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.

Asymmetrical chokes


What’s your opponent’s strength? What will he be relying on? Deny him that. While remembering that, if he’s good, he knows you’re going to try to deny him that, and will be devising ways to prevent you from denying him that- while trying to deny you your strengths too. -Campfire Tales From Hell


Lunchtime BJJ Kirkland.

Standing headlock. Fight the arm at your throat while turning your face into enemy’s ribs. Do not turn face toward crook of elbow.

Place free arm about hir waist. Swing your leg back and go to one knee to put the party on the ground. Side control. If s/he clings to the headlock, grab your own wrist and post on hir face while you posture up to pry it off. Note that to use the full strength of both arms, you want to use the hand on top to clasp the wrist on bottom. Note also that if you are a tiny Kitsune, this may not be sufficient against a behemoth and you may have to resort to some squirming and twisting to pop your head out.

Side control flow drills. SC with gable grip, backsit, front mount, dismount, SC. Rinse, repeat.

Same, only no gable grip- elbow in the ear and opposite hand controlling the hip nearest you.

Asymmetrical choke. Side control with your arm under opponent’s head. Grip gi at far shoulder. I found an ouside grip better- ie, I tended to get too bound up if I tried to grip in the lapel. But you have to be able to keep hir down, so do what you need to do. The arm nearest opponent’s feet, push that under and across your own chest until you can grip behind the collar. Now flip your first forearm over hir face and choke with forearm. You need to make sure you dig in well under that jawbone, because s/he is going to be straining hir chin down as soon as s/he realizes what you’re doing.

Some positional sparring from side control.

A roll with the new guy (I think he’s another “John”- I need to retain his name, because he’s a really nice guy. He uses a lot of muscle, but he is aware of it and chagrined by it. He’s very polite. He seems to be having a lot of fun. I hope he stays.) and one with Cindy (no-gi, with copious standup). Almost got a tomoe nage on the new guy- it wasn’t very clean and I couldn’t get on top after, but I did manage to loft him over. Too bad- it only works on each new person once, so I blew it!

It was much fun to watch Cindy rolling with the new guy, while I heckled from the sidelines.

The tangled web we weave


Stacking: a skilled fighter will use many things in combination. Strikes and gouges can both set up a throw and do damage during the execution. You can lock a limb while sweeping a leg. You can use a lock to slam the threat into a corner or over a coffee table. It’s all good. –Rory Miller

Fri: 128. Okay, so maybe it’s a LITTLE funny.

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

Standup: Judo grips. Push and pull back and forth a few times to make foe step back and forth. Then as s/he is stepping forward with the foot on your elbow-grip side, pull DOWN with the elbow grip and UP with the lapel grip as you use your same-side foot to sweep opponent’s ankle between the two of you. You want to do this very suddenly, after s/he has committed hir weight to the step but before hir foot is down. (Note: stupid side is phenomenally stupid.)

Now: Top side control. Use knee to isolate the arm. Go for KOB, but it’s a trap!!!!!! As opponent puts hand on your knee, you pin it to hir belt. That knee you have on hir belly, stretch it all the way behind you and then sweep it in a huge glorious circle around to stick your foot behind opponent’s neck. You are going OVER TOP of hir arm. As you put your foot behind the neck, grab your own ankle with the other hand.

(Note: as you do this sweeping circular motion, you can also yank the opponent’s head and shoulders up a bit to make it easier to stuff your foot in there. If s/he has turned toward you a little in order to try to shrimp out from under your KOB, this will also make your life easier. Thank you very much.)

Now roll. DO NOT LET GO OF YOUR ANKLE!!!! Place your other foot on opponent’s hip. Opponent is probably helping you at this juncture because s/he has now realized your dastardly plot, and is trying to get postured to defend the triangle.

As long as you have kept that ankle, you ought to be able to complete your adjustments in a leisurely fashion.

You can also finish the triangle without rolling if you wish.

Opponent is in turtle, you sprawled on top N/S. Place left arm against the left side of hir head and scoot to that side. As you are sinking the crossface, go ahead and secure a grip on hir OPPOSITE bicep.

Now reach under hir with your free arm and hug both hir biceps. Pull hir arms towards you and dump hir on the mat on hir back. If you stay nice and tight, and focus on placing your kneeling thigh under hir biceps, you can keep those arms trapped- which is a great position from which to do all sorts of mischief to bring about a finish.

