Still no kibble.

bjj804

Violence and the risk of violence goes up when people are insecure. Remember always that weapons embolden the insecure. –Rory Miller

Open mat at Edmonds.

Started with Georgette, no-gi…. she trounced me utterly and repeatedly. Found myself in that frustrated space… that one where I just need to call it a day, because both my performance and my mental state just go downhill rapidly from there.

Note that once in this place, I should really just VACATE the gym immediately, because if I sit on the wall, people bug me to keep going. If I beg off, it starts to look like I’m pouting like an asshole because I got tapped. Which I guess in a way I am. I think everybody could tell that I was frustrated, which frustrates me all the more because I am trying to hide it. Today, no disasters ensued from continuing under duress, but next time should just go. Haven’t really found a good way to deal with that state of mind, but continuing is usually not advisable. It’s the Point Of Negative Returns.

Anyway, I let Cindy use me as a dummy to do some drills and invent some new fiendish and painful contortions. Then she was rolling with Georgette, which she probably shouldn’t be doing with her shoulder injury, but you can’t keep her off the mat.

I rolled with a purple belt guy that I don’t know, who was flow rolling and doing some catch and release. Then Craig, whom I enjoy rolling with and haven’t seen in a long time: more flowing and catch and release, he wore his gi and let me let me wear my no-gi gear to make it marginally more even. Those were both kind of fun, even though my self-sabotaging mind kept flagellating me all the while with its I-wish-I-didn’t-suck-so-bad and why-do-you-bother-to-keep-trying-to-do-this refrains.

As a scientist, I am very aware that I am battling a very basic concept of psychology that just really can’t be battled: it is very hard to keep doing something in the face of a lack of positive reinforcement. My “higher function” brain can yell all it wants that this is actually useful and good for me and progress *IS* actually being made… but it feels like I’ve been pressing a lever repeatedly for five years (longer, if you count all of my MA experience and not just BJJ) and just never getting any kibble, ever. No rat would continue to press the lever this long. My inner rat is like, “WTF is wrong with you???!??”

I continue to not know what to do about this issue, and I continue to be very frustrated and discouraged about it.

Georgette pointed out a couple of things.

1)I keep giving up my back. She rightly parsed this as, “Most of your regular training partners are going easy on you, and failing to be heavy/tight enough to prevent you from squirming (technique-less-ly) out of back mount.” It makes me feel better that I had made this very same observation and come to the very same conclusion the very first time I rolled with her. At least I can see and interpret my problems, even if I don’t do so well at actually fixing them. I really need people to stop giving me slack here, as it just encourages my sloppy habits. Note that this is neither a happy nor a fun thing to face. I asked her to keep taking my back and subbing me, and to make it hurt a little.

2)She wants me to put more weight on her feet/knees etc while I’m doing standing passes. This is not the first time I have been told this, but as I tried it again, I was reminded of why I don’t do it- it feels way too vulnerable. Once I start leaning on the knees, as soon as the opponent pulls hir knees back, I’m going to face plant. Georgette says, “don’t let them pull their knees back.” I feel that there is no person on the mat older than four whom I could actually physically PREVENT from pulling their feet or knees back.

This leads me to a principle that has been a cornerstone of my game since I started: “You don’t have to move the other guy, you only have to move YOU.” Which I still feel is golden wisdom, for us teeny people. You can’t even begin to deal with a 200lb man on top of you in side control without embracing that idea. Otherwise you are just lying there helplessly crushed for eternity. And yet I begin to wonder if I have taken a good thing too far.

I have been aware for a while that I work under an assumption that I simply cannot move my opponent nor make hir do anything. This leaves me with a severely limited game that consists solely of 1)reacting to what the opponent does to me, and 2)losing all my options as soon as the opponent starts restricting my movement. I simply do not even TRY anything- ever- that involves moving the opponent, or making hir do something, or otherwise affecting hir. Like sweeps. And most subs. I escape. That’s all I do, because that’s all I *can* do that doesn’t really involve addressing my opponent in any confrontational way- because of course as soon as we go head to head on something, I am obviously going to lose. It’s not a fight. It’s not a contest. I’m not trying to beat anyone. I’m not even truly engaging them. I’m just letting them attack me while I try to escape.
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Ouch.
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Okay, I’m not sure what to do about this…. and it obviously is harking back to a lot of very deep-seated, ingrained, damaging conditioning from childhood on up. But it feels like a possible first glimpse into a different perspective on my defeatism problem. Which could be a first step.

