Monday morning BJJ at Gracie Seattle. There were about twice as many people there as there used to be back when I was regularly doing the weekday morning classes last year. Good thing we have a bigger mat space- we’d never have been able to jockey all these people around in the old loft space.

Warmups- still struggling a bit more than I should be with the warmups- I hope I get back in the groove quickly.

A little standup- fighting for grips. With Bryan and JM. I didn’t seem to be doing too badly at this. I think my shortness is helping here (at least within the confines of the defined drill).

Takedown: right elbow grip, left collar grip, pull the elbow to get the opponent to step. Hook the ankle (Keep the toe on the floor- I kept wanting to pull my foot up to the back of the knee for some reason). Push opponent forward (keep elbow low, and push with it) and trip hir.

Same opening, but opponent steps out of your hooking foot. Drop to your knee and pick hir other ankle. Pull/push hir around TOWARD the leg you have trapped, dump hir on hir back. Let go of the lapel (this was the step I’d been flubbing last time we worked this, and I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get around the straight leg and why I kept getting pulled into closed guard). DO NOT let go of the foot. Go around the leg and get side control.

Guard pass: grab pants at inside of knee, go under thigh with other hand to grab belt. Slide over opponent’s thigh with your knee, keep that outside leg stuck straight out. Do not let go of the pants grips till you have your legs out of hir reach and get side control. I caused Bryan to make faces when I ground my knee up his thigh- I guess his groin injury is still not fully healed. Sorry buddy.

Bullfight. I have trouble with the moving around to side control, because my arms are too short (even on Bryan, and he’s shorter than the average bear) to keep grips at the knees and still get my shoulder up to pressure on his solar plex. I’m lucky if I can get above his crotch.

8-minute timed rolls. Fred keeps sidling over to press up against me while we’re standing in line waiting to be paired up- and Prof Carlos was like, "Stop that, *I’m* going to be the one to pick who goes with whom." Dex first, then Marc (he called me "Nemesis" again- hee hee), then Fred. I was being a little cautious with the right hand, but aside from a few twinges, it was okay. I seemed decently competitive with Dex and Marc (no taps for anyone); Fred worked me over, though. He was actually going kind of hard. I was on the bottom most of the time. He didn’t get any taps, but he came close a few times and I managed to escape. Nelson was watching, and he told me I’d done well.

I heard Prof. Carlos yelp, "Taptaptaptap!" That got my attention right away, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen/heard this guy tap to ANYBODY. Then he started howling, and holding his ribs. Uh oh. Rib out. It was just like when it happened to Jim last year. Both of them got it in the same spot- down low around the floating rib area… My own rib injuries were higher on the torso (and obviously not in the same realm of agony). Twenty minutes later he was still lying there on the mat with ice packs on his ribs. Poor guy. I wonder how long this is going to bench him.

Bree turned me down AGAIN for a roll. I said, "The longer you stall, the worse it’s going to be for you," She responded, "I’m afraid!"

I relayed to Dave the message that his training blog readers want him to enable comments on his "Side Control" blog. I don’t know if he will consent, but I did pass the message. He actually looked a little startled at the suggestion. I wonder if he’s one of us who is still surprised to hear that anybody’s actually reading their blog.

(Pic- Shawn, Kevin and Rodrigo)

Deadly key missiles

AAAAARGH…. Cindy is rescheduling, and dropping the lunchtime classes. It’s understandable, as there tend to be only three or four of us in there most days. Not really worth her time, but it was a sweet deal for US, as we got a lot of personalized attention! That was way too good to be true forever- sigh. Getting into Seattle for evening classes is a PAIN and a HALF. I spend longer sitting in traffic (one way!) than I spend in the class. Then when I get to class, I’m already tired and grumpy and stressed before we even start. And often late, to boot.

Sunday Kung fu. I was less than 5 min late this time, hey, that’s an improvement! SK, DD, and JM were all wearing their sashes. I really hope SK isn’t going to start requiring that (of ME- I don’t care what they do). I know he’d like to, but he’s anxious that if he gets too strict with us, we’ll quit coming to class!

We started working on Five Points Of The Star, and I was being mindful of the corrections I’d gotten on Thursday (although SK did come over and straighten my torso once, so I must still be leaning sometimes).

