Mousetrap

The 70-80% level of technical excellence can be achieved relatively quickly; however, to attain the remaining 30% or 20% requires a disproportionate amount of time and effort. Tony Gummerson, "Teaching Martial Arts"

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Seattle. I wore the dark chocolate gi, and also the skullcap under my Tornado headgear. It was a little hot, but it stayed put.

For the last two days, the pain from my misaligned rib has been dialed down a notch or two, but is still quite prominantly present.

Mila/Mina was teaching. I hoped to get a chance to roll with her, but she had her baby with her- and the baby was very much awake and desirous of attention. Mina is smaller than *ME*- I can’t imagine how a baby came out of something so tiny. I wonder how long she is going to be here. I was injured the entire time Fabiana was here, and got to work with her almost not at all. That was a huge bummer. I don’t want to miss out on any more chances like that.

Double-legs. Then a simple guard break/pass similar to the one we drilled on Tuesday. Then a lot of positional sparring from closed guard and half guard. I was working with Ben, and when he had half guard, he was doing lockdown on me- ouch! Once he had me stretched out, I couldn’t seem to do much.

Note: Mina pointed out that we need to make sure to keep our feet tops-to-the-mat while in front mount, and not stick them out at a 90-degree angle with the insides to the mat. Ben and I were discussing that as well while we were drilling. It is a bad habit of mine. I was going through photos from the Revolution last night, and I noticed three pictures of me in three different scenarios, in which my feet were sticking out like that. I know I’m instinctually doing that to try to brace so I don’t get rolled, but there are more ergonomic ways to accomplish that goal that are less likely to get my ankle broken- so I need to try to remember to not do that.

We were being told to switch back and forth very frequently in the positional sparring. At the end, Mina explained that she wants us to focus on 30-second increment- and to realize that we can do a lot in 30 seconds. If we are in a tournament and someone yells at us that we have 30 seconds left, she doesn’t want us to figure it’s over. In 30 seconds, you can pass guard, you can sweep, you can submit. She wants us to start looking at those small chunks of time as valuable opportunities to act.

A little king-of-the-hill starting from closed guard- pass or sweep only. Luck of the draw gave me a big white belt that I’ve never seen before. He was in my guard. He was new and clueless enough that I actually managed to hold closed guard for a while by messing with his arms and posture. Then he bench-pressed one of my legs out, and I caught bottom half guard as he tried to pass. I couldn’t sweep him- he was too big and my sweeps are still too crappy- but he wasn’t getting out, either. After struggling fruitlessly for a long time, he exclaimed, "It’s like a mousetrap!" Hee hees. Struggle for another long time. "If I can’t get out of your half guard, is it just a stalemate?" "No. You have to keep trying." He was getting tired and frustrated, and I started squirming around looking for sweep opportunities. Then Mina pulled us both off the floor and put us back in the line because we had used almost the entire king-of-the-hill relay time together. So I guess it *WAS* sort of a stalemate. It would have been nice to be able to keep going; I think I could have eventually gotten at least an escape and then dart back in to get positional control. Oh well. He squatted facing the wall, head down, panting. I couldn’t tell if he was gassed, or just frustrated, or both.

Thursday evening Kung Fu.

We started with hand strike drills, as usual. I was gratified to see SK incorporate some of my suggestions, including limiting complex strikes to "10 on one side, then 10 on the other" instead of alternating- which I think is good, since it definitely appears that Marcy is not picking stuff up quite as quickly as RM (Nemesis’ bro). I definitely do not want to frustrate her and scare her away.

SK walked over to squat beside me and stare intensely at my stance. Eventually he said to me, "Don’t get all tensed up every time I come over here!" I should mention that half the time, when SK is coming over to you, it’s because he’s getting ready to kick you in the groin to ensure that you are doing your press blocks low enough.

Hand strike drills were followed by kick drills. Then a few simple self-defense exercises: Three different defense for a wrist grab, three different defenses for a front "throttle" type choke. I worked with Nemesis on the wrist grabs (Ai yi yi… wrist grabs with Nemesis ought to be on the test for black belt for every martial art on the planet). With RM on the chokes. This is the first time I’ve worked with him. I can definitely see the dancer in his movements. He’s also very educational with the anatomy and physiology facts to toss out in class. Man, is he ever going to be scary as soon as he learns some pokey-type strikes. Not only does he already have an incredibly intimate knowledge- both scholarly and tactile- of the body, but I’ll bet he can tell just by watching how you stand and move what your weaknesses and injuries are- just where to target. SK is going to learn a lot of painful tricks from him too, I’ll wager.

One of the choke defenses we were doing was a Snake thing wherein you double-Snake-strike the attacker in the armpits and then rebound over to double-Snake-strike hir at the base of the neck. The first time I did it on RM, he almost jumped through the ceiling. "Sorry- was that too hard?" "No, just….. surprising!" I did it to him several more times, and he was cringing out of his skin yet giggling in excitement at the same time. I couldn’t help laughing too. He was very intrigued.

