Thursday morning BJJ. Kevin, the brown belt teacher from the Federal Way branch, was teaching. He’s big with the "yes sir"’s, handshakes, standing at attention with the left foot slightly forward, and other formalities- so you have to kind of watch your step when he’s in charge. I drilled with Bree today.
There was one other blue belt, but he was late, and the rest of my classmates today were whites- so I got to collect the attendance cards.
Pulling guard from standing, a basic hip throw, basic kimura from guard, and sit-up sweep.
Sit-up sweep was one of the techniques from my very first week of BJJ, and I never forgot that one…. it was my first sweep ever. I remember being impressed with its effectiveness and the lack of muscle needed… that was the first thing that made me understand that general big-picture concept of BJJ. It was good to come back to it almost a year later.
Then a little guard-pass-vs-sweep-or-submit with a few different people. I did okay with that today- not great, not terrible.
I’m still trying to make up my mind about Kevin- he gives Bree and me some extra attention, and I haven’t quite figured out if he is being patronizing in the positive or negative sense of the word. I’ll have to get to know him better before I’ll be able to tell.
So I got a bit of a pep talk from him today. He was approving of my aggressiveness- well, at my size, you’re either aggressive or you lie there and get squished to death, there is no middle ground.
He wants me to try to
1)stay more compact and stop sticking my arms out to grab at things
2)to focus more on going WITH an opponent’s force and turning his motion/power into something else to be used for my benefit instead
3)to try to stop getting caught up in analyzing each technique movement down to the perfect finger position
Later……….. Thursday night Kung Fu basics class.
CN is out of town (so is DD)…. I was hoping they would test ES and stripe her up before she left town. That’s too bad, but at least she got to finish Leopard Fist and get it pretty polished-up. Tonight was her last class. It was just her, SK, Nemesis and me.
After hand strike drills (with SK walking around with the kick pad and focus mitt), we did the Tiger Kick Drill with targets. Since each movement of this drill engages two opponents, we had the perfect number of students to hold the target pads for the person who was going through the drill. You might think you have great balance and form, but everything goes to pot once you are working on a solid target and dealing with the rebound- not to mention the extra work of fine-tuning the targeting. So this was a challenge.
After that, we worked Black Crane Drills #2 and #3 with the kick pads. This was a little easier- at least for Nemesis and me, since we’ve done it before. Also, there’s only one opponent in these scenarios. (Tiger gets bored if there’s only one opponent…. maybe bored enough to go hunting Black Cranes. )
Then SK taught Black Crane Drill #4 to ES while Nemesis and I drilled together on the applications. The worst part of Black Crane Drill #4 is that it has one part that involves a thrust kick targeting the side of the knee, a Crane’s beak strike targeting (usually) the neck, and a Black Crane forearm parry (yup, that same Crane parry that I’ve been struggling with lately in the Five Animals form) that turns into an Eagle-claw grab which pulls the opponent’s arm across your body- ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
The parry/grab is actually EASIER with an opponent, because I don’t have to try to remember whether it’s with my right hand or my left- it’s on whichever side I see a fist coming at me, heigh-ho. My biggest problem was landing the kick in the right place whilst not forgetting about the simultaneous Crane’s beak strike. And you can only visually target one of them; you have to guesstimate or intuit the targeting on the other.
And of course let’s not forget I was working with NEMESIS!!!!
A few times, I targeted his groin instead of his knee with the kick. He told me, "It’s supposed to be the knee," I replied, "I’m *supposed* to get you on the ground for the next move; I am confident that this targeting would accomplish that objective if I was kicking full force. If you doubt, we can give it a try."
He thought it was pretty funny that after the drills, I had multiple clear outlines of the print of his shoe on the back of my shirt.
Individual formwork time. I showed Hurricane Hands in its entirety to SK. He had a couple of minor corrections, and agreed that it needs more reps, but he thinks it looks pretty good overall. One of his corrections involved a long sequence in which I’m supposed to be executing multiple maneuvers upon the same opponent who is retreating in a straight line. I was finishing the set in a slightly wrong direction because there’s one double Snake strike in there that I kept stepping slightly offline to deliver. After repeating that error a few times, I said in some exasperation, "For some reason, I just want to step a little offline before doing this strike- and there’s an identical double Snake strike earlier in this form where I always do the same thing. I dunno why this is hardwired in my brain this way- there must be some other form or drill somewhere where I learned it like that." SK responded, "For this particular form, you are supposed to be travelling in a straight line along that attack series. But if you asked, "What would a Snake stylist do in this type of scenario?" he or she would indeed do that offline step first. That would be very typical of Snake to do it that way." So then I was really excited, because apparently I was able (at least this once) to spontaneously intuit all by myself (and without even trying) that question that every Shaolin animal practioner wants to be able to answer- "How would (insert animal) do (insert action)?"
I still need to break myself of that stepping-offline habit for the purposes of this form. But this is a larger success than getting the form fingertip-perfect.
I went through Hurricane Hands a few times, then a truncated version of Touch Bridge and a truncated version of Frolic Of the Five Animals, just to make sure I still had the sequencing right (truncated because my knees were really hurting by then). Then a few Leopard At Dawn’s, and a few truncated Leopard Three’s (both standard and mirrored).