Don’t let your wings droop!

Monday evening, JB and I worked out with CK. Not much to tell; as it mostly consisted of standing in place and making half a million minute adjustments to posture and alignment. We started with the feet and worked our way up. We didn’t even get to the neck, we only had time to progress up to the shoulder blades. JB agreed with me that CK’s posture/alignment workouts are more exhausting than any other workout we’ve done all month. CK exclaimed, "Awww… that’s the nicest thing you could ever say to me!"

Although I could feel things settling into place, every little adjustment I made (beginning with the feet) tweaked that painful spot on my upper back. CK came over and poked at it, which made me yelp. She kept saying, "Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm…..Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" as she probed around. She did comment that all of the muscles that she wanted to be engaged were engaging, which is stellar. Many of the adjustments she asks us to make involve moving individual obscure muscles that you just don’t know how to move. You have to begin with an abstract concept. For instance, one of the ones I was using tonight in order to move certain back muscles was to imagine what muscles I would be engaging- and how- if I had heavy feathered wings on my back like an angel.

If you can get one of the targeted muscles to move, and you think, "Okay, that’s something I have never felt before in my life," your next step is to get it to move a few more times so that you can pinpoint just what it is, where it is, how it feels when it moves, and how to *consciously* make it engage, relax, and move- in the way you WANT it to move.

Do you know how many muscles are in the human body? A LOT. The back is packed with them. Knotted around points of pain like clenched fists. Working with them will be ultimately beneficial, I know- but in the early stages, this exercise serves to draw my attention to a lot of pains that I tend to sorta shove under the rug and try to ignore.

We did a couple of reps of the short open-hands form and one rep of Catherine Dao.

(pic- These are the gals from my bracket who placed at the November Revolution.)

Who, me??!?

Had only about an hour with CK last night, so we didn’t have much time to work.

She wanted to see the short open-hands form, so I ran through that. She usually doesn’t let me get more than a half dozen moves in before she stops me to make a bazillion corrections. I heard her make a sound at move three… but apparently she decided to let me get all the way through the form once!

She noted that the flow is improved… that’s the number one thing that I was focusing on. Yet she does want some pauses- pauses in the physical movement but not in the energy.

It’s tricky to get back into "tai chi mode", as it is yet another totally different energy flow. It is most similar to Dragon, though…. especially CK’s version of tai chi. I won’t go wrong if I infuse a little Dragon in there.

We did some stancework- pelvic alignment mostly. I think she is going to want to spend a lot of time on stancework and body alignment this trip. That’s good. I like to try to maximize my CK time by working on things that will help me in all three of my MA’s. Last visit, it was mostly sparring. I want to do some sparring this visit as well, but stancework is another good multi-disciplinary thing I need to work on.

Once again, the marvel that STANDING STILL in CK’s tai chi class is the most physically demanding workout I’ve done in weeks. Phew!

She is quite impressed with the BJJ-driven bodacious Popeye-state of my upper body, although she does feel that putting on a lot of muscle in the absence of correct posture and body alignment can make a lot of problems worse.

In the car (this was on the way to the gym, before she had even seen me do any tai chi this visit), she asked me how I felt about starting another form. The fact that she even suggests that is a big deal. This tradition of tai chi is much, much more anal than my kung fu tradition regarding parceling out new material. It is common to work on learning one form for three to six years before considering the next one. They don’t want to collect a bunch of forms, they want to take one form and build multiple layers in it. CK is really, really picky- but my formwork must look decent if she’s even thinking about starting to teach me another form. I told her, though, that I’d like to feel a little more solid with Cannon Fist first. That’s the tai chi form I feel least secure with right now.

She also had another idea to float me…. she wants me to think about taking on a student. Eep! I hadn’t even picked myself up off the floor from this bombshell when she hit me with the second one- the student she has in mind is DD’s wife!

Now, you’ve got to understand that DD has tried to teach some martial arts to his wife in the past- with results so disasterous that it is literally legendary in the order. No kidding, I have had at least six different people (none of whom were DD or his wife) tell me tales about the time DD tried to teach her this or that and how badly it worked out. I know the lady slightly; she’s very nice, and certainly not slow or stupid or anything… my heart goes out to her, because I’d bet anything that she is in the same boat I am- her learning style just doesn’t mesh well with DD’s teaching style, and they are confused and frustrated with each other. She’s probably completely traumatized around the whole concept by now.

This is just coming so out of left field. I taught the basic BJJ and felt fine about that. Shaolin is taught with the expectation that everyone will teach eventually… it is an actual requirement (for at least some people, I’m not sure if it’s a requirement for all) at certain levels. CC in particular is always tossing out things like, "A taller person is going to do this *this* way; that’s not going to work for your body, but you need to understand this aspect so you can teach it." Teaching tai chi has never even been on my radar.

And what black irony it would be if *I* was teaching MA to DD’s wife…. man, I couldn’t even make up something that ironic. After I get over the shock, this is probably going to look pretty funny.

I’ll need to think this over for a while. It’s a big responsibility, and the time commitment is something that would also need to be considered. RS would throw his hands up; he thinks I’m already doing way too much.

Pretty cool, though, that CK seems to think my tai chi is good enough to 1) learn a new form, and 2)teach. Wow…. I don’t feel like my tai chi is good enough to be teaching. CK says I am too hard on myself.

Christmas eve open mat

….at Gracie Seattle. No Competition Class today; it was just open mat- and it started at 11, unbenownst to me. I got there at 11:45, and stayed till about 1:15. Short warm-up stretch and then continuous rolling.

Pat and Bree were there, so I got to congratulate them on their promotions. I was hoping that Dave would be there, so that I could deliver the message that his training blog readers want him to enable comments on his blog! But he wasn’t there today.

Fred jumped me as soon as I walked in. I haven’t had a chance to roll with him since he’s been back. He gave me some pointers. A couple of times, he paused the roll and said, "Think." It would be a good thing to have that chiming up in my mind from time to time.

I tried a variation of one of the drills from Cindy’s the other night… twice, when I had Fred in side control, I used the hand under his head to crawl my fingers across the mat and crank his head over to one side. It worked great, but I can see that it will probably only work the first couple times before people get wise to that little trick of mine and start making sure I don’t get the chance to do it.

After Fred, I challenged Bree. She said, "let me get a drink of water first," and Bianca was sitting there, so we started while I was waiting for Bree. Almost an hour later, we were still going. I never did get to Bree. Next time.

I do poorly against Bianca, and today was no exception. Defending on the bottom 95% of the time. I outlasted her many and varied chokes for a long time, but she always got me in the end. I tried a number of chokes against her, and got only a small fraction of them deep enough and at decent enough angles to be a threat. Had a few very frustrated, dispairing, almost-teary moments… including one where I just gave up and went limp. I did get it together about fifteen seconds later and start fighting again. I feel like my (relative) strength and endurance are some of my best tools, and I tend to think that I should be able to outstrength and outendure Bianca. Well, I couldn’t, and it was not a happy discovery. At the very bitter end, we had been struggling for a REALLY long time, and I was so exhaused I was almost shaking. My hands would hardly grip. I kept thinking, She has *got* to be getting tired too. She had finally tipped her weight enough while on my back that I was able to get a grip on her sleeve. A ray of pure golden sunlight fell upon the sleeve, and the angelic choir broke into a chorus. I clenched the sleeve in a death grip and began to tortuously climb my way up it to her shoulder and lapel, while trying with all my might to keep the sleeve to the mat and climb far enough up to get my weight on her chest. It was tantalizingly within reach, but not QUITE there. It felt like we struggled there for about sixteen years. I knew that as soon as I could get some weight on her chest, I could get on top. I was determined to outlast her, and I just about killed myself, but I finally had to concede. Thus the limp surrender. She back mounted me, and I started fighting again, but as soon as her arms came around my neck, I tapped before she even sunk it in. It killed me to leave it like that, but I was well and truly beaten. I wanted to go lock myself in the bathroom and have another cry, but I was too exhaused to get up from where I lay on my belly on the mat in a lake of sweat.