Found that my Asics earguards do have a few spots where they start rubbing painfully at a certain point of a LOT of jiu jitsu over a two day period. I had to take them off, because it started to feel like I was more likely to get cauli from the earguards themselves than from going without. Note that I should start keeping a spare pair of (a different brand of) earguards in my bag.

Things to *NOT* say to the ref.

bjj616

Sheep can be controlled by the sheepdog for the same reason they fear the wolf — they are both predators. The same relationships hold with the general population, the police, and the criminals. Most people are sheep, but you don’t have to be. If you have the skills and attitude of a predator the criminals will leave you alone — because they will recognize you as a predator and there is easier game available. -Greg Hamilton

Turkey Day open mat in Seattle.

Lindsay, Chrisanne, Terry (whom I haven’t seen in a really, really long time), Vic. There were tons of people there that I would have loved to roll with, but by the time I got done with these four, all the others were gone or going. 😦

No-gi with the two ladies and Terry. Found myself huddling on the bottom a few times with Lindsay- mostly when I started getting really tired- but I tried hard to minimize that. With Terry, same thing. He is very dynamic- which can be intimidating, and even more reason I want to slow down and cling- to try to slow the action down a bit. I trust him enough that I attempted to resist this urge, although if it had been with a random person, I would have worked hard to try to immobilize hir.

I found out that Terry got DQ’ed from the last Revolution. The pair fighting on the next mat rolled off their mat and crashed into Terry and his opponent in the middle of the match. Terry disentangled himself, stood up, looked at the ref and cried, “What the fuck?!?” The ref said, “You’re out.”

This was the first time I’ve rolled with Vic. He’s the same weight as me, and flexible. A little spazzy and strengthy. I gave him a monologue about not slamming subs- not that he was slamming any- but while I was walking him through keylocks, I emphasized that this is one of those subs that we want to be particularly careful about putting on slowly and carefully. Apparently no one had given him that little tutorial yet, so I’m very happy to stop another white belt from developing dangerous habits before he starts. He also saw Terry yanking me backward from my knees into his back mount, and was like, “Woah, that was so rad!” And I stopped immediately and looked at him and said, “DON’T you try that on anyone until you’re more experienced, and here’s why…”

He expressed frustration at always finding himself on the bottom. I told him that at his weight, he’d better get used to it, because he was going to be there for the next three years straight.

Somebody mistook me for Cindy today. It was quite a thrill. I must confess, though, that it was in the parking lot and not on the mat.

Head and arm

bjj6000

Weapons do not change your nature, only your reach and power. –Rory Miller

I have spent the last few weeks wishing I was dead because my allergies are leaving me unable to function. Dragging myself to work- cuz I gotta- but otherwise, I can’t do anything. Feeling like crap due to allergies is compounded by feeling like crap due to not getting any mat time. Yesterday I had no fewer than five people FB’ing me personally, trying to get me to class, and I just couldn’t do it.

I don’t think I would have been able to bear going back to another work rotation (especially since I know there’s a truly hideous body fluid chamber count CAP survey lurking in my inbox) without at least a little BJJ, so I was determined to haul my suffering carcass to no-gi in Kirkland today.

Fortunately, it was a small class and it went low-key. Cindy still can’t roll because of her shoulder injury; there were three huge guys, Dave, and me. Cindy went over a couple of things from the awesome seminar that I missed yesterday (sigh). Then I did a short roll with Dave. I was weak and congested and sneezy and sniffly, and my soft palate itches so bad that I want to eat a wheelbarrow of sand- but the headaches held off long enough, and Dave was really nice to me (especially since he was the only one present who wasn’t too big, too injured, or too new to work with me). That could have gone either way. I could have walked into a no-gi takedowns day with Pedro. This, though, was just what I needed.

Guard pass detail: when you’re blocking behind the knee, if you place your elbow on the mat, it is structurally impossible for the opponent to pull your arm out of place because s/he would just be pulling it against hir own thigh.

Head and arm choke: this variation requires firstly that you make sure to snug the inside of your elbow right up to the opponent’s neck and not leave a hair of space. Crab-crawl your fingers across the mat and give an extra little jerk or two to the side to cinch it all up. Use that same hand to clasp hir shoulder. You want to be lower on the body than we normally tend to be for one of these… and lower under the jaw. Place your head in there to block. Shrug your shoulders up a bit. This was incredible for two reasons: 1)Dave was already tapping when I had barely exerted 1/10 of the squeeze and room that I had available, and 2)It didn’t involve having to jump your lower body to the side (which way to jump is one of those little details that my swiss-cheese-brain always struggles with).

