Thursday night three-pack

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

Evening three-pack at Gracie Bellevue.

Basics: like this morning, we did all spars. Like this morning, I was doing fairly decent. Albert is breathing a lot better- not huffing like a steam train any more. I complimented him on it. He also doesn’t seem quite as spazzy (even though I did him first, when he was fresh). I hope those days are behind us. Dave informed me proudly that he remembered to bring his inhaler today. Good boy.

Study Hall: "self defense". First, we paired up (me with Lindsey) and attacked each other, experimenting with different responses. It was somewhat challenging for me to do this from a BJJ mindset. My takedowns against resisting people are not that great. If we find ourselves on the ground, sure, I’ll do BJJ. But honestly, from standing, I’d be a fool to not use Kung Fu. Lindsey was impressed with my throws (but again, she was unresisting, so…), and at least I had *something* for every attack- even if it wasn’t jiu jitsu-y. The only time I froze up was when the prof came over and attacked me. Embarrassing. But I know that I froze because my mind was searching for the "correct" response- the one that I thought he wanted. If I’d felt free to do anything I wanted, I don’t think I would have frozen. At least I hope not.

After we did that for a while, we got in a circle, and Casey attacked us each in turn with a front straight-arm choke. I had to go first. The prof had specified that he wanted us to be doing jiu jitsu and not striking. I brought both arms up and circling around to break the choke, then I kneed him in the belly (okay, not BJJ, but Kung Fu has burned into my brain that you don’t just walk up to somebody and try to throw them- you have to "tenderize" them first), then I reaped him to the ground.

To be more jiu jitsu-y, Carlos suggests grabbing one of the attacker’s elbows and bearing down hard on it, while lunging in and hugging hir around the neck with the other. Throw. Armbar.

During the break, I pounced upon Ben and stealth-choked him, then we rolled around for a while. Then the advanced class was lining up, and I started to run away to the other room. Carlos: "Where you going?" Kitsune: "I wanna do basics class." "Why?" "Cuz my basics need work." He didn’t even dignify that with a reply, just shook his head and pointed to the mat. Damn. What was I going to do, argue? Say no? Especially with the entire class already on the wall staring and listening as we had this exchange. Sigh.

So of course, we were doing two complicated techniques with way too many steps and tricky grip changes which would have been a struggle for me on a GOOD day…. much less on my 4th class of the day, with too much bad stressful stuff going on my life right now to distract my focus. I was just not in good shape to tackle this. I felt bad for Kelly, who got stuck with me tonight. That’s a big part of the reason I don’t like doing these advanced classes… if I am struggling, it’s not just my problem- I’m being a burden to whatever unfortunate soul I’m partnered with.

Standup, judo grips. Step slightly to the side that you have the lapel. Switch lapel grip to cross sleeve cuff grip. Switch elbow grip to lapel grip. Pull opponent in and torque hir elbow up. Reap. I can do a reap, but the prof had to spend almost the entire drill period trying to correct my grips. I was confused, frustrated and irritated. I appreciate that he wants to help me get it right, and spends the time to do so- but the more he rides me, the more flustered I get and the more my brain shuts down. I was PO’ed because this was exactly why I had wanted to go over to the basics class. Sometimes I don’t understand the point Carlos is trying to get across to me (I’m speaking in the broader sense here, not just the grips thing… although I wasn’t getting the grips thing either).

You standing, partner on back with 2 end-of-cuff grips and feet on your hips. You grab hir left lapel with your rt hand, kneel and push your rt elbow and knee into hir left leg to displace the foot. Opponent hooks that foot behind your thigh. You squat further and push hir rt sole to the mat, then tuck right up against hir rump with that rt knee up between you. (Kelly suggested here that I need to remember to keep my weight back and sunk- I was leaning too far forward.)

Next, use a vehement shoulder motion to move that knee to the side. Now both of opponent’s knees are on the same side. Place your rt knee on the mat. You sprawl and crush hir to the mat curled up on hir side. Clear the hooking toe. Tiptoe around to side control.

