Here’s your “Tapout” g-string

I’m going to be amused to see how many extra hits my blog gets today with that subject line. Razz

This morning, I was literally 10 min from walking out the door when my boss called and said they didn’t need me today. It was like being a kid again and having a snow day. Hmmm- back to bed, or go to BJJ class? No contest! (Ok, ok…. it *was* a contest… but I did go to class!)

Guillotine from standup, escape from said guillotine from standup, escape from headlock on the ground (hooking opponent’s leg and then going to the knees), escaping side control to replace full guard, and a great takedown where you yank down on the lapel and circle around the opponent’s body to kneel behind the knee and grab a leg (your outside leg is posted out straight). I really like this one. I was drilling with Bianca, and she dragged down on my lapel so hard and suddenly that I had to struggle to not do a faceplant, even before worrying about any leg involvement. So when it was my turn, I tried to emulate her.

Some positional sparring with Fred (he toasted me again) and Bianca (who mostly toasted me, but I did get one tap on her- which I was really excited about). She has improved soooooo much in the last year, and I told her so. She’s out of my league now.

Bianca has a great new lavender gi. It looks awesome on her. Although Pat told her that she looks like the Easter Bunny. Smile

When open mat time came, I did a few fun rolls with Bianca. She tapped me twice with the same variation on an ezekiel choke. The second time she did it, I said, "Okay, drat it, you have to teach me how to do that!" So she did.

Evening BJJ in Bellevue- Cindy’s class. Same technique set as Monday. I drilled with Daniel. I grabbed him because I haven’t drilled with him much. There are a few people that I always tend to gravitate to drilling with if they are there (like Bianca), but if none of my favorites are present, I’m trying to make a conscious effort to try to work with a lot of different people. Different body types, different belt levels.

I am noticing lately that since I now have a working knowledge of basics and have at least SEEN a lot of these techniques before, I am catching on quicker during the drills and thus having a little more time to experiment. My first six months or so, I would watch a drill and it was like being handed six pages of single-spaced instructions in Swahili… I couldn’t comprehend a thing, and I had to be painstakingly walked through it all slowly (usually multiple times) by whatever unfortunate soul got stuck with me that day. Now, I can usually execute whatever drill I’ve watched- perhaps fumbling a detail or two at first, but I’m not completely lost. So I now often have time to run the drill several times, and then time left over to either experiment a bit or try the drill off the opposite side. Tonight, I had time to experiment with the kimura we were doing, cranking it at slightly different angles to see what worked best on that particular person. I found out that if I yanked Daniel’s arm a bit to roll him slightly up on his shoulder first, I got much better leverage for the lock. I’m excited that I’m getting proficient enough to start playing with variations like that and figure them out for myself.

A little positional sparring from side control- I didn’t do too well against Daniel, but he’s pretty good, so I didn’t really expect to!

New thing: after Bellevue Wednesday night BJJ, there is now a no-gi class. It’s being billed as "grappling for MMA" or "BJJ for MMA". I’m not sure where this is going to go, but tonight it looked pretty much the same as a usual no-gi class except that some people were wearing the padded gloves.

I just watched that portion… Pat gave me some grief for being a bench potato, and I said, "I did morning class too… and I didn’t bring a shirt for no-gi, because we weren’t told about this in advance…. and I’m old." Really, an hour of BJJ at a time is all I usually have the energy and the attention span for. I sat on the sidelines and Pat’s dog Mochi licked my feet. It’s actually rather disgusting to think how many people’s bare feet that dog licks the sweat off of every day. And as I’ve mentioned before, if you don’t watch out, he ambushes you and gives you tongue kisses right on the mouth. (Mochi, that is… not Pat! Mr. Green )

Cindy was telling hilarious stories of being on the MMA circuit and being required to use a certain facility’s gloves- which they would take off you at the end of your fight and put right on the person two slots after you. They also made the women wear groin protectors- again, out of a communal bin. She said, "I had never even heard of such a thing! It looked like a G-string!" Shocked ROFL

Hint, hint…… it’s a big gangly bird

Wow, there was no part of my anatomy that did not hurt this morning. Yesterday’s classes didn’t really seem like much out of the ordinary, but I guess I was straining my muscles hard against a large number of guys who were a lot stronger than me. It was good "I put in a hard workout" muscular soreness, though.