Finally: gi choke from closed guard. Break opponent’s posture and grips and lock hir right bicep under your left armpit. Linger there at smooching distance while you get the fingers of that same hand into hir opposite lapel (you can use your other hand to feed it if you need to). Don’t tighten it up to the point that you don’t have enough slack for the next step: stick the thumb of your right hand into the back of the collar right at the tag. Now whip your forearm over hir head and choke.

One roll with Daniel, one with Ron, one with the visiting black belt.

Ron seemed to be doing some catch and release, to the point where I was like, “Come on, finish your subs. Tap me, dammit. I’m competing next week.” He replied, “I’m ALWAYS trying to tap you, Kitsune.” He was also doing a lot of inverted guard. I sprawled heavy on his face (sorry Ron) and used his gi tails to wrap up his shoulders and neck. I did not have a cohesive plan with that- my brain isn’t that geometrically clever- but I did manage to get him so tied up that he found himself unable to transition into any of the nasty little tricks that he likes to set up from inverted guard. As we panted there with our faces about two millimeters apart, and I watched him try to move one way and then the other while dismay began to creep into his eyes, I whispered, “Oh, the tangled webs we weave.”

So after two ten-minute rolls with Daniel and Ron that were tons of fun, Doug goes to put Mario with the visiting black belt, and Carlos stops him. “He’s been training hard all day. Geef heem a break. Let heem go weeth Keetsune.”

I couldn’t decide whether to be insulted or not. On the one hand: Sparring me is apparently considered a “break” or at least markedly less work than sparring Mario, who is the same rank (taller and heavier, but it’s not like he’s a grizzly or anything). On the other hand, since Carlos is the one who is ranking me, one would think he wouldn’t want me to roll with his buddy if he thinks said buddy will pull him aside after class and ask him, “Dude, what kind of bad acid trip were you on when you gave that chick a purple belt????”

So anyway, I fight the visiting black belt- who is a smaller-size guy and turned out to be great fun. He was letting me work some- even let me have a choke tap. I seemed to be rolling pretty well, and I got the sense that he didn’t think I sucked. He also gave me a split lip, but it was well worth it.

It was a fun night of training.

Public service message: Paul Thomas Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing MMA school (Katy, Texas) has indicated that Nick Schultz (the guy who raped a teammate at TLI and left her semiconscious on a cement parking lot in the middle of a winter night) is welcome to come back and train there (he has trained at Paul Thomas before). Please help spread the word that Paul Thomas Jiu Jitsu Kickboxing MMA welcomes dangerous and immoral asswipes onto its mats to troll for their next victims among its students and their families. Please also indulge me as I will be using this blog on an ongoing basis to publicize schools and sponsors who support rapists. We need to get this out into the light where everyone can see.

Slide into home


A melodic tinkling sound suddenly drew her attention downstream. If she’d been in fox shape, her ears would have pricked up. –The Hole In the Clouds

Evening advanced class in Bellevue. I almost didn’t go in… my forearms felt very achey and weak. Achey I can ignore, but the functional grip impairment was more problematic. Then it occurred to me that this was the same thing I had been dealing with in the no-gi portion of the last comp, and I could do worse than to just run with it and try to cope.

I was also pretty drugged up on allergy meds.

So of course we began with RUNNING and SPRAWLS and BURPEES, and within three minutes I was heartily regretting my folly.

Standup: single-leg setups (using judo grips, pull down on collar and yank up on elbow, grab leg on the elbow side).

Then, break lapel grip and shoulder throw.

Next: you are standing, opponent lying on hir back before you. Underhook one thigh and hike it onto your shoulder while pushing other knee to mat. “Slide into home” with NEAR knee cutting across opponent’s thigh. Move to side control. Make sure you do not leave your trailing arm between hir legs (I did this once, and Ross helpfully slammed me into a backward triangle to show me my mistake).

Rotating spars. I know there are plenty of subs you can do without hand grips, but I just was not in the game tonight. The only positive thing I can really say about tonight’s spars is that they burned calories.

Hopefully arms will be better in the morning, or I may need to give the bod a break.

Right before class, I watched Carlos devour an enormous submarine sandwich and make a huge shake disappear. Then- to my envious horror- he produced a stuffed pita sandwich every bit as large and wolfed that as well. I don’t know how he can eat like that five minutes before getting on the mat. We razzed him. I said, “You’re not going to puke on us, right?” We concluded that the food is being transformed directly into muscle even before it reaches the stomach.

“What martial art you are doing?”


