Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Morning class and thoughts on weight

My flight got in late from a super-fun family reunion last night. OK...super-fun except for New York. Connecticut was great. NYC? Notsomuch. Maybe it's an introvert thing, but all that energy, hustle and bustle just hit me as chaos and stress. I'm still on edge. Even more proof that I'm not a big-city person.

Anyway, I took today off to recuperate, and decided to check out the morning class. It was all quiet an peaceful...very snuggly and helped wash the craziness off me. I got to spend some time going through everything I'd picked out for the test and got feedback on what I'd chosen to test on. Ever since doing two classes in one night, going to class once in a day no longer feels like enough. I didn't fall head-long into BJJ addiction, but I think it might be sneaking up on me. 

Today's class really got me thinking about the learning style thing again. One of the higher belts was showing me a baseball choke and was kidding with me over how many notes I was making. The kick boxing coach (purple belt) came over and said he does the same thing. At first I thought all my notation came from unfamiliarity with...well...everything BJJ related, but I'm thinking it has more to do with how people retain information/concepts. I've seen some training partners say the steps of a move as they review it, others need to watch it multiple times...me, it helps me to write it down, even if it's after class. I've been using FreeMind's mapping software and while it seemed like overkill at first, I'm finding that the cloud/tree structure makes it much easier for me to organize the concepts, problems and details that I run across, while also giving me the flexibility to make changes as I learn. 

I chose that picture of Kate Winslet because her "once a fat kid, always a fat kid" quote really stuck with me.  BJJ has given me another tool for combating whatever tricks my mind is playing on me regarding my size. Being female and having healthy weight ranges solidly past the 200lb mark can be a serious mind trip sometimes. Even if I know I'm healthy, I can still feel overweight. Thankfully though, even when my body doesn't seem "pretty", it definitely always feels useful and powerful now

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I...really don't know any teenagers.

Since I'm going to be missing a class this weekend, I went for a double class tonight and it RAWKED! It was like...like...Saturday...not college Saturday, but like little kid Satudray....just on a Wednesday night...and violent. I seriously forgot I even had reports to run and clients to talk to and bills to pay and all that grown-up jazz. Funs.
So I am actually testing for my green belt.
I'm honestly a little excited. I've got my study sheet and have been working through it each class, figuring out which moves I'm good/bad at, which I don't know at all (just learned a takedown) and which just aren't going to work for me without a LOT of practice (armbar from the mount is my new enemy).
Something struck me tonight. I was sitting, watching the advanced class, holding a baby and talking to a 15 year old about getting submitted, new flavors in baby snacks and good music to listen to while sparring and I realized that aside from occasional visits with family, my life has very much been confined to the 21 and up crowd...and that's really a shame.
Sure, I get some baby exposure from my cousins/friends/coworkers and their kids, but none that I see on the regular. And high school kids? Never. Not even at church really. Outside of BJJ, the concept almost seems strange. There's something fascinating about getting to talk to people who are in a life stage you've already been through AND having common ground on which you can relate to each other, especially when that "common ground" turns the concept of who's senior completely on its head. Your perspective on age shifts when a 14 year old is helping you through something you struggle with...and, mind you...doing it well, with empathy, confidence and solid knowledge. Tonight...was a good night.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gettin' by with a little help from my friends...

Yeah...so the funk persists, but I think I'm starting to see things more clearly. I'm probably overestimating how much time I'm spending in my "stuck" positions and am actually getting better about getting to my side. In the midst of the fog though, I found myself reflexively running to five people that have been very good about listening and encouraging me over the past six months.

Cali photographer buddy: My best friend. She's been with me through all kinds of crazy exploits. She's been listening to all my cries and moans over the soreness and awkwardness. She's also been incessantly supportive of my blogging as a point of reflection and enjoyment and tolerated weeks of my post class reviews about "fighting men".

Chinese speaking partner: Greek Chinese medicine doctor actually, but he's been doing qigong and yiquan for...years now. He has tons of insight into the prevention and treatment of injuries. Most importantly though, he's been acutely aware of my non-technical progress (probably a by-product of practicing internal martial arts), and is good for reminding me of what used to frustrate a few months ago...things that I don't even think about now.

Karate/TaiChi programmer friend: Friend from HS days and beyond. He's  was a huge help in getting me through all my ukemi frustrations. He's got a background in other martial arts and has provided a lot of insight into the journey and social dynamic of the MA world...which was great, because I was LOST. (Still am to some extent). He's also on his own fitness quest and it's good to have someone hitting plateaus and frustrations just like you are.

