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.

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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.

 

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Half guard passing game

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The Tueller Drill:
Sergeant Dennis Tueller, of the Salt Lake City, Utah Police Department wondered how quickly an attacker with a knife could cover 21 feet (6.4 m), so he timed volunteers as they raced to stab the target. He determined that it could be done in 1.5 seconds.

Saturday in Seattle.

You sitting, opponent standing. S/he moves to your side. You turn so that the knee nearest opponent is on the mat and your far knee up. Near palm on the mat and far arm in high warding position. Brace against opponent’s collarbone and technical lift to get to feet.

Opponent sitting, you standing. You go to hir side and wrap your FAR arm under hir legs as if to pass. S/he pushed your head to the mat. You hop your feet over hir to the other side.

From closed guard: Do a basic guard break and underhook a thigh as if to stack and pass. Then hop to the other side instead. Opponent starts to roll away from you. Get a sash grip (make sure you are UNDER hir ceilingward arm) and stick your hook in under hir hip as she tries to gain hir knees. Take the back. At this point, get a choking lapel grip.

After we had drilled this for a while, we had the backmounted person free a hook and try to crabwalk out. Attacker keeps the sash grip and rolls belly down sprawling. A choke can often be accomplished from here. if it is not happening, loosen up enough to bail opponent to trying to escape, and retake the back.

Rolls with a handful of people I had never met before. Taught an upa to a white belt. Got two straight elbow locks on a blue belt- the same elbow lock I got on Sean yesterday. That is awesome. But I need to work on remembering to stay out of top half guard on people who are good at retaining half guard and/or doing useful things from bottom half guard. That blue belt had a gnarly half guard retention, and I actually commented on it, yet still found myself sliding right back into it repeatedly. I feel so good about my top half guard passing that I tend to just go into it and proceed to pass as a routine part of my game. It usually works, but I need to take note when I draw someone who is not letting me get away with that, and try OTHER things.

Careful, Carlos will yell at you!

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In all athletic disciplines, it is the internal work that makes the physical mat time click, but it is easy to lose touch with this reality in the middle of the grind. – Josh Waitzkin, “The Art Of Learning”

Thurs evening No-gi in Bellevue.

Pummelling to backtake. Carlos emphasizes the changing of levels as you duck under foe’s arm (which I always want to cheat because of my poor knees). I am good about remembering to always capture an arm as I take the back, but I’m not good about remembering to capture the correct arm. I am aware that part of my sloppiness and reluctance about getting and maintaining wrist grips (especially in no-gi) is because my brain assumes that with most partners, I will not be able to keep the grip due to the largeness of their wrist versus the smallness of my hand. I think I am also subconsciously timid about injuring my thumb. Carlos usually uses a “C” grip. I don’t feel secure with that grip. I should experiment with it more often, though.

You standing, opponent lying on hir back with soles toward you. Place palms on hir belly (Note- have elbow bent and splayed a bit outward so as not to invite an armbar.). Dance feet from side to side, ending in a partial squat with alternating opponent’s feet between your knees. After a few reps, slide near knee over hir thigh and pass. UNDERHOOK THE FAR ARM (this is my persistent weakness) and trap near arm under your own armpit.

You standing, opponent sitting, handfighting. Grab foe’s ankles and rocking-chair hir back. As s/he sits up again and tires to grab half guard, grab hir right ankle with your L hand and press your rt palm to hir ribs. (Note- have elbow bent and splayed a bit outward so as not to invite an armbar. Also, so not let hir put that sole on the floor.) Press hir to the floor with that rt hand as you half-squat in standing half guard setup. Donkey-kick the RIGHT foot back (more challenge for me here, trying to remember which foot) and slide your thigh under hir rt thigh (now both hir legs are on your rt side). Pass guard, pressuring on the now-pretzeled opponent trapped under you. Opportunity here to snug your right arm in nice and tight for a little bit of a neck-crank if you want to be a douche. More challenge for me at THIS point figuring out where to put the opponent’s arms. I get confused on where I want to underhook, and I tend to sloppily leave at least one arm free to fight me. It’s so easy to get hyperfocussed on that juicy neck.

Same entry. As opponent rocking-chairs up and tries to hug your leg, you hook rt hand behind hir neck and place controlling elbow on hir breastbone. Yank hir elbow up and insert your knee into the space. Pass. Again, don’t get sloppy about trapping arms here. This is a variation on one of my favorite passes, and I was able to do it pretty smoothly, although I had to be really careful on Chrisanne’s ribs. I was also able to give her good constructive criticism on her controlling-elbow action (“Feel the way I brace this elbow?” “EeeRRRRRkkkk… yeah .” “You do the same thing to me.”).

