Saturday, December 27, 2014


To be a legitimate threat in the eyes of the law, the other guy must have intent (desire), the means (ability), and the opportunity (access) to hurt you. If you wind up in court, you must be able to show all three to justify using force for self-defense. And you must be able to explain why what you did was appropriate; martial artists tend to be held to a higher level than everyday citizens. Even if intent, means and opportunity are clear, there is one other requirement (for civilians and in most states) to satisfy. You must be able to show that you had no safe alternatives other than physical force before engaging. That’s the real bugger for self defense, preclusion. Campfire Tales From Hell

Stretching, Chi Gung, Tai chi a Artspawn with CK & Lisa. Weird to be back at Artspawn after many years. I haven't been keeping up on my tai chi, but I was very constantly aware of making an effort at every moment to AVOID two of my most persistant and troublesome tai ch fails: lack of body turning along with arm movement, and letting the knee turn (and cave) in.

Some of that chi gung felt so good. It was tickling and stirring the energy.

Jonesing to get on the mat. Holiday BJJ school closures suck.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Front mount to S mount

Fighting is almost always ego driven.  –Rory Miller

I'm doing Vic's 30 day plank challenge. Starting today at Day 2 because I just now found out about it. I flatter myself that I have halfway decent ab muscles, but I do not plank, so it's entirely possible that I may be in for a rude awakening.

My trick wrist- the one that Carlos wristlocked when he first came here- was troubling me yesterday and today. Mostly during the open guard butt scoot warmups yesterday. I was mostly fine during the sparring. I'm wary, though, as the wrist tends to give me problems for a few weeks at a time once it starts hurting. Hope it won't affect the plank challenge.

Saturday no-gi at Kirkland.

There were some painful techniques on tap today, and Cindy told me to be grateful that Dave was there to be the demo dummy.... and I truly was, as they are things that Cindy has done to me before and the memory of agony is fresh.  I feel terrible as I watch Dave's face contort. The vein on his temple starts bulging out and turning purple, too.

 I was drilling with Andrew, who is fairly large, but he was very nice to me and careful. Dave, though, didn't hear me say "tap" during the positional sparring, and continued to pull something that torqued the sheet out of my ankle and knee until I yelled "TAP- TAP- TAPTAP!!!!!"  I know he would never do that on purpose, but dang, that hurt.

First we did some pummelling, then triangle drills, then armbar from guard drills (lawd I hate those!)
Front mount to S mount with seatbelt grip. Then front mount to S mount to armbar. Then front mount to S mount to torquing opponent's own arm around hir neck and bellying hir down to the mat.

I struggled with many things today. Several of them were very basic white belt errors that I should not be making. Others of them were failing to correctly follow all the steps even after multiple explanations and demos. Cindy was getting frustrated with me, to my dismay and chagrin.

Positional sparring from front mount. Then a roll with Wayne. I haven't done no-gi in a long time, and found myself frustrated with the lack of grips.

Speed Friday

Most people are grass-eaters with their heads down on the ground. The jackals and lions know this and think of them as that. Hold your head up and walk like you are the biggest, baddest lion that walks. The jackals and lions will notice and leave you alone because they don't want to get hurt. Don't challenge them because they might feel they have to respond to it. All you want is their respect, not their dignity. -Greg Hamilton

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue. Earlier, I had walked 2 miles (I had a work meeting) and also made a verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry interesting visit to the Habitat For Humanity store- which I will elaborate upon later.

As usual, Kevin and I fought over who would defer to the other in line. I informed him that soon he would have another stripe and then he wouldn't be able to argue about it.

Tonight was a "drill as fast as you can" night. "Speed Friday" Carlos called it.

Ankle pick from standing- drop to right knee between opponent's knees, grab behind the top of hir calf with your right hand and behind hir ankle with your left. Stand up and pick up the ankle. Opponent's job: put both palms to mat and attempt to handwalk/scuttle away until footing can be regained.

Same ankle pick, only this time as opponent attempts to scuttle, you clasp that ankle against your body and grab at hir other ankle with your right hand. Carlos had to point out to me that those of us with short arms may need to "turn the corner" around opponent's body in order to reach that second ankle- don't just stay where you are and strain after it. Lift the second ankle, opponent will be twisted in the air to be dumped on hir back. Step between hir knees and push hir ankles to the mat (or to hir butt) to defend any DLR or other reguard attempts.

KOB to spinning armbar, armbarred person turns to push on knee and deliberately brings top knee up to bait a pantleg grab. If you fail to bring the knee up, the armbar-er may be moved to apply better technique and underhook your knee instead, which will make it difficult to do the next move- which is to straighten your leg to break the grip. Hitch hiker escape to pop your head up UNDER/BEHIND their butt, get up and move around to KOB. I was happy to practice that hitch hiker escape, as it is a technique that for some reason I always seem to be absent on the day it is taught/practiced, and I haven't worked it enough for it to be instinctual regarding which way to go. I have always (and still do) regard it as a bit of a hole in my game. I don't use it much, as I favor a yank of the elbow down to the mat (works great with my short arms)... but it is one of those basic techniques that every jiu jitsu artist should be able to do well.

Carlos kept urging us to go faster and faster, and began to pit couples against each other in speed. Of course Kevin and I, being the ranking belts in the room, could not allow mere white and blue belts to beat us- so we really turned it on. This resulted in some exhaustion-induced clumsiness (esp with the ankle pick) as the night progressed. At one point he went to his knee and then went shooting right on past me while I stood there and watched him slide by.

By the time we were done, I was reeling with exhaustion. I was gratified to see that Kevin (half my age) was tired as well. I would have liked to have a roll with Kev- but it was a challenge to keep my LOC up enough to safely complete the drive home, so I'm glad I didn't try to push it further.

Knees ache from all the up-down and from dropping onto the right knee a million times.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Focus, mood, and energy level

The laser sight on the Taser (or on some firearms) puts a red (usually) or green dot where the dart or bullet will land. One company that manufactures laser sights refers to this as “Helping criminals make informed decisions”.  –Rory Miller

I'm feeling frustrated right now with my lack of self discipline regarding work on my fiction. One of my favorite writers has made some noises about possibly offering some personalized mentoring to people. That perked my ears. I'd love to treat myself to that if it's in my budget, but that would involve committing to setting ass to chair and fingers to keyboard (and not to fart around on the web, to FOCUS). I've been pretty good about keeping up on the training blog, so I decided that I might try posting some more stuff to Facebook (I usually limit my FB postings  mostly to the martial arts quotes that I also put on my blog). Today- as a writing challenge- I wrote about changing light bulbs, and tried to make it funny and interesting. I got a good response.

I am quite firmly anti-drug, but today I also did a bit of an experiment.  Like any self-respecting psychology enthusiast, I am certain that I have about a dozen assorted undiagnosed mental pathologies. One of which is a moderate helping of ADD.

No one I know would ever give me two tabs of a controlled substance (let's call it Subtractorall), and if they did, I would never take it. But let's just say, hypothetically, that I took a Subtractorall today just to see what would happen (specifically, in class).

Well, hypothetically, I feel energized. Normally, the combo of depression, severe allergies, and wonky work hours has me perpetually feeling exhausted, and constantly prioritizing bed over any other activity that I don't absolutely *have* to do. Right now, I do not feel tired.... and it's very bizarre because I don't really know what it feels like to not be tired.  I was really excited to go to class, and was bouncing around and singing.

I also feel less depressed than usual.... although I may have stacked the deck in that respect by writing the light bulb treatise this morning. Creative work of any type tends to temporarily unfreeze my emotions, and I get happy or deeply morose (often both in succession... there's that undiagnosed bipolar disorder at work).

I also have a powerful placebo effect response, so it's entirely possible that I feel different simply because I was expecting something different to happen.

I will need to hypothetically run this experiment again on a different day and see if similar hypothetical observations occur.

Unfortunately, class today in Bellevue was an all-sparring class, which was a little disappointing because I had wanted to see if I could focus better on drills and learning new technique.

My goal for today was to not give people my back. This resolution resulted in having fewer (percieved) options once trapped under side control. I still did some turtling, but not as much as I usually do- and when I did it, I tried to transition out of it instead of just hunching there and waiting for the other person to take my back so that I could escape. I asked a few people to try to take my back- and if they could get it- to choke me and make it hurt (No one got it today).
I did mostly well at staying on the move.

