Wenesday evening

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

Wednesday evening gi class, Sleeper Athletics.

As great as it is to have a small class, it always means you’re gonna work your buns off. We started out with just Jalen and Axel and me. We picked up two additional people later on. First, though, drills of that same takedown. Axel stood at one end of the mat and I stood at the other, while Jalen had to run first to me, take me down, then run across the room to Axel, take him down, etc for a total of ten. Axel and I had to do calisthenics (burpees, pushups, etc) while we were waiting our turns- so no downtime! Everyone got a turn in the middle. Note that if you’re not careful how you land this takedown, the opponent can roll you and end on top.

Next: you are in bottom side mount. Frame up, make room, shrimp, matward knee in, replace closed guard. Double sleeve cuff grips. Go to butterfly guard. Feet on hips. Shrimp out a bit, bring left leg around to "lasso" opponent’s arm and hook toe behind bicep. Make sure your knee is bowed OUTWARD and not inward (or s/he will push it down and pass). Bring your other foot to that same side of opponent’s torso and press the top of the foot to the ribs. GRAB THE PANTS AT THE KNEE on the side of the opponent that you have no feet. (I kept forgetting that part). Push opponent; when s/he pushes back, load hir onto you and then shove hir off to the left. Keep that pants grip till you get opponent on hir back. Roll up to KOB. Baseball bat choke, moving body all the way behind opponent’s head and then placing forehead on the mat.

Second technique: start the same as before, but after you get the lasso (again, make sure knee is bowed OUTWARD), place your rt sole on opponent’s same side bicep just above the elbow. As you do this, you want to be SITTING UP, not flat on your back (that was my big challenge this time). If you can’t sit up, that means you need to shrimp out more and get your butt further away from the opponent. Now- grab behind opponent’s tricep on your "lasso" side and yank hir in for a triangle. Your spider-guard foot is the one that goes OVER opponent’s neck; the lasso side is the one that you need to bring hir arm in.

Cindy gave me my pick of drill partners, and since I had picked Jalen last time, I picked Axel this time.

Sparring with everyone. I was informed that I was under no circumstances to be in the same position longer that 30 seconds. I really wanted to try that gi choke that we had practiced in the Old Farts’ class last week, and I tried to set it up a few times on Axel- but all of my partners tonight were way too frisky for me to finish setting it up. I was *very* tired during the sparring- the lack of breaks and the sprints-with-burpees interspersed between were brutal.

Standing guard pass

we only suffer when we hold onto an objection to some aspect of reality.

Tuesday evening advanced class at Bellevue GB.

Guard pass: begin in closed guard, opponent has 1 cross lapel grip. You grab that sleeve cuff with your same side hand, and opponent’s pants at the thigh with your other hand. Elbows in. Place one foot sole on mat- on the side that you have the sleeve grip, so that opponent can’t grab your ankle. Turn your other shin out and use toes to stand up. At the same time, break the lapel grip by forcing oppnent’s arm across hir own body.

Now: Stand fully, do not have legs too far apart. Switch your sleeve cuff grip to a cross grip. Use the other hand to push down on opponent’s knee. As the knee goes to the mat, step out with that same side leg so that your ankle and the opponent’s ankle are glued together. Now, kneel over opponent’s thigh with the near (inside) knee, then put the other knee down in front of opponent’s ankle. Side control.

Drills of this; a little positional sparring from standing guard pass.

Back to work on Friday.

Be my hero

One we learn how to use adversity to our advantage, we can manufacture the helpful growth opportunity without actual danger or injury. -Josh Waitzkin, The Art Of Learning

Friday evening Old Farts’ class at GB Bellevue.

For some bizarre reason, they have scheduled an Old Farts’ class in Seattle in THE SAME TIME SLOT. Now I know some people aren’t willing to make the commute, but some are- so why would you want to split your pool; why not have the two classes on different evenings??? Each class would be larger, and some people could come to BOTH. I would.

Hip throw setups. I was working with Peter (not gigondo-purple belt Peter, white belt Peter), and he’s the first training partner (teachers excluded) in my entire martial arts history to whom I have not had to say, "You’re going to have to squat lower." He apparently is a judo guy.

Bear hug from behind. Bring forearms up and drop body a bit to make a little room. Grab opponent’s hands and try to keep them locked together on your solar plex. Maneuver your lower body to the side so that your pubic bone is close to oppnent’s hipbone. One of your feet should be in front of opponent’s feet; one behind. ("Dog humping leg" position)

Now- continuing to keep opponent’s arm(s) if you can- take the knee that’s in the front of hir and drop it to the mat between hir feet. Roll over your shoulder, taking opponent with you. When hir back hits the mat, you will be on top, but your back will be to hir- so you have to continue the roll and end in side mount.

