Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stupid Revelation of the Day...

So since I started BJJ, I've been wondering why I haven't been brusied
like all the other jiujitsukas talk about, That is, aside from a nasty
blue mark I got practicing ukemis when I pinned my own arm to the
ground with my knee... Still don't know how I did that.

Well, I was sitting at my desk this morning and noticed my left
forearm looked blotchy. I looked over to my right...same thing. Then
it hit me. I'm Black. My skin is dark. Unless a bruise is pretty
severe (like the one I got jumping over a row of chairs a few months
back...I gracefully tripped and got my leg wedged between two chairs)
it's not going to be super obvious. I took at some more spots and lo
and behold...bruises on my arms, one hand, thighs and a calve.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Feeling like I'm making progress...

This sport is really something. One second I feel like I'm progressing, the next, like I  shouldn't even be setting foot in the gym, so I have to focus on progress in any form it comes. Tonight...mark it...was the first night I came home and felt completely normal. Not like I'd been thrown into a washing machine or kicked down the street by a soccer team, but just normal. Bruised a bit, but I'm not exhausted. I could go for a few more rounds (after a break). Admittedly, I still got lightheaded after class, but I made it off the mats.
Weird situation tonight. I got an arm pinned under me (not mine) and wasn't sure what to do with it...so I kept it pinned. I can't say it did anything. Maybe there was a way for me to take advantage of the situation, but I couldn't see what it would have been.
Next class that's what I'm focusing on. Replacing the guard. Nothing else. I rolled with a blue belt and it seemed to just happen, or rather I at least knew to try. Next was with a purple and I totally stopped even considering it as a possibility. He called me out on it. So...Wednesday...replace.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mmm...post BJJ grapefruit...

Of course, class was great. Whenever I freak out the most, that's when I have the best classes. There were only two of us there, and the extra instructional time was nice. We went over a move called "over and under" and man...the details. They're all centered around making sure you have control and don't leave any room for escape...or maybe that's the case with most finer details and I just had an epiphany...hmm. Anyway, the ones I had problems with are...
1) Keep your shoulder tight under his knee
2) Make sure your arm is wrapped all the way "over" the opposite leg, almost gripping the back of the knee.
3) SWITCH...YOUR...HIPS (it felt like my balance was off so I had some issues with this...hence the caps)
4) Free your trapped leg with an outward, whipping motion. This also gives you momentum to drive it under the close knee
5) Gain control of the upperbody  (knee deep in armpit) then adjust the legs.
After that, we moved on to some rolling, then open mat. I worked with one of the blue belts that stayed behind after the advanced class. I learned...
1) Aim for mobility. I have a tendency to start a roll on my knees. It is a bit easier to move/react with one knee elevated.
2) Grabbing the middle of the belt to start a roll can leave you open to a variety of attacks.
3) In armbars, I have a tendency to let go of the arm for a split second when adjusting my body.
4) I also use too much of my upper body to power myself around.

Still Nervous.

I'm sitting here, nervous again before class. At this point it's just
annoying. The fear's gone, but I still have these butterflies. I hope
they'll pass once and for all soon.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

FINALLY pulled off a triangle submission...

...it was an interesting experience. I felt little jiujitu paths being created in my brain. Snuggly. Some of the details (like hip movement) that had continued to elude me just made sense once I genuinely understood what kind of pain I was trying to cause. This "need to understand" has plagued me in the learning process all my life, but it has its benefits. In return for my triangle though, I got about three americanas. Not a nice tradeoff.

Once again, the smaller people give me issues. We went over the escape from half guard again, and while the blue belt I drilled with last time was a pretty big guy, this time, I drilled with one of the smaller ladies, and it felt COMPLETELY different. After Stephanie's rib injury and Allie's post on being crushed by larger opponents, I was a little worried while drilling that I'd cause damage. Maintaining pressure on a 200lb male is completely different than keeping it on a 100lb female.

Starting week 2 of the 100 pushup plan and it's going well. Also, I've made peace with longer warmups. They're longer, harder, and that's just what they are.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dating and BJJ

So I have an online dating profile up...after I was sure I wanted to stick with BJJ, I added it to my list of interests. Anyone who's tried dating online know that, assuming you're reasonably attractive, your hobbies can make or break a guy's interest in you. You study massage? You're probably getting a lot of hits. Cat collecting? Not so many.

Anyway, a couple months back, I noticed that after updating my interests section, I started getting contacted by guys who were fans of the WWE (some that looked like they'd done some guest appearances)...not BJJ guys that happened to like WWE, but guys that watched wrestling on TV. I guess that's a big deal for a guy though...a woman that maybe, just maybe shares an interest, even if it's a somewhat distantly related one, in what they're passionate about. It really struck me as funny.

