Sunday, April 29, 2012

A favor to ask...GiFreak 1.0 over the past several months, I've been working on this idea I've had of a magical database that holds all the gis in the world so that, if say, you want a pink, camo, hemp gi with an A2 top and A3 bottom, a rope drawstring and elastic crotch, well, you wouldn't have to surf 400 message boards to find it. I also wanted to create a database of all the great gi reviews out there, so if I'm considering buying the Vulkan UltraLite, I'd save myself some googling and would find the best reviews out there with a few clicks.

...and so GiFreak was born.

It's through most of the development, but we're trying to clean up any bumps and funkiness that might be going on in the look, the funcionality, whatever before the genuine marketing push starts. So...whenever you have some free time, it would be a HUGE favor if you would go to and around. Search for stuff, submit comments, read the FAQs, submit fake manufacturer registrations with funky names (put the word "test" somewhere in there, just so I know it's not real). Basically, have at it and if you have any issues, ideas, problems or suggestions, just shoot me an email here or through the contact form on the site.

I want this tool to make everybody's gi-buying life easier, but also, I think BJJ is a great sport, and that any centralization will benefit everybody in the long run. Thanks in advance!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A morning of ginastica and a 3rd Women's Open Mat

So after seriously, a solid year of prodding from the other ladies at the gym, I went to the agility class this morning. don't think I've ever sweated that much in my life. It was that level of sweat where you don't want to wipe your shirt with your face because the shirt is sweatier than you.

It was mostly ginastica natural (gotta love that it's offered weekly at the gym), animal walking and some yoga...I cannot say how thankful I am to my brother for getting me The Grappler's Toolbox a while back. I recognized a couple of moves and didn't look like a complete fool (only a bit of a fool) since I had a tiny hint of what was going on...but man was my balance bad. I made it through most of it decently, save the animal walking. That...that is going to take me some time. It's a great class though and I think it will be an aid in my moving my bigness around more.

Why did I take so long? Fear mostly...ok...the Green Market too (scheduled during the same time), but mostly fear. I think I will forever see myself as un-athletic and, well, self-perception is a heavy thing.

That said, there's another women's open mat coming up down here in SoFla, so if you'll be in my preferred half of Florida anytime soon, definitely drop by. It's a great event put on by Amazonian Women's Jiu Jitsu.

The Armory Jupiter
603 Commerce Way West
Jupiter, FL 33458

(561) 935–5229

Friday, April 20, 2012

I got a lecture tonight.

From a purple belt. He asked me to roll and afterward, told me I needed to start asking more lower belts. Ironically, one of the other ladies and I had just had a conversation about the lowest threshold of belt colors that is suitable for rolling. Mine was green (my school does green between white and blue). Hers was blue.

The purple explained that it was part of the learning process...part of representing your belt...part of getting better, but I'm still not sure. I explained my reluctance to play around with newbies until I'd seen them move for a while, that I get different treatment as a female (the sweetfancymosesagirlisgonnatapme freak out) and that even at blue, I really don't yet know how to deal with strength. I'm sticking to my policy of steering clear of white belts save those I know and women, but he definitely did get me thinking.

And on a completely unrelated note, I think is the first post I've written after class where I could put together more than very basic sentences. I used to lose a bit of my grasp of English for about an hour after training, leaving my blog posts to sound like a very violent version of Dick and Jane. Yays.

Monday, April 16, 2012

So THAT's why I like jiu jitsu...

A cousin of mine just put this status update on Facebook...

Is really missing school these many simple minded people in this world...i need some science in my life, biological, chemical, physical, hell anything will do... 

I imagine this is common in the world of adulthood...we take for granted the auxliary benefits that school provides...comraderie, mental challenge, measurable growth, meeting new people, a solid social Jiu jitsu, I have to say, provides access to all these things that can be so evasive later in life. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tips on being a great mediocre grappler

Thanks to Slidey for this awesome post from Cane Provost (yet another creator of blogly awesomeness). Excerpt below, but it's worth a read by everyone, considering it addresses an important part of the spectrum of BJJ students out there. 