Fighting Bianca is different than fighting most other people. There are bursts of frighteningly fast and rough action punctuating long periods of straining at chokes. She holds chokes stubbornly for a reeeeeeeeally long time, and does not often give up and move on when I resist the tap, the way many other people do. The straining-at-chokes sections give me enough time to think, "Ok, if I wedge this elbow over here, it will take a little of the pressure off," and such. This is one area where my kung fu training come into play; as it has given me a concept of the way my opponent’s elbows relate to my centerline, and sometimes I can push an elbow half an inch in the correct direction and succeed in robbing the choke of much of its oomph.

Another thing that I had a little time to think about during these spars was "How can I make this position a little more uncomfortable for Bianca?" I didn’t do any douchebag things… and the fact that I was defending on the bottom the whole time gave me more moral leverage…. but I did make some small conscious adjustments that seemed like they would make her uncomfortable.

Third thing I had time to think about- when she was on top of me and straining for a choke, and there didn’t seem to be any productive way to try to get out at the moment, I was conscious of "defend the choke just enough, and use this interlude for a little rest", and I relaxed as much as I could. Unfortunately, I could see Bianca using her interludes perched on top of me to take mini-siestas of her own.

One of the more interesting things that came out of working with Bianca today was that one time when she was straining to choke me for a long time, I did that freeing-up-of-a-hand thing, because I knew that it was getting close to when I would have to tap. Although that was what sealed my fate when I fought Stephanie at the last Revolution, I tend to not really realize that even without a corner to rat me out, the person I’m fighting may actually notice that- and use it to their advantage. In this case, Bianca had been about to give up on that particular choke… but she saw me free up a hand, and decided to keep working on it. I tend to be paranoid- especially when I’ve been holding out for a long time and am on the knife-edge- that I may not have a voice or hand available to tap when I really NEED to tap RIGHT NOW. But I have to be more discreet about freeing up that hand. Or, as Bianca suggests, just tap with a foot. I took her advice a little later. I don’t feel very secure with that, though. By the time I resort to tapping, I’m desperate enough that I need an instant response. I just have to be more discreet.

Also, note that getting to my feet does not seem to be a good idea with Bianca. Every time I did it, trying to drag her down and sprawl on her shoulders, she got to her feet as well. Since she is taller than me, and has much better takedown skills, that never ended well for my part.

Although she taps me every single time, for some reason Bianca seems to honestly feel that I’m good competition for her. I thanked her sincerely for the rolls. It was a great lower-arm workout if nothing else, LOL. They are still aching,and I dropped an empty pop can when I got out of my car, because it was way too heavy, ha ha. Bianca was moaning that she felt old today. She is all of twenty five. She was shocked to hear how old I am. I was a little startled to learn that she is 5’8. The extra height definitely comes into play; there were a few times when she simply stretched me out too far for me to reach whatever I needed to reach to try to get out.

I bought "light multigrain" English muffins. They are a crime against English muffins in the same way that carob is a crime against chocolate. But I’m proud that I’ve continued to make a valiant effort to improve my diet a bit (note, these are the first English muffins of any kind I’ve had in about six months…. no bagels either).

(pic- Bianca)

Pavlov’s dog, and dead birds

Thursday kung fu. CN was there, which is quite a rarity these days.

I was wearing my green wrap pants, combat boots, and my fox-ears hood. SK told me that I looked like an anime character.

Started with Black Crane drills. I thought I knew these pretty well- Lord knows we’ve done them a zillion times- but the last couple (the long ones) were a little fuzzy.

Notes:

In the one with the double eyestrike- the eyestrikes are Viper’s Tongues. News to me. That was hard. My fingers do not like to make Viper’s Tongues.

The one with the corkscrew punch- the fist stays in one place once it’s struck the hypothetical target, and the ELBOW rotates around the axis. Extend the punch fully. It’s okay if the shoulder hunches up a little.
Also- when you go back into Black Crane guard at the end, arc it up and then down a bit.

The one with the over-the-shoulder throw- the double corkscrew punches… the foot that is at the REAR, that is the side that the fist should be on TOP.

The one with the Tiger claw opening- the side that you kick with is the side that the grab BEGINS on. The subsequent Crane’s Beak strike is with the other side.

Then some Kiu Two. We repped side A several times, and side B a lot more since people are still struggling with the flurry sequence. Toward the end of this, I felt like I finally- for the first time- had enough of a grasp on "what comes next" to try to focus on extending the strikes and letting them rebound back and flow into each other- in other words, trying to actually put the *Snakiness* into it. There were three or four reps where it was like putting on my glasses in the morning- the vague fuzzy world just abruptly snapped into sharp focus and I could see everything. It was AWESOME. I hope that wasn’t just a momentary brush with that particular experience.

A couple reps of Sil Lum Tao.

Notes: the axe hand drops down but NOT in. CN made eye contact with me when he gave that correction, so I’m pretty sure I was the transgressor. Eep!

Don’t forget the one-forearm-over-the-other move after the Crane’s Wing eyestrikes and right before the elbows-together guard going into the throat stabs. The pose looks just like Jeannie’s little magical move, only without the nod (yeah, how many of you young whippersnappers have any idea what I’m talking about?).

A bit more general Wing Chun followed. CN made reference to the Fuk sau (that’s promounced "fook"; so get your mind out of the gutter). I bounced up and down and pointed- that was the back-of-the-wrist parry I referenced in my blog after Sunday’s class, as the one whose name I couldn’t remember. I then pointed to SK and said, "YOU called it a wu sau on Sunday, and I KNEW that wasn’t right!" He copped to the error. CN asked another question about hand position, and I smoothly rattled off the whole list by name (in Chinese!) with demo: Wu sau, pak sau, ton sau, gon sau, bon sau, lop sau. CN’s eyes lit up and he exclaimed "Very good!" I felt about twenty feet tall for a second.

One of the apps we touched on (pun intended) was the "dead bird hand" from Sil Lum Tao. CN has wholeheartedly adopted "dead bird hand" as our group’s official name for that tecnique. I’m glad I can keep him amused. It totally DOES look like a dead bird, I swear… you do a circular wrist release and then the hand flops down limply from the wrist like it’s been shot, and you draw it up to your chest like you’re mourning its demise. The way CN demoed one application, it teased at a connection in my mind which I had to grope for, then managed to eventually connect with the circular bouncing bridge in Hurricane Hands.

We split up into pairs and came up with apps for one section of Sil Lum Dao… I deliberately picked Nemesis; I’m being pretty disciplined about that. After the Sil Lum Tao bit, we did a "turning the corner" parry-and-strike with an added cat-stance element. The toe is supposed to go inside the opponent’s foot, and the knee on the OUTSIDE. It sets you up for a plethora of attacks, and robs the opponent of both openings and mobility. I played uke for Nemesis first; and then the staff showed up and kicked us out of the room so that they could close ten min early- so I didn’t get a turn. Bummer.

Other notes for Wing Chun- remember that there is a fist’s-width distance between your guard hand and your chest.

Also- rememer to move from the center. (THAT’s a timely reminder, with CK’s imminent visit.)

You may notice that it’s been a while since I’ve complained about the Carnal Carpool. Well, that’s because 1)We’ve been carpooling less often now that I’m in Seattle early for Lindsey’s class on Sunday, and 2)For months now, I have painstakingly orchestrated for one or the other of the offenders to be driving every single time I have both of them in the vehicle at the same time.