New Physio Ball!

I got my new baby (45cm) physio ball today. I think I'm good with that one and the 65cm.

I've finally gotten my form to the point where I can start the 100 pushup program. I was honestly concerned about the reps, but they weren't bad. Honestly, I'll be happy once I get to 30, but I'm aiming high:) I'll likely be doing them on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. I really need to pick one solid day a week off exercise and I think it's going to be Tuesdays since I plan on eventually adding Friday to my training schedule. We'll see.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ukemi Success

I forgot to mention that I did my forward ukemi from standing last night and it went quite well. No hurt shoulder! I even got less head contact with my backward ones.

I woke up this morning with a revelation about my standing guard escape. I did it twice while rolling with with Mr. Rebar-for-Ligaments, and the first time, he caught my right arm and wouldn't let go, so I couldn't pass his guard. The second time he didn't and I was able to pass. I thought he did it just to keep me from passing, but I realized that he did it because I made a mistake and didn't bring his right arm far enough across his left. Love it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dun-nuh nuh-nuh nuh-nuh nuh-nuh, Dun-nuh nuh-nuh nuh-nuh nuh-nuh...Cat Maaaaan

For me, one of the worst things about joining a new group is names. I'm HORRIBLE with names, and I'm in that period where it seems like pretty much everybody knows my name, but I only know the people that I've spoken to relatively regularly. Awkward.
I was watching this one blue belt today. I've rolled with him twice before. The first time I felt like I was rolling with a human vice grip. The second time I swear he was just spinning on top of me in circles, pulling and bending my limbs however he liked. I finally spent some time watching him from the outside and the man moves like a cat. Incredibly smooth and on all fours. It's nuts.
We went over an escape from half guard today, which I've done once before. Thankfully I was paired with a blue belt that's amazingly good at explaining details and picking out errors...in a good way. The knee placement is so crucial...it's going to take me a few more sessions (or a lot of times getting swept) to learn instinctually where I need to place my knee so that I don't leave too much space, but also not so close that I'm not left asking to be swept. I had a hard time remembering to apply pressure to the hip when first freeing the leg. Between that and the timing in grabbing the tricep, I feel like the move is brand new. My first roll was with the bluebelt I went over the technique with and he had me just try things, resetting everytime I got swept. It was a great way to make me hyper aware of my weight placement.
My second roll was with another white belt and since she was having some trouble passing my guard, I decided I wanted to try an armbar. I couldn't get it to feel right though and now realize it's because I wasn't centering her arm on my torso. Something tells me I still could have pulled it off, but it didn't feel "right" so I didn't even try...hesitation. I switched to a choke we learned about a month ago and that failed miserably. I still don't see how people pull them off.
My last roll was with a purple and while I felt like I was running the entire time, some of the general principles I picked up from The Guard helped out immensely.
The last few times we've been running, I've felt an old, familiar tightness in my chest. It's been years...decades since I've had a full on asthma attack or even felt close to one, so feeling my lungs closing in, even slightly, makes me pretty anxious. I still carry an OTC inhaler just in case. I
I gotta learn to stop making so much noise. I think I'm like the loud person in class. I let out grunts in pain and discomfort and a couple of times, people have pulled back on submissions/pressure even though I was fine. I guess I'll get used to being squashed eventually and won't be as...vocal.
I find myself getting caught in side control less, and when I do, I'm defending against the cross-face better. Woo.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Roy Dean: Reactions

Before I start gushing about my Roy Dean DVD, I have to say I noticed something odd about my knees today. While I thought they were always both "crunchy" I noticed that today the right one wasn't and the left one was. Odd.
OK. I've said it before. I'm a top down thinker. This DVD set is great for anyone who likes to know principle before practicing or just likes to have an idea of the road on which they're traveling and not just the destination.  If you're used to a more academic approach to learning, it's an amazing set. Even if you're not, I can't see how you couldn't get something (something meaning a lot) from it. I haven't watched all the sections, but I'll talk a little about the ones I have. If you're looking for a complete reivew, that's been well covered in other places online.
Welcome: Most of the set assumes a base level of familiarity with fundamental BJJ positions and terminology. This section however, should be watched by anyone before stepping on the mat, honestly even before deciding on a school. It's basically an introduction into where your mind should be before you get going.
It adresses the potential applications of BJJ (law enforcement, competition, self defense), the wide-reaching nature of BJJ (helps to calm the concerns of people who think they might be physically incapable of learning the art), the level of intensity (I was blind and it took me a bit by surprise...probably a good thing for my situation though), the level of personalization and the incredibly steep and impossibly frustrating learning curve that weeds out so many beginners.
Ukemi: If I've ever been close to tears in BJJ, it was because of these. I found them amazingly frustrating and my fear of falling just made them that much worse. Dean speaks on the fact that, though they're not practiced at many BJJ schoos, they provide benefits to practitioners and in situations in everyday life. Falls happen and they're invaluable in learning how to manage your weight in a fall situation. He says he studied them for six weeks straight in Japan before even starting any technique and I was a little jealous.  This last week, I JUST started feeling the "awareness" you're supposed to in the middle of a roll. I still start my forward ukemi from kneeling, but after watching this, I'm thinking about attempting standing again (I injured my shoulder last time I tried). Backward rolls haven't given me issues, but I learned some useful points (like I'm putting way too much weight on my neck...there should be no contact with the mat, let alone weight).
Guidelines: I absolutely loved this section. It's on the second DVD and is easy to dismiss as unimportant, but Dean's explanation of grips from different positions and priciples behind various escapes clarified a lot of grey areas for me. I think it will also keep me from stopping once I end up in someone's guard because I'm not sure where to go next.
I can't say I was exposed to anything that I haven't been in four months of classes, but the DVD presents information in such a way that's not really possible in a group class format.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sore Throat Sorrows

