The ego- a challenge that is constantly revisited.

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“Great dancers are not great because of their technique,
they are great because of their passion.”
– Martha Graham

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

I need to quit being so lazy about blogging my classes the same day- if I wait, I really have problems transcribing the techniques, and I can only assume that’s going to translate to further problems retaining them.

I remember that I warmed up rolling with Peter. He is getting quite technical, but still using a lot of muscle. I guess I have not worked with anyone in a good while who muscles that much. I had thought I had grown out of the whole dick-waving thing where I try (vainly, of course) to muscularly match muscley men who are much more massive than me. Found out that I am not. I kind of hurt myself straining against him, and I also hurt myself by being too stubborn to tap. I certainly EXHAUSTED myself. Time to revisit that important lesson.

We did some guard pulling from standing, and a sweep, and some triangle stuff, and Carlos pointed out that we do not need to have our bodies torqued way over to the side to do the triangle. We can just alter the angle of the leg. And of course, it is critical to remember that pushing your leg down/forward is a lot more effective than trying to basically squeeze your thighs together in a nutcracker motion.

Teepee. Chrisanne was delighted with this, as it seemed to solve some of her short-leg issues in finishing the triangle. While I was happy for her, three reps of this gave me an immediate splitting headache.

I was taking my headache toward the locker room when Cindy walked in. For once in my life, my reaction to seeing Cindy walk in was “shit!”…… because I knew that she was competing the next day, and I had also mentioned the Friday evening Bellevue classes to her the day before- so I couldn’t just flee without letting her beat on me some. She wanted to drill a horrible takedown- a twisty arm drag that wrenches the elbow, shoulder, *and* back; and while you are writhing in pain, you get your foot hooked and hoisted above your head to get dumped hard. The first eight or ten weren’t too bad, but after that, I wanted to cry. It would have hurt any time, but after my lengthy muscle-roll with Peter and my pounding headache, it was agony. Had to really grit my teeth to stop myself from saying, “I’m sorry, I just can’t do any more of this tonight” (probably with a sob on the final syllable). After drilling, I was able to roll a bit with her, then begged off and gave her Ron instead. I always feel bad/ashamed that I just don’t have what it takes to be a good uke for Cindy, especially when she is in comp mode….. I always try, but end up feeling really inadequate.

Front mount to S mount

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Fighting is almost always ego driven. –Rory Miller

I’m doing Vic’s 30 day plank challenge. Starting today at Day 2 because I just now found out about it. I flatter myself that I have halfway decent ab muscles, but I do not plank, so it’s entirely possible that I may be in for a rude awakening.

My trick wrist- the one that Carlos wristlocked when he first came here- was troubling me yesterday and today. Mostly during the open guard butt scoot warmups yesterday. I was mostly fine during the sparring. I’m wary, though, as the wrist tends to give me problems for a few weeks at a time once it starts hurting. Hope it won’t affect the plank challenge.

Saturday no-gi at Kirkland.

There were some painful techniques on tap today, and Cindy told me to be grateful that Dave was there to be the demo dummy…. and I truly was, as they are things that Cindy has done to me before and the memory of agony is fresh. I feel terrible as I watch Dave’s face contort. The vein on his temple starts bulging out and turning purple, too.

I was drilling with Andrew, who is fairly large, but he was very nice to me and careful. Dave, though, didn’t hear me say “tap” during the positional sparring, and continued to pull something that torqued the sheet out of my ankle and knee until I yelled “TAP- TAP- TAPTAP!!!!!” I know he would never do that on purpose, but dang, that hurt.

First we did some pummelling, then triangle drills, then armbar from guard drills (lawd I hate those!)

Front mount to S mount with seatbelt grip. Then front mount to S mount to armbar. Then front mount to S mount to torquing opponent’s own arm around hir neck and bellying hir down to the mat.

I struggled with many things today. Several of them were very basic white belt errors that I should not be making. Others of them were failing to correctly follow all the steps even after multiple explanations and demos. Cindy was getting frustrated with me, to my dismay and chagrin.

Positional sparring from front mount. Then a roll with Wayne. I haven’t done no-gi in a long time, and found myself frustrated with the lack of grips.

Move your heaps!

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

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

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

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

Spars.

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

Paul.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday X2

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Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets. You may get killed with your own gun, but he’ll have to beat you to death with it, cause it’s going to be empty. -Clint Smith

Lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Copious drills. Single-legs (Carlos reprimanded me for repeatedly flinging Chrisanne against the wall. I informed him that the wall is a weapon. He was not amused.). Kimuras from closed guard. Cross collar chokes from closed guard.

About a million rounds of closed guard pass vs sweep. Sweeps continue to be the weakest part of my game. Didn’t get a single one. Got some passes.

