Open mat, in which I am pulverized by Seth.


Players tend to get attached to fancy techniques and fail to recognize that subtle internalization and refinement is much more important than the quantity of what is learned…. Depth beats breadth any day of the week, because it opens a channel for the intangible, unconscious, creative components of our hidden potential. – Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

Open mat at Bellevue.

I was hoping to get a chance to roll with Georgette, and also some other people, preferrably with some no-gi as well. Unfortunately, I could not get my ass in gear. I am so tired of being so tired all the time. I don’t know what it feels like to not be tired. I think it’s getting worse. I really need to go cold turkey off the caffeine for a couple of weeks and see if it feels the same, and if so, it’s probably time to go to the doctor. I am not eager to go to the doctor, and even less eager to give up my Dr. Pepper. But it’s getting bad. It’s approaching the point where I am going to HAVE to do something.

Anyway… I got there really late (but at least I got there! Go me!), and I spent a full hour rolling with Seth, which was well worth the trip. Damn, he is good. He ran a clinic on me.

Some old guy already taught me that one.


Ultimately your mind and intellect are what save you, your body is the tool they use. So keep the tool in good working order, but tune up the engine. Campfire Tales From Hell

Friday BJJ in Bellevue.

Bullfight passing of spider guard. After bringing foe’s feet together and planting them on the mat, grab hir right wrist with your left hand (the WRIST, not the gi sleeve). Keep the pants cuff on the other side. Step beside hir right hip with your near foot and give a good ceilingward yank at both wrist and pants cuff before moving to KOB. You may then be able to transition to an armbar- but make sure you FIRST trap the arm firmly between your knees and THEN clear opponent’s grip on your sleeve cuff before re-grabbing the wrist and applying the armbar (one foot over hir neck and the other knee folded with your toe under hir ribs). Unsurprisingly, my biggest problem proved to be remembering to grab the leg (ideally both legs, although with my stubby arms I’m not going to count on that) before dropping back into the armbar. Also, as soon as I tried to speed up, I started getting sloppy about clearing the sleeve grip. I asked why it was necessary to clear the sleeve grip at all… it seemed to me that clearing it is just an invitation for the opponent to try to yank hir arm down in an attempt to get out of the armbar. Carlos explained that it may be difficult to maneuver the hand into position at the apex of the armbar if s/he still has your sleeve. (I think you could probably muscle that…. if you’ve got them well and truly trapped in the armbar, that cuff grip is not going to save them except in cases of extreme muscle disparity… but even in a comp I would prefer to not muscle that.)

Opponent bearhugs you from behind. Lower stance, bring your hands up to your chest to free forearms, and cover hir hands on your chest with your own hands. Step slightly to the right and stick your left foot behind hir feet. Kneel on right knee and plant right shoulder on the mat, making sure to drive downward forcefully enough and hold tight enough that opponent can’t free hir hands before getting tossed over your shoulder. Go with the roll and end in a T shape with your shoulder blades on opponent’s chest. Keep butt off the mat and apply as much weight as possible as you roll toward hir feet and move to side control, then KOB.

I have done both of these before, and felt comfortable enough to go decently fast *and* work them both sides. Armbar portion turned out to be much tighter on the Stupid Side, although my brain was very slow to grasp the guard pass from the Stupid Side.

A little KOTH, open guard pass vs defend the pass, me down in open guard the entire time. Lots of white belts- so I spent some time explaining what a guard pass is, some time telling a small woman to try to experiment with different positions and movements instead of trying to simply muscle out of spider guard, and some time getting Captain Cavemanned by muscley spazzy male white belts.

A roll with 2 white belts and one with Doug.

First white belt was strong and spazzy, so I was mostly just trying to control him. Let him have an upa, since he performed it correctly.

Hip-threw and then subbed the second white belt several times, explained about turning and shrimping out from under KOB, and explained about keeping the chin to the chest while I was groping for chokes.

I have rolled with Doug enough that I am recognizing a lot of his sneaky little traps and refusing to fall into them. (freezing in the middle of a guard pass that I know is going to result in a sweep) “Gee, I think I’ll slide right into side control LIKE AN IDIOT. Some old guy taught me that one. You’re going to need to come up with some new tricks, Doug.” He also let me get that same one on HIM… I was excited that I 1)remembered it, and 2)was able to make it work, as it’s kind of complicated and not at all intuitive.

I am an out-of-control kneebar ninja. (not)


The next phase of my martial growth would involve turning the large into the small. My understanding of this process is to touch the essence (for example, highly refined and deeply internalized body mechanics or FEELING) of a technique, and then to incrementally condense the external manifestation of the technique while keeping true to its essence. Over time, expansiveness decreases while potency increases. I call this method “Making smaller circles”. – Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

Wednesday- an hour of walking.

Thursday BJJ in Bellevue. 5 minute flow rolls, rotating partners- then 5 minute spars, rotating partners.

I started off with Nelson and got so excited that I forgot we were supposed to be flow rolling, so I bow-and-arrow choked the poor guy instantly.

