“Ow- your cup-“…. “I’m not wearing a cup….”

Body: "Uh, wait a sec. I’m not down with this."

Kitsune: "Huh?"

Body: "Seriously. No BJJ this morning."

Kitsune: "Are you kidding me? We’re sitting in the school parking lot. You could have said something earlier."

Body: "I say that I don’t feel like going to practice EVERY SINGLE MORNING. You don’t listen. If you did, we’d never get out of bed."

Kitsune: "Come on, be reasonable. We’re already here. Can’t you just gimp through an hour of class?"

Body: "No can do."

Kitsune: "**%^$#!!!"

Yes, I actually got up, got dressed, drove all the way into Seattle to sit in the parking lot and have this schizophrenic conversation with my body and then drive all the way right back home. Obviously my body and I need to work on our communication skills.

Later…………

Monday evening gi at Cindy’s. More dead bugs. They still hurt.

Basic guard break, double under’s, "seat belt", then pass to the side. I tried to be moderately "mean" about the forearm to the throat and the stack- even to grabbing the waistband and hitching up a little more to get a few extra inches of squeeze. After that, get full mount by pushing opponent’s leg down, or over; or by stretching his neck till he either puts the leg down to chase you, or you get a wide enough angle so that you can slip in.

I was working with George, a purple that I’ve never seen before. He was gentler about the choke and the crank than Cindy was when she used me for her demo dummy. Although she has begun to toss in the occasional "Sorry Kitsune," while she crushes me.

The a little closed guard positional training- pass vs sweep or submit. George was not unduly rough, but nor did he let me do anything. He is bigger, stronger, much more technical (and at least tonight, faster). I think if the session had lasted much longer, I would have had to ask him to dial it down a few notches so that he wasn’t just plowing through me, and let me try to work something. Cindy had told him to triangle me- which he did repeatedly and with gusto. I couldn’t put up any kind of a fight.

There wasn’t much rolling time left, since the capoiera class starts at 7:30 and we had to clear out. But I did a few rolls with Spencer. I said, "Don’t smoosh me, okay?" And he was good, but of course I didn’t get much. He was doing a lot of stretching me out in the Chinese splits, and at one point I yelped. "Yahhh! Your cup is crushing my knee." "My shin?" "Uh, could be…" "Cuz I’m not wearing a cup." "Okay…. it was something REALLY hard… I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here…" "<Giggles>" "<Giggles>"

As we were putting on our shoes, he asked me if that roll had been okay, and not too rough. I told him that I give the "don’t crush me" disclaimer to everyone, and it’s not because he did anything bad last time. It’s nice of him to pay attention, though.

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Chi gek

"Women’s self defense" at GB Seattle. I had no idea what that entailed, but JB was interested in checking it out. She found out that Lindsey Johnson was teaching- I’ve taken a couple of BJJ classes from Lindsey in the past and knew he was a good teacher, so I figured that whatever he was teaching would likely be worth it. Well, JB bailed, so I was by myself. Then the other women who were going to show up for the class were late, so we had to wait a while. In the meantime I rolled a bit with Lindsey. Even if I end up not interested in continuing this class, it might be worth it just to show up twenty minutes early and get a little BJJ private with Lindsey! The scheduling wouldn’t be pleasant on my every-other work weekend, though… get off work at 4, self defense class from 5 to 6 (after driving into Seattle) then straight to kung fu at 6:30. I’m not sure if that would work out well.

Lindsey’s already got 2 stripes on his brown, I noticed… seems like he just got promoted from purple a few months ago. Either he was sandbagging before, or he’s just tearing through the rankings right now.

The other women are *very* much beginners, so that’s going to be a bit of a challenge for Lindsey to make the class accessible to them while still being challenging enough for JB and me. A good teacher can do that, though. Today we were working on pummeling. Pummeling while attempting to get a double-arm waist clinch on your partner; pummeling with one person against the wall, and after a while, that person uses one underhook + an arm drag to move her partner around to the wall. That was good practice for me, and I was getting plenty sweaty- sore arms too. The girls were giggly, and moaned about the warmups- but they buckled down and did well once we got into the groove. Unfortunately that’s as far as I got tonight before I had to leave right at 6 so I could get to Capitol Hill in time for kung fu.

Started with Snake Versus Five Animals. It had been a while, so we had to run a few reps of both sides individually before we could put it together. I grabbed Nemesis. I have been resolving to make a point of that. In the past, I have often grabbed JB (or let her grab me)- in large part because I know how much she dreads working with Nemesis, so I thought I was being nice and sparing her from him. Now that several other people’s attendance has gotten spotty, though, and there are just fewer partners to pick from- I recently realized that that tactic is sticking JM with Nemesis a disproportionate amount of the time. Then I felt bad. JM is less forthcoming (with me anyway) about not liking that- but I’ll bet she doesn’t like it any more than JB does. So I have resolved to grab him myself. They’ll still have to work with him, when we switch up partners- but I’m going to work with him more. It seems like the right thing to do, as the more senior student. Of course I’m not thrilled to work with him either… but I’m going to just man up on this one.

Anyway, it was an unfortunate choice of form for me to be with Nemesis, as this is the one with the tricky armlock that I just CANNOT do on Nemesis to save my life (the height difference combined with the fact that he has rubber joints). SK let me off the hook tonight on that one. There was one other piece of the form that he had me modify- a Snake strike to the neck that required me to turn my body too far to the outside to get the necessary extention to reach Nemesis’ neck over his long arm. SK had me substitute a strike to the armpit. Of course if I can reach the NECK, I’m not going to go for an armpit… but I’m not going to practically turn my back on the guy and hyperextend my arm to get to the neck, unless I’m pretty sure I’m going to TAKE HIM OUT with that one strike.

Then back to Kiu Two. Now working with JM. We both struggled a bit with the timing and foot position nuances of the kick-turn sequence from last week. But after many, many reps, I think we both got the hang.

SK told us to stop putting so much focus on using POWER to thrust-kick each other’s legs out from under. JM started cracking up and said that he might as well tell monkeys to not climb trees. I indignantly accused her of always being the instigator…. we all three know *I* am the instigator… but JM always rises to my bait so eagerly! We are a bad influence on each other. At least it didn’t end in Ground-n-Pound tonight.

Next bit of Kiu Two.

Snake B: (this is a bit confusing because Snake B attacks FIRST in this sequence.) Step forward right foot and kneel on left knee; double Snake hands circle horizontally to the outside and strike side-by-side to bladder area. (Similar strike as in Snake Versus; only this one you don’t have to duck your head)

Snake A: Little hop back on left foot and bring right leg up to guard against the strike, then immediately throw yourself into a left-leg 180 degree sweep. I’m fairly good at these- I’ve worked on them a lot- but I have to be really stretched out and loosened up to be able to do them AT ALL, and I can only practice maybe a dozen reps at a time before my body says ENOUGH. So I need to make sure to do a few of these on a frequent basis, because the body is not going to cooperate with neglecting them all week and then practicing a half hour of them at a time.

Then we did some Chi gek- "sticky leg". I haven’t really done this before in any serious way. I worked it with JM until her knees gave out (you are way too young for your knees to be giving out before MINE do, little girl), then with Nemesis (after his partner, JoE, also collapsed). This is some seriously cool stuff. JM and Nemesis were teetering all over the place- but it looks like my low center of gravity and excellent balance are going to give me a significant edge here. It is very core-intensive, too- which I want lots more work on but I think I’m still ahead of the others at this point. I want to get a chance to try it with SK- but that didn’t happen today.

