Ginger Riffraff

First hour of Competition Class at Gracie Seattle.

There were so many kids between toddler and five years old in there today that it looked like a day care!

Whew- Lindsey and his running warmups. He often has us run laps and squat to touch each corner of the mat. Today he had us running (forward and sideways) and every time he yelled "sprawl!" We had to sprawl and pop right back up again and keep running. I actually had to stop at one point and skip a lap. I know I whine a lot about warmups, yet I do not often stoop to wimping out on them- so I was annoyed at myself for that. He also had us do about a bazillion squats in which we actually went low enough to slap the mat. I really should have bailed on at least some of those- because after about thirty, I knew my knees were going to be very unhappy about this. But those I outlasted.

I haven’t seen Angela in several weeks, and I had to do a double-take…. she looks like she’s lost about half her weight. I dithered about saying anything…. you never know whether to say something. It can be hard to tell in a baggy gi whether someone’s weight has really changed, you also don’t want it to come out sounding like "You were a hippopotamus before!!", and some people find it rude to comment on weight at all. However, I knew that Angela had been aiming to lose some weight, and I do want to be supportive to anyone who is open to support on that topic, because I know how hard it is to drop weight. So I finally said with a smile, "You look like you’ve lost a whole bunch of weight!" She happily agreed that she has. Awesome. I’m so used to being intimidated by her size, that I didn’t really notice before that she is almost as short as I am. Dayum, she’s going to be in **MY** bracket if she keeps this up! I told her that I’m happy she’s a purple belt so that I won’t have to fight her in tournament! She had to stop to retie her pants later on, and I teased her that that’s what happens when you turn into a skinny twig… none of your clothes fit any more… she’ll have to buy all new gi’s!

More ankle picks going down on the knee, to be followed by hooking and tripping the leg you *didn’t* pick up, to a guard pass crawling over the thigh. Don’t forget to a)HOLD ON to that pants cuff and b)keep your toe hooked over the opponent’s other leg till you’re past. We have been working this same thing every Sunday for the past several weeks, so it was familiar. First I did several laps with Dex. He was picking my ankle and bringing it up BETWEEN his legs. I didn’t say anything for two laps, then I had to blurt, "Take the leg to the side, unless you really want me to kick you in the crotch when I go down," Then we switched legs, and I commented, "That seems like your best side," The technique felt much smoother and more forceful when he did it on the other side. He thanked me, so I hope he didn’t mind the peanut gallery offerings.

Then we were told to switch partners. I grabbed the first guy who walked up to that end of the mat, and Lindsey said, "Nope, wrong guy," and took that guy away and brought Angela over. I know he’s trying to be helpful, but I worry that every guy he does that to is given the message that he shouldn’t/can’t work with me… and I really don’t need more people avoiding me on the mat. Furthermore, I’m not very happy to always end up working with the only other girl in the room just because we both have a uterus- despite the fact that our sizes/skill levels may not match up very well.

Oh well, on this day I didn’t mind too much. Angela and I worked on the ankle pick/takedown/guard pass. She kept sticking her head right down on my hip as if to say, "PLEASE, guillotine me!" Once again, I hesitated to open my mouth. This time, too, the person outranked me. But since I know she is going to Pan Ams soon, I finally said offhandedly, "Watch that guillotine." Turns out she was way ahead of me, and explained that she didn’t like this particular version of the takedown for precisely that reason. She showed me a variation which not only avoided the guillotine, but she kept knocking me on my ass even without bothering to hook my standing leg first.

I asked her if she’s worked with Alecia over at Cindy’s, and she said yes. Upon hearing that I’d have to fight Alecia, Angela commented, "She’s aggressive!" Yup, tell me about it!

Sunday kung fu. No sign of JM. It was just me, CN (who was teaching in the absence of SK), Nemesis and JoE. Later on, JaE wandered in. "I knew we should have locked the door before the riffraff started drifting in!" He laughed at that, as he knows I am always delighted to see him come in. Later on, he called me riffraff in turn. He called me *GINGER* riffraff.

Later still, DD arrived as well.

We did several reps of Five Points Of the Star. It was a little easier tonight with a couple fewer people in the relatively small space. Notes: Make the clawing rolling blocks bigger so that they cover more of the torso (belly) and not just the chest. They also need to come out a little further and not hug so close to the body. Try to smooth out the rhythm and remove the pauses- especially after the circular grab-and-pull-in-to-kick. After the first lunge, when you turn to the rear- make sure to bring both arms over TOGETHER in front of the body. Be more forceful with all of the strikes- apparently I am being forceful on some but not all of them. Do not hunch my back over when I’m stepping and rolling-blocking to the jump kick. Apparently I am doing better on the extentions, because CN didn’t mention that. He told me that my pike kick is great- every time.

He asked if there were any trouble spots, and I said the kicks and hooking motion during the forward roll. He thinks I’m trying to make it more complicated than it is. He also wants me to swing the hooking leg in a narrower arc- I think this is the exact opposite of what SK told me to do last week- I hate it when that happens, but that’s what ya get sometimes with multiple teachers.

We practiced the jump kick against a pad. I balanced on the platform of a water-base stand-alone kick bag to try to hold the pad high enough for Nemesis. Even standing up there, I had to stretch my arm over my head to hold the pad high enough for him.

At one point, everybody got embroiled in one of those long debates over some detail… is this kick supposed to be at the knee or at the inside of the thigh. I agree that it’s valuable to discuss/debate/analyze/experiment with different versions and try to figure out the most practical apps- that’s a skill you need. But I have a time limit to my patience with that. DD could go on for weeks, I think. I need to disengage when it starts to devolve into, "Does anyone have CM’s notes on the form…. This is the version that RS taught at that seminar in Sacramento in 1982…." I repped the three Tiger drills that we’ve worked on this month, plus a couple of CC’s Tiger drills, while they gnawed that bone. Knees were quite bad by then. Knees don’t like Lindsey’s class, Knees don’t like Tiger material. Lindsey + Tiger back to back = owie.

Then the sparring. JaE attacking JoE. Then Nemesis attacking JaE. Then me. I was offered my pick of attackers- but JaE had left (he has to leave early to catch the ferry), it didn’t seem appropriate to pick a teacher, so that left me with our two scary control-challenged peeps. I picked my poison and said that Nemesis (who was already standing up there) was fine. "But it needs to go much much much much slower and lighter than those last two spars." Nemesis claimed he had already BEEN going light. Uh-huh.

I was stiff as a board, again. Fell into Snake ready stances after the first few attacks, again. Had to ask for a do-over for five or six things. I whacked Nemesis in the nose once, and felt really bad for being such a hypocrite! We were going way too fast. I forget- unless constantly reminded- because as soon as I start to panic, I speed up. I also kept doing the same two things over and over: 1)right roundhouse kick to belly followed by pulling head down into uprising knee, and 2)right lateral Eagle claw to throat. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but I don’t want to be a two-trick pony. I know that DD wants us to look for openings that the attacker is leaving, and go for those… but that, along with everything else of use, flies right out of my head as soon as we start. I was really nervous with DD and CN watching me.

