Kung Fu evening class- defenses against bearhugs from front and rear, with arms pinned and not, charging bearhugs, and defenses against being dragged by the wrist(s).

JB and I finished working our way through Cannon Fist, altho I am still having some blonde moments with the sequencing.

JE and I went through Frolic of the Five Animals a few times (Yeah, that’s the name of the form, can you believe it? Rolling Eyes I thought the teacher was pulling my leg at first about that), at his request; he’s let the end portion slide a bit and needed a refresher. We are the only two students who know that form. CN and SK came out to watch, and I must say my Frolic was smokin’ tonight, even though my knees were hurting pretty bad.

We are on the next-to-last chapter of "Old Path White Clouds". It only took us two and half years to work our way through this big honkin’ book, one chapter a week with occasional lapses of laziness.

“You’re ready!” No, not nearly, but thanks

Morning BJJ class and open mat. Again a little takedown back and forth followed by guard/pass guard, side control/escape side control. It seems that we are doing little by way of the syllabus/curriculum these past few weeks; the abovementioned routine seems to be geared toward getting people ready for the comp on Nov 7. People are also pushing themselves hard on open mat, practicing at full resistance and also trying to drop a few pounds before the weigh-in.

I’d be interested in going to watch a comp at this point, especially if I could sit next to someone knowledgable and ask stupid questions. But that comp is the same day as the Bung Bo Kuen seminar, which I have been informed that I am expected to be at even though I already know Bung Bo Kuen.

Someone asked me if I am doing the comp, and I said, "No way, I’m not ready." Pat "The Great Panda" yelled across the room, "You’re ready!" I snorted. "You spar with Leah, right?" "Yeah- and she kicks my ass every single time." "But Leah wins, so you’ll place." There’s some unassailable logic for ya. Rolling Eyes At my very first class- when I didn’t know an upa from an umbrella- the Great Panda was urging me to go ahead and sign up for a tournament that was taking place two weeks hence! So I probably shouldn’t be listening to him on that score… although the vote of confidence is nice.

Evening BJJ class and open mat- Cindy’s cardio warmup nearly killed us all tonight! faint

Then we learned a triangle variation, which I got to drill with Leah The Triangle Queen, which was good. I still don’t grok triangles…. like the joint locks, there are just way too many pieces to worry about, and I keep getting mixed up as to whether to do X with my left leg or my right, and Y with my left hand or my right, etc.

Then we did takedown relays. I loooooooove takedown relays- they are so much fun! I actually **WON** one tonight- although it was by accident rather than skill. Ron did some kind of sacrifice throw on me- and as we were tumbling toward the ground, we could both tell that he was over-rotated. He was saying "Oh s***," in midair. When we hit the ground, I pounced on top. I think he could have salvaged it if he’d scrambled hard, but he just sort of gave up- so I mounted him, hollered "HA!!!" and whacked him on the pec. Cool Razz Then jumped up and bounced in place, grinning like a chimp, waiting for the next opponent. Mr. Green Hey, I don’t get many- I gotta savor them fully!

I got a roll with Cindy, who smashed me completely with no apparent effort… always a good time.

I’ve done two classes per day for the last three days in a row, and also donated blood yesterday. mosh

CN plays a dirty trick on me

SK is working late tonight and will not be in class, which will stick me with leading the forms. Nemesis and I are actually the same rank at the moment, and he has seniority… but you just know that if I’m cheeky enough to say, "Nemesis ranks me; he ought to do it," Then I’ll find myself doing it this week *and* next week. CN is just sadistic in that way. He makes me do it just because he knows it freaks me out.

Morning BJJ class… a little takedown back-and-forth, then a marathon of guard-pass/defend-guard relays with little if any break in between bouts.

You’d think that after six months of this, my endurance/cardio would be building up and I wouldn’t get so wiped out so fast. I’m frustrated at how quickly I continue to become fatigued.

