The next phase of my martial growth would involve turning the large into the small. My understanding of this process is to touch the essence (for example, highly refined and deeply internalized body mechanics or FEELING) of a technique, and then to incrementally condense the external manifestation of the technique while keeping true to its essence. Over time, expansiveness decreases while potency increases. I call this method

Who am I? Grief/detox/processing

Loss of the friendship is still number one on my distress-o-meter so far…. but I’m starting to look ahead with a clinical interest to the time I’m really going to start freaking out in earnest about the question of my very identity as a martial artist/warrior now that SK and my kung fu group have been amputated from my life.

In the Shaolin tradition, at some point (usually after reaching black sash level, which is intermediate level) it was common to leave the temple to wander the world. Some came back years later to continue training, others didn’t. If you didn’t leave the temple when your teachers thought you were ready to, they kicked you out.

CK often references her own having been "kicked out of the temple"… DD declared her so when she moved out of town four years ago, even though she was a mid-level white sash at the time…. everyone always considered her a more advanced MA’ist because of her other arts and teaching skills.

I had no intention of leaving the temple, ever. Never even entered my mind.

One of the things I liked about Shaolin is that there was really no ceiling on what I could learn- I was never going to be "done". (Also, I never thought I’d approach CK’s level of skill, nor approach black sash.) I fully expected to still be training under SK when I was 100 years old.

I certainly never expected to be leaving like THIS. I had my doubts about the class surviving after DD abandoned it, but I always figured that even if the group disintegrated, I’d still be able to get together with SK regularly and train. It never once crossed my mind to think what would happen- or what it would be like- or what I would do- if he was just….gone. Forever.

If this was another era, and my teacher had died, as his senior student I might be expected to take over teaching the group. If SK had actually died, I’m not sure what I would do- but I would have at least felt some responsibility to honor his legacy by thinking about and providing in some way for the rest of the junior students.

My teacher’s not dead, and I haven’t reached some level of rank that causes me to feel it’s time to take walkabout from (or get kicked out of) the temple. This is a lot messier, more confusing, and without honor. It feels dirty and unfinished.

One could view this, however, as the universe (or Rickson Gracie/s however you may define such) kicking me out of the temple.

If I were seeking some kind of higher meaning in this, one could wonder if there is something else I’m supposed to be doing now.

Hey, wait! I’m not ready! I wasn’t done yet! There is still so much I wanted to learn from SK!

I am left with a very fundamental question: Who am I now? Who am I as a Shaolin practitioner permanently separated from her temple? Who am I as a warrior permanently separated from my mentor?


After making an error, it is so easy to cling to the emotional comfort state of what was, but there is also that unsettling sense that things have changed for the worse. The clear thinker is suddenly at war with himself, and flow is lost. – Josh Waitzkin,


A man wants to walk across the land, but the earth is covered with thorns. He has two options- one is to pave his road, to tame all of nature into compliance. The other is to make sandals. Making sandals is the internal solution. Like the Soft Zone, it does not base success on a submissive world. – Josh Waitzkin,


If anyone strikes my heart, it does not break, but it bursts, and the flame coming out of it becomes a torch on my path. Hazrat Inayat Khan

Lunchtime BJJ at Gracie Seattle.

Carlos makes us sweat Fridays, and this was no exception. After warmups, we did a shrimping, hip-switching drill involving putting a foot on the opponent’s hip and then having him fling it off to the side, then we had to shrimp, re-orient, and put the opposite foot on the opposite hip. It was fine for a while, even though I was with a big guy who was throwing my legs with such force that my entire body was skidding about three feet to the side with every rep. After several minutes, though, hell set in. My upper abs are going to be aching in the morning.

More fast drills, lots of them. Then omoplatas from guard, with the opponent standing up in your guard. I said to the big guy, "You’re about three inches too thick for me to close my guard around you!" "(laugh) I think you just called me FAT!" "I didn’t say FAT, I said THICK!" I hate that because as soon as the guy stands up, I just slide helplessly down his legs. Just then Carlos came and took the THICK guy away from me and gave me Z instead.

Good spars with Z, Angus, and then Bryan. These were all really fun rolls.

Glenn ripped his pants to the point that they were half off. I commented, "And me without a few dollar bills to stick in your waistband." He exclaimed, "NO means NO!!!" Then JM ripped one of his pantlegs at the knee. Me: "If I’d known it was going to be Chippendales day, I would have made sure some of the other girls showed up."

Friday night no-gi at Sleeper.

Dead bugs- yeah, those upper abs again. Yow.

Guard passes- with the near knee in, with the far knee in, using cradle and backsit, getting rid of those pesky stray arms. Having lost weight since the school moved, I notice that being Cindy’s demo dummy hurts even more- it’s like bone on bone, and her bone is a lot harder than my bone!

Positional training from closed guard. Got tooled by Cindy and George. I tried hard to just keep working- but man, I was getting tired. Then I went with some new guy and after a while we stood up…. I didn’t know that he was a judo guy. Ack! That did not go too well.