I take out another one.

bjj7000

 

As we write, each of us has to believe our books are worth a tree. Or worthy of that tree.  -Jane Yolen
Friday evening “women’s class” in Bellevue. Rolled with Doug a bit to warm up- always an honor.

Self defense- you on your back, attacker standing at your feet. Use right foot to kick hir left thigh to make hir step back with that foot. Then another kick, higher, followed by a technical life. I can’t specify which foot does the second kick, nor which butt cheek you have to be on when you begin the technical lift, nor which sole is planted on the floor for that, because I just could not compute. I had one of those left-vs-right brain spasms… which I can often correct after a few reps via a verbal script of “Right foot kick, left sole floor, hips right, right foot kick…” or whatever. Sometimes it just will not come- and the longer it will not come, the more frustrated I get, and frustration introduces enough white noise into my brain to ensure that I will *NEVER* get it.

I am convinced that I have some kind of bona fide proprioception disability- which fortunately appears to be isolated to a fairly narrow problem area- yet I wish I could tell Carlos (and my former kung fu teacher) that I have a BRAIN TUMOR or something; I really am not this STUPID, truly. But trying to explain proprioception to someone who could barely speak English four years ago is futile when most native English speakers can’t define the term. It makes me crazy when he hovers over me and tries to correct my errors while I’m having one of these fugues, but even worse is when he gets frustrated and walks off. Few things make me feel as lowly as feeling that I have disappointed my teachers.

Closed guard pass- stand up and grip pantleg down to shuck the leg- I have done this enough by now that the correct sleeve cuff control and the grip change upon standing feel mostly natural.

A little positional training, hold closed guard vs pass, rotating partners.

My final opponent was a teenager in whose closed guard I stood up and proceeded to do the Move Of The Day. As I pushed her leg down, her face contorted into a rictus of pain. “Are you all right????!!!? Are you all right???!!” She didn’t answer, just kept writhing and grimacing. I was freaking out- I hadn’t been rough or anything, but after concussing Crisanne last week (yes, I did actually give her a concussion *and* whiplash, she had to go to the doctor!), I immediately assumed that somehow I had broken the girl’s knee. And here comes Carlos….. is he going to toss me out of this school for injuring everyone????!?

Finally she started rolling up her pantleg. I waited to see the bloody broken shafts of bone poking through the mangled shin of her knee. And saw…. a big scab. Which apparently I had grabbed when I grabbed her pantleg.

I was relieved, but I also kind of wanted to smack her for 1)not telling me that she had a giant scab on her left knee so that I could avoid it, 2)failing to verbally reassure me quicker that she was not in fact dying, and 3)scaring the shit out of me.

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The head- a vulnerable design flaw

bjj3858

 

Curious friend: “What is guard, what does that mean?”
Me: “It means I can kick your ass while I’m sitting on mine.”   -Ginger Snaps
Thursday evening no-gi in Bellevue.

Carlos still called us “girls” a couple of times, but I think he was making a conscious effort and trying not to.  😉

I stupidly tried to put in my contacts in the car with too little light, and ended up losing one. It felt like it was still folded up in there, but I could not find the damn thing. I had to call Amy (she’s a nurse when she’s not kicking ass in the cage) off the mat to poke around in my eye, but she couldn’t find it either. I had to work blind. I still don’t know what happened to it. Eye is all swollen up…. hope I won’t have to go to the Urgent Care for this. At least I was able to do the class and then drive myself home.

Driving drills- pummelling, shoulder throws, armbars from mount, standing rear naked choke defense to takedown with shoulder lock to KOB. Drilling with Amy, you know you are going to work hard.

The shoulder throw ends with the thrower on both knees… I always want to cheat this because my knees hurt. Really need to get way UNDER opponent, and snug hir armpit right into you hard, then sort of meld into one with hir as you bow to the mat. Then you have to unmeld in time to not go over with hir, but  move to KOB.

Carlos yelled at me for trying to cheerlead a white belt through her last set of armbars. Usually this is a thing he encourages, so I was confused and hurt. Two minutes later, he was sitting in a corner with his shirt pulled over his head. Turns out he had a massive migrane. I’m choosing to believe it was this that caused him to snap at me, and not that he hates me.