One roll with Chrisanne.

Evening BJJ in Kirkland. I am trying to make an appearance in Kirkland once in a while, even if I can’t make it on Cindy’s days. On Thurs evenings it’s “basics” in there, which is often a little easier for me to deal with that the “advanced” in Bellevue, when you’re talking two classes in one day. It also starts half an hour earlier, which lets me get home a little sooner.

Tonight I definitely coasted a bit. Dave is getting over some respiratory funk, so did not challenge me as he usually does (no coasting when you’re rolling with Dave). I was working with a brand new girl white belt who couldn’t even make it through the entire drill session.

Pummelling. Cross collar choke from closed guard (cranking the person to the side a bit to facilitate the choke… like this detail. Was not able to do it on stupid side, dammit.). Basic guard pull from standing. Guard pull to armbar from guard. Guard pull to failed armbar from guard, to triangle.

One roll with a tall white belt guy. Armbarred him and RNC’ed him.

“That’s why I don’t stand up.”

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A professional (criminal) does not fight you, doesn’t even think about fighting you. He takes you out. –Rory Miller

Thurs evening BJJ in Bellevue. I felt good to go when I left the house, but I was feeling like crap by the time I got to the gym. I had to take an allergy pill *and* and ibuprofen… I had a headache and was congested as hell. Fortunately, they seem to have done their work (passably- I can *NEVER* really breathe), and I did not have major problems getting through the class. I felt really tired at the beginning, but was able to rally- I even stayed for for the sparring at the end, ALL of it (to the point of getting kicked off the mat by Doug, who wanted to go home and have dinner).

Closed guard to butterfly to spider guard setup to triangle. I was working with Nadine, who was complaining about her incredibly short legs. They may have been short, but they were all muscle- her thighs felt like steel posts, and the instant she closed her triangles, all the air was gone and the pain was terrific.

Some positional sparring from closed guard- pass vs try to get the triangle; then pass vs sweep or triangle; then pass vs whatever.

Several spars. My performance was moderate.

Here’s yet another way you can pick out the serious martial artists who have trained something else before coming to BJJ:

Kitsune (during spar): “Why don’t you stand up when I do? You know you can take me down.”

Nadine (judo practitioner): “That’s why I don’t stand up.”

Some seemingly competent sparring

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Beating someone to the draw is a myth. Even if it was possible, other than a shot to the brainstem, there is nothing a bullet can do that can stop another person from pulling the trigger for several seconds. –Rory Miller

FRI
Went to the open mat in Bellevue after work on Fri morning. I was only able to be there for the last hour, but I had coordinated with Lindsay, so it was worth it. We rolled for almost an hour- gi and then no-gi. I got a few taps, she got a few taps. Then we gushed about how much we enjoy working together. We seem very evenly matched, and we feel safe working together.

SAT
Turtle Spirit Jam. I wrote a chant and used it to call the quarters. Decent turnout. I used the frame drum, doumbek, and egg shaker. Also broke out the streamer poi, which was nice- not enough room to use those in the indoor venue. Used the frame drumstick to drum on objects around the park shelter (STOMP’s got nuthin on me). The metal signs had very poor tones, but the trash can and recycle can were great. Got a nice three-tone rhythm going with trash (head)-recycle (head)-trash (stick).

There were two other guys there with great drum skills, and we had a really nice middle eastern-sounding beat going at one point wherein we were trading the solos around.

Still feeling a bit too much “holding the rhythm” burden at these events. Every single time I tried to drop out- even though I was being really careful to fade- the whole group either immediately faded with me or fell apart. I wish there were a few more people who weren’t afraid to start rhythms or to take the lead.

I got a nice amount of walking done. I parked over a mile away because I assumed there wouldn’t be any parking to be had (turned out the rear half of the park was deserted). I also circled for pretty much the entire jam.

WEDS
Jen and I are fighting on FB again, with me saying that when I’m helping to lead these shindigs, I want to have a loose format and not be ordering drummers where to stand and what to do. She seems to feel that I am frustratingly naiive and can’t understand how much ritual leaders need to plan every step ahead and tightly CONTROL everything. I suspect the golden spot lies in the middle somewhere, but it is difficult to restrain myself from bristling when she shoots down my concepts and ideas. I’m still not entirely sure what is going on here with the dynamics between us, but I am not comfortable trying to force myself into her little box of what she wants me to be doing, so I am definitely going to hang back and keep my role strictly compartmentalized. I already agreed to call East at the next big Ocean Healing thing (deliberately picking an element I’m weak in, just for a challenge), and I will still do that, but we have talked about doing something with the River over here at my place in the fall… which I may now try to wiggle out of. I’m not going to respond to her posts right away, though- choosing to not let myself get pulled into the Dance Of Ego, cuz I can feel myself wanting to. Going to wait till I’m cool.

