Friday, December 31, 2010

Steel Balls

I did a private on deep half guard yesterday. For a split little moment in made sense. I understood my options when rolling my hips either inside or outside. Then, I tried to repeat it back to WrestlerInstructor and it all fell like a house of cards in my mind. I feel like I wasted my time, but I'm hoping it'll come in handy later.

I went into today's group class and decided to start all my rolls from bottom mount, with the expectation that I would have to work my way to deep half and apply what I learned from there. First though, we worked some details on chokes. I've never really thought about "stepping" my way into chokes, so it was a good technique day. It got me feeling a lot better about my chokes too, since my grip feels MUCH less girly than it did when I started.

The mount starting? Not cool, but good practice. I still have a complete disconnect between getting to deep half and the techniques I reviewed in my lesson. The bump is still insanely difficult for me.

Happy moment: starting in such an ugly position prompted one of my favorite blue belts to let me know I had balls of steel...I was honestly flattered.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Public Speaking and Dirty Birds

I'm starting to realize that women and kids really are the canaries in the coal mines of the gym. Issues that may take weeks, months, or even years to manifest themselves on a grand scale show up as ripples in our moods and experiences.

These past two weeks have been awesome. I haven't trained more, but I've gotten to play with my work schedule some, so more morning classes and more privates. Just got back from another morning class with the kickboxing coach. He's the quietest of the group and I would say most relaxed coach at the school, but somehow, in the middle of class, your legs are burning, tendons screaming, chest heaving and you have no idea how you got there. He's there, still chill and you're in pain, still pushing. Tricky. But yeah, today was drill-tastic, which was honestly awesome. I've gotten some good breathing rhythms while drilling and I attribute that all to FlowFit. (It REALLY instills in you how to breathe instinctively through movement.) Drilling isn't terribly exciting, but I love fundamentals. I've gotten to another point in sparring where I just feel like I need to go back to the drawing board and do stuff like today.

But yes...Public speaking. After going through the communications certification program at my school (apparently those of us of the biz-school persuasion are notoriously bad communicators), I'm hyper aware of people's comfort and skill when communicating and leading groups. Sitting in class today it hit me that every BJJ class involves a mini-presentation (from some crazy awkward positions) and then immediate feedback on how well you got your point across THEN little bursts of diagnosis and treatment with each student. I love good teaching.

I've come to admire the fact that the instructors can obey so many of the rules of good public speaking...maintaining eye-contact across the whole audience, good pacing of speech, vocal projection, introductions and wrap-ups...and it's not like the guys in my gym have been doing this for 20 years or anything. Much props.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sexual joking on the mats and my problem with the full guard...

Full Guard

Oddly, the two areas aren't related...

I was talking with another one of the ladies last night and we started on the topic of sexual joking. I ran across this post on a jiu jitsu forum and it summed it up beautifully. (The poster pops around here sometimes. If you read this, you hit the nail on the head.)

It's a violation of boundaries, a breach of trust. We can press ourselves up against sweaty strangers on the mat. We can let them do things that if they take it a little too far, can result in not being able to walk right for the rest of our lives- or even LOSE our lives via a crushed trachea or something. The only way we can do things like this is if there is a mutual respect of the boundaries; a negotiation of "Safe Space". The violation of a gym's Safe Space is a worse crime than a boob grab. People who do that &$%# need to be booted right out of the school. 

Respect. It's the currency of BJJ. Violation of safety boundaries and violation of respect aren't really that different, and I'd be willing to bet that one feeds off the other. 

Also, while writing this, I realized my big problem with full guard. I have too many options. I get stuck in analysis paralysis and wait to be attacked (not always a bad option, but it's not working for me right now). So, I'm going to pick just two sweeps, two submissions and maybe transitioning to spider/open guard to focus on. I have a feeling that if I don't, the loop's gonna go all infinite.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Diagnosis and Treatment

My last private, I arrived a little early and went a couple rounds before the lesson. When we got started, WrestlerInstructor asked what I had in my notebook to work on, and after I told him, he added two things he noticed I was having issues with.

Posting was #1. I just...don't do it. I fall. No idea why. We did a few rounds starting in a 50/50 position that would require me to post on my hand (not on my elbow as I so love to do) and I have to say, it helped get me comfortable with the habit. Tonight I was posting all over the place!

AND...the triangle from the mount we covered worked BEAUTIFULLY. I really love it. It just feels right. The blue belt I tried it on finished our roll and said "that was your best roll yet" and complimented me specifically on the triangle.

Tee hee, man...tee hee.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My offline journal

My technique journal's been fleshing itself out nicely lately. I use Freemind's mind-mapping software. I chose it because it gives you a flexible way of noting techniques...and, well, I like charts:) They help you see things. It's been especially helpful in finding holes or areas where I've been placing proportionately more attention...or not enough.

It's solved my biggest problem when it comes to journals. I have WAY too many and keeping topics organized can be a hassle. On top of that, I have the bad habit of grabbing the wrong one when I'm in a rush. Little notebooks all over the place. Movement exercises, Spanish, Cooking, Mandarin, Spiritual, BJJ technique, Chinese group...tiny books all over the place. Now, when I learn a new trick to countering defense to armbars from the mount, instead of trying to squeeze information into the margins of that first, tattered page that I created for armbars, I can just go and modify the note on the armbar node.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Had another one of those nights where you leave the mats feeling like you have no business rolling...but ya know what? They're common place and distant now. Out of body experiences even.

What stuck out tonight was peoples' reaction. I didn't think I seemed any more tired than I have in the past, but then again, this was the first time in a while I had to crouch from being lightheaded. The brown belt I take privates with complimented me, but I had a hard time making eye-contact (as I always do when I feel I've performed poorly). I made it down the line and sunk down while the last green belt and white belts came by. I felt a hand rest on my head and begin  rubbing it reassuringly. I looked to my right and it was Gorilla, who I'd just rolled with. It was really sweet when I look back at it.

Funny thing...I was sitting watching TV yesterday (which I rarely do) and thought "'s been forever since I worked out". I love the jitsu.

I needed a third gorilla reference to round things the's a classic.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm officially pro-private lessons...

...not for everybody, but now that I've gotten a few under my belt, I've got a better look at what they have to offer.

  • They're good for big picture people. Group classes don't provide much time for in depth questions and people that see the sport from a high level (as opposed to building their way up through learning techniques) likely need time to talk it out.
  • They help make up for a lack of mat time. Don't get me wrong. They're not a replacement, but they do fill holes.
  • They're good for strategy. My last lesson I got to talk with my instructor about the kind of fighter I wanted to be and he shared what kind of fighter he envisioned my being. 
  • They get you more attention. A lot of people walk into gyms just to play around. I knew there was a high attrition rate, but I never took into account that some people come and either don't have goals or don't focus. Privates signal that you're serious.

...on a side note, I feel like I've written this post before, but I don't see it anywhere. Blog deja vu. I guess that's what happens after a year of posting. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sending out thanks to last year's me.

That's her in Japan, visiting brother-bit, about a month before she started training. She was one brave/crazy lady. Oddly, I think more brave than I am now.

Looking back, I really think she must have been crazy to even walk into the gym...crazier for coming back after all the initial difficulty. Parrumpha was surprised I came back after the demo class and I thought it was odd at the time, but now it makes complete sense.

I owe her.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

BJJ has cost me my first love.

