Kimura clinic

A warrior is a master at facing conflicts, and conflict is what stands between us and the fulfillment of our desires. Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue. Short roll with Peter to warm up.

Kimura clinic! Prof. Herbert informed us that Sakuraba, the “Gracie Hunter”, used this to beat a whole bunch of Gracies and break the arm of one of them. Booyah. I was happy to be drilling with Lindsay and not some spazzy white belt.

Opponent tries to double leg you from standing, you sprawl, s/he switches to single-leg, you slide your hand over hir shoulder blade and down into hir armpit (“Armpit” being the English word lesson of the day for Prof. Herbert), kimura. If the opponent tries to roll out of it, you just follow hir to the floor and finish it there. The positioning of this is still not instinctual to me and I continue to flounder a bit.

Same entry, only YOU are now the one doing the failed double leg, and opponent hugs you around the torso. You must note which hand s/he has on top, since that is the side you want to attack. Get your kimura grip and then fall on the hip nearest opponent. This will force hir to summersault. You are now in a T position with hir head on your ribs. The prof pointed out that this is a neck-cranking position that you can get in trouble for in gi. Just roll belly down and hop over opponent’s face, and you will be on top to finish. I have never done this technique before, and it was fairly complex, and kimuras have always been a bit tricky for me- yet I recieved a “Perfect” comment from the prof. Wowza.

Opponent bear-hugs you under arms from the back. Again, you must note which of hir hands is on top because that’s the side you want to target. Place both your hands on top of hirs, shove them down to your hips, and get kimura grip while rotating hips violently sideways to get the extra room.

Same, only now you are on your knees. As you turn your hips and grab the kimura, open your knee to the outside on that same side. your toe should be behind opponent’s foot. Now, as you roll onto your back, you can butterfly-sweep opponent over your head and continue the roll so that you land on top to finish the kimura. Herbert’s first performance of this wonderous thing prompted a spontaneous exclamation of “Holy CRAP” from me.

A few rolls with Lindsey. We both got a few taps. I always feel good after rolling with her.

Lindsey was impressed with the Tahiti Sunrise colors on my right knee (which are only getting worse as I continue to do single- and double-legs and other knee-grinding grappling drills). The knees hurt (especially the right), but I am able to function.

Do the limbo!


The Tueller Drill. You may have heard of the “21 foot rule”. In 1983, Dennis Tueller published an article in SWAT magazine, “How Close Is Too Close?” Dennis experimented and found that a man with a knife could consistently close a distance of seven yards and stab or slash faster than an officer could draw his firearm. This means that within seven yards, a knife is an immediate deadly threat. –Rory Miller

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Chrisanne has her blue belt. I’m really bummed that I missed her promotion, but very happy that she has it. Gordon and Ed both got their browns.

Worked on Chrisanne’s upa some more. She is still not getting the hip pop hard enough and fast enough for my approval. She also can’t seem to stop herself from trying to trap BOTH arms, which I think is distracting her. Needs more work.

We drilled takedowns (your choice), standing guard passes (your choice) and armbar from side control. Somehow even though my practical sparring skills seem to be lacking, when it comes time to drill I often have even people my own rank actively soliciting my advice. I tried to help Vinay with the hip throw (get lower), the kneeslide pass (thrust hips forward like you’re about to do the limbo, it makes it harder for the passee to grab half guard) and armbar (don’t let your grip on the arm slack in that moment that you spin around). It seemed to help; his techniques got tighter and I was less able to wiggle around. All my drills felt really tight and technical today.

One roll with Chrisanne and one with Gordon. I tried to keep moving constantly, and was surprised to find myself on top of Gordon much of the time, although I was unable to finish anything.

Chrisanne wants to bail out of next month’s Revolution because she got promoted. I tried to talk her out of it. I told her that just after promotion is the best time to compete, because there’s no pressure. If you lose, it’s not a huge deal. I don’t think I’m going to compete again, at least not till I figure out how to work on my defeatism issue. Continuing to compete is not in itself doing anything to combat the problem, I think.

I managed to fall down the stairs the other day, and although I was not seriously hurt (thank goodness I know how to fall and am fairly resistant to breakage), both knees are bruised up and it’s more painful than usual to be on them.

Bigger than a raccoon.


Even some of the best people I know live by the “I just wanna do my own little thing.” Satisfied with the happy little island they created for themselves in the middle of the ocean of the surrounding disharmony, they look at life from their seat in the audience. I consider this attitude one of the main causes in the mediocrity in the state of things. Often for creative people the beauty of their inner world can become a handicap. Too caught up by their subjective experience to learn how to dance through the physical world. The result is that, limiting themselves to the cultivation of their own spiritual world, the most sensitive people leave to the most careless the management of collective reality. Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path


The weather was not our friend this week. It was either raining or brutally hot and humid. I did go over some defensive stuff with Dru, but not nearly as much as I’d wanted to. I didn’t get to play MA with my Evil Twin at all, which was a huge disappointment. She had kubatons, and I’d really wanted to play with them.