THURS

Two-fer at Bellevue. Good Lord was it hot. After evening class ended, I was actually kind of nauseated from the level of heat (and possibly from being shaken and stirred all day on the mat).

Lunchtime: Drills.

1) Standing guard pass. Hands on opponent’s knees. Step to each side a few times, then pull opponent’s knees to the mat on the same side you are on. Dart to other side, plant shoulder on opponent, slither upward into side control.

2) Step one foot between opponent’s feet. S/he sits up and hugs your knee. Grab the back of hir collar, plant your forearm on hir breastbone, “slide into home” on the free-foot side. Turn your hips toward opponent, placing your left knee where your right knee just was. Your right knee must be pointed at the ceiling in order to pop out of the half guard. Front mount.

3) Opponent’s feet are on your hips. Grab hir left foot with your right hand (same-side), pass it to your other hand, clamp it under your left arm, step in and drop to butt as if you are going for ankle lock. This is a ruse (or perhaps your ankle lock didn’t work). Post with right hand, change your grip on the leg (you want to grab the pants on the outside of the knee) and use your left leg to lift opponent’s non-trapped right ankle while you shift your body behind hir butt. I was worried about accomplishing that left-leg thing, but it turned out that you only had to stick your foot under there and lift it a smidgen in order to render the person unable to do diddly crap (since now both hir feet are off the mat). It did not need to be a big production, but you did need to remember to do it. The trickier part for me was actually avoiding getting my own foot trapped under my own ass thus preventing me from doing the shift. I wanted to step in really really close to the opponent’s butt when I first went for the ankle lock, but I had to think ahead regarding where I placed that foot- otherwise I had to do extra scrambling in order to unfold myself later.

Note that if you could use the pants knee grip to yank opponent’s leg straight(er) at the end, bonus.

A few spars. Suranjen let me ride him for almost the entire 8 mins, and tap him about once a minute… don’t know what was going on there, as he normally tools me. On top of John a lot today, too. Maybe I was just excellent this afternoon, I dunno.

Evening:

I need to stop doing two-fers assuming the Chrisanne is going to show up for round 2, because she keeps standing me up. Turns out her knee is still giving her problems, so she decided to bail. Guess that’s a decent excuse! I held up okay, despite the heat.

Standup with judo grips, put foot on opponent’s hip on sleeve-grip side, drop to butt, DO NOT swing out. Instead, slide elbow grip to cuff grip, place foot on bicep, triangle.

God, I can’t remember what else we did. I’m so tired. My brain is melting.

More spars. I seemed competant tonight. Usually I flail on round 2 in one day, especially if I seemed competant in the afternoon.

Still having a lot of pain in both knees from that fall I took on the stairs. I also pulled a muscle in the afternoon- it hurts almost screaming-level to turn my head to the left, also rradiating a bit down that arm and to mid-back. Joyful. Stretching before evening class did naught to relieve it, but fortunately it did not seem to cripple me in class. I hope it’s not bad in the morning. I want to do 1, maybe 2 classes tomorrow.

It’s illegal

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Stealing from the gods the fire of passion and creativity to lighten our life is just the first step of the trip, not the destination. Passion and creativity are not our private property, not our very own toys. They are the sparks lighting the fire of a big tribal camp. Having talent and not cultivating it is a crime, but cultivating it without sharing its fruits with others may be even worse. In its highest form, the way of the warrior is that of the bodhisatva: putting one’s talent at the service of a superior destiny. Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Lunchtime no-gi at Kirkland.

Some pummelling, some double leg setups. The double leg setups we were doing today…. 1)begin with feet square so as not to telegraph. 2)begin at very close range. 3) from pummel, make sure you trap or duck under opponent’s wrist on that side when you drop. 4)Step FAR in. I never step far enough. Foot should be between opponent’s feet and BEHIND them. 5)placement of the OTHER foot is eternally problematic for me. I tend to step *too* far forward with that one, and also too close to opponent. (See how I have exact opposite problems with each foot? Welcome to my world.) The hand placement, the upright back, and the head pressure I seemed to be doing (mostly) right this time (note this is about the eight millionth time Cindy has gone over this technique on a personal and intensive level with me).

Keylocks from front mount. I was corrected for failing to use the thumbless “monkey paw” grip. Also for not having the elbow close enough to the opponent’s head. When jumping from low grapevining front mount to high mount in the armpits, move more quickly. Pull the head off the mat to keep opponent from bridging.

