Begging for an omoplata


Japan has a concept called Shu-Ha-Ri. You can find it not just in martial arts, but in almost any traditional Japanese art.
The first stage is “Shu” which means “to preserve”. At this level, the student is expected to copy exactly what is presented until it becomes habit.
Then is the “Ha” stage, which means “to break”. Now the student starts to take apart and examine the material. With a strong base behind him, he has good examples of how things should be, and he has room to mess with things and determine the reasoning and principles behind them.
The final stage of “Ri” means “to separate”. At this point, the seeker is expected to take the core principles and make new expressions of them different from what he has been shown. –Campfire Tales From Hell

Yard work in the morning.

Thursday no-gi in Bellevue.

The Revolution is in two weeks, so we are doing a lot of positional training and king of the hill.

I find KOTH in no-gi to be particularly frustrating, as my usual lag behind the curve is more noticable then ever here. When it’s a “pass vs sweep”, “sub vs escape” type exercise, there’s very little room to recover from and compensate for the inevitable “I’m just going to hoist you over and place you where I want you because you’re so tiny” maneuvers.

One roll with Ron, whom I have not worked with in a very very long time. Unfortunately it has not been long enough for *HIM* to forget that I like to snatch guillotines from standing, and he was able to defend successfully. We both caught ourselves sticking feet in one another’s armpits begging to be footlocked. A persistant bad habit still needing more work.

Carlos pointed out another bad habit that many of us were doing… I’m not sure if I am doing it, but I need to pay attention and make sure I’m not… placing a hand on the mat beside opponent’s opposite hip while passing guard, before getting fully past the legs. This is begging for an omoplata. You need to place the hand on the hip. It is entirely likely that I am committing this sin, as I tend to drape myself very low over the opponent while passing guard, and I don’t like to brace on the opponent’s body because I’m scared of getting swept.

Move your heaps!


All valuable training happens outside the comfort zone. Physically, mentally, emotionally you have to push the envelope. It’s gotta hurt. -Rory Miller

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

Warmup roll with white belt Shawn. He tapped me many times. I could feel the “I suck” tape starting up in my head, and I switched it off. Shawn is really good. He was also using some strength when his technique started to fail him (which it didn’t often…. as I said, he’s good).

Dreels. Armbars from guard. (“Move your heaps!”) Triangles from guard. Omoplatas. Armbar to omoplata to triangle.


Shawn- more getting tooled. It’s a good thing.


Kitsune: “Don’t kill me. I’m old.”
Paul: “Don’t kill *ME*. I’m old.”
Kitsune: “Geez, you look young enough to be my son.”

He played purely defensive, and I spent the entire time trying to get a choke or armbar. Finally- near the end- I managed to isolate an arm and clasp it against my midline. Then we spent a while rolling and thrashing around while I tried to get an elbow lock. When I felt the elbow slipping out, I tried a wrist lock, which failed also. Gotta admire his defense.

Black belt Sean. I was exhausted and I didn’t feel like I mounted a decent fight at all, but he commented “Very technical.”

Somebody bled on my French vanilla gi, gol-dernit.

Professor Herbert is going back to Brazil. I am very bummed.

Georgette is in Edmonds. I am going to try to go over to Edmonds and train with her next Friday.



’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).

More sparring


The weapon will not make you safe. It is a tool you can use. –Rory Miller

A solid hour and a half rolling with Kelly. I gave her her choice of gi/no gi, and she picked gi.

I was worried about my right shoulder, which I seem to have wrenched while I was playing with the cop this morning- but apparently it is on that fine line where it twinges a lot while I’m going about my life yet I can mostly ignore it in the heat of battle.

Kelly tapped me three or four times for every one that I got on her, but the ones I got on her were omoplatas- which makes me happy, since I don’t go for those very often and rarely get them when I do. Kelly’s shoulders are rubbery. I had to resort to Cindy’s (mean!) variation, where you latch your arms around the opponent’s head/shoulder and pull up.

Kelly has become one of the few people who can reliably get out of my half guard- using the same trick that Peter has been using (Peter being one other of those very few). She was kind enough to show me how to counter it. 😉

Lunchtime omoplatas


“How you behave towards cats here below determines your status in Heaven.” – Robert Heinlein

My favorite green cargoes are falling off my hips. That’s good…. I guess….