Then some chi sau; starting with very simple and slow attack-center vs deflect. JM and I are both VERY tense and have a hard time with this sort of thing. We have to change arms frequently because our shoulders get so sore- and we are not supposed to be engaging those muscles at all.

Then we stood with closed eyes and crossed wrists- try a quick (but light force) attack either over or under, and see if your partner is quick enough to respond with the converse and hit you first. JM did a bit better at this than I did. Our height difference (and the closed eyes) also meant that almost every time I tried to strike at her, I grabbed her boobs. I kept apologizing and said that I wasn’t deliberately trying to feel her up, honest.
It is also a challenge for me to stop myself from instinctively trying to shield my belly when she attacks under…. but I never make it in time anyway, so I might as well go over to HIT her and at least accomplish *something* useful.

Saturday competition class

129.0 That’s more like it.

My upper back feels somewhat better today- thank Gods. I hope it actually *is* getting better, and this isn’t just because of the aspirin I took before bed to try to pre-empt the waking-up-in-agony thing. That was getting pretty old.

Morning "competition training" at GB Seattle. Professor Cristiano was there. He is Julie’s coach. When I saw him, my first thought was not "Cool, another black belt on the mat today," it was "Rats, I hope he’s not going to be watching me and mentally cataloging my weak spots." Back when I read on Georgette’s blog about her taking her Youtubes down before a tournament, I thought she was being a little silly and paranoid. Now I’m being silly and paranoid. Funny how competing changes things in your training mindset.

After warmups, positional training from closed guard (pass vs sweep only) with Sabrina. I went light on her, let her have some stuff, gave advice and positive feedback. She’s getting better- still doing a lot of dumb beginner stuff, but she works hard, doesn’t seem intimidated by working with the big guys, and seems to like it. If she sticks with it, she could be good.

Matches with Dave, Hudge, Sabrina, John. Didn’t do too bad, didn’t do remarkably well (except for Hudge… I seemed to be on top the whole time, and I actually tapped him with a keylock. He seemed to be a little sludgy today, though, not up to his usual par).

Open mat. I asked Ron to roll. We did one no-gi and three or four gi. He trounced me as usual. I spent a lot of time under him, and in back mount. I did seem to be staving off the subs a bit longer than before. Today was apparently gi-wrap day in Ron’s world. He kept trying to wrap me up like a big present. I teased him that I remembered his first day in the school. He had tried to make me tap by squeezing my ribs to breaking in his closed guard, with his muscley weight-lifter thighs. I said wryly, "You’ve improved a little since then."

I didn’t really think I was going to suddenly start kicking everyone all over the mat today because of my incredible training day yesterday. I was just happy to not get a beat-down. The universe likes to do that type of thing to you right after a big success- to keep you humble! I didn’t even try triangles on anyone today. But I still feel different now. It’s like being in one of those first-person-shooter video games, where you can earn/buy/find different types of weapons to use, and some are cooler or more effective than others. I feel like I’ve gotten a level-up, and am now constantly aware that I have that triangle in my toolkit. Even if I can’t use it on everybody, at will, yet…. just the fact that I own it, and I never did before, makes me feel like a different martial artist than I was on Thursday.

By the time I got home, I was so very exhausted. In no mood for Conditioning Boot Camp. I waffled about bailing- but I haven’t seen CN in weeks, and besides, that tournament is looming threateningly now. Then CN texted and cancelled class. I’m a terrible person, but I was relieved. So many things I SHOULD be doing with the free evening… but I am going to bed.

It’s amazing…. I have FORTY-NINE separate bruises on my left leg alone, from ankle to groin. I counted them in the shower. Most are those little round knuckle bruises.

FIRST COMPLETED TRIANGLE- WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

131.0

Oh, now that’s not fair. I had below-130’s for a week, I thought I was going to get to keep it! The only thing I did differently yesterday was eat a giant Honeycrisp apple. I know there’s a ton of sugar in those things, but come on- eat an apple, gain two and a half pounds???!!

You should see the awesome burgandy bruise covering 2/3 of my wrist where DD hit me with that Snake strike last night. It is very impressive. And as I said, it wasn’t even very hard- I’ll bet he was well under 50% power.

Lunchtime "competition training" BJJ at Gracie Seattle. I was a bit slow getting off the launch pad this morning. Back/neck *still* killing me. Three days in a row now. Doesn’t seem either worse or better. Woke up 90 min before alarm and took 2
acetaminophen. Is this going to get better or what?

Anyway, I was late to class and missed the warmup. So I started out with positional training, in closed guard (pass guard vs sweep only). I worked with Bree, whom I haven’t worked with in a long time. I could tell she wasn’t feeling great today, though (headache, asthma, etc). We were fairly competitive. Theare are a couple of specific guard passes that I am really ineffectual at defending, and she used one of them on me twice in a row. I need to get specific help on how to defend those particular guard passes… and in the meantime, next time I find myself there, I am going to try *something* different. Even if it seems senseless or gets me subbed. Because obviously what I am presently doing is not good.

Same positional training with Marc, Kai, Dex, Ruben, some big white belt guy I don’t know. I did reasonably okay against Marc, Kai, Ruben and Dex. I was a little nervous about the big newbie… waffled about giving him my "Go Light On Me" song and dance, and decided not to. Carlos was standing right there watching us, so I knew that if the guy started to spazz out and do the Funky Chicken on my head, Carlos would stop him. But hey- wow- I dealt with him. Big Dude did not pass my guard. He was surprised, too, I could tell. (heh heh) He tried to muscle me a few times, and I didn’t let myself get pulled into brute-vs-brute; I just changed tactics. I used spider guard on him part of the time. I find that spider guard in BJJ is the equivalent of chi sau in kung fu: as in, you pull it out on a newbie, and watch their face for the expression that you know will come. The one that says, "??!? WTF is this?? And what am I supposed to do about it??"

When we were done, Prof. Carlos nodded approvingly at me. "Good, Keetsune, good. He strong, hah?" "Yes, he is!"

Timed roll: Bryan. I haven’t worked with him in several weeks. I was determined to not "lie on the bottom like a dead fish" as he terms it. I kept moving, kept fighting, kept trying to stay on top. He didn’t go 100%, but Bryan never goes wussy on me. He tried really hard to choke me a number of times- including one of those ones where he’s also bending my spine in half sideways, which usually gets me to tap pretty quick- but I resisted tapping and defended with great determination. I did not get tapped by Bryan today. Okay, I need to say that again, and louder. I DID *NOT* GET TAPPED BY BRYAN TODAY (!!!!!!!) First time ever. He usually taps me right, left and center. Today I stayed alive at least four times as long as I have ever stayed
alive with him before. This is a really big deal. He told me that I am much improved. Sincere positive feedback from Bryan- my most significant student BJJ mentor- worth its weight in gold. That feels really good.

