Breaking up is hard to do

bjj22You can use a strong wrestler’s strength against him, but it is almost impossible to defend against a mental edge. Every time you execute a move, the smarter wrestler will counter, attack and counter. The smarter wrestler,  the wrestler with the better technique, with the better inventory of moves, with the agility and mental toughness to keep coming at you, is the wrestler who will win.-Kyle Maynard

 

 

Thursday BJJ at Bellevue: all spars.

Friday I missed. I spent the first half of the day in bed with a headache and extreme exhaustion. I felt somewhat better in the afternoon, but decided to not push my luck with getting repeatedly hurled o the ground and throttled.  This turned out to be a fortunate thing, as my house nearly burned down that evening- and that is an that you don’t really want to miss. The animals and I were evacuated and spent 2 days sleeping on Cindy’s floor. (“The house is really dirty,” she says when I call her to inform her that all five of us are inviting ourselves over for an indefinite length of time. “Cindy, my standards right now are very low. If it’s not ON FIRE, it will look great to me.”) Luckily the area fire department was on point and they did not let my house burn down. Tense weekend, though.

Thursday- all spars again. I got an armbar on Amy that I was very pleased with- it was from a weird position and I am still not great at sussing those out. Amy beats me now 7 times out of every 8, so it was that much more the sweeter. (Note that I need to remember she is VERY GOOD at grabbing kimuras as I pass her guard. She got me *TWICE* with the same routine.) I managed to mess up my shoulder…. I had a few moments of “I should really tap now, but I DON’T WANNA tap….” Thought I was over that crap, but the ego still rears its ugly head once in a while. And now I pay.

Thought I might have to sit out Friday due to shoulder, but Chrisanne said she’d come in, so I went (feeling safe in her hands).

Standing guard pass to KOB

Standing guard pass to KOB to kimura

Standing guard pass to KOB to armbar

I was happy that I am finally remembering consistantly to grab the pants with that armbar. I am also now able to usually remember to pin the opponent between my shin and knee. Still need to get a bit better about clasping the forearm to my chest (grab my own lapel if need be). Carlos also wants me to clasp the forearm more closely to my chest in the kimura.

A little positional sparring from spider guard- pass vs defend.

So there’s where it happened…. I stacked Chrisanne- not much, but apparently too much- and hurt her neck.  I was horrified to have hurt her YET AGAIN, and Carlos walked over and told us we had to stop seeing each other for a while.

I feel terrible. I have always prided myself on my control, and on being able to be careful while working with smaller and less experienced opponents. Right now I am feeling insecure about something that I have always felt was one of my biggest strengths in BJJ.  It is making me feel tentative, and I hate that- I have been fighting “tentative” in myself all along and this is feeding my dragon.

Chrisanne is difficult because I know she does not want me to go easy on her…. and she’s good enough that if I *do* go easy on her, she’s just going to dominate me to the point that it’s not going to be useful for either of us. I’m pretty sure she would be pissed off at me if I started doing that.

Also- she had had a shitty day. She felt allergy-ill and didn’t plan to come in, and then she had some bad crap happen to her and decided to come and and blow off some frustration. I feel really awful that instead of helping her do that, I ended up making her feel worse.
In better news: I have managed to drop 14 of the 15lb that I gained from being on sleeping pills. I am relieved. I didn’t like being that weight- it felt like I was wearing a fat suit. going to have to be very careful from now on.

I have a new favorite choke.

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When fighters fight, their souls touch. –Jacob Duran

Previous Thursday and Friday classes, Bellevue: all spars. Didn’t have much to say about them.

Thursday lunchtime gi, Bellevue:

You have butterfly guard. Get right-hand cross lapel grip and place left foot on opponent’s right bicep to stretch hir out and pull hir forward. She will have to put up hir right knee, where you have stuck in a butterfly hook (your right foot).

Push that butterfly hook through deeper. PULL THE ARM DOWN and under your ankle, yank it up onto your belly. (This was the bugaboo for me, for some reason- had trouble braiding all the limbs in the correct order in that particular little knot). Triangle-lock your other leg so that opponent’s right leg and arm are both trapped here. You need to sweep to the side that hir post is NOT (I had a little trouble with that too…). The trick (assuming you have managed to trap the arm effectively) is pinching your knees together and tipping them to the outside to spill the opponent. Pinching the knees together is a persistant failing for me over several techniques, so I really need to pay attention to the techniques that use that.