Besides being a Bandaid on the problem, my big-picture plan was to keep them separated long enough to ease them out of the "cued conditioning situation" we seem to have found ourselves in. You know how some people, whenever they sit down in front of the TV, that’s their cue to snack? American Idol= potato chips. Bell= drool. Kitsune’s Jeep= tonsil hockey.

So tonight I let it slide for the first time in months. Dang- talk about getting right back up on the horse. They were already plastered against each other and emitting mortifyingly audible slurping sounds before we’d even dropped the other riders off. In the past, they have waited till it was just the three of us in the car before the temperature really started spiking in the backseat (don’t ask me why they imagine it’s okay to grope each other in front of me but not in front of the rest of our classmates). Instead of easing off the cued conditioning, they attempted to make up for lost time- striving to make medical history by becoming the world’s first pair of unrelated Siamese Twins.

Back to plan A.

(pic- Glenn)

pwn’ed by my former BJJ-101 student

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Seattle. Since I got a Rodrigo class last night, it was nice to get a Carlos class today. I want to make sure they don’t forget what I look like, since my attendance has been so poor lately!

I saw Dex and got to congratulate him on his new blue. Tom is now blue as well. As is Nic. Fred has a new stripe. Angus has a new stripe. Dave (SIDE CONTROL) has a new stripe. Glenn has MULTIPLE new stripes- he’s got three or four! Purple is looming. Bryan has gone from one to four, already! BROWN is looming! I think he got three at once. I didn’t get promoted, and I’m relieved. I won’t try to claim it doesn’t feel great to get a stripe… but I don’t feel worthy of what I already have. The idea of purple in my future fills me with panicked dread. I can *NOT* be a PURPLE BELT still getting consistently pwn’ed by whites. Seriously, I think I’d have to quit the school out of shame at that point. It’s humiliating/discouraging enough getting consistently pwn’ed by whites as a one-stripe blue. I really need several hardworking years- like maybe six or eight- at blue belt. It won’t exactly break my heart if the dual-school thing results in everyone being so reluctant to promote me for fear of stepping on each other’s toes that _nobody_ will promote me.

Asked Bryan, "How’s your groin?" (There really are a limited number of social venues in which this is an appropriate question). He was doing hip circles and making pained faces- but he says it’s getting better. It still hurts, but it’s a GOOD hurt… if that makes sense. I said that it made perfect sense. You can tell when it’s getting-better-hurting versus getting-worse-hurting. He’s frustrated, though, because he hurt his groin just as he was mending from the rib injury that plagued him for a whole year. He says that after a blissfully injury-free blue belt career, he’s spent his entire time as purple belt in a crippled state.

Guard pass: 2 lapel grips, stuff them under opponent’s armpits. 1 leg back, pull head out of opponent’s hold. Knee to tailbone, open other knee at 90-degree angle, elbows in, let go of one lapel grip and slide the other down to bottom of gi jacket. Opponent takes spider guard. You grab insides of pants cuffs, jump to feet (both at same time, note), pull opponent’s ankles together, press to floor. Move to the side, put knee down under opponent’s armpit, shoulder on chest. Let go of far pant cuff and move hand under opponent’s butt, other hand goes under head, tuck in for side control.

Another one: 2 lapel grips high up on chest, put on knee up and the other shin out at a 45 degree angle. Stand up, defending the grab-your-ankles takedown by pulling on those chest lapel grips. Step one foot back and reach behind with one hand to break ankles. Opponent tries to grab triangle. You swim both arms under opponent’s thighs, kneel under his butt, stack him, and seatbelt his waist. Then reach around one thigh, grab a cross lapel grip, grab the back of his waistband with the other hand, and stack him till you slide past his thigh.

Bonus- reach under your own body and behind opponent’s near shoulder with your non-lapel arm, grab some lapel or shoulder fabric, and then straighten your legs and sink the hips into the side control. It was bizarre, but it was a really effective choke. I didn’t even have to tighten the arms at all.

Angus’ BJJ has developed much the same as Marc’s- ie, he seemed to be lagging the pack skillwise for the first year, and when he got his blue, I could still dominate him half the time- but then after his promotion, his game suddenly got about 300% better in the space of about five months. He was so technical, and so tight, during the drills.

A little king-of-the-hill in spider guard, then timed rolls with Marc and Angus. I didn’t hold my own today as well as I had last night. Defending on the bottom a lot. This was one of those days when I felt like all my classmates are getting so much better, but I don’t feel like I’m getting better.

Took a hit in the schnozz, and a little later I noticed blood all over my sleeve. I asked Angus if my nose was bleeding, and he said no- so we stopped and began searching our respective bodies for the source of the blood. Carlos came over to help; he gazed intently up my nose and then he wanted me to blow my nose on my sleeve to see if it was bloody (which I refused to do- ICK!). Then we all went to search Marc to see if it was his blood. We couldn’t find anything, so I still don’t know who was bleeding and from where.

I had to take a breather after that roll. Then I wanted to roll some more, but most people were gone and the few left were paired up. Marcel was sitting on the edge of the mat holding his shoulder and making faces. I went over to try to hit him up, but sure enough his neck/shoulder/back were too sore to do any more. I hung around and chatted with him for a while, hoping that someone else would free up to roll, but no luck.

Later……………

BJJ at Cindy’s with JB. Drills: more neck-crankiness. My upper back was still feeling a bit fragile from last time, and I just have a squick about neck cranks in general anyway…. I’m paranoid that one little wrong move and I’m going to spend the rest of my life a quadriplegic…… so I asked everyone repeatedly to go slowly and be careful.

JB got to be Cindy’s demo dummy once tonight- I think for the first time! And neck cranks. Lucky girl. I think she was a little scared.

Opponent is in turtle, you are alongside with chest on top. Go around hir neck and under one arm sash-style. Press your weight down on the opponent with your shoulder. Dive-roll at the mat at opponent’s far temple, taking care that the elbow that you have on the opponent’s back is staying tight to your own body and coming with you. Opponent is forced into a roll as well, if s/he doesn’t want a broken neck, and when you both come out of it, you are on hir back.

Second drill: opponent is in turtle, you alongside with chest on top. Crossface ("Brush hir teeth" style) and grab the opposite bicep. Grab the OPPOSITE ankle and get your chest and entire body down low on the mat so that you can pull on your two handholds and bulldoze the person over so that you are in side control. RETAIN THE ANKLE HOLD. Hug hir around the neck with your other arm. Walk your fingers on the mat to crank hir neck, then you can either A) bow-and-arrow hir sideways by pushing that foot away, or B)let go of the foot, use your hugging-arm hand to grab the bicep of your newly-freed hand, "talk on your phone" and choke.

Rolls with Frank, Cindy, George, and JB. JB kicked my ASS tonight. She was tapping me right and left. I’m very proud of her, and happy that she’s doing so well. It was a little rough on my own ego, though. Ironic that I was writing just this morning about getting pwn’ed by white belts.

I did tell her at one point that if she grabbed my gi pants again (this was a "no gi" class), she had to give me a free eye gouge. And she did grab my pants again. I didn’t actually eyegouge her, but later in the roll I grabbed *HER* pants. When she yelped, I informed her that she owed me one.

After she had tapped me out about five times in a row, I finally tapped her with a sloppy thing that was trying to be a choke but was mostly shoulder pressure on her face. I wasn’t very proud of it (and apologized to her), but I felt like I had to get one tap in there before we finished, to redeem myself a little!

You know that you’ve had a productive class when your shirt is covered with blood, and it’s not your own. Cindy made George bleed a lot tonight! I think a nice big color photo of her in her blood-spattered school logo shirt would be great advertising on her school website.

Looks like Monday evening will likely be the only possible BJJ for me next week. Arrrrrrrrrrh. Hopefully the schedule will start getting better after this.

(pic- Nick)

George works the room

Found out that it was Rodrigo’s birthday on Saturday… it’s amusing that I picked his photo to post on my blog for that day; I think that’s the first time I’ve put his pic up.