Although my tent and tarp situation is reasonably adequate for a few normal showers, what happened this week was not normal. I had Lake Michigan inside my tent. We got six inches just on Thursday alone. I  returned from the Hunt at around 1am to find every inch of floor space underwater. I had known that was going to happen, but there was really nothing I could do as long as it just kept coming and coming. So I spent the next few hours just walking from one end of the tent to the other and poking at the ceiling to tip the water off as it collected and dripped through. Near dawn, it finally slowed, and I used my wet clothes to mop the standing water to the front end of the tent. Threw the sleeping bag down and hoped that the wet floor wouldn’t soak through too much.

Kitsune (after someone mentioned jiu-jitsu): “Yeah, I know sixty different ways to choke someone unconscious with their own clothes.”
Nataraj: “All the more reason not to wear any.”

Speaking of Nata, he had a little pink tube dress and was photographing as many different people as possible wearing it. I rarely allow photos to be taken (especially wearing something that revealing), but one could hardly refuse after he donned the thing himself.

What’s worse than having a screaming baby camped right next to you? Having TWO screaming babies camped right next to you! They woke up wailing every morning at the crack of dawn, at which point their entire camp was up and talking, so I couldn’t get back to sleep. There were also a few small-hours operettas. On Thursday their tents were gone. I know it’s selfish of me, but I was SO HAPPY. I thought I’d finally get some sleep…. but then the tent flooding.
Flat Harry was back (see photo). Fortunately, 3D Harry (who drums much more skillfully and is also better at helping put up tents) was back as well. He asked me to bring Flat Harry out as a prop one morning while he addressed the morning meeting. While he stood there talking, I propped Flat Harry up beside him and then pretended to grope him from behind all during Harry’s speech. The crowd was in stitches. I’m hoping that someone will post a photo (I saw several being taken).

Extreme Contact Improv for Martial Artists, x3…. although the third session got rained out halfway through. Although we were deliberately BEHIND the audience, we had many people come up to us both at the concerts and at other times on the road to tell us how much they enjoyed watching the ECIfMA. Including one woman who was delighted with me and my “husband”.

Tuatha Dea performed a song about “Celtic women” with the two adult sisters and their mom. With the first verse, I had goosebumps all up and down my arms. By the end, I was crying, and so was Harry. I found all three women over the course of the next two days and thanked them for sharing that song.

Drummed in 2 ritual processions, although I bailed when we reached the site for the 2nd one (Bonfire opening). Apparently that rit was “the best one EVER”, so maybe I should have stayed….

Number of times this year that I left my walkie-talkie in the portajohn: zero. I think I have conquered that particular bad habit.
Number of times I left my umbrella at Herald Camp and found myself caught in the rain elsewhere without it: 3. Needs work.

I was asked by the gal in charge of the Croning rite of passage to scramble a drum section for the rit. Unfortunately, it was on Friday, and it’s really hard to recruit anyone to do anything in the last few days. Since she’d asked me personally, I felt obligated to show up and do it myself. Selena tends to pull some distressingly arrhythmic chants out of her butt, but I have figured out that I just need to ID those right out of the gate and simply “let the voices rule.” I haven’t been drumming for these small rits for a long time, but it is a service to the community, so I decided that next year I am going to go out of my way to do more of them- even if I am doing them solo. Dru said that she might be up for doing some.

Dru to Kitsune, upon hearing that I had heard something fall in the creek in the middle of the night and suspected that it was a bear: “Maybe it was a raccoon.”
Kitsune: “It was bigger than a raccoon.”
Rhonda’s frantic disembodied voice from her tent, where we thought she had gone to sleep: “WHAT was???!!? Where???!!?”

The Hunt- Ummm. Someone asked me how it went, and I said, “I don’t really know what to say.”

 The first monkey wrench occurred about a week before the event when Dru informed me that she still had a touch of pneumonia and had to bail out of coordinating the drumming. I said fine, I’ll do it myself.

There was a young teen- he looked about 13- drumming beside me at the processions and at the morning meetings. Although I generally loathe kids, I was impressed with his drumming skill and focus. I thought, “That kid might actually be able to do the Hunt,” Lo and behold, Thursday morning he asked me if he could drum for the Hunt. Normally we don’t let under-18’s in (we have let in a few 16 and 17 YO’s in special circumstances), but I decided (after getting a green light from his dad) to let him do it. Found out at the pre-meeting that he is a wrestler- which explained both the unusual focus and the way I’d glommed onto him right off. I asked Finn and Marshall to help look out for him.