John: I asked him for a roll at the end. He is one of my favorite training partners. Small- he’s got maybe 10lb on me more or less- and always one step ahead of me skillwise, so one of those people that are really valuable to work against. It was a wonderful roll. Must have been fifteen minutes. Everyone left in the gym was standing around watching us, with Bryan cornering us both. Again, me trying hard to not do the dead fish impression. Also trying hard to focus on keeping lots of pressure on him. John and I had discussed my tournament match last time we worked together, and he had been catching me in triangles, so he knows I need to work on defending them. As we began, he said, "I’ll try to triangle you." "Thanks. Pal." So he did. I stacked him and sank all my weight on him hard. I couldn’t reach his throat to put my forearm on it, but if I could have, I would have! I resisted the panicky impatience. There was no time limit. I kept working doggedly around to the side- he wrenched me back a few times, but I persisted, and finally succeeded in catching his head so that he couldn’t do that again. No, leggo of my leg. Sprawl, SINK, balance. He had to let go. Now we were in north south with me on top. I was so pleased with myself. It had taken an eon, but that was a hard-fought and well-earned technical triangle escape for a person
with a dismal history of tapping to triangles. More intense, competitive jiu jitsu followed. Finally he got me with an armbar. But what an awesome match. I felt like I should have a cigarette now.

So, I had a super morning of BJJ; one of those rare days when I feel like I actually repped my belt. May there be more of these in my future.

It did occur to me on the way home, as I was basking in my awesomeness, that I wonder if this had anything to do with the fact that I missed the warmup and thus may not have been quite so tired as usual. Heh. I should come in late occasionally and
try to figure out if that really matters that much. I know that that’s not the solution to improving my BJJ, in the big picture- but if I need to do that sometimes in order to experience some more competitive rolls, that may actually be
something that would help me out.

Hey, did I mention that I did not get tapped by Bryan today?!

Later…………………..

I wouldn’t have thought it could get better than that, but it did. I actually FINISHED a tringle in LIVE ROLLING with a FULLY RESISTING training partner. TWICE. I have never finished a triangle in live rolling before. I am so stoked.

Friday evening no-gi at Cindy’s, with SK and JB. We did those "dead-bug" scoots in the warmups. They still hurt really bad, but I can do them now. Cindy said, "You’ve been practicing!"

Guillotines, again. JB was happy- this is the sub I always get on her, and she says she hasn’t formally worked them in class drills before. She was delighted to drill with me and get a chance to guillotine *my* neck for a change.

So then the guillotine defense, arm over the shoulder, into guard, transition to triangle. My turn to be happy, I need as much triangle drilling as I can get. I was doing better at it tonight. JB’s small size made it seem easier.

Positional sparring from closed guard. Pass vs sweep or submit. JB first. Her closed guard continues to be nearly impossible to get out of. At one point I stood up in her guard, thinking I was safe because she hasn’t learned anything to do against that yet. To my embarrassed astonishment, she grabbed my heels, put her feet in my pelvis and dumped me on my ass. She was too busy crowing, though, to follow up and jump on top of me, so I was able to recover guard. I later found out that Bianca had taught her that. Hope Cindy didn’t see me get caught with that.

JB got me with that same ^&$#% seat-belt stacking guard pass that she always gets me with. Three or four times. I must get someone to show me a defense for that. It’s driving me crazy.

Same positional sparring with Ian. Love working with Ian. We were fairly competitive; he may have been doing a bit better than I was with this tonight.

Then timed spars.

I did a couple with Ian, including a couple starting from standup. I still feel too intimidated to make a concerted effort to take him down. I usually defend well against his takedown attempts for a while, and do some hanging on his neck- and then he clinches up and lifts me off my feet and sets me on the mat- or pulls guard. I did get a triangle on him. It took me some time to adjust, but I stayed calm, and I remembered to grab that shin before I put my foot on his hip to turn. I was so excited. The moreso because Ian’s BJJ is decent, and I know he is fully resisting.

I did a couple with JB- more seatbelt stacking guard pass, surprise surprise. My ribs are a bit sore now. I know I keep saying this, but she has SUCH an incredibly evil stack. Got the second triangle on her. Again, took some time, and she was trying hard to stack me- I kept having to scoot my upper body out- she really made me work for it.

Chase (the 112lb teenage wrestler) was facing off against SK. Cindy told Chase that he was not allowed to stand up. SK asked if *he* was allowed to stand up, and Cindy said "Sure" whereupon Chase exclaimed "WHAT!!?!" in outrage. It was hilarious. Also hilarious: SK told me in the car that Chase had commented that SK’s "hands move funny". ROFL.

Eventually Cindy put Chase with me. Starting from standing. She told him firmly that he was not allowed to slam me. I could tell that she wanted me to work him over a bit…. but once again, I am just way too nice. I hung on his neck, and he forced me down to the mat with wrestling technique each time. I didn’t mind too much, as being on all fours on the mat is not really a scary place for me- I’d rather have that than being thrown on my back or being pulled into closed guard. Once down, then the fight was on. His breathing is still terrible- huff, puff. We spent quite a bit of time with him in my closed guard- as he didn’t know how to get out, but he knew enough to shuck my grips off his arms as fast as he could, and to push me back down if I sat up. He was spazzy. He hit me in the face once, and was also trying to pry off one of my grips by grabbing my fingers. He tried some molestation guard, which didn’t work so well. He tried lots of chokes. At one point I got too sloppy and turned my jaw too far over, and he slipped it in. I held out as long as I could (which was a really long time… withstanding chokes is one of my strong points), but finally had to tap. Then he gloated. Grrrrrrrrr. He is one of those people who is desperate to not tap to a girl. I was **definitely** not mean enough. But after tonight (and after giving him a lift home… he makes the ride seem twenty times as long), I have a strong prediction that the more I work with this particular boy, the meaner I am going to get with him. He might be just what I need.

SK doesn’t think he’s going to last long, though… and I had to agree. He’s one of those people who comes into BJJ with previous MA experience (wrestling, in his case) and has a hard time going back to the slow, frustrating, page one of being a newbie. He is way too arrogant. And Cindy won’t let him get away with using too much wrestling technique. He will likely not survive the putting-the-ego-on-the-shelf stage and getting tapped a lot.

So after me, Cindy put Chase with Connor. Hoo boy. I would have dearly loved to watch that, but I had an opponent of my own to deal with. SK got to watch, though, and confirmed that Connor took Chase apart with no mercy.

Guillotines, triangles, Hurricane Hands, and- marshmallows?

128.5

Tonight I wore those rabbit-ear tie-front yoga pants to practice- the ones that were too snug when I was ten pounds heavier.

MAN, that area of my upper back still hurts like crazy. Neck, too. It hurt as soon as I rolled over in bed this morning. Maybe I tweaked something on Tuesday.

So of course today was no-gi GUILLOTINE day at Cindy’s. Mama Mia.

Guillotine defense- one hand control the arm, hug over opponent’s shoulder DEEP with your other arm. When they sit into guard, shoulder pressure on throat.

Slap on a guillotine and pull guard, jumping your hips OVER opponent’s shoulder to get a triangle-esque position. Once again I am not jumping my hips high enough. We figured out that I need to leave more distance between my body and the other guy’s- possibly by even taking a few backward steps before sitting into guard. But if you don’t get the hips high enough and over that shoulder to begin with, you’re screwed from the start.

From there, you may be able to get a straight armbar, or move the arm over and finish the triangle (with readjustments, usually). If they wrap the arm back around your thigh- switch the triangle to the other side, hip out and attack the arm (kimura).

