Saturday

Nothing says, "Please don’t rape me." like multiple jacketed hollowpoints. -John Fogh

The FOD is Leopard Fist.

I will not be going to Kung fu today. I guess I should stop writing that, since it is now the norm instead of the exception. Despite my initial resolve to keep my mouth shut and my head down for a while, I lasted a whole two days before I e-mailed SK Saturday morning and apologized for distressing him with my absence- explaining that I’d truly thought it was not impacting anyone besides me. Haven’t heard back from him. Sigh. He’s really pissed at me. I am really unhappy.

I e-mailed CC and asked for a lesson. We’re supposed to meet on Thursday evening (when I will yet again *not* be going to SK’s class). Sigh. It’s good to be able to work with CC- who will be, if I do not return to SK’s class- my only option for continuing to study Kung Fu. But every time I work with him, it hits home how much better SK’s teaching style melds with my learning style. Not to mention CC is much less accessible. That will burn more acutely now.

Today, besides Leopard Fist as the FOD, I did all the mirror forms in a string. It is *finally* starting to stick in my head which way I need to open up Leopard Three in order to go which direction. I need to keep my brain focussed on the BOTTOM hand, because that is the one I’m going to strike to the inside with next. As long as I focus on that, it is obvious which way I’ll be turning after that. The mind is so funny sometimes, the things it will remember and the things it won’t.

Need to rep the arm-spin thing from Five Points, just that, about a million times. Everything else in the mirror version of 5 Points is going pretty well, but that one thing always stymies me. The left hand needs to fly up to about 11 o’clock and circle COUNTERCLOCKWISE from there.

A couple reps of Angry Snake, with a pen in place of a sword. Many reps of the opening moves of Tiger Versus Crane In the Mirror. I worked with some of the next techniques for that one. That centrifugal jumping spinning kick that always gives me so much trouble- not the kick, but the way the arms go- is even worse on the opposite side! Maybe I will gain some clarity working with it from the other side.

I also practiced the opening moves of Black Crane 1 In the Mirror- up to "Crane Serves Drinks" (no, that’s not the real name of the technique, but that’s what it looks like).

My injured knee doesn’t seem too bad; it’s probably a good thing I couldn’t get to any BJJ this weekend, giving it a chance to heal up.

I read on SIDE CONTROL’s blog that Lindsey got his black belt. I can’t wait to see him and congratulate him.

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Thursday and Friday


An armed man will kill an unarmed man with monotonous regularity.
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Thursday:

Today’s FOD is Frolic Of the Five Animals.

I didn’t go to Kung Fu today.

Despite having seemed understanding at first, SK was apparently more upset with me about that than he let on. This morning he text-bombed me and just ripped me up one side and down the other. Like, to the extent that I don’t know if he’ll ever speak to me again in any context. He accused me of not considering my training important- which feels like a blade in the gut. That’s just deliberately trying to be hurtful- he knows that’s bull. He also suggested that he may ask CN to take over teaching due to his guilty feelings over his role in my hiatus.

I had never intended this to be a permanent hiatus, I just needed a break- a few weeks maybe, until a couple of interpersonal issues got cleared up and some raw emotions got decently scabbed over- but he was steamed up enough to sock me with several additional bits of heretofore unknown (to me) information that- unless he was exaggerating for effect- means the situation is even worse than I thought, and may well be unfixable.

What a clusterfuck this has become. I wonder if he was just having a really bad morning, and he’ll be more rational after a few days….. or if this was a peep behind the filters, into what’s truly going on in his mind. I wonder if I’m never going to hear from him again. I did say, "Take some time to think" before his textual version of stomping out and slamming the door. It would be my preference for none of us to burn any bridges here.

I was distraught enough about this that I could not go to BJJ today. It might have been a good distraction, but I think the first time someone swept me, I would have burst into hysterical tears- which behavior isn’t really fair of me to inflict on my teammates.