I did keep in mind what Kaungren said about "it isn’t about forcing techniques through resistance"- so every time I tried something and it was foiled, I tried to immediately flow to something else. I really think this is going to be a major key for me, once I can keep enough focus to maintain that flow as well as have enough variety in my toolbox to have smething different to switch to.

I continue to enjoy Tuesday morning class. Small and colorful. thumbsup Today: three white belts, three purples, and a blue. It’s so cool to get to roll with those higher belts, and most of the ones who have been coming to this class are people who are nice about helping me. I wish I could make this class every week instead of every other week.


Kung fu evening class. There were only three students there tonight, besides CN and DD, so we got more individual attention and feedback- that was cool. Smile

One of the things we used to do, which we have gotten lazy about, was to do forms facing different directions- so that we don’t get too reliant on the visual cues in the classrooms. I had asked last week if we could start doing that again, and CN said sure.

DD asked CN to lead the forms tonight. I breathed a sigh of relief that I was off the hook. I said, "Can we face another direction?" CN: "Sure. Everybody face the windows." We did, and by virtue of where I happened to be standing, I was now in the front. I looked at CN, who was now standing in the back row, and said (pointing) "But now *YOU* have to come up *HERE*." CN: "Nope, I don’t. Everybody follow Kitsune." (See? See how he is??!? ahh )

Various armlocks were on the menu today. I am weak with joint locks. A desire to improve my poor joint lock skills is one of the main reasons I started BJJ.

I like things very simple… a Tiger straight punch is simple. Joint locks involve waaaaaaaay too many little nuances, which seem to all have to come together perfectly and flawlessly in order to work. There are too many pieces to think about to accomplish it AT ALL, much less accomplish it fast and smooth and effectively, and with resistance! With a Tiger straight punch- whatever and whomever you punch, any target from any direction, it will work. It works reliably. It works the same way every time. Joint locks are different with each and every different person you try them on. I just find it all completely intimidating. I hope I get better at this with more training and practice.

I asked CN if he had cleared Hurricane Hands with DD. He said, "After the seminar." Razzafrackin….. okay, the seminar is on Nov 7, so I can start Hurricane Hands on Tuesday the 10th. I wanted to start THIS THURSDAY! ahh But I guess I can live two more weeks.

Watch out for that crushing “Gward” of Ron’s

Morning BJJ class- we started with takedown drills. We were told to keep the right lapel grip at all times, which effectively eliminated 3/4 of my takedown options. I was a bit frustrated that my major outer reap wasn’t working well at all against the heavier guy I was working with. I did dump him several times with the knee-bar where you stick your ankle behind his and then slide your thigh down his shin, though. thumbsup

Then we drilled on a sweep, which was good because my sweep skills are fairly nonexistant.

Monday morning class- now a two stripe and up class- is definitely getting slightly more complex, and my slow brain is having a bit of trouble keeping up. If my schedule allowed me more flexibility, I’d quit coming to that one and add another "beginner" level class instead, but I have to take whatever I can get.

No open mat this morning…. I was ready for it, but Rodrigo chased us out early because he wanted to clean mats.

Evening BJJ class. Hip throws (hallelujia- something I can do!). Then more sweeps. Leah has been in bed with the flu for the past six days and was pale, weak and skinny… thus I was *almost* able to keep up with her tonight. I told her she should get sick more often. Then I accidentally groped her chest while we were doing the sweeps, apologized, and then had to listen to her complain that I hadn’t even bought her dinner first.

After drills, we did Henrique’s "competition-specific training" which I am staying for even though I have no current plans to compete… shhh! He likes to make us do these evil drills where he splits you up into triads and places two people on their backs at either end of the gym… lucky #3 sprints to one, grabs their gi pants at the knee and jerks their knees first to one side and then the other, plants a knee on their belly, then sprints to the other person. The other drill he likes to have us do is have the two people at either end stand, while #3 sprints to one, grabs them around the thighs and lifts them a bit off the ground, then sprints to the other. I really feel my age after doing these for just a few minutes. But I’m sure it’s going to help my pathetic cardio, so I shouldn’t whine. We were one person short, so Henrique himself was in my triad- which meant no slacking for me!!!