Four years ago- or even two years ago- this small event would have sent me into an epic spiral of self-hate and doubt and flagellation….. “Carlos yelled at me… he hates me….I can’t face him again….. I suck….did I really do something wrong? It’s probably because of that exchange we had last week about “girls” vs “women”…. that’s why he hates me…. was I out of line with that? I suck….. Was I rude and inappropriate to that white belt? Did I make her feel uncomfortable? Did I look like an ass in front of the whole class? Everybody hates me….. I hate myself….. I suck….. I can never face any of these people again…..” Yeah, stupid, I know. And yet. Welcome to the world of anxiety disorders.  I don’t know if it’s being on meds, or feeling more comfortable with Carlos after five years, or just maturity- but I didn’t spiral too badly this time. I spiraled some. But not with the usual severity.  And I made a point of facing him on Friday and asking if his head felt better, instead of slinking away because I was sure he hated me.

Friday women’s class: Same shoulder throw we did yesterday; another standing rear naked choke defense ending in a reap instead of the shoulder lock and pulling-to-floor; and the donkey-kick standing guard pass to KOB. I have done this donkey-kick thing enough now to know where my trouble issues are. It really needs to happen in 3 steps, not twenty because I am shuffling my feet around trying to get them in the correct position for the KOB. Getting it down to 3 steps requires beginning with the outside foot planted WAY out, not beside opponent’s body, it requires actually USING the push-and-bounceback of the shin on the opponent’s thigh instead of just going through the motions, and it requires HOPPING that outside foot in and donkeying the other leg back IN THE SAME MOTION. Once I get really focused, I can do it, but the stupid side is very stupid. The hunching over is also tough on my back.

On the last round of reap drill reps, Chrisanne’s breakfall was less than optimal, and she got her chimes rung pretty bad. I felt terrible. I have quit treating her like an egg and usually go about 85% on her, but I may need to backpedal and be a little more gentle. Of course, she tried to get right up and continue, but Carlos and Doug and I told her in no uncertain terms that she needed to just lie there for a minute. They put me with Christy, who is training for Pans, and churning out guard pass reps like a damn machine. I was in awe, and said so. Her throws are also painful. I didn’t take any bad falls like Chrisanne did, but drilling two complete throws in one class to the extent that we did was a bit much. Just a lot of constant brain jarring. My head ached all night and still aches this morning. I had to take an ibuprofen, which I almost never do. I pinged Chrisanne to make sure she was alive, and she is. After she had refused my offer of a ride home,  I had quizzed her on concussion symptoms, and made her promise that if she had any, she would ask her son’s girlfriend to drive her to the Urgent Care. I know this isn’t really my fault (or at least MOSTLY not my fault), but I still feel awful. Chrisanne had a terrible week at work, and I put the cherry on top by almost giving her a concussion. (And not that this is important- weighted beside giving Chrisanne a concussion- but it did cross my mind that this incident is not going to do anything good for Carlos’ apparent view of me as a reckless, dangerous Godzilla on the mat.)

My head ached too much to consider the all-levels class that came after this one- even if I’d had the energy, which I don’t think I did.

“Don’t tell the ESL guy that!”

BJJ86

 

Everybody has a plan until they get hit in the face.” –Mike Tyson
Friday evening women’s class in Bellevue.  It’s a little awkward to have this new women’s class right before Friday night class, as I love Friday night class and it’s going to be nearly impossible to do both back to back. I just don’t have the stamina/cardio unless I phone one of them in, and I can’t do that because it’s cheating may partner. Unless maybe I have a really really REALLY new white belt for the first class.

Tonight that was NOT happening. We had an odd number of people, and so I drew Professor Doug. So much for phoning it in! I was like, “Okay, shoulder to the boulder now,”  He did a few reps but let me have most of the drilling, and we were moving at a fairly good clip. I was quite exhausted by the end.

Standup- choke from behind. Pull down on forearm and get chin down. step to the side while shoving elbow up. Shuck the elbow over your head and secure opponent’s arm in a figure 4 (snug up really close or s/hell wiggle out). This was difficult for me on the stupid side.
Knee to face, then take down and armbar.

Pull guard from standing, then situp sweep. By the end-of-class drill reps, my abs were howling for mercy and I had to reprimand Doug twice for rolling over for me instead of MAKING me do the technique correctly, even when I was struggling.

Standup, judo grips. Yank foe toward you with the lapel grip and try to reap the leg. Bad guy steps out. Pick the other leg. At first I was anxious about getting kneed in the face while leaning over to pick that second leg, but Doug proved that *if* you get the person off balance enough first, they are too busy trying to stand on that leg to be able to life it up and knee your face.

A little QOTH (Queen Of the Hill), pass guard vs sweep.