Besides getting my hips up high enough and making sure I trap that shoulder correctly, I also need to work on making sure I don’t leave space there, and that I also have the clamping knee on the back of the guy’s neck, and I need to remember to not try to readjust unless I grab my shin first to keep hir there. Need to calm down and work through all these steps methodically. I tend to panic and assume I’m not going to be able to hold the opponent there while I futz around trying to adjust, so I often don’t even want to even attempt it. I still have trouble gauging my adjustment, too. I think I need a ton of practice.

Lamont wants to bring in a camera to capture my facial expressions while I am functioning as Cindy’s demo dummy. I informed him that his own facial contortions are just as funny when he’s in the hot seat. He says that he KNOWS how it feels, that’s why it’s so funny.

Timed rolls with Frank and Lamont. Trying *really* hard to stay on top today. Also trying hard to not let Frank get grips at all, because he just overpowers me. Frank caught me in triangles about 4 times, to my disgust. I obviously need a lot more triangle defense practice. Lamont was letting me work with a great level of resistance today- he was letting me get stuff, but not going too easy. I got a couple of guillotines, couple of kimuras. One of those kimuras in particular, I was proud of, because I was working from the bottom in a position that I normally just sort of strain uselessly in. This time I saw the kimura and abandoned my futile grips and went for it. Lamont said, "Good- I thought you were just going to strain there on the bottom." Yep, need to STOP doing that.

Also- when in top half guard- don’t be groping for chokes and keylocks while you’re too low on the opponent’s body. Escape half guard, or at least scoot up, and make sure the chest is controlled.

It’s ironic that part of my problem is clinging to useless grips and positions (ie not knowing when to quit), and an equally large part of my problem is that I give up triangle/choke/etc attempts too early when they don’t seem to be working right away, because I’m too insecure and impatient to try to make the adjustments (ie quitting too easily). There must be some medium ground.

After a while, Lamont and I slapped hands and then lunged at each other and klunked our heads together so hard I saw stars. Had to stop- but it was almost end of class, anyway. That’s going to leave a mark. Lamont told me to tell everyone that Cindy did that to me. He also told me that he was going to start pinching me while we rolled until I got ticked off enough to start being meaner.

I told Cindy that before the tournament, I want to make sure to get some significant practice defending against her pulling guard on me. She suggested a technique that looks a bit like Black Crane "Dropping Elbow"- I had thought of that, but I’m scared to have that arm forward because I think the opponent is going to sieze my cuff and yank me into the triangle. Cindy says I just need to make sure I get my knee over the opponent’s thigh. She also says I can brace against one of the opponent’s knees just as she’s coming in to pull guard, and make her sit back on her butt. I want to practice some of this stuff until it’s very routine.

Cindy is freaking out about the kids’ tournament she’s hosting this weekend. She says that she keeps having nightmares that a kid is going to throw another kid though the plate glass mirrors. Also, first she was freaking out that no one would sign up, then she switched to freaking out that the place would be overrun. I’m sure she’ll be relieved when this thing is over and she can stop all the freaking out. Smile

Later……………….

Kung fu basics. Hand strike drills (against pads). Then we split into pairs and worked the following:

Roundhouse kicks against the kick pad. Focus on clean technique and power.

Roundhouse kicks against the focus mitts- two in quick succession without putting the foot down. Partner holds the mitts at differing levels for each double-count. Focus on aim firstly; although you also want clean technique and power.

Two straight punches against the focus mitts- partner holds the mitts at differing levels for each double-count. I got reprimanded for chasing the mitts around with my eyes… told to look at my partner’s chest. "Peripheral vision! The pads are nice and RED!"

Single straight punch against the kick pad, while stepping forward (partner with pad steps back at the same time). Then the reverse (Punch while stepping back, partner with pad steps forward).

"Fireman’s kick" front thrust kick against the kick pad. Focus on power and clean technique.

Front Scissor-step with a turn and punch to the side (while partner with kick pad takes a step back concurrently). Then the reverse (back scissor step and puch, partner steps forward).

I figured out fairly early on that you don’t want to hold a focus mitt in front of you on a line with your face while Nemesis is punching at it. The type of lesson that you learn once and then you never forget again.

Holding a kick pad for Nemesis while he is roundhouse kicking- well, he didn’t send me flying backward through the cement block wall, for which I’m grateful. I told him to do the first two at half power so that I could get my bearings. I was prepared to flatly refuse to hold the pad for him if it was going to be so hard it knocked me down… let SK do that. But I was able to do the job. Knocked me back a couple steps. Hurt, too. It was like being kicked by a clydesdale… I knew it would be. I think I have his footprints in my belly even through the kick pad. I said to him, "I am *never* going to do anything that will make you want to kick me for real."

Then we did a round of partner A closing hir eyes while partner B applies some kind of choke, then partner A opens eyes and defends + counters. I worked with JB, and several of our reps ended with Ground-n-Pound.

Then a round of basic-self-defense monkey-in-the-middle, only for a change the monkey didn’t have to keep hir eyes closed. We are all wandering around the room, and every so often someone would attack the victim, who then defended and countered. There was some scenario-playing… I walked up to them and put my arm around their necks… I also did a "pre-mugging interview" on Nemesis by trying to panhandle him first. I was going to pinch the women’s behinds, but neither of them was letting me get in back of them- I wonder why! When it was my turn to be the monkey in the middle, at one point JB hopped up to me flapping her arms and making faces, and hollering, "Marshmallows, marshmallows!!!" I just dropped my hands and ran, and she chased me in circles around the room. She kept yelling about marshmallows, while I yelled that it was unethical to attack a mentally ill person like this.

Then it was individual forms time. I ran through Leopard at Dawn once- it was fine, of course…. I had also done a couple reps last night after getting home from CC’s, and of course it was fine! Then Hurricane Hands a few times. Then I hunted down SK and asked for three "IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES" for the form. 1)Do not bend at the knees so much during the double wrist release at the beginning. 2)The throw-and-kick sequence…. this thing has given me trouble from the start; I’ve put a lot of work into it and it’s still not right. Make the arm circles somewhat smaller- they’re big, but don’t hyperextend, especially that left arm right at the beginning before the turn. No pauses. Keep the right arm moving, no chambering. The apex of the kick comes at the same point that the arm-circles come down to the ground near the left knee. I asked SK if we could work the actual throw app sometimes soon so that I could better visualize what was happening, as well as get the balance figured out and the timing straight. 3) the "Hurricane Hand" itself- BIG circle, but only at the wrist. A little hook-and-pull, with a bounce right up into the strike. Don’t get all rigid, either. That- along with the long Snake-strike sequence near the end- are the two most seminal portions of the form,so I need to get those right.

DD had come in during the choking practice, and he walked in on SK and me while we were finishing up this stuff. SK made me demo the form for DD. DD didn’t appear happy that I even knew the form ("Does everybody know Hurricane Hands?" (no) "Good."), and wanted reassurance that SK had taught me only the most kindergarten version possible ("You didn’t teach her the circles, did you? (no) Good."). After denying SK permission to teach me this form for the bulk of 2009, then giving the permission, he has obviously since forgotten all about it. It drives me nuts how tight-fisted he is about letting me have any new material, to the point of being so controlling about what SK is allowed to teach me- and even then it seems like my nose is being blatently rubbed in the fact that there are plenty of Juicy Secret aspects of this that he has happily shared with SK but doesn’t feel me worthy of. I do not need my nose rubbed in the enormous hierarchical chasm between DD and his black sashes versus us lowly unworthy peons down here- I KNOW IT’S THERE, believe me. I know *YOU* won’t teach me the circles, and you’ll forbid SK to teach me the circles, and that drives me nuts… but ya know what… if RS chooses to teach me the circles during his visit- and I pray he does- you won’t get a say. So nyaaah. If I was *really* a b****, I’d let drop to CC that DD doesn’t want me to be taught the circles… which would result in CC moving mountains to get RS to teach me the circles. I’m enough of a b**** for it to cross my mind. Not enough of a b**** to actually do it. (Between this sort of crap and my lack of minimum "mean" in BJJ, I think I’d get a lot further in my MA training if I was more of a b****.)