Second monkey wrench: less than an hour before the rit was supposed to begin, it was decided (by people who were not me) that the lightning made it too dangerous to put the hunters in the woods, and we were going to put them in the sweat lodge. I was horrified. Without being able to see the hunters- and with the villagers clustered under a tarp on the opposite end of the clearing- my drum group was going to feel like it was all alone in the world, drumming to itself.

Interestingly, none of the hunters bailed. I had expected at least a few to do so. They had put a lot of work into their hunt spaces (which were now not going to be utilized) and into their weapons (which would have to be left outside the lodge), and they had prepared for a completely different format. A sweat lodge is not something to take lightly.

I placed our easy-up so that it faced the sweat lodge fire- with the lodge visible at stage left and the hunt fire at stage right. (The guy erecting the shelters looked deeply into my eyes as he placed the front pole and declared passionately, “This is the LAST time I am moving this goddam easy-up…. are you SURE this is where you want it?”)

When I explained to the drummers what was happening, one of them asked a question about what the hunters were doing in the sweat lodge. Good question. I haven’t a clue. That was obviously going to be a Hunters’ Mystery. I replied as much, adding that it was “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” (That became a major catchphrase for me this year…..)

I had to shoehorn twenty drummers- and their chairs- into an easy-up and hang tarps on three sides so that the sideways rain didn’t dull the drumheads. They were inaccessible to the villagers who were supposed to be bringing them water. They were practically sitting in one another’s laps. Of course this left no room for me. I stood toe to toe with the front row, holding my drumhead just under the edge of the shelter. I had the synthetic, but I had never played it in extensive rain, and wasn’t sure how it (and my hands) might perform (or not) in the middle of a thunderstorm. The freezing water running off the edge of the tarp and right down my back was the least of my problems.

I realized quickly that the right-hand tarp was going to prevent most of my drummers from seeing the kills. I was able to solve this by asking Finn and Marshall to roll that side up as soon as the hunters started coming out. It would be distracting- and we would be getting a little wet at that point- but the drummers needed to see the kills.   

All the coordinators met in the center and stood there in a huddle with our wet hair dripping in our eyes, discussing the changes. I realize that the sweatlodge leader cancelled her own event and offered up her lodge, time and effort to help us out- but man, she was ****NOT**** displaying good team player skills. As soon as the lodge became involved, it turned into her show instead of ours- and she didn’t know what we were doing. I started to ask about cues, and she informed me that her second, Colleen, would be giving me cues. I attempted to relate what cues I needed and when, and she cut me off rudely… at which point I tried to address Colleen directly, and got cut off a THIRD time with a snapped, “You’ll get your cues, don’t worry about it.” End of discussion. I realized then that I was not going to get my cues, and that I was not going to have any idea WTF was going on. Which is exactly what happened.

Usually before the ritual the drummers circle up and paint one another, and I make an inspiring speech. This time, I said, “Sorry, people. We’re packed into an easy-up like sardines and it’s pouring. We’re just going to stay where we’re at.” Dru asked if we could at least do an “ohm” to sync up, and I said yes. Bo headed up the hill to get the hunters. I got exactly half a sentence into my soul-stirring speech, and the horn sounded. Fuck. He must have had the hunters right outside the clearing already, and just hoofed them in with no speech and no rigmarole. I had to abandon my own rigmarole plans (and the ohm- sorry Dru) and get the heartbeat started immediately.

(At least the hunters were not processing solemnly down the hill to an accompaniment of “It’s Raining Men”. The concert stage and its amplified music is distressingly close to the area where the hunters are supposed to be sitting in meditation and then processing. There was a drag show scheduled this year (thus the “Raining Men”). I can’t remember what was playing last year while we were trying to meditate and process, but I remember being really annoyed with how upbeatedly distracting it was.)

So we worked the heartbeat, while the amplifiers from the concert blasted “Go Ask Alice” arrhythmically throughout. (Dru did an absolutely hilarious replay of this at the post mortem meeting…. almost wet my pants) the hunters all disappear into the lodge. We keep doing the heartbeat for a really long time, since I had no cues to tell me otherwise. I glared pointedly at Derek- I felt bad putting that on him, but at least he was getting to move around the site and hopefully had a marginally better idea of what was happening than I did. I couldn’t see, hear or sense a damn thing.  Finally Derek cues me to stop the heartbeat and start the thunder drumming.

Still no Colleen- I never laid eyes on that chick for the rest of the night. Derek finally gave me a rampup cue.