Prof. Carlos started out by calling us “women” but then switched to “girls” on Doug’s advice. (sigh)

Me: Don’t tell the ESL guy that!
Doug: (puzzled expression)
Me: Tell him to call us women! Anybody over 12 should be “woman” not “girl”.
Doug: (pointing at the single pubescent girl in the group) What about her?
Me: Since she’s in a group of adult women, just include her in “women”, don’t single her out and make her feel weird.

In the locker room after, one of the white belt WOMEN was talking about how I had instructed her to relax and breathe during the QOTH, and another one exclaimed, “Oh yeah, you told me that same thing two weeks ago!!” Then another one started talking about how she was afraid to spar because she felt like she did not know what she was doing, and the whole roomful looked at me like I knew something, LOL.

I told them that I had gone a really really long time just drilling before trying to spar, because I felt the same way, and it was okay. That they just needed to work with the right people, and I could point out which men were careful and helpful. “NO WHITE BELT MEN.”
Me: (In private message):
Doug was teasing you, Professor! You should call your women’s class “women” and not “girls”!
If it is an informal situation or people you know well, it doesn’t matter as much. If you are talking to me and Chrisanne in the lobby and you call us “girls”, we won’t be mad. But on the mat where we try to be a little more formal, and with new students you don’t know well enough yet to consider them friends, it’s polite to call any female over 12 “women” and not girls. Sometimes calling them girls makes it sound bad, like calling a class of men “little boys”.

“How do I stop you???!!??”

bjj68

 

 

I write for love, but love doesn’t pay the bills. -Stephen King

Thursday evening BJJ in KIRKLAND. It was nice to see Dave again.

I haven’t been here in a while and it was weird to walk in and have all these white belts (and a couple of  early blues) staring at me.

I know that we learn best when we are getting our tails kicked by better MA’ists, and I am constantly conscious of how very fortunate I am to have so many excellent people to kick my tail for me. It’s a very different experience to have a roomful of whites and baby blues that you’ve never laid eyes on before, and wondering, “Okay, how is this going to go? Are they going to try to prove something on me? Am I going to find myself in WW3 in here tonight? And if I do, can I keep it together?”

Standup: straightarm push to opponent’s right shoulder while snatching left shin (that’s SHIN, not thigh or knee). Lift and dump.

Triangles from guard. I just don’t use these, and while I’m excellent (in drilling) on one side, the other side is just not happening. OF COURSE, OF COURSE OF COURSE Prof Casey (whom I barely know and I doubt knows my name at all) walks over to look JUST AS I try it on the stupid side and make an idiot of myself. WHYWHYWHYWHYWHY????!!!???!!! Now I have made a stellar first impression on him as a purple belt who cannot execute a simple triangle in drill.

Cross chokes from guard, gripping the wad of gi at the back of the shoulder. My favorite.

Spars with a white belt guy and a blue belt girl. Was able to handle them both easily, although Blue made me work- she has lots of energy, flexibility, strength, and is in good shape. She kept beginning by pulling me into her guard, so after two or three of those, I made a point of pulling HER into MY guard instead. She seemed deficient on front mount escapes, so I showed her my favorite no-fail one and then skated around mounting her repeatedly and making her do it till she almost died of exhaustion.  Had one embarrassing moment where I KOB’ed her and she rolled the “wrong” way to escape. I was so surprised, and my balance was a little off, so she got me fair and square. It was a good reminder. Gracie Barra tends to be pretty formulatic, and I have really gotten used to “If I do A, he’s going to do B.” The only exceptions to that are the white and black belts, and I rarely work with white belts. When I do A and they do P instead, I need to not get caught flat footed. This is important as a defense-oriented MA’ist. I have to remember that if I get into a defensive situation, it is likely that the other guy will NOT be a trained grappler, and when I do A, I need to be ready for him to do P and R and UDK and aardvark and 74 instead of B.

Me: (setting up a keylock) “Don’t let me do THIS again,”
Blue: (wailing) “HOW DO I STOP YOU??!?”

The white belt was newer. On him, I did my standard “This is KOB. I get points for this, so as soon as I do it to you, you need to turn toward me and shrimp out before I count to 3.” And then skated around KOB’ing him repeatedly and making him do it till he almost died of exhaustion.

Both of them thanked me sincerely after, and said that they had learned a lot. I love that.

Besides making a point of teaching/drilling one thing (him, KOB escape; her, front mount escape) hard- which I make a point of telling them that I want them to retain and do to me next time- I feel that it’s educational for the lower belts for me to tire them out to the point that they are reeling when we are done, and I’m not breathing hard. Of course probably THE most important thing they need to learn is “relax and breathe”, and this is a good demo of what they are shooting for.