Well...I can't REALLY blame BJJ. I could just keep cooking and eating whatever I want. But it really has changed my relationship with food. I started reading The Flavor Bible a couple of days ago and the book is amazing. (Its mention of pairing banana with parsley has me wanting to go snatch some out of the garden and toss it in a morning protein shake). I'm not even through the first chapter and I feel like I've been introduced to the world of food and food preparation for the first time. I started lamenting every baguette with egg and chives turned protein shake. Every self-saucing chocolate pudding turned sorbet. 

One of the reasons I started BJJ was to be a healthier person all around, not just more active, but to be motivated to eat better too, so this had to happen. I needed to find balance in my foodie love. Doesn't make it any more fun. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Icing your face comfortably isn't easy.

It's Florida-Winter and apparently, that's the time for beard growin'. I guess men's chins get cold easily or something. The gym gets furrier every day.

Had a good (rough) night with the (bigger/stronger/more flexible) higher belts...and I'm feeling it. Not surprisingly, rolling with smaller, stronger guys is WAY different than rolling with bigger, stronger guys. I can still move the smaller ones around and I can use my weight to pin them while freeing limbs. Not with the big boys. My back is FRIED from trying to move around a heavier blue. That pic is me, not tonight, but that's how I felt. Must learn to move Megan even more.

I started off partnered with one of the brawlier guys and got a lot of straight forward feedback. Probably the most important takeaway was that I'm still really loose...and that I need to work on maintaining posture...and that I should watch for where my opponent is headed and try to stop it. Aside from brute force, until now, I didn't really consider restricting movement by restricting limbs, but that takes foresight and understanding that I still don't have. 

The brawly-blue...he's one of those guys that leave me uneasy even while drilling...he hasn't hurt me, but he slams on the brakes in submissions. For a split second, I always think to myself, "yep...gonna be visiting the doc tomorrow" as I'm  tapping and then he lets go. So before we sparred, I told him to go slow on the submissions. He did, except for that dreaded baseball choke. I like it, (though I can't yet pull one off) it's like, Formula 1 class of chokes. He didn't have the choke clean and caught my jaw in it. I don't remember exactly what I said, but, judging by his face, I must have scolded him a tad. I like him as a partner but I don't want to add any unnecessary risk to the game. Chewing's a bit uncomfortable and talking's a little weird. I'm guessing I'm going to be way sore come sunrise.  This might be a problem at Chinese discussion group tomorrow...they kinda expect me to...discuss. 

He said something nice though, and I really appreciate his comments because I know he's just saying what's on his mind. He said that he thinks eventually, I could handle some of the guys...and that I know what to do, I just need some cleaning up. I also had one of the burly purples ask me to roll. I haven't sparred with him since 3. The fact that he even asked was quite cool.

I was on the wall tonight watching one of the blues who frequently gives me tips and shares moves he's working on. I saw him trying an omoplata sweep he'd taught me. Trying and failing and trying again. I'd never thought about the insight into someone's game being taught by them gives you, but it makes this jiu jitsu thing make so much more sense. In all this watching, I started to feel better about my lack of sweeping abilities. Admittedly, people don't fail the same way I do, but sweeps don't get pulled off cleanly and crisply like I imagined I should be doing them. A lot of adjusting. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I need a BJJ hug.

A big one too. 

I realized tonight that comment last night that I thought I misinterpreted? Probably wasn't even about me. Too funny. Bruised ego for nothin'.

Tonight was odd. Class was relatively empty and I ended up rolling with the tiny girl who once said I scared her. Some good time working on half-guard escapes and guard passing. I still don't know how to best make use of time working with significantly smaller people, at least not when they're less experienced. After her, I rolled with a white belt and decided to take the opportunity to try out a knee on belly escape I'd learned from the GrappleArts app. It requires you to get your whole arm between you and the hooked foot and I couldn't even get a hand in. Ended up succumbing to an armbar as a result of not watching my other arm closely enough. It was worth it.

Tonight was cool. Parrumpha's very first student came back to test for his brown belt. A snuggly time was head by all. Watching all the submissions and sweeps and passes...educational, inspiring and disheartening. I think any other night, it would have just been the first two, but tonight, seeing it all made me think, for the first time, "there's no way I can do that". I'm finding that I'm having a hard time focusing in class lately. Be it work, the weather, or just a normal slump. I feel icky and skill-less and like a charity case. And as horrible as that all sounds, it's really not permeating very deeply. I know the thought is there and I have to deal with it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My BJJ ego is so fragile...

...but it's getting better. The lows are getting higher. Today I heard an instructor talking about me say to someone, "Yeah, she's a fighter, and that's what matters". My head translated that to "her technique is bad and she's not that good an athlete, but we keep her around because she's nice and tries hard."

What PROBABLY happened, is the new purple I had just sparred with commented that I was tough/strong (which is what about every guy I've sparred with says after the first time we roll) and he responded. Funny how logic goes right out the window when you're not feeling confident. 

Tonight was so fun! We worked on a sweep from half guard that was similar to something I'd covered in a private. Oh lungs are finally recovering from my sinus infection and I'm back to working on duck walking and stretching at work. But yeah...the sweep. Managed to pull a variation of it off while rolling (Wuzzup was nice and let me work relatively slowly). Good lessons learned with him though. I went in tonight telling myself I HAD to start opening my full guard and attempting more sweeps. I started an omoplata sweep Cuban Blue had shown me, and for whatever reason, instead of doing it the way he showed me, I tried to improvise it...failed...adjusted...failed again...adjusted again...failed one last time. On a smaller person, it would have worked. More technique is needed.

I really have to give the guys some props. One of the kids was running around telling a racist joke and they didn't even chuckle. They immediately called him on it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hope I'm not hurt

Heard a pop around my back tonight...I'm guessing it's nothing, but it's a little disconcerting. I iced it and besides my crackly shoulder, everything feels ok.

I've been playing around with a couple of the aps from GrappleArts and saw some nice results. (I love them btw) I applied three of the concepts that were demonstrated in the pinning ap tonight. My favorite was correcting the habit of crossing the legs when getting control of the back. The purple I was rolling with called me on it, and I immediately knew what he was saying. Had I not watched the video, it would have taken full on instruction. I'm finding that I don't really learn "moves". I learn core concepts and go from there. That's honestly how I learn everything. Seems to slow down the BJJ learning process, but we'll see.

It was a good night. I spent the first part of the night drilling with an injured blue. I worked on getting out of side control ('s my great nemesis), escaping the back (I tend to lean the wrong way when turning) and escaping back mount (more GrappleArts help). Rolling with new people is a funny thing. It's like a first dance or a first date...just way more opportunity for awkwardness. A new purple that I think used to train at the gym had been around. He asked me to roll, and then managed to work in mentioning his wife twice in 10 seconds of conversation. It makes me wonder what some of the guys have seen, or worry about.

It's been a weird couple of weeks. I haven't seen the ladies in what seems like forever. I know our brown's been out of the country. Haven't seen one of the blues for...months, the other blue I never saw too frequently and my fellow green's just been busy. Guess it's part of the cycle.

I was working with one of the blues tonight just working slowly through positions. I caught him in a triangle and heard a "sh**". I'm taking that to mean he was actually caught. Teehee. Afterward he looked at me and said "you're getting're getting're just not finishing. I have the same problem". I'll take that.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Lapel Chronicles

Lapels are still a mystery to me anywhere outside the world of drills, but I've found them useful in baiting limbs out of bad or into good positions.

We've worked a couple half-guard escapes over the past couple weeks and all of a sudden I'm hyper aware of how shaky my balance is there.