Suranjen continues to let me have a bunch of KOB's, a bunch of front mounts, a bunch of taps. I continue to not know how to ask him why he's doing it, or how to ask him to stop. I am 100% certain he is holding back in a major way. He didn't used to do it, and I don't get why he is doing it now.

With John, I decided that I did not want to be in his guard today, so I was pretty assertive about passing, getting and staying on top. Was moving well with him today, mostly.

Did some standup with Nelson, which is always fun. One hilarious moment- I glanced over my shoulder to make sure there was enough clear mat space in that spot to try to throw him over there, and he took that instant to throw me instead. That's what I get for being considerate!

Trying to break Nelson's grips is a ripe bitch.

Another unusual thing- I wasn't exhausted at the end of class.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Promotion avoidance tactics

This is the universal hand signal for GO AWAY! (Holds handgun in firing position.)

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

I had one goal for today: Try to not die... as this was my first class post-food-poisoning. As I suspected, my cardio was even more pathetic than usual. I was also noticing the weight loss in a negative way (ie, it's a little harder to hold people down and a little easier to get swept). Weird how such a small difference is so noticable.

I have kept off the weight I lost in what John referred to as "the dysentery diet" and would like to remove another six to get to tournament weight.

All spars today. I was able to keep going and didn't have to take any breaks, although I did spend quite a bit of time turtling under big guys. When I turtle, they take my back, and as they flip me over,  I squirm free. I swear this happened at least twenty times today with five different guys. I asked three of them to clasp me tighter to their chests before they try to flip me- in fact I told Justin the whole story- he then went a little tighter but still not tight enough. The others were still being too nice. I need them to stop giving me so much slack in this area. Maybe if I pressed more subs and put them on the run more instead of being purely defensive, they would give me less slack. Definitely need to take some of my favorite regulars aside and ask them to really ride me on this particular issue.

John is trying to avoid promotion. Unlike me- I just sneak around and use avoidance tactics- he actually made a comment to Carlos today about being "almost a brown belt".  He ***SO*** did that on purpose specifically to try to stall a promotion.

A friend of mine died today, and I am not doing really well with it. She had a very rapid decline after being diagnosed with cancer, and I wasn't ready for the end this quick.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Still no kibble.

Violence and the risk of violence goes up when people are insecure. Remember always that weapons embolden the insecure. –Rory Miller

Open mat at Edmonds.

Started with Georgette, no-gi.... she trounced me utterly and repeatedly.  Found myself in that frustrated space... that one where I just need to call it a day, because both my performance and my mental state just go downhill rapidly from there.

Note that once in this place, I should really just VACATE the gym immediately, because if I sit on the wall, people bug me to keep going.  If I beg off, it starts to look like I'm pouting like an asshole because I got tapped. Which I guess in a way I am. I think everybody could tell that I was frustrated, which frustrates me all the more because I am trying to hide it. Today, no disasters ensued from continuing under duress, but next time should just go. Haven't really found a good way to deal with that state of mind, but continuing is usually not advisable. It's the Point Of Negative Returns.

Anyway, I let Cindy use me as a dummy to do some drills and invent some new fiendish and painful contortions. Then she was rolling with Georgette, which she probably shouldn't be doing with her shoulder injury, but you can't keep her off the mat.

I rolled with a purple belt guy that I don't know, who was flow rolling and doing some catch and release. Then Craig, whom I enjoy rolling with and haven't seen in a long time: more flowing and catch and release, he wore his gi and let me let me wear my no-gi gear to make it marginally more even. Those were both kind of fun, even though my self-sabotaging mind kept flagellating me all the while with its I-wish-I-didn't-suck-so-bad and why-do-you-bother-to-keep-trying-to-do-this refrains.

As a scientist, I am very aware that I am battling a very basic concept of psychology  that just really can't be battled: it is very hard to keep doing something in the face of a lack of positive reinforcement. My "higher function" brain can yell all it wants that this is actually useful and good for me and progress *IS* actually being made... but it feels like I've been pressing a lever repeatedly for five years (longer, if you count all of my MA experience and not just BJJ) and just never getting any kibble, ever. No rat would continue to press the lever this long. My inner rat is like, "WTF is wrong with you???!??"

I continue to not know what to do about this issue, and I continue to be very frustrated and discouraged about it.

Georgette pointed out a couple of things.

1)I keep giving up my back. She rightly parsed this as, "Most of your regular training partners are going easy on you, and failing to be heavy/tight enough to prevent you from squirming (technique-less-ly) out of back mount." It makes me feel better that I had made this very same observation and come to the very same conclusion the very first time I rolled with her. At least I can see and interpret my problems, even if I don't do so well at actually fixing them.  I really need people to stop giving me slack here, as it just encourages my sloppy habits. Note that this is neither a happy nor a fun thing to face. I asked her to keep taking my back and subbing me, and to make it hurt a little.

2)She wants me to put more weight on her feet/knees etc while I'm doing standing passes. This is not the first time I have been told this, but as I tried it again, I was reminded of why I don't do it- it feels way too vulnerable. Once I start leaning on the knees, as soon as the opponent pulls hir knees back, I'm going to face plant. Georgette says, "don't let them pull their knees back." I feel that there is no person on the mat older than four whom I could actually physically PREVENT from pulling their feet or knees back.

This leads me to a principle that has been a cornerstone of my game since I started: "You don't have to move the other guy, you only have to move YOU." Which I still feel is golden wisdom, for us teeny people. You can't even begin to deal with a 200lb man on top of you in side control without embracing that idea. Otherwise you are just lying there helplessly crushed for eternity.  And yet I begin to wonder if I have taken a good thing too far.

I have been aware for a while that I work under an assumption that I simply cannot move my opponent nor make hir do anything. This leaves me with a severely limited game that consists solely of 1)reacting to what the opponent does to me, and 2)losing all my options as soon as the opponent starts restricting my movement. I simply do not even TRY anything- ever- that involves moving the opponent, or making hir do something, or otherwise affecting hir. Like sweeps. And most subs.  I escape. That's all I do, because that's all I *can* do that doesn't really involve addressing my opponent in any confrontational way- because of course as soon as we go head to head on something, I am obviously going to lose.  It's not a fight. It's not a contest. I'm not trying to beat anyone. I'm not even truly engaging them. I'm just letting them attack me while I try to escape.


Okay, I'm not sure what to do about this.... and it obviously is harking back to a lot of very deep-seated, ingrained, damaging conditioning from childhood on up. But it feels like a possible first glimpse into a different perspective on my defeatism problem. Which could be a first step.

Found that my Asics earguards do have a few spots where they start rubbing painfully at a certain point of a LOT of jiu jitsu over a two day period. I had to take them off, because it started to feel like I was more likely to get cauli from the earguards themselves than from going without. Note that I should start keeping a spare pair of (a different brand of) earguards in my bag.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Things to *NOT* say to the ref.

Sheep can be controlled by the sheepdog for the same reason they fear the wolf -- they are both predators. The same relationships hold with the general population, the police, and the criminals. Most people are sheep, but you don't have to be. If you have the skills and attitude of a predator the criminals will leave you alone -- because they will recognize you as a predator and there is easier game available. -Greg Hamilton

Turkey Day open mat in Seattle.

Lindsay, Chrisanne, Terry (whom I haven't seen in a really, really long time), Vic. There were tons of people there that I would have loved to roll with, but by the time I got done with these four, all the others were gone or going.   :(

No-gi with the two ladies and Terry. Found myself huddling on the bottom a few times with Lindsay- mostly when I started getting really tired- but I tried hard to minimize that. With Terry, same thing. He is very dynamic- which can be intimidating, and even more reason I want to slow down and cling- to try to slow the action down a bit. I trust him enough that I attempted to resist this urge, although if it had been with a random person, I would have worked hard to try to immobilize hir.

I found out that Terry got DQ'ed from the last Revolution. The pair fighting on the next mat rolled off their mat and crashed into Terry and his opponent in the middle of the match. Terry disentangled himself, stood up, looked at the ref and cried, "What the fuck?!?" The ref said, "You're out."

This was the first time I've rolled with Vic. He's the same weight as me, and flexible. A little spazzy and strengthy. I gave him a monologue about not slamming subs- not that he was slamming any- but while I was walking him through keylocks, I emphasized that this is one of those subs that we want to be particularly careful about putting on slowly and carefully.  Apparently no one had given him that little tutorial yet, so I'm very happy to stop another white belt from developing dangerous habits before he starts. He also saw Terry yanking me backward from my knees into his back mount, and was like, "Woah, that was so rad!" And I stopped immediately and looked at him and said, "DON'T you try that on anyone until you're more experienced, and here's why..."