These last two techniques had a lot of steps, and I remember how freakin’ frustrated I used to get as a white and blue belt trying to remember all the steps with the details and sequencing. It’s much better now. I still struggle some, but not nearly as bad as I used to. I don’t think this is a result of me getting better (ha ha), but I have seen most of this stuff in some form or other so that it’s not quite as much rote memorization of completely foreign choreography.

Same entry, but when opponent rocking-chairs up, you guillotine. Carlos wanted us to press our abs on the top of the person’s head. I feel great setting up the guillotine (it has always been one of my favorites), but it was really weird to position the head so centrally. I also couldn’t get over the feeling that that ought to be considered a neck crank. I am aware of having annoyed both Carlos and Cindy by continually asking “why isn’t (insert technique they just taught) a neck crank?” It’s a legitimate question, and I really want to know- but after seeing the expression on their faces the last few times I asked this, I felt like I had better quit asking. (Maybe I can ask Doug later on….) Note- try to get the bone at the base of the thumb right into the throat. Makes a huge difference. When Chrisanne did this, it made me want to tap as soon as she placed it there, even BEFORE she placed her belly on my head or did any pulling at all.

Positional training starting from one person standing, one person sitting on hir foot, rotating partners. After I lost Chrisanne, I had all huge guys- so I did not do too well with this. (The first was Big John, who is Big indeed, but experienced to be careful….. even so, Carlos stood over us and was like, “Be careful. Be careful. Don’t put your hand there Watch your weight. Be careful.”)

One roll with Chrisanne and one with Ben. Ben is definitely approching black belt level. He so effortlessly pretzels me any way he wishes. I tried to set up a kneebar, and he said, “Careful, Carlos will yell at you.” YES, I know!! Carlos wasn’t looking, so I got away with it, although of course Ben easily shucked me off and triangled me.

I had really wanted to do a hard workout tonight. But I (surprise surprise) slept poorly and was pretty tired…was feeling some various and sundry injuries hampering me….. also, I had to take a decongestant before class. By the time I drove home, I was reeling with exhaustion, even though it was supposedly a nondrowsy variety. I think I still managed to put in a decent class (and stayed for two rolls after- yay me), but not as hard as I had wanted to work.

I have been good about eating tons of eggs lately. Mostly scrambled, although I found some frozen meat fritattas in the half-off section at the Safeway deli and really liked them. I am going to try to make my own slightly modified version.

Having a LOT of trouble controlling my snacking and binge-eating at work. There is so often junk food there, even if I manage to refrain from bringing any with me. I have even resorted to the vending machine a couple of times lately, which I am usually too cheap to do- I need to NOT allow that to become a habit. I can feel the conditioning kicking in and I’m wanting to search for stuff to put in my mouth as soon as I finish my initial maintenence tasks and get a breather in the work flow. On Tuesday there was a trail mix in the break room. It had chocolate chips in it. After I had picked at this for a while despite myself, I took it down to the coat room to get it out of my sight. (Assistant: “Hey, where are you going with that? (looking like kicked puppy) “Well, I brought it to share… but maybe I just won’t bring it any more.” I tried to explain that I was watching my weight and I can’t have snacks (especially chocolate) sitting at my elbow, but I managed to offend her. There’s also one other assistant in particular who loves to bake and is always bringing in cookies and crap. She also gets all wilted and sad-puppy-faced if I put her stuff in the coat room. This is frustrating. It feels like even when I’m trying, other people are actively sabotaging me. I know they don’t mean any harm, which makes me feel like a terrible person for hurting their feelings. But geez. Healthy eating is difficult enough without it being a social minefield with the people I have to work with every day.)

Use it or lose it.

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Recognize when you have time. People get hurt when they try to plan without time, and unnecessarily hurt others when they have time to plan and don’t use it. –Rory Miller

The Stripe Fairy is loose again at GB. John (who got his purple belt on the same day that I did) is now up to 4 stripes, and I am still at 1. After a momentary knee-jerk surge of competitive frustration, I remember that I do not WANT to get promoted. Must remember to duck into bathroom during bow-out for the next week or so.

Later………

So I ducked into the locker room and took off my jacket when it was time for bow-out, and darn if Carlos didn’t come chasing into the lobby and tell me to get back in there, and the entire class waited for me. 😦 It sucks to be the only woman in the room. It makes you way too memorable and makes it more difficult to sneak away when you want to. So that tactic is not going to work.

You have butterfly guard, opponent lying on your chest. Do a little hip bump to get your horiz. forearm across hir clavicles and push hir up (you can get kind of mean with this….). Sit up, scoot back a titch and place the outside of your knee on the mat on the side that you are NOT bracing your opponent’s chest.