I’ll ditch him.

bjj010107

Almost everyone I have met who has been in the situation reflexively checks weapons when they get tense. It’s a tell, and a great way to pick out who is armed. –Rory Miller

Thurs: Lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Allergies have been suicide-inducing these past few days. I have been taking buckets of drugs, which has accomplished exactly nothing, except that now I am congested, headachy and exhausted ALONG WITH antihistimine/decongestant daze.

None of my usual favorite drill partners was there, but there were a lot of big guys and some visiting blue belts. Especially in my sinus-skewed state, I was in no mood to deal with visiting blue belt men, which tend to be a real crapshoot. A lot of the time, they either try to kill you because you’re a purple belt and they figure that means they can go as hard as they want even though you’re half their weight and old enough to be their mom, or they try to kill you because you’re a purple belt and they want to prove they can kick your ass.

I just didn’t feel like taking that on, so I sidled up to Justin before class.

Me: “Will you please drill with me today, so I don’t get stuck with any of these big guys?”
Justin: “Uh, I already told Alex I’d drill with him.”
Me: (dismayed expression)
Justin: “I’ll ditch him.”
Me: “It’s tough being Mr. Popular, huh?”

I felt a little bad, but it was a matter of survival.

Standup: double leg setups, failed double-leg to rear clinch.

Tripod sweep. I was happy to see this, as it’s one of those techniques that involves doing something different with each of your four limbs, and thus I always struggle with it- but I would like to get proficient at it, since that would possible allow me to set it up from spider guard (which I use a lot but can’t sweep very well from).

Opponent stands up in your guard, you place feet on hir hips, grab hir ankles, and dump. I use this a lot, but have a vast amount of trouble recovering from the subsequent scramble and capitalizing before s/he gets up and capitalizes on me first. Carlos had us KEEP ONE PANTLEG, swing both legs to that same side. Slam your other elbow on the mat outside of hir far thigh. Hopefully you are not so slow that you fail to get hir hips controlled so that you can get in side control. As usual, retaining that pant grip was a challenge for me.

Note that if you try the double-ankle drop and they grab your lapels to defend it, you can lift hir in the air with your feet on hir hips and try to dump hir over your head or to the side. if that fails, next go to the tripod sweep.

These techniques were more get-up-get-down-get-up-get-down work, as I was grousing about the other day…. and with the sinus crap, I got tired very quickly.

Me: (beginning the technique standing hunched over in Justin’s open guard)
Justin: (after long expectant pause) “Get in my closed guard.”
Me: “Urrrrrrrghh… I didn’t want to have to get back up again.” The only thing more exhausting that get-up-get-down-get-up-get-down is get-up-get-down with someone hanging around your waist.

Many drills, after which I was too wiped to spar.

Friday: Can’t go to class because I got tattooed last night, but I took a 2 mile walk.

“She’s tough!”

bjj603

Perfect is the enemy of good. – Voltaire

Saturday competition training in Seattle.

Lord, this comp class wipes me out. I don’t know how long I am going to be able to keep doing this. Usually I have to bail on the second hour- which I went in today determined to not do- but the cardio, at my age and carrying the ten extra pounds I’m currently carrying…. UUUUUUUURGGGGGGGGGGHHH. I was whimpering as I climbed out of the car back at the Mount Index Daunless Outpost after class. Right now my thighs ache the way they usually do the morning after. Which means tomorrow morning is going to suuuuuuuuuuuuuck. But what a great week of training!

Chrisanne hasn’t had a chance to work with Georgette yet, so I told her she could have first crack at asking Georgette to drill. She’s like, “Oh my God, no, I’m just a blue belt… you go ahead…” so I went to the locker room and told Georgette that Chrisanne really wanted to drill with her but was too shy to ask. 😉 I had been hoping that Z or (short) John would be there today, but none of my favorite men were there (unless you count Lindsey and Griff, whom I can’t really ask to drill unless they offer). I also didn’t want to shanghai Casey, because we had already used each other to warm up before class. Now that Pat is brown, I feel a little awkward asking him to drill an entire class with me unless he offers first. This put me with Emma, a white belt that I seem to recall working with once or twice before. She had weight on me as well as enough skill to match if not dominate me.