He expressed frustration at always finding himself on the bottom. I told him that at his weight, he'd better get used to it, because he was going to be there for the next three years straight.

Somebody mistook me for Cindy today. It was quite a thrill. I must confess, though, that it was in the parking lot and not on the mat.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Head and arm

Weapons do not change your nature, only your reach and power.   –Rory Miller

I have spent the last few weeks wishing I was dead because my allergies are leaving me unable to function. Dragging myself to work- cuz I gotta- but otherwise,  I can't do anything. Feeling like crap due to allergies is compounded by feeling like crap due to not getting any mat time. Yesterday I had no fewer than five people FB'ing me personally, trying to get me to class, and I just couldn't do it.

I don't think I would have been able to bear going back to another work rotation (especially since I know there's a truly hideous body fluid chamber count CAP survey lurking in my inbox) without at least a little BJJ, so I was determined to haul my suffering carcass to no-gi in Kirkland today.

Fortunately, it was a small class and it went low-key. Cindy still can't roll because of her shoulder injury; there were three huge guys, Dave, and me. Cindy went over a couple of things from the awesome seminar that I missed yesterday (sigh). Then I did a short roll with Dave. I was weak and congested and sneezy and sniffly, and my soft palate itches so bad that I want to eat a wheelbarrow of sand- but the headaches held off long enough, and Dave was really nice to me (especially since he was the only one present who wasn't too big, too injured, or too new to work with me). That could have gone either way. I could have walked into a no-gi takedowns day with Pedro. This, though, was just what I needed.

Guard pass detail: when you're blocking behind the knee, if you place your elbow on the mat, it is structurally impossible for the opponent to pull your arm out of place because s/he would just be pulling it against hir own thigh.

Head and arm choke: this variation requires firstly that you make sure to snug the inside of your elbow right up to the opponent's neck and not leave a hair of space. Crab-crawl your fingers across the mat and give an extra little jerk or two to the side to cinch it all up. Use that same hand to clasp hir shoulder. You want to be lower on the body than we normally tend to be for one of these... and lower under the jaw. Place your head in there to block. Shrug your shoulders up a bit. This was incredible for two reasons: 1)Dave was already tapping when I had barely exerted 1/10 of the squeeze and room that I had available, and 2)It didn't involve having to jump your lower body to the side (which way to jump is one of those little details that my swiss-cheese-brain always struggles with).

Friday, November 14, 2014

I'll ditch him.

Almost everyone I have met who has been in the situation reflexively checks weapons when they get tense. It’s a tell, and a great way to pick out who is armed.  –Rory Miller

Thurs: Lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Allergies have been suicide-inducing these past few days. I have been taking buckets of drugs, which has accomplished exactly nothing, except that now I am congested, headachy and exhausted ALONG WITH  antihistimine/decongestant daze.

None of my usual favorite drill partners was there, but there were a lot of big guys and some visiting blue belts. Especially in my sinus-skewed state, I was in no mood to deal with visiting blue belt men, which tend to be a real crapshoot. A lot of the time, they either try to kill you because you're a purple belt and they figure that means they can go as hard as they want even though you're half their weight and old enough to be their mom, or they try to kill you because you're a purple belt and they want to prove  they can kick your ass.

I just didn't feel like taking that on, so I sidled up to Justin before class.

Me: "Will you please drill with me today, so I don't get stuck with any of these big guys?"
Justin: "Uh, I already told Alex I'd drill with him."
Me: (dismayed expression)
Justin: "I'll ditch him."
Me: "It's tough being Mr. Popular, huh?"

I felt a little bad, but it was a matter of survival.

Standup: double leg setups, failed double-leg to rear clinch.

Tripod sweep. I was happy to see this, as it's one of those techniques that involves doing something different with each of your four limbs, and thus I always struggle with it- but I would like to get proficient at it, since that would possible allow me to set it up from spider guard (which I use a lot but can't sweep very well from).

Opponent stands up in your guard, you place feet on hir hips, grab hir ankles, and dump. I use this a lot, but have a vast amount of trouble recovering from the subsequent scramble and capitalizing before s/he gets up and capitalizes on me first. Carlos had us KEEP ONE PANTLEG, swing both legs to that same side. Slam your other elbow on the mat outside of hir far thigh. Hopefully you are not so slow that you fail to get hir hips controlled so that you can get in side control. As usual, retaining that pant grip was a challenge for me.

Note that if you try the double-ankle drop and they grab your lapels to defend it, you can lift hir in the air with your feet on hir hips and try to dump hir over your head or to the side. if that fails, next go to the tripod sweep.

These techniques were more get-up-get-down-get-up-get-down work, as I was grousing about the other day.... and with the sinus crap, I got tired very quickly.

Me: (beginning the technique standing hunched over in Justin's open guard)
Justin:  (after long expectant pause) "Get in my closed guard."
Me: "Urrrrrrrghh... I didn't want to have to get back up again." The only thing more exhausting that get-up-get-down-get-up-get-down is get-up-get-down with someone hanging around your waist.

Many drills, after which I was too wiped to spar.

Friday: Can't go to class because I got tattooed last night, but I took a 2 mile walk.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

"She's tough!"

Perfect is the enemy of  good.  - Voltaire

Saturday competition training in Seattle.

Lord, this comp class wipes me out. I don't know how long I am going to be able to keep doing this. Usually I have to bail on the second hour- which I went in today determined to not do- but the cardio, at my age and carrying the ten extra pounds I'm currently carrying.... UUUUUUUURGGGGGGGGGGHHH.   I was whimpering as I climbed out of the car back at the Mount Index Daunless Outpost after class. Right now my thighs ache the way they usually do the morning after. Which means tomorrow morning is going to suuuuuuuuuuuuuck. But what a great week of training!

Chrisanne hasn't had a chance to work with Georgette yet, so I told her she could have first crack at asking Georgette to drill. She's like, "Oh my God, no, I'm just a blue belt... you go ahead..." so I went to the locker room and told Georgette that Chrisanne really wanted to drill with her but was too shy to ask.   ;)   I had been hoping that Z or (short) John would be there today, but none of my favorite men were there (unless you count Lindsey and Griff, whom I can't really ask to drill unless they offer). I also didn't want to shanghai Casey, because we had already used each other to warm up before class. Now that Pat is brown, I feel a little awkward asking him to drill an entire class with me unless he offers first. This put me with Emma, a white belt that I seem to recall working with once or twice before. She had weight on me as well as enough skill to match if not dominate me.

Standup- one lapel grip that you can't let go of; try to get a takedown. I couldn't get anything on Emma, who has very superb reaps and was also trying a few other things.

Standup to pulling half guard.

We were doing some rather complex multi-step drills, and it was a struggle to get all the steps.

Opponent has spider guard. You pull back, squat, and pass your left hand UNDER the leg to grip inside of pantleg. Step to the opposite side and stand/yank upright, then crouch so that hir thigh is trapped atop yours. S/he tries to roll away, you take the back. It flows really well *IF* you shove your right knee between the floor and hir waist just as s/he rolls- the momentum seems to sorta suck you right into the gap and there you are with your hooks and choke sunk.

Opponent has Del a Riva. You turn your right knee (the one s/he has trapped) to the outside. (This same detail was in one of the techniques Carlos did with us earlier this week, so THAT step at least was easy). Then kick that same leg in the opposite direction, and pass to that side. DO NOT LET GO OF THE PANTS during any of these passes, until you are well past and the position is secure- otherwise s/he will just roll away from you.

Lots of drill reps, interspersed with about a zillion more periods of takedown sparring, and some random positional sparring. All the takedown fighting, combined with the repetitive get-up-get-down of the half guard pulls, and all the get-up-get-down of those spider guard passes, had me reeling with exhaustion. I made a very poor account of myself against Emma, which was kind of embarrassing. I really notice how tired I get when we do drills that involve a lot of having to stand back up over and over, as opposed to drills where you just stay on the ground and roll/wiggle back into place after each rep.

I had wanted to get at least one roll with Georgette, but she had to go (which was probably just as well, since I'm not sure I had the energy left to fight off a newborn kitten at that juncture).  I sat a while (mainly because I was wishing someone would come along to carry me out to the car), then noticed Lindsey sitting on the mat with his back to me. So of course I had to take it.

