It is a historical constant that the strong rule the weak, and any shade of liberty enjoyed by the weak is nothing more than the benevolence of the strong. You need guns because the world is full of the strong, and not all of them are benevolent. -John Fogh

Seattle Open.

The scorekeeping situation actually looked complex enough that I think it would have really stressed me- with my math issues- out. So fortunately I ended up as a ring coordinator- which is a much bigger job, but used a lot of my best skills. (I used Herald Voice until my throat hurt and the low tones started to crack a little…. but by gosh everybody heard me!) THANK GOD, though, it was not double elimination. It was complicated enough as it was. If it had been double elimination, my head would have exploded in under 20 min. Also, my horrible memory blanks for names and faces gave me some problems, but I just kept asking people their names over and over and they just kept telling me. Even I didn’t have that flaw, it would have been a challenge with wrangling that many people. The women were easier. But the guys…. hundreds of identical short-haired, muscley dudes in white pajamas.

If I had expected to cut a smart authoritative-looking figure in my snazzy IBJJF blue vest and super-official clipboard, that went out the window immediately when I tripped over somebody’s water bottle and fell on my face in the bullpen right in front of about 700 people.

If that had not humbled me sufficiently, one of the two refs at my station greeted me with “Aren’t you the girl who had to fight CINDY HALES at that sub-only comp earlier this year??!?” Then went on to regale me with blow-by-blow lowlights of said match. Ah well… as I told him, it had been an honor just to stand on a tournament podium with Cindy Hales.

So, ten straight hours of work with one quick pee break and one rapidly-gobbled sandwich. I juggled up to five interweaving brackets at once, herded cats all day (It’s amazing how many people can’t follow an instruction as simple as “go to the table with the big SIX on it” or “STAY RIGHT HERE” and then you have to drop everything and chase them down again), I also had to do all my own ID checks, my own weigh-ins, report all the official results, no one was checking my work, and I did not fuck anything up although there was epic potential for fuckup at every turn. and I must say that I think I did a terrific job, especially for a virgin ring coordinator. Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows how self-critical I am, so if I say I did a terrific job, that means I did a DAMN FINE job.

Of course there was one staff member who was all up in my grill much of the day criticizing small things that yes, I would have fixed if I was perfect and flawless, but they were small things that should have been overlooked in light of aforementioned DAMN FINE job. Recognizing the dude as a fellow anal-retentive Type A control freak, of course I had to realize that this was the person who knew everything that was going on. So instead of having The Clash Of the Control Freaks (which I would have lost, being on his home turf), I instead started popping up in HIS grill every time I had an empty-mat moment and badgering him to give me some more brackets. It was an interesting exercise in consciously handling a problem in a way I would not normally have been moved to handle it.

Critical Guy (randomly popping up like an evil jack-in-the-box over my shoulder to stab an accusatory talon at my clipboard): Why did you do THIS?

Me: We already covered this. You told me ten minutes ago to do XYZ, so I did XYZ. See?

CG (after staring at clipboard for a few minutes and letting me sweat it out): Okay. I just wanted to hear you explain it.

Me (thinking): You asshole…
Me (saying, very flatly) Okay. You scared me. I thought I fucked something up.

I think the tone of my voice (along with the fact that he had been WRONG and didn’t want to cop to it and we both knew it) let him know it was time to back off me just a little.

(Snarky note: Why the fuck does anyone answer a question with “You don’t know how to do that?” or “Nobody told you how to do that?” DUMB-ASS, If I knew how to do it or someone had already told me how, WHY WOULD I BE ASKING YOU RIGHT NOW???? The only purpose of that question is to make the other person feel even worse about not magically already knowing everything about a job they’ve never done before.)

The worst moment of the day was having to explain to a guy that his single competitor had not shown up, and he had come here for nothing. I felt really bad. I also had to DQ a couple of people.

It felt weird being at a tournament and not competing. I kept feeling like I should be having nausea and tremors.

Unfortunately I was too busy to be able to watch matches.

In firearms news: I don’t want to sound callous or anything, but the timing of the local school shooting in regards to the two major gun control items on the current ballot is very unfortunate.

Oh yeah- osoto gari me again!