These tortures are followed by a series of three minute spars with no breaks. Just when you’re about to keel over and die, he stops everybody and makes us do fifty crunches, then back to sparring!

At one point I yet again wound up as the leftover dregs after everyone else was paired up for sparring… so I got to do three minutes with Henrique. That was fun! thumbsup He was being nice and not pinning me on the bottom, so I focussed on trying to stay on top while he rolled around. It was a bit like Wile E. Coyote running and dancing on top of a big boulder rolling downhill. I tried to choke him a few times, but wasn’t able to finish any of them.

One of my other spars was with Ron. He is a smaller guy, but stocky and very strong. Being in his guard is no fun. I’m sure he can crush steel beer kegs between his thighs. He swept me, and I saw no alternative but to turtle up. He poked and picked at me for a while, but I wouldn’t let him get a hand or foot in… so finally he rolled off me and laughed, "I don’t know what to do with this!"

By the time we were done with "competition specific training", it was already quarter to eight and I was knackered… so I bailed on open mat.

I am starting to get a bit more used to Henrique’s accent. "Gward"= guard, "Fit-tee person"= fifty percent. Razz

General Evolutionary Shift

CC and his student bailed on me (sigh), so I went to the gym instead. I worked on all the forms that we don’t normally do in Tuesday class warmups, including the two that I brain-farted on yesterday, and the tai chi forms as well.

It is now obvious that I have undergone one of those General Evolutionary Shifts (GES) in which all your MA stuff just suddenly ramps up a level for no apparent reason. So it wasn’t just Bung Bo Kuen, it was everything. The tai chi short open-hands form in particular was different today. The energy kept flowing uninterrupted and somewhat Dragon-ish. There was even a bunch left over at the end, which was intriguing and new. After I did it, I had to stop and stare at the wall and say aloud, "Wow."

Note that there are a couple of bobbly parts in Touch Bridge that I need to check out with CN next week.

I also worked on the Tiger kick drill a bit, and the Crane drills (one through five). All rusty. But also all evolved, once I fumbled through them a few times and got my groove back. Note that I need to go over those again before too much time passes, to scour the last of the rust off.

I wish I had time to do a gym session on my rotation week. I am getting to the gym once every two weeks, on Sunday of my off-rotation week. It tends to be a fruitful session, although I usually have to knock off earlier than I want to because my knees are aching too badly to continue (like today). Sad

I have been continuing to work on my technique list, and that’s a good thing- because with this latest GES, I am now seeing my next stripe test on the horizon. I wasn’t figuring to have to think about that till maybe next spring or summer at the soonest, but suddenly it’s in my face. Since we just finished a round of testing (all of the consistantly-attending students have taken one this summer except ES, who may still be too new, and JE, who has been slacking lately because he is focussed on his Hapkido and just took a belt test in THERE), the instructors may well not get around to it till then anyway. I certainly don’t expect them to be thinking about it till after SK’s black sash test in January, and probably a couple of months after that when they won’t want to think about tests at all for a while! But I’m going to keep working on having everything cleaned up, current, and ready to go.

My geek housemate finally downloaded and converted the tai chi form vids for me so that I can look at them without spending twenty years waiting for each one to load. So now I can polish little errors in Cannon Fist and Catherine Dao, and pick away at the other four as well, as time allows. We found that somebody had also uploaded a vid of SK doing Snake Versus Five Animals and Leopard Fist, so that is good to have as well. I feel fairly comfortable with those two, but when I want to polish them, it will be good to have vid of the Snake stylist doing the Snake forms. Smile

I wonder if GES will apply to my BJJ practice as well. I haven’t really noticed myself doing dramatically better in there the past couple of weeks…although I have been struck by a number of intriguing ideas that I’d like to experiment with in my game. Perhaps it will prove to me more of a mental shift than physical shift in that respect. That works for me!