The usual winner in a ground fight is NOT the best grappler, but whoever has friends who show up first and start kicking. –Rory Miller

Tues: 127.5

Tuesday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue. We had a visiting black belt today- which always means a lot more work! I’m not sure if the prof is trying to show us UP or show us OFF in those cases.

Same standing thrust kick defense that we did yesterday.

Carlos: What martial art you are doing?
Kitsune: (hands over face in shame)
Carlos: I don’t know what you doing, but ees not zchoo-zchitsu.

Okay, so it’s NOT functionally identical to Black Crane. We are supposed to stand with one foot well forward. I honestly want to know how we can plan to have the correct foot forward when we are not dealing with a compliant uke who can be relied upon to kick with the “correct” foot. But I can’t think of a way to ask the question without having it sound like the dreaded “my MA is better than your MA” challenge, which place I DO NOT want to go with Carlos. It’s an honest question. I wonder who else I might be able to approach to straighten out that bit of confusion for me.

In addition, the copious errors of my ways included elbow striking with the “wrong” elbow. It appears to me that the technique will work with either elbow, but it seems to be better supported by the full weight of my body (as well as utilizing more of the torque from the turn) to use the “wrong” elbow. Oh well.

Despite my show of contrition and lack of argument, I wonder if he thinks I’m copping attitude when I inadvertantly bleed Kung Fu into my Zchoo-zchitsu; as it then turned into Pick On Kitsune Day- even though the room was packed, he was all up in my grill the whole hour pointing out errors in all of my techniques. Of course, many instances of POKD have no discernable trigger at all…. so who knows.

Foe is in your closed guard. Use right hand to pin hir left hand to hir belt. Secure left hand cross grip on hir left lapel OVER TOP of that trapped forearm. Knee up on the trapped side. Shin turn out on the OTHER side, toe posted. Stand. Switch sleeve cuff grip to opposite hand and grab pants. Break guard and squat, quickly moving to double inside-the-knee grips as you make sure your legs are out of DLR guard range.

Now: Step left foot out to the left as you yank opponent’s near leg straight and far knee to the mat on the other side. Sprawl and lay your face on hir belt, shoulder on the side of hir ribs. Dance to the side on toetips to pass.

If s/he pushes your face toward hir legs, go with the spin and do a breakdancing 3/4 turn on top of hir using your shoulder as the pivot. Now you are in side control, ideally with opponent’s arms trapped as well.

Today’s “Fun with English as a second language” moment: “Poo foot”…. Gordon was just as confused as I was by this instruction, and it was no clearer to either of us on the second or third repetition. Turns out “Poo foot” = “Pull foot”

No-gi evening


Despair is an indulgence. –Karani

No-gi in Bellevue. Fortunately Kelly and I had coordinated to both be there. Apparently she has gotten stuck with some rough partners in the no-gi class to the point where she is going less often. It was good that she was there for me to work with, because the only other people there were Luis and Tagir. Both are on my “safe partner” list, but the size/strength disparity is considerable.

Pummeling. Then Single-leg setup drills.

You have side control. Foe turns into you and sticks lower knee in. You move the arm closest to hir head OVER, then turn your hips toward hir feet and use your hip to move the knee. Grab hir far knee/thigh and pull it toward you as you mount.

Same entry, but when you turn toward the feet, your opponent brings hir elbow to the mat. Turn BACK toward hir head, grab the bicep and yank that puppy outta there. Close your arm over it so that you are in a modified scarf. Take a moment to make sure 1) the inside of opponent’s elbow is toward the ceiling, and 2)shove hir head so that it is lying on your thigh. Now step your other leg over hir head and armbar.

A roll with Tagir and one with Kelly.

Spent quite a bit of time on my butt while Tagir tried to come in on me. Normally I’d get up and work standup as soon as we detangled enough; but I wasn’t feeling up to getting thrown by Tagir tonight. As we handfought, oddly enough I found myself falling into Snake hand guard positions. That hasn’t happened in a long time.

Note that Tagir is working on guillotines. He tried one on me and I managed to squirt out, but he got one on Kelly and kept it clamped on her for a few minutes before she finally had to tap.

I seem to be doing better against Kelly than I have done in the past. A year ago, she dominated me every roll and tapped me sometimes. Then there was a several-months-long period where I didn’t work with her, and now- while I’m not tapping her very often, she’s not tapping me hardly at all and she’s not on top of me the entire time. I’m starting to wonder if she’s coming up against that wall- the one that people tend to hit when they are gifted and start out doing very very well in their first couple of years.