Another toasty day on the mat

A wounded deer leaps the highest. -Emily Dickinson

Friday night BJJ in Bellevue.

Still hot.

Same techniques as last night. I was paired with a brand new white belt, so had to walk her through things.

King of the Hill from spider guard- pass vs sweep.

One roll with Casey. He showed me how to deal with being in DLR and having the person back up like they’re going to sit on your face…. if you have a gi grip, you can continue the roll and end on top.

Casey also suggests that I begin my straight armbars a bit more medial on the arm and creep down so that I’m certain of where the elbow is.

Armbar Alley


You will not be the one to drown me. –Maggie Stiefvater

Friday evening in Bellevue. Started with sneaking up behind Luiz and taking his back while he was chatting with someone else. He passively let me sink an RNC and take him down, but an instant later, I found myself tapping out to a kimura.

JP tried to bait me into passing his guard and falling right into one of those traps where you basically sub yourself like an idiot. I stopped dead, and we just froze there for a long moment. Then I said, “Dude, I roll with Ron and Doug. I know EXACTLY what you are trying to do here, and you are NOT going to get me with that!!!” He laughed.

Standup: judo grips, pretend to go for an outside reap. Let opponent reap you back, and nail hir with an armbar. Discovered that this was one of the cases in which the Stupid Side turned out to be the best side, because it involved one of the key pieces in the middle of the process being deployed with my dominant arm. Said key piece: keep a really leech-like grip on the underside of the sleeve at the elbow the whole time. That is the lynchpin to adjusting everything where you want it to finish the armbar.

Armbars from mount.

I coached Chrisanne extensively on armbar technique early on in her learning, and as a result- if I may say so myself- she has one fucking tight armbar. From every angle, she is tight and perfect and deadly. My own armbar still needs a bit of refinement in remembering to pinch the knees together- that is the one detail that I tend to forget and get sloppy on. We pushed each other a bit in the later reps by having the uke try to escape by pulling the elbow down, or by pressing her back to the floor under the mount. In the later case, pinching the knees together to trap the victim with hir shoulder pointing to the ceiling becomes critical. And there’s that leech-grip on the arm again- only this time it really needs to be on the tricep- and grab the muscle, not just the gi sleeve. I found that I had more success if I quit messing around and go faster. I always do well at grabbing that arm and yanking them up hard enough to make their teeth snap, but then I am too slow finishing- and I need to just finish that puppy off before they recover from that yank and start wiggling to escape.

I like drilling these armbars…. I don’t really use them much live yet, but I want to. I can curl into such a compact ball that I know they will be really good for me. But I hate drilling them as the uke. I spend too much time getting clubbed painfully in the face, especially the nose. With the armbars from mount, I can place my free palm on top of my head, stick my elbow out, and shield my face from getting whacked by the foe’s heel. The armbars that are coming from the bottom, you’re hosed because you can’t protect your face. I just know that a broken nose from this technique is in my future; I can’t believe it hasn’t happened yet. I have a big nose, which appearance will not be improved by a couple of badly healed breaks. Also, the technique makes me very nervous due to how little it takes to finish it, and the high opportunity for slamming/cranking which will result in a very rapid elbow/shoulder injury. I always tap to these early, and with much haste.

I wanted to roll with Casey, but I had a little headache, so I decided to leave.

Stayin’ Alive


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

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

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

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

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

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

Thursday evening BJJ in Kirkland.

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

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

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

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

Head and arm choke.

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

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

It’s a purple belt world.


Standing up to a person only draws a line around your territory. Defending it is what keeps you safe. –Marc MacYoung

Sunday: 134.2

I know intellectually that pop bloats you, but it is truly astounding to what extent decreasing (not eliminating, just decreasing) the amount of pop for just two days has deflated the appearance of my protruding Buddha-belly. I swear, dieting would be so much easier if I was more vain about my appearance.

But here’s something that actually MIGHT inspire me: concealing my pistol in its belly-holster may be easier if my belly is flatter. Yeah, that’s it.

Also, when I lose weight, my boobs get smaller. Lord knows, life is better on the martial arts mat with every cup size lower.

Unfortunately, past history has proven that for me- unlike most people- eliminating pop altogether does not result in immediate weight loss.

Monday: 135.6
Tues: 135.6

Eggs- it’s what’s for dinner. And lunch. Tonight my assistant informed me that if I didn’t lay off the carrots, I was going to turn orange. I informed her that I was okay with that, as long as I am FIT and orange.