Tuesday kung fu- I was reeeeeeeally low-energy tonight.

Before class began, I worked on Three Step Arrow, then Bung Bo Kuen in the Mirror, then a couple reps of Little Red Dragon In the Mirror. I had just started working on Leopard Fist In the Mirror when I ran out of time.

We went through Little Red Dragon a number of times, then spent the rest of the class on Bung Bo Kuen. The people who did not know the whole form learned the rest of it. We worked on some apps, then SK ran us through the whole form about a jillion times and nitpicked details… foot position, etc. There are a few low Mantis hooks that I learned as high Mantis hooks and vice versa; and also a number of cat stances that I learned as seven stars stances and vice versa. Since they are valid variations on the form, and since CN and SK know that I learned this form from CC and not from their group, I hope I will not be taken to task over the slight differences.

It was JoE’s turn under the microscope to perform a form in front of the group today. CN blindsided him even worse than he had me: "Sil Lum Tao." Poor JoE just stood there for a minute like a deer in headlights- then, to give himself another few seconds to think, repeated "Sil Lum Tao." and stood there for a minute more…. I could see the wheels spinning frantically in his brain as he tried to orient. Not only have we not worked on that recently, but it’s even harder for JoE and me because that’s one of the forms we learned from CC- and CC’s variation of Sil Lum Tao is quite a bit different from the one done in DD/CN/SK’s classes. Both of us stumble and stammer whenever we do that form, watching everyone else out of the corners of our eyes and trying to remember "Do we do the axe hand strikes first in this class or do we do the bon sau’s first?"

Everyone was lined up sitting on the floor watching him; I was standing in a slightly recessed doorway foyer off to the side- out of everyone else’s line of sight- and I waved exaggerated Crane beak arms up and down trying to jog his memory for the opening… I know, I know, but I felt bad for him. When CN asked him what two styles are associated with Wing Chun, he got Snake right away, then hesitated… I started jumping up and down and doing exaggerated Black Crane cross blocks. I hope I helped him out a bit. If he saw me, he kept his eyes averted and didn’t rat me out!

Monday BJJ

Monday morning BJJ. I drilled with Fred this morning.

The takedown where you hook your leg around the guy’s ankle and slide your hip down his shin to force the back of his shin to the floor- I have done this a few times before, and I just love this takedown.

We also did some ankle picks while we were at it. I kept backing Fred up to the wall and slamming him against it as I picked his ankle; he was laughing, and I explained that I had once had to do that to some jerk who wouldn’t let me do the drill.

Then front bear hug to hip throw to either an armbar or kimura. I haven’t done kimuras much, so I struggled with that one a little.

The escape from side control by throwing the leg over the opponent’s head and either reversing him or armbarring.

It definitely seems like Monday morning class is more complex material than the other "basics" classes.

Positional sparring with Angus- he mopped the mat with me. At one point he crushed my knee too hard, and I had to stop and roll around holding it and gritting my teeth for a few minutes. Rodrigo was right there in about two seconds, asking "Are you okay, Keetsune?" He’s really attentive to that… as soon as anybody gets hurt even slightly, he’s right there.

Open mat- Fred mopped the mat with me again.

The Seattle school is moving… not far, just a mile or two. Bigger, more open space. There may be boxing, kickboxing, yoga, and more stuff (although the extras will probably come with a bigger membership fee). We also we told that Henrique is going back to Brazil in a few weeks. He may or may not be back- he doesn’t know at this time.

Evening BJJ in Bellevue.

JB had to work, so SK and JM and I were supposed to meet in Bellevue instead. They were no-show’s, no-call’s, no-text’s, no-email’s…. What’s up with that? I hope they didn’t go to Seattle instead for some odd reason…. this is stupid, but I’d be disappointed if they got their first stripes and I wasn’t there to watch, clap and be proud.

I haven’t seen Henrique for so long that he thought I’d stopped training. I had to tell him that my work schedule had changed, and I was still training, but different days and times than I had before.

Carlos was there… he had two stripes on his white belt. He was so pathetically clueless his first week. I hadn’t really thought he’d survive. It was great to see him there with stripes on his belt.