Mon: 128
Weds: 127.5

Wednesday lunchtime BJJ in Kirkland.

Scissor sweep. I focussed on the variation where you put your foot on the opponent’s kneecap and push hir thigh back. Note that is the opponent is basing hard, you can push at hir. Either s/he will push back (whereupon you complete the load for the scissor sweep) or s/he will resist (whereupon you do a technical lift instead).

Failed scissor sweep to technical lift. Hook one hand behind opponent’s neck and push head down as you do the technical lift. Then KEEP pushing the head down as you run around to take the back. If s/he tries to single-leg you, sprawl hard and kick the leg back and out. You can also loop your near hand in there so that you can circle to the OTHER side and force the person to roll onto hir back. Take side control.

As usual, Cindy complains that I am being way too nice and not being forceful enough with the head-pushing.

Same entry, foe tries to single-leg you. (You can even deliberately bait this by leaving your leg out there instead of tucking in to the side.) Reach between your knees and grab hir arm (ideally deep- at the elbow). Place your shoulder on the mat and roll. As you complete the roll, kick the leg nearest the opponent in an axe-kick so that you force opponent’s shoulder to the mat. Grab around hir torso to prevent the re-roll. Keep hir arm, shove hir hand “In the pocket”. finish omoplata.

Spars. I wasn’t doing very well today, but I was rather overmatched by Mike, Rocky and Cindy.

Two Hours Of Kelly

bicep 001

A man who knows that body and spirit are part of each other doesn’t need anyone to remind him that he is alive, nor does he have any reason to upset the ecological balance. Only the sky above his head and the earth under his feet. His body is the only home. It is the only thing that never abandons him, the only one that truly belongs to him. Such an individual is a threat to every form of established authority. A wolf that can’t be tamed. He is not under anyone’s orders and doesn’t accept dogmas because he already has within himself everything he needs to face life. When streams of power flow in the veins of your body, dependency on external factors is reduced to a minimum. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Friday evening: aborted class. The guy with the key was a no-show. We stood around and debated the merits of practicing takedowns in the parking lot. Then we talked about BJJ. Then we talked about peeing on electric fences. (This is what you have to put up with when you hang around with groups of guys.)
Sat: 127.5

Open mat in Bellevue. I spent just over 2 hours rolling with Kelly, first no-gi and then gi, with about a 5-min break in between the two.

Pic- that’s my left bicep- seventeen separate finger/thumb marks! Cool, huh?!

Kelly’s doing phenomenal- she’s a beast! She was on top the *entire* afternoon- which, while frustrating, was good in that it forced me to work off my back a lot (where I’m weak). I feel like I got a lot of good practice/experience today.

She is one of the few people upon which I have difficulty executing the comb-over escape from front mount to half guard; her tiny little feet tuck up under my thighs and she’s so tight that I’m stuck.

She also executed the Move Of the Day from Thursday on me, three times… only finished it once, but it’s a sweet move, hard to see coming.

With her long legs, the “lockdown” is devastating… even when she just gets one of my legs, it HURTS (she’s bony, too), and I can’t do a whole lot while she’s got me transfixed there.

I made a point of telling her all the things she was doing that sucked the most for me, and encouraging her to do them even more.

Kitsune: Oooh. That really hurts when you do that, and the angle that it creates with my neck makes it really difficult to defend.
Kelly: Oh! Sorry!
Kitsune: No, keep doing it! Do it more! It’s great for you!

I worked a lot of open guard. I set up the lasso sweep that we learned on Friday, and was astonished when it actually worked! msn_red_fox_smilies-18 Then I played with that lasso foot on one side and spider guard on the other, and managed to sweep her a couple more times in different ways. That’s really exciting, as sweeps are by far the WORST part of my game.

Another thing I was excited about- I managed to get a couple of armbar subs that weren’t really “techniques”, but improvised. Improvising is something else I don’t have a gift for, so it’s a thrill when I get something like that.