Just before the back roll- make sure to hunch way down and hide as much of the body as possible behind the thigh. Also- go up on the toe! Yes, the very thing I spend most of my time in this class trying to remember to NOT do- you’re actually supposed to do it here. The pike kick is straight back- don’t anticipate the rest of the roll and start listing to the side until AFTER the kick. Also, don’t roll too far up onto the neck before making contact with the kick. The culmination of the roll here is on the LEFT shoulder- straighten the RIGHT leg and keep eye contact with the opponent until you straighten and turn.

The jumping kick- both the kick and the preparatory knee hike- are straight ahead, not out to the sides…. and preferrably contact with the ball of the foot. We worked this kick and the pike kick against pads. I had to hold pads for Nemesis (sigh). I was trying to protect my finger, so I was even more hesitant than usual. Every time he kicked the pad, it went flying and I had to chase it across the room- but I wasn’t about to risk broken fingers trying to hold onto it. I just had to make sure it didn’t go flying into the MP3 player or the plate glass window.

Eventually SK switched me out with JaE because I physically could not hold the pad high enough for Nemesis to do the jump as high as he COULD. So then I found myself with JM. I gritted my teeth bracing for her to start giving me corrections- on TIGER MATERIAL, my own style, in the basic defining Southern Tiger form that I have been working on since long before she ever joined this class, and right in front of the most senior teacher- but for once she kept her mouth shut… for which I was grateful. In that sense, I’d actually rather be working with Nemesis. He beats the crap out of me, but at least he doesn’t play "teacher" with me nearly as much.

SK wanted to work some Tiger-oriented self defense drills, but JaE’s arm wasn’t up to that tonight. (Note- we will likely be doing that next week, so I’d better remember to wear my contacts). So instead we worked some more on the Tiger Versus Crane flying kicks. DD got out his notebook- a venerable behemoth volume the size of a 70’s couch cushion- and they spent about an eon debating whether or not there is supposed to be a drawing-in of the left foot before the box kick. I hate it when they do that during class, while the rest of us are standing around wasting time. I just keep doing reps and leave them to their debate. Once again, there is the amusement of SK trying repeatedly to pin DD down to "So how do YOU WANT us to do it?" and DD responding not with a straight answer but more philosophical musings on comparing and contrasting the various versions. In the end there were four versions- and he still won’t tell us which one he wants us to use. (rolling eyes)

Note- do not go up on the toe during the box kick.

When class was finished, I asked SK for the key so that I could get out the front door, and he tossed it across the room and nailed me right in the forehead with it (to the amusement of all). Nice aim. Paybacks, however, will be forthcoming.

(pic- Lindsey.)

Knives are the COOLEST things EVER.

Drove into Seattle Thursday lunchtime and again class got cancelled (rats!). Cindy was there this time, but when I walked up, she was on the phone telling Lamont to not come in… "You just don’t even want to grapple with me today, because it wouldn’t be pretty." I’m like, "Ah, one of *THOSE* days, eh?" Bummer to not have class, but it’s fine. I’m actually very happy that we have a good enough student-teacher relationship that she can just tell me, "You know, I’ve had a phenomenally shitty morning and I really need to bail out of this class," and know that I’m going to be cool and back her up on that- as opposed to, "Here’s somebody that I have to grit my teeth and do the song and dance for." I’m so much more comfortable when I know we can just be real to each other.

Another couple days to rest the finger, anyhow. Maybe the universe is conspiring to make me rest that finger.

Thursday evening kung fu. SK told me in the car that CM had e-mailed him and they’d discussed some things about the class. I was happy; I had asked CM if he would touch base with SK and offer some encouragement/advice, so that was really nice of him to do that.

Three cycles to warm up- one person holding the kick pad, one person flow-sparring (1- just arms, 2-just legs, 3-anything goes), one person doing an endurance/conditioning exercise (1-low horse stance with pennies balanced on knees… you know you’re in trouble when SK breaks out his pennies….2- plank pose on elbows, 3-low horse stance holding a weight straight-armed at chest level). I had to hold the kick pad for Nemesis… always a workout in itself.

Monkey-in-the-middle self-defense techniques. Good thing I wore my contacts. Had to go a bit light because of the finger. I did most poorly against the hair grabs. I HATE hair grabs. SK gave me grief for growing my hair out again and then bitching about it.

