Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

That kinda stung.

Tonight was a good night overall.

Only one icky point. I'd just finished the first round of sparring with a really strong blue and was really not feeling like too rough a fight, so I asked one of the white belt girls if she wanted to roll...we joke and kid a lot, so what she said next kinda threw me off guard. "...nah...you kinda scare me". What? I...scare? "Really? You can just work submissions." "Yeah...no thanks." 

I already think I have a touch of a giant complex (having a kid bust his knee after sweeping me last week didn't help much...thankfully he's up and hopping again) and I think that cemented it just a bit more. We've sparred maybe twice before...I let her start with me in her guard or mounted. When I think back on it, she had a hard time even locking her guard and kimuras were way difficult for her. She could barely touch her wrist when sitting up. When I think about it though, her sparring/drilling with me would be like me taking on someone 7' and 360lbs. Kinda monstrous. 

One of the other smaller ladies though made a very good point a few classes back. The three of us were working positions and she mentioned that for them, drilling and sparring with me was a good way to warm up to the larger guys. But, everybody's there for different reasons and not everybody's comfortable rolling with big people.

On the personal health side, I'm feeling pretty much back to normal...normal in that I'm starting to make gains again. My kimura is starting to feel solid on both sides and a blue belt told me he has to try harder when sparring with me. Progress=good.

I do NOT feel like my protein shake tonight...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Jiujitsu Confusion

Yet another BJJ conversation with family...this time, my cousin who probably gets more BJJ talk than she can handle.

Larry (Me): Know what's a cool name? Agamemnon. My new favorite purple belt's named Agamemnon.
Balki: You're right...wow...not only do you have a belt named Agamemnon, but multiple purple belts. 
Larry: ...Agamemnon is a guy at WooJitsu...and I don't name my belts, BJJ or otherwise. 
Balki: Ooohhhh...that changes EVERYTHING. 

Open mat was so fun. I'm always so scared. The big kids still intimidate me a bit, even if they are really cool. I tried some variations in difficulty on armbar drills...difficult. Got some nice comments on my new Padilla and Sons gi too, which I've managed to shrink quite well. The top's probably down to an A3 after some washing and drying (thanks Georgette). The night's music was a 70's/80's mix of Earth Wind and Fire, Go West and Lionel Richie. I gotta admit, "King of Wishful Thinking" does suck a bit of the aggression out of you and forces you to relax. I was being choked and was still humming along. Love that song. Peppiest breakup song ever.

And yes, we do refer to each other as "Balki" and "Larry". 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Men are strong.

I can only wonder what some of my friends and family think of my training. My brother gave me a little glimpse into his perception last night.

Me: Whuddup lil bro
Bro: You don't talk like that.
Me: Must be the jiu jitsu.
Bro: So you went tonight...
Me: Nah. Tonight's pro fighter night. My belt level isn't allowed on the mats
Bro: Sounds serious...

Begin brother's enactment of an unfortunate white belt on pro night...
Little Timmy: b...but I tripped!
Random pro fighter: Rules is rules. GAME ON BRUH!

When I first started, a few other ladies in the blogosphere were just getting their blues. It was so cool. They were so happy and proud. A few weeks after that, posts started popping up about having a target on their backs and feeling like they didn't deserve the promotion. I thought to myself "glad my blue is a LONG ways off". Well, all those wonderful feelings hit me and my little green hips tonight.

It was a total roller coaster emotionally. I came in after a psycho day at work (hours trying to get the network back up, data just...doing all the horrible things data does, hospitals doing all the horrible things hospitals do) and was very much ready to get into a different environment. We worked an armbar defense. In the middle of drilling, I saw Parrumpa walk in with a white belt in the usual place of his black, smirking. I expected to be in for some scariness, but I was wrong. 

We started rolling, and I got to pick my partner for the first time. I chose a male white belt I've rolled with before and that was about the same size as me (I do get tired of having to worry about squashing the ladies), but of course stronger. He broke my posture over, and over, and over with sheer force. My face and his rib cage are really good friends now. I kept my hands locked in his stomach, but my wrists and elbows kept collapsing. A few moments of me not getting completely squashed, and he got me in an armbar. Apparently it was his first because, well, he was elated and said it. I was happy for him to be honest. He'd been having problems with submissions and especially that one, and I know getting it on a higher belt must have been a serious rush, but man did it have to be me. I decided that fighting him upper body to upper body wasn't a great idea, so after restarting, I immediately went for spider guard. Accidentally kicked him in the face, toes in mouth.

I sure hope it was accidental. 

The worst part about it is just last class, we were talking about things we'd done to other people and I told him about my shoving my foot in the face (and by face I mean mouth) of a blue in my first week. Apparently that's a bad habit I have with spider guard. It definitely slows down a fight.

