the lapels and yank hir into my steel-girder guard as if I'm about to bite hir throat out), hook my ankles, and then relax my legs knees-out around hir waist (not clamp them knees-up around hir ribs). Does not compute. And feels WEIRD. Weak. My legs cramped after about 20 seconds. It feels weird because I don't *do* it that way and I'm not used to using those muscles, he tells me.

He pulled up his gi pants and showed us his hairy shins. There is a palm-sized circular area on the back of each shin which is rubbed completely free of hair. This is where his legs rest on the opponent's back while holding closed guard.

"Don't open your closed guard. You are doing half the work *for* heem." Why does that sound familiar? Maybe because Cindy has said that to me about half a zillion times?   (only she says "him" instead of "heem")

"But what do I do when they bench-press my thigh to the floor?" He had Ben bench-press his thigh to the floor. His hip turned in the same direction and the opposite knee came up. His guard remained closed. I had Ben try to bench-press my thigh to the floor. My shorter legs just sat on top of Ben's thighs and he couldn't Kitty-Pryde them through his own leg to the mat.

I'm going to need to play with this, with kitten-level resistance, with a good partner before I can even start to wrap my brain around this idea. I can't believe this is going to work live. But my way sure as hell ain't working. If it does work, I'm going to feel like a real moron for doing such an elementary thing wrong for the last four freakin' years. But I guess I'd rather feel like a moron and get it fixed, as opposed to CONTINUING to be a moron.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


"Great dancers are not great because of their technique,
they are great because of their passion.”
- Martha Graham

I got out my short sticks for the first time in way too long, and was dismayed to find that I CRS. Fortunately, I quickly found a Youtube with the simple drill that I (used to) know, and it came right back- high, low, alternating. Whew. I spent a long frustrating time learning that, and it would have sucked to lose it. I'd sure like to learn some more short stick drills.

Our new Turtle Drum host flaked, so I am on tap again for next month (barring unforeseen work shifts). The theme is "planting of seeds". I hope they are not expecting me to top the light saber! I have to find a new elemental chant to cast the circle with. I dug out a bunch of my old chant cassettes. While I was at it, I dug out my candlemaking supplies so that I can start recycling some of the wax from the Turtle Drum candles (good Green practice- from the Earth perspective *and* the $$ perspective). I also dug out a bunch of old Stephen King paperbacks. I'm hoping that rereading his stuff will inspire me to write more (and better). Realistically, though, I tend to just fall down the rabbit hole and come back to consciousness later to find that I have blown half the day reading.

I have skipped a bunch of classes in the last few days. I am having a really terrible time sleeping- the worst since fall '11. I'm exhausted all the time but can't fall asleep, and when I do get to sleep I keep 1)waking up again, and 2)having horrible nightmares. I am trying to sleep nights and be up days so that I can go to class, but that is not going over too well. I wake up feeling worse than I did when I lay down. Unisom and Nyquil seem to make it slightly more likely to achieve sleep (altho not reliably), but cause an increase in the nightmares. I really need to get off caffeine... but my God! Give me a break! People all over the place are boozing and drugging it up; my worst vice is a can of soda, and dang it I resent having to give that up.

Wednesday evening BJJ at Sleeper. We worked wrestling stuff tonight because Jalen is preparing for a competition. One of the things I like about this school is that the class size is often intimate enough that it's reasonable to focus on helping a teammate get ready for something specific.

Cindy let me have the pick of the litter for drilling, and I picked Jalen.

Double-leg takedowns. We have been working these in both schools, and I seem to be doing better at the drills (although I get very tired and sloppy after a certain amount of time). I remain tentative and clumsy trying to do them live, though. I tried one tonight during sparring, and made a hash of it.

You are turtled and opponent is sprawled N/S on top. You poke your head out from under hir RT armpit and use your RT (cross) arm to grab hir RT leg. Post your left foot. (Stay low- do not heave your body up while you are posting the foot). Sit out, kicking your Rt leg far out straight and landing on your RT buttock. While you sit out, post with your rt arm and throw your left up violently like you are hailing a cab. Your left shoulder and the left back of your head should be against opponent's ribs. Turn swiftly and take the back. (If you can snake your rt arm around opponent's near leg as you turn, so much the better.)