Tips on being a great mediocre grappler
  1. Be consistent.
  2.  Training 2 times a week every week is going to pay off more than training very intensely for short periods followed by stretches of time off. Of course I have no scientific data to back this up but I’ve seen it play out over and over again at the gym. Enough to confidently make this claim.
  1. Focus on fundamentals.
  2.  At it’s core fundamentals can be broken down intoPosture, Pressure, and Possibilities. Building a library of techniques is not a great or efficient way to get good. You only have so much room on your bookshelf. At a certain point the shelf will be filled and you’ll have to throw some out to make room for new ones. In my personal experience I’ve rarely seen anyone who is good at more than about 5 submissions at one time. They may know way more than that but their A game is mostly limited to the top 5. Adding 50 more moves won’t help your game much.
  1. Focus on Posture most of all.
  2. I tell students that the posture should do about 80% of the work for you. You should always be asking yourself “Am I in posture?” If the answer is no then you know what you have to do. If posture does 80% of the work then you should be spending most of your time either working to get posture, improving the posture you have, or fighting to keep it. If you are doing this then BJJ will be way easier.Focusing on posture means getting the best possible posture you can get WHILE putting the other person in the worst possible posture you can. If you create this posture imbalance then you don’t have to be good at BJJ in order to beat the other guy. Remember, the posture does 80% of the work.
  1. Don’t roll above 70%.
  2. (Link to post on 70%) I you go all out all the time then you will be building a game that requires that you go all out all the time. That’s hard to do if you aren’t young and in super shape. Instead try building a posture based game that REQUIRES that you move slower and concentrate on simply building good posture along the way. A good goal is to build efficient postures that use leverage and structure instead of muscle strength. To use efficient motion that requires less intensity of movement. And to use fewer movements in your overall game. My goal is to win by moving less and less until eventually you won’t even notice that I’m moving at all. :)
  1. Focus on breathing.
  2.  If you can’t devote lots of extra time to conditioning exercises you need to be very mindful of your breathing. Stop and check during a roll. Are you breathing heavier than the other guy? If the answer is yes then you need to slow down and focus on posture. Catch your breath before you exert too much energy. Breathing heavy is a sure sign that you are not attending to posture effectively.
  1. Simplify the game.
  2.  Can I use the same posture in mount bottom that I use in cross sides bottom? How many ways can I use this triangle submission? Finding multiple uses for things that you already do well is a great way to improve your game without having to put a tremendous amount of extra time in. As you learn new things try to relate them to things you already know and look for commonalities wherever you can.
  1. Enjoy the journey.
  2.  In only every case those who enjoy it more are better at it. Train in a way that is healthy, smart, and most of all fun. Will power will get you a year of training at best. If you aren’t having a blast on the mat you won’t stick around or train in a way that will allow you to make much progress. This is perhaps the most important rule. It’s certainly not about “dedication” or “work ethic” as some will describe. Look around you. What looks like dedication is actually someone following their bliss. They are doing it because it’s the most enjoyable and rewarding thing they can think of to do. This is only always the case.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blue belt: Punching bag for purple belts...

Funny, Ladybug and I were just griping about getting mauled by purples and how frustrating it can be at the blue belt level. I saw this picture on Women Representing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu's Facebook and it made me laugh. Translation below.

White: Still trying to figure out who he is.
Blue: Punching bag for purple belts.

Purple: Begin to learn to defend himself.

Brown: Begins to learn to atack.
Black: Begins to know what is Jiu-Jitsu.

I found it comforting, yes, precisely because I've been downright brutalized by a couple of purples lately. One roll in particular, I tapped...had to be 5 times in 1 minute.  My favorite full guard pass lead to my back getting taken viciously and all my defenses turned into neat and convenient submissions for aforementioned purple. 

I've read stuff like this since day one, but it was a nice reminder of how long and slow this road is. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Nobody wants to roll with the big chicks...not even Emily Wetzel.

Not gonna lie...been wondering about this one again lately. I kinda always thought that, but until the second time a big blue teased me about the guys being scared to roll with me because I'm "so big and strong", it was something I pushed to the back of my mind. Unfortunately, anytime that got pushed back, what came to the front was that I sometimes get picked last because, well, I suck. Ladybug, my trusty partner in jiu jitsu crime and fellow "big girl", is shipping out soon, so I'm going to have to face this head on in the very near future.

I was beyond surprised to hear this very topic addressed in an interview with black belt Emily Wetzel over at Mat Time Radio. Surely, someone as accomplished as her has guys chasing her down--she's 6'5", definitely large enough for them not to fall victim to "porcelain princess" syndrome...and she's a black belt! Technique flows from her very eyeballs!

