The four lines people cross that take their actions out of the self-defense justification are:
1)The threat isn’t physical
2)The threat isn’t immediate
3)They cross into excessive force
4)They participate in the creation and escalation of the situation.
-Marc MacYoung
Thursday BJJ in Bellevue. I had a really good spar with Seth; asked him to not let me do any escapes so that I would be forced to try other things. He praised me for staying on the move.

Thursday BJJ in Bellevue.  A lot of King Of the Hill from back mount. As usual, I was doing well at escaping back mount and I was not doing well at keeping it.

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue. All spars. Carlos left early, so Chrisanne wanted to spar with me for the first time in forever. I didn’t injure her. Another good spar with Seth (no escapes allowed). Kevin…. OMG. Nobody rolls like this guy. Every BJJ artist on the planet should get a chance to roll with this guy once just to experience it.  That Brazilian purple belt woman that I have always found challenging- neither of us was able to tap the other tonight, and we spent a long time working standup… so nice to get to work standup with someone my own size. New girl: she stared at me wide-eyed after time was called and exclaimed, “That was….. so EYE-OPENING!”

Chrisanne is competing next month for the first time. She has 4 stripes on her blue belt. I have spent a lot of time puzzling over our differing strategies. She has done everything possible to set herself up to win. Whereas anyone who has been reading my blog for a while well knows, I am self-sabotaging- I set things up so that if I lose, I have excuses. It seems like either Chrisanne or I have things fucked up- and I suspect it’s me.

Oh, it’s Telephone-Pole-Legs again.


Most blunt weapons can also be used to thrust. This is the one really dangerous application of most staff work. Except for brainstem/neck/head hits- which are relatively tough to get- most of the swing targets don’t do lethal damage. The thrust can, and it tends to be slow and sneaky damage. –Rory Miller

Proving Grounds- no surprises here. I fought Chelsea “Set Em Up and Knock Em Down” Kyger twice in gi and she did exactly what I expected her to do- got me under side control, zipped me up real tight, and then muscled me into a sub. Lord, she is strong. She tapped me with a cross collar choke… usually if I have one hand controlling the elbow, I can scuttle those- but she just forced it on through. I almost went out. I’ve never gone out on the mat, but that’s the closest I’ve come. The black roses didn’t bloom in front of my eyes, and I thought I was fine. But AFTER I tapped and she got off me and I sat upright on my knees, all the sound went away and I had a split second that felt like a skip on a DVD. It was so weird. I’ve never had it manifest that way. Chelsea also pulled off an absolutely lovely fireman’s carry takedown on me. Our second match, I managed to not get subbed (I’m happy about that) but she was still on top most of the time.

She plowed me again in no-gi. Then I had the 124lb girl…. I felt bad for her, she was a scrapper, but Chelsea ate her alive. Susan and I both beat her too (rear naked, in my case), but she made us work for it.

I didn’t recognize Susan, although she said that we had fought that the last PG. Then while I was watching her fight Chelsea, I saw one of her legs swing over Chelsea’s head, and I had a little traumatic flashback: “OHHHHHH, it’s the Telephone-Pole-Legs Girl!!!!!!!!” Last time, I had spent our match trapped in her closed guard, so I did not want to go there again. She seeems to have no takedowns…. she just circles endlessly to her left and grip fights…. but I was intimidated to try to get in because her limbs are so long. Finally she pulled guard, and I had one knee in, but I was so TIRED that I couldn’t prevent her from shoving it out and putting me in closed guard. This time, she did open her guard and try several times to sweep me. I defended her sweeps and subs but couldn’t seem to find the energy to pass. It ended in a tie, but she got a tie with Chelsea, which put her in front of me.

Griff reffed all of my fights, so he will hopefully have help for me. I think the only fight Cindy saw was my winning one (that would be nice). I couldn’t see either her or Carlos, but I could hear them both trying to corner me from opposite ends of the ring. I could also hear Carlos hollering at me during my Susan match, but I could not bring action to his orders.

