“How do I stop you???!!??”

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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.

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The ego- a challenge that is constantly revisited.

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“Great dancers are not great because of their technique,
they are great because of their passion.”
– Martha Graham

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

I need to quit being so lazy about blogging my classes the same day- if I wait, I really have problems transcribing the techniques, and I can only assume that’s going to translate to further problems retaining them.

I remember that I warmed up rolling with Peter. He is getting quite technical, but still using a lot of muscle. I guess I have not worked with anyone in a good while who muscles that much. I had thought I had grown out of the whole dick-waving thing where I try (vainly, of course) to muscularly match muscley men who are much more massive than me. Found out that I am not. I kind of hurt myself straining against him, and I also hurt myself by being too stubborn to tap. I certainly EXHAUSTED myself. Time to revisit that important lesson.

We did some guard pulling from standing, and a sweep, and some triangle stuff, and Carlos pointed out that we do not need to have our bodies torqued way over to the side to do the triangle. We can just alter the angle of the leg. And of course, it is critical to remember that pushing your leg down/forward is a lot more effective than trying to basically squeeze your thighs together in a nutcracker motion.

Teepee. Chrisanne was delighted with this, as it seemed to solve some of her short-leg issues in finishing the triangle. While I was happy for her, three reps of this gave me an immediate splitting headache.

I was taking my headache toward the locker room when Cindy walked in. For once in my life, my reaction to seeing Cindy walk in was “shit!”…… because I knew that she was competing the next day, and I had also mentioned the Friday evening Bellevue classes to her the day before- so I couldn’t just flee without letting her beat on me some. She wanted to drill a horrible takedown- a twisty arm drag that wrenches the elbow, shoulder, *and* back; and while you are writhing in pain, you get your foot hooked and hoisted above your head to get dumped hard. The first eight or ten weren’t too bad, but after that, I wanted to cry. It would have hurt any time, but after my lengthy muscle-roll with Peter and my pounding headache, it was agony. Had to really grit my teeth to stop myself from saying, “I’m sorry, I just can’t do any more of this tonight” (probably with a sob on the final syllable). After drilling, I was able to roll a bit with her, then begged off and gave her Ron instead. I always feel bad/ashamed that I just don’t have what it takes to be a good uke for Cindy, especially when she is in comp mode….. I always try, but end up feeling really inadequate.

You can take it.

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Never, in a self-defense situation, do anything half-assed. If you are going to run or hide or bluff or fight, do it with your whole heart. Hesitation is failure. –Rory Miller

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue. I was late because I had to wait half the morning for an electrical inspector to show up and do a mandatory inspection that took literally two minutes.

They were doing positional sparring, various positions. I had to wait a while, but eventually was able to jump in.

Several rolls- Ed, Dave (no-gi), Ritchie, Suranjen. Nice to work with Suranjen- it has been a while. Surprised to see Ritchie again. Thought he washed out. He’s not my favorite person (too rough, enormous ego)- but it does take an ego sublimation to come back after you’ve been out for a long time, so maybe there’s hope for him yet. He gave me a tap right away. Not sure what was up with that. But okay. He was fine for the rest of the roll, too. No spazz, no attitude. Okay, keep this up and we’re all cool. You don’t even have to hand me taps. I just don’t want you to act like Kanye and then tear my arm off.

Went back home and moved some heavy things, dug some holes, ripped off half my left large toenail on a rock in my garden. Hope it will be okay for tomorrow. Will have to tape it up nice.
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Saturday no-gi in Kirkland.

Since it was a work day, I had to give myself a serious talking-to in order to get to class. Part of the reason I decided to go was that I figured Jill would be there to work with- so I would not have to get flung and bashed around, and I could sort of coast. Well, turns out Izzy was there too- which is great- but that did land them together and me with Pedro. 

Honestly, as soon as I saw the kid on the mat, I was this close to sidling up to Dave and saying, “Dude, can you keep me away from Pedro today…. I am just not in the mood,” and this urge intensified when I found out that we were getting our lesson from an actual visiting wrestling coach today, on actual wrestling techniques. I stood there in line feeling weary and anxious…. and with a sigh, decided “Are you or are you not a warrior? Then woman up. You can eat a bit of a beating from a 14 YO- it’s gonna hurt but it won’t kill you. Quit whining.” Okay. Bring it. I came into class with the wrong attitude. I should never come in thinking, “I’m just going to coast today,” Sometimes it seems like that’s the only way I’ll get in at ALL… but it’s not constructive. The Universe decided to smack me down for that today. Point taken.

Takedowns. Wrestling takedowns. With a strong, rough, spazzy and egotistical teenage boy wrestler who has more energy in his smallest toenail than I have in five of me. FML.

I reminded him right at the start: “Be gentle. I’m an old lady.” There was one really really bad one, where he hit me like a freight train with a load of bricks on board and I hit the ground *very* hard, partly on my head. One other gnarly moment where he came down in a spinny scarf really hard on my ribs (my most vulnerable part). I crawled grimly to my feet after both and reminded him again to go easy. The instructor also came by once to watch us and tell Pedro to go lighter and me to go harder. Miraculously, I seem to have come out without injury from both of those bad takedowns. But yeah- they hurt. Toldja this was gonna hurt.