Next technique: Opponent is on his belly (this is a wrestling thing). You are mounted on hir back. Use left arm to press hir cheek to the mat. Crossface with rt arm. Dismount and go to the side. As you do this, place your left hand between opponent's knees.

Post on your left hand, and tiptoe around toward opponent's head side, dragging hir head along with you (still crossfaced). You want to use your entire body to force the opponent to curl up so that you can gable grip your hands.

Once you are gable gripped, sit out and shrimp your butt out so that you can maneuver opponent onto hir back. Your matward knee should be in hir back. Your face should be buried in hir shoulder.

Next technique: Opponent is on his belly. You are mounted on hir back. Use rt arm to press hir cheek to the mat. Go UNDER hir arm with your left arm. (You should not do this too close to the opponent's armpit, or s/he will simply seal hir arm to hir ribs and trap your hand.) Dismount on that same side, and shove your arm all the way up to your armpit (it is between opponent's shoulder and neck) as you tiptoe forward and smear your body along hirs to roll hir over on hir back.

Sparring- Jalen and Axel. I was having some contact lens issues, so I was sparring blind.

Jalen and I were working from standup. I tossed him over my head a couple of times, but was unable to follow up by getting on top. He got several nice takedowns on me. I was able to twist mid-takedown and end up on top a few times. We each got one tap- his a cross-grip gi choke of some type (it was slick, he sneaked it in and surprised me), mine the gi-tail baseball-bat... although mine was not clean; I had to chase him around, and get my foot behind his head, jump to the other side, and do some additional creative contortions before I finally got him knotted up enough to tap.  

I got two sweeps on him tonight, which I am very pleased about. One was a hybrid of a technique we worked on a couple of weeks ago; I'm not quite sure what I did, but it involved throwing the bottom half of my body up and over to the other side. I was quite astonished when it worked. The other was the leg-over-head reversal from bottom scarf. Again, I was astonished that it worked, and before I even got upright I was thinking, "He *let* me do that; this is a trap." Sure enough, there were his legs swinging up to grab my head. That's one of his favorites and he's caught me with it a number of times. Since I was ready for a trap, I was able to squirt out.. although not retain control, we ended up facing off on our feet again.

I remember sparring with Axel several months ago. He was fun, and tonight he was fun again. Not too big, just good enough to make me work, but not good enough that I couldn't beat him if I wanted to. I worked some, and let him work some. Cindy talked him through an upa escape, so I front mounted him several more times and let him practice that again.

Cindy had been watching my failed hip throw attempts on Jalen, and she suggested an alternative: get opponent pushing into me, then turn and grab the head in my armpit. Then kick my leg straight and sit out instead of throw. I tried it a few times, and like it. I need a review and some more reps to feel comfy with it. Note to ask to work on this again next time I'm in there.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

More front mount

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to be over,
it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

4:30pm basics class: Adrian is out of town, so we had no teacher today. Open mat. I rolled with Lindsey for 40 min. It is so unusual to work with someone who is lighter and weaker than myself. I used strength/weight a couple of times, but I was very conscious of doing it. It was unsatisfying. I let her put me in bad positions- especially bottom side mount, since I hate that. I felt less intimidated trying to work from that position with her, since I knew I could probably just Donkey-Kong her off at any time. I attacked her feet, but was not able to finish anything. She is very flexible, and her technique is good. It was a good time.

Study Hall. It was just me and Kelly. Awesome. We started rolling to warm up. I haven't worked with her in a long time, but she has a history of sorta physically and psychologically overwhelming me somewhat with her aggressiveness. Maybe she was going lighter or something today, but it didn't seem quite so bad. She was still getting the better of me, but I didn't feel steamrollered.

The Prof asked her what she wanted to work on, and she said she was having trouble with front mount. Whoot! So we worked on that.

Carlos suggests that we not plaster ourselves to the opponent, but stay mobile on top to defend getting rolled. Kelly apparently has a similar problem as I do with being TENSE and stiff and trying to strongarm people who are a lot stronger.

Cross-collar choke from mount: keep elbows in- I knew this, but apparently I'm still not doing it adequately. Roll hands inward, pull elbows to belly button, you can also lift the person's head off the mat or bow your own forward.

Keylock from mount. Carlos suggests that I try pinning opponent's hand to the mat further out than is my habit. When I tried this on Kelly, she was tapping pretty promptly with only a tiny lift to the elbow.