In summary- at the risk of being redundant- still feeling crappy. I told Nemesis on the way home that sparring these days feels like sitting down to an algebra exam.

Got this e-mail later tonight from CN, though: hmmmmmmmmmmm…… I’m not sure what (if anything) he’s been told about my recent sparring anxieties, and I don’t know if he’s trying to be nice and buck me up, or if I could really be bluffing my way convincingly through this……(fighting Nemesis, no less- who is still scarier than **ANYONE**, even DD!)

Hey Kitsune,

Just wanted to write you a quick little note about your sparring tonight and how impressed I was. It’s great to see you improve in all aspects but I feel this is a place where you’ve made many great strides recently. It’s awesome to watch your knowledge, confidence and skill grow from all the time and hard work you put in. It’s a real treat! See you next Sunday.

(pic- Renzo & Ron)

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I gave Lindsey a hard time today

The "hair slicker" experiment appears to be a fail. The hair slicker slips down over my eyes (when worn under the headgear) or just slips down under my eyebrow ridge (when worn over the headgear). The latter is annoying and distracting; the former… well. Not to mention that worn OVER the headgear, it makes me look like a mushroom-headed refugee from a Mario Brothers video game. Carlos cracked up when he saw me wearing it.

I’m thinking about trying a regular lycra/spandex skullcap under the headgear.

Morning BJJ at Gracie Seattle. It wasn’t a "competition class", but you can tell by the pace- and by some of the things we’re drilling- that the teachers are in Tournament Mode. Two weeks to Revolution.

Prof. Carlos must have liked those laps-with-sprawls that Lindsey was having us do yesterday, because he made us do them too. Exhausting as they are (after the first couple), I am happy to say that I can pop back up pretty quickly… seems like more quickly than most folks. Then again, it’s a shorter distance down to the ground and back for me (grin).

A little standing grip fighting. Being the last kid picked for the kickball team this morning got me partnered up first with black-belt-Kevin and then Lindsey- which I don’t mind at all!

A hip throw in which you grab the opponent’s belt at the back. This was a new one for me, and I had some problems with it- so I was happy to be working with Lindsey, who could help me out. He did give me some (half serious, half teasing) guff about how hard I was throwing him to the mat, though. I get that a lot. When someone is very small, or new, or injured, I really *can* set them down gently. It’s harder with a big guy, though. Depending on the specific throw, it’s sometimes all I can do to get him over with proper technique- I can’t maintain enough control to set him on the mat like a China doll. I generally don’t stress too much over it if they’re uninjured colored belts…. they know how to fall. If they complain, I do try to be gentler… but this particular throw was a tricky one, and Lindsey’s a decent sized guy… so…. WHUMP. Sorry dude. That’s the best I can do with that. (I noticed that HIS throws got harder when it was his turn…. only fair, I guess!)

Then an escape from knee on belly- grabbing the belt and stretched leg, getting stomach down, grabbing the guy’s other foot and reversing. I was having a little trouble getting turned over quickly and smoothly…. I was struggling like an elderly tortoise turned on its back! I was also having a little trouble getting ahold of that second foot (and keeping it). After many tries (and more help from Lindsey) I was doing it well enough to get a "Good, Keetsune" from Carlos. Still not keeping weight on the guy during the whole reversal to my satisfaction, though. I hope I get another chance this week to try this drill.

Lindsey was giving me some more (half-teasing, half-serious) crap about the way I was sprawling; apparently it was preventing him from doing the drill correctly. I had to have him demo the problem while *I* tried it before I could grok what I was doing wrong. I apologized and said, "I’m not TRYING to be be a d*** to you today, I just don’t know any better!" Good thing he likes me. (Still. I hope.) It was actually kind of funny; he was calling me a "little monster" (why is everybody calling me mean names this week?); saying naughty words and laughing… I’m used to interacting with him when he is in Teacher Mode and being formal, so I did a double-take when I heard him giggling and sputtering the F word!

Carlos tried to explain the differences in points that are given with this technique depending on whether you get to your feet or not (and at what juncture), along with exactly where you began and ended. I was a little relieved to see that I wasn’t the only person with question-mark-face. Significant chunks of the points system remain a mystery to me.

There was also a brief discussion on the topic of whether you might lose points if you puke when your opponent goes KOB.

Timed rolls with Marc, then Nick. I think I tapped Marc once and he tapped me twice. Nick was always two steps ahead of me.

After that, I rolled with one of the white-belt-Carlosi (the bigger one). He tapped me a couple times, and I tapped him once with a collar choke. I tried a few armlocks which he used strength to turn around on themselves so that I ended up being the one armlocked. I hate it when people do that. Cindy will do that to you, but she does it with technique. When people do it to me with strength, it makes me even more intimidated to try for subs (especially ones that I’m not completely comfortable with). Maybe next time I should slam it on faster to try to get the tap before he muscles it backwards on me.

When we were done, I crawled up behind Lindsey where he was lounging on the mat chatting, and RNC’ed him- then let him beat me up for a while (I figured I owed him paybacks).

I closed down the open mat today- I’m happy when I can last that long, and get a lot of rolling in- even if I wasn’t doing particularly grandly today.

Got home and ate lunch… still hungry…. so I ate a second lunch! I really need to stay under 130… but if my body is telling me that it NEEDS fuel, I’m going to listen… especially if I plan to go to a second class that day and want to have enough energy to make it worth it. And yes, I am back on the chicken and egg diet. What was your first clue?

Evening BJJ at Cindy’s. It was gi night, and the majority ofpeople actually had gi’s. I should bring along an extra jacket or two. Although my gi jackets won’t fit many people there. I wish I had time to pop into the thrift stores more often, and try to pick up a few more cheap used gi’s for some of these tweenagers who can’t afford one.

There was a new girl there. A new blue belt girl. It actually took me a few minutes to recognize Leah. It’s been a year. I never expected her to wander back in. Half of me was eager to roll with her and see if I could kick her ass now that she’s been off for a year and I’ve now been training literally twice as long as she. The other half was dreading rolling with her, because if she kicked *MY* ass, it would not help my morale any. I didn’t get to find out tonight, though. She left before the timed matches. I guess that question is yet to come.

I didn’t get to fight Alecia tonight either, which I feel a little bad about, since I bailed on her on Saturday (it was insane at work, and I just didn’t have the energy to go to class after).

Basic guard break & pass, to be followed by side control and then mount. Then, gi choke from guard (the one where your second grip is a handful of the gi at the shoulder). I have actually tapped people with that particular weird little choke. I drilled with Lamont, who showed me another cool one: one deep cross collar grip, then pretend you’re hipping up and moving the arm over for the triangle. When they go to defend the triangle, hip out to the side a titch and use your non-collar-gripping hand to press the opponent’s face away. I like that one too!

Cindy wanted Lamont to defend the choke a bit, in order to make me try getting my knees and feet in there to pry his defending hands away. They are both making me do some extra stuff "because you’ve got the tournament coming up".

I told Cindy that I’d gotten somebody to tap with that "low percentage" straight armbar she’d drilled us on last week, and that he’d praised my technique- she was happy to hear it.