Thurs: 136

I’ve been really really good all week with food. Less food and wiser choices. Slightly less successful with pop, but I did cut down.

Leslie, Casey and Cindy are all injured and off the mat. I’m feeling grateful and privileged at the moment that I’m not on the bench, because I know well how that feels.

Thurs lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

(blue belt) Jay, looking up and down the line: “We’re the only two blue belts??!”
(blue belt) Nick: “Guess so.”

They look left at the three or four white belts, then they look right at the eight or ten purple belts. Jay mutters something about “………..purple belts…..”

Kitsune: “It’s a purple belt world, Jay.”
Jay: “So they tell me, Kitsune…. so they tell me.”

Standup drills- double legs, single legs, sprawl on opponent’s failed double-leg and then spin around to the side and take the back. Carlos suggested pulling the guy into your lap instead of jumping on hir back.

Opponent kneeling, you in butterfly guard. Cross-grip the arm and yank hir to all fours. Sink one leg into a deep half guard position, then take hir back either by climbing aboard or pulling hir into your lap. I do not feel comfortable with this technique on someone bigger than me (which means 99.9% of people). Once I have that leg sunk in there, all s/he has to do is sink down on it, and I am pinned on the bottom. If s/he’s going to be mean, s/he can just keel over and capsize on top of me and crush me like a cockroach. I am in a position with a very limited set of options, and have no mobility to get elsewhere. Even John was like, “I guess this isn’t really workable for your body,” after we messed with it for a while. I won’t say of a technique, “I _CAN’T_ do X with my body” because every time I try to go there, Cindy (who is as small as I) does it with no problem. So I won’t write it off…. but for my present level, this doesn’t seem like a good one.

Positional sparring from the above position. I sucked from heep half, but I am pretty good at escaping back mount- even after explaining to John exactly what he needed to do to stop me.

A couple of spars.

Thurs evening BJJ in Kirkland. I haven’t been to Kirkland in ages, and I miss Dave. I miss Cindy too, but Mondays and Wednesdays are not good for training, with my present work schedule- I haven’t seen her in a couple of months. 😦

Warmups at Kirkland are longer and more tiring than they usually are at Bellevue. It’s a good thing (pant, puff).

Pummeling. I suggested to white belt that he not bend at the waist, but bend his knees if he finds me too short to comfortably pummel with. He did not straighten up. Okay, fine, buddy, take it or leave it. I don’t care. I’m going to guillotine the snot out of you if you do that while we’re sparring.

Flow drill: You on your back, partner standing, your feet on hir hips. S/he grabs your legs and tosses them to one side, steps to your hip. You shrimp out, cross far leg over top and replace guard.

Guillotines from standing; operating from failed double-leg.

Keylocks from mount. Dave suggests that if we’re having trouble getting opponent’s arms off hir chest, to first press the elbow down and then lever the wrist to the side.

Same entry, then opponent tries to roll away from your keylock. Transition to S mount, do not change grips. Clasp hir arm to your chest and straighten your back. Transition to armbar. You still do not need to change grips. Found myself wanting to, but tried to resist urge.

Same entry, now try to bow and arrow hir instead of armbar. Variation: windshield-wipe your shin against hir back and sit, pulling hir into your lap. Kick that leg out and place it over hir arm.

Also note: it is helpful to take up any slack in that pantleg before securing the grip near the knee.

A few spars.

Really tired. This two-classes-per-day thing is not easy. I am going to try to do it again tomorrow.

Ten seconds!! Ten seconds!!


If he or she has the right mindset, the killer will beat the fighter almost every time. –Rory Miller


Yes, even though it seems as if competition is not helping my jiu jitsu right now, it is true that those rigid dates with the tournament scale are good for diet discipline. As soon as I decided to take a break from competing, I promptly gained 5lb. So I decided on a new tactic: my tattoo artist (who, incidentally, just won second place for “best sleeve” at the Seattle Tattoo Expo) has been posting all sorts of rad pics of his work and making me salivate more and more for additional ink. I had told myself that I was going to get my back started the next time I had a benching-level injury, but now I’m thinking that I’m going to use the tat as a carrot (double meaning definitely intended) to get back down to weight. I’m feeling reasonably strong about it at the moment- for the last two days I have not only cut my soda intake by more than half (this is actually the hardest part for me!), I have stocked up on the eggs and carrots, as well as decreasing my portions of everything else and just generally trying to wait a little longer before bowing to hunger and eating something. Even yesterday when I went to the Chinese restaurant with CK (AGAIN!!!!), I ate all the carrots and broccoli on my plate (although I am not fond of cooked veggies) and took half the chicken teriyaki home (it made TWO subsequent diet-sized meals). Yes, rice happened, and I know rice is very bad for me, but I’m still satisfied about the way I handled that. I’m going to take a humongo bag of carrots to work during my next rotation. Work is a dangerous time for the munchies (and the pop).