DD added that I need to pay attention to the press-blocks in the long Snake strike sequence near the end. He demoed them on SK. It’s really hard to concentrate on the technique demos when it is much more fascinating to watch the expressions on SK’s face while DD is demo’ing on him- especially when DD is doing point-strike techniques. It’s funny when DD gives SK a little tap on the arm, and SK’s head twitches to the side and his eyes bug out.

Then DD showed me the area of his hand that he was striking with, and demo’ed it on me. OMG!!!!!!! It was not a hard hit, and it hurt reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally bad! He examined my hand and said that my hand has a really prominant spot for this purpose- so hopefully I will learn that trick eventually.

If I ever teach a class, there is going to be a very strict no-cell-phone policy (allowing rare reasonable exceptions for cause, with permission). Anyone whose cell rings during my class is gonna do eighty pushups while everyone watches. Someone’s cell rang tonight and someone else’s rang five or six times. That is so distracting- and RUDE!!!!!! I hate that.

Polishing the Bridge

128.5

I am astounded that yesterday’s pasta/bread orgy didn’t make my weight spike up. Coolness.

The rest of my body’s not doing so hot, though. The persistantly painful spot in my upper back, where John insists I have a "vertebrae out" is killing me. My right shoulder, which pretty much hurts all the time these days, is particularly vocal this morning and is radiating misery up that side of my neck as well. Right elbow whimpering a bit too. I just took a couple of Excedrin, and am waffling right now about going to lunchtime class. Cindy cancelled class because she is camping in the waiting room at the knee doctor (poor Cindy), but there’s still Gracie’s (one of the nice things about training two schools). My heart yearns for the mat no matter how exhausted or pained my body feels. I don’t want to feel like this on tournament morning, though…. I need to be careful to not overtrain.

Later………… decided to take the morning off.

Private with CC. I haven’t seen him in forever. He mentioned that I look like I’ve lost weight. This was while I was wearing my bulky oversize Gracie Barra hoodie, with a thinner sweatshirt on under it, and my workout clothes under THAT- so it must be fairly noticable! Wow.

When he did the "what have you been working on" thing, I was ready for him with "What I *WANT* to work on is either Leopard At Dawn, which we never finished, or Touch Bridge, which we revisited to clean up and only got about 1/3 of the way through."

He wanted to see the Leopard first, and to my chagrin, I had a Blonde Moment. I restarted it three times, and still couldn’t get through it. I was completely mortified. I should have gone through it before I came over- but it hasn’t been THAT long, and Rickson Gracie knows I’ve repped this form enough- I had no idea it was seeping out through the cracks in my mind like that already. I know that that’s completely disrespectful to my teacher and a waste of both of our time, and all… the lecture he gave me was a MUCH milder version than the one I was mentally giving myself.

I know that I’m pissed with myself for not having my Poop In a Group, and looking for someone to blame… but heck. When I know I’m going to see SK twice a week come hell or high water; and I haven’t seen CC in what- four months? And have no idea when (or even if) I’ll ever see him again, there’s definitely more of an incentive to spend my limited time and energy practicing SK’s material as opposed to CC’s material. I know that’s no excuse- this is my fault- but here is where I come to whine and b**** and spew my socially-unacceptable emotions, so there you have it.

Anyway- we decided to bag that one for today and try Touch Bridge. Now of course I was having a gigantic Performance Anxiety Attack, and I was sooooooooooooo relived when I got through Touch Bridge without Phucking it up. We did have to review some of the corrections he’d made last time (FOUR MONTHS AGO, okay?? Still my fault, but, ya know…), to my embarrassment. He still wants me to focus carefully on visualizing opponents, as well as on the energy flows of a form. He did seem to be taking things in those respects to a slightly more advanced level tonight. He had a few new applications that he wanted me to use in place of some of the ones I had come up with as well as some of the ones he had given me when he first taught the form. I had to ask for further clarification on some of his energy flow explanations, but I did grasp them in the end. So I think the form must have looked fairly good, as we appeared to be building additional layers into it. Good- hope I redeemed myself a bit from the Leopard fiasco. If I’m going to mess something up royally in front of CC, better it be Leopard at Dawn (which he actually referred to as the form equivalent of a Twinkie) than Touch Bridge (which is the signature basic form of White Dragon, Dragon being CC’s specialty style).

Notes for Touch Bridge:

Remember to turn only a quarter turn after the ridge hand- NOT all the way to the side. The right arm coming down at that point should end close to the body (thumb towards the body, the energy and momentum is going toward the RIGHT and not toward the front), and the left hand strike should hit at the SAME time.

The two hands should not cross over each other. Work on the timing of that.

The first kick is to the inside of the opponent’s RIGHT knee.

Don’t cross the Tiger claw hands during the strike to the ground.

After the takedown, don’t turn further to the left for the circular strikes- it’s the same opponent that you just took down (he’s more resiliant than I thought), not some other new guy- so keep facing him.

He didn’t pick at the breathing tonight- but try to remember to not be doing that Tigery huffing breathing during the Dragon material.

CC says that RS should be coming for a visit in late November. After too many disappointments, I’m not going to get worked up about this until the guy is actually standing corporeally in front of me. But CC wants me to make sure to have Hurricane Hands shipshape and ready to trot out. I don’t know if this was him blowing smoke or not- and it’s also going to be very dependant on how much of RS’s time I wind up being able to monopolize- but CC led me to believe that RS may be interested in working on more evolved permutations of this form with me (this is assuming I can present the basic version to him in an acceptable state). That would be way too awesome for words to begin to express. Hurricane Hands is not Romper Room Shaolin- it is an intermediate level form even at its most basic version. Not a lot of people in the order- even people much more advanced than I- know this form. CC doesn’t even know it. RS has not taught more advanced versions of this form to ANYONE (as SK has bemoaned to me, full of frustrated grief, on more than one occasion). To get an opportunity to work on specialized material of that level- to even DABBLE with it a bit for one afternoon- at the hands of the guy who knows more about this MA than anyone else- well, it would be like getting pulled out of your Five-string 101 class to be given a private guitar lesson from Carlos Santana on the topic of his secret signature techniques. SK’s head is going to EXPLODE if this actually happens. I need to ask him to go over Hurricane Hands with me every Thursday between now and then and make it as perfect as possible. The thought of *ME* coming back from the exiled Grandmaster and teaching *SK* (the Snake Guy!) advanced apps from an intermediate Snake form is so insanely hilarious. But that’s the only way he’s ever going to get them. And I’d love to be able to repay SK for how much he’s helped me, so this could be a way to do that a little.

Training with Sue!