Suddenly- it seemed like we’d only been drumming for about 10 min, although I found out later that it was about an hour and a half- one of the drummers in the 2nd row caught my glance and cut her eyes several times exaggeratedly to stage right. I turned my head, and there was a hunter at the fire.   WTF????!!!!?????? It was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too soon, and we’d only done one ramp-up, and… cues? CUES, PLEASE, ANYBODY???!!!???

Since no one was there for me to glare at but Marshall, I glared at him. Eyes popping, he and Finn scurried to roll up the side of the tarp. The water that had collected on it went cascading right into the ass pocket of the unfortunate drummer on the right front corner.

(Later at the post mortem, Marshall said that he had never been stalked or felt threatened in the hunt before this one- and it wasn’t even a hunter, it had been me. I hadn’t meant it is a recriminating glare, just a “Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze tell me what the hell is going on” glare.)

I quickly realized that the poor lighting made it very difficult to see what was going on at the fire- which was problematic since I was supposed to give the drum section a “Fuckabazoo” cue when the hunter made hir first strike and a “go back to thunder drumming” cue when the kill was done. That first one, it appeared that he just went over to the prey, stood there and stared at it for a time, and then when down on his knees and collapsed on top of it. I later found out that that guy had fasted and deprived himself of water. Sweat-lodging dehydrated? Not recommended.

Another thing I realized, but this was a good one: I had positioned us so that as the hunters came out of the sweat lodge, the muffled drumming that they had been hearing abruptly turned into a wall of sound that smacked them in the face as they emerged. Furthermore, rolling up that right-hand tarp was allowing the drumming to extend out toward the fire and kill area. I think that having them crammed together like they were- uncomfortable as it was- helped the syncronicity. I had Dru in the rear center, and placed Michael on the right rear corner and my Evil Twin on the front left corner so that I had a strong grid of powerful, experienced drummers supporting the newbies in the middle.

One of the hunters tried to charge straight into the lake, and Derek had to chase him down….

Had a drummer wet hir pants…. kept right on drumming….. I’ve had several drummers puke after the hunt, but this is the first loss of bladder control I’m aware of.

Finally Bo comes over and says, “All the hunters are out… do you want to keep the drummers going for a while, just for their own sake?” It was nice of him to ask, but no. The climax of the entire thing is the kills. I felt unfulfilled (and other drummers did as well, and I think some villagers too), but continuing to drum after that would have felt like masturbating for two hours and then not being able to finish. (Sorry for the crude, but I don’t know how else to explain this….)

Here was my Big Fail of the night: I allowed myself to get so distracted and stressed out by the weirdness of this “Gopher Hunt” that I completely forgot to check up on my teenager afterward. Thank goodness Dru talked to him a little- she said that he seemed kind of zoned, and when she questioned him, he told her that he had seen visions. She asked him what he’d seen, and he replied, “I saw all my fears.” I had mentioned in the pre-meeting that the drummers sometimes hallucinate (Caitlin reported two years ago that she had seen it “raining snakes” in the hunt space). So at least he had some warning. Thank Goodness also for Marshall- who, unlike me, DID remember this particular responsibility and walked the kid back to his campsite. Dru and I, though, were both kicking ourselves for not making him goto the counseling center. It had been my decision to let him in, and I should have personally made sure he was okay and not messed up in the head. (That *was* my circus and my monkey, and I failed in that respect.)

I was relieved that my bad shoulder- which was STILL giving me problems- did not rebel during the hunt. I had been really worried that it would be in agony- either during, or after, or both. I had resolved to treat myself to a massage if I messed up my shoulder in the hunt. But it performed fine, and I was not in excessive pain the next day.

Bo suggests that instead of adding “in bed” to our fortune cookie fortunes, we should now add “in a sweat lodge”.

There was a lot of poor nutrition this week. I hate flying, and always console myself on my single yearly flight with a candy binge (Mostly Runts, double dipped (peanut butter and chocolate) peanuts, and Mint Whoppers, this time). Dru had peanut butter stuffed pretzels- which sounds disgusting, and I should have just left it at that- but like an idiot, I tried them, and they were delicious. I hadn’t wanted to deal with cooking this year, so I had decided to get one or two meals per day at the vendors’ booths- which I usually eschew as much too expensive and also excessive in portion size.

Most of what I ate at Phil’s Grill wasn’t terrible nutrition-wise… chicken and pork wraps with onions, mushrooms, and a little cheese and rice… would have probably made my nutritionist/Evil Twin roll her eyes, but not cringe. The problem was, each wrap was twice the amount of food I normally consume in a sitting. With no refrigeration and no microwave, I just had to snort it or waste it (and I hate waste). I now have some extra weight to work on taking off.