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue. There were only 4 of us there, besides the prof. The five of us were in full agreement that BJJ is MUCH MUCH more important than a Seahawks game. I don’t know what is wrong with those people.

At first it looked like I was going to get paired up with Lance, which is pretty funny… because even at my fattest, he makes about eight of me. I ended up with (white belt) Shawn.

You have closed guard. Yank opponent’s opposite-side sleeve cuff while pulling hir down with your legs. Hug around hir shoulder with your free arm. Now that you have hir arm pinned between your bodies, you can let go of the sleeve and use that arm to reach under hir thigh. Note that your arm should go OVER TOP of hirs. Twist your body into an X formation opposite your opponent’s. (Prof Herbert was using a foot on the hip to help it along; that didn’t seem to be working very well for me). Swing your far leg to help sweep your opponent. It is good to keep your near knee pasted to the back of hir shoulder blade as you swing up on top; as well as keeping that front heel pasted to hir chest- this keeps hir pinned on hir side and you find yourself in S mount (I love S mount). At this juncture you may appreciate why you wanted your arm to go over top of hirs- as you now have that arm pinned along your body and under your armpit. I elected to then step over Shawn’s face and finish the armbar. Herbert was delighted to see me go there, to the point of having me demo the sequence on HIM for the next drilling section (whee!!).

Next: same entry, only now you focus on the fact that as you place your arm over top of opponent’s while reaching for the thigh, you are actually in a rather pleasant position should you choose to bring your other leg over hir face and do an armbar right there. I am always thrilled to drill armbars from guard (or permutations thereof), as I keep thinking these are going to be ideal for my game, yet I continue to fail to integrate them into my live sparring. I have a feeling that if I can ever get that switch flipped and start remembering them under pressure, I’m going to be cracking elbows merrily left and right all day long.

As usual, my technical issue to work on (as pointed out by Herbert) is that I should really try to get my second leg higher up into the opponent’s armpit. With effort, I was able to improve this on one side, but not the other (it seems that my hip is more flexible on one side).

Finishing with a 10-min spar with Shawn. He’s a good partner; not too big, pretty careful, muscles a bit (hey, he’s a white belt) but not too much. I was inspired by the fact that the prof was circling around us watching the whole thing, and I was on top quite a bit, although I started to get really tired in the last few minutes and ended up getting tapped. As Shawn let me up, Herbert said, “Ten seconds left,” and I threw myself at Shawn, shrieking, “Ten seconds!! Ten seconds!!” as I jumped guard and started frantically hauling on his lapels trying to get a choke. Didn’t get one. But it was a fun spar.

Do the limbo!


The Tueller Drill. You may have heard of the “21 foot rule”. In 1983, Dennis Tueller published an article in SWAT magazine, “How Close Is Too Close?” Dennis experimented and found that a man with a knife could consistently close a distance of seven yards and stab or slash faster than an officer could draw his firearm. This means that within seven yards, a knife is an immediate deadly threat. –Rory Miller

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Chrisanne has her blue belt. I’m really bummed that I missed her promotion, but very happy that she has it. Gordon and Ed both got their browns.

Worked on Chrisanne’s upa some more. She is still not getting the hip pop hard enough and fast enough for my approval. She also can’t seem to stop herself from trying to trap BOTH arms, which I think is distracting her. Needs more work.

We drilled takedowns (your choice), standing guard passes (your choice) and armbar from side control. Somehow even though my practical sparring skills seem to be lacking, when it comes time to drill I often have even people my own rank actively soliciting my advice. I tried to help Vinay with the hip throw (get lower), the kneeslide pass (thrust hips forward like you’re about to do the limbo, it makes it harder for the passee to grab half guard) and armbar (don’t let your grip on the arm slack in that moment that you spin around). It seemed to help; his techniques got tighter and I was less able to wiggle around. All my drills felt really tight and technical today.