Gracie Seattle’s class began at 6pm tonight, and Cindy’s doing a weird schedule this week that involved a 7pm class tonight. I got off work at 4 and it seemed stupid to try to drive home and then turn right around and fight Rush-Four-Hours back into Seattle. So I drove into Seattle, grabbed some food, and did a back-to-back double-header.

Gods, it felt so good to be back at Gracie Barra. I have had such lousy attendance this month. It was so nice to see Rodrigo and a whole bunch of people I haven’t seen for a while. Teased Nate about his new purple belt ("Hmmmmm…. something’s different…. I’m not sure what…. did you change your hair or something?"), then congratulated him. Congratulated Casey on his new black. Angus has another stripe. Kaungren has another stripe. Allie was there… I haven’t seen her for about six months. She got a third stripe tonight; that was awesome. There were three or four female white belts there that I’ve never seen before. They already have some stripes, too- one of them got a third tonight! I really enjoy watching promotions. Especially white belt stripe promotions. I’m not sure why, but they seem especially touching. I just wanna tear up.

During the warmup "collar choke" crunches, Rodrigo walked by me and whacked me on the sole of the foot! I immediately realized that I had fallen into my chronic bad habit of "ballerina toes"…. so I flexed my ankle. Since the whole duel-repping fiasco when I had to man up and have that scary talk with Rodrigo in my car, he seems more comfortable teasing me a little, and doing small physically affectionate things like resting his hand on my head when he’s matching me up with someone on the mat. That’s nice.

We drilled two escapes from back mount. Opponent has one hand under your arm with lapel grip and the other around your neck.

1)You defend the choke by grabbing hir forearm, and try to turn your face toward the fingers rather than toward the elbow. Also, you try to not let the opponent pull you over on the "pillow side" as Bryan calls it. But if you do find yourself there, continue to haul on the choking arm with your inside hand and grab hir bicep sleeve with the outside hand. Tuck your head under hir armpit, turn into hir, and get your near elbow down to the mat. Hip out a bit. When you get turned enough, try to get to the knees and get on top. DO NOT LET GO OF THE BICEP SLEEVE GRIP!

2)Same grab of forearm, but this time you curl your body up so that you can reach one of the opponent’s hooks with your other hand, and unhook it. Then turn AWAY from hir this time. I liked this one. I was working with Allie, whose legs are short enough that I didn’t have to curl my body. I tried to remember to curl anyway, just so that I would retain that detail. I kept that sleeve, and grabbed a second grip high on the sleeve as soon as I got turned enough. Pinned both hands to the mat so that she couldn’t turn. It was working really well. However, she was starting to get a bit frustrated despite my taking care to give positive feedback and also remind her that she is several levels below me and I’m kinda SUPPOSED to win most of the time. So I explained what I was doing with the sleeve, and the next rep she kept the sleeve out of my reach. Good girl. So then I started doing the same trick by grabbing her pantleg instead, and pinning *that* to the mat. She was doing well overall, though. I told her that we do need to work on her bottom half guard, which is too loose and too low and doesn’t have the correct leg position. She probably spends as much time on the bottom as I do, so she had better get a decent bottom half guard.

After drills and a little positional sparring from back mount, I did two timed rolls. #1 was with blue belt Anthony- there are at least three blue belt Anthonies, and they are all medium sized and brunette and fairly nondescript, so I have a little trouble keeping them straight. But I know I’ve rolled with this guy before. It was a decent spar; I spent a little more time on the bottom than I liked, but not as much as I tend to average. Neither of us tapped. He got a bow and arrow that I *almost* had to tap to, but I held out. Several other near-taps with various subs that I managed to escape from. At the end, I gasped, "I thought you had me with that bow and arrow," and he replied, "So did I."

Then Marcel. I knelt down opposite him and whispered, "I don’t have much left- that last guy almost killed me," and he whispered back, "I’m right there with ya… we’ll work TECHNIQUE."

Much the same as Anthony- decent spar, on the bottom some, but it’s been worse. He tapped me once with an armbar. I *almost* got him with a crazy-ass improvised choke involving one deep lapel grip and about 40% of a gogoplata combined with a dash of triangle. It was odd, but I could tell it was choking him, so I was hauling on it with all my might- but as I found out after, the pressure was just a smidge too far up on his jawline.

At 7:30, I bailed and drove a few blocks over to Cindy’s.

Cindy set me to working the "Quadruple Threat" sequence on George. I remembered it fairly well, had to be refreshed on a couple of details. At first I was having a hard time reaching George’s ankle with my short arm. After some experimentation, I took Cindy’s suggested modification of not putting the near hook in combined with George’s suggested modification of pulling him more UPWARD than sideways- and that resulted in a workable version for the mouse-sized BJJ artist. I invited George to rep on me, but he said that he already knows this technique pretty well, so I was welcome to use all the time. He had a couple more good feedback points for me, too. I drilled about a zillion reps, and was not terribly gentle, so that was really nice of him.

A few timed rolls with George and Cindy. George was repeatedly presenting me with what appeared to be a juicy unguarded neck just begging to be choked… but geez, he is really, really good. Very difficult to choke, very difficult to hold onto. I tried so hard to guillotine him many times- I had a great hold on his neck, but he kept angling his body and staying out of my guard, and would not let me get the leverage to finish. I also tried the Quadruple Threat on him several times. He repeatedly responded by doing some wierd twisting flip that put me in a kimura- which I at least had the sense to roll out of, even if I didn’t have the sense to avoid it in the first place after he’d done it five times. He did eventually give me ONE tap, but the technique was not as clean as I would have liked, and I was muscling it a bit.

I’m still wanting to try to choke from behind without getting hooks in first. Must break myself of this.

It was also interesting to watch George roll with the Irish guy… oh boy, his name I *did* know, several weeks ago, but he hasn’t been around for a while and now it’s slipped my mind. But he is new, and really strong, and seems very determined to brute-strength everything. He grunts and growls. I haven’t worked with him, and I’m afraid to. He was pretty rough on George, and he did bull through a tap or two (he has a considerable amount of size on George, and George was handing him a lot of vulnerable positions like he had with me). But it was interesting to watch much-smaller George, calm and breathing easy, use pure technique to handle this guy who was obviously expending every ounce of strength and effort he could dredge out of his fairly muscular body with a superhuman effort. He finessed things so that the guy didn’t get ticked off, either.

With Cindy, I very consciously incorporated some of the things she’s been trying to drill into my head. I disengaged completely and backed off a few times. I did the circling-and-faking-back thing while I was standing and she was sitting. I refrained from bulling straight in on her open guard. I kept my hips low to the mat. I crossfaced. One thing I need to really start paying attention to is that I MUST immediately abort Clench-N-Cling when Cindy does a backsit, 180-twist, or another of those dramatic full-body positional shifts that she likes to do. These *always* nullify whatever lame excuse of grip I have, and 95% of the time they actually transform the grip into an active liability that makes me literally sub myself. When she does that, just LET GO.

Had my housemate Tiger Balm my back when I got home… between left shoulder blade and spine, in particular.

+Tiger Versus Crane

Begin standing straight, fist-to-palm salute

Put hands together in "prayer" position, point fingers down, bend slightly at waist to bring figertips to knee level

Bring hands to top-of-head level (fingers up), cross them over each other and then pull apart in a V with elbows touching, palms toward face at forehead level.

Tiger straight punch forward with both hands, pull back to chamber

Step rt foot north to forward stance, Rt Eagle claw to front at chest level, left palm (fingers up) blocks under rt elbow, palm toward east

Turn left to face west, left arm in low V position near left hip. Rt hand is in Crane’s beak at rt temple.

Left snap kick.

Step down into front stance, left foot fwd. Rt hand Crane’s beak stabs fwd at throat level with a hard pecking motion.