I felt pretty...slow-learnin' tonight. Not because I got submitted by a white belt that was laying on my face, but I think because I just felt slow...mentally...that's when I feel the worst...and it's hit me that that happens when my mind is tired...and after a 2 day trip to Nashville during which I slept no more than 3 hrs at a time, then ended up working late on the most evil reports known to man, my mind was shot. During my last roll, one of the higher belts, Cuban Blue, said I was getting a lot better. Beyond timely. It's amazing how one class can wipe away the stress of a week.

Back to that white belt. I didn't actually do anything better with him, but the places my mind went were much improved. He had my arm pinned behind my body with pure strength and held tight there. That's happened before, but this was the first time that I stopped, and started thinking of what options I had with only one free arm, especially considering that he too, had only one free arm.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I love this little blender

Hamilton Beach 51101B Single-Serve Blender with Travel Lid, Black
I think I've talked about this before, but I really do love this thing. Just having it around and knowing how easy it is to use encourages me to eat better. Instead of going for leftover turkey and dressing, I made my trusty protein shake with banana, almond milk and flax seed oil. It's also got me drinking my "moss drink" with protein as a night time snack more often.

I really want to become a "clean" eater.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Lapel Chronicles

This is going slowly and I'm wondering if my approach is off. At the same time though, I've gotten much more comfortable getting deep grips, even if it means yanking my partner around, and have moved on to refining other issues in my chokes (like body angle). I'm also paying more attention to the grips my partners get, which is pretty educational. I'm deathly curious about chokes from bottom half, but I know I'm not there yet. 

Should I be pushing through obstacles, or sitting down and getting to know them?

A few years back, someone very close to me went through a long battle with depression. One of the things I remember most clearly about it, is how he said he dealt with it. He learned to find beauty in the sadness. Not comparing a slump in BJJ to depression by any means, but I think I'm going draw on that bit of wisdom for a least long enough to write this entry.

I left the mats tonight in an emotional pulp...disappointed in my lack of basic defense skills...angry at my inferior respiratory system that's a constant, nagging, shameful thorn in my side...regretful that before this point, I didn't take more time in life to develop myself physically. I felt everything simultaneously as I shook hand after hand, greeted by the same smiles, bows and thank-yous that have kept me going in the long, small, first step in the BJJ journey. They ring dull when I'm not feeling good about myself.

There really is meaning to be found in regret and shame and defeat and I'm beginning to question if they're not more than obstacles to be crossed or walls to be pushed through. I'm wondering if my plucky tenacity has caused me to speed by opportunities for deeper growth...I'm also beginning to wonder if I'm still talking about BJJ...but yeah...rough night. I'm going to cut myself some slack on the defense though, as I think I let it slip in trying to be more aggressive. Can't focus on everything at the same time and if it's not a reflex yet, it's gonna slip. Maybe it'll be a good area of focus for my next private. 

My relationship with breathing...I've been an asthmatic (no recent issues) with sinus and allergy problems and a drastically reduced lung capacity (40% of a normal adult's) for most of my life. Before jiu jitsu, it was an annoyance. When I started, it was something to be conquered. When I told my instructor where my inhaler was last week (just to be safe) it brought me shame. Now? Anger. The crazy part is I can't even be annoyed with, challenged by, embarrassed by or angry at myself. None of it is my's all genetic/environmental and the hand I was dealt. Even now I'm feeling petty for bringing it up. All that tells me though, is that BJJ isn't personal for me yet. It's still too distant and I'm still not seeing myself for what I am.

My last roll was with one of the teens  and it was...very pleasant. The kid's amazing. I expect to see his name with all kinds of awards after it one day. He asked me half way through if I were more comfortable on the bottom. 

"Yes but..." 
"But you want to work on your top game." 

Yep. I love people who can see the big picture. After the timer sounded, he let me know I "did good" his face meant it. I love the honesty of the teenagers. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

BJJ just isn't pretty...

I chose this picture I took of a guy doing tai chi in front of a cathedral near WangFuJing in BeiJing. It's a pretty martial art being done in a pretty place on a pretty day(my photography skills do justice to neither).
But yeah...I just left a meeting with an organization I'm in that tries to further non-political ties between the US and China. I brought up the idea of having a martial arts show since, besides the food, that's one of the biggest Chinese things with which Americans, and probably anyone in the world is most familiar. Well, a couple people know I do martial arts and of course, the first question is "Why don't you show us some of what you do?" This is at least the second time I've been asked to do a demonstration. I explained that BJJ is Brazilian/Japanese in origin (doesn't seem to make a difference), doesn't have forms (I don't think most people know what forms/kata really are in a martial art) and in general, just isn't pretty (blank stares). That's been enough to shut down questions, though I do think most people just think I'm being shy/difficult.
I kind of like that. I'm a pretty utilitarian girl  (INTJ and all...always asking "does it work?") and while I do have an appreciation for visual aesthetics, it kind of makes me proud that my art is so bare bones. I won't say it's ugly. I think it's beautiful...but it's definitely not pretty.
I'm also super happy that my head coach just won his most recent fight. Super sad that I couldn't go because of work. The mood in the gym the next day was this wonderful mix of happiness, pride, focus all underlined with the ever-present BJJ calmness. Yay-TT!

Monday, November 15, 2010

American politics are so...devoid of judo.

I spent a chunk of my time off yesterday watching Nick Clegg in the British house of Commons on CSPAN. It's always fun to watch parliamentary proceedings, so I figured I'd share this little clip from Japan...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger...and heavier.

That title is a recap of my rolls tonight. It was a totally bipolar night, drilling with a guy that was 100lbs, sparring with a guy that was 250, then with the Baby Brahma Bull. I don't think I've ever sparred with anyone that much heavier than me and I learned a couple lessons. Mainly, don't hesitate on submissions (getting stacked by a big guy is NOT a good thing) and fight with EVERYTHING you have not to end up on the bottom. This guy is an admitted squasher and getting off the bottom left me trembling. 

Realized my hesitation is from a lack of drilling. Four ladies in class tonight. Started drilling arm-bars with no hands. A good night.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Precious Balls!

So I was drilling half-guard passes with one of the teenagers today and I accidentally caught him with my knee...

Teen: Ah! My precious balls!!
Me: I'm so'll toughen em up though.
Teen: the hell would you know???

Gender perception's a funny thing...Just 2 minutes later we had this conversation

Teen: Don't you want to sit out the next round? I'm tired and don't want to be on the wall by myself.
Me: Naw dude...I wanna go again. But look, Stacie's sitting out.
Teen: Yeah, but she's a girl.
Me: What in the world am I??

Apparently I'm a guy with no balls. Hmm...that actually might say a lot about a lot.

I had a PHENOMENAL roll with one of my favorite blues tonight. I say phenomenal because we both got something out of it. (The thing I most hate seeing in my partner's face is boredom.) But yeah...he's one of my favorite partners for multiple reasons. He's fun. We're the same height. He's controlled. He's mad cool and crazy supportive. He knows how to gradually amp up the difficulty. He's always trying new things. He never takes it too easy on me. 

Well, he was setting up an armbar and I was able to escape as he was applying it. I didn't think much of it except that it felt clean, but he blurted out an enthusiastic and somewhat surprised, "That was good!". I could see in his face that he meant it...not just in an encouraging way, but that it was actually a good escape. (I have to start trusting my instincts more. Once I learn something and drill it a bunch, I've found that I can make some nice tweaks just feeling my way through positions. I'm starting to feel more jiu jitsu every day.) A minute later, he got a wrist-lock against the mat from the mount he said he'd just improvised. He said he was going to try it again later on. One time for mutual growth!

