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.)

Jiu Jitsu On Ice

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The best targets for a swing with a (n impact weapon)- unlike a blade- are bones. You can bruise muscle with a club or staff and even get a “charley horse”, but for the most part an adrenalized threat won’t feel the pain, won’t notice immediately and it won’t swell up until long after the fight is over. Smash his finger bones, however, and he loses the ability to hold his (weapon) immediately. –Rory Miller

Thursday no-gi, Bellevue.

Several drills, most of them new to me. Missing the first part of the week is proving to be problematic lately, as Carlos has been teaching new drills and then building variations off those same drills for the remainder of the week.

Half guard sweep: From standing, one meathook behind neck and one outside bicep grip. Shove the bicep across opponent’s body and drop to your butt, putting hir leg in half guard (on the side OPPOSITE the way you shoved hir arm). Underhook hir remaining leg and scissor your own legs as you roll, sweeping hir forward. My main problem here is that I tended to be in too much of a hurry and didn’t want to take the time and effort to underhook the leg properly. I also didn’t seem to want to let go of that meathook. On Chrisanne, it was possible to retain the meathook all the way through the technique, but I was pulling her down with main strength. On a bigger/stronger opponent who is going to posture up and fight the meathook, I am going to need to be more aggressive about attacking the legs. Note also that you end up in top half guard. Best to anticipate this and make passing a fluid and uninterrupted part of the total package before the opponent can do anything about it.

You standing, opponent on hir back before you with feet on your hips. Shove the legs over hir right shoulder and place your hand on the small of hir back. Stack mercilessly until s/he wants to roll into turtle. Hug hir shoulders from behind (over/under) and place your head on the mat on the opposite side of hirs- ABOVE it a bit. Roll. The head placement is critical because otherwise, you will finish with a backtake (which is fine, but not our objective ATM). Getting a good grip and THEN doing the roll is critical. You need not fret as much as usual about being pasted tight to hir back first. As long as your hug is technically correct, the recieving end of this is painful and chokey enough that you find yourself needing to go along for the ride whether you like it or not. You end in a T formation, and usually the opponent’s far arm is just waiting for you to trap it with your legs. Now you can do a shoulder lock or a choke (or if you are having That Sort Of Day, both!)

Rolls with Chrisanne, JP, and Casey. I asked all of them to get me in side control or/and front mount, and then just be heavy and try to hold me there, because that has been my experience with Chelsea (whom I will be battling tomorrow in both gi and no-gi). Not that Chelsea just holds me there- but she DOES tend to get in one of those positions ASAP, efficiently zip up every molecule of space, and then rest her superior weight, significant musculature and excellent grounding skills on me while she leisurely selects a sub and finishes me off. I need to stay the hell out from under her (which also means I can’t pull guard at the beginning…. fighting for the takedown with her is not going to be any picnic, but I should try), and do my damndest to get out from under before she gets me bagged and tagged, if she does get on top. She’s so heavy and tight that in the past, once she lands there, I have felt an immediate futile leaking away of all strength and energy, and could just lie there gasping helplessly while she finishes. I wish I knew how to counteract the feeling of weakness and exhaustion that grips me in this scenario. It takes all the fight out of me.

Anyway, I was able (with specific focus) to stay mostly out from under Chrisanne, but the boys very efficiently put me in side control and pinned me. I continue to want to put an arm up beside my head. I need to frame and stop giving away my arms. Another thing I did a couple of times with JP was to move both arms to one side of my midline, as Georgette has advised against. Also, as Georgette pointed out and JP pointed out AGAIN last night, I want to try to get my BOTTOM leg in first to try to replace guard. I end to instinctually try to get my top leg in. I feel vulnerable lying on my back, and always feel a driving instinct to get belly-down. This results in backtake, which I am currently making a greater effort to avoid.

I need to keep in mind that tomorrow’s comp is sub only, no time limits, and I don’t need to get my panties in a knot if I have to lie under side control for a while…. as long as the time is not being used by Chelsea to vacuum up all the extra space (in which case I *do* need to light a fire under it, because “it’s not gonna get any better”).

Apparently we may have a few additional opponents in no-gi, but I don’t know who. I don’t think it’s anyone I know. It’s just Chelsea in gi.