A little positional training with Lamont- pass guard/don’t get subbed versus sub or defend guard.

Then a timed roll with Leilani and one with Miko. I was on top of Leilani for most of our roll, then remembered to get her get on top. She had pinned one of my arms, and I suggested, "Now that you’ve got that arm controlled, this would be the perfect time to try to tip me." She tried- in the wrong direction. I said, "Wrong way," and told her why. Next time, I’ll tell her to freeze, look at our configuration, and tell me which way she should try to tip me and why.

Miko tapped me out a couple of times, but he was definitely using some strength here and there. More than he had last time I worked with him.

“On pointe”

The world would never have been the same had any of the Western prophets been struck by the same intuition that myth attributes to Bodhidharma. Probably, the entire Western culture would be drastically different. No rivalry between spirit and body. No tug-of-war between the soul yearning for Heaven and the body restraining it on Earth. Rather than wasting our energies quarreling with our bodies and with the natural world, we could let spirituality and sensuality dance cheek to cheek. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior

I want to learn how to sweep.

130.5. Ooops. I was parked comfortably at 127.5 on Saturday, but there was a minor Pizza Incident on Monday. No more pizza till after the competition. Sigh. I need to go buy some more packages of those plain chicken breasts.

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Seattle.

Standup- blocking two jabs and going to the reap. Not standing up- an upa in which you grab the forearm and tricep. Then another one in which you reach down and grab your own pants cuff to trap the opponent’s leg. Drilled with Bree.

A little positional training- hold front mount vs sweep. Are my sweeps ever going to get better? With Bree planted on top of me like a small pickup truck (not that she’s fat or anything, but she has considerable weight on me), an upa seemed laughable. Carlos was not happy with me when I went for the ol’ standby of escaping to half guard… not that *I* am entirely happy with that either, as I most often get stalled in bottom half guard. Carlos gave me the scenario of "Eet’s PanAms and there’s tertty seconds left and the guy on top of you ees ahead by an advantage. You just lost, Keetsune. You have to sweep." Then even worse- he got on top of a guy and had the guy escape to bottom half guard. Carlos then passed his half guard, guy replaced it- wash, rinse, repeat- in this way Carlos racked up about twelve points in twenty seconds.

We switched partners a few times, and I couldn’t even get a sweep on the white belt girl. Arrrrrgh.

After positional training, Bryan took me over to the other mat and showed me a few Barata-licious things from the Rafael De Freitas seminar. They were a little tricky, but I liked them. I need to grab Bryan before/after class for a few minutes in the next couple weeks and drill those so that hopefully they will stick.

Tai Chi. Another 3 min standing meditation. LD remembered all of the points I’d given her for what you want to pay attention to posture-wise when you stand. We reviewed the walking forward, the walking backward (Repulse the Monkey), then added hand motions to the forward walking. She’s doing fine, but still *very* stiff. I’m not sure how to fix that other than to keep reminding her to try to relax, and to emphasize the smooth flow while I’m demo-ing. Maybe I could slip a Valium in her water bottle or something.

In light of the stiffness, I would like to try to work on some additional flow-type stuff before delving too deeply into the form. I’m going to try to find time to cruise around online and find more ideas. I also might e-mail CK and ask for more ideas…. although it would be nice to get a little further along before being reduced to running to CK for help.

Wave-Hands-Like-Clouds still seems a bit too daunting at this point, but we did a little sideways walking with a leading horizontal elbow and then a scooping (I know there’s a name for this, but I forget). I was watching her do this,and seeing two problems: 1)EXTREME stiffness (especially glaring in the moving arm) and 2)not enough body turn. I asked for one more circuit focussing on trying to relax the arm and picture a marionette string attached to the back of the wrist and doing all the lifting, while there is a weight attached to the elbow to drag it down. She is *SSOOOOOOOO* stiff that if I could think of a way to introduce this without it seeming to be condescending, I would actually tie sashes to her wrists and make her sit there where I move her arms around and she tries to remain limp.

On the next circuit, I told her to not worry about the arm this time, to just focus on the body turns. After about three of these, she was like, "Wow, you should have told me *that* before. Doing it that way makes the arm go where it’s supposed to all by itself." Yup.

Then we did the opening move of the form- by which I mean *just* the step out into high horse. The next movement is an arm raise, and I just am reluctant to do any more arm stuff while she is still so damn stiff.

I was wearing my fox ears today, and LD told me that it was really hard to take me seriously while I was wearing that hood.

Evening BJJ at Cindy’s. I had actually been planning to go to Gracie Seattle…. I haven’t had a Rodrigo class in a long time, and I wouldn’t mind trying to catch some of those white belt women who are rumored to appear in the Wednesday evening class (including Vanessa). However, I was a bit late getting out of Tai Chi, and Cindy’s class starts at 6:30 instead of 6…. the prospect of getting to class *not* late (and even having time to stop for a sandwich) was too alluring.

I was expecting to see a nice shiner on Leilani, but she didn’t have a mark on her! She was laughing at me because my wrist bandage "…keeps getting bigger! It started with just a bandaid, then it was a coban wrap, and now it’s an ace bandage!" Yeah, the bandage keeps getting bigger because it’s failing to get the job done. Even the gauze pad, tape, coban wrap, more tape, ace bandage and MORE TAPE that I wore tonight didn’t protect the wound from abrasion and sweat-soaking. Although the fat ace bandage did seem to inhibit Leilani a bit from gripping my wounded wrist with an iron-clamp hold while she was kimura-ing me. That same wrist has also been a little hinky since Carlos wristlocked me shortly after he arrived last summer. Every once in a while, it just seems to want to reminisce- and ache for a few days. This morning I woke up and for no apparent reason, it was doing its thing.

We reviewed the kimura from guard, the guillotine from guard, and added a triangle for when the opponent brings the elbow inside your knee to try to defend the kimura.

Positional training. Closed guard- pass vs sweep or submit. Then side control- escape or submit vs hold the person down. Leilani was working REALLY hard tonight. I was still hard on her, but did remember to let her have a couple things. Gave positive feedback as always. Also, some suggestions as we were working: "Careful, feel my knee sliding in for the mount? Grab that half guard if you can. See where my arm is…so what do you want to try for?"

A roll with Leilani, and then one with yet another tweenager. This one was fine to work with as well (in fact, when I made an involuntary gargle while I was trying to outlast his triangle, he paused to ask if I was okay before he finished me off…. sigh).

I did actually get a sweep on the tweenager and one on Leilani; it wasn’t easy, but I was focussing- still thinking about my sweep frustration from this afternoon. The one on Leilani, in particular: I actually managed to ANALYZE what limbs I needed to trap and where her weight was and where to lift…. this is just not coming instinctually to me, and it’s difficult to find the brainspace to focus during most live rolls. I had a number of unsuccessful attempts before getting the sweeps.

Leilani told me as we were packing up that my suggestions while rolling are really helpful, that she learns when she works with me. Wheras Alecia just crushes her. Yeah, I hear ya sister. She was gratifyingly horrified when I told her I might have to fight Alecia at the Revolution. I told her that she still has time to sign up, and she laughed some more.