One time, after defending his choke, I followed up with a snap kick to the groin. I knew he wasn’t expecting anything like that- and my snap kicks are very quick- so I fully expected to hit my target (I was very controlled, of course). He instinctually blocked with such a lightning (and technically correct) motion that I laughed in sheer admiring glee. I said, "You can always tell who in here grew up with siblings!" We both started cracking up then, looking across the room at Nemesis… he and SK looked back at us like we’d lost our minds.

Then SK took the two new people out to work on the Five Animals form while JoE, Nemesis and I sparred. I was in a fair amount of pain, so I was very focussed on keeping it slow and light- and succeeded.

Nemesis got me good with a left ridge hand to the head chased by a right low uppercut to the ribs. I continue to do poorly at defending attacks from two simultaneous or closely-following points (especially if they are on different levels). In this case, the ridge hand was so dramatic and telegraphing that it captured all my focus, and I moved in confidently to fubar it with a Black Crane double knife-hand- I didn’t even SEE the uppercut till it hit my ribs. I had not only opened up my ribs by using a high two-handed defense, I had turned my body and moved directly INTO it. I couldn’t have HELPED him punch me any more efficiently if I’d tried. All three of us brainstormed on what to do against that particular attack; then we asked SK about it before closing class. SK had another couple of ideas, but he really admired the attack combo. I asked if we could try to incorporate more practice in defending those types of double strikes and one-two strikes. It is a glaring hole in my sparring game.

JM had not been in class again tonight, and in the carpool home- to my complete shock, mortification and dismay- SK announced that he’s noticed for quite some time that I display dramatic shifts in my level of presence (I’m paraphrasing), and the only pattern he’s been able to discern is the presence vs absence of JM.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Goddam Pisces, again. It floored me to get called out like that, especially since I had *JUST* made the observation here on my training blog last week- "interesting to note how much more at ease I felt in class with JM absent". Delightful to know that I remain a bare half-step ahead of *SK* on the path to decoding my dark twisted psyche.

I honestly had had no intention of *ever* bringing this topic up with him- and it was probably a bad idea to fess up even now- but you know what, don’t ask me stuff unless you really want to hear the answer. Anyone who’s known me for a decent time ought to know that.

So I told him that because I’ve known him a long time, and we’ve discussed some deep stuff- and also because he’s my teacher- there are things that I’m okay discussing with him that I just don’t want to discuss with other people present. Furthermore, him and his probing Piscean questions- often I find myself discussing things that I hadn’t intended to discuss (like **NOW**, would be a lovely example of that), and when the conversation starts to get over the line that I feel comfortable discussing in front of the rest of the carpool, there is no graceful way to extricate myself without rudely informing the other people that I do not want to talk about this in front of them.

I went on to confess (after securing an agreement that he would not repeat this to her) that I feel completely threatened by JM in class, because she is so darn good at everything that it makes me feel- especially as a more senior student- inadequate and insecure about my own work. When I started bitching that she constantly makes corrections on everyone, and when someone asks a question in class, SHE answers it before the teacher can answer- he started chuckling before I’d gotten two sentences out. He told me that I wasn’t the only one who had noticed that. I exclaimed hotly that she had corrected HIM- TWICE- right in front of the new student, and that was just disrespectful and wrong. He said that he agreed that was out of line, and had actually already had a little talk with her about that particular incident.

We didn’t have enough time on the commute to fully hash this out, and I still feel really ambivalent that it was a good idea to talk about it at all. But he now knows the root source of many class behaviors of mine that I know have puzzled and frustrated him for a long time now- why I never ask questions in class any more, why I have quit asking for help with forms, why I do all sorts of contortions to avoid working where others can watch me, several other things. There are still no easy solutions to this situation. I have developed so many dysfunctional little coping mechanisms to try to protect my too-fragile microscopic little ego from feeling insecure and defensive in the face of JM, I doubt I could rehab myself even if SK grew a pair and told her to quit acting like she’s TA’ing the class (which I doubt he will do anyway). But well- for better or worse- he asked, and now he knows. (Hey, how are ya likin’ this whole "teaching" thing, buddy? Fun times, huh? By the way, things might stay a little more serene if you would quit asking me freakishly perceptive and invasive questions in the carpool…. just think that over)

Right side of neck is *excruciatingly* painful tonight. It is starting to look like Kung Fu is more harmful on my injury than BJJ- which is bizarre. Maybe it’s the striking motions. Next class, I should try to limit right-handed striking. Or maybe I am just generally too tense in that class. Also, I found it very difficult to stay focussed tonight, with that level of pain buzzing in my shoulder.

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