The meanest one of all


The only thing easier than the physical part (of self defense) is the intellectual understanding of the physical part. And that is sometimes a trap. Knowing the words is not the same as knowing the music. Knowing something with your head alone is almost useless when it comes time to apply those skills with your body under stress. But people often believe that knowing is the same as understanding, and that the ability to talk about things or answer questions is in some way correlated with the ability to do those things. It is not.
–Rory Miller

Thursday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

Short warm-up roll with Casey.

Standup, judo grips. With your sleeve-grip hand, slide fingers down opponent’s sleeve to your own lapel and briskly snap lapel out of hir hand while you turn out slightly. Kneel between hir feet, turned slightly out toward your lapel-grip hand (which grip you have retained) and use that lapel grip hand to yank opponent into your fireman’s carry. Carlos stresses that you must not curl into a “c” shape when you kneel- body should remain upright. Don’t dump to the back or front- dump hir right on hir head.

Same, only opponent sprawls. Transition to single-leg. Peter was praising my single-leg effusively, which was weird since I’ve struggled so much with it and continue to do so.

You are under side control, opponent has both arms on hir own side. Buck up slightly and place hand nearest opponent on your ear. Now push and shrimp; shove your other arm under opponent’s armpit as far as you can. As soon as you have room to do so roll on your belly. (Note that if you fail to control opponent’s other arm, s/he will crossface you and force you back down.) I have always resisted rolling onto my belly in this technique. I feel very vulnerable. Carlos demo’ed how it is actually pretty impossible for the opponent to prevent you from moving from belly-down to turtle no matter how much s/he sprawls.

Next, tuck right up beside opponent, shove the knee nearest hir in there and force hir over into side control. As you slide on, switch to scarf.

KOTH starting from side control: escape vs mount. I was on top of (huge, brown belt) Jim- whom I rarely work with- at one point. He commented afterward (admiringly, not critically(!)) that I was “the meanest one of all” because as soon as I took side control, I shoved my forearm bone against his jaw and made him turn his head. Good thing Cindy was not there to hear that comment. YES, this is the same technique that I did to E-man some three years ago which causes her to STILL TODAY run around telling everyone that I “neck crank little kids”. It is not the least bit mean- and I have such a low bar for “mean”… it’s not painful at all, it’s just pushing the face away in order to make it more awkward to see what I’m setting up. When I came through the line and got Jim a second time, he looked up from the floor, saw me looming over him, and whimpered, “Oh my God!” It was pretty funny. He also had good things to say about my sprawl.

A long, pleasant roll with Chris.

I have been putting a lot of thought into the defeatism issue that I discussed after Proving Grounds. It has become impossible to avoid the reality check that I routinely surrender every single roll before it even starts. Anything I might get, I assume it’s because my opponent was being nice and gave it to me. If they praise me- as two people independently did tonight- I can’t accept that. I assume they are just saying it to be nice (probably because I suck so horribly that they feel sorry for me). I have mentioned this before… it’s not like I wasn’t aware of this all along… but I didn’t really see that I am doing it EVERY…..SINGLE…….TIME. Tournaments are disturbing because it somehow feels less acceptable to meekly resolve to lose every roll in a comp than it does to meekly resolve to lose every roll on the practice mat. I think that terror of “escalation” is a factor as well in comp- it feels like the situation is dangerously and intimidatingly “escalated” right from the get-go, so instead of rising to meet the challenge, I am simply “struggling” (as opposed to “fighting”), being defensive, and trying to “de-escalate”.

Also a factor, of course, is the fear of failure. If you don’t try, you can’t really fail- because you can still tell yourself, “Well, I *could* do it, if I was really trying.” How unthinkably awful it would be to REALLY try and find that you STILL couldn’t do it. That’s just the endpoint of it all. There ain’t noplace to go from there.

I have not yet come up with any constructive ideas for trying to work on this.

It does occur to me that blowing off positive feeback from my training partners is actually a form of disrespect to them. Feedback from your training partners is a gift. Presumably they are trying to help you, and not just coddling you and blowing smoke up your ass. If you respect that person as a martial artist, one should respect their viewpoint and advice, and assume that they know what they are talking about.

Proving Grounds, Telephone Poles, Kittens, and Defeatism


The only reason I haven’t killed you is because it would make a mess. -xCecilex

Friday evening class: all spars. This was fortunate, because the next morning I was down two pounds and had no worries about making weight. I probably could have had that pizza for breakfast.

(Blue-belt) Lindsey came in right at the ends, and it was so much fun rolling with her. It’s been a long time. Unfortunately I was too tired to do more than one roll.

