Esta quente.

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Instead of thinking about conquering an art form, think instead about kissing it hello, wooing it, exploring it in small, enticing steps. –Julia Cameron

Thursday BJJ in Bellevue: Carlos was absent, and there was a brand new girl taking her first class- so I taught her how to shrimp and then did the drills with her (side control escapes). Then there were a few short spars, and I matched her up with safe people. Will was there- I have not seen him in forever- so I called him out after class and we had a really fun roll.

Thursday BJJ in Bellevue: Standing guard pass drills. Standing spider guard pass by pinning one knee to the floor and underhooking the other thigh. King of the hill, spider guard sweep vs pass. I did pretty horrible today for some reason.

I got to try out my beginning Portuguese on Carlos today. I informed him that he is a very tall Brazilian man. You should have seen his face. He made me repeat it, and made a minor correction. Later I told him that it was too hot in the gym. At the end, I tried to tell him that the class was great, but he didn’t understand me.  I hope my pronunciation is not that bad. I will keep trying. I was able to read a comment today on one of his FB posts that was in Portuguese.

I take out another one.

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As we write, each of us has to believe our books are worth a tree. Or worthy of that tree.  -Jane Yolen
Friday evening “women’s class” in Bellevue. Rolled with Doug a bit to warm up- always an honor.

Self defense- you on your back, attacker standing at your feet. Use right foot to kick hir left thigh to make hir step back with that foot. Then another kick, higher, followed by a technical life. I can’t specify which foot does the second kick, nor which butt cheek you have to be on when you begin the technical lift, nor which sole is planted on the floor for that, because I just could not compute. I had one of those left-vs-right brain spasms… which I can often correct after a few reps via a verbal script of “Right foot kick, left sole floor, hips right, right foot kick…” or whatever. Sometimes it just will not come- and the longer it will not come, the more frustrated I get, and frustration introduces enough white noise into my brain to ensure that I will *NEVER* get it.

I am convinced that I have some kind of bona fide proprioception disability- which fortunately appears to be isolated to a fairly narrow problem area- yet I wish I could tell Carlos (and my former kung fu teacher) that I have a BRAIN TUMOR or something; I really am not this STUPID, truly. But trying to explain proprioception to someone who could barely speak English four years ago is futile when most native English speakers can’t define the term. It makes me crazy when he hovers over me and tries to correct my errors while I’m having one of these fugues, but even worse is when he gets frustrated and walks off. Few things make me feel as lowly as feeling that I have disappointed my teachers.

Closed guard pass- stand up and grip pantleg down to shuck the leg- I have done this enough by now that the correct sleeve cuff control and the grip change upon standing feel mostly natural.

A little positional training, hold closed guard vs pass, rotating partners.

My final opponent was a teenager in whose closed guard I stood up and proceeded to do the Move Of The Day. As I pushed her leg down, her face contorted into a rictus of pain. “Are you all right????!!!? Are you all right???!!” She didn’t answer, just kept writhing and grimacing. I was freaking out- I hadn’t been rough or anything, but after concussing Crisanne last week (yes, I did actually give her a concussion *and* whiplash, she had to go to the doctor!), I immediately assumed that somehow I had broken the girl’s knee. And here comes Carlos….. is he going to toss me out of this school for injuring everyone????!?

Finally she started rolling up her pantleg. I waited to see the bloody broken shafts of bone poking through the mangled shin of her knee. And saw…. a big scab. Which apparently I had grabbed when I grabbed her pantleg.

I was relieved, but I also kind of wanted to smack her for 1)not telling me that she had a giant scab on her left knee so that I could avoid it, 2)failing to verbally reassure me quicker that she was not in fact dying, and 3)scaring the shit out of me.

The head- a vulnerable design flaw

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Curious friend: “What is guard, what does that mean?”
Me: “It means I can kick your ass while I’m sitting on mine.”   -Ginger Snaps
Thursday evening no-gi in Bellevue.

Carlos still called us “girls” a couple of times, but I think he was making a conscious effort and trying not to.  😉

I stupidly tried to put in my contacts in the car with too little light, and ended up losing one. It felt like it was still folded up in there, but I could not find the damn thing. I had to call Amy (she’s a nurse when she’s not kicking ass in the cage) off the mat to poke around in my eye, but she couldn’t find it either. I had to work blind. I still don’t know what happened to it. Eye is all swollen up…. hope I won’t have to go to the Urgent Care for this. At least I was able to do the class and then drive myself home.