The overwhelming majority of training and drilling focuses on technique and not on applying judgement to situations, which is completely bass-ackward. –Campfire Tales From Hell

Thursday lunchtime at Bellevue. So excited to see one of my very favorite partners: Nelson! We did a lot of standup today, and Nelson is probably the best person in the whole GBNW to do that with. He’s not much bigger than I, and he is an excellent judo practitioner, as well as a very helpful suggestion-giver.

Standing guard pull (Nelson suggests that I pay more attention to eliminating my telegraph- ie, yanking on the grips just before I execute the guard pull.)

Single-leg takedown to KOB

Same, add spinning armbar. This particular permutation had us grabbing the belt, which is something I do not do often. Of course on my first rep, I tried to grab for the pants (hell, at least I TRIED to grab SOMETHING, for which I give myself credit, for as we know, I suffer from persistant “forget-to-keep-hold-of-the-pants-osis”). I couldn’t reach, and Carlos was cracking up. “That ees why I tell you to grab thee BELT.” Yes sir.

Armbar from front mount- no, wait, it only LOOKS like you’re going for an armbar. Once you yank opponent up on hir side, Keep the knee that is behind the opponent lower than you otherwise would. Latch on a head-and arm (gable grip). Do not get sloppy and hasty here. It must be well-placed, tight and your hands must be fully locked. Strangely enough, it works ten times better on my stupid side. Now roll opponent to the opposite side and place the second hook. If you positioned your knee wrongly at the start, you end up trapping your own leg and not being able to get both hooks in.

A little positional sparring from front mount and from standup. Again- standup with Nelson is awesome. Of course you are not going to get anything that he doesn’t LET you get, but you won’t get brutalized and you experience a lot of interesting ways to fall on your ass (and your side, and your back, and your face).

Standup usually taking it out of me more than most things, I was unfortunately too tired to spar. If Nelson had stayed, I would have forced myself, but he didn’t.

Went from there to Lindsey’s studio to have a little green bamboo colored in. 2 hours of RIBS and a little back waistline… two of the absolute most painful areas, and color (which is more painful than linework, I don’t care what people say). This was the most painful tat session I have had to date, and it still hurts like a mother this morning. The green looks incredible on my paper-pale skin, though. Lindsey also kept making comments along the line of “Vic, come and look at this badass bamboo” and “Damn, this turned out nice” which is exactly what you want to hear from your tattoo artist (especially when s/he’s working on parts you can’t watch).

Oops, I did it AGAIN


Risk assessment is probably the most valuable skill in communicating with the altered mental state. A mentally ill person may or may not be more dangerous than anyone else. But they may be more dangerous and they are certainly less predictable. –Rory Miller

OMG, I am so sore.

Even though I was tired after lunchtime class, I went to Bellevue to evening class because Chrisanne and Lindsay were going to be there. Horribly, I ended up rejecting poor Lindsay AGAIN for drilling. I apologized a million times…. I am just so paranoid about keeping Chrisanne away from the spazzy assholes, and Lindsey has much better skills at this point for protecting herself against spazzy assholes. I suggested that the two of them drill together and I would find someone else, but Lindsay ended up drilling with Peter (who is not spazzy asshole, BTW).

I should note that that tall white belt guy I sparred with on Thursday turned out to be on Chrisanne’s “Spazzy Asshole” list. I didn’t have that bad of a time with him, but I had played spider guard to keep him off my ribs. When I gave him the pre-spar “don’t kill me, I’m old” speil, he was like, “But you’re a PURPLE belt.” Me: “I still do not have enough skills at this point to counteract strong young guys who are much bigger, so BE CAREFUL.” Turns out that when Chrisanne gave him her speil, he did the same to her: “But you’re a blue belt” and then went on to smash her. She won’t roll with him any more. I was glad to hear that she was both giving the speech and keeping a Red List… both things that I had to talk to her a LOT about over the last two years. I am relieved that she is being assertive about boundaries. I still worry constantly about who she is rolling with and whether she is safe.

Drills….. standup, judo grip to failed single leg to rear clinch; judo grip to single leg setup. Note that this particular one involved pinching opponent’s leg between one’s knees.