To work on: I am still letting myself get caught with one arm up by my head. I did it three times, and was cursing myself, although she was not taking advantage of it. After the third time, I asked her to clamp on a head-and-arm every time she saw me do that. She doesn’t feel solid with head-and-arm chokes, but I told her that as long as she had me well pinned, she had the leisure to adjust and play around till she got it. So that happened another four or so times. I really need to quit doing that. It is a terrible habit. I should start asking everyone to make a point of being ruthless about persuing me with that.

Tried for omoplatas several times, but only succeeded once. Chokes remain my most reliable tool… although I really am tickled about those creative armbars.

At one point we had stood up, and she jumped guard, catching me completely by surprise. I not only dropped us both like a rock, I had my fist wedged against her neck and thumped her a good one as she landed. She seemed to have hurt the back of head more, though. I felt terrible.

It’s hard to troubleshoot your partner’s technique while you’re faceplanted on the mat.


“What do the faeries do with the people they steal?” demanded Rimo.

“They eat them.” Taffi’s voice came out muffled, since he had both knees up and his head buried in them. –The Hole In the Clouds


These last three pounds are going to be a ripe bitch to lose. It doesn’t help to know that it isn’t going to matter by way of brackets. I’m going to have to fight Amanda, maybe Stevie, possibly one more; we will have to fight each other regardless of what we weigh…. although fortunately we are all usually within a bracket of one another. No-gi intermediate (where I’m going to stay as long as possible, although at some point I’m going to get forced up to advanced, which will be a tragic hoot) should have one or two other women- maybe as many as 4 or 5- in each of my possible weight classes, so it will matter… but I don’t know those women well enough to try to pick and choose where I want my weight to be in order to fight specific people. I know that I’m in my best possible condition at 124, though- so for my own purposes I’d like to be there.

Lunchtime BJJ in Seattle. Feeling a little sore from yesterday’s drills- especially my glutes (those bullfight passes!). I told Carlos that I was sore from his class, because he loves to hear that.

Shannon was there today, and we were both looking forward to working together because it’s been a while- but Carlos split us up and put me with a new white belt girl (Laura).

We did a number of complex techniques today. My brain had to scramble to keep up. If I’d had a day like this as a new white belt, I would have been in tears. Laura actually did really well, although needing considerable guidance. I did the techniques first, talking my way through it with one succinct word per step and pointing out any critical details. I think we mostly did okay together, although Carlos had to come over and help a few times. In particular, it is very difficult to talk your partner through troubleshooting her omoplata while you are faceplanted on the mat with your arm twisted behind your back so that you can’t see what she’s doing.

Rodrigo often tells his classes (with varying degrees of patience) to not presume to “help” fix each other’s technique, because- as he says- half the time, you’re telling them wrong. Yet he once chewed me out (when I was a young blue belt) for *failing* to correct mistakes on the white belt I was drilling with. So I get a little frustrated sometimes with the mixed messages. Today, Carlos reprimanded the class to not “fix” each other’s techniques. Then less then 20 min later he was asking me what was wrong with me for not having Laura’s techniques all perfect. Mind you, I *was* walking/talking her through everything, but these were a bunch of complex techniques with 8 or so steps apiece, and I am not yet so perfect that I have every single detail down pat myself.

1)Opponent attempts a double-leg, you sprawl. Place right arm stiffly beside the left side of hir head and spin around so that you are hanging off hir hip on that same side. Double underhooks, high lapel grips. Little hop to bring your FAR leg in and place the knee beside opponent’s knee. Other leg stretched out straight behind you (don’t mount the person). Pull hir into your back mount. Note that you need to have a little distance between the bodies- if your crotch is pasted to hir butt, it’s very difficult to prevent yourself from rolling on your back (an issue that I used to have tons of trouble with in the past, but I’m starting to get the hang now). Hooks in nice, lapel grips high and tight.

2) Begin in butterfly guard. Break opponent’s grip on your right pantleg and swing leg COUNTERCLOCKWISE to hook foot under hir armpit (“lasso”). YOU MUST KEEP HIR HAND TRAPPED- ON YOUR BELT!!! Place left knee horizontally across opponent’s trunk with knee toward your lasso side.