One roll with Chrisanne and one with Gordon. I tried to keep moving constantly, and was surprised to find myself on top of Gordon much of the time, although I was unable to finish anything.

Chrisanne wants to bail out of next month’s Revolution because she got promoted. I tried to talk her out of it. I told her that just after promotion is the best time to compete, because there’s no pressure. If you lose, it’s not a huge deal. I don’t think I’m going to compete again, at least not till I figure out how to work on my defeatism issue. Continuing to compete is not in itself doing anything to combat the problem, I think.

I managed to fall down the stairs the other day, and although I was not seriously hurt (thank goodness I know how to fall and am fairly resistant to breakage), both knees are bruised up and it’s more painful than usual to be on them.

More asymmetrical than ever


Martial arts are one among the many means to come in contact with our perceptive potential. During the practice of martial arts, we go back to a primordial simplicity. No need of drugs, objects, or external substances to help us. We are left alone with our bodies. We don’t have to wait for things to happen, we make them happen. It is like Zen archery or like climbing mountains: we use the body as a takeoff runway for inner skies. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path


Tuesday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue. It was pretty amusing to see all the tape and Advil getting passed around before class, among those who are doing the evening training camps.

Standup: opponent throws cross jab. You throw up “Black Crane” type elbow shield and change level. Scoot in and try to get an elbow strike to opponent’s ribs. Then grab for double-leg takedown. Opponent defends by spinning out and grabbing headlock. You grab behind knee and around waist and take down. Now: same headlock escape and armbar as yesterday. Today we grabbed the pants as we sat back for the armbar.

I had some issues with the way that this differed from what we did yesterday. I didn’t like the reaction to the headlock not involving fighting the neck hold at all. I can see that if you take the guy down, most of the danger is past- but if that headlock is on well and good, I’m concerned that he might break my neck or choke me out or otherwise put the screws to me before I can take him down.

Asymmetrical choke, again. I actually got praise for this by Carlos.

King Of The Hill from top side control and then bottom side control. I got really destroyed by everybody today in KOTH. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to get destroyed by Otavio Sousa. Maybe another morning.

An hour of Lindsey


Systems talk about chi, intent, fa-jing, or some other “magical” effect, and the desperate seeker (who if he had just picked something, stuck with it, and put in the required hours of focused practice would be a master) runs from one to another, looking for the magic key to power. He never finds it because he never stays long enough to realize that the secret doesn’t really exist. -Campfire Tales From Hell


Lunchtime BJJ at Bellevue.

Winter training is in one sense worse than summer training…. Carlos comes in in the morning and turns the heater on full blast, and you can feel it roaring and baking on you as you do the “warm-ups”, and halfway through the first round of whatever you’re drilling, you’re ready to sell your soul to anyone who will turn that fucking heater off. I have learned to not grouse about it, though…. if you bitch, Carlos leaves it on even longer.

More side control today.

You are under side control. Place the knee nearest the opponent’s feet against hir ribs (You must remember to do this FIRST). Frame, push, stick that knee in there. Bring your other leg over opponent’s head and armbar.

Positional sparring from side control. Person on top is supposed to skate around, side to side, N/S. I was feeling very low-energy… in part because I was being cooked to death. I was spectacularly inept on the bottom. Some of the guys are very good at catching arms, and I was getting caught with arms over my head and crossed over my chest- moreso as I got more tired and frustrated. I get sloppy when I get frustrated. I did a little better on top.

No-gi open mat. I spent a full hour rolling with Lindsey. I very much enjoy rolling with Lindsey. She is also a really valuable person for me to train with leading up to the tourney. She is at 138 right now (although she feels so light!), and is very cool about my doing just a TEENY bit of shoulder pressure and crossfacing, etc. She did catch me in a couple of bad positions twice, although none three times.

Lessons from no-gi


Most people live at a comfortable distance from their bodies. As humans, we spend so much time inside our heads that we often forget the way out. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

It was gratifying to learn that Ben and even Carlos are sore today as well. I had to tape all eight fingers tonight. I am so sore, and so tired… but I can’t blow off lunchtime class tomorrow, because I’ve been cyberstalking Angela all week bugging her to come in. I need to not only show up, but make it worth her while. Ahhh- I’m exhausted just thinking about it!!!

Lessons learned in no-gi tonight:

1)If you think you might have to fight everyone in the room, DON’T leave all the biggest, scariest guys for last.