Man, I hate competing. But Lamont is a friend and I want to support his event. It seems to be really meaningful to him for some reason that I show up.

It’s fun watching Craig in the comp ring. He is so relaxed, and smiles often.

Your most important part


At an advanced level, a mature practitioner should begin to “look outside of the box” of his or her base style. At an advanced level, studying outside your base allows one to better perceive recurring patterns in human attack; that there are only certain ways that a particular joint or limb can move without injury; or that certain techniques are designed to produce or capitalize on a particular physiological reaction common to the species. It is therefore understood that ultimately, there may be a “correct” method to execute technique X within system Y, but ultimately, another system utilizes a nearly identical body mechanic in a related and equally effective manner to counter the same recurring human self-protection problem. The only “correct” method, therefore, becomes the effective application of that body mechanic in neutralizing or escaping a threat, and the study of individual style (judo, jujitsu, karate, aikido, and so on) comes to be seen as simply an individual on-ramp to what amounts in the end to a much larger road. –Michael Thue

Attempting to channel anger into one’s MA is inefficient, dangerous (to both parties) and potentially ego-wrecking (in a negative way; positive ego-wrecking being an actual valid thing in MA). Good to remember when a buddy impales me in the self esteem the day before a comp. Guy is a decent person and good friend, but possibly the most insecure person I have ever met in my life (worse than me, ha ha!). It is incredibly threatening to his masculinity to think that I might be able to beat him up if it came down to it. The fact that I have trained multiple MA’s for twenty years while his ass has been parked on the couch is irrelevant. I am not invested in needing HIM to know I could beat him up- it costs me little to throw him that bone, and I have (although, it must be admitted, with increasing levels of sarcasm as the years go by). Yet I have tried many times to explain to this friend that I don’t want to hear about it repeatedly. Regardless of the truth or untruth of the statement, it is disrespectful and just plain shitty of him to keep saying this to me when he knows what a big part of me is invested in MA. It is invalidating. And yes, I freely admit that my own self-esteem is crappy, and I am not in a position to shrug off his statements without being hurt, pissed, and unbelieveably frustrated. And thinking it may be true.

Anyway, he hit me with this again today, and it has raised angsty feels that I did not need the day before a tournament. I informed him that he has reached the bitter end of my tolerance tether on that score, and if he ever says that to me again, we are through. Needed to be done. But I am left feeling even more disheartened and conflicted than usual on tournament eve.

Was reflecting that defeatism/confidence/self esteem are by far the hairiest challenge for me in my MA journey. Making one wonder- if you’re into all that esoteric crap- if that’s what it all about, if that’s what it’s all FOR, for me. A higher power or my subconscious or whatever trying to use MA to heal my esteem. It occurrs to me that it may be necessary to actually try my hardest and fail, and cope with that. Actually trying my hardest and failing anyway is such a terrifying prospect that I can’t even wrap my brain around it. But I’m not sure where else to go from here, as I am making little if any progress on my defeatism. It may be that the only way through it is- THROUGH it. Straight through.

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

Drill- pushups and sprawl to backtake. After we did all the reps, Chrisanne collapsed on the mat to wait for the rest oft he pairs to finish. I said, “Oh no. Get up. We’re starting over.”

Sparring. I tooled a white belt, got tooled by a blue belt, played defense with another white belt who had already been too rough with Chrisanne, so I knew I had to wach it with him. Had Chrisanne (at my request) get me in bottom side control and front mount and just hold me down. She did it very well. I couldn’t get out. She also has excellently painful Shoulder Of Justice.


Carlos, after matching up everyone in the class except me: “Come here Keetsune, we gonna talk about smashing. (wicked grin)”

Kitsune: “Oh boy. Okay, as long as all we’re going to do is TALK.”

Carlos (more wicked grinning)

Chrisanne: “When she asks to be smashed by *ME*, that’s a different thing than getting smashed by *YOU*.”