Same techniques as this morning. I drilled with Asib, and we were each able to give the other a few helpful pointers.

Positional sparring with several people. Some standup, some side control, some full guard. I wasn’t doing very well today. Everyone was owning me. I did get that half-guard locked on hard several times, though, and people had a heck of a time trying to get out of it. More than one person commented on it.

Relays. I so enjoy Henrique’s relays, this is going to be something I’ll really miss when he goes. Jim did some kind of bastardized scissor sweep on me during the relay that cranked the heck out of my ankle- thank Gods it wasn’t my recently-healed one. I had to yelp, though. It seems okay now- I don’t think it took any lasting harm.

I hurt my hand a little today- not bad, but I am feeling really paranoid about my hands right now. My thumb is almost healed- I still can’t open my car door with it, or pull a strep throat swab out of its tube, or do a decent gi choke- but those are the only three things left that I can’t do yet. But the week of the 20th, I am going to be leading a group of djembe players providing shamanic drumming for a big, important religious event. It is going to involve 4+ hours of a high horse stance with a heavy drum harnessed around my waist, doing continual, hard, fast hand drumming with perfect rhythm and no breaks. It’s a huge responsibility, and I can’t mess it up. I’m hoping my thumb will be up to it, but now I’m starting to worry a lot about incurring any additional injuries to my hands between then and now.

Crane/Mantis/Wing Chun

I didn’t train Friday or Saturday. I have worked much and slept little this week. Also, my crew all bailed on me for Friday night class… it’s hard to discipline myself to fight rush-four-hours traffic to go to evening class in Seattle without that added push of peer pressure!

Today I went to the (non-MA) gym and worked on some stuff. Today was Crane/Mantis/Wing Chun day. I worked on all of the forms, form fragments, and drills that I know out of those three styles.

Black Crane 1
Tiger Versus Crane (technically a Tiger form, but it’s all Crane material)
Black Crane drills- one through five
White Crane Walking the Path frag
White Crane frag with crescent kick (CC won’t tell me which form this comes from)

Northern Mantis Bo form
Bung Bo Kuen
Beginning of Bung Bo Kuen In the Mirror
Thai Mantis elbow strike drill
Three Step Arrow frag
Northern Mantis frag with turn-and-lunge (DD won’t tell us which form this comes from… sigh)

Wing Chun:
Sil Lum Tao
Wing Chun encyclopedic hand strike drills

It was all old review material (except for the Three Step Arrow frag, which I’m still struggling a bit with). But everything looked pretty good, which I was pleased about- especially seeing as how Crane and Mantis are my weakest animal styles.

I was happy that all the Black Crane drills came back- after just a few brief blonde moments on a couple of them. The last time I worked on those, it took me forever to piece them back together, because I had neglected them too long. Life really is easier when I’m more disciplined about reviewing old material on a regular basis before it fades out of my brain.

After I had done Black Crane drill #5 a few times, I started obsessing over "Are you really sure the grab is with the left and hand and the Crane’s beak strike is with the right? You need to verify that, and then come up with a mneumonic so you’ll remember…" Then I told that part of my brain to just shut up, and I ran the drill several times fast without thinking about it, and it flowed fine. So I called it good.

I worked a little Bung Bo Kuen in the Mirror after I had run through it a few times the regular way. The opening sequences seem to be pretty solid and flow pretty well, then it starts to fall apart after the arrow-hand-strike-with-kick.

Box Form- outgrowing this universe

Thursday kung fu. No SK tonight, so CN taught the class. We did a few rounds of the build-a-form game. For the final round, we had to use techniques from each of the five animal styles in a specific order. That was more challenging, but it also got us out of the ruts we are already beginning to develop wherein each of us tends to gravitate back to the same handful of techniques.

Then some Three Step Arrow- I had requested that we work on this, as it was one of the things I had the most trouble with when I went over all my forms last weekend. So we went over that portion of the form that we know, and explored a few apps. I continue to find Southern Mantis "clicking" better with me than Northern Mantis. They are very, very different. I wish we would do more Southern Mantis.