He stuck his head right up into my favorite gi choke, but I still couldn't finish it on him. He explained that if I can crawl my guard up a little higher on his back and/or teepee my feet up a bit, I might be able to get that little bit extra enough to finish.

It was amusing to have both Chrisanne and Georgette come up to me separately afterward and say of one another, "She's tough!"

I am considering calling out Anica for the next Revolution- not because I'm ready to compete again or because I think I can beat her, but because having a comp on my schedule seems to be the only way I can reliably discipline myself to get my weight back down to normal. If Georgette competed, we could have a three-woman purple belt bracket between 120 and 140.

This got me thinking again about my defeatism problems and my utter lack of making any progress on them. I don't know what to do. I'm considering pinging Side Control (Dave) on FB and see if he has any advice. I don't really have any reason to think he has the answers to this issue, but I'm just not feeling comfortable discussing this with any of the other black belts right now for some reason. I can't really imagine any of them dealing with persistant and serious defeatist mindsets. Dave is at least near my age and he says he has a cruddy comp record at black, so maybe he would at least be able to relate a little easier than some of these BJJ machines.

Friday, November 7, 2014

I love getting my tail kicked by Chrisanne.

At (long) range, you are taking fire. You may not know from where in that first instant. Hit or not, you have to MOVE. You were ambushed in this precise spot because it is the best place to kill you. You MUST get out of that spot (or “Off the X” as we say). –Rory Miller

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.  I was standing on the wall minding my own damn business waiting for class to start, and Casey comes over and grabs me and tries to hurl me to the ground. We end up thrashing around like a couple of weasels while the entire rest of the class stands there in line and watches, making comments about the "mutter...mutter... purple belts...."

Standing: ankle pick as yesterday. I'm noticing that with your lapel grip, you can shove the opponent to either side to finish the takedown. Pushing often works better (and is less work)  than pulling.

Bullfight pass to KOB

Failed bullfight pass to underhook both of hir thighs, stack, and pass. I don't try to set this up often- I feel vulnerable sticking both arms under like that- but I love the way the pass itself feels; I like to grab the tag of the opponent's pants and stack the crapola out of hir and then squish down on top of hir thigh until s/he's begging to let me pass. At the same time, you can grind into the throat and/or twist the head away by levering on the jaw with the other forearm. It's lovely.

Positional sparring from spider guard, varying goals. My suckage at passing spider guard is trumped only by my suckage at trying to sweep from spider guard. But I can hang out *IN* spider guard effortlessly defending the pass until the second coming of Christ.

Some epic sparring with Chrisanne. We started from standing multiple times. She got a couple of really sweet takedowns, and some lovely technical taps. Nice and tight. She is almost never on the bottom any more, and she is always attacking instead of waiting to react to what I do. When we scramble, she gets on top first. Her game has changed 180 from eight months ago. I love it when Chrisanne is kicking my tail. It makes me feel so proud. I am getting to the point of going close to full bore on her, too.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Del a Riva and reverse Del a Riva

It’s easy to say, reading this in a safe and cozy environment, what you would do. But that’s only what you THINK you would do. It’s like yelling at the TV screen at the quarterback what he should have done on the last play. You didn’t see what he saw, feel the pressure he felt. You’re simply judging it from a technical standpoint, minus the impact of how emotion affects judgment and performance. You can’t know what it feels like until you’ve lived it. –Campfire Tales From Hell

Thursday lunchtime in Bellevue.

Ankle pick. We were picking the opposite ankle, which was a little odd, and made me have to concentrate really really hard to remember which knee to drop onto. Note that an ankle pick means pick the ANKLE- not the shin, not the knee. Also note that you can't just pick it up without knowing (in advance- don't try to wing it) where you are going to take it and how you are going to avoid fouling up your own legs. Once you have all of THAT straightened out, you can start worrying about yanking the lapel to tip hir.

Standing pass of del a Riva guard. Jerk violently upright to dislodge the foot, shove your pantleg holds to the floor (DON'T LET GO OF THE PANTS), pass to the side and take KOB. Carlos continues to remind me that in the end, every teachnique is ideally ONE step. I get wrapped up in cataloging and counting out my steps. In particular, I tend to execute standing passes with several shuffling steps to the side (which Carlos sometimes mimes me doing; it looks hilarious with his telephone-pole-length legs). Just step once and drop.

Standing pass of an inside del a Riva guard. I am unfamiliar with inside del a Riva, so that was interesting just trying to get into the drill position. Kind of the same technique, only we ended in side control instead of KOB.

Many drills of these, then positional sparring from these positions (varying goals... sometimes pass vs resist, sometimes sweep vs resist, sometimes pass vs sweep, sometimes free-for-all).
At the end, he did one of my LEAST favorite things.... more drills and positional sparring interspersed with cardio (pushups, sprawls, burpees (which Chrisanne always calls "barfees")).  Chrisanne was tired as hell but kept fighting gamely through the positional sparring with a little encouragement.

One roll with Jason. He crucifixed me, which was impressive. He is one of the few people who makes it really difficult for me to pass top half guard... he stretches my leg out in lockdown. He also keeps putting his arm up by his head. I trapped him in a head-and-arm a few times, but was having a bitch of a time trying to free my leg enough to finish it (he kept doing lockdown and pulling me down just far enough that I couldn't get quite high enough to finish the choke).

Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday evening

(Defensive display) is almost always a stupid choice and a sign of a pure amateur.  –Rory Miller

Friday evening at Bellevue.

Unfortunately Linday was ill and could not join us tonight.

Also unfortunately, someone brought in a bucket of Halloween candy.

You have opponent in your guard, grips on hir sleeve cuffs, feet on hir hips, knees in. S/he puts one knee up on the inside.

You take the leg on the OPPOSITE side as the one s/he put up, and swing it over the arms and hook the toe under hir thigh.

Use your grounded foot to scootch body out sideways, yank hir arm across your body. Now you can dump hir and get on top.

If s/he tries to stand up and post with the other foot- go to armbar. Note that this is why you needed to take care to pull that arm across your body in the previous step. If you got sloppy with that, you will not have this option. Note also that finishing this armbar involves bracing the bent knee firmly against opponent's torso.

If s/he pulls the elbow down far enough to kill the armbar, underhook hir leg and straighten your legs to Dump hir. Get on top.

Sparring with Chrisanne, starting from the position described at the beginning of technique 1.

More sparring- a white belt and a blue belt that I don't know, then Christy and Casey. I was able to handle the two lower belts fine. Being aware that life underneath Christy is unpleasant, I stayed on top. I was able to hang out on top and threaten various chokes for the entire roll. Got two of them (including a head-and-arm, which I was delighted with, as I enjoy these and am not yet as proficient with them as I would like).

Casey of course is more of a challenge- although when we began, he claimed to be too exhausted to tie his belt, which boded well for me.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


It is a historical constant that the strong rule the weak, and any shade of liberty enjoyed by the weak is nothing more than the benevolence of the strong.  You need guns because the world is full of the strong, and not all of them are benevolent. -John Fogh

Seattle Open.

The scorekeeping situation actually looked complex enough that I think it would have really stressed me- with my math issues- out.  So fortunately I ended up as a ring coordinator- which is a much bigger job, but used a lot of my best skills.  (I used Herald Voice until my throat hurt and the low tones started to crack a little.... but by gosh everybody heard me!) THANK GOD, though, it was not double elimination. It was complicated enough as it was. If it had been double elimination, my head would have exploded in under 20 min. Also, my horrible memory blanks for names and faces gave me some problems, but I just kept asking people their names over and over and they just kept telling me. Even I didn't have that flaw, it would have been a challenge with wrangling that many people. The women were easier. But the guys.... hundreds of identical short-haired, muscley dudes in white pajamas.

If I had expected to cut a smart authoritative-looking figure in my snazzy IBJJF blue vest and super-official clipboard, that went out the window immediately when I tripped over somebody's water bottle and fell on my face in the bullpen right in front of about 700 people.

If that had not humbled me sufficiently, one of the two refs at my station greeted me with "Aren't you the girl who had to fight CINDY HALES at that sub-only comp earlier this year??!?" Then went on to regale me with blow-by-blow lowlights of said match. Ah well... as I told him, it had been an honor just to stand on a tournament podium with Cindy Hales.