UK Accountant: Friend from grad school that was actually training at the gym I go to now before he moved to England. Still trying to get him to start at the Gracie Barra school where he is. Since he's into MMA, I can talk about specifics and he gets what I'm talking about.

College Cousin: Best cousin ever. She coined the term "WooJitsu" because of how happy I am when I talk about it. Apparently, talking about BJJ is the only time I'm "cute". She was my go-to text buddy when I was sitting in the car, sick to my stomach or in the bathroom, staring myself down in the mirror, trying to convince myself to step out onto the mats again.

The best part about them is that they've never trained BJJ, but still manage to be hugely encouraging.

...and now, Joe Cocker...

Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm feeling very...feelsy...

...and I'm not a feelsy person. I went to class, fueled by some quality time with Roy Dean's DVD and Jiu Jitsu University, with all these aspirations of finally not getting stuck in the mount, successfully passing someone's guard and FINALLY making my way out of side control. I did none of that. I got stuck in side control. I  got pinned in the mount. I couldn't even pop open the guard, let alone pass it.
I have this...huge...canyon of a gap between technique and actual application, and I'm not sure exactly how to cross it. I think I've finally made it around the technique wheel and I'm starting to see some of the techniques from when I first started...makes me feel even suckier.
I know that not being an athlete, applying physical concepts might come a bit slower for me since my mind isn't used to making those connections. I know that I've only been training twice a week and that in the world of BJJ, that amounts to super slow progress. I know that I'm sparring with new, stronger, heavier people, and the gains I've made on my typically smaller partners mean very little now. I know that I'm supposed to be taking this at my own speed. Unfortunately, none of that is comforting.
I did learn...though...to go for small gains. Instead of getting in side control and going straight for guard, it's sometimes a good idea to go for half guard.
I met a friend for dinner after class (she stopped by and got some video and pics of me rolling...it was actually good to see myself) and went back to the gym afterward to get my car. The second beginners class was going on and I saw all my old training partners and my old instructor. I miss them. I'm considering doubling up my training time and doing both classes, I'll just need to find a way to burn the hour in between.  

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Drill application

My last roll, my instructor showed me where I could take advantage of a guard pass opening after a failed hip sweep. I saw it. I understood it. I had absolutely no inclination to try it.
I've spent the last few months whittling away at "stall spots"...positions I get into and freeze either because of lack of knowledge or fear. The first was side control...horrible because I ALWAYS ended up there (still do actually). Then it was the mount. That stunted my BJJ growth not just because I didn't know what to do when there (applying an americana just wasn't working without some element of surprise), but I also completely avoided working on any techniques that would help me get the mount...I wanted nothing to do with it. Now, I'm looking at passing closed guard over the leg. Opening the guard, I get it. But I freeze when it comes to passing. I know to pin the knee to the ground and that somehow, my body is supposed to go over and past it, but the first time I tried it, I was working with a very strong fellow white belt and I just couldn't get his leg anywhere near pinned. On top of that, the idea of getting my body around my arm  and into side control seemed completely foreign to me. So when Ted suggested it, I felt some frustration welling up.
Yesterday it hit me that the drill that's called "passing" is designed specifically for this reason. Sweet. I'm not too bad at that one. But then one of the big differences between drilling (even drilling with resistance) and sparring hit me. I've been getting away with carrying quite a bit of my weight in my legs while passing. Not having the strongest upper body, I'd likely need me strength AND weight carried more heavily forward to keep the leg pinned. I wanted to be sure though, so I popped in my Roy Dean DVD and watched the 2 seconds or so that it took him to pass in ultra slow-mo...I don't remember how many times. I do feel more comfortable with the concept now after having watched it in detail and hopefully will get a chance to give it a shot tomorrow.
I have a cousin that just finished a degree in piano pedagogy and as weird as it sounds, bouncing things off her helps me a lot in guiding myself (even in understanding the perspective of my instructors). I told her about my drill issue and she explained that many instructors and even researchers in all fields take transfer (making the leap from skill-specific drills to application) as something that happens naturally, when it actually might not be for every student. 
I can see without a doubt for me, that my blockage is fear...both of being wrong and of stumbling and not being able to recover. Not that I'm afraid to fall on the mats, but I don't want to get caught because I made a mistake trying something new. I'm ok with getting submitted because I haven't yet refined some habits, but I'm still hesitant to throw myself into something and be submitted. Funny, because there's much less risk of this when sparring with a white belt, which I've been doing more of since we moved to the new school.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Class was great!

