There comes a time when you know you aren’t getting out alive anyway, you have nothing to lose, there is no way to survive and your brain shifts. You don’t think about winning, you don’t think about not losing, because death is a foregone conclusion. And something clicks and you decide to leave a mark. To leave so much forensic evidence, there is no way the threat will escape. To make this the worst day of his life. To cause as much pain and damage and horror as you can in the limited time you have left. This is hitting rock bottom and embracing rock bottom.
And it is one of the most powerful survivor mindsets there is. Very few people want to pay the price to stay engaged with a victim who has touched this level, the full-blown lizard brain.   -Rory Miller
Thursday BJJ in Bellevue: We worked on X guard and the tripod sweep. X guard is something I have worked very little of, but would like to persue more, as I need to develop a bottom game. Tripod sweep has been a nemesis. I clearly recall the first time I saw it as a white belt, I was nearly brought to tears of frustration with the multiple steps and the need to keep Left and Right straight. Still struggling with it some.

Thursday BJJ in Bellevue: all spars. I got a tripod sweep On Danny. He complimented me on it even before I told him that was the first tripod sweep I have ever gotten live.  I sparred with two of the female white belts that I had previously taught my favorite mount escape, and refreshed them on it. I mounted poor Jenna over and over and over till she was cursing me in frustration. I said, “You’ll thank me for this someday. Not today. But someday.” I also showed Camille and Mina how to force an armbar on someone who has their hands locked shut, even if he is much bigger and stronger than yourself.

The whole world is getting promoted: Dave and Casey and Kevin and Pat at black, Nelson and Gerrick and Dex at brown, An and Amy at purple.

Friday BJJ in Bellevue: Got there as the women’s class was finishing up; they were doing some positional sparring from front mount. I called to Jenna, “Jenna- remember yesterday”. Carlos shut me down. I almost never coach other people on the mat, but it seems like the very rare time I do it, he gets irritated with me… not sure why.  I’m pretty sure he didn’t even know what I was referring to.

All positional KOTH.  I was doing pretty well. We had 4 profs on the mat tonight. Interesting situation wherein Prof A seems to feel that Prof B was going too hard. Prof A administered an educational beat-down. (Let me tell you, if I ever see an educational beat down coming at me from Prof A, I will wee all over the mat and expire from terror before he gets within 15 feet.) The next people in line were Chrisanne, Christy, and me in that order. Chrisanne (who has gotten really good at healthy boundary keeping and saying no to rolling with anyone she doesn’t feel good about) turns to Christy and whispers, “You want to go with Prof B?” Christy, who is big and strong and technical and I figure can pretty well take care of herself, looked like a deer in headlights and tried to throw it back on Chrisanne. I decided that if they weren’t comfortable, I didn’t want either of them rolling with him, so I marched past them while they were conferring. My general impression of Prof B is a mild mannered guy, and I have never felt unsafe with him before… but Prof A knows him a lot better than I do. Also, he had just gotten an EBD in front of everybody, and that sort of thing doesn’t tend to sit well with men’s egoes. And you know what- he *DID* go too hard. But I am feeling pretty confident right now about being able to protect myself, even against scary guys. I may not *win*, but I can consistantly prevent them from damaging me. And if things start to go sideways, well, there’s always Tappety Tap tap.

I got a handwritten letter from CN. It was so nice. I miss him. I wrote him back. Hope he keeps it up. It would be good to talk to him more.

Saturday BJJ in Seattle: all spars. Did okay. Decided not to tap to the girl who put her hand on my face 15 seconds in…. later she wiped her whole body down my face with all her weight while on top, and I thought she was gonna break my nose. So I pretended it was a comp, I didn’t tap. It was a long, competitive match, but I did get one tap on her, which I was happy about. Tried the tripod sweep again on someone else, did not get it this time.

Whoo-hoo! Live Tripod sweep!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Around the world


If you think about it, we receive, evaluate and act on vibes every day- and we, as a species, are quite effective at it. Applying this to self-defense is not a new skill, it is applying a skill you already have in a new manner. Campfire Tales From Hell

Friday evening BJJ in Bellevue.

Tripod sweep. Note that Doug wants me to let go of the lapel and grab the sleeve cuff (on the same side as I have the elbow) BEFORE sitting.

“Around the world” drills- ie, side control, scarf, north south, scarf, side control….. is there a name for when you sit on your hip preparing to front mount??…… front mount, nameless again, side control.

I had a brand spanking new white belt with almost no English tonight, so that was interesting. I had to walk him through everything in excruciating detail, and mostly in pantomime. As least he didn’t seem really weirded out by working with a girl. Sometimes some of the new foreign-born students are. This one only seemed the normal “novice grappler” amount of weirded out by things like north-south and putting a lot of weight on the opponent in side control.

20-minute roll with Doug. I seem to have acquitted myself ok, but I felt dissatisfied by how conservative and clingy I was playing. It seems that particularly with the black belts, I fail to flow- partly because I feel anxious that if I try to go faster, I’m going to do moronic stuff. Doug has been working with me long enough that he’s not going to think I’m an idiot for doing a few dumb moves. I should let myself relax and experiment more with him. He’s safe to do it with.

After an unfortunate potato chip encounter at work last week, I’ve restrained my eating in the last few days and dropped a couple of pounds. Bought 3 cartons of eggs today. Unfortunately, a Facebook friend posted a graphic photo of an egg she’d cracked open which was awfully chicken-fetus-y. I find eggs pretty gross anyway- I try to not think about it- but that did not help. When I was about 7, I found an eye in the yolk of a hard-boiled Easter egg. It scarred me for life. I still look at eggs askance, and to this day I won’t eat hard-boiled yolks. But when you’re an athlete, you just sort of HAVE to do eggs.