So, ten straight hours of work with one quick pee break and one rapidly-gobbled sandwich. I juggled up to five interweaving brackets at once, herded cats all day (It's amazing how many people can't follow an instruction as simple as "go to the table with the big SIX on it" or "STAY RIGHT HERE" and then you have to drop everything and chase them down again), I also had to do all my own ID checks, my own weigh-ins, report all the official results, no one was checking my work, and I did not fuck anything up although there was epic potential for fuckup at every turn.  and I must say that I think I did a terrific job, especially for a virgin ring coordinator. Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows how self-critical I am, so if I say I did a terrific job, that means I did a DAMN FINE job.

Of course there was one staff member who was all up in my grill much of the day criticizing small things that yes, I would have fixed if I was perfect and flawless, but they were small things that should have been overlooked in light of aforementioned DAMN FINE job. Recognizing the dude as a fellow anal-retentive Type A control freak, of course I had to realize that this was the person who knew everything that was going on. So instead of having The Clash Of the Control Freaks (which I would have lost, being on his home turf), I instead started popping up in HIS grill every time I had an empty-mat moment and badgering him to give me some more brackets. It was an interesting exercise in consciously handling a problem in a way I would not normally have been moved to handle it.

Critical Guy (randomly popping up like an evil jack-in-the-box over my shoulder to stab an accusatory talon at my clipboard): Why did you do THIS?

Me: We already covered this. You told me ten minutes ago to do XYZ, so I did XYZ. See?

CG (after staring at clipboard for a few minutes and letting me sweat it out): Okay. I just wanted to hear you explain it.

Me (thinking): You asshole...
Me (saying, very flatly) Okay. You scared me. I thought I fucked something up.

I think the tone of my voice (along with the fact that he had been WRONG and didn't want to cop to it and we both knew it) let him know it was time to back off me just a little.

(Snarky note: Why the fuck does anyone answer a question with "You don't know how to do that?" or "Nobody told you how to do that?" DUMB-ASS, If I knew how to do it or someone had already told me how, WHY WOULD I BE ASKING YOU RIGHT NOW???? The only purpose of that question is to make the other person feel even worse about not magically already knowing everything about a job they've never done before.)

The worst moment of the day was having to explain to a guy that his single competitor had not shown up, and he had come here for nothing. I felt really bad. I also had to DQ a couple of people. 

It felt weird being at a tournament and not competing. I kept feeling like I should be having nausea and tremors.

Unfortunately I was too busy to be able to watch matches.

In firearms news:  I don't want to sound callous or anything, but the timing of the local school shooting in regards to the two major gun control items on the current ballot is very unfortunate.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Oh yeah- osoto gari me again!

The overwhelming majority of training and drilling focuses on technique and not on applying judgement to situations, which is completely bass-ackward.  –Campfire Tales From Hell

Thursday lunchtime at Bellevue. So excited to see one of my very favorite partners: Nelson!  We did a lot of standup today, and Nelson is probably the best person in the whole GBNW to do that with. He's not much bigger than I, and he is an excellent judo practitioner, as well as a very helpful suggestion-giver.

Standing guard pull  (Nelson suggests that I pay more attention to eliminating my telegraph- ie, yanking on the grips just before I execute the guard pull.)

Single-leg takedown to KOB

Same, add spinning armbar. This particular permutation had us grabbing the belt, which is something I do not do often. Of course on my first rep, I tried to grab for the pants (hell, at least I TRIED to grab SOMETHING, for which I give myself credit, for as we know, I suffer from persistant "forget-to-keep-hold-of-the-pants-osis"). I couldn't reach, and Carlos was cracking up. "That ees why I tell you to grab thee BELT." Yes sir.

Armbar from front mount- no, wait, it only LOOKS like you're going for an armbar. Once you yank opponent up on hir side, Keep the knee that is behind the opponent lower than you otherwise would. Latch on a head-and arm (gable grip). Do not get sloppy and hasty here. It must be well-placed, tight and your hands must be fully locked. Strangely enough, it works ten times better on my stupid side. Now roll opponent to the opposite side and place the second hook. If you positioned your knee wrongly at the start, you end up trapping your own leg and not being able to get both hooks in.

A little positional sparring from front mount and from standup. Again- standup with Nelson is awesome. Of course you are not going to get anything that he doesn't LET you get, but you won't get brutalized and you experience a lot of interesting ways to fall on your ass (and your side, and your back, and your face).

Standup usually taking it out of me more than most things, I was unfortunately too tired to spar. If Nelson had stayed, I would have forced myself, but he didn't.

Went from there to Lindsey's studio to have a little green bamboo colored in. 2 hours of RIBS and a little back waistline... two of the absolute most painful areas, and color (which is more painful than linework, I don't care what people say). This was the most painful tat session I have had to date, and it still hurts like a mother this morning. The green looks incredible on my paper-pale skin, though. Lindsey also kept making comments along the line of "Vic, come and look at this badass bamboo" and "Damn, this turned out nice" which is exactly what you want to hear from your tattoo artist (especially when s/he's working on parts you can't watch).

Friday, October 17, 2014

Oops, I did it AGAIN

Risk assessment is probably the most valuable skill in communicating with the altered mental state. A mentally ill person may or may not be more dangerous than anyone else. But they may be more dangerous and they are certainly less predictable.  –Rory Miller

OMG, I am so sore.

Even though I was tired after lunchtime class, I went to Bellevue to evening class because Chrisanne and Lindsay were going to be there. Horribly, I ended up rejecting poor Lindsay AGAIN for drilling. I apologized a million times.... I am just so paranoid about keeping Chrisanne away from the spazzy assholes, and Lindsey has much better skills at this point for protecting herself against spazzy assholes. I suggested that the two of them drill together and I would find someone else, but Lindsay ended up drilling with Peter (who is not spazzy asshole, BTW).

I should note that that tall white belt guy I sparred with on Thursday turned out to be on Chrisanne's "Spazzy Asshole" list. I didn't have that bad of a time with him, but I had played spider guard to keep him off my ribs. When I gave him the pre-spar "don't kill me, I'm old" speil, he was like, "But you're a PURPLE belt." Me: "I still do not have enough skills at this point to counteract strong young guys who are much bigger, so BE CAREFUL." Turns out that when Chrisanne gave him her speil, he did the same to her: "But you're a blue belt" and then went on to smash her. She won't roll with him any more. I was glad to hear that she was both giving the speech and and keeping a Red List... both things that I had to talk to her a LOT about over the last two years. I am relieved that she is being assertive about boundaries. I still worry constantly about who she is rolling with and whether she is safe.

Drills..... standup, judo grip to failed single leg to rear clinch; judo grip to single leg setup. Note that this particular one involved pinching opponent's leg between one's knees.

Standing guard pass to a squat at opponent's hip, pressing far knee to the floor and trapping near leg atop your own thigh. This was similar to what we did last week- and also similarly, it was all about having that thigh well pinned, ABOVE the knee. We then did a variation on this, starting with a spider guard and ending with a lapel grip. In this case, it was necessary to consciously shoot that arm OVER the THIGH and then pin that thigh there with the elbow. As soon as you start getting tired and sloppy with these drills, the first thing to go is the most important thing- pinning that thigh.

Drills with enough speed and repetition that I truly thought I was going to lose my dinner.

At the end, I felt like a crushed pop can, but I had driven all the way in here to be able to play with Chrisanne and Lindsay. I also rolled with Casey a bit. Tonight I did not allow myself to lie under bottom half guard with Lindsay... forced myself to keep moving and try different things. Unfortunately this ended with me tapping to a mounted triangle. But I really do need to not lie there in bottom half guard.

I was reflecting on the road today (lots of commuting time) that my focus on self-defensive martial arts is probably a large reason why I am so reluctant to work outside my safety zone. In sport martial arts, if you take a risk and lose, you lose a medal. In defensive MA, if you take a risk and lose, you're DEAD.  Rory Miller talks a lot about how people freeze up and do other unhelpful things that they have learned to respond with, simply for the reason that doing so has not killed them yet.  I need to continue to force myself to- at the very least- not lie there on the bottom.

My sparring performance was not up to this afternoon's performance, which I had expected (exhaustion combined with the persistant phenomenon of every single bout of "Hey, I was decent" to be immediately followed by a bout of "I suck" just to keep me humble). However, I was pleased that I kept sparring for that long after doing a class that almost made me puke. Right up until....