Despite the finger, I actually did a halfway decent job holding RNC’s and even rear bear hugs (!) on Nemesis tonight. It’s not like I would have been able to DO anything to him- but he had to work harder/longer than usual to shuck me off or reach any part of me for a counterattack. SK always yells, "NICE!" whenever I do a flying leap onto someone’s back to latch on an RNC (I have to get a running start to reach Nemesis’ neck).

Knife work. This was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. And not even just the attacking (although of course that was the best); the defending was a lark as well. I loooooooooooooooooooove knife work!

First me defending against Nemesis (he had the knife). The fact that I was up against NEMESIS and still having fun is telling. I dunno, I just felt like I had everything under control (for a change). I know I’ve done a lot more knife work than anyone in that group, and even SK seems to consider me some kind of badass knife fighter (heh heh heh). Not that I did everything perfect, but it just felt like the playing field was a lot more level.

The spar is much more adrenalized when the knife is in play, and everyone is so hyperfocussed on it. The only time Nemesis got the drop on me really bad was when he had the knife in his right hand and threw a haymaker at my head with his LEFT fist. Often, the attacker with the knife doesn’t think to use hir other strikes.

JM with the knife, Nemesis defending. It looks like people are better about remembering to keep their guard up when the knife is in play. I had been noticing that with myself as well (I’m bad about remembering to keep my guard up).

Me with the knife, JM defending. I was DROOLING to get out there and start slicing and dicing, LOL. The first thing I did was start slashing low to her thighs, since no one else had done that. Caught her completely flat-footed. (HA! GOTCHA!) Darted in and totally hamstrung her a couple times. I also did a lot of slashing to her fingers and wrists whenever she was foolish enough to let me get within range of her guard.

I made a point of backing her into a corner… it took two "deaths" before she wised up and stopped letting me do that.

I did wide horizontal slashes to the midsection, stabs to same, overhead ("Psycho shower-scene style") stabs, wide looping attacks. I found that she tended to freeze up whenever I quickly switched the knife from one hand to the other and came in, or whenever I quickly changed the grip (horizontal to overhand, etc) and came in, so I exploited that. I am pretty dextrous with juggling the knife around, and the other way that served me well was when she closed and controlled my knife hand, I was often able to switch the weapon to the other hand and stab her.

I’ll never forget one of my very first knife seminars several years ago- SK and I had gone together. At the beginning, they just had some of us sparring (one person with a knife) as an initial exploratory thing. I had the knife, and SK and I were rolling around on the ground- he effortlessly got my knife arm well pinned, and I proceeded to switch the knife to the other hand and totally gut him. The whole class clapped and cheered uproarously for me, and I was so pleased with myself, because I had figured that out all by myself. None of the previous sparring "attackers" had even thought to switch the knife to the other hand. I think that same high-intensity "fixation" that both parties tend to get upon the knife itself tends to make you forget you can switch hands- just like it tends to make you forget you can also punch the opponent with your free hand, or kick hir.

So anyway, I could see JM getting a little frustrated, so I reassured her that she was doing fine- I was getting her quite a bit, but I was also going really hard and fast on her. I said, "If you sucked that bad, I’d be going slow and easy on you." She says that she just doesn’t seem to click well with the knife in general. I wish I could take her (and SK too) to the Insights Defensive Knife classes. Too bad they are so expensive.

That was a blast… I hope we do some more of that.

We finished with a run-through of Five Points of the Star. SK tells me that:

1)I am still doing some leaning of the torso (notably during the double Tiger straight punches with front lunges)

2)There are still some things that I am not fully extending

3)I continue to sometimes cheat the circling-inward part of the double Tiger straight punches.

All stuff that I know about; I still need to clean it up.

When we bowed out, we noticed that SK had a perfect dusty outline of a bare footprint in the middle of his black t-shirt; it was funny.

I didn’t have any notable accidents with the injured finger, but just the generalized jarring and bumping around had it sore and throbbing on the ride home. Not too bad; just bad enough that it was seeming to say, "Hey, don’t forget I’m HURT, here."

Hey look, some actual BJJ!

I drove all the way into the city at lunchtime only to find that Cindy’s class was cancelled- how’s that for lovely timing?!?

