Improved Friskiness

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Remembering who I am is the only thing I really need, but it is a never-ending task, because forgetting is very easy and equally easy is not realizing I have forgotten. Maybe our ideas, words and opinions remain the same, but inside a light fades. We are still who we are, but just a little less intense, less passionate, less alive, less of the person we can be. When this happens, what we need is to go through an experience that turns the switch back on. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Kelly choked an opponent unconscious at the Revolution today. She was dismayed, but I was so proud.

As for me…

I think I already mentioned that once again there was no gi bracket available for me, and that I was operating with an elbow injury.

I seem to be making quite a habit of the following: I arrive at a comp and find that I am in a bracket of three, and I think, “cool.” At least I will medal. Not that I want the piece of tin on a ribbon that much, but at these comps with “team trophies” it’s nice to be able to contribute to my team. Also, let’s face it, nobody likes to place fourth in a bracket of four. Well, then what seems to always happen is that somebody gets bumped- and now we’re a bracket of four. In this case, the bumpee was…. Julie Dzellem. You probably don’t recall that she was the girl who triangled me in my very first tournament four years ago.

Shortly thereafter, she vanished from the scene. I discovered today that she had gotten a couple of really bad injuries and had a bunch of surgeries. Now she is back, and training MMA in a serious way. She’s still competing in the gi, but not training in the gi. Lord, her wrestling takedowns have gotten incredible. Griff’s eyebrows shot right up past his hairline when she picked this chick up around the thighs, turned her sideways and dumped her to the mat (short of a slam, but she made it look both easy and brutal).

(As an aside- this will probably be Julie’s last comp at intermediate. Hadley will be going up to advanced soon as well).

I ended up not having to fight Julie. First I fought Kate, whom I have never seen/met/fought before.

My goal for this comp- especially since I have an injured primary-side elbow and was well under 100%- was to basically be friskier. “Move more” as Cindy is always exhorting me.

With this in mind, and also being aware that exhaustion has been a major limiting factor for me in competition, I had a Happy Meal on the way to the Revolution to make sure I’d be well-fueled.

Shannon: “A Happy Meal???? A HAPPY MEAL????”
Kitsune: “You know, they are putting apple slices in them now. Have you seen how small the french fry pack is now?”
Shannon: “No. I don’t eat that crap.”

As it turned out, Cindy was reffing my mat. Good. Not only will that inspire my goal, but I will get feedback- which then became “have Cindy NOTICE that I’m moving more”.

So, Kate: I tried really hard to move more. When she pulled guard, I was already attempting to squirt over her thigh and pass, before we hit the ground. I still found myself getting exhausted- and stuck- a few times, but I tried really hard to dredge up a little more gas and try to get out- even if I had to put myself in danger to do so (remembering Cindy’s speech about “stop worrying so much about what might happen in the future, and worry about where you are right now”.) Twice, I almost caught an omoplata (in no-gi, no less!). I was on the bottom more than I wanted, but not the entire time- and it was a less helpless bottom than my usual. When time was called, I didn’t know who had won until her hand was raised. That’s an improvement on knowing that I was dominated the entire match.

Next: Hadley. Almost immediately. I was still huffing and puffing.

Hadley: “You can ask for more time to recover.”
Kitsune: “My teacher is reffing. I’m going to go when she tells me to go.”

Being tired- and having Hadley KNOW I was tired, while she had had a decent rest- I think fueled a certain amount of desperation. I flew at her right off the handshake and latched meathooks around her neck. She was visibly taken aback and on the defensive. Unfortunately, I did not follow this up with anything uselful- we just fought for the ties a bit and then tracked around with me hanging on her neck. I realize now that I failed to paste my elbow to her breastbone (yes, Cindy’s tried to teach me that many, many times and it still hasn’t sunk in yet).

She went for the flying armbar, as she usually does at the beginning, and I was ready to jerk my arm out and knee my way over her thigh. Hey, I’m on TOP!!!! To my surprised delight, I stayed up there for a bit. Long enough to get full points for two front mounts and one KOB. Rack ’em up. I’m usually a poor points player, so this was interesting. I also threatened a paper cutter, armbar, and triangle. Normally I don’t do much sub-threatening in comps because I am always on the defense, so this was exciting as well.

I set up a kimura. I wa not in the ideal body position, but I was cranking that sucker pretty far and I was sure I was going to get it. I’m still not sure how the hell she got out.

Again with the tired and stuck, a few times, but again I tried to push through it. In both matches, the chances that I took did not sink me. I know I play too conservatively. Playing it less safe went well for me this time. I should do that more.