Black Crane redux

Saturday practice in the park. The grass was pretty muddy, so we had to work on the concrete stage. I was having an off day. First we went through some forms, and I was just blanking on parts of them… giving SK an opening to rag on me about wanting new forms when I can’t remember the ones I already have. Embarassed Rolling Eyes Then we worked on some basic Black Crane defenses against punches to the head and midsection (both sides), and against snap, thrust and roundhouse kicks. One of our newer students was taught these defenses recently and so wanted to work on them; I haven’t worked on them since I first started this class two and a half years ago, so it was a good thing to go back and redo. They did come back, after I fumbled around a bit. I still don’t like them much, though. Crane is my weakest animal. It’s shocking that I persevered in this class seeing as how when I first joined, we spent about the next eight or nine months straight doing Black Crane material. I just don’t click with it. Did I mention that NEMESIS is a Crane stylist?

I e-mailed CC and harrassed him some more; I finally scored a training session tomorrow with him and a newer student of his. She’s new enough that we have to go kind of slow and light, so I probably won’t squeeze any Tiger stuff out of CC tomorrow, but she’s a nice kid, so no worries. CC seems to try to throw us together a lot, I think he sets me up as a bit of a female MA role model for her. He is still being evasive about starting up regular classes again… I think I am going to have to throw in the towel on that soon. Sad

I was thinking last night that it might be an interesting experiment to try infusing my BJJ with some 5-animals kung fu energy. Dragon and Tiger (specifically the Tiger subsets of Leopard and Monkey) seem to be the most likely suspects to translate to BJJ. I continue to be frustrated by how rapidly and easily I run out of gas on the mat. Maybe if I can get a conscious chi flow going, I would do better with that.

Fine, we’ll play it your way

Morning BJJ class. We started with ankle pick drills. The guy I was working with wouldn’t let me do the drill. He was holding my lapel stiff-armed and angling his legs away. I said to him, "Your arms are so long that when you hold me off like that, there’s no way I can reach your feet." Hint, hint. A few times I sucked in a breath to say, "Dude, let me *do* the drill." But every time, I clamped my teeth over it because that just sounded whiney. Anyway, one has to go for the openings presented- I would not look at the situation I was in and try for an ankle pick at all, because I could already see it was a lost cause…. I would try something else. But ankle pick was the drill we were supposed to do, so I was in a catch-22. So I started backing him up against the wall and then picking his ankle. Twisted Evil That worked a couple of times, but then he started resisting being backed into the wall, or he would let me put him there but then just root when I tried to pick his ankle. I let him pick my ankle, thinking, "Why should I be a douche just because you’re being a douche," but by the end, I was getting pissed and frustrated, and starting to think maybe he didn’t even REALIZE that I was LETTING him pick my ankle. So for the last minute or two, I thought, "enough of this," and stopped allowing HIM to do the drill- just to prove I could. So that entire episode was pointless, I think. Confused

Then we started one person in guard and starting to stand up, the other person hooked a knee inside the stander’s knee and pulled hirself around 360. This was a new one for me, and I was still working with the same not-so-helpful partner, so I don’t think I quite grasped it. But I am intrigued, because it seems like a move that will play well to my small size and flexibility. Hopefully we will do it again later this week so I can try it with some other people.

I was excited to see that Cindy is now doing a beginner no-gi class on Friday nights. However, I realized that it is at the Seattle location, at 6pm. That puts the commute smack in the middle of Rush-Four-Hours, and without even the help of the carpool lane which my Kung Fu Carpool (aka the Shaolin Shuttle) is able to use on our way to Tues/Thurs evening classes in Seattle. I hate sitting in gridlock, and it’s such a drag when the commute (one way) is longer than the class itself. There’s no open mat scheduled afterward, either. So getting to this class, unfortunately, would be a real PITA and probably not very feasable on a regular basis. The stars continue to be aligned against me being able to take more of Cindy’s classes, which is a bummer.

TASK ACCOMPLISHED…. Thank Rickson Gracie!!!!!!