Crap. Sad

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Friday: 123.5…. getting too thin. I recently went on a salad kick, but I was also putting some dressing on it (many salad dressings have more calories than hot fudge sauce, didja know that?!), and some breaded chicken bits, and too much cheese, so I wasn’t expecting a weight dip.

Today’s FOD is Sil Lum Tao.

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Seattle. Lots of warmups, a hip throw (I got to drill with Vince, who obviously knew what he was doing, so he helped me out), then King of the Hill from various start positions. I actually won two of these, which almost never happens. Tweaked my right knee somehow, though. I thought I might have to sit out after that, but I walked it off. I could see the throbbing, jumping muscle right through the thick gi pants, though. We’ll see what that feels like in the morning.

The final round found me in bottom half guard with a mammoth white belt crushing me. We must have thrashed there for four minutes. Yes, Kintanon, I remembered my homework about ceasing just lying under there, but I squirmed and wiggled and he was just lying on me with all his weight- I could *NOT* get out. He couldn’t get out of the half-guard either, though. Finally the timer sounded.

Got in line to bow out- my heart was pounding so hard, and my stomach was rolling- I had to duck out of the line and run to the bathroom because I thought I was going to throw up. I didn’t, but I had to lie there face-down on the tile beside the toilet for a time.

That small-size purple belt invited me to roll, and gave me some advice about tightening up subs before starting to move the main part of the body to finish them.
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Went to the (non-MA) gym and did formwork. All the mirror forms with their regular-side counterparts (except for Leopard 3- I forgot that one). Couple of bobbles, but mostly looking good. I’m happy with how Five Points In the Mirror is coming along. Touch Bridge In the Mirror as well. Many reps of the opening of Tiger Versus Crane In the Mirror- I’m up to the first set of double Tiger claws, but the second technique of the form (which involves a turn as well as doing something radically different with each limb at once) is a bugger. Sil Lum Tao (the FOD). Snake Versus Five Animals, Kiu Two.

I do so much "micro-fu" formwork in my tiny living room, and at my tiny workspace in the middle of the night, that it was novel to have enough room to do everything (including the jumps and rolls and kicks) and not have to pause and back up several times during each form. It was also really nice to have the mirror wall to work with.

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Evening no-gi at Sleeper. I was a little late (stuck in traffic) and missed half the warmups.

A few guard passes from various starting positions utilizing a cradle over the neck and thigh. I was drilling with Alecia, and noticing my ever-shrinking weight against her solid twenty-ish pounds heavier and the fact that every once of it is muscle. She made a couple of comments over the course of the night about me putting up more of a fight than before.

Some positional training from various guard positions, then a few free rolls. I got to work with Alecia, Eric, George, and Cindy.

I asked Cindy for some options for when I’m on my back and she’s standing. No matter what I try to do, she spins to the outside and sits on me. She does this to me multiple times every time I work with her. She showed me that I need to close up, and/or hook the leg that she’s trying to bring around. I have no doubt she’ll just come up with another way to sit one me, but at least it’ll be a DIFFERENT one.

Yes, I tried to get out from bottom half-guard again, but this time I was severely handicapped my my sore knee- which is now swollen and painful. I sat out the last roll or two because it was getting worse.

Monday night

When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.
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Today’s FOD is Touch Bridge.

Besides Touch Bridge, I worked on all the Mirror forms. No problems with the ones that I feel are pretty much in "ongoing maintenence" phase. As for the "working" ones: Five Points is feeling much better. I worked quite a bit on Touch Bridge In the Mirror, since it is also the FOD, coincidentally. I need to commit to a starting and ending point for the opening and closing techniques- each is a three-repeat which I have been beginning with either hand since it really doesn’t matter. So, beginning: Right Dragon claw in front for the regular form, left Dragon claw in front for the Mirror version. It seems to make slightly more sense, since it leaves you with the hand that you’re pulling back to the far hip closer to your endpoint. End: start with the left hand on top for the regular version, rt hand on top for the mirror version.