So he did to me the same thing that Chrisanne did, and if I couldn’t escape *HER*, you can guess how well I did against him. He advises more hipping up, observing that I am underutilizing my “most important part”.

After we did that for a while, he started latching onto subs and then reprimanding me for passing his guard instead of dealing with the sub attempt first. That is another item for the file of “Sloppy shit that works on lower belts but not on purples and up…. so it’s time to stop doing it.” Usually I can pass guard and *then* get out of the sub attempt, which has been weakened by the now-suboptimal positioning. The purple belts and up, though, will often set traps that cause you to sub your own self when you move.

Carlos, re: the comp: “We all gonna be there- me, Professor Hodrigo, Professor Lindsey….”

Kitsune: “Wonderful.” (gahhhhhhhh!!)

Jiu Jitsu On Ice


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.

“She’s tough!”


Perfect is the enemy of good. – Voltaire

Saturday competition training in Seattle.

Lord, this comp class wipes me out. I don’t know how long I am going to be able to keep doing this. Usually I have to bail on the second hour- which I went in today determined to not do- but the cardio, at my age and carrying the ten extra pounds I’m currently carrying…. UUUUUUUURGGGGGGGGGGHHH. I was whimpering as I climbed out of the car back at the Mount Index Daunless Outpost after class. Right now my thighs ache the way they usually do the morning after. Which means tomorrow morning is going to suuuuuuuuuuuuuck. But what a great week of training!

Chrisanne hasn’t had a chance to work with Georgette yet, so I told her she could have first crack at asking Georgette to drill. She’s like, “Oh my God, no, I’m just a blue belt… you go ahead…” so I went to the locker room and told Georgette that Chrisanne really wanted to drill with her but was too shy to ask. 😉 I had been hoping that Z or (short) John would be there today, but none of my favorite men were there (unless you count Lindsey and Griff, whom I can’t really ask to drill unless they offer). I also didn’t want to shanghai Casey, because we had already used each other to warm up before class. Now that Pat is brown, I feel a little awkward asking him to drill an entire class with me unless he offers first. This put me with Emma, a white belt that I seem to recall working with once or twice before. She had weight on me as well as enough skill to match if not dominate me.

Standup- one lapel grip that you can’t let go of; try to get a takedown. I couldn’t get anything on Emma, who has very superb reaps and was also trying a few other things.

Standup to pulling half guard.

We were doing some rather complex multi-step drills, and it was a struggle to get all the steps.

Opponent has spider guard. You pull back, squat, and pass your left hand UNDER the leg to grip inside of pantleg. Step to the opposite side and stand/yank upright, then crouch so that hir thigh is trapped atop yours. S/he tries to roll away, you take the back. It flows really well *IF* you shove your right knee between the floor and hir waist just as s/he rolls- the momentum seems to sorta suck you right into the gap and there you are with your hooks and choke sunk.

Opponent has Del a Riva. You turn your right knee (the one s/he has trapped) to the outside. (This same detail was in one of the techniques Carlos did with us earlier this week, so THAT step at least was easy). Then kick that same leg in the opposite direction, and pass to that side. DO NOT LET GO OF THE PANTS during any of these passes, until you are well past and the position is secure- otherwise s/he will just roll away from you.

Lots of drill reps, interspersed with about a zillion more periods of takedown sparring, and some random positional sparring. All the takedown fighting, combined with the repetitive get-up-get-down of the half guard pulls, and all the get-up-get-down of those spider guard passes, had me reeling with exhaustion. I made a very poor account of myself against Emma, which was kind of embarrassing. I really notice how tired I get when we do drills that involve a lot of having to stand back up over and over, as opposed to drills where you just stay on the ground and roll/wiggle back into place after each rep.