Wednesday evening BJJ at Gracie Bellevue. If you’ve seen the Robin Hood movie with Kevin Costner… it was a pretty bad movie, but one cool thing I remember from it was Robin wading ashore from a ship after being imprisoned out of country for years. He was so happy to be back in England that he dropped to his knees and kissed the wet sand. I felt like doing that to the mat tonight. But it seems like a good way to get an infection, so I refrained.

The heater was blasting, and I have been on the bench for two and a half weeks- the warmup almost killed me.

I was the highest-ranking student in the room tonight. That still feels bizarre. Lots of white belts, lots of baby blues.

You can tell it’s competition week. Prof Carlos was driving us. Lots of cardio drills tonight. Mostly stuff that I normally wouldn’t have too much problem with; but I was flagging tonight due to my out-of-shape-ness.

We didn’t really get a new technique drill; we did some review reps on two basic guard breaks from earlier in the week (both of which I’ve seen before, luckily, since I wasn’t here earlier this week).

A little positional sparring- pass guard vs sweep only. I was working with white-belt Carlos; his base was really good and I couldn’t sweep him although he’s only got about 15lb on me. I complimented him on that, but warned him to not let me keep grabbing the half guard. I was able to pass his guard; it was nice to not have to worry about the triangle.

One of the things I like about Prof. Carlos’ teaching style is that he always makes me feel that he is geniunely delighted to see me show up for class. He asked me where I’d been… I was expecting him to roll his eyes about the stupid little finger injury, but he put on his Serious Face and told me to drink fruit juice for inflammation. A long barely-intelligible discussion followed, in which he used the word "s***" while talking about flushing toxins out of the body, and groped for a more acceptable English word, and apologized when he couldn’t find one. Okay, I’m up for juice, juice can’t hurt- especially as housemate has a cold which I don’t want to catch, and I also donated blood this week. I can tell by the way my head feels that I haven’t been careful enough about rehydrating.

The second hour was "competition training" hour- I’m not sure what happened to the Wednesday evening no-gi, as it is still on the schedule ALONG WITH "Competition Training". Anyhow, I did not want to test the finger with CT quite yet, so I slipped out.

When I got in the shower, I was interested to see a layer of dead skin on my injured finger peeling off in one big piece, encompassing the entire outermost finger joint. I had noticed during the first week of the injury, when it was swelled up like a sausage, that the skin was whitening as if was dying from being overstetched. I guess that even the low-key amount of rubbing on gi and mat tonight was enough to slough it off. The finger did okay tonight, but I was being careful- and it was more cardio drilling than grappling, so it was a good way to start easing back in.

(pic- Dave, aka SIDE CONTROL)

It’s ALWAYS about DESTROYING. Well, duh.

Almost went to BJJ this weekend. Wanted to. Bad. I’m going nuts here. Then I made the mistake of brushing my hair out of my eyes with my right hand, and it hurt so bad it’s not even funny.

I’m not afraid of pain, but I’m very afraid of reinjuring the bad finger and extending my bench time for several weeks longer than necessary. Tuesday, though. I’m going in Tuesday no matter what (well, unless I get called in to work on the midnight shift again Monday night).

OMG, these stupid little digit injuries drive me crazy. It’s just a FINGER (or a TOE), for cryin’ out loud. A digit is not worth losing weeks of training over. Makes me want to just chop the durn thing off and be done with it. At least then it won’t get reinjured.

Sunday evening Kung Fu. I was late again. I find that without the carpool, I tend to be less self-disciplined about getting out the door in time. I need to improve that.

Five Points Of the Star. I haven’t done this form in a while, so I was a little worried that it would be rusty. However, I *have* worked on the mirror form off and on in the past several months. It turned out to be fine. Nemesis was really struggling through the first few reps, though.

There were only 3 of us (not counting SK), and there wasn’t enough room in the dojo for us all to do the form correctly. It’s crazy how much ground this form covers. I just changed direction on the fly whenever I was about to collide with the wall or with Nemesis.

We picked three techniques out of the form to drill with the heavy bags and/or pads held by classmates.

Dragon Rides The Wind: Don’t cheat the full arm motion. Don’t turn the hips all the way over. Keep the hips facing sideways till the very last snap of the kick- then turn them, but not all the way. SK corrected me on this, and then I overcorrected the opposite way… grr. The striking surface is the heel, of course, but again- it doesn’t turn till the last second. Also- I want to come up on the toe, and I need to stop doing that. "Stupid-side" Dragon-Rides-the-Wind is dismayingly clumsy. Must practice this more on the side that we DON’T do it on in the form.