I haven’t rolled with Cindy for a while, which is sad. This is another reason I miss the three-to-five-person lunchtime classes.

Cindy is starting an adult boxing class. I’d love to try, but I feel like I’m already spread too thin. Maybe sometime in the future.

(pic- Jim)

You’d look like this too……

You’d look like this too- if you just found out you’d have to fight ALECIA at the next Revolution!!!!

Monday night "gi" at Cindy’s. Half the class actually *had* gi’s, which was unusual! I was wearing my "steal of the century" Bad Boy gi, and when people started complimenting me on it, I announced smugly to the whole class (to a round of admiring exclamations) that I’d gotten it for ten bucks at the Goodwill just down the road from the school. Leilani was especially interested, as she has herself plus a zillion kids to try to gi up. She has been trying E-bay. I told her to haunt the Goodwill/Value Village (but you have to look in the men’s section- or the boys’, if you’re a small woman- to find the gi’s).

I’m used to being pretty informal most of the time at Cindy’s with the lineup and all- but since several of us were actually in gi’s, she pulled me out of the middle of the line and sent me to the front. "What are you doing? Get over there, you!"

Chase was there! I haven’t seen him in months. I didn’t have to fight him. Cindy selected George to handle the Chase Beat-down tonight. "Your mouth is bleeding," I told him when he got back in line. "I know," he replied proudly. "Your mouth is bleeding," Cindy told him a minute later. "I Know." "Well don’t just stand there, go clean yourself up!" (That’s what I’d meant; I guess I should have been clearer.)

Alecia was there, and she brought a new girl. The new girl was tall, but her body had the circumference of a Pepsi can. Seriously, she was possibly the slimmest woman I have ever laid eyes on. I didn’t know they even MADE ribcages that narrow. I didn’t get a chance to fight her either, but maybe she will be back.

We drilled the same keylock/armbar/kimura thing we’d done the other night; this time I paid special attention to the triangle and armbar options at the end since I felt pretty comfortable with the rest. I’m still clumsy with those last two, partly because I always have to stop and search for the opponent’s arm to figure out which one to perform.

Cindy also had a nice little refinement for the keylock- if they don’t tap, twist the wrist a bit "like a motorcycle, only in reverse" I tried that too, although at this point I still have to stop and think for a second about which way to twist.

Timed roll with Leilani. Again I stayed mostly on top and made her work defense. She looked really worn out and a little frustrated at the end. I praised her, but next time I should remember to let her get a thing or two so she won’t feel so frustrated. I’ve kind of stopped doing that because she’s getting good enough that I feel I don’t need to baby her.

I asked her if she was going to do the tournament, and she just laughed. "Why not?" "Because old ladies with a zillion kids have no business doing such things," "How old are you?" "Thirty-eight." "I’m going to be thirty-nine next month." She was shocked. (I still do not look my age, although at this point people are commonly mistaking me for mid-twentyish instead of teenage.) I told her she should do it. She really is shaping up well. She does plan to *be* there, anyway (Eeek, yet another person watching me!).

A little later, she rolled with Alecia (who was going kind of hard on her… I really should remember to let Leilani get a few things on nights that Alecia is here, because Alecia sure won’t let her get anything!). A pair of guys rolled right into them and smashed poor Leilani’s nose. Don’t think it’s broken, but it obviously hurt. She was benched. I had commented to her earlier that if Cindy got many more people, she was going to need a bigger space. There was a full class tonight, plus a whole bunch of the kids running around, plus a handful of tweens and teens practicing a little boxing. Plus Meeko, Cindy’s dog! We had to take turns rolling, as we are running out of mat space.

Lamont (in his crisp brand new belt!) was rolling with one of the capoeira guys right in front of me, and while Lamont was in side mount, I reached out and started tickling the bottom of his foot! He didn’t let it distract him, though.

Then I went with Alecia, who was wearing a white belt. Sandbagger. "We’re in your territory now," She smiled. Uh-huh. I expected to get smashed all the same- and yep, for the first half of the match I was lying helplessly on the bottom as always. Once under Alecia, I pretty much have to wait for her to dismount and hope that I get a chance to try to change position while she’s slapping the sub on… I have virtually no success trying to get out from under her.

Somehow, halfway through, I did manage to get out somehow (don’t even ask me how) and grab her gi, drive into her, and get on top. Halleluja. I spent the second half of the spar mostly in top half guard. Once I was on top, I was afraid to move for fear of ending up on the bottom again, LOL. I think I was also a bit in shock, as I have never before had a chance to view the world from a vantage point ATOP Alecia. Would’ve loved to get a knee ride (or hey, let’s dream big- a sub!) on her. Maybe next time. I should go for gi collar chokes on her, since she’s not very used to the gi. Or that nifty rear choke where you grab the pants and bend the opponent’s back.

Lamont kept calling coaching advice to her- and I kept hollering at him to shut up, go away, she doesn’t need your help! Well, okay, she kinda did, because she was on the bottom (MU-AH HA HA HA HA HA), but I was kinda liking that and wanted her to just stay down there for a little bit. It wouldn’t hurt her a bit to spend some time gazing up *MY* nose for a change.

After we were done, I asked if she was going to do the Revolution. "Yes." Gulp. Just no-gi? "Both." At least I won’t have to fight her in gi; although she’s going to mincemeat those poor white belt girls. What no-gi bracket? "Intermediate." Of course. Weight? "It doesn’t really matter." Well, yes, you see, it matters quite a lot to *ME*, as I am trying to discern whether I am going to have to fight you. She finally admitted she is about 140, and doesn’t plan to diet down… she’d be a bracket above me, not that that makes me safe. Caught between a rock (Julie/Bianca at 124) and a hard place (Alecia at 140)! If it weren’t for Julianca, I would try to cut down to the 124 bracket. Although Alecia is worse than either of them. Heck, I’d have a better chance fighting Julie and Bianca TWO ON ONE than I’d have against Alecia!!!

I told her that if I had to fight her, I wanted her to promise me that she would leave me a shred of dignity and not sub me in the first fifteen seconds. She’s not promising anything. In fact, she warned me that I wouldn’t recognize her in competition… she gets "very aggressive". Better and better. Unless she is my last fight of the day, I’m giving her a bye. It’s a purely strategic decision. Not that I’m scared to fight her and lose (okay, I’m scared to fight her. But I still WOULD)… but Alecia is completely, utterly out of my league. Losing is a 100% certainty, and I’d come out of the ring exhausted (for sure) and injured (entirely probable). It would be foolish to not save my energy and unbroken parts for matches against someone I might actually have a snowflake’s chance in hell of beating.

She wants me to bring a gi top from now on when I come to Cindy’s, so that I can help her with gi and she can help me with no-gi.

Heel blisters are finally mostly gone. That infected scrape on my wrist is still giving me problems, though. I continue to wrap it for class, but it’s still getting too abraded and sweaty to have a chance to heal. Finger seems almost well. Hope I can stay free of any new injuries for the next 3 weeks.

Side control, north/south

(One hour of) Sunday "Competition Class" at Gracie Seattle.

Running. Lindsey loves to run. Kitsune might love to run if only she could breathe. As it is, Run = no love.