Driving drills- pummelling, shoulder throws, armbars from mount, standing rear naked choke defense to takedown with shoulder lock to KOB. Drilling with Amy, you know you are going to work hard.

The shoulder throw ends with the thrower on both knees… I always want to cheat this because my knees hurt. Really need to get way UNDER opponent, and snug hir armpit right into you hard, then sort of meld into one with hir as you bow to the mat. Then you have to unmeld in time to not go over with hir, but  move to KOB.

Carlos yelled at me for trying to cheerlead a white belt through her last set of armbars. Usually this is a thing he encourages, so I was confused and hurt. Two minutes later, he was sitting in a corner with his shirt pulled over his head. Turns out he had a massive migrane. I’m choosing to believe it was this that caused him to snap at me, and not that he hates me.

Four years ago- or even two years ago- this small event would have sent me into an epic spiral of self-hate and doubt and flagellation….. “Carlos yelled at me… he hates me….I can’t face him again….. I suck….did I really do something wrong? It’s probably because of that exchange we had last week about “girls” vs “women”…. that’s why he hates me…. was I out of line with that? I suck….. Was I rude and inappropriate to that white belt? Did I make her feel uncomfortable? Did I look like an ass in front of the whole class? Everybody hates me….. I hate myself….. I suck….. I can never face any of these people again…..” Yeah, stupid, I know. And yet. Welcome to the world of anxiety disorders.  I don’t know if it’s being on meds, or feeling more comfortable with Carlos after five years, or just maturity- but I didn’t spiral too badly this time. I spiraled some. But not with the usual severity.  And I made a point of facing him on Friday and asking if his head felt better, instead of slinking away because I was sure he hated me.

Friday women’s class: Same shoulder throw we did yesterday; another standing rear naked choke defense ending in a reap instead of the shoulder lock and pulling-to-floor; and the donkey-kick standing guard pass to KOB. I have done this donkey-kick thing enough now to know where my trouble issues are. It really needs to happen in 3 steps, not twenty because I am shuffling my feet around trying to get them in the correct position for the KOB. Getting it down to 3 steps requires beginning with the outside foot planted WAY out, not beside opponent’s body, it requires actually USING the push-and-bounceback of the shin on the opponent’s thigh instead of just going through the motions, and it requires HOPPING that outside foot in and donkeying the other leg back IN THE SAME MOTION. Once I get really focused, I can do it, but the stupid side is very stupid. The hunching over is also tough on my back.

On the last round of reap drill reps, Chrisanne’s breakfall was less than optimal, and she got her chimes rung pretty bad. I felt terrible. I have quit treating her like an egg and usually go about 85% on her, but I may need to backpedal and be a little more gentle. Of course, she tried to get right up and continue, but Carlos and Doug and I told her in no uncertain terms that she needed to just lie there for a minute. They put me with Christy, who is training for Pans, and churning out guard pass reps like a damn machine. I was in awe, and said so. Her throws are also painful. I didn’t take any bad falls like Chrisanne did, but drilling two complete throws in one class to the extent that we did was a bit much. Just a lot of constant brain jarring. My head ached all night and still aches this morning. I had to take an ibuprofen, which I almost never do. I pinged Chrisanne to make sure she was alive, and she is. After she had refused my offer of a ride home,  I had quizzed her on concussion symptoms, and made her promise that if she had any, she would ask her son’s girlfriend to drive her to the Urgent Care. I know this isn’t really my fault (or at least MOSTLY not my fault), but I still feel awful. Chrisanne had a terrible week at work, and I put the cherry on top by almost giving her a concussion. (And not that this is important- weighted beside giving Chrisanne a concussion- but it did cross my mind that this incident is not going to do anything good for Carlos’ apparent view of me as a reckless, dangerous Godzilla on the mat.)

My head ached too much to consider the all-levels class that came after this one- even if I’d had the energy, which I don’t think I did.

Preserving your identity

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  Fighting, counter-assault, hand-to-hand– whatever you want to call it– is very much a thing of guts and nerve, visceral, not intellectual. And yet, you have a brain. Use it.   -Rory Miller
Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue. Did something to my left shin and it’s been bugging me all week. I was able to do most stuff yesterday and today, but I did pass on the sparring portion of tonight (with the exception of a roll with Doug).