Grab opponent’s pants at ankle (no fingers in pantleg!!!) with your left hand and pull hir to load hir onto you. As you do this, stretch that leg out so that you are “talking on your phone” with opponent’s knee.

Use folded leg to gently lever opponent off you onto hir back. Hir wrist that you still hold- press that to the mat. (I found that you really need to take a moment here to make sure hir fingers aren’t going to break when you do the next move).

Which is- technical lift, to KOB.

3)Begin in butterfly guard. Go to lasso again, but this time you square up with your free knee pointed at the ceiling.

Now take that leg and straighten it, propping it on opponent’s left shoulder with the outside of your shin on hir ear.

Fold that straight leg forcefully over opponent’s neck.

Switch your right hand grip to opponent’s elbow. Then let go with left hand and swing your body so that you are nose-to-tail with opponent. Fold legs with opponent’s arm trapped in your crotch. Don’t let hir front-roll.

Finish omoplata.

4)Begin in back mount, double underhooks. Let go with rt hand and reach over shoulder to get choking grip. Let go with left hand and grab pants.

Bringing opponent with you, roll on your back and then on your rt side, and pull/kick your rt leg under you so that you come up in S-mount. (If necessary, adjust the front foot so that it is snug against foe’s belly).

Turn your rt shin/foot out. Come up to a squat. Sit back on butt while bringing right foot over opponent’s shoulder.


See? How’d ya like to take a brand new person through all that, at a rate of speed so as to finish in about 40 min?

Then we did a little KOTH from back mount. High belts down (being back mounted)- including me. I was slow to escape most people today, but I did escape all but one- a big cop who was totally muscling the crap out of me. He was tall enough to stretch me out and then bow my back so that there was no way for me to reach his feet even if I tried to use my thigh to lift a foot up to grabbing height (an invaluable trick!) He was almost able to tap me just with the back-bowing, but he wanted the choke, and I defended that (with difficulty… this was painful and I was scared for my spine, but he was pissing me off and I hate to tap to muscling). He tried to get my pantleg for a bow and arrow, but I scuttled that plan as well. He finally muscled me with a sloppy choke and I had to tap.

I did about 4 rounds with Shannon, and she was doing well enough that on the final round, I was forced to resort to some chest pressure and face-grinding. I hate doing that sort of thing, and I whispered, “Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!” while I was doing it. Then after I finished the escape, I apologized again and told her that she was doing so well that I had to resort to that- it was the only thing I had left.

The stripe fairy

stripe 001

All the world will be your enemy
Prince with a thousand enemies.
And when they catch you
They will kill you.
But first
They must catch you!

-Watership Down

Thursday: 127.5

You can run…. you can hide…. you can even leave your attendance card in the box so that it doesn’t get marked….. but the STRIPE FAIRY is still gonna get you in the end.

No-gi class in Bellevue. Began with a grueling series of warmups featuring all sorts of mutated pushups, backwards and forwards iron buffaloes, and anything else that Carlos’ twisted mind could come up with. Bear crawls with your partner backpacked on your back. Bear crawls with your partner papoosed on your belly. Thank God (blue belt) Lindsey was there today. Even she was almost too much for me. It wasn’t the weight that was the issue; it was more a problem of restricted limb movement with a human being pasted precariously to your torso.

Opponent is lying on hir back with you standing, hir feet on your hips, Push the feet to your left, swing RIGHT leg over the opponent, and drop with your right hip on top of hir left hip. Go to side control.

Same entry, only this time the opponent turns toward you and tries to swing hir leg over your head. Punch BOTH your arms to the other side, slide through using hir hip as the balance point, and take side control on the opposite side.

Opponent tries to double-leg you, you snap hir down and sprawl on top N/S. go to the side, reach both arms under opponent’s chest, grab far bicep with both hands, and pull to place opponent on hir shoulder. Keep weight on hir while you switch your arms so that the outside of your bicep is on hir clavicle. Now use “RNC” formation with your arms and lean your hip on hir head.

A couple of short spars. Carlos put a big white belt guy with me, and then gave him a lengthy talk about how he need not go easy on me. After he made the point three times, I said, “Okay, that’s enough! Now he’s going to kill me!” “I know thees guy ees a gentleman.” And the guy was, to the point that I actually had to reiterate to him that it was okay to put some weight on me.