I love, love, love love rolling with Professor Herbert. He lets me work just enough, then all of a sudden I am flipping over to land on the bottom and thinking, “What just happened?” He does things I’ve never seen before.

Proving Grouds: I managed to dodge the group photo, although I got reprimanded by both Lamont and Cindy for that. Cindy made a point of instructing me firmly to come and get her when I was about to go on the mat, even though she was reffing. She’s like, “Will you COMMIT to that?” with piercing glare, like she thought I was going to try to ditch her. Honestly, the more people who are watching me, the more anxious I feel, so I would just as soon not have anyone there. Furthermore, while I appreciate the support of people who step up to corner me, it drives me crazy when they are exhorting me to do A and I simply CANNOT do A, for some reason. It makes me feel so guilty. I also feel guilty for letting them down when I lose. Especially Cindy. I am feeling guiltier and guiltier lately about failing to come through for Cindy. She’s so patient with the little kids, but I have got to be the most frustrating and disappointing failure on her project list.

There were 4 women there (all for no-gi), and they combined us all. As soon as I saw I was going to have to fight Chelsea, my stomach dropped. She dominates me in practice, and she has significant weight on me. I felt intimidated, and defeated before I even stepped on the mat. Sure enough, she had some gnarly head/neck control in standup and then got me down. I knew that once she was on top, it would be over, so I scrambled frantically, but turtle was as far as I got before she slapped on a nice guillotine and that was it.

Number one on the list of “I really need to figure this shit out, now”: As we started that scramble, I felt tired and weak as a kitten. It was less than three minutes into the fight. The phenomenon of having all my strength and energy leak away and leave me feeling weak as a kitten has been consistent throughout my comp career. I assumed it was the adrenaline dump- Cindy told me it was nerves- but it seems to me that my mental/emotional state has evened out a lot over the last several comps. After all, that was why I was doing it. I am not aware of feeling very nervous- so why the Kitten Effect? I do not understand why this is happening. Sure, I’m old and I get tired when I roll, but I regularly go for ninety minutes or more in practice. Why am I gassing out less than 3 minutes into a comp match?

The next girl was tiny- tinier than me. I felt bad for her. I spent most of the match in top side control, trying to get a keylock. I was actually able (for a change) to get my hand around her bird-like wrist and do Cindy’s “reverse motorcycle” rollout, but even that was not getting me the tap. Tiny seemed to have flexible joints and the keylock was not happening, but Cindy was kneeling about four inches away from my face admonishing me firmly every time I thought about letting go of it and trying for something else, so I just kept trying. Left to my own devices, at some point I will decide that the keylock just isn’t happening, so I will abandon it. Cindy of course can **MAKE** that keylock happen, to **ANYONE**, so I can see why that would not compute with her. I did use my weight a little to hold Tiny down near the end when I started getting really frustrated. I feel bad about that. She was game, but completely outsized. I know how that feels. I wish I had had a chance to say something to her before she left. She got my usual spot as 4th in a four-person bracket.

My third opponent had legs like an extention ladder. Seriously, I don’t think I have ever rolled with ANYONE with legs that long, except for Prof. Carlos. I mentioned this to John (who was kind enough to hang around with me and be supportive throughout much of this), and he said, “So what do you usually use to tap Carlos?” “Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha… what did **YOU** use the last few times **YOU** tapped out Carlos, John??? Nope, that was not going to be helpful in my tactical planning. 😛

I noticed that she kept her chin tucked like a boxer. If she had not been so tall, I would have tried to shove her head down and guillotine her- but she was over a head taller than me (even hunching) and I would have needed a stepstool to get that. Cindy told me that she was continually circling to her left and that I should try to single-leg her from the outside. A moment later, (black belt) Lindsey came over to tell me the exact same thing. So that was my tentative plan, but she unexpectedly pulled guard on me. It was like standing there and watching two falling telephone poles descending on either side in slow motion. It seemed fruitless to attempt to flee- you can’t backpedal away fast enough to get out of range of a falling telephone pole- and with most people I tend to be pretty good at squirting over their thigh as they are trying to close guard on me, so that was my next instinct. She was too fast for me, though, and she locked those telephone poles around my waist and then leisurely readjusted them into a body triangle that felt like it was set in concrete. I could feel plainly that there was no freakin’ WAY that was coming off, and that struggling against it would only exhaust my energy to no fruitful end. But that too is familiar to me, at which point I simply must wait for them to open their guard and give me a chance to escape while they are transitioning. But she never did. She was obviously waiting for me to be stupid enough to put a hand behind me to try to pry the telephone poles off, but I am not THAT stupid. I knew the moment I laid eyes on her that I could not let her get into position for a triangle or an armbar from guard. So we hand-fought for the entire match, and I tried (upon Cindy’s direction) to pass one of her wrists behind her back the way Jalen loves to do, but I never quite got it. If I’d had the gi sleeve, maybe I could have, but her wrist was just a titch too wide for me to get the type of decent grip that I had been able to get on Tiny.