Standup, no-gi-type grips (meathook behind neck, outside tie). Pummel back and forth a few times like this, then duck under and take the back.

Same, then the backtaken person does this escape: on the same side that opponent has your wrist trapped, take one step forward and then turn sharply back, using the free forearm to break down opponent’s arm. Single leg from here.  I had some trouble here because as always, I struggle with left/right and could not remember which foot to step forward with.

Same standing guard passes that we did last week- underhooking the thigh and passing around the back, then around the front.
Have been thinking a lot about yesterday’s quote, the part about hanging onto the past because it’s preserving your identity.  There’s also the good one about  how dwelling on past bitterness is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die.

I carry around a lot of baggage and bitterness, to my detriment. I have a very visceral repulsion toward the concept of forgiveness in these cases. To me, forgiving says, “It was okay that you did that”.  Fuck no. It was not. It never will be okay.

And yes, I am intellectually aware that forgiveness is about healing the forgiver and not about letting the forgivee off, and all that… but emotionally it just doesn’t wash. There are people who have done things to me that I will never forgive.

I am aware that they are not lying awake at night. More than one of them failed to ever understand what they did wrong or that they even did anything wrong at all. It costs them nothing that I hold a grudge, it just costs me (ironically, this serves to make me even more bitter).

If you’re still bleeding years later, it proves that you were “right”, right? That the other person is unspeakably evil? That you deserve sympathy, admiration, help, slack? We already established that the perpetrators don’t give a shit that they hurt you; they are going on about their merry lives while you lie in the ditch and moan. If you let go of it, then NOBODY is carrying it, right? Somebody has to be left holding the bag. WTH, does it just evaporate? Does that prove that it didn’t matter, that it didn’t really hurt that much, it wasn’t so bad, that “it was okay that you did that”?

I’ve been stuck and frustrated about resolving this emotional baggage, because I just can’t put a spin on “forgiveness” that will make it palatable to my logic-rejecting inner child, and I couldn’t find a way to reframe the problem.

So, “preserving your identity”……..

We are brainwashed from toddlerhood in this society to admire/idealize heroes and Disney Princesses who were orphaned, abused, and otherwise got shat on and went on to rise above. It’s a glamorous identity to have been fucked over and then rise above. Movies don’t get made about people who were raised by loving parents in plenty and comfort, married their high school boyfriend/girlfriend, had a fun and enlightening education, got a great career, and had a successful happy life. If you cut out the part of Malala’s story where she had to struggle to get an education and then nearly got murdered for it, and only show the wonderful work she is doing now, it’s not quite the same. The hardships and struggles are part of the hero’s journey, the hero’s identity.

At what point does the tragic backstory become baggage? At some point do you get to choose whether that tragic past gooses you to get better or just drags you down? At some point do you get to choose when to just cut those chapters out of your book and begin at the better parts? It seems like there is an inevitable degeneration into using the tragic backstory as a crutch. “You can’t expect me to accomplish X, after what happened to me,”…. “You should marvel that I am able to do Y, after what I had to overcome”….. yes, it is a BIG part of one’s identity. Big enough that the prospect of excision is quite daunting.

No pressure

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The problems of today cannot be resolved by dwelling on the past. If you are doing that, the past isn’t the problem, it’s you. As much as the past may serve to preserve your identity, you hanging on to it isn’t helping.

First it ignores your actions now. Second it keeps you from objectively viewing the situation — including your part in it. Third, when you approach others with the attitude of blame and condemnation, you give them no reason to work with you. Fourth, by playing the victim, you give them no reason to trust you.

 The last is more important than you think. Because without trust, there is no possibility of resolution or change.
  -Marc MacYoung
————-

A friend of mine recently got promoted to brown (congratulations again!). I realized that I haven’t even thought about belts in a really long time. It’s been great. I haven’t gotten a promotion in forever, and it’s been great. I’d still like to backtrack to, oh, one- or two- stripe blue if I had the choice.  But at least as long as I’m just parked here, I don’t feel like I’m in the backseat of a driverless racecar careening down the highway. It’s been great. I hope I never get promoted again.
Thursday lunchtime gi in Bellevue. I feel particularly tired this week for some reason. I felt exhausted waiting for class to start.