Another thing that stymied me was that you have to be square with the opponent, flat on your back, and disturbingly far away from hir to make that last bit work. I am used to having to curl up like a pill bug, quirk to the side, and tuck myself as far under an opponent as possible for most sweeps. And NEVER NEVER flat on your back. This one was the opposite, and it always freaks me out when I have to try to do those rule-breaking outlier techniques.

John was having trouble as well, and Carlos was getting frustrated with both of us. He got so frustrated with me at one point that he walked off (I hate that worse than anything), but he was a lot harder on John. I whispered to John, “He’s being rough on you because he’s getting ready to promote you to brown,” and John thanked me.

One great roll after class with John. I also found his pulse.

I am going to take a CPR/first aid recertification class, and finding the pulse quickly and consistantly was one of the things that I had problems with last time I tool this class back in college (when dinosaurs walked the earth). I want to find pulses on everybody I meet until I feel really comfortable with it. So far I have quickly and easily found five out of six; that sixth person I had to grope a little, but I did find it.

There is a fire station only 2 miles away from my house. I had always intended to get am EMT certification, just to have the skills, but with the station that close it would be nice to volunteer there or pick up a little extra money now and then. They will even pay for your EMT classes, if you commit to a certain workload. It’s in Everett and the scheduling is going to be very difficult with my work schedule. I think I can power through it, but I will have to wait until my two elderly dogs pass….. I just can’t be away from the house that much while I am taking care of them. That’s okay. I can use the interim time (years, maybe!) to study so that I know all the Book Learnin’ backwards and forwards by the time I do the class.

In the meantime, I am going to check pulses obsessively on all of my BJJ bretheren. I have promised to not try to transition to a choke if they let me.

—————-
Friday evening:

Women’s class- same techniques as yesterday. Good, I needed more work on them. Happy to see that I was not the only person struggling with the same aspects.

2nd class (ooof)- I almost died doing the second class, but it was worth it because I learned my NEW FAVORITE CHOKE.

Pulling half guard from standing (why am I so clumsy at this? I have done it before and was not this clumsy…. I need to practice this more).

Opponent drapes over you as you have half guard (lying on your right side). You grab a handful of gi at hir knee with your right hand, and stick your thumb into the back of hir collar. With a twist of your body, you can now roll the person over yourself and dump hir on the opposite side (You are now lying side by side, feet to head, on your backs). Do not let go of grips as you roll up and take side control.

THIS CHOKE- oh my. You are in bottom half guard and the opponent is squashing you. (I like it already, because how much time do I spend here? YEARS!!!! What am I able to do from here? VERY LITTLE!!!!)

You are on your right side, frame up and use your right elbow to shove opponent’s top half toward your left. (Note that in no-gi, you can also do this, cupping opponent’s shoulder.) Snake your left hand under opponent’s arm as if you are trying to reach under your own armpit- then grab your own bicep instead. This can be a choke or (with a body twist) a shoulder lock- and it comes on FAST, so be careful and don’t slam it.

Simple. Effective. From the position that I spend the most time paralyzed in. I am in love.

 

I found Chrisanne’s and Doug’s pulses. They are alive.

 

Never do that…. oh wait, except for this instance

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Awareness, by itself, is not enough to help you avoid a criminal threat. In fact, criminals usually expect their victims to feel afraid, and some criminals feed on that feeling. Really nasty criminals encourage a victim’s fear and even work hard to increase it. A person who feels alarm but is not prepared to act is an ideal victim for such a criminal, because that person fits neatly into the script the criminal expects to play out when he attacks.

Be smart: be prepared *and* aware! -Kathy Jackson

 

 

Thurs eve BJJ in Kirkland.

Side control escapes involving a elbow-to-wrist brace across opponent’s collarbone and a body turn AWAY from hir. I have such trouble with that. This is one of the techniques that the white belts actually pick up FASTER because they don’t have years of “NEVER TURN AWAY FROM THE OPPONENT!!!” to try to break out of.

One of these techniques was designed to take advantage of the moment that the opponent slips hir arm from the near side of your head to the far side in preparation to keylock you. I need to try to remember to experiment with that live.

A little rolling with a few white and early-blue belts. I was able to handle everybody fairly well. I know that Bellevue- which is rife with people better than myself- is the best possible place to learn, but it sure helps the self-confidence to go to Kirkland and just tool up on four or five people in a row to remind yourself that you can actually do some jiu jitsu.

Friday evening women’s class in Bellevue. Roundhouse kick to your hip, you step with the arc, then overwrap the ankle and press the knee out to take down. Step in to brace the leg, then ankle lock.