She was kneeling on my braid at one point, and I was totally pinned. I had to let go of her and use one hand to work my braid out from under her leg before I could move my head again. It really is time to cut off my hair.

After we fought for what seemed like a really long time, she got me with an armbar. She put in on pretty hard and fast, but I could feel her pull it- for which I thanked her sincerely afterward. It was my non-injured elbow. It would have sucked to have both of them on the fritz.

Hadley’s take: as we were standing up and shaking hands, she gasped out, “You’ve improved a lot!” She also said that my match with Kate had seemed like a very even contest. Unfortunately, she has also recognized that I know her game too well at this point. “I’ll have to come up with some new tricks!”

So: I came in 4th out of four, which is always a bummer, but I accomplished my “improvement goal” for this comp, which was to be more active. I competed with an injured elbow- and while I was favoring it, it didn’t hinder me as much as I’d worried it might. I delved into a different type of game than the one I habitually play, and the results are interesting. I spent less time composting on the bottom. I took more risks. I threatened more subs. It would have been helpful to have had more matches so that I could have better judged how my energy level was holding up. The exhaustion, of course, gets exponentially worse as you continue to fight.

Elbow

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The Process Predator requires time and privacy for what he intends to do. One of the reasons that home invasion crimes are so brutal is because our homes are set up to be secure and offer privacy. If the Process Predator does not come to the victim, he will try to move the victim to another place with more privacy and security. This is called a secondary crime scene. It is very, very bad. There is no good outcome from a violent criminal wanting to spend private time with you. The fact that he is attempting to move you to a secondary crime scene or has invaded your home is a solid indicator that you are probably dealing with a Process Predator. If you do not end the situation, it can and probably will escalate to rape, torture and murder. Any risk to escape is worth the price. Get out of there. –Rory Miller

I’m not dead, I just haven’t been training because I have an elbow injury that I was hoping would get better before the tournament. Unfortunately, it appears to be acting like some sort of ligament issue. It hurts mostly while performing certain motions (clockwise twist, pinching finger/thumb, mostly), and it’s been almost forever (ie, more than two weeks) with little if any improvement. It encompasses both pain and involuntary loss of function (ie, I am physically unable to simply ignore it and keep doing whatever I want to do). It even hurts to squeeze the little plastic bottle to administer my cats’ prescription eyedrops, and to shake little bottles of chemicals to mix them up at work . Of course it’s my dominant arm/hand. I’ve decided to not scratch. I’m going to consider competing with this injury to be a Learning Experience. After all, if someone attacked me right now, I’d have to fight him off with this injury, right? How would I do? How would I compensate? Would I be able to elicit a Plan B, or would I get stuck in a helpless loop of trying and failing at Plan A?

My gi bracket has already been cancelled. Again. No purple belts, again. I’m supposed to have 2 competitors in intermediate no-gi.

Okay, that one was my fault.

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Predators do not see their victims as people, but as resources. Who you are has no more emotional weight than the wrapper his hamburger came in. –Rory Miller

Saturday no-gi in Kirkland. I was late for the second day in a row, and Cindy had given us a lecture about the disrespect of lateness yesterday. 😦

Morning of moving heavy things across the yard and up a flight of stairs to garage storage. In fact I have been doing an hour or two of this most mornings for a while, and will be continuing to do so till I get all my stuff moved.

Pummeling, pummel games (ie, try to get double-unders and hoist your partner), downblocks. I am terrible at downblocks, and worse when we start doing downblock games- ie, snatch at your partner’s knees while s/he tries to downblock on the side you’re snatching. I just cannot cope with my left and right, especially when people start doing cross-reaches. Note that it is not necessary to touch the mat with the hand.

Meathooks behind the head, elbow on breastbone, controlling. Inside and outside ties. Note that you should be gripping the bicep, not the forearm. When I do an outside tie, my hand wants to go naturally to the forearm just below the elbow, and I need to remember to consciously correct this each time. The palm should be up in a cupping pose. Dragging opponent down a few times, then letting opponent pop up while you drop to knee and go for double-leg.

Same sequence we did yesterday. Note that on this double-leg, I continue to fail to penetrate far enough in (drop knee between opponent’s feet). I also (STILL!!) fail to get back to the feet after the grab- for some reason my monkey-brain is convinced that it’s a good idea to try to double-leg a standing opponent from my knees. I’m embarrassed and frustrated that Cindy has gone over this detail with me a Brazillion times and I still keep messing it up. Perhaps it would help to visualize the mat as hot when I drop my knee on it- impetus to pop back up instantly. Cindy also reminds me to use my head more as a lever- tip the person rather than trying to lift them up.