Standup: judo grips, stick right foot behind opponent’s left foot. (Note, keep toe on the mat and not hooking the shin like I wanted to do. Also, Carlos corrected me on my positioning- I was ending up with my feet a long ways away from the opponent; I need to step in closer and pay attention to not sliding/dancing outward while executing this.)  Opponent steps out. You drop to your knee and pick up hir OTHER heel. Takedown. (Must also pay attention to where you try to put that foot when I pick it up- if I just fling it upward because I’m hyperfocused on the fall, I end up yanking it between my own legs and tangling us up.) Note that although an exaggerated upward elbow-fling before the knee-drop is discouraged, clearing that arm is important- and you also want to try to get the person off balance. Also note that there is a danger of getting caught in half guard after you dump hir and as you move to side control.

I am still working on my grips/hand positioning while doing things like this. I like the firm behind-the-heel grab, but for some reason in the heat of the moment I always seize the pants cuff further up. I think I’m subconsciously anxious about getting kicked in the face. But that higher grip makes it much harder/more unlikely to get the takedown, *MORE* likely to get kicked in the face because the opponent has more mobility and room to use leg strength, and also my ideal is to be less dependant on clothing grips so that my techniques will work in both gi and no-gi. My excellent aim should make it easier for me than for most people to whip in there and snag that heel. I should use my best weapons to their fullest extent.

Standing guard pass using underhook. One thing Carlos touched on that got my attention- because it is a persistant sloppy habit of mine- is where to put your arms as you are passing, so that they are less attackable. In this case, he put his arm across the opponent’s belly with the hand on the opposite hip. People at GB (black belts excepted) do not attack my arms consistantly enough while I am passing to keep me honest. If I rolled more with Cindy- who NEVER misses the smallest opening for an arm attack while I am trying to pass- I might be able to break this habit.

Same guard pass, only opponent thwarts your pass to the side by hanging that leg heavy on your uderhooking shoulder. Counter this by going around the opposite side. (I was actually a little bummed to have Chrisanne drilling this, as it is a pass defense I use a LOT, and now she has a good counter and is going to be jamming me, LOL….)

King Of the Hill, starting from any guard, pass vs sweep. I was not doing too great here today. I fought one white belt guy for a long time as he tried to “sweep” me with muscle, and finally had to give it to him….. sigh. Slightly frustrating. But this is one of the things that honestly bothers me a lot less when I’m not worrying about belts. I feel less like shit when I get manhandled by a white belt. Not that getting manhandled by white belts is a good thing…. but the self-loathing mental/emotional spirals are a lot more problematic than the butt-kicking.

Still parked at about 10lb over my normal walking-around weight. I *really* want to jettison at least those 10lb before my June trip. Starting to think that a series of short fasts might be the only way to budge it. Just kick a pound or two each time, then try to maintain for a bit.

Still raining consistantly, so little dog-walking/hiking.   😦

Down five

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No man, however civilized, can listen for very long to African drumming, or Indian chanting, or Welsh hymn singing, and retain intact his critical and self-conscious personality. –Aldous Huxley

I’ve lost 5lb from walking my dogs. I think the meds are also affecting my appetite (in a good way). I was worried about the typical weight gain that goes along with anxiety/depression drugs. Yet I didn’t really want lunch yesterday, and had to make myself eat it (because I was going to class and knew I needed the fuel), and I didn’t really want dinner either, but made myself eat it (because I knew I just had not eaten enough that day). I am snacking less at home, as it is disconcerting to have two dogs staring at me. I have been binging on a lot of junk food at work, partially because my insomnia is just making it really hard to get through the day. If I can get this insomnia solved, I think that will be less of a problem. Unfortunately, the insomnia rages unchecked in the face of prescription drugs.

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue. Standing guard pass to KOB. When opponent pushes at your knee, turn to hir feet and take a modified side control, propped on your elbow. Pick up hir top pants cuff and place hir shin between your shins. Grab hir other pants cuff and the belt or back waistband. Dive over and pull the person into your back mount. This was similar to what we did last week, so I was able to translate (and even figure out- and explain adequately- to Peter why his technique wasn’t working). It’s all about getting that knee hooked nice and snug with the opponent’s knee. If it’s too low, or too lose, you don’t have adequate control of the opponent’s body.

Several rounds of sparring, the first round with Cindy, whom I have not worked with in forever. So that was great (albeit exhausting!)

The Dog Workout

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Giving in to the urge to tell someone to fuck off can have lifetime results. Odds are good this guy will be out of your face and life in a few moments. But if you give in to the impulse, well, remember every time you “play”, you’re taking a chance. –Campfire Tales From Hell

Well, it was not the caffeine. Nor the sugar.