Individual forms… I worked on the ones that I had struggled most with last weekend: Three Step Arrow, Box Form, and Snake Versus Five Animals. Box Form continues to be amazing even if I don’t get the physical technicality quite right. It is unbelievably Dragony, and so powerful that it seems like it’s trying to build to some kind of cosmic crescendo. It feels as if I keep doing it, it is going to rip a hole right in the fabric of reality and suck me and all the classroom desks into another dimension.

It’s interesting to see such a glaring example of how there’s much more to a form than having every finger in the right spot. Energy work I can do- and do well. But it’s either "on" or it’s not, and I have limited ability to flip the switch. I would like to develop the skill into a more consistent summon-at-will thing.

After Box Form, I did a couple reps of Touch Bridge, hoping to leak a little of that great Dragony energy into that form- it seemed to work a bit.

I was noticing in particular tonight that when anybody asks a question in class, JM often jumps in to answer it before the teacher can open his mouth to do so. So it’s not just me she’s doing it to. I wonder why she does that. Her kung fu looks incredible, but I wonder if she is feeling insecure as well- and it’s just manifesting in the complete opposite fashion as my own insecurity.

The Spazzy White Belt gene may be on the Y chromosome.

Wednesday evening BJJ in Seattle, with all of my gang there with me. Also there were Sonia, Ally, and Sabrina- so there were six women in the class tonight!

A hip throw, the bullfight, and a variation on the bullfight that has you jerking the opponent’s legs to the side. I drilled with Nick, who gave me some helpful knee-on-belly tips.

After regular drills, Rodrigo had us doing those two guard passes with just enough resistance to make each other work, switching every few minutes, for what seemed like a really long time. Nick and I got really tired and were both dripping sweat all over each other’s faces.

Then additional positional sparring from guard, for which he allowed all of the white belts to stay. Nick had to bail, so I found myself womaning the stopwatch for the first few rounds and also (at Rodrigo’s direction) riding herd on the the three pairs of stripeless whites on my end of the mat (my buddies, the two additional white belt women, and one other dude) and making sure they didn’t kill each other, and also telling them when to stop and start over. I swapped all the women out one by one so that all of us got a chance to do a few rounds with all of the others. When I got front mount on JM and JB, I "beeped" their noses. Razz It made them crack up, but I bet I’ll be getting my own nose beeped in turn pretty soon.

Ally and Sabrina are coming along, but I was proud to see how awesome my former BJJ 101 students are compared to them. They KICK ASS. hail

After the structure seemed to have devolved into more or less open mat, I saw SK flopped on the bench and coaxed him into a few rolls. I haven’t worked with him lately, because I want him to have a chance to work with people his own size. He’s gotten noticably better even in the handful of classes since I last rolled with him. He also ripped my headgear off and split my lip. But it was a lot of fun.

After I got front mount on him and he cried uncle (I forgot to "beep" his nose… must remember to do that next time!), and returned to the bench,I looked at the female white belts all lined up on the bench and said, "anyone want to go, or are you all done?" Sabrina took me up on it. I did several rounds with her. I went easy on her, let her get a few things, coached her a bit on some simple stuff. I hope I was helpful to her. I was also able to try and get some techniques on her that I can’t really make work on my bigger, more experienced classmates, so that felt good for me.

Peter (a really good blue belt) was free, and Rodrigo insisted that one of the female white belts still on the bench get up and roll with him a bit- so JB went for it. She was still rolling with him when the rest of us left. Hopefully she’ll learn some helpful stuff… I’ll have to ask her later how that went. She was coughing a bit tonight from her asthma, but she was game… it’s admirable how she plugs on and doesn’t let that hamper her MA.

In the car, SK showed me his set of fresh blisters on the last knuckles of his middle three fingers, and I showed him the identical little round calluses I have in the exact same places- now he knows why I come to Shaolin with tape on my fingers on the weeks that I’ve been doing a lot of BJJ classes.

He also commented that now he knows exactly what I mean when I refer to a "Spazzy White Belt"- because he rolled with one a few times tonight. I’m happy that I taught him better- I wasn’t about to bring no "Spazzy White Belts" into Rodrigo’s school!

