The psychological intimidation of the stick.

I didn’t just blow my diet last night, I NUKED it. Frankie’s Italian Restaurant in Redmond is having its annual garlic festival. They have a special menu, plus you can order any of their regular menu items with a garlic quotient on a scale of one to five "cloves". I ate enough fettucine alfredo (with chicken and mushrooms, and loaded with cheese) and garlic bread to feed a third world country, with a near-lethal amount of garlic added. It was probably a week’s worth of calories, although I did take home a doggie bag and thus stretched the meal over two days. The upside is that now I will be able to tap people out with my breath for the next two weeks. My sweat is probably pretty toxic as well. I exist in a garlic aura. Can you smell me from where you are???

Kung Fu Thursday. The usual hand strike drills. I had asked if we could review Kiu Two, at least briefly- even though we usually try to keep Basics class material and Intermediate class material separate. So we did a little of that. Then review of stick/club/etc defenses. I worked with JB on Kiu Two and then JB and Nemesis on stick/club.

Interesting how the psychological intimidation factor plays out when someone is coming at you swinging a stick. There is such a small window of opportunity- and before you can even jump on it, you have to have 1)gotten past the freeze-moment, and 2)decided what technique to use. The freeze-moment is a bigger obstacle for me than usual, in this scenario. And even when I’ve pushed past that, there is a hesitation to commit to a technique, for fear it’s the wrong one. Yet if you fail to fully commit- in that split second you have to decide- the next thing you know, you’re being whacked with the weapon.

Going from JB to Nemesis was also disquieting. The TIMING of everything- which I had struggled with against JB- was now completely different due to Nemesis’ reach. I had to recalculate everything. It took a lot of brain cells focussed on just that aspect of it, when one’s entire brain is wanting to be distracted with "AAAAAAGGH, I’M ABOUT TO HAVE MY HEAD SMASHED IN LIKE A ROTTEN WATERMELON!!!"

There is a terrifying awareness that there is NO room for error; one hit is likely to take you out. I don’t think I find even knife defense as psychologically intimidating as stick/club defense.

Individual formwork. I did several more reps of Kiu Two (side A and side B), one rep of Touch Bridge, a couple reps of Little Red Dragon In the Mirror, and a few reps of Box form. I asked SK to look at my Box Form. He was bemused and wanted to know, why that one? Well, I just picked one at random- it having to be one that SK knows- and better it be one that the whole class doesn’t know (and thus one that we never do in class time).

SK observed a flow problem in the same area that CN has observed a flow problem. So I am aware of it, but haven’t been able to fix it as of yet. It was kind of funny, and kind of frustrating, that we both recognized the issue but neither of us could articulate in English exactly what it was or what was behind it. It was like having one of those conversations where you are finishing each other’s sentences and only putting actual words to a fraction of the communication. We discussed it and played around with it a bit, and finally I figured out that it’s a balance issue. I have so much momentum moving my "energy ball" 180 degrees that I’m having to stop the flow to try to regain balance for the next move, and to prevent myself from falling over backwards. I’m going to have to experiment with it some more, but I think it will help to lower the stance and focus on gathering the "energy ball" inward and downward instead of holding it at arms’ length like a hot basketball. Note, NO PAUSE here. Also note, no pause after the ridge hand strike. Okay to pause after you break the opponent’s leg.

Then he asked to see Hurricane Hands. Ack, I haven’t done this one for a bit. He said, "Relaaaaaaaax!" before I even began. Sigh. I had to restart it once, but I got through it- a bit clumsily. I knew I’d forgotten the two little kicks that he’d added after I’d learned the form through, so we went over those again- note that they are after the strike to the ground followed by the foot shift, just before the big lunging stretch. Right low kick to knee with ball of foot, inside of foot upward. Left low kick, outside of foot upward. Then the lunging stretch.

One other correction- the closing, no pauses in the loop. Make it bigger and with continuous motion.

I did e-mail my name in for the small tournament on Saturday. I can still bail if I want to. I listed my weight as 135 with gi. It’s IBJJF weight classes, so that puts me right smack in the middle of "light" (129-141). So I shouldn’t have to fast or stop drinking water or anything nuts like that in the next two days.

Woo hoo- it’s Kiu Two!

Tuesday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue (the Danger Room)

John was there- I haven’t seen him in months! No professors- Nate led the class in a grueling set of warmups, followed by "king of the mat" takedown practice, followed by short timed spars. I sucked mud today… but in my defense, my group consisted of two medium sized guys and five big guys- and me.