Standing guard pass to a squat at opponent’s hip, pressing far knee to the floor and trapping near leg atop your own thigh. This was similar to what we did last week- and also similarly, it was all about having that thigh well pinned, ABOVE the knee. We then did a variation on this, starting with a spider guard and ending with a lapel grip. In this case, it was necessary to consciously shoot that arm OVER the THIGH and then pin that thigh there with the elbow. As soon as you start getting tired and sloppy with these drills, the first thing to go is the most important thing- pinning that thigh.

Drills with enough speed and repetition that I truly thought I was going to lose my dinner.

At the end, I felt like a crushed pop can, but I had driven all the way in here to be able to play with Chrisanne and Lindsay. I also rolled with Casey a bit. Tonight I did not allow myself to lie under bottom half guard with Lindsay… forced myself to keep moving and try different things. Unfortunately this ended with me tapping to a mounted triangle. But I really do need to not lie there in bottom half guard.

I was reflecting on the road today (lots of commuting time) that my focus on self-defensive martial arts is probably a large reason why I am so reluctant to work outside my safety zone. In sport martial arts, if you take a risk and lose, you lose a medal. In defensive MA, if you take a risk and lose, you’re DEAD. Rory Miller talks a lot about how people freeze up and do other unhelpful things that they have learned to respond with, simply for the reason that doing so has not killed them yet. I need to continue to force myself to- at the very least- not lie there on the bottom.

My sparring performance was not up to this afternoon’s performance, which I had expected (exhaustion combined with the persistant phenomenon of every single bout of “Hey, I was decent” to be immediately followed by a bout of “I suck” just to keep me humble). However, I was pleased that I kept sparring for that long after doing a class that almost made me puke. Right up until….

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I did it AGAIN…. I rolled my goddam left ankle out. And I did it the exact same way I did it the last two times this happened: by trying to do a standing guard pass to the left when I was really tired, and I put my foot down and rolled it outward. Lord, it hurt. I collapsed on the mat, and Lindsay got me some ice. After about 5 min I was able to get up, and am now walking with only a tiny limp- but we’ll see what it’s like in the morning. I am really frustrated that I keep doing this, but at least it was on the last class before my work rotation starts. If this had happened Thurs lunchtime, I would have been SUPER pissed. As it is, hopefully I will be reasonably sound by next class on Thursday. I do need to really set a mental flag on that play, though: when I go to do a standing guard pass on the left when I’m tired, I need to pay really close attention to how I set my foot on the floor as well as how I transfer weight onto that foot. I am really tired of this particular recurring injury.

Mowing dandelions…. harder than it looks.


Nothing says, “Please don’t rape me.” like multiple jacketed hollowpoints. -John Fogh

Friday lunchtime BJJ in Edmonds.

Mostly rolling, some amount of yakking. It was just me, Griff, Georgette, Dandelion, and a big white belt guy.

I felt competent today. I got tapped some, and I think I may have gotten a tap or two… but it was the perfect balance of getting beaten, yet not badly enough that you start to lose heart.

I remembered my previous experiences of my sloppy non-technical squirming not working well on Georgette and Dandelion, so I tried to not do that today. I can’t say I pulled more clean technique out of my ass, but I consciously tried to not do dumb stuff.

Worked some standup with Dandelion, which was very much fun. She says she’s no good at it, but she got one really beauteous throw on me, and her balance/center/weight sinking is very nice… I had a much more difficult time trying to take her down than I usually have on a non-wrestler her size. She says she is 127, although she feels much lighter (I feel the same phenomenon with Lindsay…. she feels about 120, if that, but claims to be heavier than me).

Griff praised some of my moves, which felt really really good. I asked him (on an ongoing basis) to attack my legs so that I could work more on defending it. I did get caught once by Dandelion, doing the arm-over-my-head thing. She didn’t grab it, though. She says she’s no good at head-and-arm chokes. Still no excuse for me to keep doing that. Only did it the once, though.

Use it or lose it.