I am never really clear on how brackets work, so I never know what is going on until I am told to get on the mat with this or that person…. I didn’t know if I would be fighting Tiny or Lanky again, but I did not. I wish that I could have fought both of the draws again. if I had known I would not be fighting Lanky a second time, I might have gone ahead and taken a chance by reaching back and baiting her into going for the triangle. It would have been better than stalling in closed guard for the entire match. Had I known I would not get a chance to fight Tiny again, I might have just let her up (or maybe not…. it’s really hard for me to deliberately do the exact opposite of what Cindy is telling me to do when she is four inches from my face).

I appreciate the comments left on my navel-gazing post…. I haven’t responded to them as of yet because I’m still thinking about them. There needs ot be a lot more navel-gazing. I left this comp still wondering if it behooves me or not to continue competing. It seems plain at this point that the Kitten Effect is not nerves, or at least not *JUST* nerves- there is something else going on. Although competing is not important to me in itself, I am very anxious that the Kitten Effect might occur if I find myself in a real-life defensive situation.

Number two on the list of “I really need to figure this shit out, now”: Defeatism. Defeatism is a huge, over-arching issue that is certainly affecting my comp performance and indeed could conceivably be 100% responsible for the Kitten Effect as well. And every single other problem in my MA training.

Rory Miller wrote some stuff about “struggling” versus “fighting”. When a woman is attacked and she wiggles ineffectually, squeaks, does the chicken-flailing thing where you bat lightly at your assailant with floppy wrists… it is not truly fighting back. She refrains from truly fighting back (IMHO) because she is too brainwashed to break out of the mindset of “I have to do everything I can to avoid ESCALATING this”. Rory mentions escalation- and the fear of it- briefly as well, and did not really go into it at length, but I remember that concept really gripping me when I saw it. I wrote part of a blog post about it some three years ago, and meant to go into it some more, but never did (although I never stopped thinking about it).

I grew up in a domestic violence environment in which I was thoroughly brainwashed from infancy to strive to avoid “escalation” at all costs. I feel like I’ve spent much of my life STRUGGLING to fix this- in my MA training and in pretty much all arenas of life- and have not seemed to make much true progress. I was trained to cower and submit. Any show of defiance- however tiny- was put down immediately and ruthlessly, in such a fashion as to thoroughly extinguish every last feeble spark of will. That type of conditioning- on a long-term basis, starting when you’re that young- is very difficult to uproot. Although intellectually I know that the perpetrator was evil and wrong- and that if we were to meet today, I could probably kick his ass- the CONCEPT of that looming, terrifying, all-powerful authority figure that could visit much worse than pain and death upon you at whim… it’s always sort of hanging over your shoulder all the time. I see a shadow of this juggernaut in every person and situation that presents (or even presents the possibility of) the slightest conflict of any sort. It is my boss, my teachers, the IRS, the police car parked on the shoulder, the creepy guy in the elevator, the staff member who questions my methods of running the donation table, the new big white belt guy… the competitor in the tournament ring. All are terrifying and so completely unopposable that there is no point in even thinking of resistance. If you even think about it- then will come the beat-down.

Much more insidious and terrible than this- seeing that juggernaut shadow in almost everything and doing that instinctive cower- is the brainwashing that has instilled one’s own self-image and self-worth as a thing ranking at the very basement-bottom of the food chain.

Sorry this is such a downer, and I’m not fishing for sympathy or anything here. I really need to delve more into this. If it is not the whole and complete reason for my shitty performance in competition (and on the mat in general), it is certainly a large portion. I am not going to get anywhere unless/until I can do something with it.

That elderly tiny white belt *looked* harmless enough.


The physical part has never been the hard part of self-defense. Knowing when to act, trusting your judgment, giving yourself permission to do what needs to be done and doing all this from a position of physical and mental disadvantage while surprised– that’s the hard part. –Rory Miller

Thursday two-fer at Bellevue. I weighed 132 first thing in the morning, naked.

Standing guard pass to KOB.

Same entry, then opponent crosses foot over top and places it on your hip preparatory to replacing guard. Grab the ankle, shove hir sideways, KOB again.

Same as above, only when you KOB, opponent turns on side and shoves at your knee. Twirl around hir head and KOB on the other side. My past dance training tends to allow me to do this type of thing quickly and gracefully (and without kicking my compadre in the head), but it often takes me about three extra foot placements than it takes Carlos.