Swim that arm under hir arm (remember to keep that elbow posted hard to keep hir from coming in on you) and grab the belt at hir tailbone. (This turned out to be the bugaboo detail for me…. I don’t like to grab the belt. It moves around too much, and sometimes it isn’t there at all (like in no-gi).) with your other arm, grab hir bicep and hug it to you. The more you can get hir shoulder twisted around, the better (tiny but critical detail). Sweep.

If s/he puts a foot up to catch hirself, you can underhook that knee, HOOK HIR OTHER ANKLE WITH YOUR TOE and sweep hir the other way. This was hella cool, but one of those things that my subconscious was resisting because it doesn’t seem like it should work. Important detail: try to keep that leg-underhook as you roll, because it leaves you in a much better position at the end… otherwise you often get caught in half or full guard. It also puts more weight on opponent’s chest and gives a better angle for a little Shoulder Of Justice.

One spar with Chrisanne, one with a blue belt who got two straight ankle locks on me. I had started to put myself right into the second one, like a total moron, and then checked myself and tried to go into DLR instead. He neatly hooked up my foot and did it to me again. Dammit. Then one spar with a tall skinny white belt guy I have never seen before. I got a gi choke tap on him- otherwise held him at bay with spider guard.
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I was feeling distinctly torpid by the time I arrived at evening class in Kirkland, but arrive I did. Some white belt guy was there who immediately remembered me from one class LAST WINTER and was a little put out that I didn’t remember him. (again with the “only woman” thing…. do you have any idea how many white belt guys I see come and go? About a bazillion prillion quagfillion. No, I can’t remember, I’m sorry.)

Upa. I stuggled with the upa, which was embarrassing… but I do not EVER use this. I always go to half or butterfly. I don’t like sticking my arm out like that, and it takes too much time for me to remember which leg to trap and how to do it. Which says that I need to practice it more. It also seems like way too much effort to do that big ribcage-straining bridge. And it feels like it is never going to work. Again… I obviously need to drill it more.

Fortunately, we next did the combover escape from front mount to half guard… which is my go-to if they actually manage to get full mount, and I can make it work on almost everybody (even the higher belts). Which tells me that I need to quit doing it all the time and work on the upa instead.

Escape from headlock. Dave reccomends an under-over braiding of your arm after you trap the guy’s arm behind him, as this gives you more control for either a shoulder lock or choke as you choose- I generally avoid getting entangled to that extent with an opponent, but it’s difficult for him to muscle out of this because of the crappy angle.

We replaced closed guard from there…. I usually try to squirt out the back.

One spar with Edwin.

Kirkland

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’Feeling’ other people’s intentions when there is no time to comprehend is not a special talent reserved for enlightened masters. Only a bad relationship with our perceptions and a poor regard for our intuition can take this fundamental weapon away from us. Centuries of strict rationalism and skeptical philosophies have contributed to undermine our natural sensitivity. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Evening class in Kirkland, under Dave.

Opponent standing, you on your back with feet on hips. Opponent pushes your leg to the side and steps to the side, you cross far leg over top and replace the open guard. Over and over.

From closed guard: spider guard to triangle to armbar to omoplata to triangle.

From side control: near arm under opponent’s head, sit back on your hip, grab pantleg. Mount, grapevine, arm under head, dismount in “kickstand” position. Then side control. Rinse, repeat.

Basic back mount escape. Don’t forget to grab the pantleg and push it away. Also, noting that tilting the head to the side and then pressing it back against opponent before rolling onto the side makes a big difference.

Same, only this time opponent grabs half guard. Sit back on hip, clear the arm, CROSSFACE (very important), shoulder pressure. Now scoot butt back as you use free arm (and your other foot, if necessary) to clear the half guard.

You are in turtle, Opponent is sprawled on you N/S. Hug one thigh, pop head out on that side side and press it against opponent’s shoulder blade. Step the outside foot out. Pop your body out and lie back on opponent. Twirl around to hang off hir side, as s/he is now turtled. My biggest challenge here is remembering to circle the elbow back as I pop out.

Same beginning pose. This time grab both thighs and scoot in close. Pop head out, step out on that same side, use OUTSIDE hand to grab the near ankle. Push with shoulder (be very upright) and lift to spill opponent over. Take side control. There is a good opportunity here to also trap both legs on top of your thighs.

Sparring: Twice with a white belt I don’t know, once with Dave. With Dave, my amazing skills from this afternoon continued to reign. I did worse against the white belt, go figure- even though he wasn’t being smashy or ridiculously heavy. He had good basics, good guard passes and really good top pressure. In our first spar, I did loop choke him in about twenty seconds, which inspired much hilarity (him included).

You Shall Not Pass

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In combat, neither a knife nor a gun is used for winning fights. Get over that. They are used for killing people. That is a profound difference. –Rory Miller

Sun: 129.5

Sunday lunchtime BJJ in Seattle. I had e-mailed Kelly and also posted on the GB Sea FB page trawling for some Fun-size people to come to this class, but again it was a bunch of huge guys and me. Then later on, Casey and Cindy came in- so that was a little better!