Ezekiel from mount. Hug opponent's head with left arm. Place your right hand at opponent's ear. Left hand grabs inside your own right sleeve cuff. Make a blade hand with little finger toward opponent's tender, juicy throat. squeeze. You need not grab anything with your right hand- keep it in a blade. If the opponent rolls you, you can finish the choke during the roll (Carlos demo'ed this on both of us... I now have a headache just from being Ezekiel'ed by him two or three times).

We also did some positional training from side mount. When in top side mount, every time the opponent moves, use that opportunity to suck up more space and get tighter.

Six black belts

”We either make ourselves miserable,
or we make ourselves strong.
The amount of work is the same.”
- Carlos Castaneda 

Form of the Day: Jian straight sword

Thursday lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Bellevue.

I jumped Doug before class and we rolled around a while. Then the class was all sparring. There were no white belts in the room today. I got to roll with Carlos and Sean as well as Doug (again)... I have rolled with six different black belts in in the last day and a half! How cool is my life?

Ross was seriously muscling me around.... but he's not a jerk, he just got his blue about 2 days ago, and I think he's feeling the heat and didn't realize how much he was muscling. He would have stopped if I'd said something. Because I *KNEW* he'd stop if I said something, I decided to just ride it and see if I could defend. I had to tap to one keylock, but other than that, I survived.

I think I did reasonably well today- nothing spectacular, but nothing spectacularly bad either, in a long unbroken session of colored belt matches. Several of the guys Were giving me elevator rides- hoisting me up in open guard. I defended some of that, but when I did find myself flying, I just went with it and attempted to come down in a decent position. I switched sides a lot- ie, if they were trying to put me down on their left, I twisted my hips and came down on the right instead (hopefully flubbing up whatever dastardly plan they had in mind from there). Carlos commented that my move of the day was the cartwheel.

Ribs sore now- hopefully I didn't spring anything again. Those were some intense spars.

I agreed to take some on-call work starting in Feb: 20 hours a week garanteed (but I can't refuse them either) plus extra which will likely add up to close to full time. It will be at both the Bellevue hospital and the one in Capitol Hill. I'm not happy about the Capitol Hill commute (or the traffic, or the toll bridge, or the parking), but I decided to do it. It may open up more options for me in the future.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"You only remember the bad stuff."

One of the first things to do is learn to accept, and to expect this Power to flow through everything we do.  –Ernest Holmes

Form Of the Day: Silken Needle.

Wednesday evening gi at Sleeper Athletics. More side control escapes.

1)You are in bottom side control. Frame up, hip out a bit, use your *matward* knee (for some reason I kept wanting to use the other) to push opponent's knee back. Now it is easier for you to trap hir foot with your ceilingward foot and pull it out. Pull it far enough to crank hir hips a bit to the side. Now you should have room to replace full guard.

2)You are in bottom side control. Frame up, hip out a bit, keep elbow braced on opponent's shoulder as you windshield-wiper the forearm under hir armpit. S/he whizzers. You grab under the butt and hoist hir forward, as you turn belly-down and get to your knees. Keep your head down to the mat.

Pull opponent's near shin out and scoot so that you are kneeling behind it. If your arm is still trapped, you can limp it out at this time. Note that at no time do you want your arm across/over opponent's back.

Opponent turtles. Now you can go to the side, grab the far leg and knee, and plow hir over to take side control. Use your head to push on hir ribs to help shove.

Spars interspersed with cardio. I stayed till the bitter end and didn't sit out any rounds. I also participated in the pullups this time. I can't do many, and I also need someone holding onto my legs.

Cindy, Erin, Terry. I was excited to get a hip throw on Erin (since we drilled hip throws for the last 2 mornings at GB). Then I spent several minutes trapped in stalemate in her closed guard. I continue to have trouble breaking closed guard. I have become too reliant on waiting for them to open the guard and then trying to capitalize on it. I knew she was going to try to triangle me, so I was very wary of that.

 Terry was attacking my feet, and I found that it paralyzed me more than ever- because I was scared that any move I made was going to put my foot in his range (it sure seemed that way!) I got front mount and I tried pulling his head up off the mat, but it didn't work- he immediately reversed me anyway. I was on the bottom a lot, and felt frustrated about my inability to defend sweeps. At the end, I whined that I can't get off the damn bottom, and Terry informed me that I only remember the bad stuff about my spars.