...and huge. Twenty people I believe. We covered a basic omoplata and it was interesting seeing another instructor teach such a basic move. It's the same thing, but looked so amazingly different. 

I got a nice comment today from Ted. I was drilling and he walked by and said "you have Ryan written all over you". Which tells me that maybe I'm actually picking up stuff the way it's taught. 

I'm still terrible at coming to my knees. I see more opportunities for it, but it's still very much something I'm muscling my way through. I'm quite proud that I caught myself going for an americana from inside the guard and instead focusing on passing. Unfortunately, no-gi passes are completely foreign to me, so I didn't pull anything off, but it was a nice, minor victory. Side control is going to be a big problem area for me. I keep ending up in it, I can't get out of it and I have a hard time getting other people into it. 

I walked in and it hit me that I was really glad to see everybody...and I think that's a first for me in a group activity. I thought the new schedule would be a problem, but it's working out great. I just wish I could stay for the 8:15 class too. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

New school!

Well, new location, same school. The new place is HUGE. I don't know if everybody from my old class is hitting a different session or if people just haven't trickled in yet, but the class is a bit younger. At the old place, I was in the middle age wise. Now I'm strongly on the senior citizen side. I rolled with two teenagers tonight (both very cool). The age honestly makes no difference when sparring, but it did make me feel...old...no...not old. Out of shape and maybe silly...which is ok. I really am there to achieve my own goals and I need to refocus on that.
Tonight was my first time there after a week off and I paid for it...yes I did. I felt just as crappy as I did the first day. It wasn't just the time off that did me in though. A week isn't bad, but we also have a different instructor who doubled up on our drills and running. This jiu jitsu thing really is about tackling a new high, hitting a new low and deciding to get back up again...over, and over...and over again. I can't say it's any less difficult, I'm just even more used to the pain.
Well, tonight was my first time rolling with someone not wearing a gi (I was, she wasn't). I was LOST. I didn't realize how deeply the habit of getting grips was already engrained in my head...or hands. I kept instinctively reaching for them, but they just weren't there. That killed any collar chokes, anything I knew from spider guard and a couple sweeps. I have a new appreciation for what I know now that I wasn't allowed to do it.
After that experience, I'm considering the no-gi class, which would give me three sessions a week...four if I add on the MMA techniques class, but I donknow if that would help my jiu jitsu much. We'll see though. There are so many other options at the new place, thinking about what I'd like to check out has helped me realize that I want to focus on jiu jitsu. Sure, I want to get in shape, but any available time I have, I want to focus on BJJ.
...and it just hit me that I was fighting for americanas from inside someone's guard...Ryan's called me on it, Parrumpa's called me on it, and I did it without thinking...really nasty habit that I need to break. I think getting more comfortable with guard escapes would help with that.
I was proud of a triangle I set up tonight. Setting things up is a weak spot for me. I didn't get the submission, but I recovered from a failed opportunity to take the guys back to catching a triangle...didn't even forget the arm:) I think I was so happy I just kinda ignored the fact that I needed to like...actually choke the dude.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Belt test fears...

So we have a belt test coming up  at the end of this month. This will be the second one that's come up since I've started. The first one was just a couple weeks after I started, but still, the concept made me feel horrible. At least that time I was so new that I wasn't expected to test.

This time though...it's a bit different. It's not that deep fear that showed up last time. This time is more like dread. Like I'm not yet fully recovered from school. I finished grad school incredibly tired of having to meet goals and deadlines and prepare for exams. That's mostly worn off, but I'm still a bit scarred. I guess that's what happens when you stretch school out for the sake of work. It's harder to get out of that pass/fail/everythingrestsonthisoneexam mentality.

I feel a bit relieved because I'll be out of town the day of the test, but I'm trying to take as much of what I out of my reaction. I'm taking it to mean that I'm not confident in the techniques that I do know...that I need to talk to my instructor about what we'll be tested on and that I need to stick with going three times a week to get down the skills I want and establish the confidence I'm missing. I'm also taking it to mean that I haven't quite made my BJJ progress my own.