As you go to side control, it’s a good time to 1)make sure you flatten the opponent out… using the lapel is a good way to manage this, and 2) slide your near hand behind the collar, thumb in. Once you have secured side control, slip your far hand into the collar palm up. Sidle and twist for baseball bat choke. This is the same choke I had been trying repeatedly to get a few weeks ago and failing; this time it was working beautifully- I don’t know why. There was tons of room to torque further, but she was already tapping.

A little positional training starting from the tucked-to-the-rump point.

One roll with Kelly and one with Ted. Managed to stay on top most of the time with Kelly, for a change. I haven’t sparred with her for a while, but she has tended to dominate me positionally. This time I was determined to not end up in her bear-trap closed guard, nor on the bottom. I achieved that, but couldn’t accomplish a whole lot. We were mostly straining against each other with me sprawled on top and both of us clinging for dear life to our respective positions.

Ted: I didn’t do very well. Stayed on top for a while, but then found myself on the bottom and was stuck down there for the duration.

Wowza… I am just too tired to blog after these Thursday blitzes… but if I don’t write notes on what we did, by morning it will be gone.

Ian has his purple belt!

Protect ya neck

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

Study Hall

"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

Lunchtime BJJ at Grace Bellevue.

Carlos: "*YOU* again?" Hee hee hee. I usually go to Sleeper on my alternate free Wednesday evenings, so he’s not used to seeing me twice on Wednesday and then twice on Thursday. He was also impressed that he had had to kick me out last night. Ted and I shut down the mat, and would have gone longer, but Carlos had wanted to leave.

Same thing we did yesterday. I had a little performance anxiety ("Don’t mess this up *again* in front of Carlos…") but I think I get it better today. He did have to tell me to not step on the shoulder/chest, though…. once I focused on setting up the armbar (even though it’s just a ruse) it went better, as it was not really my job to worry about clearing the arm any more.

I got to work with Z, whom I have not seen in a long while.

Drills: start from closed guard, pass guard to side control, bottom person does the Move Of the Day.

King Of the Hill: start in side control, top person tries to get front mount, bottom person tries to replace full guard.

I kept drawing the 300-lb-plus purple belt… in fact I got him twice and I don’t think I got to work with anyone else. I went up there and waited for him to lie down so I could take top side control, and he just knelt there and stared at me… finally I said in genuine dismay, "I have to be on the bottom?" Of course both he and Carlos cracked up at that. Joy. So- unhappily- I crawled down there, and of course could do nothing at all with his bulk on top of me, but managed to catch bottom half guard as he attempted to mount. He tried to pass my half guard for a while, and couldn’t (!!) Then he sat back and said, "Well, you know, I wouldn’t even try to get my leg out in this case. I’d just armbar you from here." Well, granted. But that’s not the drill. You’re supposed to pass my half guard and go to front mount. I was annoyed, and debated arguing the point, but couldn’t figure out how to word it without sounding like I was issuing a smart-ass challenge to a purple belt who weighed about four of me- which would be kind of suicidal- so I just sighed and went back in line. He did say to Carlos, "She’s really good!" and John called from the line, "Yeah, just TRY to get out of her half guard!" which salved my ego a bit.

The second time, I had bottom half guard high up on his thigh and ended up curled in a ball right under his groin with one knee on his solar plex- but he was big enough to have both knees on the mat even so, and we weren’t sure if that counted as him having mount. I conceded that it likely did (again, challenging giant purple belt = insane), so went back in line.

Had to go pick up my Jeep at the mechanic (again), so arrived very late for 4:30 basics class. Adrian and JP were rolling. They paused to ask if I was here for class- since I was so late, I said "I can just hang out and watch, or rotate in- whatever." After a while, Adrian rotated out and I rolled with JP. He placed his palm on the mat and pushed it behind my skull to kink my neck to the side a bit, which totally flummoxed my effort to grab half guard on him when he went to front mount. I can almost always catch that half guard, so I paid attention to that detail. It is reminiscent of the detail I mentioned the other day of using the fingers to drag the palm across the mat and get that extra bit of tightness.

