Sweeps and Snakes

"Women’s self defense" at Gracie Seattle. Those other ladies are going to be late every week, because they don’t even get off work till 5:15 or 5:30. Today they didn’t arrive till quarter to 6, and it took them another 5 min to get dressed. I gotta leave right at 6 to get to kung fu. What it looks like is going to continue to happen is that I’ll get 20 min or so worth of privates from Lindsey (he was alternately rolling with me and with the blue belt guy who is assistant teaching the class), do the warmups with the other women, and then I have to scram. It’s worth going in for 20 mins of privates with Lindsey; maybe not worth the commute all the way to the city and back- but I have to be in Seattle for kung fu anyway, so that works fine.

Today we were working on RNC (he had me doing it on a football), and back mount (both trying to get out of it, and trying to climb on top when you had it and are losing it). He told me that I should go ahead and grab the pants at the knee when I am back mounted and can’t reach the guy’s feet or pants cuffs with my stubby arms. Also suggested: always be doing two things at once- defend the choke with one hand and try to remove hooks with the other. Don’t neglect to lie back and put your opponent on his back when he has YOUR back- it restricts his movement. When you have back mount- keep inching deeper on the lapel, don’t cling to the first grip you get on it. Grab the opponent’s sleeves, lapels or whatever and use them to haul yourself on top or haul yourself out of back mount. RNC- I need to get my elbow further across my body.

We ran into a few instances where he instructed me to do something (like closed guard) that I told him has historically been abysmal for me due to size. It sounds like he is going to have suggestions for alternatives for me for such problems, once we get deep enough into our training relationship for him to get a good idea of my specific challenges.

At one point, he suggested a specific position, and I said, "I’m afraid to put my leg like THAT because the guy is just going to bulldoze over my leg and not only pass, but that really hurts my hip and also makes it very likely that I will get kneed in the ribs as well," He was like, "If the guys are doing that sort of thing to you on a regular basis, that is not cool," Thank you. But they are, so I have to work with it. Hopefully he can help.

When the women got there, he made us count out 20 jumping jacks apiece (there were six or seven of us total, including the two teachers). That was lot of jumping jacks. My calves were cramping. Then burpees, only without the pushup or the hop. After 140 jumping jacks, though, the lame burpees were still pretty bad.

Evening kung fu. The new space is great. The ceiling’s too low for long weapons, there are no mirrors on the wall, and it’s not large enough for line drills. But those are the only complaints, and there’s a lot to make up for it. The area is almost totally matted, there are two heavy bags, and a zillion different types of pads and other toys (which we are allowed to use). It’s an inviting space- each wall is painted a different solid color (I have always planned to do that in my home gym when I have one, SOMEDAY)- and good colors, like dark red and a kind of eggplanty purple. Minimal decoration and clean lines everywhere. Nice big clean bathrooms (major improvement on the community center, which has cringe-worthy FILTHY bathrooms). Once the stragglers from the previous class leave, we have the place to ourselves.

We went through Leopard Fist, then Sil Lum Tao. Snake Versus Five Animals (both parts individually first, then with partners). I headed for Nemesis, as per my new resolution, but JoE grabbed me first. In the opening move of the first rep, he stomped on my foot.

Note- make sure to shift the weight during the shoulderlock-and-bend, don’t just bend over. If you are having trouble with the shoulder lock, you can bring your left arm into play- lace your hands together and use them to get enough leverage. Use your entire upper body. Gods, I hate that particular shoulder lock. That has been one of my worst stumbling blocks in my entire array of forms.

Then Kiu Two. First both parts individually, then with partners. *NOW* I grabbed Nemesis. Note: that particular training partner do-si-do was not ideal: JM and I both had to work with both of the dangerous guys, and we didn’t work with each other. When only one of the two girls is there, probably better for me to try to grab her in the first pairing.

Nemesis and I got a little competitive starting with the drawing-apart in mirrored-snake guards pause. As your foremost Snake arms first entwine and then slither apart, You’re supposed to KEEP CONTACT with your partner, and not end up too far apart at the pause. I felt that Nemesis kept stepping too far back at that juncture- so my entwined Snake arm started to get a little grabby. This caused him to try to draw back even more, which in turn caused me to grab his arm more firmly. "Stop clutching!" "You’re moving too far back, I’m trying to keep you from getting away!"

We worked a lot on the sweep. I am good at sweeps- I have put a lot of work into them- but my body does not enjoy them. I have a finite number of clean ones that I can do in a session before the body rebels. I kept having to explain to SK that yeah, I *know* I’m not doing XYZ aspect quite right- I know how it’s supposed to be, and I can do it that way- but you’re only gonna get five of them on each side tonight.

We practiced them on the heavy bags (which conveniently go all the way down to the floor). Note- make sure to be close enough, and don’t catch the target with my ankle. The toe of the non-sweeping foot can be turned as far out to the side as helpful right before the sweep. Don’t neglect the balance and find myself hunched on all fours with my weight on my hands at the end of the sweep.

Small new portion of Kiu Two.

Snake A: end the sweep looking at your opponent but with your torso turned to your left. Stand up out of the deep lunge and simultaneously bring up double Crane’s necks to forehead level (one can be slightly higher, so that you can shuck the blow off to one side). REBOUND down into double press block, then immediately REBOUND with a right-hand Snake strike to the midsection… immediately rechamber the right hand with PALM UP and fingers angled slightly out… you’ve got the opponent’s hand pressed down and to the side with that. At the same time, left Snake strike to the solar plex area. Hmmm, I’m not entirely certain about those two targets- need to recheck- but I know the first one (rt) is low and the 2nd one (lft) is high. The rebounds are the critical part. Once I did a zillion reps of the pattern and could turn my attention to the Snakey-energy rebound, I dare say mine looked very much like SK’s. And it felt natural. I do like Snake, I do! We also practiced this sequence some with pads so that we could hit and rebound harder than we could off our partners’ bodies.

Meanwhile, Snake B: having jumped slightly back out of the way of the sweep (front leg up, double Snake guard), Shallow rt lunge fwd and Snake strike rt (this is where your partner is parrying with the Crane beaks) and then left (this is where the press bock happens). They end up going right high and left low, because that’s where the other guy is deflecting them, but they both start out aimed at around chest level.

Back to JoE again to rep Kiu Two some more. We started to get a litte competitive beginning at the part where Snake A tries to wrap the opponent’s arm and Snake B snafu’s this with a bong sau. When you’re doing something like this with a partner, you have to develop some kind of tacit mutual agreement of how far each person has to modify their portion of the move so that the form can continue. He was doing too much aggressive wrapping, so I started getting a little more forceful with the bong sau. Every time we got to that section, there was a brief but intense jockeying for the slightly more dominant position. (I really don’t know what it is about this form that seems to bring out the playful yet competitive riposte; I wonder if everyone’s doing it or if it’s just ME, and they are simply responding…)

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