Today was side control and north/south day. We spent the entire hour working on holding a tight side control, transferring to north/south, and back again. Then with a little resistance. Then with the bottom person trying to grab half guard.

Lindsey had said, "Pair up with somebody close to your own size" Sigh. I was bold today and grabbed Benny. He is a pint-sized purple belt and knows what he is about. I asked for his advice on grips, as my transition from N/S to SC didn’t feel controlled enough. We got it nicely refined by the end, I think.

Must remember to control hips *or* shoulders at all times, and if I let go of one end to move, I’d better keep a tight hold on the other end while I’m doing it. I also caught myself letting up on the pressure a few times while I was moving.

I still don’t really like the side control grip we were using- handful of the gi pants at the hip. I feel like my grip is weak and anyone can just yank their pants out of my hand. I’m also gun-shy about trying to hold death grips on handfuls of gi, because I’ve sprained too many fingers that way. I like to place my elbow on the mat beside their hip on the OTHER side.

Sunday kung fu. CN was there, which was unusual.

Five Points Of the Star. I got several reps of this in. I had to review the little change at the beginning that DD had given me last week. I think the clumsiest part of the form now is the front roll with the two kicks and leg hook. I’m still not quite getting all the required leg motions into the small window of roll time.

We worked on the sweep a bit more (This is a DIFFERENT sweep, mind you, than that Snake sweep I was having so much trouble with last semester). Note- no scooting on the thigh- once the sweep has reached its end, stand up and complete the rest of the rotation on the feet. SK and DD put on leg pads and had us sweep them.

Then some Tiger drills. The one with two claws, groin strike, and armbar. Once again no one could armbar Nemesis. I would love to take that guy to Cindy’s sometime and see what she makes of him. I wonder if she would actually be able to joint lock him. I’ll bet he’d drive the BJJ people nuts. Besides being almost impossible to joint lock, I’ll bet he could roll out of almost any hold. It would be interesting to have him come in and try it out.

The one with the drop to the ground, turn and kick. The one with the elbow strike, hammer fist, choke and kick. We had also reviewed these two last week.

During the break, I crawled up behind JM and choked her. Somewhat to my dismay, I ended up on the bottom AGAIN and got trapped there… although in my defense, I hadn’t really realized we were doing no-holds-barred (as opposed to sport BJJ rules) until she Tiger-mouthed me in the throat. So that was a little distracting, and I like to think I wouldn’t have let her get on top if I hadn’t been surprised by the strike. Although I must say it’s nice to be able to wrap my arm under somebody’s thigh and experiment with sweep setups with impunity because they haven’t practiced enough to know to slap that triangle on.

Sparring rounds (ugh). We had two stations going, DD and CN. That was actually better because that means fewer people in the audience.

JaE was striking enthusiastically with his injured right arm, even after he had hurt himself earlier and bowed out of a drill. I lectured him to be careful. He told me, "Thanks, Mom."

I let everybody else go first, even though SK kept poking me with his foot. Finally there was no further delay or escape. SK (the Snake) put me with DD… he knows that DD intimidates me more than CN does. Once again, going too fast. Once again, a couple of moves in and we ended up drilling (this time, Dragon Rides the Wind kick apps) instead of sparring. I found myself doing a lot of leg checking; maybe just subconsciously trying to keep DD at a distance. I need to be more conscious of either pairing or following the leg check with a hand strike instead of hanging back. DD was wearing some pads, which this group almost never does, and that was a weird adjustment to try to make. I found myself trying to avoid the padded areas and zone in on the unpadded ones.

Once again, not really sure what to say, as I can’t seem to assess my own sparring in any realistic or helpful way. It’s still feeling like crap, is all.

After the meditation and book discussion, SK asked how people were feeling about the sparring. I skulked away before I could be drawn into the discussion. I don’t *KNOW* how I feel about the sparring (other than "crappy"). What I do know is that I do not like being put in the position of discussing my sparring anxieties in front of the whole class and DD. I don’t even want to discuss them in the carpool in front of JM and Nemesis.

(pic- Julie)

Keylock to armbar to kimura to triangle

Woke up with a headache and congestion; cursing Bree (who swore up and down that she was not contageous). I decided to skip lunchtime class and take some acetaminophen.

Felt better later (altho still kinda tired). Traffic was awful, though. Tens of thousands of my tax dollars were recently spent on these fancypants new digital highway signboards. 95% of the time, all they say is the speed limit- which is already on the $60 metal sign, thank you very much. Today, the first one after the 520 bridge said, "Left lane blocked". Traffic was gridlocked, yet the sheep started jostling (as much as one can jostle, in gridlock) to get into the right lane. We crawled another two miles (without seeing any blockages) to the next digital sign, which said, "Right lane blocked". Heh. Well, if they’re BOTH blocked, that certainly explains why I’m sitting here reading a magazine instead of driving. We crawl for another few miles and suddenly the road is flowing again. There never was a tangible blockage. I’m so glad we have those helpful new signboards.

Anyway, I missed the entire first hour of the two hour class. (It was supposed to be "gi", but nobody had a gi.) I caught just a little bit of technique drilling.

Top side control, with the opponent hugging you. Frame up and press on hir face/jaw to turn hir face to the mat (remember to put one hand on top of the other in the frame so that you can use the strength of both to push). When hir hands come loose, pry one off and keylock.

If s/he straightens the arm: shift to just distal of the elbow, turn hir thumb to the ceiling, turn your "platform" arm sideways so that it’s higher (bonus violence: the bony blade of your arm digs into hir arm), and press down to armbar. I have seen this before, but didn’t retain all the vital bits- so I was happy to see that again and get a chance to tidy it up.

If s/he turns the arm downward toward the hip- change grips, switch your hips as if going into scarf, throw the leg over hir neck, and kimura. I was so happy to see this, since this was the move that I *ALMOST* tapped that tweenager out with the other night, and had been wishing for a review on. (Hey, by the way, I also wish for a million dollars and a new car. Just puttin’ that out there…) Bonus: oh, this is way cool. Once in this postition, you can also attack your opponent’s OTHER arm (surprise, dude!). If s/he left the arm up while you were stepping over, it is now wedged under your elbow- and you can pull it back, hip forward, and straight-armbar it. If s/he kept the arm low while you were stepping over, you can shift your foot a titch and now you have a mounted triangle. Ta-da! BJJ is The Bomb. I had been debating while sitting in traffic whether this sojourn had been worth it for just half a class, but this technique set alone was definitely worth the aggravating commute.

I am really starting to enjoy Cindy’s method of teaching a sequence of techniques. "Try for this; if the guy defends by doing that, switch to this other thing; and you can also get that additional sub from here." I had a hard time with this teaching method at first, and frankly if I’d been a raw newbie and that was my only instruction, I would have *really* struggled- as slow as I am to pick stuff up. But now that I know a thing or two, and I’m not having to strain my brain to remember every detail of how to make a keylock work, I can better look at the "big picture". I like having ideas for what to flow to from this or that.

It’s very different from Gracie Barra, where for the most part you learn one to three isolated techniques and drill the repetitive crapola out of each of them in turn. This is really what I *need* to learn (and try to retain) how to do a specific technique.