She said that I need to have some coffee or something…. Anything to get a damn move on (my words, not hers) and stop being so ponderous in no gi (well, stop being slow and ponderous period, but especially in no-gi). “Worry less about potential problems and focus on the problem you have right now.” Ie, I continue to be too conservative and want to cling and stall in bottom half guard. I was trapped on the bottom a lot again today, and I think she’s more tired of looking at that than I am of living it. I am so tired all the time. By the end of drills- especially if we’ve been doing something with a lot of get-up-get-down, like takedowns or standing passes- I feel like a dishrag. Is this going to get worse and worse with age?

We did some takedown-sparring involving changing levels and moving the hands around to try to confuse/pattern the opponent before going in for the double leg. They were chivvying me to be more mobile and more aggressive. This was when I palm-heeled poor Dave in the nose. I felt so bad. It wasn’t about the aggression- I was just exhausted, and as I learned a long time ago, when I get too exhausted I get sloppy and start hurting people.

Knees hurt today from the stairs and all the up-and-down in class. Lots of bruising on insides of knees and on lower legs- I had noticed this on Thursday as well. Bad enough to wake me up several times as I tossed and turned.

Setting the record straight

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The Warrior is not afraid of being afraid. He accepts it, looks it in the eyes, and challenges it. Refusing to be a hostage in the hands of one’s fears is the act of a Warrior. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

If you see Cindy running around with a black eye, she is going to spin you some fish story about how I attacked her and tried to bite her eyeball out. FYI: she double-legged me and decided to make double sure I’d go down by adding a gratuitous face-slam. She almost knocked my two front teeth out- however- I am told that this is not so serious because teeth, unlike eyeballs, are replaceable.

Friday lunchtime at Kirkland. I was late, and got there just in time to do some reps of the following sequence with Izzy: double-leg takedown to side control to mount, partner upa sweeps, you pass guard to side control, partner squirts out under your arm and goes to the back as you turtle.

Positional sparring from front mount.

One roll with a white belt, one with Cindy, one with Dave (no jackets).

DLR passing

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In a sudden attack, you will have little or no time to work out your glitches, your ethical issues, your capacities. Whatever time it takes will cost you in damage. That is why it is imperative to work out all you can well in advance of any attack. –Rory Miller

Thursday advanced class in Bellevue.

Standup, judo grips. Foot on hip, on the side that you have the sleeve grip. Drop on butt, swing leg out, swing back in to DLR.

After we did that for a while, we advanced to sweeping partner over head from there. Note that although it seems necessary to heave the person forcefully over your head, it is actually much easier (and works better) to pull hir head to your chest- it forces hir to summersault.

Same entry- now when partner tries to sweep you, you kneel and grab hir pants at the insides of the knees. Push hir foot off your hip, then turn your body toward your knee-up side to remove the hook. Creep knee over opponent’s thigh, hug head, backsit, take side control.

Same entry. Now, when you try to turn your body to remove hook, opponent responds by turning knee in. Counter by turning the OTHER way and “sliding into home” knees and hips first. Take side control.

Positional sparring starting from one person in DLR, the other kneeling and gripping insides of knees. Rotating partners.

Today I was in a tournament bracket with Cindy Hales. Place your wagers.

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The moment in which you know the real measure of your power, you don’t have to put on a show to prove your worth. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Friday lunchtime BJJ in Kirkland.

Got to drill with Bree and Izzy- always great to work with them. Bree was in a foul mood (“people and their drama”), so I made a point of baiting her and teasing her and helping her work off some aggression.

Flow drills from the top: Side control, scarf, N/S. A little positional sparring; one person flowing on top and the other resisting enough to make hir work.
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Proving Grounds III.

Their scale was a full six pounds light. I only wish I weighed what their scale said I weighed. I could have gone for the cheesy garlic bread potato chips after all. I was relieved to see that my opponent was only 3lb lighter than me.

I fought her 3 times in gi. She is a professional MMA fighter. She was very very good. We ran out the time in the first two matches. She took me down both times and I spent the rest of the time in bottom half guard. Somehow I ended up with an arm above my head, and she was very patient with her tightening up and waiting. She was right on the side-neck nerve, and it hurt so bad. I was within a titch of tapping twice. After the 2nd fight, I thought we were done, and I told her that she had almost had me those two times. Then of course on the third match, she got the same thing and held it a little longer, and I had to tap. Note to self: next time, make sure all your matches are done BEFORE giving helpful feedback to your opponent.