Working through this aggression/assertiveness stuff is showing me so much. There are so many techniques I've been having issues with where the problem was that I simply wasn't pushing hard enough. Tonight, I saw another reason it's important. I know my instructor is trying to get the younger guys to play less and an assertive partner is a sure way to shut that down and get them to focus. The sad part though is that after a "Jake. Quit playing...Megan. Choke him." I wasn't able to properly execute a choke from the mount (I NEVER get deep enough grips), so I went for a sloppy armbar instead (I still can't fake my way into one AND properly get control arm). The sloppy armbar failed after he sat up but I turned it into an omoplata. He defended and I rolled him into another armbar which I finished. Yays.

And then there's trust. While I was rolling with the aforementioned blue, I saw his face wince in pain. I thought back to a couple weeks earlier when we were talking about starting training and his telling me about his back problems and how training had helped it. I immediately wanted to ask if he were OK. But then I remembered one week earlier when, to my repeated questioning of some uncomfortable faces he was making, he responded "if I'm in trouble, I'll tap". I continued to take in the discomfort in his face as I stacked him, slowly, carefully, to defend yet another armbar. Right then I realized that my not trusting him to tap or tell me to stop is a disrespect of his ability to gauge his own safety. Generally less necessary with a higher belt, especially if I'm being a responsible, careful partner. I know I hate it when the guys back off just because my face contorts a bit. I need to apply a bit of the golden rule here.

Friday, November 5, 2010 a coward with the closed guard.

It hit me tonight. I knew I had problems with submissions but after TOTALLY punking-out on an omoplata, it sunk in that I have an actual issue. It's pretty sad. I'm pretty good at getting people into my guard, decent at breaking posture, but I just don't go for submissions from there. There's something about how it feels...I just feel loose right before the hip escape and I freeze. 

I've developed a serious appreciation for a couple of the teenagers in the class. I can end up very emotionally raw on the mats at times, and after a week that almost had me in tears and a day where my eyes were going cross from 8hrs of staring into a dark abyss of spreadsheets, I was rubbed down to the nerves. We ended up doing intense work on just the standing part of standing guard passes (my least favorite move in all of jiu jitsu). After two passes, I felt my strength give out. I just couldn't stand with a whole person around my waist anymore. I felt a flash of tears and was surprised. I felt silly, sitting there with a 14 and a 15 year old, way too close to the edge of crying. Then, from the wall I heard a calm "don't get frustrated, just don't be afraid to put your weight on him". It's humbling to be encouraged by someone to whom you could have given birth. 

I got it a couple times and fell right back into my bad habits. By that time, an instructor was standing nearby, looking down at me, smiling. "You don't like this one, do you?". I looked up and thought "You taught me this ago and I've gotten worse." I shook my head slowly and he explained what I needed to change. The solution was simple. Let go of the lapel. Don't fear using your weight. Unfortunately I've developed some massive walls (fear of losing balance and fear of knee pain...there isn't any anymore) and bad habits (feet staying turned out) with this one and need an erase and rewrite. It's going to take a lot of drilling. A whole lot of drilling.

Being more aggressive is working! For some crazy reason, I wasn't even more tired after a 7 min round of pushing harder. One thing I did notice, is that in trying to be more aggressive, I focused more on breathing properly and moving myself, as opposed to trying to move my opponent...which might be why I was less tired. One of my favorite blues, JazzHands, told me I was moving better and that every couple of months, you generally notice a difference.

Ohoh! Three new ladies tonight! I didn't get to work with them, but I hope they stick around. For some reason not many ladies show up for the all levels class on Fridays, and it was nice not to be the only chick on the mats.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

All Phlebotomists Should Grapple

It's pretty sad, but after a year, I wasn't 100% sure what to call my instructor. I caught him today and told him. He laughed and said "Parrumpha".

So yeah...went to my endocrinologist today and it was a very grapple-tastic visit. I was talking with the phlebotomist and he mentioned he was a wrestler. That's all it took. The rest of the visit consisted of talk about armbars and limb length and muscle vs. fat weight. It was great. This man blood draw EVER. Five vials and I felt nothing. With the doctor though, I got to ask something I've been a bit worried about for a while. I was wondering about damage to the thyroid from repeated chokes. (mine's enlarged). She said no problems...yays. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Aggression Model

I've loved and identified with this song/video since it first came out. It gets my blood pumping. It's direct, purposeful, beautiful, blatantly aggressive and strategically rounded out with softness. This is what I'd like my game to look like one day. With the guitar riffs in the background. And I want the shoes. Not on the mats though.


Can't squat with your heels flat? There's help.

My mind's all over the different inputs goings-on and byproducts of BJJ today...

My body: My squat work is helping! I started the Grappler's Toolbox a month ago and ran into a big roadblock. I can't squat with my heels flat on the floor. It happens generally to those of us that have proportionately long femurs (a lot of tall folk), inflexible ankles, tight calves or tight hips. I'm a combination of all those. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but think about trying to maintain your balance through a standing guard pass while on your's murder on your knees and you're just waiting to get swept. So I emailed Scott Sonnon (guy in the video), who sent me this link. Well, last night we did my least favorite standing/smashing guard pass...and it went well! I was doing it with a guy that was just under 200 lbs and I stood up with minimal issues! At the time, it didn't even hit me that I could do it because I could keep my heels flat AND at my opponents hips (as opposed to his waist) now.

My gender: I've gone through waves of awareness of being female and training BJJ. I'm back to paying quite a bit of attention. I've been checking out aggressiveness since I'm working on managing mine better and I've got a theory that, in general, in regard to aggression and the maturation of a female grappler vs. the maturation of a male grappler, we run in opposite directions. Women, learning not to fear it, men, learning how to prevent it from being a liability.

My comfort zone: That is, stepping out of it...yet again. I learned an open guard pass that I really like, and finally fully pulled off (though the blue belt did let me slide some) while rolling. Well, though I know quite a few passes that involve applying pressure with the upper body, I noticed I'm only willing to do it really during drills. It's taking me so...long to work through this, that I'm almost annoying myself...but I'll be patient with Megan, she's done a lot in this past year. The other issue is speed. I know it's not a strength of mine, so I never even take it into account. I'm starting to see that there are certain techniques in which speed is a necessity. 

My life: and how it's changed. It's so contrasted now. I work in an office of all women. Have for a few years now. Not being very "girly" or having any sisters, I've learned a LOT about female interactions at work. Well, now, after leaving my office of emergency chocolate supplies and coordinated menstrual cycles, three times a week, I walk into a haven of manliness. I'm learning a lot about men. It's a fascinating balance. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Managing Aggression

I'm still super-hyped over the couple privates I've taken with BrownBelt Wrestler. 

The techniques and principles have been great, but a big chunk of what's got me all amped is the side talk. I don't know if most people experience really could just be me being me...but I don't spend time with my training partners outside of the gym. I still love them to death, but we're just not on that "chilling after class" level. Privates have given me a good chance to talk through a lot of stuff that can't get addressed in a class. 

Sometimes I envy smaller women starting out in the sport. The constant relative size. Not worrying as much about accidentally crushing someone with your 200+lb frame. While I was making notes on some De la Riva tips, I confessed that I worry a lot about accidentally hurting a teammate. BrownBelt looked me squarely in the face and responded that my size is a blessing. I stopped breathing. I think I teared up a little...which surprised me. As much pride and comfort I take in my height and build, I think I have a few sensitive spots deep down. I know I have a few sensitive spots deep down. He continued to explain that everyone that steps onto the mats is taking on risk. I've accepted that for myself, but I have a hard time with the idea that I might be the risk in question. He then told me I didn't have to worry about hurting him...which got my mind whirling around my issues rolling with smaller men.