The two methods are working very well for me as a package deal! Smile

Timed spars- I did two with Joseph (the tweenager that I’d rolled with on Wednesday), one with Miko (another big tweenage guy), one with George, one with Leilani, one with one of the capoeira guys whose name I did not catch.

Both tweenage boys were fun. Once again, they were both *mostly* good about not putting weight on me. Once again they get a little frantic and use strength to get out when they feel me slapping a sub on. I need to set my subs up faster, and/or try to distract people so that it’s not obvious what I’m doing. We both tapped each other out a couple times.

One of the most useful things about rolling with these big kids is that it’s teaching me to pay more attention to staying off the bottom and (Heaven forbid) don’t pull guard. I do *NOT* want to be on the bottom or have guard on these heavy guys- I need to stay on top and mobile if at all possible. Every time I have the urge to pull guard, I check myself.

George let me tap him once with a rear choke, and let me reverse him twice with that neato reversal from failed guillotine. I sure do like that.

Leilani- I mostly stayed on top of her and made her work to defend (which she is doing well). The capoeira guy was *very* flexible and squirmy, which was troublesome for me even though he didn’t have a ton of technique.

(pic- Lindsey (with some unfortunate soul who apparently just took a shot to the testicles))

Lamont sings the blues

Friday morning Competition Class at Gracie Seattle. It was a small class- maybe eight or ten of us to start with, then another eight or so trickling in as the morning went on. There’s a seminar tonight, so Bryan thinks most people are taking the morning off due to that.

Some warmups, then right to timed rolls.

Bryan first. Guess where I spent most of the roll. Yup, front mounted. Bryan is too good for me to even get my precious bottom half guard. After the eighth time he put me there, I said, "Geez, this seems familiar somehow." Then he choked me. I held out for a long time, but I finally had to tap.

"Ha ha ha ha! Your lips were turning blue!"

"*Cough* *Cough* I was hoping you’d give up."

"I would have, but when I saw your lips turning blue, I knew I had the choke on good."

Then a one stripe white belt guy. He gave me a bit more advice than I appreciated- seeing as how he was six ranks below me- but at least he was trying to use technique and not bull me, which I *did* appreciate. He complimented me on my bottom half guard. I hadn’t been able to do much useful with it, but he was inexperienced enough that I did get a chance to at least fish around a bit and TRY- which was helpful.

Then Marc. After Marc was open mat, so Marc and I kept going. Great jiu-jitsu. Good practice and fun.

At first I thought he was a little tired or something today- he seemed a bit off his game at the beginning, although he rallied after a while and started Bringing It. I was on top a lot. My new resolve to quit the automatic jumping to front mount seems to be working out better for me- although I did go ahead and go to front mount a few times on him- when I felt in control enough to do so- and practice trying to hold it (which I kind of suck at, thus my attempt to get off the habit). I got KOB about four times… so I teased, "What are you letting me get all these knee rides for??!?"

I was making a conscious effort to stay *OUT* of his closed guard if at all possible, because I have rolled with him enough to know that that’s a place that does not tend to bode well for me. I got caught in it a few times, but I also took Cindy’s suggestion of sometimes just disengaging and backing off for a sec if that seems to be the only way to avoid getting pulled into closed guard.

We actually tapped each other out today, which we hardly ever do. I was all jubilant at tapping him with a keylock and then again with one of those rear chokes (one collar and one pantleg). Paybacks are a b****, though… he was fishing for a kimura, and I said, "Nope, nope, no kimura for you," he said, "Okay, how ’bout a choke, then?" and started digging for that instead. I went to defend the choke, and he went back to the kimura and tapped me out with it! Dang!

Tai Chi lesson with LD. We spent another half hour stretching. She asked if her technique/posture was wrong because she couldn’t side-bend all the way down to her ankle like I was doing; I had to explain again that I have been doing this for a very very very long time and it would take her a while to get that rubbery. Sometimes I wonder if I should just fake my level of gumbiness in front of these new people- at least the Type A ones who berate themselves if they can’t touch their nose to their tailbone.

We reviewed the basic standing posture, and stood for a 3 or 4 min meditation.

I asked how that felt, and she replied that it felt like her legs were working too hard. I had noticed the same in myself while we were doing the walking at our last lesson, and had decided that the culprit was her thick area rug. We rolled up the rug and I had her take her tennis shoes off. She said that that was much better.

More of the walking (hands on hips only). She is already improved from last time. Less bobbing up at the end of each step.

Then backward (with arm movements- I find the backward waking *easier* with arm movement than without). Repulse The Monkey is probably my favorite technique in Tai Chi. I demoed it for her, then had her follow me across the floor for a few laps. Then I asked her to keep going while I watched. She immediately froze up and forgot everything. She really is like me! Hell, she **IS** me!!! I quickly moved to diffuse the tension by saying smoothly, "No worries, follow me for another lap," But with no wall mirrors, how could I both demo and watch? Ah-ha. I placed us both at the center of the room facing each other, and we Repulsed Monkeys until we reached the far walls. She said immediately, "That really helps." Do I rock, or what?! So we did that several more times. She has the gist, but is still very stiff and jerky.

I talked a bit about the breathing- breathe in as you close or move toward your center, and out as you move outward from the center. I got a little lightheaded from inhaling and exhaling exaggeratedly so that she could hear/see me from across the room as we Repulsed our Monkeys.

Then I explained openings and closings, and taught her two common ones- the slight lift and press at hip level, and the circle-arms from center, down, out, up, to in again. These particular openings and closings are often used in the Shaolin group as well. I did this on purpose. If we turn out to be a decent teacher/student fit, it would be awesome to get her into a little Shaolin as well, eventually. Good to plant a tiny seed of that idea early on.

Next time, we will do 3 openings and closings before and after the short standing meditation. Then we will begin at far endsof the room facing each other, and do the forward stepping till we meet in the middle. Then Repulse The Monkey till we get back to our respective walls. Bunch of reps of that. I’d like to see her get more relaxed and smooth the whole thing out a bit. Then the first few moves of the short open-hands form.

It’s a pain to not have wall mirrors. Once we get the form seriously underway, I wonder if it would be possible for us to take a monthly field trip to my (non-MA) gym to work with the mirrors.

Friday evening no-gi at Cindy’s. I probably would have bagged that one tonight- three back-to-back classes is a bit much- but Cindy had texted me in the morning and told me to come tonight if I could, as she was going to give Lamont his blue belt. I would’ve shown up just for that!

When I got there, though, there was no sign of the man. I asked Alecia where he was. "At work." "He’s not coming at all?" "Not tonight." Crap. To Cindy: "Lamont’s not here!!!" "I know… now I’ll make him wait another year."

Ian was there! I haven’t seen him in months. I was so happy. I have missed working with him. Turns out he was busy with wrestling program, but now he should be around more often.

Evil warmups. I had to carry Leilani across the gym. I made Cindy stand behind me and hold my shoulders while Leilani jumped guard on me, just in case she knocked me over. Once the weight was settled in the right place on top of my hips, I was fine.

Lamont wandered in after the evil warmups. Yesssss!