Front forward lunge with double Tiger straight punch. I had to cheat these a bit regarding hand position, as there is no way I can do Tiger straight punches on a solid target with my finger the way it is. Remember to drive off the back foot and DO NOT COME UP ON THE TOE (see a pattern here?)! SK kept coming over and stepping on my foot to call my attention to it.

Turn sideways and rake, then return with Crane’s beak. I had to do them all on the left side. The rake here is not a big motion with the shoulder- more of a "b****-slap" (according to SK). The entire body moves with the strike, but not exaggeratedly so. Do not stop the motion between the two strikes, make them flow together. The chambering arm on the Crane’s neck motion is important. The chest is supposed to open up a lot more than feels logical to me.

Then the bear-hug defense-to-throw sequence. We always belabor this bit whenever we work on this form. After some five years of coming back to it, I feel fine about it at this point (and in fact JM complimented me on the throw- twice). We keep talking about bringing in our BJJ gi pants so that we can do the throw properly…. it involves grabbing a clawed handful of your opponent’s groin and using it as part of the leverage to haul hir over, so of necessity we have to alter it a bit when we’re working with people we don’t actually want to castrate. We usually end up grabbing a handful of the pants on the inner thigh, and more than one pair of pants has been ripped beyond all repair and modesty while working this technique. I was wearing my rather expensive House Of Dra black cotton wrap pants today, and I shook my finger in first SK’s face and then Nemesis’ in turn as they prepared to throw me- warning, "Don’t you rip these pants!!" This was another technique I had to do on the "wrong" side tonight, because I could not properly grab a clawful of pants with my right hand… so I got a little discombobulated. Even though I have practiced it on the left side, I have never done it with a live uke on that side.

After that, the front roll (which has four different takedowns built in, before you even start looking hard) to sweep. Mind you, this is a DIFFERENT sweep than that Snake sweep, and it’s not an Iron Broom either. A sweep is never just a sweep around here.

SK wanted us to work the sequence on each other and find more takedown options beyond the obvious four. I like this roll as a Monkey-style attack where you hit the opponent’s knees with your shoulder blades and knock hir down as you roll over top of hir; if you have good body coordination (as I do), you can deliver a lovely axe kick right to the schnozz, and then you’re on the ground on top- which is just where I want to be.

Note that if the opponent is still standing when you go for the leg switch kick, it is a "check" style kick to the ANKLE- not trying to blow out the knee as I was attempting to do. JM found that amusing. I was like, "Why on EARTH would I NOT being trying to destroy the knee at this point??!?" and she laughed, "It’s ALWAYS about DESTROYING with you!" Well, of course. I am a Tiger. Tigers destroy. And this is a Tiger form, no less. Well, SK does not want me to annihilate the knee at that juncture because the following sequence of moves are rendered null and void if you fail to check the ankle. (Who cares; I’d rather just shatter that knee and be done with it! Sigh.)

We worked on the sweep, too- JM and I both failed to sweep Nemesis- because he is NEMESIS. I pronounced that it was like trying to sweep a tree, and JM agreed. SK didn’t like the way I was hooking the ankle ("You’re being too NICE"- this after I was discouraged from shattering kneecaps; see the mixed messages he gives me?!); he wants me to STRIKE hard with the kick. It did work better that way, although I tend to not feel very confident in my sweeps. I prefer to hook the ankle and then attempt a takedown with the assistance of a kick with the second foot- and perhaps grabbing the ankle with my hand as well. I just feel like I have more options that way- and also, as soon as you’re down, I’m already latched on so that I can swarm on top of you- which- again- is just where I want to be.

SK talked about wanting us to stop thinking of forms as a set of rote motions and think of each technique as a MULTITUDE of different options for applications.

I gave Nemesis a ride home, and we had a long interesting discussion/debate about the merits of different types of armour.

Got an e-mail from CC asking if I’m still alive. I can’t decide if I should try again to press him for more regular classes right now. I still haven’t really figured out what I’m going to do as far as trying to adjust my training schedule to accommodate more Kung Fu practice on my own; not to mention that possible Tai Chi tutoring thing.