Well, thanks to Can over at Slideyfoot for sharing that interview, because Emily admits that she still feels ignored. The most interesting thing about her coming out with that bit of information was the reaction of the guys hosting the interivew. They suggested quite directly that it was because guys just don't want to lose to a woman. More woman equals more potential for loss. When Emily responded that she didn't think that was the case, I heard myself. I'm REALLY big on taking men at what they say...they tend to be more direct creatures than women. This subject though? It's a tough pill to swallow...why, I'm not 100% sure.

That's Emily on the right...but you probably guessed that.

This interview though, is probably going to go down as one of my all time favorites. So much of her story and the way she spoke struck a personal chord with me.

It starts heavy, with her recounting the assault of her, and rape of another woman and her being left with feelings of guilt that she didn't do anything about it, and surprise that anyone would attack someone as large as her. I chuckled a bit when she said that, because one of the guys just this week mentioned that "no man would ever mess with Megan." I laughed at the time, but I know it's not true. When it IS true, it's not just because of my size. I've seen large women in abusive relationships with short, nonathletic, puddles of men. Men they could easily run away from and possibly even handle physically. It's not about your size, or even their size. It just isn't.

She continued the interview talking about her upbringing in a very academic household, being raised by two professors. I'm no artist, but I do know that in the world of the artistic and the learned, it is easy to forget not only your physical self, but the physical selves of others, especially the others with malintent. I understood what she said when shared that she didn't come up in a violent household. She comes from Olympic stock and played basketball professionally, but still, even with her familiarity with competitive physicality...she wasn't familiar with violence, so when it came calling, she froze.

Me...I come from a family of athletes and raised by a father who insisted I be prepared for a fight. Just this previous weekend, I went to my grandmother's house wanting to find some mementos of her. She'd already given me a lot while she was alive...after you crack 85 or so, unless you're in some MAJOR denial, I think people naturally start parsing out their stuff to loved ones. Well, I had all the bakeware I wanted, so I went for something else.

I took the machete by her bed.

I find it comforting, funny and sweet. Knowing that even in her sleepy little town, my elderly, Christ-loving, cake-baking grandmother was actively aware of the threat of violence AND made preparations for it, made me sharply aware of its presence. Still. Because I have never been the victim of violence, I am not 100% sure I would have responded any differently than Emily. As she said "Men can be predators" and as she also plainly put, sometimes, jiu jitsu really does feel like you're being assaulted. I didn't, really admit how much until returning after my last break. When I first started, and now, after breaks, I tend to have nightmares of being attacked. Maybe it's the MSM (it's great for joints, but that stuff can do trippy things if you take it too close to bed time), but I think it's just the nature of the beast. I do not believe that anyone should live in fear, but we prepare for bad weather, financial problems and health issues and I firmly believe all women should know that violence happens, and be able to, at the very least, not freeze.

She went on to tell of her reluctance to compete...again, that hit home. Competition is important at my school, but I'm genuinely uninterested. She talked of competitions saying "They're pretty horrible. I don't really enjoy them yet" and again I was surprised. I have it in my head that most people enjoy competing, even if they dislike the nerves that come with it. She said she started because her instructor required them for promotion, which is common in California's competition-heavy BJJ culture.

She then brought up something that hit me as timely...I've been pretty disappointed by the responses of some of the people around me to the Treyvon Martin case...I'm a bit annoyed by the hoodies, but mostly because people have carelessly passed around outright falsified material just to assure themselves and their friends that the good guy/bad guy roles in the situation were filled in ways that made them feel all is right with the world (check your memes people). Emily told a story of her walking home one day and running into a lady being held to the ground by a Black man, screaming for him to let her go. She ran up, put the man in an RNC and the lady got up and ran, dropping her bags. She wondered why the lady didn't stay to thank her or collect her belongings, but it turns out she was a shop lifter and the guy was a security guard. My immediate reaction to her telling the story was annoyance at her needing to explain that the "attacker" was Black (this was before hearing the full story), but I give her credit for outright admitting that her actions were a result of her own racial profiling (she used those exact words).

Her best advice though, came in discussing choosing partners. She cautioned against white belts (I don't mess with them anymore unless they're female, or males that I know) and stressed the importance of choosing the brotherly guys even at higher levels. I give mad props to JazzHands, RebarForLigaments and some of the other guys for masterful combination of challenge and safety even at the blue belt level.

The interview reminded me of one of the things I love most about jiu jitsu. The sheer diversity of participants in the sport is absolutely beautiful. Emily is an amazing painter and is currently finishing up her MFA (she's actually missing the ADCC to defend her thesis). Her work can be seen at