I woke up yesterday with a sore throat...knocked back a couple Cold-eeze and figured everything was fine. When I left the office today, I figured I was tired because the day was long and I got almost no sleep from all the wind. Well, for some reason, I just couldn't envision myself even making it through the warmup. The last time I felt like this and went to class I was in a cold sweat by the end. After much agonizing, I decided staying home was probably the best bet and that I'd just do a few rounds of FlowFit and some drills. I made it five minutes into FlowFit and just didn't want to get back up after the second transition into plow position. I tried some shrimping...fizzled after six reps...good thing my Roy Dean DVD came today :)

Happily, I don't feel desperate like I used to when missing class. I don't feel as much at risk of one missed class ending my BJJ journey.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Goodie MoB is my new theme music.

We found out tonight that one of the instructors at American Top Team has a staph infection in his lungs. He was fighting for his life a few days ago, but has improved. He doesn't have any insurance and there's a seminar this weekend to raise money for him. This is about the third time I've heard of something like this since I started training and since fighting the evil forces of the Dark Side (health insurance companies) is what I do for a living, it's really starting to bother me on a deep level. Sure, everybody's at risk of getting hurt, but if you get hurt and aren't insured, it's a whole different ball game. I've never really thought about it, but I can't imagine what insurance premiums are for professional fighters. They're bad enough for people sitting at a desk all day.

On a lighter note, class was great tonight! I gotta be honest though, getting ready, I felt that same, deep fear that I did the first few classes, and I know it's purely from the warmups. They've been more intense lately and that messes with my mind. I was talking to one of the pro fighters before class and she said something that I really have to keep in mind. That at the very least, it's a good workout. Even if I feel like I can't pull off even basic moves and that I'm getting beaten at every turn, at the very least, it's a good workout, and that's something I need regardless and is a great reason to show up.

But yeah...on the drive there, I was so freaked I had to try some new music. I love Queen like there's no tomorrow, but somehow Freddie's voice just doesn't put me in the right frame of mind. I tried Chili Peppers, anime tracks and Bone Thugs, but nothing helped. Tonight, I dug out some old Goodie MoB tracks (ah memories) and it instantly calmed me down. There's something about Southern rap...the seething intensity contrasted against the the laid back attitude...that really focuses me.

I'm still having a rough time adjusting triangles. I just never feel confident against a resisting opponent, but they are getting better. I also finally got a peek at the concept of controlling one side of your opponent. We reviewed the same standing escape from full guard. It's still hard, but it's feeling more natural, I maintained my balance a little better and my knees feel totally fine. I just have to keep my weight centered over the middle of my feet and to put solid force behind the upward movement. Fluidity is so important.

Bad habit of the night...sitting back too far. I also ran into a situation where I needed to bridge while I had someone in half guard. Hard.

Oh! Speaking of joint issues, switching to MSM in the morning has me back to not remembering my dreams. I'm finally feeling rested again:)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Good Fight

I went to go check out a local tournament today that was organized by The Good Fight. Unfortunately, I took my time getting there, and even though gi matches started at 1 and no-gi at 3, when I walked in at 1:30, no-gi was already going, so I only got to watch four matches.  It was good to go though, and cool to see one of the guys was from a local branch of American Top Team.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Self esteem...crashing!