I really should have been hauling my lazy carcass into the (non-MA) gym to work on forms while I’m off the BJJ mat with my finger injury. It was an opportunity to 1) get caught up on some things I’ve been stinting on, and 2)avoid wasting a lot of time and getting out of shape. However, I found that once I was off my frenetic hamster-wheel schedule of continual classes, I became embarrassingly sedentary and it was hard to get motivated to get into the gym. I’m glad to say my weight hasn’t increased, though.

Yes, I’m still working on the pelvic alignment. It still feels like walking around with a broomstick up my butt. The chronically sore spot on my upper back feels a little weird, but I think it’s just because it’s not used to the new alignment- It seems like with the hips tucked under, that upper back area will be less likely to curve in an unhealthy fashion, and will probably be the better for it (eventually).

Flow and Mantis

Thursday night Kung Fu.

Although I was doing some badass tabletop horse stance at the beginning of class, I was dismayed to find halfway through the class that my knees were hurting pretty bad. They had been hurting on Sunday after class; I assumed from all the twisting and hard landing involved in the Tiger-Versus-Cane crescent kicks. The right one is noticably more painful than the left- it feels like there’s a swollen fruit stuffed in there- and that’s the one that twists in that sequence that I repped a million times on Sunday. However, I have done literally NOTHING for the last three days but lie around and read books. It seems that this particular malady is not helped by bed rest (or needs more than three days of it…. which is never going to happen).

We spent the entire class time tonight doing a slight variation on the build-a-form game. Each person in turn added one move to the sequence, but we were supposed to stick to mostly hand techniques- and mostly stay in one place. Stance shifts were okay, but no travelling or going to the ground.

Also- special emphasis on continuing the energy of the previous movement. I assume SK did this because we are currently working on Tiger Versus Crane. One of the main concepts of Tiger Versus Crane is keeping the energy flow unbroken through the entire form. Of course that is true for ALL forms…. but with all the flying kicks in TvC, it makes a very noticable difference in both power and exhaustion level whether you are doing that or not.

I eventually noticed that all of my contributions to the sequence were Northern-Mantisy. I had to chuckle when I realized that I had done that because I’ve spent the last two weeks doing everything with the index finger on my dominant hand stuck stiffly out to the front- essentially a modified Mantis Claw. My subconscious was either in Mantis Mode from doing that…..or…… I was subconsciously choosing techniques from the style that was least likely to reinjure my bad finger. I hope it was the latter; it’s neat to think that my subconscious fighter-brain is at a level that it automatically makes adjustments for handicaps. Ideally, in a real fight, that would mean a greater ability to continue fighting efficiently in spite of injuries that are serious enough to hamper physical function.

We did beaucoup reps of this, since we were in drill mode instead of the circular build-a-form formation… thirty reps of the sequence after each addition. As usual, it was hot enough to bake an apple pie in the classroom- so it was a sweaty cardio workout.

After the reps, we took turns being the defender and doing the apps.

Individual forms time. I did a few reps of Cannon Fist, then some Bung Bo Kuen In the Mirror. I didn’t really have the energy (or the knee function) to work on TvC, but there were just a few minutes left to walk through the setups for those two tricky flying kick sequences a few times.

My finger is mostly functional at this point for light-to-medium tasks, although it still hurts some when I try to do certain things with it. If there was anything on the schedule except COMPETITION TRAINING, I would want to go in this weekend. However, I am anxious about putting the finger through the Trial By Fire that is Competition Training. I’m going to be really torqued off if I took two weeks off and then I reinjure the flippin’ thing even worse on my first class back. I should probably do drills for a bit and ease carefully into the actual rolling, depending on how things go. Thus it is probably wisest to delay till Tuesday. Sigh.

(pic- Nate’s promotion)

Yo, Leopard Student

Got an e-mail today from Lamont, asking where the heck I am and what’s going on. I told him about my ailing car, and the finger. I still wince when I try to click the mouse button with it- so I don’t think it’s ready for jiu jitsu yet. But today is the first day I even dared to TRY clicking the mouse button with it.

Also got an e-mail today from CM (the Tiger Master):

"Yo, Leopard student. What are you up to?"

Have to grin. I told him that I’ve been having a hard slog with my MA this year, and about SK leading the group, and about seeing RS in November. CM and RS are on different sides of the political schism. CM is sad about it, and sometimes asks me about RS. RS is sad about it too, but isn’t quite ready to consider coming to the table. Anyway, I told CM about how RS is doing, and also mentioned that RS thinks I am overtraining and should take a 6 month break from either Kung Fu or BJJ. CM immediately advised sticking with the Kung Fu- surprise surprise! Heh heh.