Next, the time slot for the Competition Class has been newly changed to something called "Study Hall". I was sorry to see the comp class go…. the only other one I can make is the Saturday unit once a month or so… and there’s certainly something to be said for a session of really killer cardio and hard drilling. I had been expecting the class to go away, though- it just wasn’t very thickly attended. I was happy that they replaced it with something else instead of just dropping the time slot.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from "study hall" but it was pretty cool. There were only 3 of us in there today. The prof asked us what we wanted to work on. I really want an easy and reliable choke from front mount, since I am spending a lot of time on top lately but not managing to finish the tap. I knew Carlos wanted to work more on positions than subs, though, so I wasn’t surprised nor too bummed to get outvoted by the other two students. Their desired focii dovetailed, so that worked out well. Lindsey wanted to work on getting out of bottom half guard, so I was all for that. The white belt guy wanted to address passing open guard.

So we started with one person on the ground on hir back, feet on the partner’s hips. Stander throws opponent’s feet to the side. Opponent turns in, places hands on stander’s knees (bottom arm reaches to far knee- don’t cross top arm over face), then places soles on opponent (one at a time- outside/far foot first.) and ends up back at the beginning.

Then, stander pushes opponent’s knees to hir chest. When opponent pushes back, stander shoves legs to the mat and lunges into half guard. Person on bottom needs to turn on the hip and get the arm/shoulder up for the underhook- QUICKLY. Once the person is on you, it’s too late. The matward hand should be doing the "Fonz"- smoothing the hair at your temple. (Again, this is an important detail for me to try to incorporate to avoid the vicious crossface.) Duck the head in deep, get the top knee in, push opponent’s far knee out, twist and replace full guard.

There was less drilling (although drilling did happen) and more discussion Q/A than in a normal class. It was nice to be able to ask lots of questions and get individual help. I can see this class becoming less and less awesome as more students occur. If it stays small, this could really boost my game. Smile

Another plus: unlike competition class sometimes does, this one didn’t leave me too physically exhausted to do yet another class tonight.

Yes, ANOTHER class (five and a half classes in two days- woo-hoo!). There was an "all levels" class and a "black belt" (two stripe blue and up) class. I picked "all levels".

We did a replace-full-guard-from-bottom-half almost identical to the one we had just played with in Study Hall.

Opponent in your closed guard, leaning weight on your belt. loop your hands under hir wrists, grab your own wrist, and bump hips up violently while thrusting hands up to break opponent’s grip on your belt. Allow your arms to continue the circle up, out and down, and whizzer one of the opponent’s biceps. (At this juncture, I cautioned Lindsey to make sure to tilt her head to one side while performing this grip break… I have experienced (on both sides of the equation) this type of thing resulting in heads/faces clunking together with much force!)

Turn, bring foot over, omoplata. I continue to struggle a bit with getting to a sitting position and rearranging my legs. Jamie was using a little kick to boost himself up, but I didn’t get enough time to play with emulating that tonight. Next
time. Another improvement opportunity: I am now consistently remembering thatI need to grab the belt to keep the guy from rolling out, but I still need to perfect the timing of switching the grips. I showed the Lindsey the "Cindy variation" to finishing the omoplata, where you loop your arms under the neck and crank that up while you are levering the arm up. (Ow.)

Some positional training from closed guard and then side control, rotating partners. I have been noticing anew his week how badly I suck at getting out of closed guard and side control. I think that in the last several months, I have been better at attempting to not end up there in the first place (good!), but that also means that I haven’t been working on the skill deficiency in that area (bad!).

Whew. I am quite exhausted. I could almost have fallen asleep on the way home.


"I’ve had 56 students win gunfights in the past 5 years. I also had two students that died because they were unarmed when they were attacked. Carry your f***in gun." – Tom Givens (Rangemaster)

Now that my sinus infection is being medicated, hopefully soon I will 1)stop feeling like crap, 2)stop skipping classes due to congestion, headache and exhaustion, and 3)be able to smell my food again- I’ve gained a few pounds while I was ill.

Amusingly enough, I was trying to do a good deed by entering a charity raffle, and I just won a "chocolate pizza". OMG!!! Well, it would take a stronger woman than I to turn THAT down!!! Ha ha ha!! Yes, pre-diabetes in a cellophane wrapper… but it was for CHARITY, so that gets a caloric free pass, right?

Monday Form Of the Day: Northern Mantis Bo form

Tuesday FOD: Spear Hand fragment

Wednesday lunchtime BJJ at GB Seattle.