I don't have an issue digging up aggression. It's right there whenever I need it. I just worry what it might do. It's just SO hard for me to judge how hard to go with them and how much weight to use. I know people say "pound for pound men are stronger than women" and I know it's true, but there's such a wide range of strength levels. With women, I know...don't toss them around, don't squash and focus on technique. Guys though...I've rolled with men smaller and weaker and some that were smaller and who could toss me across a room. Add on smaller white belts who I worry about "agitating" and having them freak out and snap my wrist, and there's just this...ball of confusion and hesitation in my head when it comes to them. 

I think I can learn push it with BrownBelt though. Not just because I know I won't likely throw out anything that would hurt him, but also because I trust him not to freak out about my size. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Lapel Chronicles

Inspired by a post on Georgette's blog, I'm contemplating taking a chunk of my BJJ education and switching up the methodology a bit. I'm a top down-learner, and while I CAN pick up quite a bit by learning moves in steps, it's really not my optimal approach. But, I believe most people do learn bottom up, so it makes sense to structure group classes this way. 

So yeah...lapels. They seem like a huge mystery to me. Sure, I know bow-and-arrow and baseball chokes and a few others, but the steps, man...the steps. I have the memory of a cotton-ball and anything that has more than four components to set up uses up a lot of my mental following the principles of jiu jitsu, I'm going to start playing with these moves from a purely experimental perspective, trying to internalize exactly what they're being used for. 

I had some success last week rolling with a blue that had just gotten back on the mats after surgery. I managed to tie up an arm after he anticipated my set-up for a choke and he complimented me on it. I admitted I didn't know what to do. He replied "Still, you now have one more limb to use than I do". Later that same class, I learned a mount reversal that revolves around using the lapel to limit body movement. Gonna see where I can go from there. So far I see four primary uses of lapel work...

  • To control/limit the use of an individual body part
  • To gain control an individual body part that can be extended to larger segments of the body
  • To control balance/position of an entire segment of the body
  • As a direct pressure element of a choke

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why don't I mind going to the gym?

It has been a long...week. The kind where you come home after a day of work and training sessions and dinner with coworkers, crash down into bed and get up and do it again. We've had visitors in the office, and while it can be enjoyable, it can also tire me out. I'm used to my quiet job in my quiet office with my quiet door that I can close for more quiet. I've finished my week in textbook introvert form...drained and in need of solace. 

This week left me wondering how 2 hrs of intense interaction with people on the mats leaves me feeling invigorated and not feeling the least bit that I need to run and hide. I think it's a combination of feeling that there's a purpose (it's hard for me to accept that after-work socializing serves a purpose) and that that purpose is shared...I've got some great coworkers, but the solidarity of "we're here to learn jiu jitsu" is wonderful in its simplicity.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mini-piphany: Running out of aggression

I'm more reluctant to try submissions if I've had a day at work where I've had to "take charge" more than normal.

Also, a quote I ran across on a blog that I really like:
Hard to be happy when your happiness depends on other people losing. 

Friday, October 22, 2010


I realized tonight that I actually worry a bit about the guys when they fight. A couple fight pro or amateur MMA/boxing and when they do, the first thing I think is "Oh no! He's cool! What if he gets hurt!". 

Great class tonight. We had question and answer circle, which was beyond helpful. Even when I knew the answer, it was good to see techniques explained and demonstrated again. I got some GOOD choke education. Which I needed desperately. My grip is disproportionately angry kitten weak. I don't need help opening jars like I did pre-BJJ, but my wrists are still pretty lame. We went over a baseball and a modified choke from closed guard that should help me out some. 

In injury news, My right glute is still messed up. I thought resting up since Monday and laying off the squat work would leave me ok today, but I was drilling an escape from spider guard with one of the teenagers, and getting my legs thrown to the ground HURT...nasty shooting pain. I only made it two rounds before having to sit out...which was super annoying, since after two, 7 min rounds, I wasn't terribly tired, and that was a first. I have a private on Monday and hopefully I'll be ok by then. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

These white belts have lost...their minds...

This is going to be my last post on the recent up-cropping of whitebelt-ego that I've been experiencing. My time at the gym is still 150% positive and the new lady visiting today was a reminder that my reaction to situations likely impresses on visitors...especially female visitors. That said. I'm really sad that I strained my right glut running today, because I needed it DESPERATELY to triangle the snot out of a white belt (#1) I was rolling with. 

Today was one of those days where work had me burnt and my gluts were sore from some squat work I'd been doing (making good progress on squatting with heels flat on the ground). I came in just hoping to make it through class. So after warm up and drilling (during which a separate white belt told me the way I was taught to choke was wrong...and proceeded to critique the technique of a blue belt), I was pretty spent, but I always push through "spent". The instructor paired me with white belt #1 who proceeded to yell across the gym, with a chuckle "she looks tired!". I motioned for him to come over. After I took his back a little while into the round and was working on an RNC in, a guy yelled from the side "does she look tired now?". I could have hugged him, but I was too busy working on a body lock. It wasn't worth injuring myself to prove a point, so the rest of the round, I just made sure to keep breaking him down and not letting him get anywhere near passing my guard.

The whole situation made me think of something I said to the lady that was having issues with a fellow green belt criticising her. I don't think I could have handled this properly a few years back. There's this delicate balance to walk of maintaining the proper behavior expected of your belt, not letting lower belt egos run rampant (you're not doing them any good if you do), not having guys go too easy on you, and not becoming a firey ball of vengeance every time you get tested...and goodness knows that's happening more and more now. I'm noticing it happens more with lower belts and when I'm the only woman in class...the higher belts already have a certain level of respect for me. But yeah...a colored belt really does translate to a target on your back. I think I'm going to get a patch that says "No, you don't get my belt if you tap me. Calm. Down."

It's got me thinking that maybe, just maybe certain newbies do need to be roughed up a little when they start...just enough to get some cracks in the egos.

I guess it's all just part of the evolution of a gym though. New people come and bring their personalities and faults and contributions and all those meld within the enforced rules of behavior in the environment. I just...look at this crop compared with the ones I came in with and the contrast is SO stark. My "class" was cooperative and helpful and generally respectful, with each other and with higher belts. I'm curious to see which of these new guys last and how long. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What do men think of single women that train BJJ?

There's something about cracking 30...not just turning 30, but being officially "in your 30s" (a phrase I heard used in reference to me for the first time at my first private lesson last week) that cements some things in your life. While I feel much more open to change and possibilities in some areas, in the world of relationships, I'm starting to settle down...into singleness. Not just, "not dating now", but I can genuinely and solidly identify myself as being single. It's been...over seven years since a serious long term relationship and, while I don't object to it, I have no pressing ambitions to carry the title of "girlfriend" again. 

I'm reading this paper that's got me thinking about my social positioning in the gym. Out of nine women, ranging in age from 14 to 42, I really think I might be the only un-coupled one there. In any other situation, that might not be that odd, but jiu jitsu would assume...the type of women that are more likely to be single. (Despite the couple "stats" at my gym, though, I do still believe that to be true.) 

As much as I think that fact could be superficial in the face of training, a few classes alternating between being the only woman and being one of multiple women on the mats, and I know the impact of training with women changes the undertone of a training session. I know that women having husbands/boyfriends who also train changes how they are responded to. Not sure if there's any difference between training alone and actually being single, but I'm definitely curious.