I stayed on one soda per day (first thing in the morning) for a week.. Hardly any sugar, either. There was not one iota of change in my sleep patterns, my anxiety level, my energy level, or my weight. I am going to have to go to the doctor. Upside: now I can have my Dr Pepper, since I have proven that it doesn’t do a damn thing to me.

Went hiking with CK last week- Twin Falls and Deception Creek. We were both tired, and not pushing hard physically. On her last day, we did a little stance work. Once again, just STANDING with CK is more exhausting than sparring with anyone else.

I got the dog on Wednesday. Well, dogS…. because I have White Knight Complex, I was unable to say no to the elderly dog’s elderly buddy… and I consider myself damn lucky to have not ended the week with all three of them. The second dog is a foster- meaning I do not have to pay his vet bills. I have too many pets right now. It is a stressor. But they are all elderly or special-needs or both, and let’s be real- chances are that one or another of them will kick off soon and I will be back to four, which is a number I feel I can cope with.

We are doing a ton of walking (which was part of the point of obtaining a dog). Up and down the neighbor’s driveway, mostly, a ten-minute dirt-road stroll through the woods. Yesterday we walked for two hours around Al Borlin Nature trail and downtown Monroe (where we were attacked by a purse dog). Today we went to Big Eddy, which is only about 1.5 miles from my place.

The dog I picked is exactly what I wanted. She basically walks when I want to walk, and otherwise she is napping and completely unobtrusive and undemanding. It’s like having a hiking buddy that you take out of a drawer when you want to walk, and then put away when you are done. The foster is proving to be more high-maintenence (no good deed goes unpunished). He’s a dear, but he has a dismaying amount of energy for an elderly dog, and is constantly in my face. Tonight he was dragging me along on the leash (he wanted to RUN!!!), and when I tried to wear him out afterward with rowdy playing in the dog run, he wore ME out instead. Well, he is certainly going to be forcing me to get plenty of extra walking. It’s going to be challenging for me to try to keep up with him, and even more challenging for my poor dog (who is game, but arthritic, and her legs are about half the length of his).

Thursday evening no-gi in Bellevue. It was fun to drill with Peter.

Pummelling, double-leg setups, Standing guard passes. Standing guard pass to KOB. Standing guard pass to KOB to back take. Two or three variations of the bottom person trying to defend, and the top person switching gears and completing the pass in a different way. I would have liked to get down the details of these, but I didn’t blog it last night like I should have, and now the details are escaping my mind.

King of the hill: pass vs sweep, pass vs resist/submit. I got spanked; I drew exclusively very talented people. I did achieve one guard pass on a guy which surprised me. I hope he didn’t hand it to me.

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue. Drill-Till-Ya-Puke night. All from standing guard passes, which is a real bitch on my knees (and my thighs). Standing guard pass to KOB. Standing guard pass to KOB to armbar. Standing guard pass to KOB to kimura. After working with each of these for a few minutes, we drilled each 100 times. I had to hustle to keep up with Chrisanne, whose Monkey Bar Gym work and clean eating have me eating her dust. My thighs are on fire. I did well with remembering to grab the pants on the armbar. Also worked on pinching my knees together, a persistant failing of mine. I did less well with the kimura. I get lazy with the grips, especially when I am tired and trying to go fast. The many, many, fast standing guard pass reps put me in a dangerous place- when I get really tired, I am prone to rolling my ankle out and twisting it badly. I did that tonight, but fortunately it was not too severe- I was able to continue, and it’s not swelling or aching much at all later (thank you gods).

Chrisanne and I had wanted to spar after, but we were both too wiped out.

My thighs are going to be twin pillars of pain in the morning. Not looking forward to being hauled along that dirt road, but it will be the best thing for them. (A little hair of the dog, har har.)

Whoo-hoo! Live Tripod sweep!

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With developments in technical competence and the application of the technique in training, grading, or competition, the self confidence of the student improves. He sees his improvements as successful efforts on his part. Success breeds success, and success breeds self-confidence. The two go very much hand-in-hand. A successful and confident student looks forward to training and enjoys the learning environment. A happy student learns faster than an unhappy one because he enjoys what he is doing, and because the skills are consciously and subconsciously associated with pleasure, they are retained for longer. In that the reverse is also true- that failure breeds lack of confidence and dissatisfaction with training- the learning environment has to allow for the student to succeed in what he is doing, no matter what his level of ability or competence. Tony Gummerson, “Teaching Martial Arts”

No-gi in Bellevue. It was very tempting to not go in today. It was 85 degrees in the house even after the sun had set (which it does at around 2pm even in high summer at my place- such is life in the mountains).