Amusingly, JP apologized for sweating on me. I told him that he had BETTER be sorry, because I do not like sweat and I do not want to get all sweaty in here. Casey was wallowing in a lake of sweat and it was like Jiu Jitsu On Ice. Chrisanne also gave me a fat lip- but since that doesn’t affect function, I don’t really give a darn.

It’s been raining for three straight days… and I cannot pull blackberries, nor work on my yard terracing, nor work on my fence, which is driving me crazy. Also, being stuck inside, I am fighting the munchies. I registered at 131- and it’s probably not going to matter (Chelsea’s quite a bit bigger, don’t know about any others), but I did get down to 129 and it’s frustrating to backslide.

That is terribly distracting.

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An attorney who in specializes in self-defense told me that of the 300 clients who said something to the police before talking to him, only two managed to NOT hurt their case. Those two didn’t help their case, they just didn’t hurt it any. If you are involved in a shooting, call the police, physically cooperate with them, but don’t say anything except you want to call your attorney. –Greg Hamilton

Thursday:
I didn’t write up the last two classes, because I was feeling frustrated and unable to focus on the constructive bits.

Today, all spars in Bellevue.

I keep wanting to call Justin “Jason” for some reason. So he started calling me “Tiffany” and it went rapidly downhill from there. Now I’m calling him anything with a J (Jerome, Jaylen, Jessie, Jordan) and he’s calling me prissy girly names (Brittany, Charity).
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Friday:

Standing guard pass, #1: You standing, holding opponent’s pants at the insides of the knees as s/he has one foot on your bicep and the other foot on your hip. Step to the “hip” side and thrust opponent’s knee to the floor. Scoot quickly back to the opposite side, while pressing the second leg down on top of the first. Drop to your knees behind hir butt (NOT further up, behind hir back) while blocking behind hir knees with your arm.

#2: Opponent has spider guard, you have the same grips as above. Press the knee to the mat on the side that they have the bent leg. Use your OPPOSITE foot (not the one on the same side, as I tried to do first and quickly found that that is completely unbalanced) to push that leg down. Do a lawnmower-starting motion with your arm on that side to shuck the sleeve grip. Now continue the pass as before. (I was a bit bummed that Christy was in class tonight- she does this pass to me all the time, and she makes it hurt…. she really does not need more practice on this rather painful technique!)

As the prof was explaining the technique, we were all suddenly very distracted by the sounds of a woman orgasming loudly from the next mat.

This was disquieting, as there was a Monkey Bar Gym class going on in there, and as far as I know they did not have an orgy planned for tonight’s class (altough perhaps they would get more membership signups if they did).

When I was going to the Gold Creek gym, there were occasionally men in the weight room who grunted like rutting water buffaloes while they lifted weights. I hate that. It is a sad attention-seeking tactic.

This was the first time I had heard a woman doing it, and it made me embarrassed to be female. She wasn’t even grunting- she was moaning and gasping. It truly sounded like nothing other than noisy intercourse, and it was embarrassing to be listening to while surrounded by a class full of men.

I told Carlos that I was unhappy… that that was distracting and inappropriate… hopefully he will talk to Greg, who will talk to the culprit- if it continues to happen, I will talk to Greg myself. I do not want to hear someone orgasming loudly in the background while I’m trying to focus on guard pass details.

One spar with Chrisanne and one with Christy.

Six Thousand Details

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There are thousands of things that can be used as weapons, and there are lots of ways to use them. –Rory Miller

3.5 Minute Plank. OMG. That hurts so bad. But thrilled that I can do it.

Fri evening BJJ in Bellevue.

The longer I do BJJ, the more complicated it gets. What used to look like a very simple basic guard pass now has about six thousand little details that you have to remember all at once.

Pulling guard, then basic (ha!) pass from 1)knees or 2)standing. Most persistantly troublesome details for me tonight:

1)Don’t try to use brute strength to haul opponent’s sleeve cuff up while you’re trying to posture standing in hir guard, brace your elbow against your body and straighten your back.

2)Then move your knees closer together.

3)Don’t grab the pants at the knee to push it down, grab the knee itself. Christy was having the same problem, so eventually we both started whispering “No pants! No pants!” to one another every time we began the pass.

4)Control the near arm using the sleeve as you take side control. I already have a good instinct to get that shoulder off he ground and keep it all nice and tight, but the process sure is a lot easier and works better if I remember to deliberately address that arm first and do the right things with it.