If opponent joins hands to defend the keylock, go to kimura grip. I need to focus on keeping opponent’s arm folded firmly. S mount. Take the foot closest to opponent’s head and fold the shin back along hir back. Pull opponent’s head and shoulders into your lap. This rolls hir over your shin, which you can now use to pin hir arm. Opponent is now in a triangle, facing away from you, with hir head and shoulders in your lap. Choke way up to right under hir armpit- you do not want opponent’s ribs inside this triangle. Now you can let go of the kimura grip and grab your own ankle as you post on the mat with your other hand. Readjust the triangle so that your shin is shoved horizontally right under opponent’s chin. Now you have to scoot yourself all the way around hir head until you are lying on your side and can grab one of opponent’s legs.

This particular technique makes me very, very relieved that Dave is now usually the demo dummy. This one hurts. Badly. In all sorts of ways.

A few rolls- Dave, Cindy, a guy I don’t know. I wasn’t doing very well today in the sparring. Last night I had been marvelling that I felt competant in sparring, so I’m not surprised… it is common to have a “wow, I suck” day right after you start to feel like you might know what you are doing. BJJ likes to keep you humble that way.

Cindy also informed me that the bicep slicer that Prof Herbert showed us last night is illegal. Dang. I liked that trick. Herbert failed to mention that it is illegal. I’m really glad she told me that before I did it to somebody.

Chopped off all my hair today. Feeling kind of self conscious. With the long, long, red “mermaid hair”, that’s all everyone ever looks at. Now I feel like people might notice my body and clothes or something. It’s sure going to be nice to be able to do BJJ for a while without that spandex cap, though. And without having wet hair for three hours after the shower.

Maybe not “everyone”, but at least one person….

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An assertive examination of the threat- not glaring in his eyes, but scanning and noting his stance, possible weapons and where his hands are- will help to discourage the threat. He must see you scanning and evaluating. It sends a signal. Simultaneously, check yourself. Make sure your hands are free and any weapons you have are accessible. Scan for the threat’s possible confederates and keep the threat in your peripheral vision. An experienced threat will notice you doing this and will have to move you into a different class of potential victim, preferably out of the victim category altogether. –Rory Miller

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue under Prof. Doug.

Outside reap setups. Remembering that collar grip needs to be higher. Also, pushing with that fist against the jaw or neck makes a big difference. After not-gonna-admit-how-many years, it feels a little like I’m starting to coordinate the whole push/pull thing. A little.

Triangles from closed guard, transitioning through butterfly and a half-spider to get there.

Rolls with Christie, Prof Sean, Kevin, and a white belt guy that I know from Kirkland but his name escapes me.

Christie got two stripes on her belt tonight. She’s been working really hard, coming to a lot of classes, and doing great.

She also told me- after drilling- “I’m so happy when you come!” which gave me a warm fuzzie.

Kirkland

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’Feeling’ other people’s intentions when there is no time to comprehend is not a special talent reserved for enlightened masters. Only a bad relationship with our perceptions and a poor regard for our intuition can take this fundamental weapon away from us. Centuries of strict rationalism and skeptical philosophies have contributed to undermine our natural sensitivity. -Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Evening class in Kirkland, under Dave.

Opponent standing, you on your back with feet on hips. Opponent pushes your leg to the side and steps to the side, you cross far leg over top and replace the open guard. Over and over.

From closed guard: spider guard to triangle to armbar to omoplata to triangle.

From side control: near arm under opponent’s head, sit back on your hip, grab pantleg. Mount, grapevine, arm under head, dismount in “kickstand” position. Then side control. Rinse, repeat.

Basic back mount escape. Don’t forget to grab the pantleg and push it away. Also, noting that tilting the head to the side and then pressing it back against opponent before rolling onto the side makes a big difference.

Same, only this time opponent grabs half guard. Sit back on hip, clear the arm, CROSSFACE (very important), shoulder pressure. Now scoot butt back as you use free arm (and your other foot, if necessary) to clear the half guard.

You are in turtle, Opponent is sprawled on you N/S. Hug one thigh, pop head out on that side side and press it against opponent’s shoulder blade. Step the outside foot out. Pop your body out and lie back on opponent. Twirl around to hang off hir side, as s/he is now turtled. My biggest challenge here is remembering to circle the elbow back as I pop out.

Same beginning pose. This time grab both thighs and scoot in close. Pop head out, step out on that same side, use OUTSIDE hand to grab the near ankle. Push with shoulder (be very upright) and lift to spill opponent over. Take side control. There is a good opportunity here to also trap both legs on top of your thighs.

Sparring: Twice with a white belt I don’t know, once with Dave. With Dave, my amazing skills from this afternoon continued to reign. I did worse against the white belt, go figure- even though he wasn’t being smashy or ridiculously heavy. He had good basics, good guard passes and really good top pressure. In our first spar, I did loop choke him in about twenty seconds, which inspired much hilarity (him included).

The tangled web we weave

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

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

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a fun night of training.

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