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


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.

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.

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