Of course Carlos shut the garage door and turned off the fans before he began class. Guy is a sadist.

We started with a great deal of pummelling with rotating partners. This is a great way to work up a hell of a sweat on a hot day. Two of my opponents were male teenage white belts who were obviously discomfited with the fact that they were pummelling someone who had boobs, and that said pummeling could not be accomplished without coming into repeated contact with said boobs. I went a little hard and was just very matter-of-fact about it.

Standing guard passes. Press knee and hip, slide over thigh with near knee. Carlos corrected me on a persistant sin of mine- I fail to trap the near arm in side control. OVER THE SHOULDER AND UNDER THE HEAD. I need to ask Chrisanne to start calling my attention to it when I fail to remember that.

If foe turns toward you and tucks in a top knee shield- Underhook the thigh high up on your shoulder and pass on the opposite side. (Note that the forearm that is not hugging the thigh needs to be ALL THE WAY across opponent’s waist. This is where I want to deploy yet another bad habit of mine- reaching up and placing it beside the opponent’s neck.)

Now- opponent knee shields your first attempt to pass and then foils your second attempt by hanging that leg heavy (I use that defense frequently)…. switch back to pass #1. Opponent (that little rat) now pushes on your knee to try to deny you yet again. Quickly switch the placement of your legs and drop both knees to the floor (note that getting both knees on the floor is the part that goes out the window for me when I try to do it on The Stupid Side). Hug that leg very closely to your torso and use the arm furthest away from that leg to reach over your head and catch the ankle/foot. Push that leg down and away (don’t get lazy and just drop it- PUT it where you want it) and pass. Don’t forget to trap that arm.

A little king-of-the-hill… takedowns. (Did I mention that Carlos is a sadist?) I got a nice takedown on one of the aforementioned white belts…. took his back and then pulled him down and rolled into mount. Otherwise, got pretty plowed by the rest of the guys and by Amy (who has great wrestling takedowns). One of the guys swept me up in his arms like a bride and laid me gently on the mat.

One incredibly fun roll with Amy, 20 or 30 minutes. Lots of standup, which is always a good thing. I got one tap on her, which was very exciting. It was a rear naked, after several near misses of same. I reminded her to keep her chin down, and warned that I would be watching her MMA fight next week and that if she let that girl get a rear naked on her, she was going to be answering to me.

I also got a sweep, which was much more exciting than the tap, as I rarely try sweeps live and even less rarely get one. And in no-gi, too! This was a tripod sweep, which I don’t think I have *ever* gotten live (I consider it a complicated technique- too many different hand and foot positions need to happen at once for me to readily wrap my brain around). It worked like a charm, and just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, I actually followed up by getting up and getting on top. Normally, when I am sitting on my butt with my feet in front of me, I have a bitch of a time getting up and getting on top with any speed or alacrity. On the rare occasion when someone goes down and I am caught in this position, I flounder there on my ass like a harpooned sea lion while they pop back up and pounce upon me. Recently we have done a significant amount of drilling of a technique or two that involved getting up and getting on top from this position, and it seems to have helped. I would be so happy to find myself past that particular sticking point… but we shall have to see if I can replicate the trick or if it was a freak fluke.

Amy of course got several things on me, primarily her excellent guard passes.

Anyway, it was a *really* fun roll… not just because of the sweep, the whole thing was fun- the type of roll that reminds me of why I do this. I need to try to roll with Amy more often. Starting from standup, if possible.

Sweaty jiu jitsu and yardwork.

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The 70-80% level of technical excellence can be achieved relatively quickly; however, to attain the remaining 30% or 20% requires a disproportionate amount of time and effort. Tony Gummerson, “Teaching Martial Arts”

Thursday gi in Bellevue.

Very hot in the gym this morning. Pummelling, armbar-from-mount drills, double-leg setups, then an hour of king of the hill, then a few spars. I did very poorly today in all aspects of KOTH. Got schooled by a tiny little white belt girl- but I felt a bit less bad after hearing that she was an MMA fighter with 5+ years of no-gi and wrestling. She got a lovely takedown on me, and she had some masterful sweeps. A big white belt guy did a rough takedown on me. He was quite muscley throughout; he may be one for the blacklist. It was good to work with Amy, as I don’t get the chance often.