If you do it right, there are three possible bonuses: 1)As soon as opponent’s back hits the mat, your own shoulder blade is planted on hir chest and your weight can press down to pin hir there while you change position. 2)As you’re getting into side mount, you are nicely positioned to trap opponent’s near arm right under your arm and on top of your thigh. Lovely segue to armbar or multiple other sub possibilities. 3)As you are getting into side mount, you are also nicely positioned to whack the opponent in the head with your elbow as you turn to your belly. In fact, you are *so* nicely positioned to do this, that specific care has to be taken to *NOT* do so, should this be your training buddy or BJJ comp opponent as opposed to a Bad Guy.

Next technique: You have closed guard. Pull opponent fwd with your legs, while bringing your arms to your chest, up and around to trap one of hir arms in your armpit. (don’t forget to move your head out of the way… in fact I raised my hand in class to suggest this, when Doug did not mention it. I don’t think I’ve been in a class *YET* where some pair did not bonk their foreheads together doing this maneuver).

Now: with the arm that you have used to pin opponent’s arm, use your hand to sieze hir opposite lapel. Don’t yank it taught, because your next move is to use your OTHER hand to reach behind hir neck and stick your thumb in the collar right at the tag.

Now whip THAT arm over hir head and pull. Beauteous choke! Peter was tapping almost immediately, while I still had miles of room to tighten up more. When he did it to me, I noticed that it is kind of sneaky in that it doesn’t *seem* dangerous until you’re already tapping. I like this one.

Peter is going to give me a swelled head. He thinks I’m Rickson Gracie. He kept showering me with compliments. He actually told me tonight that I’m his hero. Hee hee. He’s not trying to come on to me, either- he’s married. It seems that he’s just inspired that someone tiny and older (he is also tiny and older) can make purple around here.

A short roll with Prof Carlos (the young bucks were having an open mat in the other room). He was going light because he has a hand injury. I got him in closed guard at one point and exclaimed, "LOOK- my closed guard is relaxed!!" He cracked up, and asked me how it’s working out for me. I told him that I haven’t had enough chance to practice with it as of yet, but look- I’m trying! I also tried to footlock him. I need to be gripping further up on the toes than I am wont to do. When Carlos corrected my grip, I was like, "Geeze, it feels like I’m going to break your toes." So he did it to me, and weirdly enough the pressure is in the top center of the foot, not the toes at all.

Then a roll with Ross, and I tapped him over and over and over without working too hard- while giving suggestions. He gave me one KOB, and I started counting loudly- after that he remembered to scoot out immediately. He pulled me into his guard 4 times with his rt leg going down bent on the mat, whereupon I cruised right overtop it and passed. The 5th time he did it, I stopped and asked what he was trying to do. Turns out he did not have a solid plan, so I said, "Okay, you’ve done exactly this same thing 4 times now, and 4 times I have immediately passed in the exact same fashion- so that is not working for you; do *something* different." So he put me in butterfly guard instead, and that worked better for him. He is also giving me way too much room when he is trying to get on top- I had enough room to dance the cha cha before easily replacing guard- so I told himto either get closer, be heavier, or get into a different position.

After that, all the young bucks were sitting on the wall played out, and none of them was up for another roll (sniff). So I went back over to the Old Farts’ side, and started rolling with a big blue belt, but before we had done more than a few minutes, Doug was flicking the light switch on and off to tell us to GTFO.

I still had energy left, so I went over to Sleeper, hoping to catch the last little bit of open mat. But no one was there. (sniff).


Even people who are completely devoted to cultivating a certain discipline often fall into a mental rut, a disengarged lifestyle that implies excellence can be obtained by going through the motions. We lose presence. Then an injury or some other kind of setback thows a wrench into the gears. We are forced to get imaginative. -Josh Waitzkin, The Art Of Learning

Daniel has been promoted to purple!

Friday evening no-gi at Sleeper.

Before class, I tried to drill that takedown from Wednesday on Terry, and couldn’t quite get it- so asked Jalen for help. Still kind of awkward. You are kicking out with the leg on the SAME SIDE as the arm you’re using to hug the head. I was reluctant to commit to the kickout unless I felt the opponent’s balance already compromised. Terry was standing there like an oak tree rooted in cement, and I felt like if I turned my torso to try to complete the takedown, he would still be standing right there and I’d just be dangling off his neck with my arm twisted up and my back to him (no thank you). Getting the opponent to push into you is critical. Then you are bearing down hard on the head/neck as you kick out. Fortunately, Cindy reviewed the technique and had us drill it, so I hope I have it now.

After that, just sparring interspersed with cardio and (ugh) pullups, and those pullup thingies where you begin straight-armed with the handles at your hips.

Jalen, Terry and Axel. Tried to get a footlock on Terry, and *still* can’t manage it. Dagnabbit! I tried the "more relaxed" closed guard a few times. It only worked on Axel, but this was not surprising- Jalen and Terry are good enough that I can’t assume that doing a technique correctly is automatically going to result in it actually WORKING.