Recognize when you have time. People get hurt when they try to plan without time, and unnecessarily hurt others when they have time to plan and don’t use it. –Rory Miller

The Stripe Fairy is loose again at GB. John (who got his purple belt on the same day that I did) is now up to 4 stripes, and I am still at 1. After a momentary knee-jerk surge of competitive frustration, I remember that I do not WANT to get promoted. Must remember to duck into bathroom during bow-out for the next week or so.


So I ducked into the locker room and took off my jacket when it was time for bow-out, and darn if Carlos didn’t come chasing into the lobby and tell me to get back in there, and the entire class waited for me. 😦 It sucks to be the only woman in the room. It makes you way too memorable and makes it more difficult to sneak away when you want to. So that tactic is not going to work.

You have butterfly guard, opponent lying on your chest. Do a little hip bump to get your horiz. forearm across hir clavicles and push hir up (you can get kind of mean with this….). Sit up, scoot back a titch and place the outside of your knee on the mat on the side that you are NOT bracing your opponent’s chest.

Swim that arm under hir arm (remember to keep that elbow posted hard to keep hir from coming in on you) and grab the belt at hir tailbone. (This turned out to be the bugaboo detail for me…. I don’t like to grab the belt. It moves around too much, and sometimes it isn’t there at all (like in no-gi).) with your other arm, grab hir bicep and hug it to you. The more you can get hir shoulder twisted around, the better (tiny but critical detail). Sweep.

If s/he puts a foot up to catch hirself, you can underhook that knee, HOOK HIR OTHER ANKLE WITH YOUR TOE and sweep hir the other way. This was hella cool, but one of those things that my subconscious was resisting because it doesn’t seem like it should work. Important detail: try to keep that leg-underhook as you roll, because it leaves you in a much better position at the end… otherwise you often get caught in half or full guard. It also puts more weight on opponent’s chest and gives a better angle for a little Shoulder Of Justice.

One spar with Chrisanne, one with a blue belt who got two straight ankle locks on me. I had started to put myself right into the second one, like a total moron, and then checked myself and tried to go into DLR instead. He neatly hooked up my foot and did it to me again. Dammit. Then one spar with a tall skinny white belt guy I have never seen before. I got a gi choke tap on him- otherwise held him at bay with spider guard.

I was feeling distinctly torpid by the time I arrived at evening class in Kirkland, but arrive I did. Some white belt guy was there who immediately remembered me from one class LAST WINTER and was a little put out that I didn’t remember him. (again with the “only woman” thing…. do you have any idea how many white belt guys I see come and go? About a bazillion prillion quagfillion. No, I can’t remember, I’m sorry.)

Upa. I stuggled with the upa, which was embarrassing… but I do not EVER use this. I always go to half or butterfly. I don’t like sticking my arm out like that, and it takes too much time for me to remember which leg to trap and how to do it. Which says that I need to practice it more. It also seems like way too much effort to do that big ribcage-straining bridge. And it feels like it is never going to work. Again… I obviously need to drill it more.

Fortunately, we next did the combover escape from front mount to half guard… which is my go-to if they actually manage to get full mount, and I can make it work on almost everybody (even the higher belts). Which tells me that I need to quit doing it all the time and work on the upa instead.

Escape from headlock. Dave reccomends an under-over braiding of your arm after you trap the guy’s arm behind him, as this gives you more control for either a shoulder lock or choke as you choose- I generally avoid getting entangled to that extent with an opponent, but it’s difficult for him to muscle out of this because of the crappy angle.

We replaced closed guard from there…. I usually try to squirt out the back.

One spar with Edwin.

That’s just what I was in the mood for today.


An armed man will kill an unarmed man with monotonous regularity.

Holy adipose, I’m down two entire pounds after my Grudge Match with Lindsay last night. We really need to do that more often so that I can get back down to weight. I wonder how much I would have lost if I hadn’t just laid there on the bottom the entire time.

Sore, though. And tired. And headachey. I really did not feel like going to class today. But I did.

Saturday no-gi at Kirkland. It was so nice to see Cindy, whom I have not seen in months. I also have not done any no-gi in months.

So I walk in and there’s Pedro- yeah, the really strong teenage wrestler who has enough energy to probably sprint around the circumference of the planet about twelve times without a rest break. I was like, “Oh yeah, that’s just what I was in the mood for today,” It’ll probably be takedowns, too.