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I did it AGAIN.... I rolled my goddam left ankle out. And I did it the exact same way I did it the last two times this happened: by trying to do a standing guard pass to the left when I was really tired, and I put my foot down and rolled it outward. Lord, it hurt. I collapsed on the mat, and Lindsay got me some ice. After about 5 min I was able to get up, and am now walking with only a tiny limp- but we'll see what it's like in the morning. I am really frustrated that I keep doing this, but at least it was on the last class before my work rotation starts. If this had happened Thurs lunchtime, I would have been SUPER pissed. As it is, hopefully I will be reasonably sound by next class on Thursday. I do need to really set a mental flag on that play, though: when I go to do a standing guard pass on the left when I'm tired, I need to pay really close attention to how I set my foot on the floor as well as how I transfer weight onto that foot. I am really tired of this particular recurring injury.

Mowing dandelions- harder than it looks

Nothing says, "Please don't rape me." like multiple jacketed hollowpoints.   -John Fogh

Friday lunchtime BJJ in Edmonds.

Mostly rolling, some amount of yakking. It was just me, Griff, Georgette, Dandelion, and a big white belt guy.

I felt competent today. I got tapped some, and I think I may have gotten a tap or two... but it was the perfect balance of getting beaten, yet not badly enough that you start to lose heart.

I remembered my previous experiences of my sloppy non-technical squirming not working well on Georgette and Dandelion, so I tried to not do that today. I can't say I pulled more clean technique out of my ass, but I consciously tried to not do dumb stuff.

Worked some standup with Dandelion, which was very much fun. She says she's no good at it, but she got one really beauteous throw on me, and her balance/center/weight sinking is very nice... I had a much more difficult time trying to take her down than I usually have on a non-wrestler her size. She says she is 127, although she feels much lighter (I feel the same phenomenon with Lindsay.... she feels about 120, if that, but claims to be heavier than me).

Griff praised some of my moves, which felt really really good. I asked him (on an ongoing basis) to attack my legs so that I could work more on defending it. I did get caught once by Dandelion, doing the arm-over-my-head thing. She didn't grab it, though. She says she's no good at head-and-arm chokes. Still no excuse for me to keep doing that. Only did it the once, though.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Use it or lose it.

Recognize when you have time. People get hurt when they try to plan without time, and unnecessarily hurt others when they have time to plan and don’t use it.  –Rory Miller

The Stripe Fairy is loose again at GB. John (who got his purple belt on the same day that I did) is now up to 4 stripes, and I am still at 1. After a momentary knee-jerk surge of competitive frustration, I remember that I do not WANT to get promoted. Must remember to duck into bathroom during bow-out for the next week or so.


So I ducked into the locker room and took off my jacket when it was time for bow-out, and darn if Carlos didn't come chasing into the lobby and tell me to get back in there, and the entire class waited for me.   :(   It sucks to be the only woman in the room. It makes you way too memorable and makes it more difficult to sneak away when you want to.  So that tactic is not going to work.

You have butterfly guard, opponent lying on your chest. Do a little hip bump to get your horiz. forearm across hir clavicles and push hir up (you can get kind of mean with this....). Sit up, scoot back a titch and place the outside of your knee on the mat on the side that you are NOT bracing your opponent's chest.

Swim that arm under hir arm (remember to keep that elbow posted hard to keep hir from coming in on you) and grab the belt at hir tailbone. (This turned out to be the bugaboo detail for me.... I don't like to grab the belt. It moves around too much, and sometimes it isn't there at all (like in no-gi).)  with your other arm, grab hir bicep and hug it to you. The more you can get hir shoulder twisted around, the better (tiny but critical detail). Sweep.

If s/he puts a foot up  to catch hirself, you can underhook that knee, HOOK HIR OTHER ANKLE WITH YOUR TOE and sweep hir the other way. This was hella cool, but one of those things that my subconscious was resisting because it doesn't seem like it should work. Important detail: try to keep that leg-underhook as you roll, because it leaves you in a much better position at the end... otherwise you often get caught in half or full guard. It also puts more weight on opponent's chest and gives a better angle for a little Shoulder Of Justice.

One spar with Chrisanne, one with a blue belt who got two straight ankle locks on me. I had started to put myself right into the second one, like a total moron, and then checked myself and tried to go into DLR instead. He neatly hooked up my foot and did it to me again. Dammit. Then one spar with a tall skinny white belt guy I have never seen before. I got a gi choke tap on him- otherwise held him at bay with spider guard.
I was feeling distinctly torpid by the time I arrived at evening class in Kirkland, but arrive I did. Some white belt guy was there who immediately remembered me from one class LAST WINTER and was a little put out that I didn't remember him. (again with the "only woman" thing.... do you have any idea how many white belt guys I see come and go? About a bazillion prillion quagfillion. No, I can't remember, I'm sorry.)

Upa. I stuggled with the upa, which was embarrassing... but I do not EVER use this. I always go to half or butterfly. I don't like sticking my arm out like that, and it takes too much time for me to remember which leg to trap and how to do it. Which says that I need to practice it more. It also seems like way too much effort to do that big ribcage-straining bridge. And it feels like it is never going to work. Again... I obviously need to drill it more.

Fortunately, we next did the combover escape from front mount to half guard... which is my go-to if they actually manage to get full mount, and I can make it work on almost everybody (even the higher belts). Which tells me that I need to quit doing it all the time and work on the upa instead.

Escape from headlock. Dave reccomends an under-over braiding of your arm after you trap the guy's arm behind him, as this gives you more control for either a shoulder lock or choke as you choose- I generally avoid getting entangled to that extent with an opponent, but it's difficult for him to muscle out of this because of the crappy angle.

We replaced closed guard from there.... I usually try to squirt out the back.

One spar with Edwin.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

That's just what I was in the mood for today.

An armed man will kill an unarmed man with monotonous regularity.

Holy adipose, I'm down two entire pounds after my Grudge Match with Lindsay last night. We really need to do that more often so that I can get back down to weight. I wonder how much I would have lost if I hadn't just laid there on the bottom the entire time. 

Sore, though. And tired. And headachey. I really did not feel like going to class today. But I did.

Saturday no-gi at Kirkland. It was so nice to see Cindy, whom I have not seen in months.  I also have not done any no-gi in months.

So I walk in and there's Pedro- yeah, the really strong teenage wrestler who has enough energy to probably sprint around the circumference of the planet about twelve times without a rest break. I was like, "Oh yeah, that's just what I was in the mood for today," It'll probably be takedowns, too.

Happily, it was not takedowns (or at least mostly not takedowns). Lengthy warmup (which tired out all of us EXCEPT Pedro).   Then, the same arm attacks from side control that we did on Thursday night. Then, positional sparring from side control with varying objectives, varying degrees of intensity, and varying partners.

Then a few spars. From standup. I spent a lot of time squashed on the bottom again today. I also committed my signature sin of letting one arm get trapped up by my head, three times, with Pedro.  To his credit, he is getting better about being more careful to not kill grandma, although he is still using too much muscle.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The most popular girl at the dance

Do not ever make a situation worse because your ego insisted that you prove yourself or protect your rep.   –Rory Miller

Yeah, that was me tonight- instead of being the last kid picked for the kickball team, as per usual, tonight I somehow wound up promising three different eager teammates- to their respective delight and ecstasy- that I would drill with them. Oops!  And no, I did not handle that well, because it's not a type of situation I am at all familiar with!!

I had promised to meet Chrisanne at Bellevue on Friday eve. When I got there, I found Lindsay in the lobby, who pounced on me like a caffeinated golden retriever puppy and was so excited to see me. Then I went on the mat and started horsing around with (blue belt) Peter, who was like, "You'll drill with me tonight, right???!!?" I said that I had previously promised Chrisanne I'd work with her- which was a perfectly reasonable and non-insulting response- which did not provide for the contingency that Chrisanne did not show up. This resulted in Peter and Lindsay both charging at me when the clock started, and then we all stood there and stared at each other in an embarrassed and awkward circle. I've never been caught out dating two guys at once on the sly, but that must be what it feels like.

Lindsay ended up with Kevin, whom she made a point of loudly praising in the handshake line at the end with "You are the BEST PARTNER EVER" while eyeing me pointedly. That insult of course necessitated a Death Challenge, which I dutifully delivered.

But I am getting ahead of myself. First there was class to get through, which consisted of

1)Double-leg setups to sneaking around the back to standing RNC.

2)Same, then the victim defends the choke, steps hir outside foot behind attacker's foot, turns to the outside, bows at the waist and kicks attacker's leg out from under.

I was hitting the ground badly on these. I know my breakfalls need work, but finally Prof Carlos came over and told Peter to let me down nicer by keeping hold of the arm. That helped a LOT.