Takedowns- too embarrassing to detail. Me trying to take down Tom…yeah, right…. six feet something; he’s lost a lot of weight since he started training here, but he’s still a hefty dude; and he coaches high school wrestling. I hope I will do better if I ever get to go against someone my own size. Tom tells me to stop looking down and look at the guy’s chest. "Don’t look at the mat- you know it’s there." Yeah, I know it’s there, I’ll be kissing it soon enough.

Matches- first I got Marc. He was the smallest person there, although still bigger than me, so I thought maybe I had a snowflake’s chance in hell of taking him down. I marched in and grabbed him aggressively. He pulled guard to get us on the mat. I was on the bottom a lot, but he was leaving me plenty of room to get to my knees, etc, and move around. Nate (playing ref) called a halt at one point because Marc had a kimura and I wasn’t tapping, and Nate thought my arm was going to snap. I said, "No, keep going- I’m really flexible." Neither of us got a sub, but I think Marc would have won due to being on top more. Pat tells me to remember to get the near side hook in first, before hopping over the guy and trying to get the far one. he also suggests I defend the triangle by stepping over the guy’s torso.

Then I got Andrew, whom I knew was going to be tougher. He got me with an armbar, but at least it wasn’t in the first fifteen seconds. I was frustrated with myself, though, and forgot to shake Andrew’s hand before walking off the mat. That was a good reminder- I wouldn’t want to do that at a tournament and look like an ungracious loser.

Next was Ian (Big Ian- not teenage Ian). I said, "Take it easy on me, okay?" (Why don’t I just have that tattooed on my forehead?!?) So he did, to the point that he sort of just lay there while I got mount, took his back, KOB… Couldn’t finish a sub, though, although my hands are now raw and aching from gripping and scraping on his gi.

Marc again- this time he stopped in the middle of the match because he had me in a triangle and I wasn’t tapping. Now I was getting a little irritated. I lose all the time, but don’t have me losing until I *ACTUALLY* lose, okay? "I’ll TAP if I need to TAP, okay, don’t stop unless I TAP." "I thought you were going to sleep." Sigh. Rickson Gracie, do they really think I haven’t had enough experience tapping that I don’t know when to tap, or am too stubborn to tap??!! "Tapping Ten Thousand Times" my butt. Surely I surpassed that long ago. I must have tapped more than any person living on this earth has ever tapped in their life!!! I know how to tap! So WAIT for the dratted TAP! Don’t prematurely tap on my behalf!

Pat said, "You’re moving a lot better now." "You’ve got to be kidding- everybody’s kicking my ass!" "Peaks and plateaus…. you never backslide, just peaks and plateaus."

Apparently Pat gave Rodrigo a list of people who wanted their names on the tournament list, and Rodrigo said nothing doing- they have to e-mail! Otherwise, he threatens, we are having two tournaments- The real tournament and Pat’s tournament. I want to know which tournament Bianca will be in, so I can enter the OTHER one!

Later…………..

I must have banged up my knees in the Danger Room… it hurts bad enough to whimper a little, every time I try to kneel on one! I also had to Tiger Balm my trapezius muscles and shoulder blade area- esp my left side. Ow.

Kung Fu Tuesday. Small class today- just JM, Nemesis, SK and me. Tuesday class will be moving to Sundays next week.

This quarter is Wing Chun and Snake quarter. So we started with Sil Lum Tao, Leopard Fist, and Snake Versus Five Animals. Once again we were asked to do Leopard Fist in "tai chi" style- flowy and basically taking all the power out of it. Then Sil Lum Tao pretty much the opposite fashion- snappy and with pauses.

Then SK wanted to talk about bridging- since that is apparently one of the more glaring deficiencies that is being seen in our collective sparring efforts. After some rather lengthy discussion on the topic, he had each of us pick two guard stances. The other students had to come up with an attack that illustrated bridging- then there was some further analysis of what the guarding person might do to counter, etc.

I found this useful in several ways, besides the obvious work on the topic of bridging. It was similar to the "freeze frame sparring game" in that it made you analyze the opponent for openings and figure out what techniques would be most practical. Having a small group made it good to do some group-analysis of this as well. In addition- although we weren’t told to do this and probably didn’t have to- we found ourselves trying to stick mostly with techniques from the style we began with. Being able to work within a particular style at will is a skill I’d like to improve. It was interesting that it never seemed like a good idea to attack with the same style that the guarding person was using (although I did attack JM with a Southern Mantis combo while she was in a Northern Mantis guard stance). It was also interesting that the Monkey guard I picked for my second guard option seemed to be one of the most utilitarian ones of all the ones we played with tonight. I picked it sort of on a lark- it’s not really something I’ve ever thought about actually using in sparring. I thought, "I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do with THIS, but let’s see," But I was surprised at how well it was working in a practical sense.

After that exercise, SK made us do a bunch of weird pushups from a sort of "downward dog" position.