Even if it doesn't register at all with the guys at the gym, it's been in the back of my mind since day one. I've heard stories of women that show up for a few classes of man-shopping.  I consulted with my best friend before taking my first private, concerned that people would think I was making advances toward an instructor. Despite being a year in, and while it doesn't change my choice to train, I still wonder, what do people think of a straight, single woman that trains BJJ?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why do you get out of bed?

I was all set to come home after training tonight and write about the crazy man that followed me out of a Mexican restaurant and how I SWORE I was going to have to test my jiu jitsu skills just that instant, but something bigger popped up.

Class was good tonight. More sweeps and I got to work them on a guy that was 240+, so I HAD to get them right. We went over the...and someone please correct me on this if I'm spelling it wrong...Balalonga and scissor sweeps. I'm just not getting my hook right against the side of the torso on the scissor. I think it's because I've been seeing the move demonstrated, and stopping my knee where I see the instructor stopping his, but my shin is longer, so I'm a good 3" off where I need to be, and that makes all the difference. It really is a game of inches, isn't it?

Anyway, I was talking with one of the other ladies in class tonight and she was telling me that one of the guys had her feeling really, REALLY bad about her skills and had been making negative remarks about her being female. We talked for a while about how hard it is being female...not so much about the physical issues, but the toll it can take on you mentally. Just sitting in a room with that many men can make you feel like an outsider. You wonder if the guys dislike rolling with you because of your gender, or because you're too weak or too small or too slow. You wonder if, even if you've told them five times not to go too easy on you, if they still feel annoyed at not being able to go full gorilla with you. You push all that wonder and doubt down every class and go and train anyway.

We got to talking about some of the guys there and how great the higher belts were and how a couple of lower belts were getting a little...cocky...and it made me think about intent. That's been coming up a lot in my life lately...message at church, office stuff, family-ness. Everywhere. I had a huge fire at work today (well..."have", because it's still nowhere near out) but it was one of those issues where you really start to wonder if everybody's playing on the same team. No matter what I do or where I go, it all seems to come back to that.  

Why do you show up to work. Why do you show up at the gym. Why are you at church. What brings you to those community and HOA meetings. Is it to fill a desire you have? Is it to make yourself a better person? Is it to help others with their lives? I don't think any of those are mutually exclusive at all, but I look at the first question, and too often, that's the only one of any concern and the second two aren't even after thoughts. I don't expect people to be Mother Teresa, but the blatant disregard for the ripples they cause or even directly predatory behavior for the sake of soothing one's self...well...getting a break from that is part of the reason I show up to train my little 3x a week...and hearing that that's causing problems in a makes me sad. To be honest though, I also find it motivating to do my part in maintaining the great atmosphere at my school. 

My private was so timely. Getting to talk with one of the instructors just and age and the school's background, it really gave me insight into what's really going on around me and where I am in the big picture. The higher belts do such an amazing job of maintaining a physically AND emotionally safe training environment that I'm still being caught off guard. I'm also even more thankful now for the white belts that I started with who, despite my being slow and tired and and an anti-athlete and frustrated, still didn't show one twinkle of annoyance at working with me. Amazing. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

My 4th 1st private

Yeah...just finished my 4th shower today. Morning private and evening class. I'm sure my bathroom is tired of seeing me.

I've been thinking about private lessons since day 1. I initially considered starting with privates instead of group classes, but I had so many general physical barriers to overcome, it would have been a waste of my money. Well, it's been about a year, and I had a day off so I decided to give it a shot.

It was friggin' AWESOME!! 

My lesson was with the same brown belt who did my very first intro lesson. Seeing people every day you kinda forget about the stuff they've done, and honestly, when I first started, I didn't get that taking third in Mundials and his list of NAGA champion titles was pretty impressive. More importantly though, he's a great teacher. I've seen him adjust very quickly to different learning styles and perspectives on jiu jitsu.  At the advice of Slidey and a few others, I went in with a game plan and took notes...which my instructor was surprisingly excited about.I got an energetic "Cole Miller does the same thing!" He told at least three people in class tonight. The lesson started with stretching and he told me about a seminar he'd gone to yesterday. I finally admitted to someone NOT reading this blog how scared I was when I first started and he seemed genuinely surprised...which surprised me, since I thought it was mad obvious. He then started telling me about the first gym and how man-tastic the training was. Glad I came around when I did, because I honestly don't think I would have made it. I think a lot of cultural shifts have gone on at the school in the last few years. Funny how things change.

My toes! We did a lot of focus on techniques that involved "live feet", keeping weight low and maintaining pressure. I heard someone once say that the things you learn in private lessons...some hit immediately, others over time. Pressure is going to be one of those "over time" points for me. I just have a tendency to back off and keep distance with my upper body.

I talk to my cousin (piano pedagogy person) about the instructional methods and environment a LOT, so I tend to have to turn a lot of what I learn into music-speak. Well, I sparred with the teenage blue belt that was also in my first lesson and he gave me some tips on improvisation...hyper extending elbows in positions that don't get taught as formal submissions. It's such a small concept, but makes such a huge difference.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My breathing is so...bad

And my brother rocks!! I had to come back and edit this since I opened a couple of boxes from Amazon right after I posted. Well, they had Grappler's Toolbox and FlowFit Ground Engagement. Giving gifts to adult siblings can be hard, but even half a world away in Japan, he got it dead on:)

There are two warm-up exercises that can "taint" the rest of my class performance. Those are sprinting and bear walks. Today was sprinting. Moving Megan fast is hard and after a couple of laps I was just off the rest of the night. I got caught on the bottom...a lot...but I took the opportunity to study what it feels like to be there instead of immediately fighting out of being mounted/turtled. Had some success really feeling the balance of the top player.

A year in and my breathing is still bad. A blue belt pointed out that it's shallow and quick. From day 1, I've tried to be conscious of it since I knew I had some hurdles to cross (asthma, sinus issues and allergies.) Four years into dancing and I was still having issues with not breathing when things sped up. Guess it's back to FlowFit. Speaking of body stuff, I looked at myself today and I look quite a bit smaller...and musclee-er.

Tonight was...different. I think a memo must have gone out to tell all the ladies to stay home and all the big guys to come. I was the only female...felt a bit weird since it had been a while. Couple that with the appearance of a viewing crew comprised solely of several, random young women who were a bit overdressed for being at a gym and the mood was just a little different.

My last roll tonight was with another green belt I really enjoy training with. Somehow, we always end up starting off in a clinch. Last time, I was able to take his back and I got the feeling he wanted to rectify that. Both times he got me on my back, which was fine by me, since I generally just jump guys into full or spider guard. I'm starting to see how I get caught in Americanas so much. I haven't yet learned when to let go of grips once they turn disadvantageous and that leaves my arms open for the taking. 

One of my favorite blues told me tonight that I'm getting a lot better. This is the same guy that told me about the breathing. I love well rounded feedback. Yay again.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Relearned a life lesson tonight...

Decent men know sorry ones when they see them. They just do.

GREAT results from reading the flow section of The Guard II. I tried just flowing through submissions and linked up to four. Mostly flowing between triangles and armbars. Still haven't worked the omoplata in, but I'll do that next class. I wasn't killing myself to apply them, but I did run into a strength issue. I had a good night of rolling with a bunch of the bigger, higher belts (I'm still exhausted) so my armbars kept getting stuffed by the guy grabbing his other arm. I've had some success forcing the defending arm off (only with my legs), but after a couple of 7 min rounds, I didn't have much "brute force" left in me, so any time a guy tried to just force his arm free, the tap was pretty much lost. No matter though, I was glad to actually link some submissions.

