Tuesday morning BJJ- the Danger Room! I haven’t been able to come back to the Danger Room in a long time, due to work.
I have never seen Tuesday morning class so full. It looked like an evening class. Nelson was so happy to see me that he gave me a hug! That was sweet. He now has a third stripe on his white belt. Bob has a new blue belt.
Round three (for me) of Technique Set A. Again, only the simple versions. Maybe Rodrigo is using Monday morning class in Seattle as a testing ground for what he’s going to teach during the week- if Monday am struggles with it too much, he simplifies it for the rest of the week. I drilled with Nelson. His groin injury is still a little tender, so I had to be careful. I kept asking him if he was okay. I was watching his face carefully, and saw him grimace a bit at the half guard escape, so I asked him if it would be better if we did it on the other side. He was like, "No, no, I’m fine," and I said, "Well, I have to keep asking, now that I know you’re not always smart enough to stop when it hurts," Then he cracked up, and said, "Yes, okay, let’s switch it to the other side."
Nelson had to bail after drills, so I did positional sparring with John for for 2nd day in a row. "**YOU** again," I grinned. I thought, this time he’s going to pound me. But once more, I did pretty well against him. I used spider guard against him. He didn’t do so well with that.
At the end, I did a free roll against Bob. He’s another one who usually owns me, but I seem to be on quite a roll (pun intended)… I did well against him. I escaped a number of his sub attempts, including a wicked triangle that I was sure I was going to have to tap to- but I stacked him aggressively and then summersaulted over his head and he let go. With some of the more flexible people here (like Leah), that wouldn’t have worked- but it worked on him. It was quite a long, competitive roll. He finally tapped me out with a kimura.
Intermediate kung fu.
I did a couple reps of Leopard Fist In the Mirror while waiting for class to start. It’s coming along well.
We did several reps of the parts that everyone knows out of Bung Bo Kuen and Little Red Dragon. There are a couple of spots in Bung Bo where I continue to lean my torso forward, and I’m having a hard time breaking myself of that habit.
Nevertheless, as soon as we started doing Bung Bo, I could tell that I was having an "on" night. Not only was the energy flowing and the form feeling masterful (**THIS** form! My worst form!), but my knees for some reason were hardly aching at all. I can’t remember the last time my knees didn’t ache doing kung fu, especially Northern Mantis. I kept thinking, "After a few minutes of this, the pain will kick in," but it really didn’t in any significant way. It was surreal. Then we started doing Little Red Dragon, and Dragon being my secondary style…. well, I don’t know what it looked like, but I don’t think it has ever FELT better- *ever*- than it did tonight. I did the flying kicks like I was on wires.
We then worked on some Dragon kicks- Dragon Whips Its Tail, Ruby Dragon Whips Its Tail (same kick, only planting the hands on the ground during the windup), and the combo from Little Red Dragon- hook kick, turn, inside flying crescent. I love that combo from Little Red- I have always enjoyed hook kicks, and I’m good at all sorts of crescents. Those Dragon Whips Its Tail ones, though- I always struggle with the hip positioning on those as well as recovering the balance after the kick. We also worked on a side kick to the knee followed by a scooping, looping scrape down the shin and continuing into a low scissor stance. We practiced all these kicks as line drills, then on partners (using "pork chop" pads for all but the knee kick).
Then we were asked to pair off and come up with multiple apps for one of the sequences out of Bung Bo Kuen. I was working with SK. He came up with an armlock app that seemed to me to be the perfect opportunity to simply break the elbow. He wanted to just use the armlock to yank the opponent toward him and then into a throw. Great, said I, but why not go ahead and snap that pesky elbow, as long as you’re right there… you can still throw him afterward. SK felt that 1)doing so would involve altering the movement enough to lose the characteristic circular
momentum of Dragon, and 2)Dragon is unlikely to be so crass as to simply blow through the elbow. I disagreed heartily with both suppositions and told him that he was being too linear (both physically and theoretically). We argued about it for a while and then appealed to CN (he is a Dragon stylist). CN was observing this debate closely and with visble amusement, and pointedly refused to validate either of us. Argh!