Turn 180 degrees, weight on left foot. Wheel kick that western opponent with rt foot.

Fisted hands crossed at wrist, left in front, high cross block to north. (Palms out)

Turn 180 degrees to face south in very low scissor stance, bring crossed wrists almost to ground.

Step out with left foot to horse, facing south. Bring crossed wrists up in high cross block (Palms IN this time. Left hand is still in front).

Immediately snap crossed wrists down to low cross block at knee level. Left hand is now on top, heel of hand pressing down on rt wrist to support.

Rt foot steps fwd into forward stance facing south, Tiger straight punch with rt hand at face level and left at chest level.

Left foot slide-steps through, knee straight. Weight stays on rt leg, which bends. Left Tiger claw pendulums to palm down just behind butt. Rt Tiger claw pendulums up to brow level, Palm out and palm-heel tilted slightly up.

Step rt foot behind left toward east in scissor stance. Left Tiger claw moves palm-up at solar plex level, elbow bent as if holding a serving tray. Rt claw is in front of left elbow, palm facing in.

Unwind to your right into a north-facing horse, left hand palm-up at chest, Rt hammer fist strikes to rear on horizontal arm.

Left palm straight out to block west. Rt hand chambers

Shift to fwd stance facing west. left foot in front. Rt fist straight punch chest level to west. Left arm pendulum down to stop palm-down just behing butt.

Fist both hands. Rt hand drops to waist and them describes a huge arcing curve up above head, over to left and then down. left arm swings forward (palm up) and then down and back. Huge centrifugal force preparing to propel you upward.

Shift weight back to rt foot. Using arm-swinging propulsion, do a flying outside-to-inside crescent kick to the SOUTH with rt foot.

Land in horse facing north, left arm straight at side with palm facing west at thigh, and rt hand cross-guarding jaw at left shoulder (palm also facing west).

Left 2-finger spear hand palm up to west, throat level. Rt hand moves to palm up at chest.

Look east and reverse the arms. Now Rt arm is straight at side with palm facing east at thigh. Left hand croos-guarding jaw at rt shoulder (palm also facing east).

Bring both palms to chest facing each other as if holding an energy ball. Hop slightly to your right and land on left foot, right knee up.

Flying crescent kick to east with left leg, outside to inside.

Land in horse facing east.

Rt Tiger claw grabs opponent’s skull at face level and plant firmly to ground. Left hand is chambered.

Cross left foot in front of rt in scissor stance, left Tiger claw palm down in low V at left hip, Rt Tiger claw guards groin palm down. Look north.

Unwind to face west in horse. Hands trade paces and turn into knife hands. Left hand is now palm down at groin, tumb inward. Right knife hand palm down in low V at rt hip.

Flying crescent kick to west with left foot, outside-to-inside.

Turn north. Box kick (straight leg) left foot.

Left outside-to-inside flying crescent kick with left leg to enemy at south.

End in a low Black Crane guard to south. left foot fwd. Eagle claw hands.

Turn north again and chamber both hands.

(pic- Renzo and Bree)

Promotions

From SIDE CONTROL’s training blog:
" Four new black belts! Casey, Lance, Doug and Alex all got their faixa pretas on Saturday, which was pretty incredible. Bree and Dex earned their blue belts. Benny and Pat got promoted to purple. Nate and Clint both got brown belts. "

Wow. Gracie Barra Seattle is packed with black belts! And a fifth female colored belt. I would have loved to have been able to see those folks get promoted instead of being at work this weekend! Gotta earn the rent, though.

Lindsey’s class…. I rolled with Lindsey for just a few minutes while the ladies were changing. It had been FOREVER since I’d done any BJJ…. I hoped that I still remembered what to do! I think I did fairly well, though. Lindsey seemed pleased; said that I was staying nice and tight. I seemed to be analyzing a little better than I usually do; although Lindsey tends to not go 100mph, which helps me in that respect. I feel a bit less of the usual panicked urgency that I feel when rolling with a lot of the men. Anyway, I was consciously trying to foil whatever he was setting up, even if I had no idea what he was setting up. If he reached for a pantleg grip, I yanked the leg out of reach; if he placed his foot inside my knee, I immediately moved my knee to the outside. I imagine that if I did that sort of thing on an extremely consistent basis without really having a good grasp on what the opponent had in mind, a smart opponent would be able to start baiting me into putting myself into bad positions. For now, though, it’s an interesting strategy to play with.

Once class actually began, we did some basic triangle stuff; armbar from triangle setup- underhook the opponent’s outside-the-triangle arm, hold it in both hands above the elbow, brace it on the side of your head and pull to your centerline to lock the elbow. I found the lock easier to get if I turned my hips over into it as well.

Then we had one person sitting, while the other tried to use ankle-cuff grips to put the first person on her back and pass. The women that I worked with are not doing half bad- I don’t know if they’d survive the jungle of a regular class (yet), but some of them are even getting nice hip-ups into the triangles, as well as struggling hard enough that I had a challenge to triangle them.

Then on to kung fu.

We did a couple of reps of Leopard Fist, including a full-speed one. Then some chi gek. Once again I had cause to curse the extreme shortness of my legs. I had to keep hopping in closer. However, my opponents seemed to be having a little difficulty maintaining proper hooking-foot position on my stubby legs, so it went both ways. My excellent balance does help me a lot in this exercise. After MM and I had worked on this together for a while, we started improvising a bit once one of us managed to get the knee kicked out. Of course we eventually ended up on the floor. Everyone gathered around to watch. I got his back and tried to RNC, but he got his chin down. I think I could have had him anyway, with that or something else- except that I was wearing fuzzy gloves (my hands were cold!) and I couldn’t get any decent grips.

After that exchange, I was sweating, so I got rid of the gloves- and the next time we went to the ground, it went a bit better. Again, everyone stopped their chi gek and gathered around to watch. I got stuck in MM’s closed guard, but luckily he doesn’t know how to do a triangle! I had to work a while, but eventually I was able to pass to top half guard. Then he goonswept me (that’s my new term for a "sweep" that is all muscle/weight and no technique). I can’t blame MM, since he knows no BJJ. At that point I was in bottom half guard. SK said, "Oh, you’re finished…. you’ll never get out of Kitsune’s half guard." I said, "Yeah, but we’re not doing sport BJJ- we’re free-sparring, and he is now on top where he can gouge my eyes out or crush my trachea." So I conceded the battle. SK told me that he’d noticed that MM was huffing and puffing really bad, and that I didn’t seem to be breathing hard. So that’s good. It was fun, anyway. Since JB hasn’t been to kung fu in a very long time, I haven’t had any spontaneous BJJ in there. I don’t want to incite BJJ with SK because of his injured wrist, and JM just seems to have such fragile health and physicality lately that I hesitate to jump her without a checkin first. (In fact, she sat out half the class tonight with dizziness and stomach pains.)

Note to self…. e-mail SK and JM and tell them that they are not allowed to teach MM how to do a triangle!

A little Wing Chun. Person 1- 3 cycling sun-punches to chest. Person 2- pak sau to parry the first, rebound the back of the wrist over to parry the second (I know there’s a name for that, but I can’t recall), and rebound into a willow palm to the chest (which you must land before person 1 lands the 3rd sun punch- that will take all the power out of it even if you don’t parry that last one). I was working with SK. I asked a couple of times if this was okay on his bad wrist, and he insisted it was, although he did not want to do the parrying sequence on his right side. On one random rep, he didn’t parry at all, and I rapid-fire sun-punched him three times. He does that sometimes just to make sure I 1)have range, and 2)am not doing sissy strikes. It annoys me a bit, because sometimes I wind up hitting him hard and feeling bad about it. This time, I had perfect range and my strikes were light but not sissy. He said, "Hit me harder,’ I said, "No." "Please?" "No, I am not going to hit you hard." A few more verbal rounds of that, and then we negotiated for me to sun-punch the heavy bag instead so that he could satisfy himself that I could hit hard enough.