Lots of drills of these. Exhausting and painful on the knees.

Two spars- Prof Lindsey and Rocky. Lindsey was fun. Rocky was frustrating.

Between classes I went back to Mohlbaks. Why do I do this? I can’t afford to go nuts in Mohlbaks right now. Plus, I had told myself firmly that I was NOT buying any more bamboo untill I see if my first batch survives the winter outside. Guess what I walked out with? And horseradish. And two more foxgloves. I was excited to find a yellowish variety. All the volunteers that are coming up in my yard are pink, every last one. I was less excited after I went to Home Depot for dirt, and found yellow foxgloves at 1/3 what I had paid at Mohlbaks.

Evening class. Chrisanne had promised to show up, but she got trapped by the lockdowns at SPU yesterday. This was a bummer because I was feeling pretty damn tired, and I probably would have gone home had I not had a date to bar Chrisanne’s arm. Sparring with Rocky had knocked the physical and emotional energy out of me.

You in closed guard- put one foot on floor beside opponent’s hip, stand and turn hips exaggeratedly out as if you are standing on a surfboard. Slide knee over opponent’s thigh and pass to side control.

Same, only this time you scoop under opponent’s thigh and pass the other way. Note that Carlos wants the THUMB in the lapel unless you are trying to do a cross collar choke. This is a bad habit for me, but I did notice that when John did it as instructed, this put the blade of his forearm right in my throat, which was unpleasant.

A few spars. Nadine kicked my ass as usual. Spider guard is really the only thing that wards her off, and only for a little while. That blue belt guy with previous experience in something- he’s really good. Kevin, who is always fun and competitive and doesn’t smash me, although he always grabs my bad ankle. Blue-belt Peter, always was nice to play with him. For my last spar, I grabbed a tiny little elderly-looking white belt that I’ve never seen before. That little guy was *SO* tight on top, it was incredible. Nice passes, too. It was a relief when Carlos awarded that guy his blue belt at the end of class. Even so, I got dominated a lot today and felt kind of demoralized by the time I went home.

Ankle is still a little tender- it’s giving me some problems when it’s on the mat outside-down (the way it rolled out), shrimping on that side, and of course if anyone grabs it I collapse immediately.

Friday, first thing in the morning, naked: 132 again. That’s not fair. You should get to see at least .5 lb down after doing two classes and watching your diet.

Navel-gazing, re: attitude


Someone who has agreed to fight you has agreed to serve as part of your test, your struggle for knowledge, your quest to make yourself better. –Sam Sheridan

As I’m sitting around thinking “What I wouldn’t do for a piece of pizza- or ten”, the inevitable “Why am I doing this?” questions start circling around in my head.

My recent batch of comps, I did specifically because I wanted to learn how to deal with the adrenaline dump. While I won’t say that comps no longer make me nervous, They are now making me much less nervous than before. So I’m not sure I’m still making decent progress on that goal.

I do not enjoy competing, my record is phenomenally lousy…. and while I do feel that I learn things every time, I find myself once again wondering if it’s a worthwhile pursuit.

I was well aware before even starting BJJ that the major limiting factor in my martial arts progress is my own defeatist mindset. I don’t really know how to fix this. Continuing to train, and continuing to compete, thinking that at some point all the work is going to result in enough increased skill to make me feel more competant… it’s not working.

I have made something of an effort in the last two years or so to be slightly less negative in my training blog- to mention more positives, and cut myself down less often. But it’s not enough. To truly tackle this hurdle, it’s going to take something else (probably multiple something else’s). I don’t know what. All I know is that it wouldn’t be easy, and I feel exhausted just contemplating the question.

Yet if I am truly serious about my training, and not just going through the motions, I can’t ignore this forever. It’s the elephant in the room, and it’s looming larger and larger. It’s not just going to go away, ad I’m going to be stuck behind it as long as I fail to deal with it.

I’m having a sense that picking up Kung Fu again might be part of the key. I have really dropped the ball on this. It’s hard for me to continue training without a teacher. Also, just the thought of Kung Fu is wrapped up with so much emotional trauma that I’m terrified that working forms again- tearing that scab off, so to speak- will result in being pulled further into the Black Hole of nightmares and depression. It’s the same fear that working on art is igniting- only more direct; closer to the belly of the Beast. Just the thought of doing forms makes my stomach roll over queasily.

While there is certainly a spiritual component in BJJ- and that’s mostly about what you put into it- so far I haven’t gotten it to trip my spiritual triggers in the way that Kung Fu did.

I do not know how to proceed. But “ignore” is becoming more and more unworkable.