…..aaaaaaaaaaand more side control escapes, this time the one I have always hated: the one where you snake under the armpit and then roll to your belly, to turtle, to sit-out. I have always struggled with the mechanics of this (although I am very flexible, several bits of this sequence exploit the few ways in which I am *NOT*) as well as the terror or getting 1)smashed back down, probably with my elbow breaking in the process… neck feels distressingly vulnerable as well here….. or 2)getting pinned on my belly…. I do not like being flat on my belly underneath my (usually heavier and stronger) opponent. I was like, “Oh God, *this* shit again…..” but tonight was the first night where I actually felt like I might be starting to grok this one. It helped a lot to have done those bracing side control escapes the night before. Something just clicked after having worked this series of moves in sequence. I’m still not very jazzed about the idea of trying this live, but it makes a little more sense now.

The problem with this women’s class is that I am too tired to do the following class (which I miss), and there is almost never any live rolling (so far). I was feeling very hungry for some live rolling, even though I was pretty tired and not thrilled with the idea of drilling *or* rolling with fresh men. I really wanted to roll with Chrisanne, but she was tired. Still, she was waffling a bit, which made me keep my gi on and sit on the sidelines with her hoping she would get a second wind. The class was all sparring (damn!), and Carlos was not at all pleased with the concept of me and Chrisanne sitting out part of the class and then coming in JUST to roll with each other. He was like, “You’re welcome to come in, but if you do, you are staying on the mat for the whole class.” Finally I gave up on Chrisanne and went back in. Had a couple of good rolls, although I got fairly dominated. Kevin is amazing. I haven’t worked with him in a long time, and it blew my mind at how flexible, technical, and stellar he has become. I remember working with him when he was a white belt, and it is very inspiring to see how far he has come.

Unicorns

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This is how a book or story has to start. Something rings in my head, like Great Tom. A knell.

Or sounds in my brain like a horn. A call to battle.

Sometimes two characters argue in my mind.

Sometimes it is a character tapping me on the shoulder.

Sometimes it is a vision, a picture in my head.

Only when I hear that ringing, that battle horn, that clear argument, or feel that tapping, or see that vision do I know there is a story I have to tell.

Then I must invoke the magic word. Oh, yes- there is one. All truly successful writers know it.

I shall whisper it in your ear: BIC.

It stands for Butt In Chair.

Really. Hard work is the only real magic there is… if the book in your head is going to get onto the page.

-Jane Yolen

 

 

Friday women’s class: I was too lazy to blog it and now I can’t remember what we did, except I remember doing double-leg setups and upas.

 

Thursday lunchtime class: Pulling guard and using one foot to strip one opponent’s grip, then scissor sweep.

 

Same, only use pendulum sweep.

 

I had some issues here, and at first I was irritated that we were doing both of these in one class because I kept sticking elements of the scissor sweep into the pendulum sweep. I tend to try to turn everything into the scissor sweep; the pendulum sweep feels like one of those “this will never work for me live” things (I think partially because of the emphasis on powering it with a lateral-to-medial shove of the thigh which feels like a very weak movement to me, and also I am always wanting to hip out). It turned out to be annoying-yet-educational because it forced me to focus on the differences.

 

Scissor sweep- I am decent at this; I just need to remember to keep my knee toward the ceiling. I want to put it too low across the opponent’s ribs, and a decent player is going to just flatten it (and me behind it) and squash me. I usually end up trapping the posting arm adequately, but I need to be more mindful and assertive about it.

 

Pendulum: Do not turn on my side. STRAIGHT leg, up to the ceiling, socketed assertively right into opponent’s armpit. Another mindful and assertive post-trapping. CUP the knee (you do not need to try to remove this grip). Also, Carlos adjusted my angle of launch from sideways to upper-diagonal (like the upa). The sweep comes from that thigh shove PLUS the lifting of the opponent’s knee with a flaring of the elbow. That elbow flare was the one thing I didn’t really get enough time to iron out to my satisfaction after ironing out the rest of my problems.

 

Both sweeps could also use a lot more more lower-leg shoving.

 

A little king of the hill, pass vs sweep. I got very excited because I was able to not only hold off John for quite a while, but eventually SWEEP him (gasp!). True he wasn’t going 100%, but he wasn’t babying me around, either. My expanding ego was swiftly returned to earth like a popped balloon by my next opponent, a while belt guy who shoved past my guard in about 4 seconds.

 

Carlos instructed the 4 large male white belts to not even engage the women. While I understand this, I was a little peeved  that it wasn’t “be careful”, it was “don’t go near them at all”. I don’t want to encourage the male white belts to refuse to work with women. There is no reason they can’t learn to be careful. (Carlos added, “Oh- except for Keetsune,” and I was like, “Yeah, bring it,”- but then he said he was kidding. I wasn’t.)