Happily, it was not takedowns (or at least mostly not takedowns). Lengthy warmup (which tired out all of us EXCEPT Pedro). Then, the same arm attacks from side control that we did on Thursday night. Then, positional sparring from side control with varying objectives, varying degrees of intensity, and varying partners.

Then a few spars. From standup. I spent a lot of time squashed on the bottom again today. I also committed my signature sin of letting one arm get trapped up by my head, three times, with Pedro. To his credit, he is getting better about being more careful to not kill grandma, although he is still using too much muscle.

The most popular girl at the dance


Do not ever make a situation worse because your ego insisted that you prove yourself or protect your rep. –Rory Miller

Yeah, that was me tonight- instead of being the last kid picked for the kickball team, as per usual, tonight I somehow wound up promising three different eager teammates- to their respective delight and ecstasy- that I would drill with them. Oops! And no, I did not handle that well, because it’s not a type of situation I am at all familiar with!!

I had promised to meet Chrisanne at Bellevue on Friday eve. When I got there, I found Lindsay in the lobby, who pounced on me like a caffeinated golden retriever puppy and was so excited to see me. Then I went on the mat and started horsing around with (blue belt) Peter, who was like, “You’ll drill with me tonight, right???!!?” I said that I had previously promised Chrisanne I’d work with her- which was a perfectly reasonable and non-insulting response- which did not provide for the contingency that Chrisanne did not show up. This resulted in Peter and Lindsay both charging at me when the clock started, and then we all stood there and stared at each other in an embarrassed and awkward circle. I’ve never been caught out dating two guys at once on the sly, but that must be what it feels like.

Lindsay ended up with Kevin, whom she made a point of loudly praising in the handshake line at the end with “You are the BEST PARTNER EVER” while eyeing me pointedly. That insult of course necessitated a Death Challenge, which I dutifully delivered.

But I am getting ahead of myself. First there was class to get through, which consisted of

1)Double-leg setups to sneaking around the back to standing RNC.

2)Same, then the victim defends the choke, steps hir outside foot behind attacker’s foot, turns to the outside, bows at the waist and kicks attacker’s leg out from under.

I was hitting the ground badly on these. I know my breakfalls need work, but finally Prof Carlos came over and told Peter to let me down nicer by keeping hold of the arm. That helped a LOT.

3)You standing, opponent on back with feet on your hips. You push legs to the side (with that weird-ass cross-over hand motion that I always have trouble with, the one that Carlos almost drove me to tears over once), then drop to outside knee on the mat. Quickly scoot into opponent with your (dropped) knee in hir back and your other knee over hir thigh. The key to this (after much debate and experimentation with Peter, and some corrections from Carlos) is trapping and pinning the opponent’s top thigh on top of your own thigh. This is counterintuitive- it’s one of those things that doesn’t look like it should work, so even after I’ve proven from both sides of the equation that it in fact DOES, my brain still does not really want to accept it.

4)You standing, opponent in spider guard. Let go with your right hand and step back widely with your right leg. Give a little yank to also make sure you clear opponent’s other foot off your bicep. Now drop and scoot into a similar end position as #3 above. (just enough different to confuse the crap out of me… and forget trying these on both sides, unless we want to see my brain explode all over the mat…)

5)Me getting reprimanded for laughing too loudly because I was having too much fun.

So, Death Match… again here I was far too focussed tonight on having a hoot of a good time and not focussed enough on learning BJJ. After catching Lindsay in half guard from the bottom about ten million times (from which she eventually began to escape using a very impressive technique which involved torquing my spine cruelly into an extreme corkscrew shape), she started to get frustrated with that. She started to greet each new catching of half guard with some sound effects and commentaries that were making me laugh. So we spent like forty minutes with me being squashed on the bottom in half guard, giggling like a loon, while she twisted back and forth on top cursing and making smartass remarks.

She was having a hard time finishing me off, although eventually she got a keylock tap, and we both felt that she was due a tickertape parade at that point. She really earned that one. We then finished with me troubleshooting her crappy straight armbar from side control (which she’d given up on far too easily) and her showing me a really cool gumby-ish sweep from deep half guard. (Note to ask her to review this sweep next time I work with her).