Then Kiu One, switching partners till we’d worked with everybody. I got SK last. After we’d done a few reps, he inquired, "Is there some reason we’re rotating?" I hadn’t been doing it consciously, but we were indeed rotating. "I dunno." He grinned widely and said, "That’s part of the more advanced versions of Kiu One." Ha. I love it when that happens. I seem to be doing instinctual Snakey things quite a bit. That’s so cool.

So then he taught us the opening moves of Kiu Two. AWESOME. I have been wanting to learn this form for years. I was in fact begging for it on a weekly basis a couple of years ago, but was refused. It is a two-person Snake form, with both fighters using Snake (unlike Snake Versus Five Animals, in which only one fighter is the Snake). Watching SK and DD do this form together is jaw-dropping…. the beauty and power and flow…. it positively brings a lump to my throat. I’m really excited about learning this.

Part A: left straight punch at chest; change hand to Snake; pull back on the left side and drop waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down to a deep back lunge (ouch!), while Snake-parrying in a big circular motion; flow back to a front lunge and Snake-strike belly level; Bring right hand up to catch over left wrist to pull-apart; left hand to chamber while right Snake parries down and slightly to the side.

Part B: Double Snake parries to the left; step left and Snake strike left to throat; foot-switch hop to defend the belly by bringing right leg up and around, plant stance turned slightly to your left (remember, speed more important than power here- bring leg straight through instead of circling it too much… and it’s a foot-switch, not an advance! This isn’t Tiger!); Snake strike with right hand while covering armpit area with left.

After we’d run through them both several times, SK said, "Everybody watch Kitsune- do part A" Gulp! But apparently I was doing the right-hand-over-left-wrist maneuver prettily enough to be worth a demo. Wow. That same sort of motion- with different hand positions and different stylistic flow- shows up in Mantis (Bung Bo Kuen- more prominently in the version that CC taught me) and Dragon (Little Red Dragon). It’s cool to see how they are so parallel and yet so different.

We then tried the small section with partners.

JM commented that with Snake Versus Five Animals, we had learned all of part A, then learned all of part B, then put them together. For the staff-vs-dao stuff, we hadn’t even been TOLD that they went together until after we’d been doing the bo form for two years, and had more recently learned most of the applicable dao sequence. I commented that this way might be a better way to be able to retain the form for practice at home- because even if you brain-fart on one of the moves, you might be able to figure it out by checking it against the opposing sequence. It’ll be interesting to see if it’s easier or harder to learn this way.

I gave SK lots of feedback in the car; I know he’s trying to tailor class in ways that are most helpful to us, so I try to give lots of feedback about the things that I like best.

Uh-oh, I’m losing them.

Stuck at 130, still. It has become clear that I am not going to make weight for the Revolution unless I resort to Slim-Fast. I’m waffling (Mmmmm, waffles…) whether I want to go for it or just say F it and stay at 130 (that’s going to be about 135 with the gi on, and I will probably want to pad that by three lb so that I don’t have to fast and withhold water on tournament day). I’m leaning towards "F it".

I have until Thursday to decide if I want to sign up for the small tournament at the new Seattle site on Oct 2. I think Rodrigo needs a psych eval for hosting a tournament the same week he’s moving his school.

Oh, I got the Saturday in October off so that I can go to the Rory Miller self-defense legalities seminar. I hope there’ll be enough good info to make it worth it, and not just a rehash of what I’ve already learned in Insights courses. But looking forward to that.

Monday evening BJJ at Cindy’s. I would normally go to Gracie Bellevue if I have Monday evening free (assuming JB’s not free for class). But with the Seattle branch closed this week, I figured it was going to be even more crowded than usual in Bellevue. Monday evenings in Bellevue tend to be pretty crowded, and bottom-heavy in newbie white belts. Plus Hostility Boy is there, and I always get stuck with him. All this is not normally enough to make me want to commute all the way into the city, but since there was no morning Seattle class (thus we’re looking at one commute and not two) I decided to go ahead and do it. SK came with me.

He told me two unhappy things in the car. 1)He’s strongly considering dropping his Gracie’s membership. His financial situation is even tighter lately than usual. 2)JM is making noises about quitting BJJ altogether. Serious Bummer for me, on both accounts.

JB is planning on going away to college this winter, so we were going to be losing her altogether anyway- now it looks like I’m going to be the only one of the gang left at Gracie’s- and maybe the only one left anywhere. SK says he wants to keep training at Cindy’s- but he will be down to only two possible classes (since he works days and can only do Cindy’s two adult evening classes). I just feel like it’s the beginning of the end for him- especially if JM is not training BJJ at all. If she’s not training those two evenings, she is going to be making alternate plans for said evenings and pressuring SK to be with her instead of training- and he’ll cave. I predict he won’t stick around very long. Sad

And it’s also too bad about JM. I thought she was really enjoying the BJJ. And Gods know she has a gift for it. Probably it’s just too much MA. I know she likes MA, but we’re doing a heck of a lot of it. The Shaolin alone is 3 classes a week- more MA than that is really the province of Crazy People. She may well just be tired of being one of the Crazy People, and wants a life back.