Front mount troubleshooting

Many people receive the answer to their prayers, but ignore them- or deny them, because the answers didn’t come in the expected form.  –Sophy Burnham

I was too weary to do a writeup last night; I hope I didn't lose a bunch of stuff.....

Tuesday lunchtime BJJ at GB Bellevue. Many of the same techniques/drills we have done over the past week. We did the grab-the-backs-of-the-heels takedown again, only this time instead of pushing one shin forward and the other back to go to front mount, we folded both shins back on the same side to go to side control. I hope that sometime this week we also cover the technical lift out of this takedown, since I remember doing that before. Having three different options for ending this will hopefully not leave me sitting there on my butt like a big fat panda bear after I get the takedown.

4:30 basics class- nobody showed up except for me, so I got an hour private with Adrian! Score! We worked on my sorry excuse for front mount. I can't stay put for 3 seconds nor long enough to finish any subs. Adrian wants me to get higher, shoving the opponent's elbows up. I need to fully utilize all my posts, and not be afraid to move them around to try to defend the roll. It's gotten to the point that I'm resigned to getting rolled, and I need to stop accepting that. I can use my head to post (I think this will be a key- I have not been doing this). I can also pull the opponent's head off the mat, which makes it harder for hir to bridge.

Isolating one arm/shoulder can give me an opening to an armbar or mounted triangle. We also addressed isolating the near arm while in top side control.

Adrian suggests that I get my one deep cross collar grip and then hang onto it. Keep the opponent defending chokes, because every time s/he put hir hands up to defend the choke, I can wiggle up into hir armpits a little more. It seems like I am not getting the cross-collar chokes deep enough (STILL!). I frequently get a cross collar choke and then get rolled, and I can't seem to finish them from closed guard.

He also showed me another cool gi-tail choke. This one is from top side control, and uses the nearer gi tail. The hand which is nearest opponent's head, put it behind hir neck. With the other hand, pull the NEAR gi tail across hir chest and feed it to the behind-the-neck hand. It doesn't seem very threatening, but when you grab the outside-knee pants with your other hand and put your forehead down on the mat beside it, it chokes.  (I heart gi-tail chokes!)

Wednesday lunchtime BJJ at GB Seattle, with Julia!

Same standing roundhouse parry to hip throw as last week. I was nice to Julia and set her down gently.  ;)   I had not been quite as gentle with John yesterday, and he kinda called me on it- he said, "Should I be throwing you harder?" I laughed and said, "I couldn't blame you if you did!" My breakfalls are still kinda clumsy, and I guess the right-sided ones are going to be painful for the rest of my life because of that broken finger.

Hook sweep: You sitting, opponent standing. You have 2 sleeve cuff grips and feet on hips. Switch to a cross-sleeve grip (ie, you grip opponent's left sleeve cuff with your left hand), grab behind opponent's left heel with the rt hand you just freed. Now hook your left toe behind hir rt heel. Push with the foot that you still have on hip, hook that heel out from under. Do not let go of either sleeve cuff or foot. Put your weight on your rt elbow, pull your rt leg under you so that you are belly-down, and stand up. Now you can control the opponent's leg and arm on that side, and go to KOB or side control.

Take the back from closed guard: As opponent reaches for your lapels, you pak sau the arm across your chest and grab the cross inside bicep. Yank opponent forward as you pull with your knees, and place hir front half on the mat beside you. Keep control of the arm. Hip out, stick your lower leg hook in, grab over opponent's back to armpit. Take the back. Do not fall too far to the front so that your are summersaulting off (or leaving your head where opponent can grab it).

Unfortunately Julia pulled a hip flexor, and could not spar afterward (although we did get about 5 min before class). I did one roll with SIDE CONTROL and one with Jason, who just got his black belt last week.

Dave (SIDE CONTROL) mentioned S mount again as an alternative to standard front mount- he uses it on me to great effect (he's pretty much the only person that I can't use the comb-over mount escape on, because he just switches to S mount every time I try to get his foot). Note to self- ask him to work on this specifically with me next time I get a chance to play with him.

I tried to get my gi-tail baseball bat choke on him, but he was spinning away from it. I put my foot over his head, but this time it did not work. He suggests trying to put my forehead to the mat (exactly as Adrian had showed me for the cross-gi-tail choke) instead. Must keep this in mind.

