I mailordered three different types of ear guards on Tuesday. I couldn’t find the exact ones that Alicia had, but I found a few that looked good- and it’s a crapshoot; you can’t really tell about that sort of thing until you actually try them out on the mat. Now I’ll have a few options to switch around- assuming they all fit. I also ordered the Cliff Keen "hair slicker". It may not work with all the different earguards, but it should work with at least the set I already have and one of the new
ones (both Cliff Keen). I keep having dreams in which I have hair again. I want hair again.
One of the new earguards arrived today. No review yet- I’m still trying to figure out how to manipulate the strap spaghetti to make them fit correctly. This pair, I found quickly, NEEDS to fit correctly and stay put or else it rubs RIGHT against my current hematoma, which is the last thing I need.
I took an online ADD quiz, and scored in the highest bracket- "Severe ADD likely". Amusing. I have long thought that it’s likely I have a mild ADD, although I’m surprised that it think’s I’m "severe". I wonder if that could explain some of my difficulties with learning MA. It would be interesting to do a controlled experiment and see what effect an Adderall had on me…. not that I’d ever do such a thing….. but if I were to hypothetically do that, I’ll stay home all day and try 1) some really dry coagulation-pathway continuing ed, 2)some formwork, several other specific things that I sometimes have difficulty focussing on…. and report the hypothetical results in my training blog. Stay tuned.
Thursday morning BJJ at Cindy’s. I haven’t been to Gracie’s all week, and I feel guilty about it- but I usually get more individual attention over at Cindy’s. I’m really glad I decided to go over there this morning, because it was just me and Lamont, and we spent pretty much the entire class period working on my personal challenges.
Started with a little light rolling with Cindy- she was on her back and I was dancing around her. She wanted me to control her legs and then lunge over them for mount the way we’d done earlier in the week. I was scared to try it because I figured she’d get her knee(s) in there really quick and I’d impale my groin on them. So we worked on that for a while. One option to try: PUSH the legs until the opponent pushes back, then slam the feet to the floor and lunge over. Also: I am still not being MEAN enough. I am too high up on my toes (and then on my knees), and just staying too high up in the air in general- because I don’t want to come down on the opponent’s stomach/ribs with my weight. Another thing- once past those trecherous knees, don’t be too eager/quick to scoot up to high mount- stay low, curl the back in, weight down, grapevine the legs, wait till you get your points.
After that, we worked on sprawling. I am too slow, don’t get my feet back fast enough, don’t get my butt low enough, don’t sink my weight enough, I flare my elbows, and I raise my arms too high like I’m trying to float over top of the opponent and
go for his hips or something. Need to keep the elbows down and in, flop down decisively on the base of the opponent’s neck, get the feet back (Cindy wants me to THROW them back; we practiced it a lot and I wasn’t doing too well with that…. maybe I
need some drills on a stationary object to get the correct motions down), hips all the down to the floor, sink the weight through the stomach, stop scrabbling frantically for crappy grips. I need to work on this a lot more, but I would REALLY like to get very good at this. No one would be able to pull guard on me. That would make me happy. At first I was afraid that they’d just go over the top if I stalked them in that low stance, but Cindy says that if they do, just shoot in for their legs. This is another place where I need to just slow down and be patient. I am also supposed to just back off and disengage if things are not going my way. That’s going to be hard. I am hard-wired to charge in aggressively and grab the opponent. I do not like to dance around for long periods.
We spent the majority of the class on the technique that stands out in my mind as the most brutal and painful thing I have ever experienced in BJJ (in fact, in any MA, I think). It is also the technique that gave me my first cauli ear. Cindy noticed that I am grabbing a lot of half-assed guillotine attempts and then many times not being able to finish them for one reason or another- so she wants me to substitute this lovely thing.
Have a back-of-the-head grap and an overhand bicep grip. Snap the head down ("comb over" the top of the head). Sprawl (HARD… see previous paragraph full of improvement points). Have opponent’s neck and *one* of the opponent’s arms in your hug. Shoulder pressure right in the little cup-like area at the base of the neck. After doing this about a zillion times on Lamont, I could really feel it as soon as it socketed into the right spot- although I tended to want to let my shoulder drift further down his back (and my weight drifted down there too… much less effective.). Don’t be afraid to turn the body. GABLE GRIP- do not get lazy with the grip (this tripped me up multiple times again, especially once I started to get tired).
Scissor the elbows together very firmly and put the opponent’s bicep on the mat trapped underneath him (you may need to pull him forward some… just don’t let up the pressure). If you do this right, then there is no need to be in a frantic hurry at this point.
Now: Keep the pressure on, but stick your butt up in the air and move to the side so that you can stick your head in the little hole between his trapped arm and his thigh. Again, you can pull him forward a titch if the hole isn’t big enough, but DON’T LIFT HIM UPWARD! Forward, not upward. Keep the pressure on. Then walk on your toes toward his feet. I know from having this done to me that it is a combination choke/neck crank/pressure-point ouchie… and the opponent tiptoes far enough back, it starts to crank on your spine in a direction that the spine does not bend, as well. It is just Quadruple Unpleasantness.