This sucks for me- it looks like I’m losing a lot of good training partners (not to mention carpool options). Sigh.

I guess there’s a silver lining- once I train long enough to pull well ahead of their skill level again, I’ll have that edge over them again in sparring. I did give up a distinct advantage when I brought them into grappling! It used to be that as soon as I got any of them on the ground, I had it in the bag! No more. But if they stop training BJJ, it will eventually get back to that status quo again!

Anyway- tonight it was pretty warm up in the Tully’s Building. I think this is the first class I’ve taken over there in gi. It was humid and I felt like I weighed about 300lb.

We did a basic guard break, and then the "seat belt" stacking pass that JB loves to do on me. Then an escape for the person getting passed- stiffen up, grab the opponent’s wrists when she dives under your thighs, plant one foot on her shoulder, roll backward, and posture up under her armpit- drive in for a double-leg to side control.

I was the demo dummy first- I took a deep breath and put my cheese graters on to march bravely to my doom. This prompted Cindy to growl, "Yeah, you BETTER put those things on!!", Thus prompting one of the other regulars to comment wryly to me, "Lucky you! Lamont’s not here." Cindy didn’t get it- she asked, "Why? is Lamont mean?" We all bit our tongues on "NO, *YOU* are!!!" Hee hee hee! So SK got to be the alternate demo dummy. At one point I put my arm up to try to keep some of the pressure off my poor ribs, and she was like, "You better not put that arm up! If you won’t let me do the drill, you’re gonna make me go even harder!" Ack! She also cheerfully directed us to pressure right down on the opponent’s xyphoid process.

After the drills (I was drilling with SK), I did one timed free roll with SK. He tapped me with an arm lock from a very strange position. But later, he totally gave me his back- and I almost had a great choke locked on when time was called.

My next roll was with a teenager I’ve never seen before (Chase). Chase weighs 112. When I first grabbed him, it was astonishing to be grappling with someone that small. But I knew that he has 10 years of wrestling experience, so this was not going to be easy. He is really strong. But he was puffing and panting a lot. Surprising that his wrestling training didn’t teach him to breathe better. He tried very hard to choke me, but I held out. Neither of us got a tap.

After that I needed a break- very tired and hot. That was the last roll of the night, though- the capoiera class was starting right after us, so we had to clear out- if I’d known it was the last roll, I would have soldiered on.

Cindy mentioned possibly adding an open mat on Sundays, to give us more time to work on tournament stuff. That would be awesome, if the timing works out for me. The Shaolin class looks like it will be moving the Tuesday evening class to Sunday evening- at least temporarily (to increase the possibility that CN may be able to show up sometimes). So if the Sunday open mat is in the evenings, that won’t work for me. I have to work every other Sat/Sun till 4pm, though- so if she does it in the morning or afternoon, I’ll only be able to come to every other one. Still, I’d be happy about that. I hope she means to continue that ongoing, and not just up to the tournament.

At least we don’t have to wear clown suits. Yet.

Friday no-gi at Cindy’s, with JB.

More gymnastic warmups. You know roundoffs? Cindy makes us do roundoffs, and then roundoffs with an extra 180-twist so that you land facing the other way. Mine are not all that great, but it’s forcing me to handspring harder so that I can try to get enough room/time to twist. With the bouncier handspring, the regular roundoffs are lovely. Another student remarked on how much air I was catching. Also- backward rolls continuing into a handstand/handspring and try to bounce yourself to your feet. Those are hard. I can get myself upright, but only to a squat. Front rolls with handspring. Even worse- I landed every single one on my butt. Connor did them perfectly. There’s a new show-off in town! I announced, "If we don’t succeed at jiu jitsu, at least we’ll all be able to run away and join the circus!"

Scissor sweep. Scissor sweep setup, then opponent roots…. post on mat and on the back of opponent’s neck, and do "tactical stand" to get back to your feet (or knees). This is good, this might be a way for me to get the heck out from under the bottom once in a blue moon.

Scissor sweep setup, opponent defends the sweep, then you try to do the tactical stand and opponent tries to grab a single-leg. You transition to omoplata. I’m always excited to work on omoplatas- I’m not good at them yet, but I just know that once I work on them enough, they’re going to be great for me. I can ball myself up and spin around with speed and agility. I just need more reps so that I know exactly where I’m trying to go.