This was the first time I've ever rolled with Jason. He's small (like, *my* size small). So relaxed. I had what seemed to be a nice deep cross collar grip, and then I got another, but I could tell that he wasn't worried about it- he was as relaxed as if he was on his couch with a late night movie on and almost falling into a snooze. I said, "Still not deep enough, huh?" He said, "Nope." Gak!  He was fun, though. I hope I get a chance to work more with him.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm the sh!t!

No man, however civilized, can listen for very long to African drumming, or Indian chanting, or Welsh hymn singing, and retain intact his critical and self-conscious personality. –Aldous Huxley

E-mail from Tasara, re: Turtle Drum:
GREAT JOB, KITSUNE!!  People LOVED you!!   XXXOXOO     You silly woman.

E-mail from Tiffany:
Kitsune, your opening of the circle was BEAUTIFUL!  I am inspired by the way you called in the directions, it was welcoming for everyone, it was other than boring or intimidating for those that were new to the circle and/or calling in directions, and you sang it so well!!!

On Facebook, from another attendee:
Ken commented on Monthly Indoor Ceremony_ Hosted by Kitsune_ These have been getting very powerful:
This was our biggest indoor jam so far 28 + I believe was the count. Kitsune is the shit. Songs and light sabers. Damn.

Whew!!!    :P    ;)

Lunchtime BJJ, GB Sea.  Stuck behind that goddamn train for 20 min, and so late to class. I hate that train.

Standup- opponent punches at your face, you parry, overhook the arm, move beside opponent and hug hir around the waist with other arm. Move hips, hip throw. KOB. Note- when being thrown, draw your arm back- otherwise Angela will throw you, KOB you and then armbar you.

Pendulum sweep. Note that you can put your foot on opponent's knee and push it back. The foot that you are grabbing to "talk on the phone" with- try to capture it closer to the ankle than the knee. Also try to keep the leg until you are settled into mount.

Opponent stands up in your guard- the grab-the-backs-of-the-ankles attack. To get on top- pick a side and lean your torso over there. The opposite side shin goes BACK. I hope that we drilled this enough times that I will remember it. I like this attack, but I am often too slow to get on top once I take the person down.

One roll with Bryan, one with Z, one with John.


Evening gi class, Sleeper Athletics.

I couldn't stay for the entire class tonight, but came for drills. More side control escapes. We reviewed one of the ones from last week, plus:

You are in bottom side control. Use your foot to catch opponent's near ankle. S/he will likely switch to scarf. As s/he does this, you push hir cheek away, walk your hips/feet **WAY** out, lift your feet and catch the head, sit up. Now you are in scarf (on top!)   My usual error is that I fail to get the legs far enough out, and thus I cannot reach the head with my feet.

You are in bottom side control. Use the hand nearest the opponent to grab hir pants. Use your other elbow to push on the face. Crank opponent back as far as you can, then bridge violently and throw your feet over to the other side of hir body. Belly down. Now you are in top side control.

CK e-mails that she talked to CN and pitched him my request (train me and I'll pay you). He said that he'll contact me after he gets his act together some. Again, not going to hold my breath. It sure would be nice, though. Crossed fingers.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"I hope nobody was expecting a standard circle casting tonight...."

Freeing the body inevitably leads to freeing the heart.  –Gabrielle Roth

Met up with MM and CK for sparring. We didn't have a whole lot of time, but got some good work in.

I was in defensive mode; had a lot of difficulty at first staying on centerline. Difficulty reconciling my need to work very close in with my tendency to allow my (biceps) frame to collapse, whereupon my heavier and more aggressive attackers would overwhelm me.

Turtle Drum, hosting. Theme: "Creativity".

Tasara and Tiff want to inject more ritual into Turtle Drum, so I was resigned to (at a minimum) having to invoke quarters, cast a circle in a way that made it obvious to the insensitive that I *was* in fact casting a circle, and then release quarters at the end.

I decided to cast the circle with my Sith red light saber. Yes, it's the fancy-pants one- it makes all the sounds and everything. I figured that everybody would think I was unhinged, but they'd like it. And it should loosen things up, because what I was asking them to do was to express their creativity by getting out of their comfort zones a little.