More guillotine from closed guard. A defense for that (fight the choke with one hand, hug the opponent over the shoulder with other arm, your own shoulder in hir throat, walk around). Discussion/debate of whether or not cranking the neck slightly to the side while you’re guillotining the guy is actually legal.

A really cool sweep for when you’re going for the kimura from closed guard, and the opponent straightens hir arm and passes it over your head. Push the arm further across the centerline, pass it to your other hand and hug hir head tight with your elbow. Now s/he’s got hir arm wrapped around hir own neck. (And yours as well.) Then you underhook hir thigh, "talk on your phone" (bring your head to hir knee), turn, kick over, and get on top. I like that one.

I was really a bit too knackered to do live sparring, but Ian had run up to me in line and said excitedly, "I want to spar with *YOU*!" How could one say no? He wanted to start from standup. Ack. Well, as soon as he plowed into me, I could tell 1)he had leveled-up by a exponent of about five since I last sparred him, and 2)I was in trouble. If it had been someone I didn’t trust, I would have yelled TAP upon hitting the mat from the takedown, so that a serious discussion and negotiations could be had as to whether or not I was going to continue this spar at all. But I knew that even though he’d come out like a freight train, Ian was probably not going to hurt me, so I kept going. Wow, he toasted me. Thoroughly, completely, and without mercy. The days of us being competitive are sadly in the past, it is obvious. That’s too bad, but I’m happy for him. He’s only fifteen. He’s going to be killing everyone in another couple of years. I got a little bottom half guard (for a while), but all I could do was strain to survive for a short time. His shoulder pressure in the throat and side of the face is deathly.

Then Cindy put me with Lynn. I have never seen her before, but apparently she has taken lessons from Cindy at a different site for a little while. She knew some basic technique- including a really nice triangle. She is *TINY*. Tinier than me. Tinier than Sue. I literally had to bend over and put my hands on my knees to talk to her while we were standing on the sidelines. If she’s 75lb, I’ll eat my Reeboks. So I was careful, and went slow. I made her work, but she had truly beautious triangles, so I let her tap me twice with them. She thanked me for going slow. (Next round she went with Alecia, who was much faster and more smashy!)

Then Lamont got his blue belt. I had brought my housemate’s camera and hid it in my sweatshirt under the bench. I got ONE photo (see above) before the battery went tits-up. Rats. It was great to be there for that, though. Lamont’s been training for over a decade- but very little gi, and he just never got promoted. As we all congratulated him, I said, "It’s about time, ya damn sandbagger!" Then I had to hector him from the sidelines as he sparred George. "COme on, Lamont, you have to Bring It now- you’re a blue belt!" "Hey George, why don’t you hogtie him with that new belt?!" and so on, and so on.

I told Cindy that I had enjoyed working with that kid she paired me with on Wednesday. She said, "Oh yeah! He was talking about you!" ‘That lady,’ (murfle…wheeze) ‘I was going easy on her because she was so small-‘ Cindy: ‘And was SHE going easy on YOU??’ The kid admitted that he thought maybe I was. (wheeze… some more) But I told Cindy that he’d been really good about not putting his weight on me, and trying hard to stick to technique. He had also admitted to her that he’d used some strength ‘when I started to get scared,’ (wheeeeeeeeeze…)

Alecia tried to fix me up!!!! Ack!!!!

Stigmata

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Bellevue.

Bree complimented my Bad Boy gi, and proclaimed it the "steal of the century" when I told her I found it at the Goodwill for ten bucks and change.

Pat was teaching. Lots of peculiar warmup exercises… including one where we had to sit on a line, lift our feet off the mat, hold our hands out in front of us and inch our way to the next line using only our buttcheeks. I kid you not. Some people were completely unable to get any forward momentum, and protested that they could not do this because they didn’t have enough butt!

He also had us do the reverse shrimps- which I smoked across the mat because Cindy has us do those all the time.

I showed Pat the Dead Bugs. He had never seen them before. I’ll bet we get some of those next time!

Side control to hip out, get double underhooks, turn over, and reverse the opponent with a double leg.

Then side control to throwing one leg and arm out and using them as momentum to turn yourself on your belly and then up on your knees facing the opponent.

I had a lot of trouble with #1, because I could never remember which side I needed to have my head on in order to avoid being guillotined.

I was drilling with Bree, and being light, because she is recovering from pneumonia. She told me that she is not doing the Revolution nor PanAms (she is skeered now that she is a blue belt… she says that she would have done it if she hadn’t gotten promoted). Our purple belt Angela is going, though (gi only).

Relay positional sparring- side control. There were fewer of us today (maybe fourteen or so), and I had to give up multiple turns to avoid the guy who refuses to work with me. Grrr. Pat was trying to corner me from the sidelines, but half the time I wasn’t sure exactly what he was trying to get me to do. My top side control is credible, I think. I was even able to hold down Luis for a bit (to be fair, he was going with person after person and getting really tired). Lance laughed when I came over to him, as he always does… Lance is about the size of a manufactured home, and me rolling with Lance looks like a house cat rolling with a mountain lion. Sergei complimented the heaviness of my side control glowingly, which was cool. (And I wasn’t even using the "d***-to-the-mat" side control, I was using the "knees in your ribcage" side control… I feel more mobile that way, although I can’t be as "heavy".)

I swathed my wrist wound in coban and wound it with tape (heh heh). It wasn’t the most comfortable situation in the world, but it held.

Evening Kung Fu.

SK: "Are you going to tell me when the Revolution is, so I can come?"

Kitsune: "Hell no."

SK: "Come on!"

Kitsune: "Thank you for the show of support. But the fewer people who are watching my fights, the happier I will be."

SK: "How about if I come and you don’t know I’m there until after your matches?"

Kitsune: "Come on!"

I don’t think I need to worry about him popping up, as the tournament is now scheduled on his birthday. I’m sure he has better things to do on a Saturday birthday than drive all the way to Bonney Lake to watch me get stomped like a cockroach. It’s nice of him to want to back me up, though.

The most nervewracking thing about the last Revolution was having Rodrigo, Carlos, and a whole crowd of GB people lined up on the sidelines watching me. Again, I’m very grateful for the show of support- but man, that’s a lot of pressure and it made me really self-conscious. I’d do better if I could fight the girl all alone out in the parking lot!

After two rounds of hand strike drills, we reviewed a little Kiu Two (I had asked if we could revisit this). Good thing, as it is already getting rusty- and not just for me! I grabbed Nemesis when it came time to do the form partnered up. We had to work slowly through the flurry sequence several times, and then rep it a lot.

Another round of knife defense, with the markers and white shirts. I had to fight Nemesis (me with the knife) and JoE (him with the knife). He got me right in the palm of the hand with his blue marker- so I had blue stigmata!

Slo-mo sparring. I had to fight JM and JoE. It looks like SK put me with Nemesis during the knife work, figuring I’m maginally more confident in that- but is still keeping me away from him during the regular sparring.

I don’t think I can realistically assess my sparring performance at this time, so I’m not sure what to say about it.