Next- same sequence, only instead of omoplata, you transition to triangle. Still clumsy on the triangles. Cindy also showed us several alternatives if it wasn’t working out- a kimura, a neck crank ("It looks like a triangle, so it’s a triangle!!! Ian (pointing sternly at the teenager)! Don’t you do this one!" Uh-huh. Gods, she’s a trip!), switching to an opposite side triangle. I didn’t quite get the neck crank one, but everything else seemed to be working okay for me.

Two long rolls with JB. Geez, she just keeps getting better and better. I got only one tap on her (guillotine again! She was disgusted that I got her with that yet again) I complimented her- I was noticing that every time I try to set something up on her, as soon as I do the initial weight shift or grip, she seems to always know just what to do to counter. I asked her if she really *knows* exactly what I am setting up and how to counter, or if it was just instinctual. She thinks she usually realizes what I’m likely to be trying for, but some of it is also instinctual.

I did notice that in our first roll, she pulled guard almost immediately, and I was on top for most of the rest of that roll. So I pointed that out to her afterward, and told her what Cindy has been telling me, about "never voluntarily go onto your back" and try to stay on top.

Cindy waylaid me on my way out and said that after I’d left class on Wednesday, somebody had taken her to task for being too hard on me. Didn’t I tell you she smooshed me that day- see, that wasn’t just me being a whiner, LOL. She just wanted to make sure I hadn’t taken it the "wrong way". I replied that we were cool- if she had gone that hard on me and then NOT given me a positive backpat at the end like she did, that would have been discouraging. She said, "I wouldn’t have done that," and reassured me again that I am getting better.

Are you sure you want to make me that open-ended offer?

Thursday Kung Fu.

I continue to be able to produce insanely low tabletop horse stance during the warmups. Knees hurt, yeah- but what’s new. It’s got to be the BJJ. I’ve always had pretty strong legs, but tabletop horse for any significant length of time has been beyond me before this summer. SK mentioned the other day that he was really noticing (while CN was trying to do takedowns on him during the sparring on Tuesday) a BJJ-inspired difference in his core strength and general takedown resistance. It’s interesting to see how one MA bleeds into another (pun intended).

Some kick drills, some hand strike drills. One of my choices was the Mantis finger-poke. SK got out his Sharpie marker again and dotted his palm for us to use as a target. Once again he declined my suggestion that his throat would be a much better target. JB forgot to cut her fingernails, so she was trying to not poke too hard. SK said to her, "If you actually draw blood, I’ll give you a dollar." I raised my hand and called, "Wait a minute….. what if any parameters are you placing on this offer?" Amid general laughter, and SK’s glower, Nemesis asked me, "How bad do you want a dollar?" "It’s not the dollar I really want; it’s the blood."

After that, we reviewed the basic knife defenses from last week. Also, some basic stick/club defenses. As we rotated training partners, it was interesting to see how your defense had to change when you got to JB- a foot shorter than anyone else. After facing off against the big guys, I was subconsciously relaxing a little when I got to her… and then found to my consternation that her attack angles were all radically different due to her height- what was a straight-in stab for the others was an upcut coming from her- which required a whole different defensive technique. Between that and her abnormal flexibility (which allowed her to keep cutting me even when I thought I had her well pinned), she was getting more blade into me than anyone else in the class had.

I still need to work more on making my defensive technique and my counter ONE step instead of two.

JoE was not there tonight, so I couldn’t ask him to help me with Southern Mantis. I should have asked a teacher for forms help, especially since this was the last Thursday for Gods know how long that we had CN… but my focus was feeling really scattered and I didn’t think I could concentrate on that effectively. So I worked on mirror forms. Five Animals and Leopard Three were mostly okay, so I only did them a couple of times. Little Red Dragon, Five Points, Leopard Fist- smoothed out some rough spots in those and repped them several times apiece. Then I started working on Bung Bo, and got some good progress done there, I think.

Another photo from July’s Revolution. That’s Professor Carlos- a guy you want to try to keep away from your toes.

Gradiations on the concept of “mean”

Busy night on the Dreamscape. I spent the first half working on Bung Bo Kuen. The second half writing some songs for a musical theater production, teaching them to the lead and the chorus members, and then singing the backup descant. LOL. My identity as an artistically creative person is pretty central to me; I guess it’s freaking me out a bit that I can’t write an essay on an interesting subject. So I decided to re-invent Fiddler On the Roof instead. Sometimes I wonder what kind of chemicals they’re feeding all those chickens I’m eating.