I was focussing hard on the rebounding, and seemed to be getting that after a few tries. I still need to work on my chronic tendency to parry way too far- I never can seem to trust that I’ve diverted the strike enough and am safe. This shows up everywhere, but most obviously in Wing Chun because the extreme close range makes me all twitchy and panicky.

Also, my recurrent and extremely frustrating boobilage problems persist. I find it ironic that Wing Chun- a style purported to have been developed by and for a woman- is built upon elbow positions that are almost impossible when you are- well, built. I can’t drop my elbows enough, and bringing very-close-range cycling strikes up on the centerline is a topographical challenge. Then you have to try to explain to your male teachers that no, your biceps are NOT going to press any closer to your torso without surgical intervention; that’s as good as it’s ever gonna get, sorry dude. I do not like being a girl on Wing Chun nights.

Then we worked on that thrice-cursed sweep some more. I have learned that a large part of my problem is that the Iron Broom type sweeps that I worked on a lot in the past (and got whipped into decent shape, if I may say so) are a WHOLLY DIFFERENT TYPE OF SWEEP than these things. You’d think a sweep would be a sweep; well, heck no, that would be way too easy. The iron brooms involve throwing your upper body powerfully to the side and down, chest and shoulders first- communing intimately with the ground, and then torquing the rest of your body through. By contrast, this Snake style sweep- while you are squatting on the ground- doesn’t feel like you are *merging* with the ground. It’s not hard and mean and fully-committed; it’s breezy and swirly. The center of gravity, the body motion, the foot postitions, the origin of momentum, the angles of the torso to the ground and the torso to your legs and the legs to one another- EVERYTHING- is different. Once I grokked that, I was able to stop trying to stubbornly force this sweep into my previous experience of sweeps, and view it as a brand new technique.
I can do it now, although I was secretly skeptical that it could possibly be effective. After iron brooms, these feel weak and puny. SK had us put on padded shinguards and practice on each other. I was surprised and gratified to see that I really could knock JM down with a Snake style sweep. By that time, my knees were whining, "Gahhhhh- no more sweeps" but it was so much fun to knock JM down that I had to do a bunch more. She complained that my targeting was unbearably precise and cracking on the exact same spot on her leg every single time. I replied, "Oh- How unlike me!!" and we both laughed.

Then she got paybacks. Even through two shinpads, the sweep HURT! I’m glad I wasn’t working with MM or Nemesis, who were sweeping much harder and for many more reps than JM did.

After that, a little Kiu Two. JM and I repped the "flurry" sequence a bunch of times on each other. I need to focus on making that ton sau in part A nice and clean, and on not lifting my elbow too much on the cross press in part B. Otherwise it seems not half bad. We did a few reps of the entire form as well.

Next semester will be Tiger and Crane, and we will be working on the Tiger Versus Crane form, so I want to practice that a bit and hopefully transcribe it beforehand. I have CM’s (the Tiger Master) notes on the form, as well, so that would be another good thing to look over. Most of the kicks are supposed to be arial, which we have not been doing- but I am looking forward to incorporating those. Lots of good cardio, too- one rep of TvC leaves you puffing even if you’re NOT doing flying kicks, so protracted work on the form is quite a workout.

MM is a genius. He is working on multiple experimental technical engineering projects for the military and NASA. He brings a similar level of gray matter to philosophical discussions… casually dropping random mind-bombs of profound- yet often bizarre- musings that make everyone stop, double-take, and try to change gears to catch up. During the end-of-class talk over this week’s section of the Tao Te Ching, he threw out a typical one of those, and there followed a typical long moment of silence while we stared at him. I broke it with, "It’s so interesting to have you back!" And everyone cracked up.

The Tao Te Ching discussion moved from what constitutes "greatness"…. to what people strive for in life….to evolution……to how lazy and spoiled- and thus overweight and inactive- people are in today’s world…..to the Zombie Apocalypse.

(pic- Carlos, in the blue gi)

Northern Mantis Bo form

Apologies to those BJJ-only folks who have not yet expired from boredom…. I hope to have some actual BJJ to blog about tomorrow.

+Northern Mantis Bo form

Begin standing straight, looking left, bo horizontal at left knee, right hand over heart

Step rt foot out into horse, bring bo out from leg slightly, Rt hand Mantis hook sweeps down and out to almost horizontal

Cat stance left toe in front, torso facing west. Rt hand warding at forehead, palm out

Both hands grasp dao, shift into hill-climbing stance (left foot in front), low horiz block to high horiz block.

Bring bo back to low horiz position, Step rt foot into hc stance, low horiz. bo strike to the rt

Step left foot into hc stance, lo horiz bo strike to left

Step rt foot into hc stance, high horiz bo strike to rt

Step left foot into hc stance, high horiz bo strike to left

Bring bo in front vertically, top end tipped slightly to the left and back. and bottom end almost to ground. Rt foot snap kick, let foot fall into rt hc stance and push bo out slightly to block/strike.

Turn 180 degrees, now you are facing east in a left hc stance. Bring bottom end of bo up and over as you turn, do overhead smash- now you are holding it horizontally at hip level on your left side.

Step fwd with rt foot into hc stance, bring rear end of bo up and over in overhead smash to end horizontal at hip level on the right side.

Plant front end of bo almost to ground outside of left foot, it is now held vertically in front with the top end tipped slightly rt. Snap kick left foot.

Touch left foot back down just long enough to do a big backward skip, ending in a very low back stance with left leg straight in front. Bottom end of bo circles up and over to strike downward in front of you.

Stand back up into hc stance (left foot in front), bo held vertically with top end tipped slightly rt and back. Push bo outward slightly in block/strike.

Scoop bottom bo end back and then up to top vertical (tipped sl left) as you lift rt knee and step slightly out into a rt hc stance. Push bo out in strike/block

Scoop bottom bo end back and then up to top vertical (tipped sl rt) as you lift left knee and step slightly out into a lft hc stance. Push bo out in strike/block

Turn to a west-facing horse. Bottom end of bo comes up and over to strike down in a horizontal overhead smash to the rt at waist level.

Pull left hand and far tip of bo in to strike in a horiz strike to the front with the opposite end. The bo is now in front of your hip.

Turn to the left in a north-facing hc stance. Bring the far tip of the bo up and over to strike down in a horiz overhead smash north at waist level.

Pull rt hand and far tip of bo in to strike horiz to the front with the opposite end. The bo is now in front of your hip.

Step left foot west to hc stance, lift far end of bo curving front, up and then down to stab at ground just outside of left foot. Top end of bo angled slightly right and back.

Loop bottom end of bo in a violent small circle ankle-to-knee to the left as you settle into north-facing horse with bo horiz at waist level

Cross rt foot behind left in a scissor as you stab the left end of the bo in an upward diagonal.

Switch grip of left hand from overhand to underhand.

Step rt foot back out into a hc stance, left leg straight and weight on rt, as you slam the far end of the bo almost to the ground.

Step rt foot west in hc stance, swing bo horiz to strike left waist level. Far end pointing forward.

Step left foot fwd in hc stance, swing bo horiz to strike rt waist level. Far end pointing forward.

DO NOT STEP, swing bo up to strike brow level left. Far end pointing forward.

Step rt foot fwd into hc stance, swing bo horiz to strike brow level rt. Far end pointing fwd.

Step lft foot fwd into hc stance, swing bo horiz to strike brow level left. Far end pointing fwd.

Dip front end of bo fwd, down, and around, then spin a second time, to end parallel with body behind rt arm, held in rt hand. Straight punch left arm at chest level.