He commented in regard to SK teaching all the classes,

"SK is a good teacher and will uphold the traditons."

I passed that tidbit along to SK… he needs all the encouragement he can get. I also asked CM to drop SK a note as well, if he can.

"Buck up, young Jedi. Things will turn around. Give your spirit some time to relax."

(pic- Carlos and Kevin)

Disaster Stalks the Fish

That fish thing is apparently a very deep philosophical musing…. bear with me….

Sunday night kung fu. A few run-through’s of Black Crane One. I am still forgetting to bring the hands up through the CENTER before the lunge and press-down.

Then a few reps of Tiger Versus Crane. More work on that same strike-to-flying-crescent-kick sequence that we’ve been working on for- what, three weeks? And it’s still not right. Practicing the strikes against focus mitts. I’m still failing to keep the right arm circling continuously all the way around. As is typical of me, I can focus on getting the hand positions and targeting right, *OR* I can focus on that centrifugal right arm; I don’t have enough brain cells to do both at once. What usually has to happen in these sorts of cases is that I just have to rep the easier part a million times till I can put that on autopilot and focus on the more complicated part. Problem here is that both parts are complicated.

I did figure out that I have been making things unnecessarily hard on myself by trying to torque legs and body through too much of the turn; it’s okay to turn more initially and also to lift the left knee up to help hike my body weight into the air. Bringing the left knee up also forces me to remember to get the weight fully on the right foot before the jump.

After the focus mitts, SK made me do the sequence with barbells in my hands (He asked me if I could do the sequence while holding 2-lb barbells, and I said sure- examined them later in the class and found that he’d given me THREE-pound barbells, the sneak). That was quite a bit more exhausting work, but it also made it harder to do it WRONG, because when you do it wrong with 3-lb barbells in your hands, you drag your entire body violently off course.

The others seem to think my flying crescent looks impressive… I can feel that I’m still not getting the centrifugal force right… if they think it looks good NOW, their socks are going to be knocked off when I get the rest of the kinks worked out of my balance problems. I’m already crescenting way over my head and getting the proper 180-degree turn to the appropriate target. I can still FEEL my body working against itself, though.

It needs about a zillion more reps, and I get tired after a dozen. Flying crescent kicks are a lot of work.

We also spent some time on the closing three-kick sequence (rt foot inside-to-outside flying crescent to west, rt foot box kick to north, rt foot inside-to-outside flying crescent to south). I am stopping the energy after each kick, and I need to figure out how to move my feet in such a way that the energy continues through all three kicks. For much of this part, sliding the relevant foot along the floor in a curve from center will suffice. I just have to remember to do it. After the box kick is the sticky wicket. Apparently you have to let that right foot swing back down AND BACK without pause, as you twist your body 180 and let that second upward swing carry into the flying crescent. Mama Mia. It’s hard. I only had time to try a handful of reps, and I can almost feel how it’s SUPPOSED to be…. but not quite there yet. And by the way, there’s nothing that looks more spastic and ridiculous than trying this. I wanna work on it someplace where nobody is *watching* me work on it!

Every Sunday we read a chapter of the Tao Te Ching from each of our respective translations and discuss it. JM has a version with singularly lovely illustrations… written by a gentlemen whom we have all agreed was high when he did the translation. We can follow the parallels through all of the other versions fairly easily, then we get to her book, and she usually has to ask, "Uh, we *are* on chapter thirty-six, right?" Because hers bears NO resemblance. It is usually three times as long, wandering in nonsensical hyperbole that leaves us either rolling in hysterics or gaping at each other and asking, "WTF?????" (As if this material wasn’t inscrutable enough to begin with.) There is a "commentary" section on each chapter that’s even nuttier. Let’s just say that great liberties are taken with the original work, and this author is convinced that he Gets It in a way that no other philosopher ever has or ever will. That much I think we can get behind.

Anyway- tonight’s chapter made reference to fish in deep water, and when we got to JM’s translation, the line came up as "Disaster stalks the fish."


Long moment of eyebrow-climbing silence.


That is going to be the new buzz phrase in this school. It might be the name of a new form.