Lunchtime no-gi at Cindy’s. I got there a little late, because I was just having a little trouble getting off the launch pad today- but still made half the warm-ups. It was two big guys and me….. later on, two more big guys came in, so then it was four big guys and me… so I got to drill with Cindy, which was cool. Hands-on feedback. I also was one of her demo dummies for today, which was a bit less cool…. I’m starting to dread hearing Cindy say- with that eager low rattle in her voice- "C’mere, Kitsune!"

Today we were doing a move I’ve done before in here: Facing opponent on knees, shove her head down and guillotine, sprawl, then feed her far arm through so that you have both of her arms trapped with one of yours, then go to the side, crossface, get a hook in, pull the opponent out of turtle and choke her from behind. After we’d done that for a while, an escape for the person being backmounted: defend the choke, trap opponent’s elbow (this is important, and I kept forgetting it), remove one hook, slide out (keep pressure on opponent’s chest the whole time- also important, and also something I needed to be reminded of more than once), turn over and get side control. Thought I was gonna die from the pressure when Cindy demo’ed it on me. I literally couldn’t breathe, so besides the incredible pain, I was dealing with actual suspension of respiratory function. She also demo’ed it on Lamont a few times, and after one rep she asked him, "That was nice and tight, huh?" He got up very slowly and carefully, and after another minute managed to groan, "Tight." to which I commented wryly, "Nothing "nice" about that, huh?" I think he and I were unanimous in that feeling.

She also showed us a technique for getting someone off your back by grabbing their head and pulling them over your shoulder, which I was intrigued by since I spend so much time in turtle. I’d love to pull this one off on Hostility Boy. Rickson Gracie knows he spends enough time on the back of my turtle that I ought to get a chance to try. Anyway, Cindy demo’ed this painfully on me, and she tucked my nose right into her clavicle so that I was forced to flip myself over- and just slam myself flat on my back, since both hands were engaged in trying to stabilize my neck so that I wasn’t choking to death- to then recieve all of Cindy’s weight down on my face (I thought my nose was going to break) or simply have my neck snap instead. I asked, "That isn’t considered a neck crank?" And she came back again with that philosophy about how if the guy wants it to stop hurting, all he has to do is go where you’re putting him- if he fails to do so, it’s his own fault. He’s doing it to himself. "This isn’t mean! This isn’t mean, Kitsune!" Holy Crow. I realize that at Cindy’s size (pretty close to MY size), in order to succeed in this sport she has had to be ruthless- but her versions of "mean" and "nice" are on a whole different SCALE than a normal person. I hope she doesn’t think too much the less of me since she has obviously observed that I don’t want to be "mean". I want to KNOW the "mean" stuff, since my primary MA goal is practical defense- but I don’t want to be mean to my training partners or even to an opponent at a tournament. I even felt bad drilling it on Cindy- after she’d done it cheerfully to me! I’ll do this on Hostility Boy, if I get a chance, but only because he’s been a rough jerk on me… and even so, I’ll do it carefully and without *gratuitous* extra pain.

Short free rolls- once with Lamont, twice with one of the big guys whose name I can’t recall (I’ve rolled with him before; he’s nice- I’ll make sure to note his name next time), twice with Cindy. Lamont was letting me work. The big guy was going light enough that I was able to fend him off for a while, but I couldn’t maintain a top position on him for more than a couple of seconds. He eventually got me with an armbar, then a kimura. I did manage to pass his guard a couple of times, though. Cindy just smooshed me today. Not in a "mean" way (even by my standards), but quite thoroughly. I’m not sure what her objective was with that. I wonder if she was actually trying to get a rise out of me to see if I would get more aggressive. I know she wants me to be more aggressive…. but no matter how frustrated or ticked off I get, I am not going to react by getting more aggressive on Cindy- that is just suicidal.

After getting face-planted repeatedly into the mat from starting on knees, I decided to get to my feet and try to sprawl on her shoulders/head so that I could attempt to stay on top. This was followed by an "Oh Crap" moment when Cindy got to her feet as well. I knew that this would not end well for me- and it surely didn’t. She took me down, hard, effortlessly, over and over- I couldn’t seem to do anything about it.

She says that I am still giving up and letting myself be put on my back- and on the bottom- too easily. Yes, the bottom- I live there. My mail is delivered there. She wants me to focus on driving forward- no pulling back, no pulling guard, no turtling, no sitting down, none-o-that. Also, more position before submission. She said, "Don’t you even TRY to keylock me from there!" "You’re not gonna kimura me from there!" Etc.

At the end, she told me I was getting better. You’ve gotta be kidding- I could do NOTHING today. She was like, "Really!" and patted me on the back. LOL- I wonder if she just felt a twinge of guilty conscience for spanking me so hard today.

Later…………….

Tuesday evening kung fu. While waiting for class to start, I practiced the Southern Mantis form piece, then some Five Points In the Mirror.