I did the toss-over-the-head throw on Jalen and not only *got* it, this time I managed to get into side mount before he could scramble. He knows by now that I’m trying this takedown, so I was surprised that he pushed into me in standup like that. I think he was giving it to me in the hopes of luring me into some trap or other. Well, I got him this time, nice and clean. I got the no-lapel baseball bat on Axel, which is great- I have been wanting to work on that. He tapped. The next time I went for it, I got one arm positioned and then said, "Don’t let me get THIS again," and he defended well.

In the final spar, I had back mount on Terry and a short choke in; it was THIS CLOSE but I was just too damn exhausted to squeeze out the final bit of oomph to finish it. He tapped me with a footlock. He attempted to triangle me a few times, including one that I almost did not escape. I had pressure on his downward thigh and he seemed to be squeezing it to a finish with just the other leg and his arm. I panicked a little and wanted to abandon the thigh and start writhing to escape. But I tried to focus on, "If I control this leg, he can’t finish it (I hope I hope)." I got out. Whew.

Saturday: My glutes feel like there are knives poking into them with every step. It’s those between-spar cardio exercises!

Thursday: One full hour of sparring with Kelly. I was on the bottom a lot. She tapped me about 4 times, I didn’t tap her at all. Had fun, though.

Closed guard and spaghetti legs

There are times when the body needs to heal, but those are ripe opportunities to deepen the mental, technical, internal side of my game. You should always come off an injury better than when you went down. -Josh Waitzkin, The Art Of Learning

4:30 basics. Head-and-arm chokes; and arm-and-head chokes, from sprawling N/S on opponent’s turtle. Tighten as much as you can before you roll. You can use your fingers to "crawl" your hand up the opponent’s arm toward the big round patch on the back of hir gi. You can roll either way. After having rolled a big guy right over my face and almost breaking my own nose once, I got very leery of the full roll here. I learned *THAT* day that you have to put your face into the space under hir ribs before you roll. I learned TODAY that you can actually turn your face the other way. To make life easier, just make sure the back of your head is going to hit the mat first- that way you don’t have to pause and burn brain cells for ten minutes trying to figure out which cheek to lay on the opponent’s back.

Ow. Mondo gi burn on chin after doing this.

Positional training from one person in turtle, 2nd person sprawled N/S on top. The class was me, 2 small ladies, a medium-sized 2 stripe blue that I didn’t know, and a really tall lanky white belt I’ve never laid eyes on before. 2 rounds- I had to fight both of the guys, while the women got to pair together both rounds. Sad Both of those guys whupped me.

Study hall- study hall was quite a revelation today. Today I discovered that after 4 years of BJJ, I do not know how to close guard. Not MAINTAIN it, mind you, we’re not even there yet- I am speaking of the simple (heh) mechanics and positioning of STARTING there.

I never use closed guard. I can’t get my stubby legs closed around most of the people I train with. The few that I *can*, they simply bench-press one of my thighs to the floor. Once the thigh is on the floor, I feel like it’s pretty much over and I’m already beaten, so I let my guard open and mount some pathetic token resistance as the opponent breezes past and settles happily into side mount.

My usual method when asked to close my guard (assuming this is a person upon whom I *can* do so): I grab hir lapels, hike my thighs right into hir armpits, lock my ankles, and clamp. I don’t *squeeze* the person with my thighs, but I attempt to mentally forge my legs into an immovable steel frame.

Carlos put me in his closed guard. His thighs were lying on the tops of my thighs like two pieces of overcooked spaghetti.

It seems that my signature neck-cord-bulging approach is yet again resoundingly WRONG.

Carlos would like me to grab the opponent by the triceps (not seize hir by the lapels and yank hir into my steel-girder guard as if I’m about to bite hir throat out), hook my ankles, and then relax my legs knees-out around hir waist (not clamp them knees-up around hir ribs). Does not compute. And feels WEIRD. Weak. My legs cramped after about 20 seconds. It feels weird because I don’t *do* it that way and I’m not used to using those muscles, he tells me.

He pulled up his gi pants and showed us his hairy shins. There is a palm-sized circular area on the back of each shin which is rubbed completely free of hair. This is where his legs rest on the opponent’s back while holding closed guard.

"Don’t open your closed guard. You are doing half the work *for* heem." Why does that sound familiar? Maybe because Cindy has said that to me about half a zillion times? (only she says "him" instead of "heem")

"But what do I do when they bench-press my thigh to the floor?" He had Ben bench-press his thigh to the floor. His hip turned in the same direction and the opposite knee came up. His guard remained closed. I had Ben try to bench-press my thigh to the floor. My shorter legs just sat on top of Ben’s thighs and he couldn’t Kitty-Pryde them through his own leg to the mat.

I’m going to need to play with this, with kitten-level resistance, with a good partner before I can even start to wrap my brain around this idea. I can’t believe this is going to work live. But my way sure as hell ain’t working. If it does work, I’m going to feel like a real moron for doing such an elementary thing wrong for the last four freakin’ years. But I guess I’d rather feel like a moron and get it fixed, as opposed to CONTINUING to be a moron.