I've also found a new stalling "safety point" that I tend to fall into. I used to freeze once I got someone in my guard, questioning whether I should try to submit or sweep. Now, it's at submission setups. I had a triangle locked and, as I quite frequently do, started wondering if I'd gotten my hips close (I'd rolled him into the lock while he was escaping my side control),  wondering whether I REALLY needed his arm to finish the choke...all kinds of things. I tried to just force it from my original position, but chokes on higher belts have to be clean, or they're not tapping. Adjusting still makes me wary, and once I get a triangle locked, I get terrified of losing it...makes no sense, I know, but I get scared to take the chance of losing my one bird in the hand for the two in the bush. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In love with Armbars

Ok...just figuratively. I'm still terrible at them. I just got back from a few days in California (funtastic!). The 8hrs travel time gave me a chance to spend some quality time with The Guard. I'm amazed at how much sense it makes now. A few months ago and it (along with Jiu Jitsu University) may as well have been War and Peace in its untranslated version.

There are many ways to hyper-extend somebody's elbow! I remember the first arm bar I learned that wasn't from the guard. It left me with so many questions. Can I really brace a wrist using my neck?  Why do you push directly on the joint from some positions but use more of a twisting motion from others? Is twisting a form of hyper-extension? Do these moves change at all for different genders since women's radius hits the elbow at a different angle?

On a side note, the lady sitting next to me on the plane saw what I was reading and assumed I was studying medicine. I wondered what happens when she goes to the doctor.

Tomorrow's going to be rough. I'm a foodie and anytime I go on vacation...well...unless it's Japan (which has almost no food I'm interested in save some seafood) I come back stuffed to the gills with food experiences. Couple that with the fact that Chinese food is my absolute favorite on the planet (it barely feels foreign to me) and I ended up with a heavy and wonderful list of new food's a brief recap of highlights:

Xiao Long Bao: The most perfect food ever invented. Better known as soup dumplings. I'd order it as a last meal. It's hard to get decent ones in Florida and Cali has some really good ones.

Pho: Vietnamese beef soup. Clean and light. Not really into Viet cuisine, but still a favorite of mine.

Doughnuts: Also something we have a lack of down here. Went to a place called Stan's. Had the glazed, sourdough and chocolate covered cake. Yeah...I know. Doughnut hedonism.

Mooncake: Traditional Chinese Autumn festival food. Beautiful, but I'm not big on the taste.

Custard Tart: Had some great ones in Chinatown

Coconut Tart: I actually enjoyed these. Basically a tiny coconut cake

Dumplings: Chicken, shrimp and pork at Tong Dumpling Pot. They had me sold once I saw the wrappers being rolled out by hand up front.

Green onion cakes: Had two versions of these. The dumpling place beat the Xiao Long Bao place hands down.

Taiwanese beef noodle soup: Soup was bland. Noodles were great.

Cupcakes: Love's cupcakes. You need to go. The woman does an amazing job at flavor balance.

Fortune cookies: From one of the oldest fortune cookie factories in the US. More like waffle cones than the twisted styrofoam you get at most Chinese places.

So yeah...I'm totally going to pay tomorrow, but it was worth it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

These emotions keep catching me by surprise...

I've said it before...I build bonds slowly. I believe relationships should be carefully crafted. Most of the people I consider to be friends I've known 5+ years, some 25+. I've had guys surprised when I said I wasn't sure if I wanted a relationship with them since I'd only known them a year. A year is nothing to me when it comes to relationships. All that plus my INTJ status and sometimes swells of emotional connection can catch me off guard.

Thank you jiu jitsu, for that happening to me twice this week. The first was after one of my fellow green belts came back from vacation. He is the sweetest guy I've ever met, ever. I swear one day I'm going to hug him mid-conversation by accident. The full sleeve tattoo he has always catches me off guard, because I feel like he should instead be carrying around an injured puppy or cookies for homeless children. Well, he told me that he ran into a girl by chance that he'd seen before and they were dating. He'd brought her to class and wanted to introduce me to her. He was glowing even more than normal. I was so...happy for him. And I'm not the romantic type. I dread getting wedding invitations in the mail. When I hear somebody's started dating, it's like someone telling me they refilled their gas tank that morning. Just another part of life. Even when in a relationship, Valentine's day could pass without too much fanfare. Well, I don't know how, but a loud, relatively high-pitched "awwww!" came out of my mouth and I really wanted to meet the girl.

Fast forward to last night's class, when I told everyone I'd be out for a while and I was surprised to be met with so many genuine well wishes. I was headed for my car, and ran across my security blanket buddy (whom I was elated to see after his one month hiatus) and jokingly pushed him off the curb. He responded with the most genuine "have a safe trip" that I think I've ever heard. That night, I was terribly sad that I wouldn't see anybody or spar for a whole week. Crazy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Help for shoulder pain

Um...I'm REALLY starting to like rolling. I thought I liked it before, but after tonight I'm DYING to go again. I've developed a taste for 7 minute rounds. Warm-up was a bit...harder...tonight. I swear we did 100 sets of 4 count leg flutters. No bear crawls though...can't say I was disappointed.

Tonight was very man-tastic. For whatever reason, a lot of the bigger guys were there. Good for me, since I got two rounds with two of the guys after rolling with one of the ladies. Yay diversity. 

I ended up tapping to both, but learned a lot, especially about maintaining guard. The first tap was to the same, strong, white-belt that got me in his glorious armbar last time. This was actually worse. He started choking me from inside MY guard, and I knew he had screwed up. Unfortunately, I didn't capitalize on it properly, and tried for a triangle when an armbar would have been a better choice. I think I decided against it because I couldn't get my leg under his armpit. I was so busy being annoyed at the fact that I couldn't take advantage, that I almost forgot to tap.

The second tap was to a really nice, fellow-green that I get partnered with quite a bit. He totally surprised me last time by asking what other possibilities I saw from a position we were working on. Just being asked made me realize that maybe, just maybe I'm doing better than I think. He caught me in an Americana, which I defended well for a while by coming onto my side, but eventually my arms gave out and he managed to wrench it into some sort of Ameriogugltkjhth...but it still hurt, so I tapped. I totally deserved it too. Every once in a while, I forget that there are "rules" and not everything is up for grabs. I had him in a collar clinch, and for whatever reason, I grapped his hair and pulled his head down. Sorry buddy.

My right shoulder is still nagging me. It's not clicking anymore thank goodness, but always feels tight. A friend online recommended some good exercises that have been pretty helpful.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Almost cried tonight

I was laying there, on the mats, in the dark, tearing up, remembering the Meiji Shrine. I thought of the mist and the peace and the quiet and was sad that my brother lived half a world away, happy that I've been so blessed as to have had to opportunity to visit with my best friend. Sad that she lives a whole country away.

At the end of open mat, during our weekly ginastica natural and reflection over our training, our week and our lives in general. We always visualize a happy place...last week it was my bed. Tonight, the Meiji Shrine. I swear it has to be one of the most peaceful places on earth, despite the fact it lives in the middle of one of the least and its violent past.

Parrumpa started talking about appreciating your friends, family and letting them know how much you love them and I was teared up again...good tears though. Very good tears. 

I'm really starting to get it though. This is all about friendship, self-improvement and respect. Rare gems indeed.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

RICE vs. Heat

Knee pain's back. I've been loving my Ace hot/cold pack and had to make a choice last night. Being the China-enthusiast I am, I see a Chinese medicine doctor from time to time and one thing she's always said, is to put heat on joints, never ice. Same recommendation from another traditional Chinese med doctor friend. I went straight for heat last night and it's doing fine today. I'm wondering if there are any comparative studies out there of the two methods, since Western medicine immediately runs to ice on a  joint injury to reduce swelling.