I do feel like my sense of KNOWING "What would Dragon do in this situation" is advancing. (SK is always griping about how his Dragon sucks… so he oughtta listen to me! )
At the end of class, it was Nemesis’ turn to perform a form in front of the class and then dissect it and explain apps. I had asked him before class which form he thought CN would pick for him, and he guessed Five Points Of the Star. Bingo. Unfortunately for him, we got booted out of the community center gym just as he was about to start, and he had to do it outside on the wet grass with a light rain falling. Five Points Of the Star spends the final 1/4 of the form rolling around on the ground. I announced, "You realize you’re going to have to strip before you get back into my car."
Nemesis had to demo some of the apps on SK (Great! Now they’re BOTH going to be a couple of mudmen on my nice clean upholstry!)… at one point, he had a handful of SK’s hair in one hand and a handful of the inside thigh of his pantleg in the other- CN said, "Show me the throw." Nemesis tensed up to do it, and SK yelped, "NOT by the hair, please!!!" He made Nemesis readjust his grip to the back of the neck.
CN informed JoE and me that one of us was to be on the Hot Seat next Tuesday for the form performance and dissection. I tried to intimidate JoE into volunteering, but I was unsuccessful. So I suggested rock-paper-scissors. My scissors, his rock. Dammit. My stomach roils just thinking about this. In the next week, I am going to have to find time to review *ALL* of my forms- and this is not going to be the work of only a few minutes- even if I only buzz through each one once. And then some more intensive review of Hurricane Hands, since I know in my gut this is going to be the form CN is going to choose. I wish I could ask SK to review the form and a couple of the more foggy apps with me, but I dare not. If he rats me out to CN and CN realizes I’m prepared for that form, he’ll pick something else!
As far as the knee pain (or lack thereof)… I did take two ibuprofen around 10 or 11 am this morning (for an unrelated matter), but ibuprofen (and a wide variety of other pharmaceuticals I’ve tried) has never helped a smidge with the knee pain… and besides, I would have expected them to have worn off by 7pm. I’ll have to try that again a few times and see if I can duplicate the phenonmenon.
I’m cautiously intrigued by the instances lately of my Shaolin work feeling good… I want to think I’m at last coming out of this terrible rut (PLEASE Rickson Gracie!!!!), but I’m afraid to hope. I wonder if this is connected in any way to these last six days of unusually awesome BJJ rolling performances on my part… and if so, how.
In the carpool home, Nemesis, SK and I (JM had skipped class due to homework overload) were discussing SK’s black sash test of last fall. They had had him doing a ton of prep work for the "test" for almost an entire year, including videoing all of his forms and travelling to Portland to spar with the teachers and high-ranking people in our sister school. He had been expecting an actual "test" as an EVENT, and not seeing the "test" as a PROCESS including all of this stuff. So he had been anticipating a scheduled weekend gathering of all of the higher-ups during which he would have to fight all of them, then receive his sash. Instead, they surprised him at a seminar- just gave him the sash and told him the test was done. He was the only one who didn’t realize that he had in fact been testing all year.
So this led to some discussion in the car among the three of us regarding the black sash testing and how it’s been different for everyone, and why the higher-ups decide to do this or that regarding the tests, and what it means to the person. After we dropped off Nemesis, SK asked me if I was wondering what my own test would be like- at which point I reiterated that I have no intention of testing. I had figured I’d test for the next stripe (the final one before black sash) whenever I was told to, and then stop there- but now I don’t think I’m going to do even that. If JM had been in the car, I could have/would have avoided this whole discussion, but since we had the privacy, we went ahead and discussed our respective views of why it does or doesn’t matter whether we test for rank. I’m not sure if either of us succeeded in getting the other to see any new perspectives- maybe if we’d had longer to talk about it.