I tried the opening moves to Tiger Versus Crane In the Mirror. Crane is the only Animal style that I don’t have a Mirror form for yet. I should have picked Black Crane 1 (it’s short), but I just *like* Tiger Versus Crane better.

While dealing with some troublesome life issues lately, I’m finding that I am spending a lot of time and energy in obsessive, negative hamster-wheel-type mental ruts. When I get frustrated and exhausted with these, I find myself trying to shut everything off and just zombie my way through the hour/day/week/month, enduring "killing time" in the hope that things will look up later. My always-poor sleep patterns also become more and more reliant on pharmaceutical help. Increasingly regular pharmaceutical help with increasing dosages. With an eye toward not wasting my life this way, I’m picking through the Julia Cameron books again. This is one of those resources that I usually find helps me get into a more mindful state. I want to stay mindful- and living, not just enduring- but try to keep more focus on things that are not causing me distress.

Sunday

Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets. You may get killed with your own gun, but he’ll have to beat you to death with it, cause it’s going to be empty. -Clint Smith

Today’s FOD is Leopard 3.

I didn’t go to Kung Fu tonight.

All of the Mirror forms: the normal side first, followed by the Mirror side. They went better than Thursday’s run, although I notice that the fine detail in Leopard Fist wants to get sloppy in the Mirror side for some reason. I think part of me feels like I need to do the Mirror forms even faster and smoother than the normal forms in order to PROVE that I am truly proficient. If I’m doing the mirror side slower and more carefully, it feels like it’s substandard. Resolve: "slower" is better than "sloppy".

Note that in Leopard Fist, the second double Leopard Fist strikes begin with the vertical forearm to the FRONT. I checked the vid yet again to make sure. I also wanted to see which arm was on top for the actual strikes, but after watching it several times, it is plain that SK is doing a different (more advanced) version of the technique. His arms are crossed and both palms are toward the ground. In the version I’ve been doing, the arms are one-on-top-of-the-other and the palms are facing each other. Since I haven’t been taught the advanced version yet, I’m going to just stop fretting about which arm is *supposed* to be on top and do it with the rearmost arm on top- because that makes more sense to me kinetically in order to get to the endpoint faster.

Five Points Of the Star, both ways. Again, Mirror form is better today, but still needs more work- especially the last 1/3.

After the first Dragon-Rides-The-Wind, note that I keep wanting to orient myself toward the back corner for some reason- need to make sure I travel toward the front corner.

The big arm circles before the fireman’s kick have to go counterclockwise in the mirror form. This is surely going to be the last bastion of getting the Mirror form correct. I have to stop and think about it every time.

Also, after the duck-behind-the-knee, I need to fall BACK instead of diving FORWARD… it took me this long to figure out that that is why I keep ending the form facing south instead of north where I started.

After the roll, both the first step and the first knee-up into the jump are RIGHT. Left fist down, then turn AWAY from the fist side. After the second roll, the OUTSIDE leg needs to be the straight one. It’s all obvious from there on.

Beginning of Touch Bridge In the Mirror.

Short sticks. I haven’t practiced with those in a while. Low four-count sequence, high four-count sequence, low-to-high-to-low. It came back fairly quickly, but gets sloppy when I try to go too fast. I remembered that the rapping last stroke on the high ones ended BENEATH- at the ribs…. but when I tried to do the low ones the same, it didn’t work. After some fiddling, I figured out that the rapping last stroke on the low ones ends ABOVE. Sheesh. No wonder the low-to-high-to-low is so tricky. I do like it, though, when I am able to figure out how something goes by figuring out how it makes SENSE to go, instead of just relying on memorization.

I ordered a ten-pack of reeds for my bass clarinet today. I know that’s not really training, but I’m counting anything spiritual as training. Besides, it’s good BREATHING training- no BJJ artist could argue with that.