I'm starting to have my first experiences with male white belts that never knew me as a white belt. The current guys that are lower ranking than I am knew be pre-promotion, so while there's definitely respect there, the relationship seems to be different. Well, last night, there were four newbies in class. So new they didn't even have gis. Boxers I believe. I sat down between one and a blue belt and he started talking...

His comments were a blur of telling me he doesn't bite, challenging me to a roll immediately, telling me how someone who I said was fast couldn't beat him if he used his hands, preaching to me about how tiredness is all in the mind, recommending breathing exercises to me...then, I'm assuming after realizing I wasn't too happy with what he was saying...telling me how long it should take to get a green belt and insisting the average was twice as long as it took me and telling me how much he respected that. At that point I started talking to the blue belt next to me and a couple minutes later, he left. I'm hoping that reaction is a rarity. 

I managed to stay for the full 2 hrs last night, which meant I got to stay for the Ginastica Natural portion...funtastic! Alvaro Romano is coming in November and while I've never been able to make the Saturday classes, I'm considering stopping by to at least watch.

We were doing 7 min rounds last night and I realized I've reached a point where my concentration is fatiguing before my body. Hoping that's just a mark of my endurance improving and not my brain degrading.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More schools. More soft. More pictures.

I was going through some old vacation photos last week and it hit me...I have ALL these pictures from me bopping around a couple continents...I should try to use them instead of poking around the internet, hoping to find pictures that are pertinent to my posts AND that I won't get in trouble for using. So today...I start. It's going to be a challenge to tie them in, but I figure with some crafty wording, I can pull it off in some abstract way each time. This one's from Tokyo, Japan, just outside the Imperial Palace. 

Yesterday morning on the way to work, I passed a sign hitched to the back of a truck that looked like it was advertising a new BJJ school. I was going too fast yesterday (and today) and couldn't read the web address (which I swear was in 12 pt font). Anyway, having been filled with a solid fear of McDojoism from my tours around Sherdog and JiuJitsu Forums, I'm already suspect. South Florida's BJJ scene is probably second only to California's, and that's probably only because of the share of space given to MMA. I've been seeing Meetup groups, classes popping up at random gyms...I'm sure this is only the beginning. 

I don't know why, maybe because it was some of my first serious work from the back, but learning the bow and arrow seems to have bridged some gaps in my jiu jitsu mind. Mostly control. Even though I've accepted that it needs to be done, and understand some theory, I still have yet to feel it. Something about the expanse of that choke...the controlling of knee, body and neck, gave me a lot of perspective. I don't know what it is, but it's the first submission I've learned that feels good for my body...doing it, not receiving:)

During the same lesson, our Muay Thai instructor pointed out that I was gripping the lapel too hard and pressing into the throat before the choke had even started. He said it during the instruction, but of course, I immediately forgot it. It reminded me of something our head instructor had told me a while back..."don't squeeze". Remembering to use just enough power so that you're controling/properly positioning yourself but still not wasting precious energy...that line is so fine.

My worries of missing a class are completely gone. I'm finally confident in my fledgling relationship with BJJ. It's a nice place to be.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My first bloody lip...

Not even sure how I got it, but someone pointed it out to me. Wasn't bad though.

Morning class today (Thanks President Cleveland!) WuTang and more people than I expected. I love the general mood of the early class. I'm not all drained from a day at work and everything's extra chill.

I was thinking yesterday that I didn't know enough about the back, and lo and behold, today we did bow and arrow choke. I've had it done to me numerous times and was glad to finally learn it. It's a weird seemed complicated while it was being explained but felt relatively natural the few times I got it. Lots of notes to stick into FreeMind. I'll definitely need another class of it.

Rolling was very interesting today. It was a day of all small people with some nice surprises. Somehow, it seems I've gotten better about getting people into full guard. It was super easy when I first started with other white belts. Then they learned to watch out for my legs, and started quickly passing it. Today, I didn't have any issues with it. We'll see if it's permanent or if I just had a good day (or everyone else was having a bad one). I tried out the failed triangle-to-armbar flow my new buddy purple belt taught me and it got defended, BUT, I didn't hesitate like I normally do. I went for it, willing to lose the guard. I finally have confidence that I can reestablish guard if I have to, so submissions aren't half as scary. I also pulled off a hip bump using a couple tips from a Ryan Hall clip I watched last night. I want his DVD soooooo bad...maybe in a couple months. I used to think it was just getting out of side control, but anything that involves getting a knee seems to be extra difficult for me. 

Had another roll with the choke master today too. He's small, and man...chokes around every corner. He's quick to take your back, and is great at making it feel like all his weight is right below your neck. 

Good day 'twas. 

Friday, September 3, 2010


Stretching is so important. Normally I do 3, 10 min sessions throughout the day, then another at the gym. Well, I was lazy today, didn't stretch at work and half stretched at the gym. My sense of when to tap to a kimura was ALL thrown off. My partner said I was pre-tapping...and I was out of worry. I couldn't really feel when the joint had actually been stretched too far or if it were just cold and uncomfortable (even though that can lead to injury too). I've gotten used to my joints being able to make it to a certain point before tapping, and that point was way sooner last night, so I was caught off guard by the submission a lot. Getting too comfortable with anything can be dangerous. Lesson learned.

I've never been called a jerk before, but I guess there's a first time for everything.

I was drilling kimura sweeps with one of the less-new white belts when one of the instructors spotted a discoloration on his wrist and stopped us drilling to take a closer look.  

Me (laughing): Do you have critters? No, seriously. Do you? Cuz uh...I don't want them. 
Potentially contaminated white belt: "...What? Oh my gosh, you're a jerk! 

He explained that it was a burn (it really did look like one and not ringworm) as the instructor was laughing. It cracked me up...especially coming from a guy. I mean...I really can be a jerk with very little effort, but it's never been officially declared...this...month...

Tonight's open mat music was...not sure what it was. The beats sounded like North American R&B, but in Portuguese. I got some good rolls in tonight...two with a couple of blues from back when I first started, and another with a fellow green I've never rolled with. (I'm so thankful for the higher belts that ask me to spar.) The roll with the green was VERY educational. We're polar opposites. I'm the female in class that's larger than most of the males. He's the male that's smaller than most of the females. I seriously think I'm over 100lbs heavier than him. I've never rolled with a significantly smaller adult male. Getting a feel for his strength took me a while...I just didn't know what to expect. He was very fast and loves chokes. It took me what seemed like a solid minute to fight my way out of a gi choke, and as soon as I was free, he transitioned to another. 

The rounds with the blues were great ego boosts. Again, polar opposites. The first was with a shorter, very strong guy who's taught me a lot. He always gets me wrapped up in the weirdest holds. Afterward he told me there was a big difference between now and when he first sparred with me back when I started. Even though I do feel better when sparring now (I can't believe the feelings of ignorance are almost completely gone) I often wonder what my partners are experiencing. The next roll with the other blue was completely different. I always enjoy rolling with this guy because he's a bit lighter than me, but taller with the same long limbs, so I understand the things he does. I fought my way out of an armbar and after we were both back to our knees, he told me that I had "some serious toughness in me". Teehee:)

On the personal front, I noticed today that movement on the ground is enjoyable. Of course I still don't move anywhere near as well as I could, but it's not a burden anymore. Yays.

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. " kinda scare me". What? I...scare? "Really? You can just work submissions." " 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...