Clench-N-Cling: the fruitless comfort zone

Saturday morning competition training at Gracie’s Seattle.

Between my work schedule and holiday/weather cancellations at the schools, I have not done *any* MA since Sunday. My first time back on the BJJ mat (with the exception of Lindsey’s Women’s Self Defense Class) since my little breakdown in the locker room. I was feeling anxious about going back in… but I reminded myself that good training days usually follow on the heels of abysmally sucky training days and vice versa.

Timed matches only… sometimes with a three or five minute break in between, sometimes not. Ron twice, John twice, Bianca twice, Marcel, Glenn. I am trying hard to 1)not sit any matches out, and 2)stay as long as I can possibly stand, no matter how exhausted I get. Didn’t sit out today, and lasted from 11 to 1.

Bianca was the hardest fight. She is really, really strong- as soon as she gets grips, you go "holy crap"… I’m used to being muscularly stronger than most women my size, but she is hard to deal with. She is also rough… not as rough as Alicia, but there is always pain involved in rolling with Bianca. I was trapped in bottom half guard almost the entirety of the total sixteen minutes. I was defending strenuously against what I know are her favorite chokes. I successfully defended many of them. She tapped me once with a choke; once with a choke that wasn’t actually choking me, but she was torquing my spine; and once with an armbar that was a bit too hard and fast on my good left elbow (as opposed to my chronically painful repeatedly-armbarred right elbow). I told her "not so hard and fast" and she got a little huffy insisting that she hadn’t done it hard or fast. I didn’t argue with her…. but if your training partner tells you it’s too hard and fast, that means it is too hard and fast… for *YOUR PARTNER*. Period. So lighten up, regardless of whether *YOU* think it is too hard or not.]

Bianca also takes me down with humiliating ease…. easier than most (even much bigger) people take me down.

I managed to get on top a bit with everyone except Bianca. I even got on top of Ron a couple of times, which is notably unusual. I defended strenuously against him getting grips on my pants when he has my back, because those chokes-while-twisting-my-spine deals are what he likes to get me with. He still got me with one, but I successfully defended some additional attempts. I also defended some of his triangles. When he finally got a good one locked on, I gritted my teeth and held out because I knew the clock was about to run out- and I made it, although if it had been three seconds longer, I wouldn’t have!

As usual, can’t get out of Ron’s closed guard… I would have needed the Jaws Of Life.

All in all: a little better than my usual, although the same frustrations continue to crop up. I observed myself starting multiple matches with Ron and with Bianca using the same opening moves, even after they responded to those tactics by squashing me into bottom half guard repeatedly. Some intellectual part of my brain was saying, "Um, maybe it’s time to try something different- this isn’t working on this person," But some more primitive (and more insistant) part of my brain was whining, "But if I venture out of my comfort zone, I’ll find myself in an even WORSE position!" The conundrum is that I’m just good enough to be able to defend the sub (for the most part) as long as I stay in my comfort zone, but it’s never going to let *me* get any subs- and I would lose all the matches on advantages if nothing else. I need to try different things, but I am finding myself really resistant to start experimenting because it’s almost certainly going to lead to getting subbed more often. Ugh.

I also observed myself doing some Clench-N-Cling… same problem here; my intellectual brain knows that this particular grip/position is not fruitful, but I’m afraid that if I let go, things are going to get worse. It particularly drives me nuts to let go when I know that my letting go is going to enable the opponent to immediately lock on a nice solid side control or front mount. It feels like giving up. So I Clench. And Cling. When Cindy sees me doing this, she will sometimes call from the sidelines, "Is that a good grip, Kitsune?" "Is that a good position, Kitsune?" I gasp back, "No." she replies, "Then let *GO* of it!" I need to just imagine her saying that, whenever I notice myself doing this.

Bianca and I managed to tick off Carlos again today… apparently we were yakking too much in line and I missed my name called when he was pairing people up…. it’s Bianca’s fault; she was asking me questions! Actually, I still have a hard time with Carlos’ accent- he pronounces my name kinda funny, and a couple of other people’s names come out sounding very much the same- so unless he’s looking me right in the eye, I can’t tell if it’s me he’s calling.

(Pic- Ron is the guy facing the camera)

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