Grasp bo with left hand at hip (both hands are now on the bo), circle lower end up, rt and around as you step with rt foot to turn south into a horse. Bo ends up horizontal at hip level.

Big skip to your left (east) to land in an hc stance rt foot in front, facing west. The end of the bo to the west makes a BIG counterclockwise circle, then stabs diagonally upward.

Turn 180 degrees to face east, hc stance with left foot fwd. Bo comes up and over in an overhead smash to end horiz at waist level, at left hip, tip pointing forward.

Step rt foot fwd to a hc stance, back end of bo comes up and over in a horiz overhead smash.

Step lft foot fwd into a hc stance, back end of bo comes up and over in a horiz overhead smash.

Dip front end of bo fwd, down, and around, then spin a second time, to end parallel with body behind rt arm, held in rt hand. Straight punch left arm at chest level.

Grasp bo with left hand at hip (both hands are now on the bo), circle lower end up, rt and around as you step with rt foot to turn north into a horse. Bo ends up horizontal at hip level.

Big skip to your left (west) to land in an hc stance rt foot in front, facing east. The end of the bo to the east makes a BIG counterclockwise circle, then stabs diagonally upward.

Dip the far end of the bo down to the ground, circle it to the right and then up and over to end held in the rt hand only, vertical behind your arm. Weight shifts to left foot as bo comes forward, then back to rt foot as bo goes behind arm and do a straight punch left hand chest level. End facing north, hc stance with left leg straight.

left hand grabs bo at hip (now both hands are on the bo), pulls low end to high as you straighten up and put feet together. Bo is now vertical in front of you, left of your centerline. Left hand is on top and elbow is out.

Salute: top end of bo dips forward and down in one complete spin and you switch bo to vertical behind your right arm. Left arm at chest, blade hand, thumb inward. Slight bow.

(pic- Rodrigo)

My elbow is F’ed up- but I can still do forms and drills.

I couldn’t go to Gracie’s this morning. Nor Cindy’s tonight. I’m really unhappy, with all the classes I’m missing this month. But that elbow… you know how it feels when you smack your funny bone? It feels like that every time I tap the spot, even very lightly- sharp flash of pain and then my arm goes numb for a second. I think there’s a hematoma swelling that’s pressing right on the ulnar nerve. That jammed finger on the other side is still not wanting to bend, either. Both injuries will probably be fine in a day or two, but I decided that it would be foolhardy to try to roll today, with that bad elbow hitting the mat every ten seconds, and getting it armbarred… especially as it is Competition Training day. I should have jow’ed the elbow as soon as I got home, but it hadn’t seemed like a big deal at the time. It’s worse today than it was yesterday.

I still went to my kung fu private, figuring that as long as I didn’t do any elbow strikes on a real target, I could still do forms and stuff. SK had his brace off for the first time. He’s planning to go back to work on Wednesday. Bummer for me- that means we probably can’t do any more of these sessions.

There was no space available at the Community Center, so we had to work outside. That was fine for the first hour, but then the sun went down (around 3pm, good grief) and it started to get reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally cold. My fingers were like icicles.

We worked on the White Dragon stances:

Fighting stance- the warding hand at the brow has the fingertips pointed toward the relevant direction (where the enemy is). I hadn’t been absolutely certain it wasn’t the other way around.

Ready stance- The wrist and hand of the other arm make a flat plane- no wrist flexion. The elbow of that hand makes about a 45-degree angle- sharper than I have been tending to make it. Make sure the elbow is dropped.

Guard/blocking stance- this was the one I couldn’t remember. If your enemy is at right- right flat palm guarding groin, left is across your chest and guarding right jaw. Again- arm and hand are in a straight plane, no wrist flexion.

Then Snake Dao (aka "Angry Snake Defending Its Lair")

The recurring theme for today’s Snake dao lesson is DO NOT BEND AT THE WRIST.

I got into position, and SK looked at me quizzically…
"Oh, yeah, I forgot- you only know bits and pieces of the form."
(eagerly)"We could remedy that!"
"No."

Drat.

He did end up giving me one miniscule bit (only one move) that connected the two pieces that I know.

Begin in high horse with body facing east, left hand in low relaxed guard near left hip, dao held horizontally at right hip with point north and blade down.

Right foot crosses in FRONT of left in scissor stance. Press dao north almost to extention of arms, vertical, hilt up and blade north. Brace dull edge with left palm (making a right angle).

Unwind 360 degrees to your left, taking an extra step fwd with left foot, ending facing north in front stance with left foot fwd. Dao wraps around your head vertically (point down), then circles widely all the way around body as you turn, ending in a horizontal cut to north at waist level. The blade tip is facing almost front. DO NOT BEND THE WRIST. Left hard is warding at left temple, palm out.

Hop slightly back into cat with left toe fwd. Torso now facing north. Left hand relaxed guard at waist level. Bring dao up to horizontal brow level, point facing west, blade facing out to catch strike aimed at head. Push with the flat palm of the left hand as if you were pushing the corpse off your sword.

Hop slightly forward, still in cat with left toe fwd. left hand comes to brace right forearm as you pommel-strike to opponent’s left lower rib area.

Immediately bounce into 360 spin to the right. Left knee comes up FIRST to block. Both arms cross at brow during spin (don’t cover eyes). End in front stance, right foot fwd, facing north. Both arms come sweeping back down and out to low diagonal positions. Blade tip pointing almost forward. Do not overextend arms back. DO NOT BEND AT THE WRIST.

Draw rt knee up and across your body to block. Pull dao hilt to left cheek (make sure head is guarded), point forward, blade outward, and brace base of hilt with left flat palm. Stab forward on a slightly upward trajectory almost to extention, as you go back into a forward stance rt foot in front. Thrust *as* you put the foot down, and the thrust should be completed as the rear leg straightens.

Draw dao back to brow height horizontally, blade up, point forward to block strike at head. Cross right foot behind left and fall back into scissor stance (no pause here, but make sure that pose fully happens), then one more step into a very deep back stance (rt foot fwd). As you go down, circle the dao left, down, then back up in a backhanded uppercut strike. The strike should be as high as possible, point upward- but the torso remains erect (no bending over).

Then Kiu Two. Working even more on getting the Snake strikes extended, trying to not mix up parts A and B… this is most difficult during the flurry of exchanging Snake strikes in the end sequnce, as both A Snake and B Snake begin with a right Snake strike and then a left one. It syncs up because one of them is two beats behind the other, but it does make it confusing to remember which one you are doing.

The last time we learned a two-person form, we learned all of part A and THEN all of part B. This time we learned a bit of each in every lesson, so that we could better see how they fit together. It was an experiment… I had feared that it might lead me to mixing up the two parts, and that fear was realized. But it did make it easier to understand the applications, so it’s not just a bunch of rote choreography. So either method has its good and bad points.

I just couldn’t seem to get the rhythm of the part A "flurry" sequence, and finally asked in frustration, "Does it seem like I’m putting an extra curlique in there or something??!?" SK started laughing and said yes, I was trying to insert a more advanced version that I had not been taught yet. The extra circle made sense in an energetic flow pattern- and according to SK, if I was a Snake stylist using this technique in an actual practical application, that’s how it would be done. I find it very cool and gratifying when that spontaneously happens! But right NOW, it’s frustrating because it’s messing me up!!!!!

Note- do NOT bend the knee on the 360-degree spin in either side of the form.

I managed to figure out that in part A, the reason I keep forgetting to tip the hips over and do the kick sideways like I’m supposed to be doing it is that I’m anticipating the next move too much. I have to go in the opposite direction next, so my instinctual brain is thinking, "why waste all that time and energy turning the hips over the the left when you’ll immediately have to twist right again??" Figuring out WHY I’m wanting to do a move wrong is a good step towards breaking the habit.