But the fun doesn’t end here. If your opponent won’t tap out to Quadruple Pain, you can logroll (do this quickly and decisively). As soon as you come out the roll, make sure the opponent’s head is on the bottom of the resultant configuration and does not pop up. Immediately run your feet toward him, grab half guard. Again, a spot where you can pause and catch your breath while you enjoy the scenery. Now punch your lower arm through, use your other hand to grab your bicep, "talk on your phone" as Cindy likes to say. If that doesn’t do it, you can take a deep breath, squeeze your arm muscles and flex your hips.
This HURTS. It hurts VERY BADLY. But one thing I like about it is that theoretically, you have enough control over the opponent that you can put the cranky parts on as slow as you want. I’m okay with doing this as long as I can do it very slow and controlled. I know from experience that it’s hard to tap from this position since everything is trapped… and you can’t verbally tap, either, since you’re choking and all the breath is being squeezed out of your body.
I had to do this sequence over and over and over until I was practically staggering with exhaustion. Poor Lamont. I told him that I definitely owe him dinner or something for this. But this is what I really, really need- reps to the infinite power, until I 1)don’t need to try to mentally remember it, and 2)feel confident that I can make it work.
At one point Lamont exclaimed to Cindy, "It’s working! She’s getting more aggressive! She just chinstrapped me- I thought for a second that I was grappling with *YOU*!" Wow, that’s like the most incredible compliment… it probably would have been better if it related to something I’d done on purpose. I had to ask what "chinstrapping" meant.
I hope this doesn’t feel 100% different on a different person (since I mostly did it on Lamont). Sometimes I feel like I have to relearn the technique on each different body type.
Step by step…. don’t get rushed, don’t get sloppy, if you mess it up, backtrack a few steps and start again.
It was a lot of good, hard, focussed work today. I am so exhausted. And I still have kung fu tonight.
Kung Fu Basics class. After hand strike drills, we spent most of the class listening to SK’s "pressure points 101" lecture.
There was some discussion of elemental association of pressure points and the order in which you strike them… that intrigues me; and I picked SK’s brain some more about that on the way home. Some Bagua styles apparently use some extra elements ("mountain", "thunder", "wind"), and I’m curious as to how these relate to the Chinese elements (earth, fire, wood, water, metal) and also to the basic four elements used in many earth-based religions (earth, air, fire and water). I have also run into a Native American tradition that added an element known as "bone". I asked SK to see if he could dig up any more information about the topics we talked about; there may be some helpful puzzle pieces in there for me.
After SK described a (possibly mythical) technique that theoretically stops the heart, I intoned, "Can I have a volunteer?" (told him that next time he gives this lecture, with new students present, he has to add that at that pont… provided he can do it with a straight face.)
He demo’ed a particular pressure point on Nemesis, which wasn’t working too well (NOTHING works on Nemesis…. that’s why he’s Nemesis… he’d make the perfect Supervillian). I pointed to JM and said, "Try it on a normal person," But apparently JM is not "normal" either, as her body overreacts violently to everything…. so he doesn’t like to use her for pressure point demo’s. That left me as the only arguably "normal" demo dummy… so I got prodded repeatedly till I jumped and yipped.
Pressure point discussion took almost the whole class time, then we had individual forms time for 20 min or so.
I ran through Hurricane Hands a couple of times, doing extra reps of the four areas that we targeted last time for "improvement points". That gnarly throw in particular, seemed to be flowing better (SK agreed), although it still needs plenty more work. We worked on the trajectory of the Snake-strike-and-press-block sequence (press straight down, wrist bent, but strike moving forward, not up). The three-level double-strike section near the end is from a high lunge, NOT horse… need to remember that. The two kicks that we worked on last time- still not doing them quite right. The first one is with the BALL OF THE FOOT, toes pointing right. Second kick is with the outside blade of the foot, toes also pointing right.
We spent the most time working on the quality of the Snake strikes themselves- in a general sense. Before SK came out to help me, I was trying the strike-and-press-block sequence using the same reboundy energy that we had been doing with some of the strikes in Kiu Two on Sunday, against the pads. It’s a lot harder to do reboundy strikes in the air with nothing to bounce off of. I was trying it against the rim of the trash can in the hallway.
SK told me that I was stopping my Snake strike too soon by flexing my bicep muscle, and I need to 1)extend my arm further, 2)let the end of the strike rebound back by itself instead of stopping it with my arm muscles. This is changing the way I have always done Snake strikes. It feels weird to extend that far, and the hand position is all fubar’ed now that my focus is on rebounding and keeping that muscle relaxed. The hand spasms at the endpoint of the strike like a Northern Mantis claw on acid. (That’s okay, he says- the hand position can be refined later, the energy of the strike is more important.) I finally had to visualize it as "My hand is not attached to my wrist- and I am going to throw my arm forward and "shoot" my detachable hand across the hallway so that it splats against the opposite wall. My focus being on the trajectory of the severed hand, and I need to not think about what the arm is doing." I know that sounds weird, but I’m all about the visualizations- and when I used that one, SK approved my technique. Now I am going to have to practice this and adopt this into all my Snake stuff. It appears that being able to do the strikes this way is a "level up" in the practice of Snake style. I am leveling up. Shiny!