I had wanted to get at least one roll with Georgette, but she had to go (which was probably just as well, since I’m not sure I had the energy left to fight off a newborn kitten at that juncture). I sat a while (mainly because I was wishing someone would come along to carry me out to the car), then noticed Lindsey sitting on the mat with his back to me. So of course I had to take it.

He stuck his head right up into my favorite gi choke, but I still couldn’t finish it on him. He explained that if I can crawl my guard up a little higher on his back and/or teepee my feet up a bit, I might be able to get that little bit extra enough to finish.

It was amusing to have both Chrisanne and Georgette come up to me separately afterward and say of one another, “She’s tough!”

I am considering calling out Anica for the next Revolution- not because I’m ready to compete again or because I think I can beat her, but because having a comp on my schedule seems to be the only way I can reliably discipline myself to get my weight back down to normal. If Georgette competed, we could have a three-woman purple belt bracket between 120 and 140.

This got me thinking again about my defeatism problems and my utter lack of making any progress on them. I don’t know what to do. I’m considering pinging Side Control (Dave) on FB and see if he has any advice. I don’t really have any reason to think he has the answers to this issue, but I’m just not feeling comfortable discussing this with any of the other black belts right now for some reason. I can’t really imagine any of them dealing with persistent and serious defeatist mindsets. Dave is at least near my age and he says he has a cruddy comp record at black, so maybe he would at least be able to relate a little easier than some of these BJJ machines.



It is a historical constant that the strong rule the weak, and any shade of liberty enjoyed by the weak is nothing more than the benevolence of the strong. You need guns because the world is full of the strong, and not all of them are benevolent. -John Fogh

Seattle Open.

The scorekeeping situation actually looked complex enough that I think it would have really stressed me- with my math issues- out. So fortunately I ended up as a ring coordinator- which is a much bigger job, but used a lot of my best skills. (I used Herald Voice until my throat hurt and the low tones started to crack a little…. but by gosh everybody heard me!) THANK GOD, though, it was not double elimination. It was complicated enough as it was. If it had been double elimination, my head would have exploded in under 20 min. Also, my horrible memory blanks for names and faces gave me some problems, but I just kept asking people their names over and over and they just kept telling me. Even I didn’t have that flaw, it would have been a challenge with wrangling that many people. The women were easier. But the guys…. hundreds of identical short-haired, muscley dudes in white pajamas.

If I had expected to cut a smart authoritative-looking figure in my snazzy IBJJF blue vest and super-official clipboard, that went out the window immediately when I tripped over somebody’s water bottle and fell on my face in the bullpen right in front of about 700 people.

If that had not humbled me sufficiently, one of the two refs at my station greeted me with “Aren’t you the girl who had to fight CINDY HALES at that sub-only comp earlier this year??!?” Then went on to regale me with blow-by-blow lowlights of said match. Ah well… as I told him, it had been an honor just to stand on a tournament podium with Cindy Hales.

So, ten straight hours of work with one quick pee break and one rapidly-gobbled sandwich. I juggled up to five interweaving brackets at once, herded cats all day (It’s amazing how many people can’t follow an instruction as simple as “go to the table with the big SIX on it” or “STAY RIGHT HERE” and then you have to drop everything and chase them down again), I also had to do all my own ID checks, my own weigh-ins, report all the official results, no one was checking my work, and I did not fuck anything up although there was epic potential for fuckup at every turn. and I must say that I think I did a terrific job, especially for a virgin ring coordinator. Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows how self-critical I am, so if I say I did a terrific job, that means I did a DAMN FINE job.

Of course there was one staff member who was all up in my grill much of the day criticizing small things that yes, I would have fixed if I was perfect and flawless, but they were small things that should have been overlooked in light of aforementioned DAMN FINE job. Recognizing the dude as a fellow anal-retentive Type A control freak, of course I had to realize that this was the person who knew everything that was going on. So instead of having The Clash Of the Control Freaks (which I would have lost, being on his home turf), I instead started popping up in HIS grill every time I had an empty-mat moment and badgering him to give me some more brackets. It was an interesting exercise in consciously handling a problem in a way I would not normally have been moved to handle it.