3)You standing, opponent on back with feet on your hips. You push legs to the side (with that weird-ass cross-over hand motion that I always have trouble with, the one that Carlos almost drove me to tears over once), then drop to outside knee on the mat. Quickly scoot into opponent with your (dropped) knee in hir back and your other knee over hir thigh. The key to this (after much debate and experimentation with Peter, and some corrections from Carlos) is trapping and pinning the opponent's top thigh on top of your own thigh. This is counterintuitive- it's one of those things that doesn't look like it should work, so even after I've proven from both sides of the equation that it in fact DOES, my brain still does not really want to accept it.

4)You standing, opponent in spider guard. Let go with your right hand and step back widely with your right leg. Give a little yank to also make sure you clear opponent's other foot off your bicep. Now drop and scoot into a similar end position as #3 above. (just enough different to confuse the crap out of me... and forget trying these on both sides, unless we want to see my brain explode all over the mat...)

5)Me getting reprimanded for laughing too loudly because I was having too much fun.

So, Death Match... again here I was far too focussed tonight on having a hoot of a good time and not focussed enough on learning BJJ. After catching Lindsay in half guard from the bottom about ten million times (from which she eventually began to escape using a very impressive technique which involved torquing my spine cruelly into an extreme corkscrew shape), she started to get frustrated with that. She started to greet each new catching of half guard with some sound effects and commentaries that were making me laugh. So we spent like forty minutes with me being squashed on the bottom in half guard, giggling like a loon, while she twisted back and forth on top cursing and making smartass remarks.

She was having a hard time finishing me off, although eventually she got a keylock tap, and we both felt that she was due a tickertape parade at that point. She really earned that one. We then finished with me troubleshooting her crappy straight armbar from side control (which she'd given up on far too easily) and her showing me a really cool gumby-ish sweep from deep half guard. (Note to ask her to review this sweep next time I work with her).

We were both wrecked, and had to decline a kind offer to roll from a visiting brown belt, which I feel bad about on both his account and mine. But we had left it all on the mat.

It was a rollicking fun time, and I was concentrating on repeatedly catching half guard just to piss her off... which I don't regret, as we need to have fun with this sometimes. But I really was noticing with admiration how many nice, clean, technical tricks she was pulling off. While I couldn't get off the bottom and spent the better part of an hour in the same place I have been spending it for the last five years: trapped in bottom half guard, clinging there for dear life and unable to do a damn thing useful. 

Coming on the heels of those rolls with Georgette (in which I was noticing my lack of technique and my reliance on sloppy squirming in its place), I am seeing/feeling a real sand trap in my training progress right now. It's a place I have been a few times, where you suddenly realize that in order to learn to type correctly, you must stop using your index fingers and start at square one, spending some time going a lot SLOWER and clumsier than you are used to. (I never was able to make myself do that, by the way... I am still typing fast with four fingers). I am aware that this is a particularly frustrating sand trap that tends to send me into fits of frustration and despair, so I am not happy to find myself standing here with my toes on the edge of this place yet again.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Stayin' Alive

Everyone has a button, you just have to find it and press it under the right circumstances. So the goal is to find the buttons and push them in this type of training, in a safe environment. Not to hurt feelings, but to identify a button someone might use against the student in the real world and take that button away from the bad guys. Make it a non-issue.  –Campfire Tales From Hell

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue. All spars. I held my own today, but nothing stellar. I was able to keep moving around and defend most of the subs from the colored belts, and control the single white belt (granted, he was being nice and not using his extraneous weight and strength).
Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

All drills. Armbars from guard, several different types of standing guard passes, spinning armbars. I was drilling with Dex, who is doing Monkey Bar Gym *and* cagefighting, and is in insane shape, so I had to hustle to be a decent partner. Even he was whining about the armbars from guard (I hate that drill, after the first twenty second or so... the first twenty seconds are fine, but it gets slow and painful quickly after that).

While we were standing on the wall watching demo's, the stereo started playing "Stayin' Alive". I cannot believe that a whole line of people can stand there without dancing, without even head-bobbing, while the stereo is blasting "Stayin' Alive". What's wrong with these young people today??!?  It's probably a good thing that none of my close compadres were there, or things probably would have gotten more out of hand than they did.

One roll with Amy- yes, the blue belt cage fighter. I started from standup with her, and she got a nice sacrifice takedown. She was in control about half the time, and spent the other half fighting my open guard. Knowing that she is an MMA fighter, I played spider guard. They hate that. Heh heh heh. She did not tap me, but she would have won on points from the takedown plus advantages.

Thursday evening BJJ in Kirkland.

Lots of pummelling... Dave likes to tire us out with this before technique....

You on your back, partner standing, your feet on hir hips... s/he tosses your feet to one side, you hip out, cross the OUTSIDE foot over top to replace your feet on hir hips, repeat to other side. I tend to get sloppy with both the hip-out and the bracing on partner's shins, because I can do it facter just by hiking up on my shoulders and letting my supreme flexibility and dexterity do all the work.... but Dave didn't like that.  :(

Partner on hir back, knees up, you standing.... shove knees to one side and go to KOB. Dave reprimanded me for placing my outside foot too close to my partner's head instead of keeping my feet parallel. When I did it his way, it was A LOT MORE WORK.  :(    He's mean, isn't he?

Keylocks, failed keylock to straight armbar, a weird sort of upside-down keylock with the elbow straight.... my brain has always had a difficult time parsing this one....

Head and arm choke.

I was working with Irwin, who is a huge guy, but so sweet, and super-careful about trying to not hurt me. I had to tell him several times that he needed to grab harder, choke harder, push harder.... don't worry, I'll tell you if you're hurting me, and as long as you put on a sub nice and slow, trust me to tap when I need to.

One roll with Dave. I made myself keep moving and not stall out under him. Man, he is working rings around me now, though. He has gotten so good. And he has Cindy's fingerprints all over him. Lucky dog.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Squirming, twisting, squirreling, and squirting

Your body is not designed to improve under conditions of comfort. It improves under stress. –Rory Miller

Lunchtime BJJ in Edmonds.

This is my first visit to the Edmonds GB pod. It is a nice space with a wall of windows lighting it up. No shower, though.  :(  Griff was a very nice host. He rolled with me (and some standup, too), and as always he is full of good advice and lots of personal attention.

Unfortunately, it's a bitch of a drive, so this will not be a regular occurrance. But I wanted to get a chance to get choked by Georgette at least once before I die.  It was also nice (as it always is) to see and roll with Griff, and I also got to finally meet Dandelion. I have been hearing about her for a long time, and now I know why. Geez, is she ever good. Tiny little thing, but very strong and with a TIGHT, technical game.

Likewise Georgette. That was really fun. I spent too much time trapped under her, and she tapped me repeatedly, but I managed to stave her off for a while. I got one nice hip throw. Of course, when I went for it again, she was like, Hellz to the no, you are not doing to that me a second time. Unfortunately, I could not meathook behind her neck because she has an injury, so that hampered my standup game. But it's great to be able to work standup, and she wants to work it too, so that's perfect.

Working with someone closer to my size being a relatively rare thing, I was struck by a few points that are not new revelations, but more of "You know this is an issue, and here's a glaring spotlight on why".

1)It does not even occur to me to try sweeps, pretty much EVER. We worked on a couple of sweeps today, and I was able to pull them off on Georgette, and they felt very nice.

2)I continue to stick one arm up over my head and allow it to get trapped. Georgette tapped me at least four times with this, and yet I continue to do it.

3)As Griff points out (and Georgette and I both heartily agreed), at the purple belt level you have to really do an overhaul of your game because the sloppy shit you managed to make work up till now, it is not working so hot against your purple-belt-and-up opponents. You have to unlearn a crap ton of bad habits and clean up sloppy technique. In particular, I was noticing today how heavily I tend to rely on compressing my tiny, flexible body and simply squirming, twisting, squirreling, and squirting out of everything without employing any actual TECHNIQUE. That stuff was not flying AT ALL today with Georgette or Dandelion, who were very very tight and did not give me enough room to pull those tricks.

4)I continue to reflexively do a number of things- as well as reflexively avoiding certain things- simply because I assume I will get crushed, manhandled or otherwise overwhelmed. Most of these things are so instinctive by now that I don't realize I am doing them, much less why. With an opponent closer to my own size, some of those things WERE actually possible. Or at least I should TRY them. I'm feeling kind of dismayed at how different my game really *needs* to be in- say- tournament environs with a female in my weight class, as opposed to my everyday game with larger young men.