Several hours of yardwork in considerable heat, both before class and after. Pulling blackberry brambles, burning blackberry brambles, mowing. Using a manual mower against thigh-high grass is very hard exercise. You have to use short, hard chest thrusts to move it along, and go over every spot at least 2 or 3 times. God, the yard looks great, though. It’s so nice to have those mountains of blackberry brambles out of my driveway, where they have been sitting since January. The foxgloves are up everywhere, and I am innundated with hummingbirds.

Friday evening gi. Even hotter in the gym tonight. An hour or two of yardwork beforehand. It was too hot to do any more than that. Aching like hell. I had to take 2 Ibuprophen, which I hardly ever partake of. It wasn’t even (mostly) the BJJ, it was the yardwork. I’m never going to let the grass or the blackberries get that out of control again.

Pummelling, double-leg setups.

Standing guard pass: the hand positions on this were odd. Move slightly to opponent’s right. Grab opponent’s right ankle with your right hand, fingers toward hir foot. Press hir right knee to mat with your left hand. I had to place the heels of my hands together before I stepped forward to grab my partner. Carlos demo’ed that if you have your right arm like this, it’s harder for the opponent to grab your right elbow and pull your arm in.

Now: take your hand off the ANKLE and place it on opponent’s waist. Place head just above that. Drive in and take side control (try to trap that arm). I had a heck of a time remembering to use the correct hand.

Next: same opening, but now opponent tries to throw hir leg over your head in preparation for moving out. )NOTE: when you are the uke, you must put that sole on the floor, not try to brace it against the opponent as I am wont to do.) Hug the thigh and place your head on the BACK of hir thigh, then move around the opposite side and drive in to take side control. Again: try to trap that arm. A detail I often neglect. And again: don’t let go of the ankle until you are safely around to where s/he can’t catch you in half guard. Once in position, you can (and probably should) release the thigh.

I wanted to spar, but it was too fucking hot.

It was hot enough that I forgot all about my recently-adopted habit of checklisting that I have belt, water bottle, and headgear before I get in the car. And I forgot my headgear, again. I’m so embarrassed and pissed at myself. I’ll be lucky if Carlos doesn’t confiscate it to teach me a lesson. I have forgotten it so often that I wouldn’t be able to really blame him if he did.

Drilling while pregnant

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Use of force is a “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” issue. “This one is too little. This one is too much. This one is just right.” Campfire Tales From Hell

NO, I am not pregnant. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. Whomever was thinking that, go rinse the inside of your skull out with bleach.

Evening BJJ in Bellevue.

Chrisanne and I were whining in the locker room about how our thighs ached after last night (interestingly, we both ached in different AREAS of our thighs), and commented that we hoped we would not be doing anything tonight involving that same half-squat.

Well…………

Same knee-push-through standing pass. I actually didn’t mind this too much because it’s one of my favorite passes, and I don’t think I will ever get tired of it even if it hurts a bit.

Then we did the one from last night where you prop the opponent’s thigh on top of your thigh- only this time, we passed on the opposite side. After passing, we sat on opponent’s shoulder with one hip while facing hir feet, and bent one leg to hook hir near ankle. As soon as the foe turns hir attention to this distracting question of “what is s/he trying to do with my ankle, and how can I get it out?” you pop into front mount.

Then: same entry as above, only you fake being sloppy with capturing the near arm. (This was pretty easy for me, as that was the detail I was sloppy with anyway). That arm ends up between your knees. After you catch side control, fake giving opponent a little space. When s/he goes to roll into you and single-leg you, hop your butt over hir body and plant it beside hir opposite hip. Catch that arm as you go over- armbar. The catch in this was, you don’t turn the same way you turn 99% of the time you go to do an armbar from a position like this. You turn the opposite way. It’s very weird. Of course I didn’t catch that odd detail on the first go-round, and I was turning the regular way when I drilled it…. and I had just begun instructing my poor hapless white belt partner in how to do it wrong when Carlos stopped us and fixed me.