Critical Guy (randomly popping up like an evil jack-in-the-box over my shoulder to stab an accusatory talon at my clipboard): Why did you do THIS?

Me: We already covered this. You told me ten minutes ago to do XYZ, so I did XYZ. See?

CG (after staring at clipboard for a few minutes and letting me sweat it out): Okay. I just wanted to hear you explain it.

Me (thinking): You asshole…
Me (saying, very flatly) Okay. You scared me. I thought I fucked something up.

I think the tone of my voice (along with the fact that he had been WRONG and didn’t want to cop to it and we both knew it) let him know it was time to back off me just a little.

(Snarky note: Why the fuck does anyone answer a question with “You don’t know how to do that?” or “Nobody told you how to do that?” DUMB-ASS, If I knew how to do it or someone had already told me how, WHY WOULD I BE ASKING YOU RIGHT NOW???? The only purpose of that question is to make the other person feel even worse about not magically already knowing everything about a job they’ve never done before.)

The worst moment of the day was having to explain to a guy that his single competitor had not shown up, and he had come here for nothing. I felt really bad. I also had to DQ a couple of people.

It felt weird being at a tournament and not competing. I kept feeling like I should be having nausea and tremors.

Unfortunately I was too busy to be able to watch matches.

In firearms news: I don’t want to sound callous or anything, but the timing of the local school shooting in regards to the two major gun control items on the current ballot is very unfortunate.

“I’m a purple belt.”


BJJ isn’t about doing a technique against resistance, it’s about doing techniques that your opponent doesn’t expect, and catching him off guard or off balance. Kaungren

Lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue. All positional training. I drilled with Christie, who is doing the Revolution this weekend. I blitzed her with information and advice. Suprisingly, I had *no* problem handling her easily in all of the positions today. In fact at one point when I passed her guard yet again and I could tell she was getting exhausted and a little discouraged, I had to say, “You’re doing great… I’m a purple belt.” At the end, she thanked me and said, “You helped me *so* much today.” That feels great.

Rodrigo was also there (altho not on the mat), and made a point of coming over and giving me a hug even though I was completely sweaty and disgusting. He asked me about the Revolution and I told him I had to work. He said something about having intended to get me a coaching pass- which is both frightening and flattering.

Do the limbo!


The Tueller Drill. You may have heard of the “21 foot rule”. In 1983, Dennis Tueller published an article in SWAT magazine, “How Close Is Too Close?” Dennis experimented and found that a man with a knife could consistently close a distance of seven yards and stab or slash faster than an officer could draw his firearm. This means that within seven yards, a knife is an immediate deadly threat. –Rory Miller

Thursday lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Chrisanne has her blue belt. I’m really bummed that I missed her promotion, but very happy that she has it. Gordon and Ed both got their browns.

Worked on Chrisanne’s upa some more. She is still not getting the hip pop hard enough and fast enough for my approval. She also can’t seem to stop herself from trying to trap BOTH arms, which I think is distracting her. Needs more work.

We drilled takedowns (your choice), standing guard passes (your choice) and armbar from side control. Somehow even though my practical sparring skills seem to be lacking, when it comes time to drill I often have even people my own rank actively soliciting my advice. I tried to help Vinay with the hip throw (get lower), the kneeslide pass (thrust hips forward like you’re about to do the limbo, it makes it harder for the passee to grab half guard) and armbar (don’t let your grip on the arm slack in that moment that you spin around). It seemed to help; his techniques got tighter and I was less able to wiggle around. All my drills felt really tight and technical today.

One roll with Chrisanne and one with Gordon. I tried to keep moving constantly, and was surprised to find myself on top of Gordon much of the time, although I was unable to finish anything.