I was infuriated, frustrated, mindboggled and despairing to find that I was a pound up this morning despite having eaten tragically little *and* done BJJ **AND** went for a walk. I honestly do not understand how this is possible. I ate even less today. Spent much of both days feeling hungry, distracted and resentful.

Del a Riva and reverse Del a Riva

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It’s easy to say, reading this in a safe and cozy environment, what you would do. But that’s only what you THINK you would do. It’s like yelling at the TV screen at the quarterback what he should have done on the last play. You didn’t see what he saw, feel the pressure he felt. You’re simply judging it from a technical standpoint, minus the impact of how emotion affects judgment and performance. You can’t know what it feels like until you’ve lived it. –Campfire Tales From Hell

Thursday lunchtime in Bellevue.

Ankle pick. We were picking the opposite ankle, which was a little odd, and made me have to concentrate really really hard to remember which knee to drop onto. Note that an ankle pick means pick the ANKLE- not the shin, not the knee. Also note that you can’t just pick it up without knowing (in advance- don’t try to wing it) where you are going to take it and how you are going to avoid fouling up your own legs. Once you have all of THAT straightened out, you can start worrying about yanking the lapel to tip hir.

Standing pass of del a Riva guard. Jerk violently upright to dislodge the foot, shove your pantleg holds to the floor (DON’T LET GO OF THE PANTS), pass to the side and take KOB. Carlos continues to remind me that in the end, every technique is ideally ONE step. I get wrapped up in cataloging and counting out my steps. In particular, I tend to execute standing passes with several shuffling steps to the side (which Carlos sometimes mimes me doing; it looks hilarious with his telephone-pole-length legs). Just step once and drop.

Standing pass of an inside del a Riva guard. I am unfamiliar with inside del a Riva, so that was interesting just trying to get into the drill position. Kind of the same technique, only we ended in side control instead of KOB.

Many drills of these, then positional sparring from these positions (varying goals… sometimes pass vs resist, sometimes sweep vs resist, sometimes pass vs sweep, sometimes free-for-all).

At the end, he did one of my LEAST favorite things…. more drills and positional sparring interspersed with cardio (pushups, sprawls, burpees (which Chrisanne always calls “barfees”)). Chrisanne was tired as hell but kept fighting gamely through the positional sparring with a little encouragement.

One roll with Jason. He crucifixed me, which was impressive. He is one of the few people who makes it really difficult for me to pass top half guard… he stretches my leg out in lockdown. He also keeps putting his arm up by his head. I trapped him in a head-and-arm a few times, but was having a bitch of a time trying to free my leg enough to finish it (he kept doing lockdown and pulling me down just far enough that I couldn’t get quite high enough to finish the choke).

Oops, I did it AGAIN

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Risk assessment is probably the most valuable skill in communicating with the altered mental state. A mentally ill person may or may not be more dangerous than anyone else. But they may be more dangerous and they are certainly less predictable. –Rory Miller

OMG, I am so sore.

Even though I was tired after lunchtime class, I went to Bellevue to evening class because Chrisanne and Lindsay were going to be there. Horribly, I ended up rejecting poor Lindsay AGAIN for drilling. I apologized a million times…. I am just so paranoid about keeping Chrisanne away from the spazzy assholes, and Lindsey has much better skills at this point for protecting herself against spazzy assholes. I suggested that the two of them drill together and I would find someone else, but Lindsay ended up drilling with Peter (who is not spazzy asshole, BTW).

I should note that that tall white belt guy I sparred with on Thursday turned out to be on Chrisanne’s “Spazzy Asshole” list. I didn’t have that bad of a time with him, but I had played spider guard to keep him off my ribs. When I gave him the pre-spar “don’t kill me, I’m old” speil, he was like, “But you’re a PURPLE belt.” Me: “I still do not have enough skills at this point to counteract strong young guys who are much bigger, so BE CAREFUL.” Turns out that when Chrisanne gave him her speil, he did the same to her: “But you’re a blue belt” and then went on to smash her. She won’t roll with him any more. I was glad to hear that she was both giving the speech and keeping a Red List… both things that I had to talk to her a LOT about over the last two years. I am relieved that she is being assertive about boundaries. I still worry constantly about who she is rolling with and whether she is safe.

Drills….. standup, judo grip to failed single leg to rear clinch; judo grip to single leg setup. Note that this particular one involved pinching opponent’s leg between one’s knees.