I am really exhausted and sore right now. It feels great. I am going to be hurting in the morning.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.

Robert has passed away. I am very unhappy. I knew that he had cancer, but I had no idea that the end was so imminent. Robert was so strong and vigorous, and worked like a dog, I just assumed that he would be one of those people who goes, "F You, cancer!" and thirty years later he's still on the mat. But it was quick.

He was liked and respected by all. He was the humblest guy on the mat, even though he was a high-level black belt in another art. He came in here in his 60's, put on a white belt, and busted his ass till he got to purple. I wrote on his FB that he is an inspiration to live up to.  I hope that when I am his age, I am still kicking ass as hard as he was kicking it.
Interesting pre-class weapons discussion with (big, blue-belt) John. He had a Japanese weapon that looked like a forearm-long metal spike, with one curving piece at the hilt. We were discussing the practical merits of adding this and other weapon options during grappling. I can think of all sorts of juicy things to do with a short stick while grappling.

Lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue. All spars. Chrisanne was a rock star today. Aggressive, technical, attending to every small detail. Best of all, I rolled with her first and last, and her last roll (when she was really tired) was almost as awesome as her first.

Suranjen is still letting me tap him multiple times. I don't know why he has been rolling like this with me. I don't know how to ask.

Evening BJJ in Kirkland. Dave likes to exhaust the spazzy white belts before teaching technique. He does this by making the class run laps, then do alternating drills of pummelling and side control-scarf-mount flow drills till we are all reeling and dripping.

Basic closed guard break, knee up, slide through. Lots of attention to many small details.

Then, once you have the guard broken and knee up, disengage and then come back in for a bullfight pass.

One spar with Dave and one with Leone.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Move your heaps!

All valuable training happens outside the comfort zone. Physically, mentally, emotionally you have to push the envelope. It's gotta hurt.  -Rory Miller

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

Warmup roll with white belt Shawn. He tapped me many times. I could feel the "I suck" tape starting up in my head, and I switched it off. Shawn is really good. He was also using some strength when his technique started to fail him (which it didn't often.... as I said, he's good).

Dreels. Armbars from guard. ("Move your heaps!") Triangles from guard. Omoplatas. Armbar to omoplata to triangle.


Shawn- more getting tooled. It's a good thing.


Kitsune: "Don't kill me. I'm old."
Paul: "Don't kill *ME*. I'm old."
Kitsune: "Geez, you look young enough to be my son."

He played purely defensive, and I spent the entire time trying to get a choke or armbar. Finally- near the end- I managed to isolate an arm and clasp it against my midline. Then we spent a while rolling and thrashing around while I tried to get an elbow lock. When I felt the elbow slipping out, I tried a wrist lock, which failed also. Gotta admire his defense.

Black belt Sean. I was exhausted and I didn't feel like I mounted a decent fight at all, but he commented "Very technical."

Somebody bled on my French vanilla gi,  gol-dernit.

Professor Herbert is going back to Brazil. I am very bummed.

Georgette is in Edmonds. I am going to try to go over to Edmonds and train with her next Friday.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday x2

Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets. You may get killed with your own gun, but he'll have to beat you to death with it, cause it's going to be empty. -Clint Smith

Lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Copious drills. Single-legs (Carlos reprimanded me for repeatedly flinging Chrisanne against the wall. I informed him that the wall is a weapon. He was not amused.). Kimuras from closed guard. Cross collar chokes from closed guard.

About a million rounds of closed guard pass vs sweep. Sweeps continue to be the weakest part of my game. Didn't get a single one. Got some passes.

One roll with Chrisanne.

Evening BJJ in Kirkland. I am trying to make an appearance in Kirkland once in a while, even if I can't make it on Cindy's days. On Thurs evenings it's "basics" in there, which is often a little easier for me to deal with that the "advanced" in Bellevue, when you're talking two classes in one day. It also starts half an hour earlier, which lets me get home a little sooner.

Tonight I definitely coasted a bit. Dave is getting over some respiratory funk, so did not challenge me as he usually does (no coasting when you're rolling with Dave). I was working with a brand new girl white belt who couldn't even make it through the entire drill session.

Pummelling. Cross collar choke from closed guard (cranking the person to the side a bit  to facilitate the choke... like this detail. Was not able to do it on stupid side, dammit.). Basic guard pull from standing. Guard pull to armbar from guard. Guard pull to failed armbar from guard, to triangle.

One roll with a tall white belt guy. Armbarred him and RNC'ed him.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

No flowers. Really.

Cutting off blood to the brain, whether you call it a “vascular neck restraint”, or a “sleeper hold” or “jime waza” is reliable despite size, strength, psychosis or drugs.  It is also the safest way to shut down a human. –Rory Miller

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Standup drills- double-leg setups.

Next: Same thing we've been doing lately, with the sprawl-twirl to the side-take the back. I need to pay extra attention to positioning myself so as to shove in that lower hook adequately.  Finish with any choke. I always like the RNC. Simple, reliable. I also did a few bow-and-arrows. John was impressed with my bow-and-arrow for some reason... I'm not sure what was particularly impressive about it, but okay, I'll take a backpat.

Spars with rotating people. I got a kneebar on somebody today.

Straight to Lindsey's studio. Getting tattooed is surprisingly exhausting, due to the fact that you are tensing every muscle in your body for most of a two or three hour period. I don't know how some people sit for half a day. We did about 2.5 hours, that's the longest I've done (I usually draw the line at 2). It was all linework, and on the back- which is not known as one of the more painful spots, although some areas were definitely more painful than others: along the spine, the outer sides (which is technically "ribs", which I already knew was terrible), and along the very bottom edge- like tailbone level. Lindsey had suggested putting a line of flowers down there, which I vetoed, and when he was down there doing Ox Head's boots, I was really glad that we weren't putting a whole freakin' line of goddam flowers down there. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if Ox Head would look okay with just one foot.

It looks incredible so far.... you can really see my Spyderco on his belt, which tickles me no end.

I was going to try to do one 2-hour session per month or so, but several people called in cancellations while I was there and Lindsey was (rightfully) grumbling about them- so I went ahead and took a spot for tomorrow.

The tat doesn't hurt much right now- if it feels and looks all right in the morning, I might go to class before I go back to the studio. I know I'm not really supposed to, but it's just linework!      ;)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Broken arm < strangulation.


Friday lunchtime BJJ in Seattle. Nice to see Bryan, Z, Lindsey, Pat and others that I don't get to see very often because I don't go to the Seattle pod very often. Unfortunately Chrisanne was ill and had to bail. But Christy was there, so I got to drill with her, Z, *and* Prof. Herbert. That is an excellent roster, but damn am I tired now.

Three different drills, over and over with rotating partners.

Single- or double-leg takedowns. Even at not-100%, this is exhausting (especially doing it with the Professor!!!). I could not take Z down for love or money, which is frustrating since I'm pretty sure I outweigh him... but I got Christy down a few times and the Prof let me have one (which means I must have done it well enough that he decided to reward me by electing to take a dive). I don't know what his judo background is, but I can tell from watching the way he does certain takedowns that he has one.

You are front mounted. Opponent turns to the side. You move to S mount, shoving hir NEAR lapel down with the hand nearest hir feet. Feed lapel to the other hand, which you have wrapped under hir head. Keep the elbow in tight and the lapel grip deep. Grab the pants. Turn the shin out on your rear leg, sit, Place your rear leg to trap hir arm if you can. I was not really happy to see bow and arrow again today- it's my LEAST favorite sub to be on the receiving end of, but at least it was Christy this time. When I did this with Chrisanne last Sat, she was doing them so tight and fine that the skin is *STILL* peeling off my chin.

Same, only now your opponent pushes your arm over hir head, so you go for the armbar. Christy noted that this was not very helpful (on the receiving end). I informed her that 1)it's always better to be armbarred (or even have your arm broken) than to be strangled unconscious, and 2)you have a slight chance of trying to escape the armbar during the transition- although with this particular one, there was precious little room to try to escape.

Some positional sparring from these same 2 positions.

Bryan called me out, although I was way too tired to spar, and he ragged me until I agreed. But I couldn't bear to put my jacket back on, so I made him go no-gi. Pat called me out next, but by then I was so tired that just turning my head to see who was throwing things at me was too much work, so I had to beg off.

I chugged two full pints of water on my way out.