Chrisanne wants to bail out of next month’s Revolution because she got promoted. I tried to talk her out of it. I told her that just after promotion is the best time to compete, because there’s no pressure. If you lose, it’s not a huge deal. I don’t think I’m going to compete again, at least not till I figure out how to work on my defeatism issue. Continuing to compete is not in itself doing anything to combat the problem, I think.

I managed to fall down the stairs the other day, and although I was not seriously hurt (thank goodness I know how to fall and am fairly resistant to breakage), both knees are bruised up and it’s more painful than usual to be on them.

Proving Grounds, Telephone Poles, Kittens, and Defeatism


The only reason I haven’t killed you is because it would make a mess. -xCecilex

Friday evening class: all spars. This was fortunate, because the next morning I was down two pounds and had no worries about making weight. I probably could have had that pizza for breakfast.

(Blue-belt) Lindsey came in right at the ends, and it was so much fun rolling with her. It’s been a long time. Unfortunately I was too tired to do more than one roll.

I love, love, love love rolling with Professor Herbert. He lets me work just enough, then all of a sudden I am flipping over to land on the bottom and thinking, “What just happened?” He does things I’ve never seen before.

Proving Grouds: I managed to dodge the group photo, although I got reprimanded by both Lamont and Cindy for that. Cindy made a point of instructing me firmly to come and get her when I was about to go on the mat, even though she was reffing. She’s like, “Will you COMMIT to that?” with piercing glare, like she thought I was going to try to ditch her. Honestly, the more people who are watching me, the more anxious I feel, so I would just as soon not have anyone there. Furthermore, while I appreciate the support of people who step up to corner me, it drives me crazy when they are exhorting me to do A and I simply CANNOT do A, for some reason. It makes me feel so guilty. I also feel guilty for letting them down when I lose. Especially Cindy. I am feeling guiltier and guiltier lately about failing to come through for Cindy. She’s so patient with the little kids, but I have got to be the most frustrating and disappointing failure on her project list.

There were 4 women there (all for no-gi), and they combined us all. As soon as I saw I was going to have to fight Chelsea, my stomach dropped. She dominates me in practice, and she has significant weight on me. I felt intimidated, and defeated before I even stepped on the mat. Sure enough, she had some gnarly head/neck control in standup and then got me down. I knew that once she was on top, it would be over, so I scrambled frantically, but turtle was as far as I got before she slapped on a nice guillotine and that was it.

Number one on the list of “I really need to figure this shit out, now”: As we started that scramble, I felt tired and weak as a kitten. It was less than three minutes into the fight. The phenomenon of having all my strength and energy leak away and leave me feeling weak as a kitten has been consistent throughout my comp career. I assumed it was the adrenaline dump- Cindy told me it was nerves- but it seems to me that my mental/emotional state has evened out a lot over the last several comps. After all, that was why I was doing it. I am not aware of feeling very nervous- so why the Kitten Effect? I do not understand why this is happening. Sure, I’m old and I get tired when I roll, but I regularly go for ninety minutes or more in practice. Why am I gassing out less than 3 minutes into a comp match?

The next girl was tiny- tinier than me. I felt bad for her. I spent most of the match in top side control, trying to get a keylock. I was actually able (for a change) to get my hand around her bird-like wrist and do Cindy’s “reverse motorcycle” rollout, but even that was not getting me the tap. Tiny seemed to have flexible joints and the keylock was not happening, but Cindy was kneeling about four inches away from my face admonishing me firmly every time I thought about letting go of it and trying for something else, so I just kept trying. Left to my own devices, at some point I will decide that the keylock just isn’t happening, so I will abandon it. Cindy of course can **MAKE** that keylock happen, to **ANYONE**, so I can see why that would not compute with her. I did use my weight a little to hold Tiny down near the end when I started getting really frustrated. I feel bad about that. She was game, but completely outsized. I know how that feels. I wish I had had a chance to say something to her before she left. She got my usual spot as 4th in a four-person bracket.