Standing guard pass to a squat at opponent’s hip, pressing far knee to the floor and trapping near leg atop your own thigh. This was similar to what we did last week- and also similarly, it was all about having that thigh well pinned, ABOVE the knee. We then did a variation on this, starting with a spider guard and ending with a lapel grip. In this case, it was necessary to consciously shoot that arm OVER the THIGH and then pin that thigh there with the elbow. As soon as you start getting tired and sloppy with these drills, the first thing to go is the most important thing- pinning that thigh.

Drills with enough speed and repetition that I truly thought I was going to lose my dinner.

At the end, I felt like a crushed pop can, but I had driven all the way in here to be able to play with Chrisanne and Lindsay. I also rolled with Casey a bit. Tonight I did not allow myself to lie under bottom half guard with Lindsay… forced myself to keep moving and try different things. Unfortunately this ended with me tapping to a mounted triangle. But I really do need to not lie there in bottom half guard.

I was reflecting on the road today (lots of commuting time) that my focus on self-defensive martial arts is probably a large reason why I am so reluctant to work outside my safety zone. In sport martial arts, if you take a risk and lose, you lose a medal. In defensive MA, if you take a risk and lose, you’re DEAD. Rory Miller talks a lot about how people freeze up and do other unhelpful things that they have learned to respond with, simply for the reason that doing so has not killed them yet. I need to continue to force myself to- at the very least- not lie there on the bottom.

My sparring performance was not up to this afternoon’s performance, which I had expected (exhaustion combined with the persistant phenomenon of every single bout of “Hey, I was decent” to be immediately followed by a bout of “I suck” just to keep me humble). However, I was pleased that I kept sparring for that long after doing a class that almost made me puke. Right up until….

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I did it AGAIN…. I rolled my goddam left ankle out. And I did it the exact same way I did it the last two times this happened: by trying to do a standing guard pass to the left when I was really tired, and I put my foot down and rolled it outward. Lord, it hurt. I collapsed on the mat, and Lindsay got me some ice. After about 5 min I was able to get up, and am now walking with only a tiny limp- but we’ll see what it’s like in the morning. I am really frustrated that I keep doing this, but at least it was on the last class before my work rotation starts. If this had happened Thurs lunchtime, I would have been SUPER pissed. As it is, hopefully I will be reasonably sound by next class on Thursday. I do need to really set a mental flag on that play, though: when I go to do a standing guard pass on the left when I’m tired, I need to pay really close attention to how I set my foot on the floor as well as how I transfer weight onto that foot. I am really tired of this particular recurring injury.

The most popular girl at the dance

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Do not ever make a situation worse because your ego insisted that you prove yourself or protect your rep. –Rory Miller

Yeah, that was me tonight- instead of being the last kid picked for the kickball team, as per usual, tonight I somehow wound up promising three different eager teammates- to their respective delight and ecstasy- that I would drill with them. Oops! And no, I did not handle that well, because it’s not a type of situation I am at all familiar with!!

I had promised to meet Chrisanne at Bellevue on Friday eve. When I got there, I found Lindsay in the lobby, who pounced on me like a caffeinated golden retriever puppy and was so excited to see me. Then I went on the mat and started horsing around with (blue belt) Peter, who was like, “You’ll drill with me tonight, right???!!?” I said that I had previously promised Chrisanne I’d work with her- which was a perfectly reasonable and non-insulting response- which did not provide for the contingency that Chrisanne did not show up. This resulted in Peter and Lindsay both charging at me when the clock started, and then we all stood there and stared at each other in an embarrassed and awkward circle. I’ve never been caught out dating two guys at once on the sly, but that must be what it feels like.

Lindsay ended up with Kevin, whom she made a point of loudly praising in the handshake line at the end with “You are the BEST PARTNER EVER” while eyeing me pointedly. That insult of course necessitated a Death Challenge, which I dutifully delivered.

But I am getting ahead of myself. First there was class to get through, which consisted of

1)Double-leg setups to sneaking around the back to standing RNC.

2)Same, then the victim defends the choke, steps hir outside foot behind attacker’s foot, turns to the outside, bows at the waist and kicks attacker’s leg out from under.

I was hitting the ground badly on these. I know my breakfalls need work, but finally Prof Carlos came over and told Peter to let me down nicer by keeping hold of the arm. That helped a LOT.