I told him that the guy was probably flailing because he had no technique yet and simply didn’t know what to do. We then discussed how we were observing tonight that there seemed to be a distinct pattern by gender- when the new male white belts don’t have any technique and don’t know what to do, they spazz and flail- when the new female white belts don’t have any technique and don’t know what to do, they hesitate and freeze up. That tendency in the women exasperates me a bit, but I do wonder if they start picking up technique sooner and better simply because someone has to walk them through it- and they’re listening and practicing what they are told, instead of just blindly spazzing out. I think some of the new guys who are just blindly spazzing out take a while to really grok that they are not being effective with this method… I think it takes some of them a few extra classes to catch on, slow down, listen, and start picking up some real technique.

Attitude Adjustment desperately required.

Tuesday Kung Fu.

DD walked in halfway through, to my horror- of course if he was going to pop up once in five months, it WOULD be the night I had to perform a form in front of the whole class.

We worked on Bung Bo Kuen and Little Red Dragon… filling in some of the remaining pieces for those who don’t know the whole form (we are all the way through Little Red now). Also some applications from Little Red with training partners. SK offered to be everyone’s victim for the takedown-followed-by-knee-drop-on-belly-and-Dragon-claw-attack. We lined up and each did it four or five times. I concentrated hard on keeping the energy flow and motion going smoothly through the takedown to the follow-up attack. My targeting was good… I chose the throat, instead of the stomach like the others were doing.

Performance time.

I was about 95% sure CN was going to make me do Hurricane Hands. Back-up guesses were (3%) Bung Bo Kuen- if he was feeling particularly sadistic- or (2%) Leopard Three- if he was feeling particularly charitable.

He said, "Tiger Versus Crane."


Tiger Versus Crane??!?? WTH does Tiger Versus Crane have to do with *anything*???!? (And furthermore, CN had assured us that he wasn’t going to just pick something obscure out of his butt; that it was going to be something that he knew we’d worked on recently. (Liar!)

I began it immediately before I had time to think about it and start freaking out. TvC is packed with flying kicks, and it was the end of class, so I was tired and my knees hurt. I managed the kicks okay (I’m pretty good at flying kicks), but I lost my balance in two spots and bobbled a step in another spot. All in all- could have been worse, but it was not my best work. Then CN started asking application questions, and I froze for a minute… then managed to get my tongue unstuck and give what I hope were adequate responses.

The major thing I took away from class tonight didn’t even have anything to do with the performance; it was the fact that I was appalled at the level of my acidic emotional reaction when JM gave me a bunch of corrections on Little Red Dragon. This is a recurring issue for me, but the extent of my vexation at tonight’s occurrance leaves me realizing that I have really **GOT** to get a grip and figure out how to bring about an attitude adjustment in myself regarding this topic.

I kept my mouth firmly shut (well, okay, clenched) through the bulk of it, although at one point when I started experimenting with some different targeting ideas and she told me, "It’s supposed to hit HERE," I did say firmly, "I know, I’m just exploring."

After the break, I could have grabbed a different training partner- but I consciously chose to go back to her because I want to face down this difficulty and not skulk away from it.

I acknowledge that I feel defensive and resentful to recieve corrections from a more junior classmate regarding a form that I’ve been doing since before she ever knew what Shaolin *WAS*.

I acknowledge that we have no control over our emotions; emotions come. I acknowledge that feeling these emotions doesn’t constitute a fault of mine, and that it doesn’t make me a bad person. They just are what they are.

I acknowledge that we do have control over how we CHOOSE to RESPOND to our emotions. I acknowledge the difference between RESPONDING and REACTING.

I acknowledge that the feelings I am observing in myself in these cases are all about my insecurity about the quality of my work.

I acknowledge that JM’s corrections were (as always) good ones, and that if I want to improve my work, I need to listen to her. I further acknowledge that I should have thanked her like a gracious and mature person would have.

I have been feeling like I deserve a medal for restraining myself from snapping at her, but the truth is that she is being nice and trying to help me; and I am behaving like a horse’s ass and doing her a disservice.

I’m not sure how to evolve past this; obviously the universe is going to just keep clobbering me over the head with this lesson again and again until I come to terms, at which point I will be able to move on.

The Ego is a hungry, bitchy, demanding, unreasonable beast. Not very pretty to look at, either, at the moment.