After a few warm-up forms (improvement points focussed mostly on clean stances), most of the class did their dao/bo sequences for videoing, while JaE and I went out in the hall and worked on Kiu One. I stumbled a bit on Kiu One at first- it’s been a long time! But it came back.

JaE has some of the most utterly awesome new tats EVER- a Mantis on one inside forearm and a flapping Crane on the other- in silhouette, in a ring, and in white- so they look just like brands instead of tattoos. In fact I thought they WERE brands, and I had to ask to touch them before I’d believe that they were not!

Then we got to all take turns sparring again. Same drill as last time, only tonight CN was the monkey in the middle instead of SK. JB even showed up as we were beginning this part, and she took turns too.

Again I focussed on trying to string together combos, with dubious success. I also focussed on keeping both my guard hands up- I think I’m doing better with that of late, but still not as consistant as I aim to be.

I got another e-mail from CC today- I had gotten one from him on the 11th, and hadn’t responded as of yet. I’m pretty frustrated with how much hassle it takes to try to get lessons scheduled with him, and am trying to decide if it’s worth attempting yet again to press him for a consistent class schedule. CN wants to change Tuesday evening class to Sunday evenings- in the hope that he may be able to show up more often once school starts- and I am thinking about trying to pin CC down to Tuesday evenings (or maybe every other Tuesday evening).

Here’s a better photo of Bianca- she’s the one in the Easter-bunny lavender gi.

Writers’ Block

I’m having a heck of a time with my "What does your training mean to you?" assignment.

I am finding myself uncharacteristically inarticulate. Anyone who reads my training blog (which, BTW, will be one year old next week) is probably guffawing right now at the thought that I can’t come up with a page or two of anything to say about my training. But it’s true. I’ve tried starting from scratch, and I’ve tried approaching it by beginning with a history of how I first got into training this and training that. I’ve tried answering a hypothetical person who asks me, "Why do you do this?" In all cases, I get about half a page in and delete in disgust.

Part of the problem is that- while I always felt deeply about this- the point at which normal training transitioned into obsession was somewhat dysfunctional. I had had a difficult breakup, and was using MA training as a drug to try to kill enough time until I came out the other side of the spinning, sucking, endless black-hole-vortex of pain. I literally slept with my jian at night. At the time, obsessive MA training was certainly the best option out of a number of more self-destructive, homocidal and sociopathic paths that I was contemplating. Of course, MA was more than that before…. and is a lot more than that now. But I never fully recovered from that event, and in some respects must admit that I am still using MA training as a drug.

Not the sort of thing you really want to put under the microscope… or confess to one of your teachers. It’s even the sort of thing that might hurt one’s chances of further advancement in an organization like this, if that was a concern. I could certainly come up with a few pages of what I think CN wants to hear. But (as anyone who reads my training blog also knows) I have a low tolerance for BS. Besides, BS’ing my way through it would negate the point of the assignment- what *I* think the point should be, anyway- since I don’t know what CN’s point is.

This photo is from the last Revolution; that’s Bianca- GETTING choked for a change.

Four Rolls

130.0

Saturday competition class. I failed to account for the football game that is going on today, so I was stuck in traffic on the bridge and arrived late (second time in a row, how embarrassing).

Nothing but short timed free spars today. Ron, Hostility Boy, Andrew, and some white belt guy I’ve never seen before, in a Royce Gracie gi. Ron and Hostility Boy both have new fresh stripes. I congratulated Ron. I did not congratulate Hostility Boy. He was medium-rough on me today. I was on the bottom the whole time, but I did not let that meathead get a tap on me. After time was called, and Prof Carlos called his customary, "HO-kay guys, shake-ya-hands", I sat there and looked at Hostility Boy’s back as he retied his belt, and then he reached out and sorta whapped at me without looking at me. I love you too, pal. A day when you’re not in class is like a day without sunshine to me, did ya know that? If he’d been raised by orangutans, he’d have learned better manners.

I felt really tired after those four rounds, so I sat on the bench. Rodrigo asked if I was okay, and I said yeah, just tired. I was hoping to get a wind back after a rest, but I never did. So after a while I took off. Rodrigo asked me again on the way out if I was okay- he’s a sweetie. Don’t know why I’m so tired today, but CN’s not available for Boot Camp, so I have no pressing commitments (plenty of stuff I SHOULD be doing, but nothing I can’t procrastinate on some more!), so I’m going to just go back to bed.

“Your shoulder is so BONY!”

130.0

Friday no-gi at Cindy’s. JB is out of town and SK had to work late, so it was just JM and me.

I have become infamous in this school for my handwalking (yes, we are made to walk on our hands during the warmup). I still can’t do it as well as Cindy, though.