3)You standing, opponent on back with feet on your hips. You push legs to the side (with that weird-ass cross-over hand motion that I always have trouble with, the one that Carlos almost drove me to tears over once), then drop to outside knee on the mat. Quickly scoot into opponent with your (dropped) knee in hir back and your other knee over hir thigh. The key to this (after much debate and experimentation with Peter, and some corrections from Carlos) is trapping and pinning the opponent’s top thigh on top of your own thigh. This is counterintuitive- it’s one of those things that doesn’t look like it should work, so even after I’ve proven from both sides of the equation that it in fact DOES, my brain still does not really want to accept it.

4)You standing, opponent in spider guard. Let go with your right hand and step back widely with your right leg. Give a little yank to also make sure you clear opponent’s other foot off your bicep. Now drop and scoot into a similar end position as #3 above. (just enough different to confuse the crap out of me… and forget trying these on both sides, unless we want to see my brain explode all over the mat…)

5)Me getting reprimanded for laughing too loudly because I was having too much fun.

So, Death Match… again here I was far too focussed tonight on having a hoot of a good time and not focussed enough on learning BJJ. After catching Lindsay in half guard from the bottom about ten million times (from which she eventually began to escape using a very impressive technique which involved torquing my spine cruelly into an extreme corkscrew shape), she started to get frustrated with that. She started to greet each new catching of half guard with some sound effects and commentaries that were making me laugh. So we spent like forty minutes with me being squashed on the bottom in half guard, giggling like a loon, while she twisted back and forth on top cursing and making smartass remarks.

She was having a hard time finishing me off, although eventually she got a keylock tap, and we both felt that she was due a tickertape parade at that point. She really earned that one. We then finished with me troubleshooting her crappy straight armbar from side control (which she’d given up on far too easily) and her showing me a really cool gumby-ish sweep from deep half guard. (Note to ask her to review this sweep next time I work with her).

We were both wrecked, and had to decline a kind offer to roll from a visiting brown belt, which I feel bad about on both his account and mine. But we had left it all on the mat.

It was a rollicking fun time, and I was concentrating on repeatedly catching half guard just to piss her off… which I don’t regret, as we need to have fun with this sometimes. But I really was noticing with admiration how many nice, clean, technical tricks she was pulling off. While I couldn’t get off the bottom and spent the better part of an hour in the same place I have been spending it for the last five years: trapped in bottom half guard, clinging there for dear life and unable to do a damn thing useful.

Coming on the heels of those rolls with Georgette (in which I was noticing my lack of technique and my reliance on sloppy squirming in its place), I am seeing/feeling a real sand trap in my training progress right now. It’s a place I have been a few times, where you suddenly realize that in order to learn to type correctly, you must stop using your index fingers and start at square one, spending some time going a lot SLOWER and clumsier than you are used to. (I never was able to make myself do that, by the way… I am still typing fast with four fingers). I am aware that this is a particularly frustrating sand trap that tends to send me into fits of frustration and despair, so I am not happy to find myself standing here with my toes on the edge of this place yet again.

Stayin’ Alive

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Everyone has a button, you just have to find it and press it under the right circumstances. So the goal is to find the buttons and push them in this type of training, in a safe environment. Not to hurt feelings, but to identify a button someone might use against the student in the real world and take that button away from the bad guys. Make it a non-issue. –Campfire Tales From Hell

10/2:
Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue. All spars. I held my own today, but nothing stellar. I was able to keep moving around and defend most of the subs from the colored belts, and control the single white belt (granted, he was being nice and not using his extraneous weight and strength).
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10/9:
Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

All drills. Armbars from guard, several different types of standing guard passes, spinning armbars. I was drilling with Dex, who is doing Monkey Bar Gym *and* cagefighting, and is in insane shape, so I had to hustle to be a decent partner. Even he was whining about the armbars from guard (I hate that drill, after the first twenty second or so… the first twenty seconds are fine, but it gets slow and painful quickly after that).

While we were standing on the wall watching demo’s, the stereo started playing “Stayin’ Alive”. I cannot believe that a whole line of people can stand there without dancing, without even head-bobbing, while the stereo is blasting “Stayin’ Alive”. What’s wrong with these young people today??!? It’s probably a good thing that none of my close compadres were there, or things probably would have gotten more out of hand than they did.

One roll with Amy- yes, the blue belt cage fighter. I started from standup with her, and she got a nice sacrifice takedown. She was in control about half the time, and spent the other half fighting my open guard. Knowing that she is an MMA fighter, I played spider guard. They hate that. Heh heh heh. She did not tap me, but she would have won on points from the takedown plus advantages.