We were both wrecked, and had to decline a kind offer to roll from a visiting brown belt, which I feel bad about on both his account and mine. But we had left it all on the mat.

It was a rollicking fun time, and I was concentrating on repeatedly catching half guard just to piss her off… which I don’t regret, as we need to have fun with this sometimes. But I really was noticing with admiration how many nice, clean, technical tricks she was pulling off. While I couldn’t get off the bottom and spent the better part of an hour in the same place I have been spending it for the last five years: trapped in bottom half guard, clinging there for dear life and unable to do a damn thing useful.

Coming on the heels of those rolls with Georgette (in which I was noticing my lack of technique and my reliance on sloppy squirming in its place), I am seeing/feeling a real sand trap in my training progress right now. It’s a place I have been a few times, where you suddenly realize that in order to learn to type correctly, you must stop using your index fingers and start at square one, spending some time going a lot SLOWER and clumsier than you are used to. (I never was able to make myself do that, by the way… I am still typing fast with four fingers). I am aware that this is a particularly frustrating sand trap that tends to send me into fits of frustration and despair, so I am not happy to find myself standing here with my toes on the edge of this place yet again.

Stayin’ Alive


Everyone has a button, you just have to find it and press it under the right circumstances. So the goal is to find the buttons and push them in this type of training, in a safe environment. Not to hurt feelings, but to identify a button someone might use against the student in the real world and take that button away from the bad guys. Make it a non-issue. –Campfire Tales From Hell

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue. All spars. I held my own today, but nothing stellar. I was able to keep moving around and defend most of the subs from the colored belts, and control the single white belt (granted, he was being nice and not using his extraneous weight and strength).

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

All drills. Armbars from guard, several different types of standing guard passes, spinning armbars. I was drilling with Dex, who is doing Monkey Bar Gym *and* cagefighting, and is in insane shape, so I had to hustle to be a decent partner. Even he was whining about the armbars from guard (I hate that drill, after the first twenty second or so… the first twenty seconds are fine, but it gets slow and painful quickly after that).

While we were standing on the wall watching demo’s, the stereo started playing “Stayin’ Alive”. I cannot believe that a whole line of people can stand there without dancing, without even head-bobbing, while the stereo is blasting “Stayin’ Alive”. What’s wrong with these young people today??!? It’s probably a good thing that none of my close compadres were there, or things probably would have gotten more out of hand than they did.

One roll with Amy- yes, the blue belt cage fighter. I started from standup with her, and she got a nice sacrifice takedown. She was in control about half the time, and spent the other half fighting my open guard. Knowing that she is an MMA fighter, I played spider guard. They hate that. Heh heh heh. She did not tap me, but she would have won on points from the takedown plus advantages.

Thursday evening BJJ in Kirkland.

Lots of pummelling… Dave likes to tire us out with this before technique….

You on your back, partner standing, your feet on hir hips… s/he tosses your feet to one side, you hip out, cross the OUTSIDE foot over top to replace your feet on hir hips, repeat to other side. I tend to get sloppy with both the hip-out and the bracing on partner’s shins, because I can do it facter just by hiking up on my shoulders and letting my supreme flexibility and dexterity do all the work…. but Dave didn’t like that. 😦

Partner on hir back, knees up, you standing…. shove knees to one side and go to KOB. Dave reprimanded me for placing my outside foot too close to my partner’s head instead of keeping my feet parallel. When I did it his way, it was A LOT MORE WORK. 😦 He’s mean, isn’t he?

Keylocks, failed keylock to straight armbar, a weird sort of upside-down keylock with the elbow straight…. my brain has always had a difficult time parsing this one….

Head and arm choke.

I was working with Irwin, who is a huge guy, but so sweet, and super-careful about trying to not hurt me. I had to tell him several times that he needed to grab harder, choke harder, push harder…. don’t worry, I’ll tell you if you’re hurting me, and as long as you put on a sub nice and slow, trust me to tap when I need to.

One roll with Dave. I made myself keep moving and not stall out under him. Man, he is working rings around me now, though. He has gotten so good. And he has Cindy’s fingerprints all over him. Lucky dog.