Kung fu basics class. I showed Bung Bo Kuen to CN. I wasn’t quite as "on" as I had been last week- the stances weren’t quite as clean. When I conferred with SK later in the car, SK agreed but said that the drastic improvement in flow and stylistic nuance was still there, and that was the main goal. CN only had one minor technical correction- and to get even that much, I had to specifically ask for corrections. I said, "So I can start Hurricane Hands now, right?" CN told me to slow down because he had to clear it with DD first. There had just BETTER NOT be any further barrier to my starting Hurricane Hands, by gosh….. Mad I was set a task and I accomplished it, to CN’s satisfaction, and now I want to move on and be done with this "forms moratorium" crapola!!!! cuss

JB, SK and I also finished up Catherine Dao (of course, a form is never "finished", and it needs plenty more work even *before* CK sees it and gives the boatload of corrections that I’m sure she’ll give… but JB and I have learned the final sequence and we can now all three perform the whole thing).

The main body of the class was review on what we did the last couple weeks, with various wrist releases and choke defenses. We have one brand new student, one high-functioning beginner, and tonight an intermediate student whose attendance has been spotty (we haven’t seen him since December 08 ) showed up again- so we were backtracking a bit and going kinda slow so everyone could keep up.

Our returning intermediate student was telling us about some other MA classes he’s taking… sounds intriguing (especially as one teacher is close to my place), but I just do not have any more time to check out more schools!!

Frustrations- lack of resources

Kung fu intermediate class… parry to armbar to face plant! thumbsup That was a fun lesson. I’m looking forward to getting skilled enough to be able to choose my force level- to be able to control a person without seriously injuring hir. That will be a very good skill for me to have at my workplace.

SK asked me during the carpool if I was going to be able to get time off for the January retreat (where he’ll be taking his black sash test), and I told him no. It’s scheduled on my work weekend. I could *maybe* get time off, but it would be a humongo hassle…. and then there’s the drive all the way to Portland and back, the expense, the gas, the petsitting arrangements. There are also a couple of personal issues which make me not really want to go (which I can’t discuss either with SK or in a blog). I haven’t seen CM, the Tiger master, since summer 08. This is a huge bummer, but as I told SK, CM is going to be busy with the test and he’s going to want time with the other masters…. I really don’t expect he would have any time for me when he’s flying in just for one weekend. They won’t let us lowlier students even WATCH most of the testing. So I expect it would be a rather slow weekend for those of us white sashes who are not directly involved in SK’s test. With one exception- There will likely be a form taught- but I don’t tend to do too well with learning a form in two days… I would do better having my classmates teach it to me at a slower pace later on. The only thing I kinda regret is that I was looking forward to JB, SK and I performing Catherine Dao for CK…. she created that form herself, and if I do say so, the three of us look mighty bad@ss performing it, so I would have liked to show it to her. Oh well.

This segued into another discussion in the car in which I was again venting my frustration about RS’s move, CC’s dropping his classes, me not being able to get any of DD’s time and attention, and general angst about the fact that I do not have access to the resources that I feel I need to be progressing with my kung fu. If I didn’t have the BJJ to redirect that energy into, I’d be flipping out. I’d rather be doing kung fu…. the BJJ was supposed to be SUPPLEMENTING the kung fu…. but if current frustrations continue, I can see myself kinda slipping away and having to change priorities and commitments. Confused

The blind leading the blind

Evening BJJ class. I got paired up with a new guy who didn’t know how to switch his hips or do a decent armbar… poor dude reminded me a lot of *ME* a couple months ago! I enjoy teaching, and I think I’m a good teacher- as long as it’s something I feel confident that I know really well. It’s also nice to be able to give back, because some people have been really nice about helping me out in the same fashion.

We started out with a weird new drill that I’d never seen before, so we were both kinda lost. But then we did a drill that I’m familiar with, involving three different guard passes, so that was better and I was able to help the new guy out. Henryque moves a little bit fast through the drills for some of us slower folks to keep up; if I was brand new I’d be floundering. It sure makes life easier when one person in a pairing is already familiar withthe technique and can catch the other person up (Leah often serves that purpose for me). I had to leave at 7 for work, so I didn’t get to stay for sparring tonight. Sad