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Thursday evening BJJ in Kirkland.

Lots of pummelling… Dave likes to tire us out with this before technique….

You on your back, partner standing, your feet on hir hips… s/he tosses your feet to one side, you hip out, cross the OUTSIDE foot over top to replace your feet on hir hips, repeat to other side. I tend to get sloppy with both the hip-out and the bracing on partner’s shins, because I can do it facter just by hiking up on my shoulders and letting my supreme flexibility and dexterity do all the work…. but Dave didn’t like that. 😦

Partner on hir back, knees up, you standing…. shove knees to one side and go to KOB. Dave reprimanded me for placing my outside foot too close to my partner’s head instead of keeping my feet parallel. When I did it his way, it was A LOT MORE WORK. 😦 He’s mean, isn’t he?

Keylocks, failed keylock to straight armbar, a weird sort of upside-down keylock with the elbow straight…. my brain has always had a difficult time parsing this one….

Head and arm choke.

I was working with Irwin, who is a huge guy, but so sweet, and super-careful about trying to not hurt me. I had to tell him several times that he needed to grab harder, choke harder, push harder…. don’t worry, I’ll tell you if you’re hurting me, and as long as you put on a sub nice and slow, trust me to tap when I need to.

One roll with Dave. I made myself keep moving and not stall out under him. Man, he is working rings around me now, though. He has gotten so good. And he has Cindy’s fingerprints all over him. Lucky dog.

I’ll never forget…..

bjj111

 

 

To achieve an elite standard of personal performance usually requires a fair amount of natural ability, motivation and commitment. It does not follow that an elite martial artist also has the ability to pass those skills on to others at all levels. In fact, the opposite is usually true. To become an elite performer usually means that the student has natural ability and therefore learns skills quickly and easily. A great degree of self-motivation and commitment is also required and such performers generally find little difficulty in applying themselves to the rigors of training, grading and competition. Since very few students achieve such high levels of performance, too often a coach does not understand the needs of these “lesser mortals” who are in fact the majority. When one looks at specific groups such as junior, female, male, elderly, competitive, aggressive, shy, introverted, or combinations of these, many martial arts coaches in the past have been- to say the least- underprepared.    Tony Gummerson, “Teaching Martial Arts”

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Friday:
I read a book that basically gutted me. Have you ever read a book in which the sadist- I mean the author- makes you totally fall in love with a character and then tortures that character with an endless litany of events that are a thousand times worse than death? Till you’re almost hoping the poor sap just buys it, but you don’t think you can handle that? I read a *LOT*, and this is only the second book that has made me feel like that to an extent that it made me feel actually traumatized. In addition, I’ve only read 4 books in my life in which a character death has made me cry. So this was a double-slam. And it was book 3 in a series, so I was already in love with the character by the start of book 3… there was no lead-in or warm-up, she started torturing my poor dear on page 1 and didn’t stop till the epilogue. I didn’t really want to read book 3, because by the end of book 2 I knew there was absolutely no way this was going to not end in savage and bitter heartbreak… but I couldn’t bear to not find out what happened.

I know this is partly because I’ve had a difficult week and incredibly little sleep, but I’m feeling really gutted and raw right now.
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Thursday:

Lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue. Standing guard pass drills to KOB to start. These squat-heavy techniques are hard on me and John, especially at the beginning of class, when it’s THIS hot, and when it goes on for about five years. Prof. Herbert had the timer set to ding every twenty seconds, so every twenty seconds we would stop, panting, and look pleadingly at him- but he made us keep going…. and going…. and going…..

Same thing, only starting from spider guard. When opponent straightens one leg, you step on the thigh of the OTHEr (bent) leg and pass to that side, yanking both the leg and sleeve as you move into KOB.

Same thing yet again, but now instead of KOB, paste the top of your foot to the opponent’s shoulder blade and place the other one over hir neck. Armbar. This was a classic Herbert move- he likes these things where he gets his strong, short legs in there and hooks his toes all over you and then subs you to death. As usual, what works well for him seems to be working well for me, although of course he does it about a zillion times faster and more gracefully. But I was already nicely set up to segue into this, as I had been setting up a bit of a straight armbar while doing the KOB.

A little positional sparring from spider guard.