1b)Don’t leave the professor for DEAD last, when you’re wrung out and can’t make a decent account of yourself.

2)My standard spar opening of pouncing on the opponent, applying top half guard, and then passing works great on most people, but NOT on black belts. I have learned to not stick my right arm between Cindy’s neck and left shoulder, because she promptly armbars it every single time. Tonight Carlos did the exact same thing. I usually stick that arm in there and then work for position. I wonder if it would work if only I operated faster and more forcefully. IE, give them something more immediately pressing to deal with before they can slap the armbar on, and/or get my shoulder socketed in there posthaste. A “meathook” behind the neck instead of placing my forearm there might be a better option as well.

3)Kelly passes my guard repeatedly with that same “seatbelt” pass that JB likes. I need to stop letting her set that up, because once she has it set up, I can’t seem to stop her from completing it.

4)I tend to be hesitant about putting hooks in while perched on the backs of huge turtling guys. They simply use an elbow to pin one of my feet to their ribs and then capsize sideways, trapping me underneath. If I do choose to commit to hooks, I need to commit to a fast, hard, technically perfect chokehold at the same time. No applying hooks and then working for position.

5)I think I am spending too much time working for position- full stop. I should try less futzing around and more FINISHING. Even when I think I’m getting a head start by pouncing and applying a position, I am *still* kinda waiting around to see how they respond, and then I’m on the reactive end of the equation yet again.

6)You can’t grit your teeth and wait out one of Carlos’ subs. He won’t give up, because he *KNOWS* he has it on right.

My belt was sopping by the end of class tonight. People who don’t launder their belts….. eeeeww.

How d’ya like THEM spiders?

Today many people spend eight hours a day sitting before a computer or behind a desk, forcing their bodies to an unnatural stasis. Overworked minds, inert bodies. Depending increasingly more on an immaterial form of technology, we confine the body to a subordinate position. We grow detached from it. We forget its magic. We forget its power. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Today’s photo has absolutely nothing to do with BJJ. To my straight male and gay female readers, sorry. To everyone else: you’re welcome.

Fri: 128
Sat: 128
Sun: 128
Mon: 128

Pink Team in Bellevue: we drilled the comb-over escape from front mount to half guard, whereupon one’s partner passed half guard in whatever fashion she pleased, rinse, repeat. Then some positional training from mount- escape vs submit. Goddamn, Crisanne is getting good. She sticks to you like Spanx- leaves no room to work at all- digs that shoulder mercilessly into your neck, and lies on top of you like a sack of wet sand that feels much heavier than she is.

Then: advanced class.

You standing, opponent sitting with soles on the floor. You place your right hook-hand over hir left shoulder, paste your elbow to hir chest as you step forward with your right foot between hir knees. Now push hir on her back while driving right knee over hir rt thigh. Land on your hip like you’re skidding in for a home run. Try to pass your knee over hir forearm. Keep bodies pasted together, and don’t lift that elbow.

Next: same, but as you do this, opponent is foolish enough to throw an arm over your shoulders. Grab it and swing around for the armbar. DO NOT CHEAT THE GUARD PASS- this means don’t get sloppy with keeping the bodies close, and you must slide all the way into home before popping up for the armbar.

Opponent is now on hir back with feet on your hips. You standing. Grab hir right ankle with your left hand. overwrap hir left shin with your right arm. Step in and pin hir rt thigh up with your left knee. Now let go of that ankle and grab hir left ankle with both hands. Stand up and thrust your belly out as you shove the foot forward (note that you must clear your own flopping gi tails) then shove both of opponent’s legs away to hir right as you pass.

Next: same, but as you do this, opponent is foolish enough to start rolling away to turtle up. Stuff your right foot in the hole opening between hir waist and the floor, and thrust yourself into back mount.

Several spars. I continue to be ineffectual at defending Ron’s deep half- he got it within about 20 seconds, then continued to get it repeatedly. I made Pam deal with my spider guard for a good while (“How d’ya like THEM spiders?”) and coached and then pop-quizzed a white belt on nailing her chin to her chest as soon as I started groping for chokes.

Saeki got her blue today! When I saw the belts, I was so hoping for Crisanne to get promoted (not that it wasn’t great for Saeki). I did find out why it’s taking so long, though…. I found out that Crisanne had ASKED Carlos about it. (wince) Now he’s going to make her wait.