Standup- one lapel grip that you can’t let go of; try to get a takedown. I couldn’t get anything on Emma, who has very superb reaps and was also trying a few other things.

Standup to pulling half guard.

We were doing some rather complex multi-step drills, and it was a struggle to get all the steps.

Opponent has spider guard. You pull back, squat, and pass your left hand UNDER the leg to grip inside of pantleg. Step to the opposite side and stand/yank upright, then crouch so that hir thigh is trapped atop yours. S/he tries to roll away, you take the back. It flows really well *IF* you shove your right knee between the floor and hir waist just as s/he rolls- the momentum seems to sorta suck you right into the gap and there you are with your hooks and choke sunk.

Opponent has Del a Riva. You turn your right knee (the one s/he has trapped) to the outside. (This same detail was in one of the techniques Carlos did with us earlier this week, so THAT step at least was easy). Then kick that same leg in the opposite direction, and pass to that side. DO NOT LET GO OF THE PANTS during any of these passes, until you are well past and the position is secure- otherwise s/he will just roll away from you.

Lots of drill reps, interspersed with about a zillion more periods of takedown sparring, and some random positional sparring. All the takedown fighting, combined with the repetitive get-up-get-down of the half guard pulls, and all the get-up-get-down of those spider guard passes, had me reeling with exhaustion. I made a very poor account of myself against Emma, which was kind of embarrassing. I really notice how tired I get when we do drills that involve a lot of having to stand back up over and over, as opposed to drills where you just stay on the ground and roll/wiggle back into place after each rep.

I had wanted to get at least one roll with Georgette, but she had to go (which was probably just as well, since I’m not sure I had the energy left to fight off a newborn kitten at that juncture). I sat a while (mainly because I was wishing someone would come along to carry me out to the car), then noticed Lindsey sitting on the mat with his back to me. So of course I had to take it.

He stuck his head right up into my favorite gi choke, but I still couldn’t finish it on him. He explained that if I can crawl my guard up a little higher on his back and/or teepee my feet up a bit, I might be able to get that little bit extra enough to finish.

It was amusing to have both Chrisanne and Georgette come up to me separately afterward and say of one another, “She’s tough!”

I am considering calling out Anica for the next Revolution- not because I’m ready to compete again or because I think I can beat her, but because having a comp on my schedule seems to be the only way I can reliably discipline myself to get my weight back down to normal. If Georgette competed, we could have a three-woman purple belt bracket between 120 and 140.

This got me thinking again about my defeatism problems and my utter lack of making any progress on them. I don’t know what to do. I’m considering pinging Side Control (Dave) on FB and see if he has any advice. I don’t really have any reason to think he has the answers to this issue, but I’m just not feeling comfortable discussing this with any of the other black belts right now for some reason. I can’t really imagine any of them dealing with persistent and serious defeatist mindsets. Dave is at least near my age and he says he has a cruddy comp record at black, so maybe he would at least be able to relate a little easier than some of these BJJ machines.

I love getting my tail kicked by Chrisanne.

bjj105

At (long) range, you are taking fire. You may not know from where in that first instant. Hit or not, you have to MOVE. You were ambushed in this precise spot because it is the best place to kill you. You MUST get out of that spot (or “Off the X” as we say). –Rory Miller

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue. I was standing on the wall minding my own damn business waiting for class to start, and Casey comes over and grabs me and tries to hurl me to the ground. We end up thrashing around like a couple of weasels while the entire rest of the class stands there in line and watches, making comments about the “mutter…mutter… purple belts….”

Standing: ankle pick as yesterday. I’m noticing that with your lapel grip, you can shove the opponent to either side to finish the takedown. Pushing often works better (and is less work) than pulling.

Bullfight pass to KOB

Failed bullfight pass to underhook both of hir thighs, stack, and pass. I don’t try to set this up often- I feel vulnerable sticking both arms under like that- but I love the way the pass itself feels; I like to grab the tag of the opponent’s pants and stack the crapola out of hir and then squish down on top of hir thigh until s/he’s begging to let me pass. At the same time, you can grind into the throat and/or twist the head away by levering on the jaw with the other forearm. It’s lovely.

Positional sparring from spider guard, varying goals. My suckage at passing spider guard is trumped only by my suckage at trying to sweep from spider guard. But I can hang out *IN* spider guard effortlessly defending the pass until the second coming of Christ.