Sparring with John, then Ed. Ed ankle locked me about ten times in a row. He looks like he could be doing his taxes while he tools me.
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Evening in Bellevue:

Luis is injured and specifically asked me if I would work with him. I know this is mostly because I am tiny, but I do like to think there’s at least a LITTLE aspect of me being trustworthy and safe for the injured to work with. He did, however, bring up that time I ran over to him while he was lying on the mat and dropped into front mount and apparently did not catch myself QUITE as high on my knees as I had intended- he moaned like he was dying, and I felt AWFUL…. that happened about 3 years ago and I’ll never forget it- but I was really hoping that he had!!!! No such luck!!! I asked him if he still loves me anyway, and he said yes.

He let me do more than my share of the drills, since they were hurting his injury… although he had to tell me several times to be heavier (I was trying to be gentle on his injury). When he admonished me to be heavier in N/S, I whined that I was trying to not smother him with my enormous belly. He laughed for a really long time when I said that.

“Around the world” flow drills: side control to scarf to N/S to scarf to side control, etc etc. At the end, we did some front mount as well. Luis suggests using my forehead heavy on opponent’s belly in N/S. It was quite immobilizing when he demo’ed it on me.

N/S, pull both of your opponent’s gi tails under hir armpits and snug them in as tight as you can. If s/he is wiggling around, it actually makes this easier than if s/he is just lying there. Then hop up to your feet and step forward so that you force opponent into a sitting position. There should be very little pulling involved, unless you really WANT to work that hard for some reason. Sit back down in back mount and squeeze opponent between your knees. Grab for the choke immediately. When s/he goes to defend the choke, sink the hooks in and immediately roll to the side (NOT to your back, and make sure you pick the correct (pillow) side).

Everyone has been asking me if I’ve had a chance to work with Amy (Dex’s wife, blue belt, professional MMA fighter), and she was there tonight, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen her. I would have liked to spar with her, but not in the shape I was in at that juncture. She has a big-deal fight scheduled next month and is training very seriously right now, and I was way too tired at that point to be able to press her.

Welcome to jiu jitsu.

bjj989

The duelist is interested in winning, in maintaining honor. The professional (criminal) is interested in killing, as quickly and efficiently as possible. –Rory Miller

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

White belt #1: “How’s your knee doing?”

White belt #2: “It’s a little better now, but yesterday I wrenched the &#^$ out of my elbow……”

Kitsune: “Welcome to Jiu Jitsu, where you repeatedly acquire a new injury before your previous injury has healed. You will never be healthy again.”

To their credit, they seemed psyched by this instead of troubled. Those are the types that might stick it out.

Standup, judo grips. Take your foot on the side that you’re gripping the LAPEL (and note that in this technique you want a deep, back-of-the-neck grip), and cross it so that you whack opponent’s opposite shin with your instep. Stomp the foot to the floor between hir feet, turn, and jerk partner off balance with the gi grips. You are shoving hir down with the lapel grip and pulling hir toward you with a twist using the sleeve grip. (I love these takedowns that involve twisting the person so that the back of their shoulder is forced toward the floor.) Now kick your heel up (the same active foot that you were using before) and displace the leg. If your jerk was effective, the opponent’s weight should be on that leg and s/he should go down as if poleaxed.

If this does not work, follow up by shoving opponent away from you while you use the same active foot to shoot out and inward-hook opponent’s OTHER leg.

Ideally you want to have control of that knee as s/he lands on hir back. I had to ask Prof Herbert which grip to release in order to do that. You release the lapel grip and grab for the inside of the knee pantleg grip. I guess it was a good question, as he then chose to build upon the technique thusly:

Now that you have the person on the ground on hir back with one knee between your knees, and you have an elbow grip (on the outside) and a pantleg grip (inside of knee)….. donkey-kick that inside leg out and go to KOB.

Next: opponent turns in to you and pushes on your knee. Now armbar.

Chrisanne and I discovered that doing the takedown on one’s stupid side- while not very much more difficult- resulted in the opponent having a MUCH harder time both staying balanced as well as being able to do anything helpful while falling. This would only be true of right-handed people, presumably. But the difference was marked enough that it would be reasonable to make a concerted effort to drill this on the dumb side.

One roll with Chrisanne and one with that flexible blue belt guy (I really need to remember his name….) I got a choke on him that he was very admiring of. Many people have been praising me a lot lately. It doesn’t seem to be having any effect at all on my poor self-appraisal.