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… the Zombie Apocalypse.

(pic- Carlos, in the blue gi)

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