My third opponent had legs like an extention ladder. Seriously, I don’t think I have ever rolled with ANYONE with legs that long, except for Prof. Carlos. I mentioned this to John (who was kind enough to hang around with me and be supportive throughout much of this), and he said, “So what do you usually use to tap Carlos?” “Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha… what did **YOU** use the last few times **YOU** tapped out Carlos, John??? Nope, that was not going to be helpful in my tactical planning. 😛

I noticed that she kept her chin tucked like a boxer. If she had not been so tall, I would have tried to shove her head down and guillotine her- but she was over a head taller than me (even hunching) and I would have needed a stepstool to get that. Cindy told me that she was continually circling to her left and that I should try to single-leg her from the outside. A moment later, (black belt) Lindsey came over to tell me the exact same thing. So that was my tentative plan, but she unexpectedly pulled guard on me. It was like standing there and watching two falling telephone poles descending on either side in slow motion. It seemed fruitless to attempt to flee- you can’t backpedal away fast enough to get out of range of a falling telephone pole- and with most people I tend to be pretty good at squirting over their thigh as they are trying to close guard on me, so that was my next instinct. She was too fast for me, though, and she locked those telephone poles around my waist and then leisurely readjusted them into a body triangle that felt like it was set in concrete. I could feel plainly that there was no freakin’ WAY that was coming off, and that struggling against it would only exhaust my energy to no fruitful end. But that too is familiar to me, at which point I simply must wait for them to open their guard and give me a chance to escape while they are transitioning. But she never did. She was obviously waiting for me to be stupid enough to put a hand behind me to try to pry the telephone poles off, but I am not THAT stupid. I knew the moment I laid eyes on her that I could not let her get into position for a triangle or an armbar from guard. So we hand-fought for the entire match, and I tried (upon Cindy’s direction) to pass one of her wrists behind her back the way Jalen loves to do, but I never quite got it. If I’d had the gi sleeve, maybe I could have, but her wrist was just a titch too wide for me to get the type of decent grip that I had been able to get on Tiny.

I am never really clear on how brackets work, so I never know what is going on until I am told to get on the mat with this or that person…. I didn’t know if I would be fighting Tiny or Lanky again, but I did not. I wish that I could have fought both of the draws again. if I had known I would not be fighting Lanky a second time, I might have gone ahead and taken a chance by reaching back and baiting her into going for the triangle. It would have been better than stalling in closed guard for the entire match. Had I known I would not get a chance to fight Tiny again, I might have just let her up (or maybe not…. it’s really hard for me to deliberately do the exact opposite of what Cindy is telling me to do when she is four inches from my face).

I appreciate the comments left on my navel-gazing post…. I haven’t responded to them as of yet because I’m still thinking about them. There needs ot be a lot more navel-gazing. I left this comp still wondering if it behooves me or not to continue competing. It seems plain at this point that the Kitten Effect is not nerves, or at least not *JUST* nerves- there is something else going on. Although competing is not important to me in itself, I am very anxious that the Kitten Effect might occur if I find myself in a real-life defensive situation.

Number two on the list of “I really need to figure this shit out, now”: Defeatism. Defeatism is a huge, over-arching issue that is certainly affecting my comp performance and indeed could conceivably be 100% responsible for the Kitten Effect as well. And every single other problem in my MA training.

Rory Miller wrote some stuff about “struggling” versus “fighting”. When a woman is attacked and she wiggles ineffectually, squeaks, does the chicken-flailing thing where you bat lightly at your assailant with floppy wrists… it is not truly fighting back. She refrains from truly fighting back (IMHO) because she is too brainwashed to break out of the mindset of “I have to do everything I can to avoid ESCALATING this”. Rory mentions escalation- and the fear of it- briefly as well, and did not really go into it at length, but I remember that concept really gripping me when I saw it. I wrote part of a blog post about it some three years ago, and meant to go into it some more, but never did (although I never stopped thinking about it).