Lunchtime BJJ at Cindy’s, with Sue (from the Submissions 101 Forum).

We drilled some triangles, then transition to omoplata for when the opponent defends the triangle by tucking her arm back. Then, if the opponent tries to defend the omoplata by crowding up on you, logroll to a mounted triangle. Several sub options from there: straight armbar, kimura, gooseneck wrist lock, transition to another armbar.

Timed matches. Sue is smaller than ANYONE I have ever worked with, with the exception of Chase that one time a couple of weeks ago, and possibly Susie (whom I haven’t seen in months… don’t know if she is still around). It felt very strange to be rolling with someone that light. Sue is a little tiny Kick-ass BJJ Machine. When I saw how tiny she is (smaller than me, even!) I thought, "Yay, at least I won’t be on the bottom the whole time with HER," Well, I was still on the bottom a lot. The woman has Skillz. (In my own defense, it was no-gi; my no-gi is a lot weaker than my gi.) Oh, and before she gets on the boards and tells everyone that I stomped her in the groin, it’s a LIE…. I was trying to step over her thigh, and I’m pretty sure no weight was on the foot- but if there was, it was a total accident!

She kept asking me if she was being a Spazzy White Belt, which was funny- she wasn’t, although she does do some things with a little more firm authority than I tend to do, without being "mean"; which is a good example for me to try to follow.

Cindy was nice enough to roll with us both quite a bit even though her knee is pretty bad (she was gimping around even while walking). Once again she didn’t let me have any breaks once the timed rolls started. I was on the bottom a lot today again, with everyone. I was frustrated with myself when I was rolling with Frank, in particular. I was on the bottom ALL the time, and he was pretty much doing whatever he wanted to me with me seemingly unable to do anything to prevent him.

I just run out of energy so quickly. Sometimes I wonder if I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or something. Maybe it’s just age. I get so tired, and trying to stay on top takes so much energy that sometimes I just can’t muster it up. Getting out from under- once there- takes even more energy.

After getting our butts kicked by Cindy and by each other, Sue and I went to Olive Garden and ate ourselves into an Italian Food Coma. We were hungry enough to kill and roast the waitress, who was wise enough to bring us a bread basket before it got to that resort. Sue has a sweet tooth even worse than mine- she snarfed a piece of chocolate cake (this was AFTER the lasagna); and she strokes her concave belly and complains that she has a pudge. Umm- since I was smashed up against her for much of the early afternoon, I know from firsthand tactile experience that she’s a little twig, and I can’t imagine where she puts all those calories. Oh- a twig with some serious muscle, let me add. Again, I’m looking at her and thinking she’s going to be fairly easy prey, but once I was rolling with her, I found that she is hella strong. And she likes to choke- those slim forarms just slip in there like a little breeze across your throat, and then EEEEERRK!! surrender

So anyway, after the hard workout with the
carbohydrate bomb chaser, it was sooooooooo tempting to just go home and crawl into bed. But Sue had private lessons scheduled that evening, and she reads my training blog- I knew I’d never hear the last of it if she found out I wussed out while she went back to the mat.

So………….. evening BJJ in Bellevue. I did not, however, stay for the Advanced class after the basics.

I saw Ron, and asked him, "Will you drill with me tonight?" "Sure." "Thank you. If I have to work with a spazzy a**hole tonight, I’m going to die." That made him laugh. "So that’s why you didn’t ask Brandon, huh?" he pointed to the blue belt sitting right next to us, and we all laughed. Ron and I ended up working in a threesome with Little Carlos, but he’s okay. Hostility Boy wasn’t there tonight. That’s mostly what I was dreading.

Standup- bearhug defense: brace against opponent’s hips and sprawl a bit. Clinch at the side, control the arm. Step in for a hip throw. Once opponent’s on the mat- armbar, kimura, etc. Prof Carlos gave me a correction on my straight armbar- I need to remember to push down on the opponent’s shoulder while I’m doing it.

Then a guard pass where you stand up and push down on the inside of one knee (watch out for the triangle), then go under one thigh, push opponent’s knee to his nose, grab lapel and pressure on the throat, let the leg slide by to pass guard. Ron’s got incredible pressure, even though he’s fairly small and I know he was going light on me. I was a little more aggressive with the stack and the throat pressure, because I know he can take it, and I’m comfortable working with him (see, he’s one person that I feel a good sense of the boundaries with).

A little positional sparring from open guard (starting with one arm underwrapping one thigh, as in the drills). Ron controls me completely with ease- which sometimes gets a little frustrating for me, but today I was just content to be working with somebody I like working with, in my bloated and exhausted vulnerable state.

I have so many small round bruises- not just on the inside of my right thigh now, but EVERYWHERE- I look like I have some kind of plague disease. Sue did not have nearly enough bruises. If I get to work with her again this week, I’ll have to try to leave a few more.

Double BJJ, again

Monday morning BJJ at Gracie Seattle. Lots of colored belts, a small handful of 3 and 4 stripe whites, only 2 unstriped whites. When it was time to split off "advanced" and "basic", Rodrigo called the two unstriped white guys by name over to the other mat. So once again, awkwardness… considering the population, it was kind of ridiculous for me to go over there, and since there were only 2 of ’em, I wouldn’t have had anyone to drill with anyway. Sigh. So I stayed in the advanced class again. Drilled with Angus.

Standup: grab collar and elbow, pull collar, when opponent steps with that foot, you slide your foot between his feet and to the outside. KEEP TOES ON THE MAT!. Then push staight back with collar hand and pull with elbow hand, dump him on his butt.

Next- if he lifts his trapped foot and steps back. You kneel, grab behind his heel on his fwd foot, lift, stand up and step back with your foot, again dump him on his butt. I was fine with that part, but the next section- pushing his leg to the side and getting KOB- I had trouble with. Finally figured out I had to let go of the collar when I dumped him, and give him a nice shove to break his own grips, otherwise I just got pulled into guard. Still awkward to get around the leg, but that might have been the fact that his legs are as long as my entire body.

Guard pass by pushing one knee down and curling your opposite arm under his opposite thigh and grabbing belt, kneeling over his thigh. Pressure, pass to side control. Make sure to keep the shin trapped to avoid the half guard.

One roll with Marc, then one with Pat. I was on top a lot with Marc; kept trying to get full mount, but he was defending it well. I FINALLY succeeded in getting it (after distracting him with a faux keylock attempt), and he exclaimed (choking off the last two syllables), "Motherf…..!!!" I yelled "HA!!!!" Pat and I traded off the top position, but I could tell he was toying with me. I still ended up on bottom turtle and bottom half guard a lot more than I wanted to be, with him. Also still doing too much Clench-n-Cling. He was skipping and skating around, which made me instinctively want to clench at him more to make him hold still.

JM’s eyeballs (both of them) are red as a vampire’s. I asked, "What happened?" "Glenn choked me out." Wow.

I asked Bree for a roll. We haven’t worked together in a very long time. But she was done- her asthma has been acting up lately. I asked her for a rain check, though.