I told them: I have done sooooo many drum circles, many different places, different people. One of the things I consistently encounter is drummers who are blocked dancers, dancers who are blocked drummers, drummers and dancers who are blocked singers. Even me.... I am a drummer and a dancer and a singer, I own that, but drumming is definitely my comfort zone. I still get terribly self-conscious a lot of the time about dancing or singing in front of people.

In that spirit, I had decided to call the quarters with a song. I have once before opened Turtle Drum by song, and it scared me.  This time, it scared me *less* than having to try to do a standard set of quarter calls solo in a roomful of people whose backgrounds I didn't know, and who may or may not be familiar with the format or even the concept.

Well, it went fine, they liked the light saber, my voice shook a little (hell, it's five verses, a capalla in front of a roomful of (mostly) strangers!!!), but I didn't squeak or blank on the lyrics or anything. A couple of people started keeping a light beat part of the way though, so that helped.  When I redid it at the end, it was much better. People were all blissed out, and there was much less pressure, and a few tried to tone along even though they didn't know the words.

We had over 30 people, a number of first-timers. Several people chanted, and many people got up to dance- two things that always make for a much better event. All four facilitators were there- which is great, although I'm a little more self-conscious because I'm always wondering what they're thinking about the way I'm doing things.

We went about 20 min overtime. I kept waiting for a lull to jump in with the closing song, but they just kept rolling.  Tasara was shooting me pointed glances, and all I could do was shrug. There were things I could have done to compel a halt, and I would have if it had gone on much longer- but you hate to do it when people are really grooving. Sometimes it's so hard to get people in gear in the first place, which makes you doubly unhappy when you have to quash them.

I brought Tiala, my metal doumbek, which I haven't used in a while. She was the only metal doumbek in the circle tonight, and had a couple of nice performances. I put the bell drum in the center to be shared for the first time. It got plenty of use. I think next time I'll bring the tom.

I did one dance with the light saber. It did not turn out very martial. I'm not connecting with the light saber very well as of yet. Obviously it's not a weapon, but (as demonstrated tonight) it can certainly be used as a ritual tool. The biggest problem is that the hilt is much too wide for my hand. I really need to use a two-fisted grip, and none of my MA blades utilize much work with that type of grip. Also, when two-fisting it, it's easy to inadvertently hit the off switch- as I did a number of times during the opening. I hope they think I did it on purpose just to make the ZRRRRRNNNGGGG sound again. Ironically, I felt more anxious about dancing with the light saber in a crowded room than I would have with one of my edged metal blades. My REAL weapons are extensions of my body. This felt clumsier. I didn't hit anyone on the head, though.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Old Farts

What you do instead of your work is your REAL work. –Roger Ebert

Met up with CK and JB for an hour or so around lunchtime. The usual phoning and driving around trying to find somewhere to work out. We were luckless and ended up outside, which I was unhappy about. Cold, wet, bad footgear. Went through the Tai Chi long form a few times.

JB was annoyed with me for not announcing my promotion with more bells and whistles than I did. I responded, "Jiu jitsu here (indicating heart). Jiu jitsu here (indicating head). Jiu jitsu never here (indicating beltline)." I wasn't sure if she was old enough to get the reference, but I knew CK would.

After JB vacated, CK and I found an open community center. We started working on the long form again, but unfortunately- as sometimes happens- our yaps ran away with us and we didn't get a whole lot of work done. It might be worthwhile to try to schedule a lunch early in her visit and get some of the chatter out of the way so that we can focus better.

One of the things she told me was that CN has moved back to town. I'm not going to pin any hopes on this, because he has not spoken to me in years, and I'm not going to chase him around and bother him. But I told CK (again) that if she sees him, to please pitch that I will pay him to give me private Kung Fu lessons. Lord, I miss Shaolin.

I really wanted to get to Bellevue in time for Doug's nascent "Old School BJJ" class (aka "Old Farts' class"). 40YO and above only. I didn't get back to Bellevue from my visit with CK until I was about 20 min late (right through commute traffic- ugh and sigh). I came in and was happy to see that there was a decent turnout- 10 or 12 people, good mix of belt levels. I announced, "Sorry I'm late- I had to put in my false teeth, adjust my truss....." Doug looked at the clock and said something about the time; I responded, "You can see that clock from here without your bifocals?" Every time I made a smart-ass remark, he mimed making a little mark on the inside of his lapel- the record of all the things he was going to spank me for once the sparring started (I guess when you get that old, you need to keep a lot of notes because you CRS...ha ha.)