Friday

The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long-term learning process, and not to live in a shell of static, safe mediocrity. The hermit crab is a colorful example of a creature that lives by this aspect of the growth process (albeit without our psychological baggage). As the crab gets bigger, it needs to find a more spacious shell. So the slow, lumbering creature goes on a quest for a new home. If an appropriate new shell is not found quickly, a terribly delicate moment of truth arises. A soft creature that is used to the protection of built-in armor must now go out into the world, exposed to predators in all its mushy vulnerability. That learning phase in between shells is where our growth can spring from. Someone stuck with an entity theory of intelligence is like an anorexic hermit crab, starving itself so that it doesn

This is the weird side, right?

To achieve an elite standard of personal performance usually requires a fair amount of natural ability, motivation and commitment. It does not follow that an elite martial artist also has the ability to pass those skills on to others at all levels. In fact, the opposite is usually true. To become an elite performer usually means that the student has natural ability and therefore learns skills quickly and easily. A great degree of self-motivation and commitment is also required and such performers generally find little difficulty in applying themselves to the rigors of training, grading and competition. Since very few students achieve such high levels of performance, too often a coach does not understand the needs of these "lesser mortals" who are in fact the majority. When one looks at specific groups such as junior, female, male, elderly, competitive, aggressive, shy, introverted, or combinations of these, many martial arts coaches in the past have been- to say the least- underprepared. Tony Gummerson, "Teaching Martial Arts"

Today’s FOD is the Chen Dao form. I went back and corrected an additional small error that I knew was in the transcription.

I did get a walk today, albeit not a particularly strenuous one. I skipped BJJ this morning, partly just because I was being lazy and partly because I assumed I’d be going to BJJ tonight. Then I found out that the reason I have been skipping Kung Fu was not going to apply to tonight’s class, so I could go. Happy I was. I appreciate it even more now that access is limited.

Starting with some hand strike drills, specifying that we start with a defensive move followed up by an offensive one.

Then we were asked to come up with a short opening sequence that we might use for a first attack. We spend a lot of time practicing things that are defensive (first) and assuming the other guy is making the first attack, so this was a little different mindset.

I chose a Wing Chun guard with the left hand on top. My idea was that I’d hope the guy would be watching my top hand. My right (dominant) hand Mantis-gripped his right wrist while I stepped in, turned his corner, Yanked him forward and downward with the Mantis grip, and my left hand circled UNDER our joined arms to palm-heel him the side ribs. I liked it. If I was trying to surprise a random person, I would use Mantis- because it’s just WEIRD. Few people are going to expect you to grab them and pull them into your strike. Once I tunred the corner, he couldn’t get me with his other hand. The palm-heel was also quite hidden from view, and I liked the way it felt circling down and under- very natural, and I got good power on the strike.

It was amusing/interesting to see that- working independantly and in pairs- everyone in the class had chosen slightly different variations of the same thing: Bridge one arm, turn the corner on the same side, and strike.

Individual forms. I ran through all my mirror forms (with the exception of Five Points, which is still too rough). Then I did each form normally, followed immediately by its mirror counterpart. I bobbled a few things, just because my brain was a bit confused by having to switch gears like that.

Then I worked on Five Points In the Mirror. I haven’t worked on it in a long time, and it was very rough at the beginning. Once I got back in the groove, though, it came a bit easier.

I’m not sure why this one snarls my mind so badly- maybe just all the directional changes. I keep having to go back and verify and reverify that I’m turning in the correct directions. Then I have to verify and reverify that I am truly doing the mirror version, and not simply the same techniques on the same side just facing a different direction.

If it’s not just all the directional changes that are mixing me up, it may be the fact that- ironically- the material is *TOO* intimately familiar. The other forms, I just have to keep in mind that I’m doing a given technique on "the weird side"… the Tiger stuff, it feels right on both sides, so I keep thinking, "Wait… is this *really* the "weird side?""

I got about three quarters through and thought, "Crap, this is giving me a migraine!" So I just went back and repped the first bit several times over.