I ate a huge carb-heavy breakfast this morning, so I wanted to work.

I spent about 40 min rolling no-gi with Peter before class. He’s so huge and muscley, but he’s really good about letting me work without being *too* condescendingly nice. He was leaving me just enough room to get out of stuff, *IF* I was really squirmy- so that was good practice, since I need to be more squirmy.

As usual, positional KOTH. Today, two purple belts and a brown belt literally just threw up their hands and surrendered to my bottom half guard. They simply could not pass (without Hulk-smashing), and finally just gave up trying and conceded defeat. Casey complimented me after class on my game, which is flattering, but I don’t really consider this a positive. I said to Peter, “One of these days I’m going to be able to actually *DO* something with this bottom half guard instead of just lock it on and throw away the key…. and then you’re all going to be screwed.”

After class, Cindy was kind enough to work no-gi takedowns with me. We did 50 each.

Double leg: Lower level. Then step almost between opponent’s feet with right foot. drop to right knee. Place hands on BACKS OF SHINS. Just place them there, don’t clench. (Cindy doesn’t like where I’m grabbing nor how I’m grabbing.) Prop left leg out to side, foot on mat. DO NOT BEND OVER AT THE WAIST! Place body right against opponent. Turn into opponent- you’re not facing right into hir, but getting close. Stand up. DO NOT REMAIN ON BOTH KNEES! Place head against opponent’s armpit. Odd as it seems, this feel like the key pivot point. Don’t fixate on trying to lift the legs. It’s about that erect body posture pressing at the right angle.

There are a lot of counterintuitive details in this. I don’t know how Cindy keeps her patience. She must have explained to me about sixty times, and she still didn’t slap me when I kept doing it wrong.

I crunched my right big toe on her shin. After hopping around and cursing for a few minutes, I was able to finish the takedowns session, but when I got home, I iced it and then put jow on it. I hate injuring toes. They’re so little and stupid, but it’s really impossible to do martial arts with injured toes- especially the large ones. I hope this is not going to bench me. I have several days off this coming week, and I want to train a lot.

“Twang”

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“Cats never regret anything.” –Tybalt, King Of the Cats

No-gi at Bellevue. Crisanne is sick, and I emailed Kelly but she was busy. I thought I was going to be the only one there- which could, depending on Carlos’ mood, turn into either a private or a cancelled class. As it was, Ben showed up. Ben is great to roll with, although it is an exercise in humility! So we just rolled for an hour.

With Ben, your number one goal is to stay out of his half guard. I knew this, but it’s difficult. I usually charge in on my opponent immediately after the fist bump- and when Ben is sitting there on his butt with his knees apart, there’s really no place else to go. With most people, beginning by stepping into their half guard is ducky…. because I’m good at passing top half guard, so we start the roll with me getting passing points and then side control. Ben, however, does not follow my script.

He did show me an option which involved hugging below his butt- which you have to do fairly snugly, gripping one wrist with the other hand. Sprawl hard, sink weight down, pry/kick leg out.

At another point, he was observing that having my butt posted a little ways out helped me defend the sweep or roll. One of the things I’m trying to pay more attention to lately is my habit of pasting myself as closely to the opponent as possible at all times. 95% of the time, this is exactly what you want- but there are a few positions where you really need to scoot your butt out a few inches. I am trying to be more aware of figuring out those specific situations.

Another learning moment: being in the head and arm choke. I had the free arm- the one on the side closest to Ben- wedged in there horizontally with the elbow against his head, and it seemed like it would let me hold out for a bit. He suggested that instead I cover my ear with my hand. That didn’t make practical sense to my brain, but I went ahead and tried it- and yeah, it was better. I was cooked either way, but the hand-over-the-ear bought me a little more time.

Straight ankle lock- he’s playing with a figure-4 grip here. I tried it and liked it. This might work better for me than the standard.

Coach Dynamo saw me standing on the mat doing toe-heel, toe-heel, and asked if I was doing ballet. I said no, I have plantar fasciitis. Turns out he has had it too. He poked at my foot a while. It was fairly painful after the afternoon standup class.

I’m sure CK- who often makes things in my back go “twang”- would be amused to hear that the coach actually made something in my HEEL go “twang”. We found a knot in the bottom of my heel. It felt like a marble deep in there. Something is really skewed in the world when you can have a KNOT in the bottom of your HEEL. That can actually be twanged. That is just wrong.

I saw Pam in the locker room getting ready for the next class, and that made me want to do the next class. I actually felt fairly okay at that point, but I was pretty sure that after the warmup I would crash hard. Reluctantly I decided to pass.

Pam told me that every time she makes eggs, she thinks of me.