I grew up in a domestic violence environment in which I was thoroughly brainwashed from infancy to strive to avoid “escalation” at all costs. I feel like I’ve spent much of my life STRUGGLING to fix this- in my MA training and in pretty much all arenas of life- and have not seemed to make much true progress. I was trained to cower and submit. Any show of defiance- however tiny- was put down immediately and ruthlessly, in such a fashion as to thoroughly extinguish every last feeble spark of will. That type of conditioning- on a long-term basis, starting when you’re that young- is very difficult to uproot. Although intellectually I know that the perpetrator was evil and wrong- and that if we were to meet today, I could probably kick his ass- the CONCEPT of that looming, terrifying, all-powerful authority figure that could visit much worse than pain and death upon you at whim… it’s always sort of hanging over your shoulder all the time. I see a shadow of this juggernaut in every person and situation that presents (or even presents the possibility of) the slightest conflict of any sort. It is my boss, my teachers, the IRS, the police car parked on the shoulder, the creepy guy in the elevator, the staff member who questions my methods of running the donation table, the new big white belt guy… the competitor in the tournament ring. All are terrifying and so completely unopposable that there is no point in even thinking of resistance. If you even think about it- then will come the beat-down.

Much more insidious and terrible than this- seeing that juggernaut shadow in almost everything and doing that instinctive cower- is the brainwashing that has instilled one’s own self-image and self-worth as a thing ranking at the very basement-bottom of the food chain.

Sorry this is such a downer, and I’m not fishing for sympathy or anything here. I really need to delve more into this. If it is not the whole and complete reason for my shitty performance in competition (and on the mat in general), it is certainly a large portion. I am not going to get anywhere unless/until I can do something with it.

Navel-gazing, re: attitude


Someone who has agreed to fight you has agreed to serve as part of your test, your struggle for knowledge, your quest to make yourself better. –Sam Sheridan

As I’m sitting around thinking “What I wouldn’t do for a piece of pizza- or ten”, the inevitable “Why am I doing this?” questions start circling around in my head.

My recent batch of comps, I did specifically because I wanted to learn how to deal with the adrenaline dump. While I won’t say that comps no longer make me nervous, They are now making me much less nervous than before. So I’m not sure I’m still making decent progress on that goal.

I do not enjoy competing, my record is phenomenally lousy…. and while I do feel that I learn things every time, I find myself once again wondering if it’s a worthwhile pursuit.

I was well aware before even starting BJJ that the major limiting factor in my martial arts progress is my own defeatist mindset. I don’t really know how to fix this. Continuing to train, and continuing to compete, thinking that at some point all the work is going to result in enough increased skill to make me feel more competant… it’s not working.

I have made something of an effort in the last two years or so to be slightly less negative in my training blog- to mention more positives, and cut myself down less often. But it’s not enough. To truly tackle this hurdle, it’s going to take something else (probably multiple something else’s). I don’t know what. All I know is that it wouldn’t be easy, and I feel exhausted just contemplating the question.

Yet if I am truly serious about my training, and not just going through the motions, I can’t ignore this forever. It’s the elephant in the room, and it’s looming larger and larger. It’s not just going to go away, ad I’m going to be stuck behind it as long as I fail to deal with it.

I’m having a sense that picking up Kung Fu again might be part of the key. I have really dropped the ball on this. It’s hard for me to continue training without a teacher. Also, just the thought of Kung Fu is wrapped up with so much emotional trauma that I’m terrified that working forms again- tearing that scab off, so to speak- will result in being pulled further into the Black Hole of nightmares and depression. It’s the same fear that working on art is igniting- only more direct; closer to the belly of the Beast. Just the thought of doing forms makes my stomach roll over queasily.

While there is certainly a spiritual component in BJJ- and that’s mostly about what you put into it- so far I haven’t gotten it to trip my spiritual triggers in the way that Kung Fu did.

I do not know how to proceed. But “ignore” is becoming more and more unworkable.