Some epic sparring with Chrisanne. We started from standing multiple times. She got a couple of really sweet takedowns, and some lovely technical taps. Nice and tight. She is almost never on the bottom any more, and she is always attacking instead of waiting to react to what I do. When we scramble, she gets on top first. Her game has changed 180 from eight months ago. I love it when Chrisanne is kicking my tail. It makes me feel so proud. I am getting to the point of going close to full bore on her, too.

Del a Riva and reverse Del a Riva

bjj432

It’s easy to say, reading this in a safe and cozy environment, what you would do. But that’s only what you THINK you would do. It’s like yelling at the TV screen at the quarterback what he should have done on the last play. You didn’t see what he saw, feel the pressure he felt. You’re simply judging it from a technical standpoint, minus the impact of how emotion affects judgment and performance. You can’t know what it feels like until you’ve lived it. –Campfire Tales From Hell

Thursday lunchtime in Bellevue.

Ankle pick. We were picking the opposite ankle, which was a little odd, and made me have to concentrate really really hard to remember which knee to drop onto. Note that an ankle pick means pick the ANKLE- not the shin, not the knee. Also note that you can’t just pick it up without knowing (in advance- don’t try to wing it) where you are going to take it and how you are going to avoid fouling up your own legs. Once you have all of THAT straightened out, you can start worrying about yanking the lapel to tip hir.

Standing pass of del a Riva guard. Jerk violently upright to dislodge the foot, shove your pantleg holds to the floor (DON’T LET GO OF THE PANTS), pass to the side and take KOB. Carlos continues to remind me that in the end, every technique is ideally ONE step. I get wrapped up in cataloging and counting out my steps. In particular, I tend to execute standing passes with several shuffling steps to the side (which Carlos sometimes mimes me doing; it looks hilarious with his telephone-pole-length legs). Just step once and drop.

Standing pass of an inside del a Riva guard. I am unfamiliar with inside del a Riva, so that was interesting just trying to get into the drill position. Kind of the same technique, only we ended in side control instead of KOB.

Many drills of these, then positional sparring from these positions (varying goals… sometimes pass vs resist, sometimes sweep vs resist, sometimes pass vs sweep, sometimes free-for-all).

At the end, he did one of my LEAST favorite things…. more drills and positional sparring interspersed with cardio (pushups, sprawls, burpees (which Chrisanne always calls “barfees”)). Chrisanne was tired as hell but kept fighting gamely through the positional sparring with a little encouragement.

One roll with Jason. He crucifixed me, which was impressive. He is one of the few people who makes it really difficult for me to pass top half guard… he stretches my leg out in lockdown. He also keeps putting his arm up by his head. I trapped him in a head-and-arm a few times, but was having a bitch of a time trying to free my leg enough to finish it (he kept doing lockdown and pulling me down just far enough that I couldn’t get quite high enough to finish the choke).

Friday evening

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(Defensive display) is almost always a stupid choice and a sign of a pure amateur. –Rory Miller

Friday evening at Bellevue.

Unfortunately Linday was ill and could not join us tonight.

Also unfortunately, someone brought in a bucket of Halloween candy.

You have opponent in your guard, grips on hir sleeve cuffs, feet on hir hips, knees in. S/he puts one knee up on the inside.

You take the leg on the OPPOSITE side as the one s/he put up, and swing it over the arms and hook the toe under hir thigh.

Use your grounded foot to scootch body out sideways, yank hir arm across your body. Now you can dump hir and get on top.

If s/he tries to stand up and post with the other foot- go to armbar. Note that this is why you needed to take care to pull that arm across your body in the previous step. If you got sloppy with that, you will not have this option. Note also that finishing this armbar involves bracing the bent knee firmly against opponent’s torso.

If s/he pulls the elbow down far enough to kill the armbar, underhook hir leg and straighten your legs to Dump hir. Get on top.

Sparring with Chrisanne, starting from the position described at the beginning of technique 1.

More sparring- a white belt and a blue belt that I don’t know, then Christy and Casey. I was able to handle the two lower belts fine. Being aware that life underneath Christy is unpleasant, I stayed on top. I was able to hang out on top and threaten various chokes for the entire roll. Got two of them (including a head-and-arm, which I was delighted with, as I enjoy these and am not yet as proficient with them as I would like).

Casey of course is more of a challenge- although when we began, he claimed to be too exhausted to tie his belt, which boded well for me.