I got reprimanded for setting up kneebars. This frustrates me. I do not know how to do any attacks below the waist. I am certainly not going to finish them… much less slam them…. and especially not during flow rolling. But it’s a huge hole in my game and I feel better about myself if I at least try to set one up once in a while. Carlos gets way too excited when he sees me doing this. It offends me that he seems to think he actually has to worry about me injuring someone with a kneebar. I am very careful and controlled, and very conscientious about the safety of my partners. Seriously, I could roll with raw eggs duct taped all over my gi *and* my partner’s gi, and not break any. It distresses me that he thinks I’m an unsafe partner. Meanwhile everybody else is telling me that I’m way too gentle and passive. I remembered too late that Carlos is scheduled for surgery because his knee is all messed up. He was actually on crutches last week. So this is probably not the best time to be pushing my luck in his presence with kneebars.

I had to roll with him next, and I was expecting him to kneebar-slam me all over the place to teach me a lesson…. but he just commented that I should try sweeps more, especially while flow rolling. I was being really careful to stay off his bad knee. It’s so hard to remember when certain people are injured, because they WON’T STAY OFF THE MAT. But I guess I’m enough of a pot that I probably shouldn’t be calling out kettles on that score.

Around the world


If you think about it, we receive, evaluate and act on vibes every day- and we, as a species, are quite effective at it. Applying this to self-defense is not a new skill, it is applying a skill you already have in a new manner. Campfire Tales From Hell

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

Tripod sweep. Note that Doug wants me to let go of the lapel and grab the sleeve cuff (on the same side as I have the elbow) BEFORE sitting.

“Around the world” drills- ie, side control, scarf, north south, scarf, side control….. is there a name for when you sit on your hip preparing to front mount??…… front mount, nameless again, side control.

I had a brand spanking new white belt with almost no English tonight, so that was interesting. I had to walk him through everything in excruciating detail, and mostly in pantomime. As least he didn’t seem really weirded out by working with a girl. Sometimes some of the new foreign-born students are. This one only seemed the normal “novice grappler” amount of weirded out by things like north-south and putting a lot of weight on the opponent in side control.

20-minute roll with Doug. I seem to have acquitted myself ok, but I felt dissatisfied by how conservative and clingy I was playing. It seems that particularly with the black belts, I fail to flow- partly because I feel anxious that if I try to go faster, I’m going to do moronic stuff. Doug has been working with me long enough that he’s not going to think I’m an idiot for doing a few dumb moves. I should let myself relax and experiment more with him. He’s safe to do it with.

After an unfortunate potato chip encounter at work last week, I’ve restrained my eating in the last few days and dropped a couple of pounds. Bought 3 cartons of eggs today. Unfortunately, a Facebook friend posted a graphic photo of an egg she’d cracked open which was awfully chicken-fetus-y. I find eggs pretty gross anyway- I try to not think about it- but that did not help. When I was about 7, I found an eye in the yolk of a hard-boiled Easter egg. It scarred me for life. I still look at eggs askance, and to this day I won’t eat hard-boiled yolks. But when you’re an athlete, you just sort of HAVE to do eggs.

Passing half guard


We live in an attention-deficit culture. We are bombarded with more and more information… the constant supply of stimulus has the potential to turn us into addicts, always hungering for something new and prefabricated to keep us entertained. When nothing exciting is going on, we might get bored, distracted, separated from the moment. So we look for new entertainment…If caught in these rhythms, we are like current-bound surface fish, floating along a two-dimensional world without any sense for the gorgeous abyss below. – Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

Thursday evening no gi in Bellevue.

Pummelling, double-leg setups, sprawls.

You are in top half guard. Press opponent’s hip (and thus back) to the mat. Hop your butt to the other side of hir and kimura hir topmost arm as s/he tries to turn in to you. Keeping the kimura, slide over hir chest on your hip, using your free foot to pry off the half guard as you go. As you land at hir shoulder, s/he will try to get on top. You can either armbar or grab the back from here.

Positional training from half guard with rotating partners.

One roll with Chrisanne and one with An. I am currently trying to be better about staying longer to roll after class. If I feel really really tired and/or hot, I am going to try to make myself wait a while to see if I can get a second wind.

I am really noticing Chrisanne getting stronger and harder since she’s been doing Monkey Bar Gym. I think she is stronger than me at this point.

Drilling with hormones


After making an error, it is so easy to cling to the emotional comfort state of what was, but there is also that unsettling sense that things have changed for the worse. The clear thinker is suddenly at war with himself, and flow is lost. – Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

Hormones were not my friend tonight. Come to think of it, hormones do not ever tend to be my friend. It felt like my boobs weighed about 35lb apiece and were swollen to about 8x their normal infuriatingly enormous size. It hurt to walk, much less run, and jumping jacks…. lord. (Sorry, male readers, for the TMI…. but we’re all friends here….and you should call your dad tonight and thank him for the Y chromosome.)

Carlos sprang a Drill-Till-Ya-Puke night on us tonight. Standing guard passes to KOB, kimuras from closed guard, open and pass closed guard by pressing one knee down and go to side control, sprawl on turtle and then spin to the side… a few others… many sets of reps interspersed with pushups (the kind where you have to balance on one hand and high-five your partner after each rep). Peter and I cheerleadered one another on, and he did really, really well- pushed himself very hard even though he was about to keel over.