Got to watch Chelsea fight four matches against another tough girl, and she finally took first.

I asked Chelsea’s opponent if she was doing no-gi, and she said yes. So I was figuring me and her in intermediate, MMA girl and Cindy in advanced. Well, the next thing I knew they were calling me up to the mat with MMA girl. I don’t know what happened to Chelsea’s opponent- maybe Chelsea took all the Mickey out of her and she decided to scratch. Well, that left me pushed into the advanced bracket, where I *SO* do not belong. I just about wet myself when I realized that this meant I would be COMPETING AGAINST CINDY HALES.

As Griff and Cindy and I were sitting there in the bullpen, I turned to Griff and smirked, “So, are you going to corner me against Cindy?” Poor guy looked from me to Cindy and back again and sweated and gulped. Just then one of the other refs walked up and asked Griff to relieve him. Griff scurried away. *HE* was the one who was relieved. That was funny.

So MMA girl and I fought to another draw, then Cindy wristlocked her, then Cindy did a little exhibition on me and let go of about six subs before finally tapping me. Full-on, flying, cartwheeling circus- the entire crowd in the building stopped whatever they were doing and gathered around to ooh and ahh. It could have ben humiliating, but I didn’t really mind- I was honored just to be on the mat with Cindy.

Then MMA girl for the 5th time, and she wristlocked me for the win. They had told me that I could end tied for second place with her, and it was our choice whether we wanted to fight again for placement or not. We both wanted the learning experience of an extra match more than we wanted a red ribbon, so we chose to fight again.

Two main things to learn: Number one, I repeated some of the same mistakes many times with her. I think she took me down with the same takedown at least four times. I was in bottom half guard constantly. Cindy reamed me for that on the sidelines, and I could hear her yelling fruitlessly for me to get on my hip while I was fighting… I knew what I was supposed to do, but MMA girl was very good with her downward-sinking weight and left ZERO room- she pinned me very well and I just couldn’t do anything. I got tired quickly, too. I think this was the greatest total time I spent on the mat in a tournament, and your energy saps much more quickly here than in class. Also- I let her get my arm up above my head repeatedly. I will ask my training partners to try to do that to me for a while so that I can work on defending it.

Number two: the limiting factor- aside from the generalized exhaustion- once again turned out to be failing grip strength. Cindy dismissed this when I told her, and insisted that my problem is getting trapped under bottom half guard and that I shouldn’t be gripping that much anyway. Point. It still concerns me that my forearms and hands seem to be getting numb and weak and painful after the first few fights. Not only does my weakened grip disadvantage me from that point on, it is a big psychological factor. I don’t like going into a match feeling like I couldn’t hold onto an apple. I will need to dig out my little squeezy-toys and the shot bag, and work on this.

I did observe- and Griff told me this as well- that my game plan in the gi fights was not working against his girl and I needed to do something different (especially as these MMA people tend to be better in no-gi). I did make a point of being more active and squirmier in the no-gi matches (even though I was hella tired), took more chances, and I think it made for better matches (certainly more exciting for the audience than five or six minutes of her lying on me and us straining back and forth microscopically).

Nerves: mostly okay. Felt a little acid indigestion and some “I hate doing this…. Why am I doing this?” on my way to the venue. The speedy pace of this comp helps- you get called up and then you’re fighting before you have time to ferment in the bullpen and stand around on the mat and get nervous. I also tend to relax quite a bit once I find out that my opponent is not an aggressive neanderthal.

MMA girl later came over and apologized because she worried that she had slammed the wristlock. I assured her that it had been fast, but felt controlled, and I tapped quick (a broken wrist is high on my list of don’t-wants), and all was cool. She was really nice. She also thanked me repeatedly for agreeing to fight her in gi so that she could get more matches, after driving up all the way from Oregon.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to fight Chelsea’s opponent in no-gi- she looked like a tough girl. I also missed fighting Hadley and Amy. But it was a learning experience to have those five good fights with the MMA girl. It was no shame to lose to her or to Cindy. I feel like I earned my medals, even though I came in last in both brackets. I later found out that MMA girl has fought Miriam Cardosa professionally- and won! I was way overmatched in talent today, but it’s heady just to have existed in that bracket.

I had promised myself a bag of those cheesy garlic flavored bread potato chips on the way home from the comp, but the Woodinville Safeway did not have them!!! Housemate says that they were a limited edition, and I may not be able to get any at this point. Damn. The universe owes me a bag of Cheesy garlic bread flavored potato chips.