Then we went over the Tiger drills again- but I was staring to lose focus by then, plus I was getting really cold…. so I wasn’t doing very well either mentally or physically. SK was able to figure out an application for one of CC’s Tiger drill techniques that I couldn’t even remember, which made me feel lame- but that’s why he’s the teacher, huh? (Not to make me feel lame- to be able to see apps for things he hasn’t even been taught.)

Notes-

Do not get sloppy with the width of the back and front stances. Make them wide.

the kick in #8 (the elbow and hammer-fist one) is a ball-of-the-foot thrusty kick to the inside of the thigh, not a standard snap kick. Likewise the kick in #7 (the one with the two claws and then the groin slap).

Do not hunch the shoulder in #1 (the one with the scoop-and-claw)

Do not yank SK to the ground by his injured wrist (oopsie).

#3 (the one with the Crane’s neck strike)- the circles are going INWARD. You are parrying a high strike and catching a low kick with the SAME HAND. The rearmost one. Then the Crane’s neck is the FORWARD hand.

#5 (the one with the reap)- The clotheslining arm is in a hammer fist. The right is in a claw to hold the opponent’s arm. Don’t let the hip turn out and circle the kick around. It comes straight through.

#7 (the one with the two claws and groin slap)- make sure you grab the armlock ABOVE the opponent’s elbow.

#8 (the one with the two elbows and hammer fist)- When you do the headlock, ideally you have the opponent bent over frontways at this point- although it will work if he’s bent over backward as well.

(pic- Shawn)

“Now touch your knees to your ankles….”

Thursday lunchtime no-gi at Cindy’s.

I am losing patience with my poor sleep patterns and resorted to an antihistimine sleep aid last night. I was still trying to shake off some of the side effects as class began. I told Cindy that I hadn’t trained in a week, and she said, "Oh, you’re gonna hate me today…." It’s never a good sign when you get threats like that to begin a class.

All positional training today. Started with the positional flow drill. I’m getting more comfortable with this, although that pesky arm in the way when I try to go from north-south to scarf still trips me up. I focussed on doing good backsits, since I’ve fumbled at those.

Then side control- bottom person, try to replace full guard or sweep- top person, don’t let them. I was working with Cindy. I felt somewhat okay about my performance on top, but I seem pathetically inept on the bottom.

Then we worked some closed guard and open guard positional training. For some of it, we were only allowed to use our legs, not our hands. Other times, we had to hold some balled-up ace bandages in our hands so that we could use our arms but could not grasp.

I was getting frustrated with the exercise of trying to pass guard while standing, on a seated opponent. I tend to lunge in on them and end up in top half guard- but of course Cindy and Lamont are skilled enough that I ended up in full guard instead. Cindy wants me to run around and around the seated person until I can feint and get both of my legs past hir outside knee on one side. I wasn’t doing too well at that, especially on Lamont, whose legs are long enough that I was practically running laps around the dojo and getting really tired and frustrated. If I tried to do this on someone like Carlos, with his long, long, long legs, I’d have to take a bus.

It was good to get back in the gym, though. a week was way too long away.

Came out of class with a really sore right elbow- must have cracked it on something/someone…. and a very sore left index finger (smushed on Lamont’s knee while I was trying to pass his open guard). I guess it’s good to start getting caught up on having missed a week’s worth of injuries!

Later………….

Thursday kung fu. Nemesis wasn’t there, which is unusual enough that I was a bit worried- especially as he hadn’t texted anyone to say he wasn’t showing up. I asked JM to text him during the break and verify that he was alive. Fortunately we got a response by the end of class. He just wasn’t feeling well and had decided to skip.

MM was there- it was a surprise! He is in town for a month.

We started with some of the three-minutes-continuous-striking-against-the-pad routine. I had to hold the pad for MM, which was kind of painful. Not as bad as Nemesis! But afterward, my sore elbow was whining. I should’ve held the pad with the other arm.

I am still feeling awkward with keeping the flow going. Obviously needs more practice.

Some Sil Lum Tao. MM has learned a version from someone at his school back east. He repped with us since it was similar enough- but different enough that I asked him to demo it for us so that we could watch. His version has straight punches instead of sun fists, and there is generally less wrist-twistiness. Also no axe-hand section. Other than that, it looks mostly similar.

Then JM and I went into the lobby and worked on Kiu Two, while SK worked with MM on something else since MM doesn’t know the form. JM and I repped section A several times and then section B several times, and by the time SK came out to look, I only had one decent sweep left in me. Then, it was "Your first sweep looked pretty good, but after that…" Yeah, I know. I only have about 5 good ones in me before my knees start hurting too badly to do them correctly.

The same problems persist- I am not extending the Snake strikes enough nor continuing the energy through the series. SK did comment that I wasn’t popping up on my toes any more. Good. Another thing- I am still bending over at the waist during the double Snake strike at the end.

Then we did it a few times together. We had to do many reps of the flurry-of-Snake-strikes sequence… it feels pretty different with each different person you try it with, and JM is much shorter in both height and arm length than SK- so it was an adjustment. We agreed at the end that the motions are all there, and all the parries were parrying, but we don’t really have a good Snakey flow yet.

Next: chi sau. It’s been a while since we’ve worked on this. I ran into the familiar problem, though- the same one that crops up in chi sau, Dragon, and BJJ. All ideally involve melding with your opponent’s energy and using it against hir. I find it difficult to key in to my opponent’s energy and still keep sight of the fact that s/he is my OPPONENT. The dropping of psychic barriers does not mesh well with the basic intent of trying to kill each other. Not at the level I’m presently at, anyway. I expect (hope) this mystery will unravel itself at some future point of proficiency/experience.

In this case, I was percieving the spot of energy at the balance point and it was skating playfully around JUST within reach….where I thought, "If I can trance just a tad deeper, I can really latch on to that, and then I’ll know everything he’s going to do a moment before he does it" but to go a tad deeper, I would have had to let go of the awareness that at any moment, this person may try to clobber me- and also, I was supposed to be mindful of opportunities to clobber HIM. Tantalizing…. frustrating….

After a while I asked SK if we could switch arms- my shoulders and arms get tired VERY swiftly doing these exercises, because I’m so tense. He replied, "Err- no." and held up his plastic-splinted right wrist. Oops. Forgot.

Eventually switched to JM. Whoo boy- if anyone is more tense than me, it’s her. As soon as our wrists touched, it felt like she was putting a ton of pressure to the outside. It seemed like I should be able to duck under/over it and hit her very easily, but it wasn’t working as well as I expected. So I consciously began to push AGAINST her a bit, towards the inside… thinking that would make her push back even harder and *then* I’d be able to pop out and around. I figured our general knee-jerk competitiveness against each other might work for me in this case… ((grin)) That worked a little at first, but she caught on to my game pretty quick- she is no dummy. So I switched my focus back to trying to track the little shiny energy spot, even though that meant zoning out enough to let her whump me in the belly several times.

Individual forms practice. I did some Five Animals In the Mirror, which I was happy to see was almost as comfortable as the original version. Then some Little Red Dragon In the Mirror and Leopard Three In the Mirror, which were not quite so smooth. I worked on the kinks a little in both. Then a little Bung Bo Kuen In the Mirror, which is still in mid working stages. I’ve got in transcribed to about the middle, and there are still a few kinks in that part. The last part of the form is going to be the worst to work out the mirror version.

On the way home, SK and I were talking about language barriers between teachers and students. I was telling him the funny story about the time Professor Carlos couldn’t come up with an acceptable verbal substitute for the term "ass", and he told me about the time when his Bagua teacher instructed him to "touch your knees to your ankles". Ha ha! I wonder how many years you have to train bagua before you gain the ability to touch your knees to your ankles. That’s quite an impressive trick.

(pic- Nick, Fred, Pat, Lindsey, and Jeff, the first five people from bottom left up to the bald guy (Jeff)… I don’t know who the three in the back are.)