I think I forgot to mention that JB told me Sunday night that she’s quitting Gracie’s. I knew it was coming, just not how soon. She would like to see the new school first, so we planned to carpool in tonight, with SK. Two hours before pickup, text from SK…. "Wait- Cindy’s or Gracie’s?" "Gracie’s" "I’m not enrolled there any more." Well. Nice to know, two hours before I’m supposed to pick you up. Again, I knew that was coming down the pike- but I wonder how long ago he quit and when he was planning to mention it. That was rude. And here I am still coordinating carpools- why do I bother? I don’t think any of them are going to actually ENROLL at Cindy’s, which will mean greater incentive for them to skip since they have to pony up ten bucks drop-in fee each visit (although I do often treat them, just because I know all of them are poor). Again, what I see happening is some sporadic attendance for a few weeks, then they die off. It’s sad. I wish at least one of them had stuck it out. Oh well. It was nice while it lasted. I think I’m going to just shut up and let them ask *ME* for a ride if they want to show up, otherwise assume I’m soldiering on alone. Hopefully in a few months, I’ll have advanced my BJJ enough to be kicking all their asses again when I get them on the ground in kung fu sparring. That edge will once again be mine alone, in due time.

So anyway….. evening BJJ at the new Seattle school, with my lone remaining (for a couple more weeks) minion. It was nice to have another Rodrigo class…. I guess I will be seeing even less of him now- since without my gang, I will have less reason to battle Rush-Four-Hours traffic into the city and will probably be going to the Bellevue school more often.

The guy (Judo black belt, BJJ blue belt) teaching the takedown class was a little late, but we still got some time in with the shoulder throw. My biggest challenge is still foot positioning- I tend to want to take a wide stance with at least one of my feet- if not both- outside of the opponent’s. We were going to cycle through the class throwing everyone in turn onto the crash pad, but we ran out of time… so only Peter and one other guy got to do that this time. Peter is very tall. When it was my turn to get thrown, he tried about five times to squat down low enough to get his center of gravity under mine, and it still wasn’t low enough. He tried to haul me over anyway, and I just hung on his back like a sack of grain- he fell to his knees, and I slapped on an RNC. It was hilarious- everyone was laughing. It’s so rare that being short is a tactical advantage.

Standup- come in as if you’re going for a double-leg, then posture up to defend the guillotine and scoot to the back. JB complained that I have the BONIEST shoulder. It’s so funny that that is the most-commented on aspect of my 9lb weight loss.

In guard, opponent has one same-side lapel grip. Duck head under her arm, posture up to pry the grip off. Basic gaurd break. Opponent grabs spider guard. Bullfight pass. Then a variation where you step back with one leg and push only opponent’s near leg down before passing to side control.

Short timed spars- no subs, position only- with Bianca, Anthony, Bianca again. Then open mat, and a little rolling with JB. They were all dominating me. I spent a vast amount of time on the bottom tonight with everyone- even JB. My foot crossover escape from mount into half guard works every single time- it ought to; I must have repped it four dozen times tonight alone. I got a keylock sub on JB, but she made me work hard for it. I tried the head-grab-to-neck-crank thing on Bianca once when she was on top of my turtle. While I was doing this, I was saying, "I’m sorry… I know this is mean…." Her muffled voice came back from where her head was crushed upside down under my belly, "No, go for it!"

I talked to Bianca a bit about the last tournament, how my match went, what a monster BJJ Goddess Julie is, and a little about my confusions with the level of meanness. She is of the "It’s a tournament, kill them all," contingent. She also told me that she is at 125 right now. Wonderful. I had been thinking that she was ten lb heavier than that (she is lighter than ME!!!), and that I might get into a weight class below her- again, not that that would likely save me from her. She did say that she would not murder me. (That’s nice of her… she knows she can kick my can, anyway, without resorting to nasty tricks). Bianca’s photo is on the poster for the upcoming Revolution, which is cool.

Sue (from Submissions 101) will be here tomorrow, and will be going to Cindy’s no-gi class with me at lunchtime. Can’t wait. I hope Cindy’s knee will be feeling functional enough for her to roll with Sue.

I have twelve separate little round bruises on the inside of my right leg just above the knee, where Angus was pushing my leg down to pass my guard in those drills this morning.

Footsie

128.0

Zounds, after being stuck at 130-ish for several weeks, I just randomly dropped two pounds for no apparant reason. I didn’t even work out on Saturday at all. It’s probably some fluke, and the 2lb will be back in the morning- but if they stay gone, that’s only 4lb over my original goal. It will be tempting in that case to go for broke and try to make 124 for the tournament. That might even get me out of Bianca’s bracket (not that that’s likely to enable me to avoid her, but you never know).

Sunday evening kung fu. I’m liking this change from Tuesday to Sunday- it results in claiming back an hour per week out of my life that I used to spend staring at the backs of other people’s cars. It was also nice to see JB there; as I have not heard a peep from her in a week, and thought she might be dead.

We started with Kiu One. I worked with Nemesis. I added in the circling. It was throwing him off a bit, but he got the hang. When SK saw us rotating, he told the others to try rotating as well. They were confuddled about which direction to go, and whether or not to switch directions on each rep. It seemed very obvious to me. I really do have a good instinct for this style.

Then we started working on Kiu Two. Now with JM. We did a whole bunch of reps of each part side by side, just to get back in the groove, before working it together. She pointed out that I was sometimes cheating the scissor step. When I tried to pay attention to my scissor step, I started getting the arm motions all snarfed up. I really can only pay attention to the top half or the bottom half at once- not both!

SK wants us to shorten our steps so that we remain bridged at the end of this first section. Since we both end that section in right cat stance, I began to make a point of ending with 1)my Snake hand perched on TOP of JM’s, and 2)my forward foot resting on top of her forward foot. After a couple reps of this, she asked if I was deliberately playing footsie with her. No, I said, I just want to be on top. So the following rep had us stomping and whacking at each other at the end, each of us trying to get our Snake hands and cat feet on top. To heck with this- I darted in for a choke, she tried (and failed) to hip throw me, and next thing we’re rolling around on the floor. I don’t know how things degenerate to this level, I really don’t. (There really isn’t room in JoE’s apartment rec room for BJJ… SK broke it up pretty quickly by tickling us both.)

We got a little bit more of the form. I practiced this section with JB.

Snake A: Bridge opponent’s wrist, right kick to knee with outside side of foot. Snake B chambers the leg, then returns a similar kick (to supporting leg if you can reach it). Snake A places kicking foot back down (knee turned slightly out to jam opponent’s leg); inside crescent kick with other leg, spin 360, end in Snake guard (rt cat stance). Snake B gets hir kicking leg hooked by the crescent, and also spins 360, end in Snake guard (LEFT cat stance). Note: Snake A, when you place the foot back down after the first kick, turn the toe way out. Otherwise the spin is grotesquely off balance.

DD had appeared for the second half of the class. I asked him and SK to demo the whole form for us, since I haven’t seen it in at least two years. He refused.

From the Side Control blog today, re: the November Revolution:

"This year, for the first time in any local jiu jitsu tournament, Leap LLC will be offering a Masters division for competitors over 30. It will be interesting to see how those divisions fill out across the different belt levels. I can imagine some decent brackets at white and blue belt, at least."

Yet another page in the book of "Must be nice to be a male in BJJ".

Boundaries in tournaments

Lunchtime BJJ in Seattle.

As soon as I saw that the first drill involved jumping guard, I ran over to grab John. At 20lb heavier than me, he was by far the smallest person in there- and I didn’t want some 260-lb guy jumping guard on me! As it was, I let John slither to the floor a few times, but at least I didn’t drop him on his head!