For the previous two technique drills, I did not have that hapless white belt partner, because I had Lindsay- girl Lindsay, who has been off the mat since December. It was so nice to see her. She is- not HUGELY pregnant, but BIGLY pregnant- and I had to modify my drills accordingly. I wholeheartedly approve of continuing BJJ (with careful partners, and within reasonable parameters) until a pregnancy is advanced enough that it is mechanically unworkable. Drills, that is…. I wouldn’t want to spar (even slowmo flow rolling) with someone who was far enough along to be showing prominently. Lindsey had vanished off the mat as soon as she found out she was expecting. I think she was nervous about it. So I was quite anxious to not only be careful enough to avoid causing a guard-pass-induced miscarriage, but moreso careful enough to reassure her that it’s okay, you can do this, we can work around it and you will be fine. I felt confident about it- I have good control. (However, it made me feel a little jittery when Chrisanne got a text in the locker room before class that her sister had miscarried….)

I had done a warm-up flow roll with Casey before class, and after class I rolled a while with Chrisanne (going kind of hard and competitive) and then another while with Casey. Then Casey wanted to play with an extremely complex technique and use me as a demo dummy, which eventually led to Carlos jumping in (despite having already changed into street clothes) and demo’ing several terribly evil and convoluted techniques on both me and Casey.

Turns out that one of the brand new white belts I had worked with a little last week was a guy who works (as in, career-type “work”) with Casey. Apparently he had been all excited and telling his colleagues that he got his first sweep on the mat. Further details revealed a feminine pronoun.

I find myself a bit annoyed. I’m not certain, but I’m guessing that the white belt in question was the one who performed a very nice upa on me, so I let him have it. That’s how I usually work with white belts. I don’t try to pwn them. If they do a technique well, I will usually give it to them. I’m aware that 1)it’s a Big Deal to white belts when they start seeing their techniques work on the mat, 2)It’s a Bigger Deal when it’s a colored belt you’re doing it to, 3)The white belts usually can’t tell when we are going light on them and handing them stuff, and 4)They don’t realize that it’s douchebaggy to run around telling people who you tapped (or who you swept). I don’t care if he runs around telling other BJJ people that he reversed me, since the other BJJ people for the most part understand corollaries 1 through 4. What bothers me is hearing that he was boasting to his non-BJJ coworkers about it, who now- since they don’t understand corollaries 1 through 4- probably genuinely think this guy really scored a sweep on a purple belt girl at his second ever class. It makes women MA-ists look bad. And Gods know the non-MA public already has for the most part a crappy-ass view of a woman’s ability to be a competant MA-ist. Now I kind of wish I *had* pwn’ed him. Sigh. No, not really… I think the way I work with new white belts is encouraging and educational to them, and I don’t mind sacrificing some ego. But yeah, this tweaks me.

I think part of the reason this is getting to me a bit was a conversation I had last week with one of *my* colleagues. He’s an older guy with some (long) past MA experience, a pleasant fellow, but a bit old-fashioned. He knows I train, and at some point the conversation got around (jokingly) to “what if” it ever came down to me versus him. He laughed. Not just laughed, but hooted. Could barely get out (between peals of laughter), “What do you think YOU could possibly do against ME??!!!?” Now, he is bigger than me and outweighs me significantly, but The Incredible Hulk he ain’t. He also must have about 20 years on me (and *I’m* old), and has not trained in decades. I get the impression he did not train nearly as long as I. I’m fairly sure I could take this guy, if it came down to it. I also realize that he’s from a bygone generation and has some of the casual and unthinking misogynist brainwashing common to that generation. But man…. he hooted. And I was pissed. This shit again…. and again, and again, and again. And again and again.

Although I spend not-inconsiderable reflection time mulling over various verbally-disemboweling responses to stuff like this, the truth is that usually the offender is someone that I would prefer to not verbally disembowel, for reasons of social civility. In this case, if I offend this guy too much, the water-purification system on my clinical Chemistry analyzer might not get its filters changed on time. So I usually end up letting it go, or letting it go with such a minor protest as to not be taken seriously. And then I burn inwardly, and feel it chip away another bit of my confidence in my MA.

In this instance, in response to “What do you think YOU could possibly do against ME???!!??” I pulled out my Spyderco, flicked it open, and gestured to his gut (which, I might add, is carrying some extra fat… seriously, this would not be a fair match-up). But I wish I had felt like I could call him out on being misogynistic (I’d leave out the “delusional” part). Even more, I wish that so much of the world was not so damn misogynistic. It feels like a riptide that never, ever, for a single moment stops fighting against me. I wonder what it would feel like to have a penis and be taken seriously- either on the mat or in the street- just once.