I’ll ditch him.


Almost everyone I have met who has been in the situation reflexively checks weapons when they get tense. It’s a tell, and a great way to pick out who is armed. –Rory Miller

Thurs: Lunchtime BJJ in Bellevue.

Allergies have been suicide-inducing these past few days. I have been taking buckets of drugs, which has accomplished exactly nothing, except that now I am congested, headachy and exhausted ALONG WITH antihistimine/decongestant daze.

None of my usual favorite drill partners was there, but there were a lot of big guys and some visiting blue belts. Especially in my sinus-skewed state, I was in no mood to deal with visiting blue belt men, which tend to be a real crapshoot. A lot of the time, they either try to kill you because you’re a purple belt and they figure that means they can go as hard as they want even though you’re half their weight and old enough to be their mom, or they try to kill you because you’re a purple belt and they want to prove they can kick your ass.

I just didn’t feel like taking that on, so I sidled up to Justin before class.

Me: “Will you please drill with me today, so I don’t get stuck with any of these big guys?”
Justin: “Uh, I already told Alex I’d drill with him.”
Me: (dismayed expression)
Justin: “I’ll ditch him.”
Me: “It’s tough being Mr. Popular, huh?”

I felt a little bad, but it was a matter of survival.

Standup: double leg setups, failed double-leg to rear clinch.

Tripod sweep. I was happy to see this, as it’s one of those techniques that involves doing something different with each of your four limbs, and thus I always struggle with it- but I would like to get proficient at it, since that would possible allow me to set it up from spider guard (which I use a lot but can’t sweep very well from).

Opponent stands up in your guard, you place feet on hir hips, grab hir ankles, and dump. I use this a lot, but have a vast amount of trouble recovering from the subsequent scramble and capitalizing before s/he gets up and capitalizes on me first. Carlos had us KEEP ONE PANTLEG, swing both legs to that same side. Slam your other elbow on the mat outside of hir far thigh. Hopefully you are not so slow that you fail to get hir hips controlled so that you can get in side control. As usual, retaining that pant grip was a challenge for me.

Note that if you try the double-ankle drop and they grab your lapels to defend it, you can lift hir in the air with your feet on hir hips and try to dump hir over your head or to the side. if that fails, next go to the tripod sweep.

These techniques were more get-up-get-down-get-up-get-down work, as I was grousing about the other day…. and with the sinus crap, I got tired very quickly.

Me: (beginning the technique standing hunched over in Justin’s open guard)
Justin: (after long expectant pause) “Get in my closed guard.”
Me: “Urrrrrrrghh… I didn’t want to have to get back up again.” The only thing more exhausting that get-up-get-down-get-up-get-down is get-up-get-down with someone hanging around your waist.

Many drills, after which I was too wiped to spar.

Friday: Can’t go to class because I got tattooed last night, but I took a 2 mile walk.

Tripod sweep


Changing the world has nothing to do with altruism or with trying to be a good Samaritan. Ultimately, since everything is connected, helping others inevitably means helping ourselves. At the highest level, there is no difference between egoism and altruism. It is a karmic ping-pong game. All our actions come back to us. Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path

Friday lunchtime BJJ at Kirkland.

Tripod sweep: Begin in standup with judo grips. Step on opponent’s hip on the side that you control hir elbow. Drop to back, swing free leg out, bring it back in and place on opponent’s other hip. Now: remove your first foot and stick it between opponent’s feet. Trip that foot while you grab the other heel. As s/he falls, let the momentum pull you up, take side control.

I like this sweep- it’s so technically beautiful- but I have always struggled with it because there is so much going on at once. That one hand grip remains, so that’s easy- but you have the other three limbs doing three different things, and it has to be simultaneous and smooth. I think this is one of those things that’s not really going to click for me until I get a few more levels up, and can see the big picture logic instead of stressing about which leg to hook and which hip to be on.

Same setup, only now the opponent steps hir foot back when you try to grab the heel. Quickly scoot up so that you’re sitting on hir foot and hugging hir shin with the INSIDE arm. Fold your legs to the outside. You can post with the free hand- you don’t have to try to hang onto hir. Fold hir leg inward and move to side control.

For both of these techniques, a familiar problem arose- I continue to let go of the far pantleg. If I can remember to keep that, it will prevent hir from scooting either into me to replace guard or away from me to escape.

Third technique: pull guard from standing, yank opponent down on chest, when s/he postures up, go with hir and either kimura or situp sweep. Dave points out that I am not assertive enough about controlling the opponent’s arm. I tend to get fixated on trying to haul my elderly butt up far enough to bear the opponent’s trunk down, and I fail to grab the arm firmly enough, pull it deep enough, or clasp it close enough. Sometimes I forget to grab it at all.

This was an exhausting class because of all the up-down-up-down-up-down. Dave is a great partner, always encouraging when he sees I’m getting tired.

A little KOTH from standing- try to pull guard. Whomever succeeds them tries to sweep or submit, while the pull-ee tries to pass.

I was too exhausted physically and mentally to spar afterward.

I registered for Proving Grounds, in my usual bracket even though I’m right on the edge and have only 1 week to make sure I make weight. I almost registered one weight class up just to be safe, but that one was 135-155. I really do not want to fight 155-lb people. Although it probably won’t matter, we will almost certainly be combined anyway.