So we jumped guard on each other, then some armbar drills from guard, then we started timed rolls. I got John first. I was trapped in his guard for the entire roll. Then Marc. That one was a litte more dynamic, and I even got mount- but neither of us subbed the other. Then I had to take a break.

Open mat- I asked John for another roll. He kept catching me in triangles, whereupon I would stack him. Twice he transitioned into armbars, just like Julie had done to me last weekend. So he helped me with the triangle defense where you move toward your trapped arm and step over the opponent’s body. That’s the same one Pat had been trying to teach me last week. If only I had absorbed it, it might have gotten me out of that spot in the tournament. It was another case of me not being able to keep straight whether I need to go to the right or to the left. Hope I got it this time- it’s toward the trapped arm. Carlos also walked me through a defense against getting kimura’ed while in guard.

Later…………

No-gi Friday night at Cindy’s. SK was with me, and I took the opportunity to pick his brain in the car.

I first approached the issue sideways and asked, "Do you think my kung fu needs to be "meaner"?" He answered, "Yes." almost before I had the question fully out of my mouth. Humph. Nothing like those cold-bucket-of-water-in-the-face-style reality checks. I then asked him if he sees a dichotomy between my level of aggression in my kung fu sparring versus my BJJ rolling, and he doesn’t think so. So apparently (according to him) I’m not "mean" enough in either MA- which wasn’t exactly my perception. (Maybe I need to change my screen name… "Retiring Kitsune", perhaps?) Then we had to dissect the definition(s) of "mean" and the definitions(s) of "aggression". He feels that you can’t be "aggressive" in an MA until you have enough of a toolbox to have options for constantly pushing your attack. I then asked if that means he doesn’t consider the Spazzy White Belts "aggressive". He thinks that "drunk lout" type aggression (of which Spazzy White Belts may be considered a subgroup) is very different from skilled technique-based aggression in MA… and the "drunk lout" type aggression is not effective enough to even be considered significant (in his eyes).

I asked him if he would do "mean" things in a tournament, and he says that as long as it’s legal, he’d have no problem doing it. Something illegal that the ref didn’t see= not okay. Would it make any difference if it was a teammate versus someone he’d never met before? No. What if he was in the absolutes and going against someone thirty pounds lighter- is it "mean" to use your weight to help you win? No. You don’t feel like it would be a "better" win if you did it with pure technique as opposed to doing something that wouldn’t have worked if he didn’t have the weight advantage? No. It’s a tournament; here are the rules; if he’s within the rules, all is well.

I envy him; it all seems to be pretty clear-cut in his worldview. I asked him a ton of "If situation A, would you…" type questions, and he didn’t waffle at all on any of his answers….. even if I couldn’t always buy into (or in some cases even follow) the logic.

I do think I hit on something important while we were talking, though. He said that even if he has never worked with the person before, he very quickly gets a sense of how intense that person will/can go, and adjusts his own intensity accordingly. I’m not sure if I have that instinct, or at least have it tuned as well. I almost never have the experience of doing *any* MA with someone that I outmatch- so I have had very little practice of adjusting my level of intensity downward. I’m not sure if I ever really adjust upward, either, now that I think about it- I assume the other person is going to have to adjust downward to accomodate me. But I could feel something about that part of the conversation tickling my "we’re getting close to the REAL issue" sensors. I think it has a lot to do with not knowing where the boundaries are.

I have mentioned before that I am less comfortable working with JM than with many people, simply because she is not forthcoming about where her boundaries are. Since I can’t figure out where they are, I feel like I have to tiptoe around to try to avoid crossing them- which is generally confusing, uncomfortable and makes me go a lot lighter than is probably useful for either of us. With JB, I just go ahead and whack her because I know she will tell me if it’s too hard. Over long practice I get a sense of how hard I can go with her, and she has to give me feedback less often.

I don’t know where the boundaries are in a tournament. Yeah, I know what’s against the rules. But there is that wide range of "legal but arguably MEAN" stuff. Particularly with someone I’ve never met before, I don’t know if she is willing to/going to thump all her weight down hard on my ribs, so I am reluctant to do such a thing to her.

Even if I had SK’s sense of being able to quickly gauge her level of intensity- in a tournament, is there even that much time to waste? You’re putting yourself in the position of waiting to see how she’s going to roll so that you can react to it. In the dojo, there’s always the option of saying, "Hey dude, I need you to go a little lighter on my right-side ribs please" or even stopping altogether if anyone squicks your boundaries. In a tournament you can’t do that. There is no negotiation of the (finer) boundaries, and no time/leisure to try to suss them out on your own.

Hell, even if she *did* thump all her weight down hard on my ribs, I think I’d still hesitate to do it back- so maybe all these boundary questions are completely irrelevant due to an unwillingness in me to do certain things in *any* case.

Facing off in the tournament against someone I didn’t know at all…. I don’t recall feeling afraid OF HER…. I do recall feeling afraid. I assumed I was afraid of getting completely humiliated (flying armbar sub at four seconds), and surely I was… but now I think I can identify a large part of my fear as "I don’t know where the boundaries are in this confrontation…. making me confused, unsure, reluctant to assert myself."

This bears a great deal more thinking… and meandering in my blog…. and maybe getting some other people’s thoughts on. But I really feel that this is a very important issue for me as regards tournaments in particular, and my MA in general.

Anyway, back to class: Cindy had a new warmup drill- "This one’s for you, Kitsune!" I had complained that it seems I need more core strength. This drill has you lying on your back and inching yourself to the side by hipping out and then doing a similar motion with the top half of your body. No fair using feet or elbows. It took me a really long time to grasp any semblance of this movement- and when I did, it was very difficult and it hurt muscles that I didn’t know I had. Obviously, I need to do a lot of this. Ouchie.

We did some guillotines from standing, then into guard (I was very relieved to be drilling with SK- I dread going from standup to guard with my neck in a guillotine unless I’m working with somebody I really trust. I break out in a cold sweat whenever we have to do these at Gracie’s. It just seems like a great way to end up a quadriplegic for the rest of your life with one tiny jerk at the wrong angle). Then the opponent defends the choke, so you transition into a triangle. There were a lot of steps in this, and I had a hard time with it. Still having trouble climbing the triangle up the person’s back, trouble closing it, trouble getting my hips up high enough, trouble remembering to grab my shin before I start adjusting the angle so the person doesn’t just stand up and walk away. I’m frustrated to have so much trouble with triangles in general- this is supposed to be the female BJJ’er’s "go-to" move!

Then sparring. Cindy is on the bench with knee issues. I went with SK, then Elliot, then said, "I need a break" and started for the bench, but Cindy was having none of that. "No break for you! Go with Ian!" Argh. So tired. Then SK again. I was trapped in my old familiar residence of bottom half-guard a lot of the time with all three guys. They all kept crossfacing me hard out of deep half guard, which was very annoying. I got mount briefly on each one, but only when they reversed THEMSELVES (they all did that tonight)! I was THIS CLOSE to getting an armbar set up on SK once. I truly thought I had it, and I got really excited. He succeeded in muscling out of it. I’ll tell you, if Satan himself had appeared at that moment in a puff of brimstone and offered me that armbar in exchange for my immortal soul, I might have said yes. I wanted it that bad. But I didn’t get it. Tonight. Someday.

Lamont asked me if I was going to do the Revolution. I said, "We’ll see." Cindy said, "We’re planning on it."