I did note that once I loosened up a bit (I was stiff as a board when I started), I found myself sparring out of Snake guard stances- which is a little weird. But I recall that happening some last summer, too. It’ll be interesting to see how that develops. I notice that JM almost always starts in the same modified Dragon ready stance that MM uses (although he got his from his karate background- it’s almost the same stance, though). JoE uses a lot of Mantis- mostly Southern Mantis, which gives him an advantage, since the rest of us have trained very little Southern Mantis.

Once again SK didn’t take a turn… I talked to him about that in the car; he doesn’t see a point in him taking a turn, and doesn’t think there’s enough time. I tried to explain that I for one find it educational to watch him and see examples of the higher levels of skill that we’re supposed to be working toward. He thinks I’m nuts.

(pic- Stephanie)

Tai chi with a BJJ chaser

I told Cindy, "I have a funny story for you,"

She got all excited: "Were you MEAN??!?"

"Someone at Gracie Barra is avoiding me on the mats because I’m too rough."

She slapped her thighs and yelled, "Whoo-hoo!"

Hahaha.

The tai chi lesson seemed to go okay, although I really won’t be able to tell for sure until several sessions in. Found out that LD hasn’t had a chance to work with CK at *ALL* yet, so we are really starting at ground zero. She has a hinky right ankle (sprained last fall and not quite healed fully), and her right shoulder/neck area is really messed up after the breast cancer surgery. Apparently she has been sorta clasping the arm to her chest and having everything all hunched up and tense. She’s having PT a few times a week for it, but presently the limited range of motion and the level of tightness in that area is going to be a bit of a challenge.

She’s decently flexible… although she did what they all do- despite my disclaimers- they get down on themselves because they can’t stretch something as far as I can. I say (beforehand) "I am abnormally flexible, and I have been doing this same stretching routine almost every day for about TWENTY-FIVE YEARS- don’t expect to be able to get your leg back this far on day one."

We stretched for a long time, and then went through the basic standing posture, and then a little stepping. NO arms yet. I figure that any bad habit I am still struggling with after some fifteen years of tai chi is a good one to consciously nip in the bud for my newbie. It’s easy to get all distracted by the arm-waving, and think it’s all about that- that’s tai chi. But it’s all about the center. Your center is doing tai chi, the limbs are just an after thought along for the ride. So I’m going to be really careful to ingrain that from the start. (And, fortuitously, that also lets us take it easy on her bad shoulder.)

I was able to watch LD’s stepping, see something not quite right, and suggest a variation to fix that- which worked. Whew. Maybe I can teach tai chi after all. Each circuit she did was progressively better, although she’s still coming up on her toes a little. Tonight while I was making dinner, I thought of a variation that may help with *that* problem- we’ll try it on Friday. I’d also like to get to a little Repulse-The-Monkey on Friday. Dying to do some Wave-Hands-Like-Clouds, but I think that trying to move sideways is just going to confuse her if she tries that before she has backwards and forwards down really well. Silk reeling, unfortunately, will probably have to wait till her shoulder is more recovered.

I’m also thinking about teaching her the Dance Of Life. I need to feel her out a little more and figure out how receptive she is to what I sometimes refer to as the "Woo-woo stuff". Dance Of Life is not tai chi, but it’s a great chi-flow exercise- and can be helpful to people who are just trying to figure out what chi is, what it feels like, and how to move it around. I am aware, though, that some people want their tai chi without the chi (rolling eyes). I hope LD’s not one of them- but if she is, I’ll have to figure out how to teach like that.

She did say that her thighs were "feeling the burn"- and we only did actual tai chi for twenty minutes or so. Good.

I went straight from there to Cindy’s, and still missed half the warmup. I got there just in time for the Dead Bugs. Oh Goodie!

She had a whole bunch of Tween-age boys in there today. She’s doing some kind of new wrestling/BJJ program at a (I think) junior high, and bringing some of those kids into her kids’ class- if they are physically large enough and have the attention span, they are sometimes allowed to participate in the adult class.

There was also a small group of kids having Capoeira class on the other end of the mat. OMG, I would so love to try some of that! And it would be so convenient, with that group sharing this space! Sigh. I just do not have enough time- or $$$- for another obsession right now.

We drilled most of the same stuff we’d done on Friday. Coolness, it was all stuff I would like more work on. I had to walk Leilani through most of it. I also got to be demo dummy for some of it (including the bonus neck crank after the reveral- ack!).

Alecia had come in halfway through drilling, and I was regarding her with mixed feelings: "Good, gonna get some challenging live rolling tonight" versus "Ooooooh, I don’t know if I have enough gas in the tank to cope with *YOU* tonight".

However, Cindy paired me up with one of the Young-un’s. He looked about 12YO, but he was probably twice my weight. I was a bit leery. Didn’t give him my "disclaimer", but I was ready to call a time-out and do so if he started to pancake me and rip my arm off.

He turned out to be okay. I don’t know what his training background is, but from his rolling it seemed like he had some basic BJJ and some going-on-intermediate wrestling. He knew some technique- some escapes, and he could identify most of the subs I tried to set up, but he wasn’t trying for many subs of his own. He was being really good about not putting his weight on me. He *was* using some strength- especially when he felt me slapping a sub on- but you could tell he was making an effort to stick to technique (and doing a respectable job for a 12YO). His buddies were a bit problematic at times, when they had advice (and jeerings) from the sidelines. But we must have rolled for close to 30 min straight, and it was good. Part of me feels crappy that I couldn’t sub him… but I did have considerable positional domination. He had good defenses for my favorite subs. I must have tried a bazillion keylocks and half as many armbars, and couldn’t finish. I got a few chokes that weren’t *quite* tap-out material. Several kimura attempts (which was good; that is not a sub I have gone for much in live rolling, and would like to front-burner it more). As I said, he had good defense for my small bag of tricks, and the one time that I came closest to tapping him was when I pulled out something different- the kimura where you are sitting on the opponent’s head in a sort of diagonal position. I *ALMOST* had him with that. He was exclaiming over what a cool technique that was (while I’m continuing to push and thinking, "So TAP… come on, TAP…!) He finally managed to roll out somehow, to my exasperated surprise. (I really need a refresher in the transition into that technique.) As the melee continued to stretch on and on, I started hoping he’d gas out- he was pretty overweight, and he was puffing, all right- but he had game, and kept plugging. As soon as time got called, though, he immediately disengaged with palpable relief. Not that he was the only one. That was a really good roll, though. Fun, and it seemed like we challenged each other.

The little scrape I got on my wrist when I fell down the Gracie Barra Seattle stairs is infected, drat it. I had bandaided it before going to Cindy’s, and that worked fine for drills (although I winced a little every time Leilani sat up and grabbed my wrist for the kimura… the woman has a wicked grip! I’ll bet she doesn’t need hubby to get the top off the peanut butter jar for her!). However, once I stared rolling, the bandaid went bye-bye in a river of sweat, and that guy kept grabbing my wrist hard, too. Tomorrow I’m going to Coban it and then swirl tape all around on top of the Coban, and see if that will hold. If not, I may need to take a couple days off (or at least off free rolling) to let the wound heal up.

(pic- Rodrigo (in the black shirt))