I also had to have a talk with Lindsey, who is really hyperparanoid about hurting me (“but you’re so LITTLE!!!”) and won’t put barely an ounce of her her hulking 135lb down on me. She was doing that first guard pass drill brushing over my hip like a butterfly. I told her to be kinda careful of my RIBS, but she could thump down on my hip as hard as she wanted. She also wouldn’t complete her subs even with repeated urging. I tried to explain to her that as two colored-belt training partners who have worked together for a while, she needed to trust me to let her know if she’s going too hard, and trust me to know when to tap.

Next: Advanced class. It was a relief to see Kelly, whom I haven’t glimpsed since I crunched her elbow. I once again sought reassurance from her that I hadn’t injured her. Oh, she now has 4 stripes! Pam also got a stripe tonight! And- uh, well, me too.

We divided into teams of three and drilled double-leg setups from standing, then did the same inverted turn exercise that we did last night.

Then: opponent is in your guard. Pull hir fwd with legs and work hir bottom left gi tail free. Underhook hir left leg and feed the gi tail OVER your own thigh to the hand which is now underhooking the leg. Now you can scootch your butt out just a bit and go for- surprise- an armbar on opponent’s RIGHT arm!

If opponent pulls arm out, Keep ahold of the other grips and go for an omoplata.

If you go for the omoplata and the opponent hops one leg over you to straddle your head, you can (still retain those grips!) lunge up and force hir to continue the roll until you are on top. If you still have that gi tail, and now your weight down on hir, s/he can’t get out. Go to side control.

Several rounds of positional sparring starting from closed guard. I was working with Ron, and I was very pleased to try some of my new strategies when he inevitably went for deep half guard. I wasn’t able to get his head and package him up like Cindy had shown me… but I am very proud to say that I did **NOT** consign myself helplessly to the sweep and fall back on my ass. I did in fact manage to stay on top- it was messy, but I stayed there.

Omoplatas and collateral damage


Like a martial artist who has developed an exceptional technique but who doesn’t have the wisdom to know when to use it, Western culture has in its hands the technological potential to turn the planet into a paradise, but has no clue as to how to enjoy it. Rather than being used as a means to enrich our daily lives, the evermore sophisticated technological inventions become a way to take us further away from our bodies and our nature. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Pink Team at Bellevue, followed by “all levels”.

Pink Team- round robin sparring. I enjoy working with the white belt ladies and coaching them. Today I taught Saeki the upa. I hope I get to see Crisanne get her blue. It should be soon.

All-Levels: Begin on your back with opponent standing behind your head. Invert, cross your leg to opponent’s opposite hip, and turn yourself square. This was fun and easy. I put my hands behind my head and thought I was a rock star. Then Carlos came over to ask me what the H I was doing ending by putting my feet on the floor. End with feet on the hips.

Next: you have spider guard on standing opponent. Opponent steps back with one foot. You maneuver yourself around and square back up. This was easy, but very tiring after a few minutes.

At last: You have spider guard on standing opponent. Opponent steps back with one foot. You move your foot on that same side from bicep to hip. Pull opponent forward. Instead of the obvious triangle, go into omoplata.

The trickiest part of this was bringing the opponent’s arm over one’s own hip and then “stuffing it in your own back pocket”. If you fail to do this adequately, it turns into an awkward and dangerous armlock which seems like it would be great for SD, but unpleasant on your training partner whom you want to be able to train with again tomorrow. As you turn, you are trying to get your crotch socked right into hir armpit- just like in an armbar from guard. Being that close allows you to use your leg to shove on hir shoulder and encourage hir to face-plant. When Lindsey did it to me, I happily face-planted myself just to avoid the armlock. The omoplata seemed both less dangerous and more of an escape possibility from that end. Another matter- that knee. As you face-plant, your opponent’s knee is going right for your mouth. After Lindsey clocked me once, I started putting my hand up to shield my jaw as I bent over. When I did it to her, I opened my leg and placed the outside of that thigh on the mat so I wouldn’t whomp her.

She also kicked me in the head once (not hard). This was definitely a night that I was relieved to not be drilling with a white belt.