Improved Friskiness


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.

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