 As one of my tenants of being a good partner, I do not condescend to anyone regardless of age or rank or ability, and try to both give and take good feedback. In this case, I asked him plenty of questions, since he *is* a wrestler, and understands many of the concepts even though it seemed that today’s particular techniques were new for him. It seemed like we developed a little better rapport as the class went on- or maybe he realized that he doesn’t have to prove he can disassemble me in order to get respect from me- and he started taking care to drop his weight on his elbow instead of on my ribs. So he *can* do it. The boy likes those “faceplant” style takedowns, though…. the ones where you take the person down really hard and fast, with driving downward momentum, and in a fashion that ties up both arms or otherwise sends you hurtling at the floor face first with about a nanosecond to try to twist your pinioned body an inch around so as to absorb the initial impact with something OTHER than your front teeth. Cindy likes those too.

I did a few reps with Jill, but before I take down white belts I always ask them if they have good breakfalls. If they don’t, I am not going to take them down. Jill didn’t, so we spent most of the drill time on that. She still needs more work on them. Note to revisit that again with her next time.

Before the sparring portion, I did sneak up to Dave…..

Kitsune (whispering): Give me some NICE people. I’m tired.
Dave: (laughing) Okay. After Jill, you can go with me.
Kitsune: I said NICE people.
Dave: You’re the one who clocked me in the nose last time we fought.

I worked with Jill some more on the upa, which I had shown her the last time I worked with her. She is improving, but still not doing a quick enough or forceful enough hip pop.

Dave: to my disgust, I noticed myself putting that damn arm up three times. He failed to capitalize on it (he seemed to be working on an agenda of his own), at which point I stopped and said, “Every time I do that, please sub the hell out of me as fast as you can- and make it hurt a little.” Note that I need to ask that of all of my colored belt sparring partners for a while, till I break myself of that habit.

Shins ache now- it’s typical to get lots of impact on them doing wrestling takedowns, even if you do it right (which we didn’t always).

“You’re Kanye”

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Amateurs ask, “Could I take him?” Professionals ask, “How would I take him?” Campfire Tales From Hell

There will be a Northwest Grapplethon at Gracie Barra Edmonds Dec 6 and 7, to fundraise for victims of the Philippines storm. You can sponsor me! https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/adiC8
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Kelly sent me the vids of my matches. The only thing she missed was my sweet takedown (!) There wasn’t much to see. Me on the floor and the other ladies riding me like a hobbyhorse.

I said to Kelly:
“As usual, I need to learn how to get the hell out of bottom half guard. Both of those girls were REALLY strong and had mucho face pressure on the whole time, which was making it really hard to do anything. But I have to start taking risks and trying to scramble near the end, because I have nothing to lose, even if if opens me up to subs. I knew they’d been on top the whole time and were surely up on points.

It’s hard to shift from thinking “survival” (ie, don’t get subbed) to “competition” (ie, pay attention to points). I feel like I’ve accomplished something if I avoid the sub, but that’s not really where my full focus should be in this situation.”
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Sunday BJJ in Seattle. There were two guys who weighed in at around 180/185. The rest were all well over 200. And then there was me. Peter apologized to me. I told him that he needs to recruit some smaller guys for his Sunday class. But it’s okay. I don’t mind working with the big guys as long as they’re not going to put me in the hospital- and they were all colored belts, so I figured they’d be fine.

Kitsune: “I just have to sublimate my ego and realize that I’m not going to be doing a lot of winning today, that’s all.”
Peter: “And you have such a big ego, Kitsune. You’re like Kanye.”

Peter likes to run this class as KOTH from multiple positions, so that’s what we did.

Cindy came in about halfway through. After class, she and I did about 15 straight minutes of no-gi takedowns. She wants me to COMMIT to the livestock takedown. She wants me to drive my headlocking armpit down like I’m spiking a football, and kick that foot out really hard and wide. I’m still having hesitancies. I still feel like it’s not going to work, and the failure will leave me with my back to my foe and my arm twisted behind me (which would suck mightily). If it does work, I’m completely paranoid that I’m going to break my opponent’s neck. (Cindy: “They teach this takedown to three-year-olds! This isn’t mean!!”)
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On top of sleeping poorly at the best of times, I normally have nightmares when I’m too stressed out (usually work-related). Since Autumn ’11, I have had runs of nightmares from August through November. Had a dilly the night before the comp, and I thought it was comp nerves… nope, they are still coming. There’s no place to run when one’s own brain is acting as your enemy. “Whatever you do…. DON’T…FALL….ASLEEP!!!”
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Holy crap. If you see a guy named Kevin Thompson running around, don’t piss him off. He won the Revolution prize for “vicious submission” in gi (15 seconds) **AND** in no-gi (5 seconds)!!!!