Finger is improving steadily, although not as quickly as I would like. I can do light tasks with it now, as long as I’m careful- I don’t have to do everything with that finger stuck stiffly out to the side. I was hoping to get back to BJJ class this week… or at the very least, go in and watch some classes. Then my recently-repaired car went belly-up again. Obviously the correct problem was not ferreted out. Back to the shop with you. Back to transportation deficiencies for me.

(Pic- Jesse)

One-handed Kung Fu

Thursday kung fu.

I picked up SK for the carpool, and he said, "So what’s the REAL reason you wouldn’t stay for CK’s evening class last week?"

"I told you- I’d already had my turn with her earlier… it was your turn."

"Okay… sometimes you’re good at that, but this time you’re not."

LOL. You have to be careful when you’re trying to BS a Pisces. Not only are they more likely to see through you, they are more likely to call you out on it. He says he’d rather get an "I don’t want to talk about it" as opposed to a bad snowjob. Dang. Snowjob is so much less awkward…. but only as long as the other person is accommodating enough to refrain from confronting you on it.

JaE was in class tonight, even though his right arm is pretty much nonfunctional. My right hand is still nonfunctional. SK is having surgery on his broken wrist the first week in March. (The good news is that he’s expected to get 100% function back with no PT and a short recovery time.)

It must be challenging to try to design lesson plans when 50% of your class is crippled. I noted that at least we WANT to be in class so much that we still show up crippled. Then Nemesis pointed out that that might have something to do with the fact that we are crippled.

SK did have to change lesson plans on the fly, because neither JaE nor I could do the hard striking drills that he had been planning to work on.

We did some easy basic hand strike drills, then kick drills. Then some Kiu Two. I was definitely feeling those couple of missed classes- I felt so rusty. I did Kiu Two with Nemesis, and we worked mostly on the flurry-of-strikes section. I can’t do the sweep one-handed. Eventually I smacked my purple finger on Nemesis’ bony wrist, and had to go out and hold the finger in the drinking fountain.

Then a little Chi Gek. SK wanted people to match up with someone nearer their size, so I got JM. The combo of playfulness and competitiveness that JM and I often fall into (CN refers to it as "playing GOTCHA") had us trying a little harder to kick each other than to do the drill correctly. Chi gek is one thing I do fairly well, though- my ballet experience lends itself well to balancing on one leg and shifting around for long periods of time. I do have to keep hopping in on the opponent in order to keep in range with my short legs… but that means s/he has to then hop away, and usually compromise hir balance a lot worse than I compromised mine.

After that, Monkey-in-the-middle with simple self-defense techniques- with the right hand (EVERYONE’S right hand) out of commission. I was anxious about doing this; it seemed like a good way to bump my sore hand- so I was working in slow-mo. It’s also more difficult to ATTACK with no right hand, I found. My initial defense reactions are very right-hand oriented. I found myself trying to bring my left hand up the centerline and adapt that to what I would have been doing with my right hand- instead of coming in from the left side.

Individual forms time. One rep of Hurricane Hands, then a few reps of Cannon Fist. Even doing forms hurts the finger… I was going easy, but even so, it started to throb after a while. After Cannon Fist, I tried a few of those Tiger-Versus-Crane kicks that I’d been strugging with last week, but that is also not very finger-friendly. Back to slo-mo.

I got a text from Cindy wanting to know where I’ve been and when I’m coming back! It’s nice to be missed. I hope next week my hand will not be hurting so much, and I will be able to at least do drills.

(pic- Julie and Bianca)

French fries

I had McDonald’s fries before work. I’ve only had them maybe 2 times in the last six months. I’ve heard other people say that after resolving to eat healthier, after a while they didn’t even WANT their old bad foods- that they didn’t even taste as good. I was skeptical.

Well, the fries didn’t taste as good. I was surprised.

Not that I ever had a *habit* of fast food to begin with. My Dr Pepper addiction would be a much tougher nut to crack.

Finger: still purple. I can’t really tell if the outermost knuckle will bend, since it is still too swollen to fold down even if it did work. I can touch things with it now, lightly- without gasping in pain. Still not ready to try rolling with it, though. If it follows the pattern of previous digit sprains, it may well not be fully operational by March- which would eliminate the possibility of competing in the March Revolution. Undecided about that anyway. I hope there would be no further drama