Second round was with a REALLY new white belt. I hesitated, but he was the only one left. I was...concerned. I know new white belts are super dangerous. I looked him dead in the face, searching for hints of desire to destroy my elbows. Either way, I knew I just needed to try to defend. Dude was STRONG and I honestly think he was holding back, or maybe hadn't quite learned to use those muscles yet. I saw him later shirtless and, pure striations. Made me feel a bit better, but honestly, after being forced onto my back and having our instructor come over and tell him to back off on the strength, I felt eh. Not because he was stronger. I've accepted that men even close to my size will be stronger...a lot stronger. No. 

I was hurt because I still don't have enough technique to deal with strength. And I know...I'm just a green belt, but it probably would have stung less if they hadn't been white belts. It also probably would have stung less if I hadn't given up an armbar because I wasn't strong enough to grab my bicep against Mr. Striations. It probably wouldn't have been as bad if I hadn't chosen to spar right in front of our head instructor. I honestly felt like he should have come and taken the green belt right off my waist. There were some silver linings though...

I've always given up a lot of arm submissions and told myself that tonight, I would focus on not giving so many up. I got armbarred, but they had to pry my arms out of position to get to them. 
I'm getting to my knees more quickly.
I've discovered that kesa gatame stalls me. (new area of improvement
I'm not going to be out muscling guys, but I'm strong enough to buy myself a few moments. I just don't know what to do with those moments yet. 
I've gotten better and not getting forced flat onto my back. 

...and the beat goes on...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Purple Haze

A lot of little insights tonight. I think I'm one of the few green belts that hasn't yet been invited to join the advanced class, and seeing a friend there today...I gotta admit...it stung just a teeny bit. I really know though, that it doesn't matter. I'm getting good exposure to higher belts in my class and if I want more advanced technique, I can just go to the all levels class on Friday. Ego man...ego.

I'm starting to manage rolling with much smaller people better. I can tell what wouldn't work out if someone were bigger and stronger and where I'd have ended up on my back or submitted with a larger person.

I got to roll with a purple that I've been wanting to spar with for...months. Apparently he was thinking the same thing because when we got paired up, the first thing he said was "finally...". We'd been paired up...maybe twice before, but then switched out at the last second. The roll though? It was great. The smoothness/softness is really something. I learned a valuable lesson about keeping base during open guard passes. I'd never been swept before while passing open guard. I don't think anyone had even tried. VERY educational and fun roll.

We covered triangles today (I do love going over the basics). A nice contrast and compliment to last week's armbar/omoplata/triangle flow. I'm generally able to go straight into a lock without adjusting, but I'm finding that really depends on the size and strength of my opponent...or maybe I just need more practice. Either way, I was paired with a good sized white belt during drilling, and I couldn't get straight to the lock without forcefully tossing him to the side, so I worked on adjusting. I figure it'll come in handy one day. 

I'm starting to get why you should "keep moving". Before it seemed pointless, because I honestly had no idea WHERE to move, but it's making sense now.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Your opinion please...

I just got my Padilla and Sons gi! Love the material and it's so much softer than my starter gi. I sent my measurements over and they were really great in helping me pick the right size. They recommended an A4 which fits my lower half great, but the top seems a little...large to me.Wondering if it's worth returning. Really not sure though. I haven't washed it, and it hasn't shrunk, so maybe that's the issue. Let me know what you guys think. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Puppies, babies and big sweaty men

Yeah...tonight was really hard on my BJJ self esteem. We did some exercises today...and...I...yeah. We started doing body drags earlier this week. For those of you that don't subject yourself t an environment where you'd even hear the term "body drag", it basically involves laying on your stomach and dragging yourself across the floor using just your arms. We did them last night. My shoulders were angry at me today. Well, we did them again today (easier in a rash guard), along with bear walks and...I think they were called kimodo crawls. I at least kinda sorta got through these. I didn't think I could take any more. But there was more. Wall walking. Hands on the ground next to the wall,  feet on the wall above you, walk the length of the wall. I made it...a foot. Maybe a foot and a half. None of the ladies in class did. It required too much upper body strength. 
Afterward, one of the girls looked at me and said "Well, there goes my self esteem". Yep. That's just where I was too. The icing on the cake was getting owned by a newer student...yes...he's the same weight as me and male and strong, and yes, I'm way awkward without the gi, but it still didn't feel good. 
It all ended well though. There were lots of babies and puppies at the lockers. At least three people came in and the first thing out of each of their mouths was "Babies and puppies all over the place!" We decided that if we tossed in a couple sweaty guys, it would make a great poster for the school.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Get ready folks. We've got a giggler.

Now, I'm not one to go for compliments, but having a higher belt tell me I'm doing better can make me blush like it was Johnny Depp telling me I was pretty. Today I found out from my new favorite broken blue belt (they hang around the beginners' class and have been great learning experiences). He's been really great about letting me start on the bottom every single restart and roll. After our round today, he told me I've gotten a lot more aggressive about getting out of the position, and honestly, it's paid off. I've been making gains...still haven't gotten him into my full guard yet (and I always forget about half), but I'm getting a bit closer each time. He's starting to throw in some twists to keep me out, so I'm seeing that as a sign of improvement. I'm finally getting some of my "oomph" back...even threw in a couple extra reps for good measure. I actually enjoy the passing drills now:)

But yeah. We were working an omoplata sweep today and I was drilling with a good sized white belt who's been there a couple months. I was rolling him over and I heard a "tee hee hee" come from my knees. The giggling issue has come up before. A while back after class, I heard one of the other ladies ask one of the guys (quite loudly) "Man...why do you giggle everytime we spar??" His response? "Y...you're just so cuddly!". I gotta admit, it was kinda funny. I was bracing myself for something similar, but when I asked "What's with all the giggling, dude?". His response? "Because I'm getting tossed around like a rag doll!". He then commented on how quickly I got him into an omoplata. The idea of someone thinking I do this even remotely well is just...funny...and unexpected...and nice:)

Monday, August 9, 2010

I really did forget...