Escape from mount of half guard using the foot crossover- this is one of the very first things I taught my three friends. From there, Old School Sweep to side control. Good to get more practice on this one. I think the parts I have been suboptimal on are clutching that knee in tight against me, keeping it there during the entire sweep, and also I need to make sure I get deep enough. Cindy emphasized that you will get crossfaced and pried back out it you fail to get deep enough- which is what Kaungren was trying to get me to do to JB the other night. JM was kind enough to crossface me when I forgot. It’s good to get the multiple-source reinforcement- hopefully that will make it stick better.

As I crawled up JM to side control, she groaned, "Your shoulder is so BONY now… it used to have a little bit of padding on it!" (ROFL!)

Timed free roll with that small woman from a couple of week ago (Her name starts with an E, but is not Eva or Edda or Edna- darn- I’ll get it next time). I think I have a little weight on her, but she is very strong and has decent technique. She has very good sub defenses, but lets me get mount too easily. I spent a lot of time in mount, but I had to work a good long while to get a sub (Got her twice with keylocks).

Then Ian. Always a great partner. We kept rolling after time was called, I don’t know how long we were going, but it seemed like forever. We were both getting REALLY tired. I was on the bottom a lot, but I did get some mounts, and once he reversed HIMSELF (always nice when they do it FOR you). I couldn’t get a sub on him to save my life, though. Tried armbar, keylock, choke, over and over, couldn’t get them. Finally he set up a triangle (I need to watch for Ian’s triangles); I got out of that somehow, but he transitioned to an armbar and I had to tap.

I could literally see steam rising off my body, so I decided it was time to stop. Connor had come in halfway through, and it would have been nice to get my butt kicked by him once or twice, but I was spent. I’m used to seeing Connor in gi- when he’s wearing a shirt, you can see his TEN-PACK right through it. And he’s exactly my weight, too. I want to be ripped like that.

Basic knife practice

129.5

I haven’t lost my weekly pound this week! There’s no way I’ll be at 124 in time for the Oct 2 "Revolution Foreplay" tournament, and I’m starting to get seriously worried about making weight for the Revolution itself. I very much miss Real Food. The idea of decreasing portions of my chicken/eggs/tuna/carrots diet even more makes me feel weary and resentful.

Rory Miller is doing a workshop in Bothell next month. CK sent me his book, "Meditations On Violence"… I’d love to go to the "self-defense legalities" portion of the workshop, but I’m scheduled to work that day. I’m going to try to get someone to trade shifts with me.

Kung fu Thursday. No CN tonight.

A few rounds of hand strike drills. Emphasis on chambering with as much power as the striking hand. SK walked around and held up a forearm for us to Eagle-Claw. After two counts, I found the muscle/tendon furrows to dig my Eagle Claws into- ZAP! He made an approving-sounding noise, but didn’t seem to want to stick around for additonal counts.

Then we worked on some basic knife attack and defense. JoE and I practiced slashing each other. DD came in halfway through the class, so we slashed at him too. Geez. He is so good. I mean, stunnningly, jaw-droppingly, did-he-really-just-do-that GOOD. When you attack him, you usually don’t really know what happened- all you know is that a couple of blurry seconds have elapsed, and now your wrist and throat hurt really bad and that your hands are empty-rubber knife nowhere to be found.

Individual forms time. DD asked me what I wanted to work on. I suggested White Crane Walking the Path- but he didn’t want to do that one, as he felt a little rusty on it. We just kinda looked at each other for a minute, at a loss. Then he asked what I had felt most insecure with regarding the sparring last Tuesday. I replied that it’s difficult for me to eval my own sparring, because I haven’t had enough practice- I feel generally clueless. Pressed, I said that defending kicks feels like a weak spot. Then he remembered all my snappy little knee and shin kicks that weren’t helping me much because I wasn’t following up with anything. So we worked a bit on attacking the opponent’s kicking leg as it was chambering, and following up with a second kick. I hadn’t even tried to attack the kicking leg; I assumed that once it was chambering, it was too late to do anything effective unless I could reach the support leg (which I never can on SK). Well, after recieving a number of relatively light kicks on my chambering leg which made me stagger, turned me halfway around, and otherwise disturbed me, I see differently.

He also mentioned that SK was coming in on his opponents with bridging arms a lot, and I had seemed to not be dealing with that as effectively as I might be. He bridged my arm and I practiced dropping that arm away and coming over with rolling Tiger claw press blocks to sieze the arm, drag it down and across his body, and go for his face with the other claws. Dropping that bridged arm and folding it inward is counter-intuitive to me; I could see how it was working, but I’ll have to practice that before it will seem smooth.