When we were almost dead, Carlos had us all pair up again and spread out in sparring formation as he set a timer- then he said, “partner stretches.” and we all moaned in relief.

Finished with a roll with Christy- I made her start in standup, and we stood up a few times again during the fight. She tapped me a handful of times, I did not get any on her. Her sweeps are very good. As this is my worst weakness, I am always admiring when people have masterful sweep skills.

no-gi butterfly sweeps


If we can switch the odds in our favor by changing our appearance or demeanor instead of fighting, it increases our survival. And this is all about survival. Campfire Tales From Hell

Thursday evening no-gi in Bellevue. Chrisanne was not there, and there were enough big white belts that I took the cautionary step of asking Sean to drill with me.

Pummelling, double-leg setups, failed double-leg to backtake, mutual neck-and-bicep grips to backtake (Sean suggests that I pull down on the neck, which I had not been doing, and yeah- that works better).

Same kimura from guard that we did last week. I was very very glad that I had asked Sean to work with me. I need a big white belt yanking on my rotator cuff like I need…. well, a torn rotator cuff.

Butterfly sweep.

Then, butterfly sweep that fails due to opponent sticking hir leg out. Underhook the thigh, hook your toe around hir far ankle, and sweep the opposite way. This was working fine for me, but for some reason Sean was struggling with it. I was sure that the issue was that he wasn’t getting deep enough underneath- I could feel my center of gravity lower than his, and when I was doing the technique, I didn’t even try to push him over until I had wiggled UNDER his COG. Then Carlos came over to troubleshoot and had us do something COMPLETELY different- which involved pincering the opponent’s leg between yours, stretching hir out, then rolling. I didn’t think that was going to work with my short legs, but surprisingly it did (of course, Sean’s legs aren’t the longest in the room…)

Several short rounds of positional sparring, mostly from butterfly guard, rotating partners: sweep vs defend, sweep vs pass, pass vs open guard only, a few others. There was **NO** dry area anywhere on the mat, and it was like a greased pig contest. I was not doing too great…. but I was very impressed with how good Amy is getting.

Was happy that I had both the balance and the upper-body strength to hoist myself up on top of the highest section of the retaining wall so that I could cut some blackberry brambles. I’m figuring that someday I will no longer be able to do stuff like this. Today is not that day.

Why are white belts so self-conscious about sucking?


In any incident, your first line of defense is your observation skills and instinctual feeling or intuition. Do not discount how important these are to your life, whether in fighting or getting along at work. Campfire Tales From Hell

Friday evening in Bellevue. I skipped Thurs because my tattoo is still stinging. I skipped tonight’s sparring for the same reason. I really wanted to get on the mat, but after the techniques and drills, the left half of my back felt like I was being roasted over a slow fire. It didn’t help when Chrisanne gave me a comradely slap on the back RIGHT on the most sore spot. I whimpered, and Carlos happened to be standing right there to see it. 😛

Warmup roll with Casey.

While we were doing that, a white belt who was jus finishing up the Monkey Bar Gym session was dithering about staying for the BJJ. We encouraged her, but she was like, “I suck, I really suck BAD…” Why do white belts get so self-conscious about sucking? Of course you suck! You’re a white belt! I informed her that we all suck; if we didn’t, there would be no reason to be here because we would already know everything.

As we were running warmup laps, I was following Casey and Casey was following Lance, who is quite a bit bigger than both me and Casey put together. Casey commented wryly, “I feel like I’m chasing a bear!” and I simply could not stop laughing for a really long time.

Pummelling (ow)

Butterfly guard sweep (ow)

Carlos wants me to crawl up higher in front mount and pinch my knees together. Chrisanne moaned when I pinched my knees together on her ribs, so I guess that’s good advice.

Note that if you do not want to front mount your foe after butterfly sweeping hir, you can keep hold of the near arm, do a low-to-the-mat technical lift type maneuver to get yourself belly-down, and end in side control with that arm trapped straight out down your linea alba. Nice position to get a little Shoulder Of Justice in while you’re there.

Opponent defends butterfly sweep by bringing hir arm to the inside and pushing against your chest. Grab that arm by the wrist, yank it down to your belly button, and sweep hir the OTHER way. Note that for me, this does not work at ALL on the stupid side. Way too weak and unbalanced-feeling.

Kimura from guard. Make sure to get leg high up in opponent’s armpit (this is a chronic problem for me in this technique as well as a few similar ones) and close the guard. Carlos adjusted Chrisanne’s knees in a way that made me groan “Ohgod, that sucks.” and they both started cracking up. Carlos: “I love to hear that.” Chrisanne says, “Good, then I will keep doing it like that!” Carlos reprimaded me for doing a hip escape. Just stay where you are and be forceful with that leg. If you are assertive, the Bad Guy does a face plant on the mat. Carlos points out that for best results, you want a push-pull action- namely, keep hir arm straight and push it up as you force hir shoulder down.