This did, however, leave me mulling a dilemma as I left. Is it helpful or not- on a purely selfish level- to make a point of going to Kirkland regularly so that I can work with lower-ranked people for a change?

Of course you learn things by teaching. And it’s a thrill to have your techniques actually WORK for a change instead of getting shut down every time even if you’re doing it right, just because the other person is six skill levels above you. But I wonder if my behemoth challenges- confidence and self esteem- would be boosted by doing this regularly, or would it be just a sop to my ego? I would love to find things that would genuinely boost my confidence and self-esteem, but I do not have time and energy to watse on band-aid ego sops.

I wonder if it would be helpful to come here to work on my weak bottom and sweep game with the white belts.

Maybe I should have been offended instead of relieved?

 bjj01020110

 

My crystal ball has never been very good. I’ve noticed that bad things generally happen to me when I’m not expecting it rather than when I am expecting it. For example, I’ve never been in a _planned_ car accident. I’ve never had a flat tire I was expecting to get. And the day my middle son was struck by lightning, we sure weren’t expecting that to happen!
 That’s why my default setting is to carry the gun, even at times and in places where I “feel safe.”
-Kathy Jackson, Cornered Cat

Thursday no-gi and Friday evening gi in Bellevue.

More double-leg setups from standing.

Double-leg attempt to be met with sprawl.

Opponent bearhugs you from behind. You drop down to clear the forearms, lift them in front of your chest, turn body to the side, and step one foot behind opponent’s foot. Takedown. If they defend, we lifted them off the ground and sort of contact-improv’ed them across our lower backs to drop them on the other side. I’ve never done anything like that in BJJ. It was unexpected to be picked up like that. It’s something I don’t usually think to do to an opponent (in BJJ). Judging by everyone else’s response to the concept, it might be worth experimenting with live. Particularly as I have lately had the recurring thought that I ought to be working harder to formulate my nonexistant bottom game and should stop always leaping for the top.

Opponent is turtled. You do a “sash grip” over one shoulder and under the other. Switch legs and stick your far knee under hir belly, pull hir into back mount. At this point it was essential to be sure you had a grip with your fingertips digging into the palm of your opposite cupped hand. I do not like this grip and had to readjust it every rep. It was also essential that the arm OVER opponent’s shoulder had the palm toward the ceiling (another thing I had to pause and check, and usually adjust). After getting your back mount points, move into S mount. Scoot the front leg way up on hir chest and sit down, bringing other leg around and over hir floorward shoulder. Now, if you dig your forearm bone into the side of hir neck (this is why the palm of this arm had to be facing up) and pinch your knees together, it was a nasty choke. Usable in no-gi. If you do it wrong it becomes a crank, so be careful. I like S mount, and I found that my usual positioning needed a very conscious adjust to move that front leg from belly to chest. If it wasn’t far up enough on the chest, the move did not work. If everything was positioned correctly, we didn’t even have to lean back or knee-squeeze, it already hurt bad enough to tap.

Spider guard sweeps- pull opponent’s arm across your chest before sweeping. Neglecting to control the arm and neglecting to be aggressive enough about breaking down the opponent’s posture are two persistant problems with my sweep game. I got WAAAAAAAAAAAY under my partner and manhandled her balance around.

Same entry, only instead of sweeping, place foot on opponent’s shoulder blade and use a turned-in knee to elbow-lock. This was beautifully nasty- I love it. It is very Cindy-esque. Ha ha. I can’t wait to try this on someone live. Preferrably Chrisanne, who missed this class. (Insert evil chuckle)

King of the hill- back mount vs escaping back mount. I am fairly good at escaping back mount, but I am hopeless as a backpack- and since that’s where I was for this entire cycle, things did not go very well for me.

Carlos cautioned me TWICE this week for what he saw as me doing a technique too fast/rough- in both cases, I had my usual perfect exquisite control and there was absolutely no danger. This frustrates and offends me. I accidentally made Kelly yelp *ONCE* about three years ago (on a technique that I had done to numerous kung fu classmates about 3x as hard and they didn’t react), and I think that one unfortunate occurance has really stuck in Carlos’s mind and he has me irrevocably pegged as someone dangerously careless. I’m about the most careful and controlled MA’ist on the WHOLE PLANET, so it winds me up when he does this. (Maybe THAT is why he didn’t put me with his girlfriend! He put her with a WHITE BELT! Hmmm, maybe I should be offended!)