After that, I did a couple reps each of Kiu Two and Snake Versus Five Animals. Those two are full of strike sequences that are complex enough that they just really need a lot of frequent reps to stay solid. I think I should probably put an extra stone or two in the FOD bowl for each of those.

A few additional reps of the three trickiest spots in Bung Bo Mirror. Then I was out of time.

I told SK that I am almost finished with all my transcriptions, and he wanted to know what I am going to work on NEXT. I still haven’t told him about the Mirror Forms, and I don’t want to yet- so I just told him I have a top-secret project!

Got a mop?

"It’s not ‘I get a turn and then you get a turn’… it’s all my space and it’s always my turn" – Greg Hamilton

Today’s FOD is the Dance Of Life.

I have continued this week to play around with Bung Bo In the Mirror, Five Animals In the Mirror, Little Red Dragon In the Mirror, Leopard Three In the Mirror. Those four are approaching proficiency. There are only a couple of spots in each one where I have to think about what I’m doing- and even in those spots, It is usually not slowing me down perceptably. Today I also worked on Leopard Fist In the Mirror. I haven’t done that one in a while, and was pleased to see that it is actually in pretty good shape. Not as comfortable as these other four, yet, but decent. Soon I need to revisit Five Points Of the Star In the Mirror.

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Seattle. Prof. Carlos came around shaking hands while I was standing there stretching my arms up; so instead of shaking my hand, he took it and pirouetted around me. "Your turn," So I then pirouetted around him. He is such a goofball.

You are in turtle, opponent side-by side with 2 lapel grips.

1)Grab a handful of pants at his far knee, hip out (That’s important), then get full or half guard.

2)Grab a handful of pants at his far knee, Stand up with your NEAR leg, place the shin and hip of your FAR leg beside opponent’s leg, sweep. I have seen this sweep before and liked it a lot, but haven’t as of yet been able to fully internalize all the correct steps in the correct order…. so I often fumble around trying to do it in live rolling and never succeeding. Hopefully with this latest go-round, it will sink in. Carlos had to come over and correct me because it was taking me too many steps to get situated. ONE to put the near leg up, ONE to get the far leg in position, then sweep. No ditzing around.

Third drill: You are in opponent’s guard, he goes for kimura sweep. You press his leg down, swing around him, and get his back. This was also useful because for the bonus practice of setting up the kimura sweep.

I wanted to do some sparring, but Carlos closed out the drill portion of class with one of those wicked cardio-blast thingies (with SPRAWLS!), and it knocked me out.

Evening BJJ at Sleeper. Same setup as the last few classes: closed guard, yank the elbows out, get a whizzer and a back-of-the-neck grip. This time, we did a few more complicated sub options… probably too complicated for me to try to integrate yet, but interesting and fun all the same. We also did some of the chokes where you get the second grip with a handful of the gi at the back of the shoulder. I really like those, so it was great to get a chance to work on them some more. Still having some trouble with the broken finger when it comes to grips, though- especially gi chokes.

Note that Cindy thinks one of the reasons I continue to struggle with triangles is that I might be hipping out too far when I go to get the angle and tighten it up. My leg is so short that when I hip out, the knee starts travelling down the side of the guy’s neck. She wants me to try to rotate UNDER the opponent and try to keep the knee on the back of his neck, instead of hipping out too far to the side.

Also note that when I underhook a leg to sweep, it is usually advantageous to just hang onto that leg. For some reason I tend to want to let go as soon as I get the guy over.

Some positional sparring, then free sparring. I got to go a long time with Cindy, which is always educational. I tried to pay attention to when she repeatedly caught me with the same things, and not keep putting myself right back in those same positions repeatedly. I still was doing it to some degree.

At one point I had bottom half guard (surprise surprise) and she was digging her knee into my bladder. Eventually she paused and asked, "Doesn’t that hurt?" "Yes." "Then open your half guard!" "Actually I was just thinking that I hope you have a mop in here."

As of tomorrow, I will again be an official student there, which is great. I think I’m going to really like having it in Bellevue.