From standing: opponent attempts to double-leg you, you sprawl and catch guillotine. Opponent hugs one arm over your back and steps to the same side, stands as upright as possible, uses knee to break down the back of your knee, takedown to side control. Opponent places both elbows on the far side of your body and postures up to shuck the neck hold.

Person on bottom: bump up (DO NOT SHRIMP OUT!) so that you can take the arm nearest the opponent and place the palm on your ear. Turn (STILL! DO NOT SHRIMP OUT!) just enough so that you can get that near knee in to touch the elbow, Black Crane style. Now bring your OTHER leg up and over the head (DON’T SHRIMP OUT!), push opponent away with your legs, and replace full guard. If you can catch that arm as you bring the leg over, and scare your opponent into thinking you’re going for an armbar, so much the better. S/he will posture up and basically help you return to full guard.

Can you guess what I couldn’t stop myself from doing? Yes, for some reason I felt that my life depended on shrimping out. I also had a really hard time grokking where the arms were supposed to go at the beginning of that second sequence. Carlos came over and kept going over it with me again and again until we both started to get frustrated with one another. I really hate it when that happens; especially when I’m working with a white belt that I don’t know (can I possibly look any *more* like a moron now?).

Women’s class… I usually can’t make any of these; on my Wednesdays that I have off work, I am generally at Cindy’s. She did not have class today, so here I was. There were only three of us today. We went over a pendulum sweep, then played with some spider guard, then I sparred both of them. I am not used to all-women settings, so it was interesting to observe the difference in my own mood. I felt less pressure- less of a sense of girding my loins, setting my jaw and preparing to charghe into the hostile breach.

Followed by: "all levels". The prof folded the line tonight (he had done that this morning as well)…. as in, the highest belt gets paired up with the newest white belt, the 2nd highest belt goes with the 2nd newest person, and so on. As luck would have it, it was almost all blue belts in class tonight, and I ended up with Lindsey again.

Side control: slide your knee and elbow in to pinch off and isolate the bottom person’s arm. Segue into scarf. Press the far side of the opponent’s face toward you and step your foot over the head. Keep the other foot braced in a good position for balance, up on the toes. Armbar. I was having some trouble with this… and finally figured out that I have done similar things in Cindy’s no-gi classes, but with the gi sleeve in the way, I was having a little difficulty figuring out exactly where the elbow was as well as the orientation of the hand.

If the opponent pushes at your knee, loop your arm overtop and trap hir with hir own arm crossed over hir throat. Get your arm under hir head, gable grip and squeeze to choke. It works much better- and hurts more- if before you gable grip, you take the arm that you put under the opponent’s head and use your fingers to crawl it across the mat like a spider to tighten up. It kinks the head to the side a bit and makes you want to tap even before the person starts leaning into the choke. As soon as I saw this detail, I remembered it from Cindy’s classes as well. It’s a tiny thing, but it can really make all the difference.

If they’re still not tapping, you can stick your arm between hir knees and turn the knees away from you. This- done correctly- apparently was making the choke worse, but when Lindsey did it to me, all it did was torque my back (which would have made me tap, anyway).

One roll with Justin and one with Ted. I was on top most of the time with both, but only finished one sub (a sloppy choke on Justin). I tried that baseball bat choke I’ve been experimenting with, and Justin spun with me to keep me from tightening it- we did three full 360’s, and then started giggling so hard we had to stop. His front mount defense is getting really good. The few times I actually managed to mount him, he immediately got on his side- and he is just large enough that I can only get one knee touching the mat when he’s on his side, so I would not get points for that. He is also defending really well against the armbar, and against all chokes. I got three or four KOB’s of three seconds or more on Ted. Seriously, they just lie there. I’m aware that I’m arguably doing it "wrong" by not posturing up and yanking them into a bow while I’m doing it- but I’d still get points if it was a comp, so why do they just lie there? I understand that if it’s a white belt, they might not know what it is (or that I’m getting points for it) until I tell them… but these blue belts ought to know better. I also tried that alligator-roll thing with Ted, but I could tell even before I rolled him that I didn’t have the arm controlled well enough (which is where I failed the last time I tried it, too). So there is that yet to work on. I am getting a little quicker at setting it up, though.