We did sprawl N/S on top of turtle, crossface go to the side, switch feet, "sash" grip, pull the guy over and take the back. I continue to end up on my back while pulling the guy over, and was able to ask Doug to troubleshoot it. It appears that I am planting my butt on the mat too far away from the opponent, and I need to glue butt to mat closer. Also note: if opponent is defending your hooks, start choking hir. S/he should reach up to grab your forearm, and then you can slip the hook in on that side. Further note: make sure to keep hooks at different levels once you get them in. One more thing worth paying attention to- be careful how enthusiastically you sock your heels into the hip creases of your male training partner. I got a distinct flinch.

If the turtle is clamped closed all around, crank one of hir elbows out just enough to get a foot in, then dive-roll. I need to work more on this, I was tentative about my positioning and doubtful about being able to actually overturn the guy, so I tended to not fully commit to the roll.

Take the back as above, then add 1)RNC, 2)RNC with one arm trapped, 2)cross collar choke. I continue to telegraph my RNC setup hugely. I need to learn to sneak that second arm in.

Sparring- Doug, Robert twice (he's 58! just got his 2nd stripe on blue belt- cool, huh?). Marcello, Chris (these latter two do not qualify as Old Farts, but a few of the Young Bucks came in to open-mat with us for a bit).  Robert's got great pressure from the top. Note- try to stay off the bottom with him next time. I love sparring with Chris. He's so big and scary-looking, but he *never* uses strength and is very careful with his weight. I've never so much as bent a fingernail working with him. A sublime partner. And a really nice friendly guy too.

Anyway, Doug seemed happy with the turnout and the way things went, and I really hope the attendance justifies continuing this class- it's a great idea. It was also a good environment for asking questions. If we can have a little Old Farts open mat after, so much the better.

Unfortunately for me, Old Farts' Class conflicts with Cindy's Friday night no-gi. I'm not happy with the no-gi scheduling, and not sure how to apply myself. Right now, the Sleeper gi classes are better for my routine... but I feel that it's important for me to work no-gi as well (especially since I'm worse at it), and right now I'm getting very very little.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


All the world will be your enemy
Prnce with a thousand enemies.
And when they catch you
They will kill you.
But first
They must catch you!
-Watership Down

Wednesday gi at Sleeper Athletics:

Bottom side control. Frame up, bridge, shrimp, get knee in, catch opponent's foot if you can and pull it out, replace full guard.

Bottom side control. Frame up, bridge, keep top elbow braced while you rotate JUST THE FOREARM under opponent's armpit. Shrug that arm above your head hard, squirt out the side and take the back or hang off the turtle.

Bottom side control, opponent is holding your pants at the hip. Frame up, bridge shrimp, get knee in and use it to scrape the hand off your pants. then proceed as in previous sequence.

My biggest weakness is that I fail to shrug the arm forcefully enough. I also have psychological issues in bottom side control, especially if the guy is heavy and/or tight. I feel helpless.

Spars. I felt very fat, old, slow, tired and weak tonight. On the defensive the entire time, lots of turtle, lots of bottom side control.  I gave up one keylock tap that I just sorta- well, gave up as soon as I realized what was happening. Just couldn't seem to get the fire lit tonight.

Thursday lunchtime BJJ at GB Belle. Still feeling very sluggish. I think part of it is the cold. House is freezing, and it's (even more than usually) difficult to sleep. Wearing 2 sweat suits + long johns, 3 pairs of socks, gloves (including to bed). Sat out in the parking lot with my gi in my lap debating whether I really wanted to go in or not. I went.

The fresh purple belts continue the 4-stripe-blue tradition of pushing and shoving and jockeying around in line trying to *not* be first. Carlos started teasing us about it. Then he dragged me to the front and said I had to stand up there because I am the "oldest" (even though I'm pretty sure John is older than me!).

Drills- all the same drills I did last week with Angela. They weren't any easier this time around, LOL. Instead of the failed armbar to omoplata, this time we did failed armbar to triangle.

Double-leg setups. We also had to do extra jumping jacks because some people weren't getting their arms up with sufficient gusto. Army crawls with our hands clasped together.