 

Friday women’s class: same techniques. Good. Was able to get my shit together better this time.

 

In addition: Failed double-leg to bear hug and lift; uke hooks foot around attacker’s shin to foil the lift, then bend down and grab opponent’s ankle and lift for takedown. KOB.

 

I am feeling hungry for more sparring; we don’t do any sparring or much KOTH in women’s class. I’m having some stress at work, and could really use the sparring. I stayed after class Thursday and did one spar with Camille, in which I was able to handle her well and mount her repeatedly to troubleshoot her sorry upa.

 

One of the fresh blues said to me in the locker room- in a tone that should be reserved for unicorns, Jesus, and Cindy Hales- “I want to be just like you.”  I don’t know how to react to this. I still don’t. I managed to not laugh.

 

 

 

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.

The head- a vulnerable design flaw

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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!”

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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?

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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!)

Preserving your identity

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  Fighting, counter-assault, hand-to-hand– whatever you want to call it– is very much a thing of guts and nerve, visceral, not intellectual. And yet, you have a brain. Use it.   -Rory Miller
Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue. Did something to my left shin and it’s been bugging me all week. I was able to do most stuff yesterday and today, but I did pass on the sparring portion of tonight (with the exception of a roll with Doug).

Standup, no-gi-type grips (meathook behind neck, outside tie). Pummel back and forth a few times like this, then duck under and take the back.

Same, then the backtaken person does this escape: on the same side that opponent has your wrist trapped, take one step forward and then turn sharply back, using the free forearm to break down opponent’s arm. Single leg from here.  I had some trouble here because as always, I struggle with left/right and could not remember which foot to step forward with.

Same standing guard passes that we did last week- underhooking the thigh and passing around the back, then around the front.
Have been thinking a lot about yesterday’s quote, the part about hanging onto the past because it’s preserving your identity.  There’s also the good one about  how dwelling on past bitterness is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die.

I carry around a lot of baggage and bitterness, to my detriment. I have a very visceral repulsion toward the concept of forgiveness in these cases. To me, forgiving says, “It was okay that you did that”.  Fuck no. It was not. It never will be okay.

And yes, I am intellectually aware that forgiveness is about healing the forgiver and not about letting the forgivee off, and all that… but emotionally it just doesn’t wash. There are people who have done things to me that I will never forgive.

I am aware that they are not lying awake at night. More than one of them failed to ever understand what they did wrong or that they even did anything wrong at all. It costs them nothing that I hold a grudge, it just costs me (ironically, this serves to make me even more bitter).

If you’re still bleeding years later, it proves that you were “right”, right? That the other person is unspeakably evil? That you deserve sympathy, admiration, help, slack? We already established that the perpetrators don’t give a shit that they hurt you; they are going on about their merry lives while you lie in the ditch and moan. If you let go of it, then NOBODY is carrying it, right? Somebody has to be left holding the bag. WTH, does it just evaporate? Does that prove that it didn’t matter, that it didn’t really hurt that much, it wasn’t so bad, that “it was okay that you did that”?

I’ve been stuck and frustrated about resolving this emotional baggage, because I just can’t put a spin on “forgiveness” that will make it palatable to my logic-rejecting inner child, and I couldn’t find a way to reframe the problem.

So, “preserving your identity”……..

We are brainwashed from toddlerhood in this society to admire/idealize heroes and Disney Princesses who were orphaned, abused, and otherwise got shat on and went on to rise above. It’s a glamorous identity to have been fucked over and then rise above. Movies don’t get made about people who were raised by loving parents in plenty and comfort, married their high school boyfriend/girlfriend, had a fun and enlightening education, got a great career, and had a successful happy life. If you cut out the part of Malala’s story where she had to struggle to get an education and then nearly got murdered for it, and only show the wonderful work she is doing now, it’s not quite the same. The hardships and struggles are part of the hero’s journey, the hero’s identity.

At what point does the tragic backstory become baggage? At some point do you get to choose whether that tragic past gooses you to get better or just drags you down? At some point do you get to choose when to just cut those chapters out of your book and begin at the better parts? It seems like there is an inevitable degeneration into using the tragic backstory as a crutch. “You can’t expect me to accomplish X, after what happened to me,”…. “You should marvel that I am able to do Y, after what I had to overcome”….. yes, it is a BIG part of one’s identity. Big enough that the prospect of excision is quite daunting.