Just a week and a half off a three site biopsy (all's well) and I forgot...
I forgot how hard this is.
I forgot the pain.
I forgot showering three times a day.
I forgot I can't eat afterward.
I forgot about the man-scented bathroom and perpetual laundry.
I forgot what it was like to use my body...the whole thing...as a weapon.
I forgot about the fatigued back muscles and cracking neck bones.
The sting of hand sanitizer on fresh mat burn surprised me.
I forgot supressing panic when you can't breathe.
I forgot how great you feel after class.

Class was a trip today. I think my body's still a little miffed over being invaded by needles, so I took it easy. We started out doing defenses against omoplatas...Wooooo! The second one involved a lot of chest pressure....Booooo! My breasts can normally take a good amount of abuse, (which is part of the sport..heads up to any ladies out there reading this and considering taking up the art. Be ready for it). Today though, I was scared and hesitant. The idea of side control, top or bottom, had me itchy. That defense? There was no way. I just couldn't maintain proper pressure while spinning on my inside knee. I wasn't in pain or anything, but my mind wouldn't let me go there yet.

I got one round of sparring in though (with a heavy, but well controlled blue) and, keeping with the August-starting-in-side-control plan, I'm starting to see some progress. As much as I know what I'm doing, and what I should do, getting all that flowing together is a world unto itself. After some time off though, I seem to be able to better focus on technique.

I was telling my best friend about the experience all the new emotions that come up for someone like me walking the BJJ road, and she made the insightful-as-always observation that that's rare for adults. For this experience, I am thankful and glad.

I'm glad to have sore hips again.
I'm glad to be back to using Dial.
I'm glad to have a blue belt look at me after a roll, tell me I did a good job...and mean it.
I'm glad to be able to smile again while someone's trying to dislocate my shoulder.
I'm glad to be back to tolerating pain.
...not so glad about sore knees...

Something about even the idea of potential disease that makes you feel weak. I'm glad to feel strong again.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mini-mats and Good Grips

Had a flash today of some serious doubt. I'm still really bad at submissions...yes, this is where my mind goes after some time off. Oddly, even though I learned triangles and omoplatas first, I'm better at pulling off chokes. I still choke (haha...not really) with leggy submissions. I know I'm just a greenbelt, but the mind plays crazy tricks on you. 

I started back on FlowFit today and my shoulder's feeling better after the rest. I think it's been a victim of my pull-up bar and I'm just going to have to be more careful. In other positive news, I've been extra curious about grips lately, ever since I read about a brown belt that said he believes his lack of understanding of them is the reason he hasn't yet progressed to black. So for the last week or so, I've been digging around for resources. I've found some great ones for reading and now this one...a nice compilation of videos on grips from different guards and how to deal with them. I've only watched three, but the videos even contain a few other principles that could be useful to beginners. 

I ALSO got to try out some volleyball knee pads I picked up. I'm not going to be putting mats down in a room any time soon (though it's definitely not out of the question one day) so practicing coming to my knees without some kind of protection was out of the question on laminate floors. I gotta say...I love them. I have sensitive knees and I could practice without any discomfort at all. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Dip and The Guard

So I've been reading a lot of Seth Godin's stuff lately. Always been a big fan of his blog, but I just got started on his longer works. I finished The Dip last week, and while it mostly pertains to career/work, it really got me thinking about where I invest time in BJJ. It especially got me thinking about standing guard passes. One of the principles in the book is recognizing activities in which you may get stuck in loops of non-production or give up before you see benefits. This pass gives me problems on two levels:

The mental: I'm scared. Standing like that makes me feel vulnerable and I worry about my knees. 
The physical: I have bad knees and when I stand, a high COG. I also can't do a full squat, so that family of passes just might not be well suited to my body type.

The big question is, even if I can work through the mental barriers, is it even worth it considering who I am physically? Are there better things, things that wouldn't leave me stuck in a cul-de-sac (as Godin calls it) that I could be spending my time on? That's not to say it's not worth knowing the pass, but is it something I want to spend time on when I could be drilling more effective techniques?

My decision now is to learn it, be comfortable with it, but leave it there. Mastery of it just may not yield many returns for me.

In other news, I've been down for a week for medical reasons and yeah...BJJ withdrawal is NOT cute. I just started drilling again last night and it was good to do some hip escapes again. Can't wait 'til Monday though...