I can honestly say , this is the single hardest thing I've ever done. I'm not very good at jiu jitsu...and that's hard on me. I want to be good. The fact that instructors and other students have to be patient with me is not easy for me to digest. I think I deal with failure better than I do with pity, real or imagined. I've read other people's stories...people in worse shape, older, less coordinated, injured, slow to learn and I feel almost petty for so consistently forgetting what advantages I do have. What bothers me is not being bad. I'm not bad. I'm simply not good.
I finally learned a guard pass tonight that I think I can latch on to. Someone was reading my mind because I've been scouring the Internet for one. Funny, because it involves going from kneeling to standing...a movement that's physically very difficult for me. A few years ago, I couldn't stand from a kneeling position at all (still can't do a full squat). I have genetically HORRIBLE knees, and it's taken quite a bit of work to get myself to the point where I can stand on my own. Adding the weight of another human being just makes it incredibly difficult (not to mention I kept forgetting to keep my hips tucked). The biggest impediment though, is fear. I expect pain, or joints buckling, or spontaneous combustion. None of those things happened, but the expectation takes my focus off what I'm doing and redirects it to places that are hard to come back from. I do worry though, that I'm going to be in some nasty pain tomorrow. I have that same feeling in my knees when I used to dance just a little too long or spin just a few too many times in one night.
We're going to be focusing on guard passes for a while, which makes me happy, because I have none that I'm really taking to. Being in some one's guard and getting the mount are the two positions that leave me blank.
I've been having a really rough time sleeping. I started MSM supplements for my joints when I started BJJ and one of the potential side effects is sleeping issues. I don't normally remember my dreams, and this stuff has me present for all of them. I'm waking up feeling like I haven't slept more than ten minutes. I've been taking it at night, so hopefully switching them to the morning will make things easier. I've been a tad zombi-fied at work lately and that's not gonna fly with all the growth and changes that are going on on my side of the health care continuum.
I made it four whole months without buying another book or DVD...woo! To celebrate, I bought a book and DVD:) Following the recommendations of Slideyfoot, I picked up Roy Dean's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blue Belt Requirements, Mastering Jiu Jitsu and The Guard: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Details and Techniques. Fine...two books and a DVD. I figure they should keep me busy for quite some time.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Yesterday, during the transition from the advanced class to beginner, our head instructor made the recommendation that everyone try to be more creative when rolling. It's a bit beyond my comprehension as a white belt, but the concept really stuck in my head. Like anything else though, I'm guessing that it's something that's best practiced after you learn the rules.

I've noticed my shrimping is slower on my left side, so I focused on it, one-legged, and left my right side alone. It made some issues more clear. Not only am I weaker, but I'm less coordinated. Thinking back to sparring yesterday, when I'm pinned on my left side, I feel more stuck and like I have fewer options.

I've been about a week without working on the stability ball and getting back on it today was good. I actually feel more steady on it after the time off. Whatever I pulled on the top of my left foot when I first started has started bothering me again and I'm guessing it's no coincidence that I got rolled back on it last night. I need to spend more time stretching out my feet before class. I'm also noticing some weakness in my left shoulder while doing bridging drills. I think that comes from the bodyweight program just like my loss in knee flexibility. I'm going to leave that (the bodyweight) alone for a couple of weeks and see what happens. Kind of sucks though, since I have so few options for cardio...stupid knees.

I'm starting a new pushup program! It involves starting in plank position, lowering yourself as far as you can, and holding it until you drop, eight times. I'm going to try it 3-4 times a week. Now to think of a way to explain the 8 consecutive thuds to my coworkers...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Staph, staph go away...

I love Hibiclens. It smells like a clean hotel room and helps sedate the germaphobe in me.

Tonight was...pretty rough. I left the mats feeling like an all around failure. I rolled with all higher belts, but my ego doesn't seem to want to take that into consideration.The warmup was long (Wuzzup mentioned it was hard on him, so I didn't feel completely out of shape). The technique we're reviewing is an underhook sweep from guard, and it's giving me grief.

We started it last week and I think I finally started picking up the basic action the last few times I tried it. Tonight we learned how to tie the failed sweep into a triangle or omoplata. BeginnersInstructor asked if I remembered how to finish the triangle and I replied "yep!". Of course I remembered triangle, it was one of the first techniques I learned! Well, apparently I only remembered it in theory, because once I got through the failed sweep, it was all upside-down and backwards. I'm having a really hard time balancing learning new techniques and retaining the finer points of old ones.

On the up side, I rolled with my first purple belt tonight. I didn't notice his belt color until we started rolling, and then a small jolt of fear ran through me. I was ready for a serious fight. But as soon as I started struggling, I noticed that he was very...soft...so I calmed down and tried to pay attention to what he was doing and ask a few questions. I'm starting to really appreciate higher belts that genuinely try to submit me. I want to build a really solid defense, and having someone really trying to catch me helps me find problem areas.

I feel like my one legged bridging is paying off, as I don't get pinned for long periods of time like I used to.

I'm going to spend some time studying escapes from the following holds, because I get caught in them a LOT.

1) Kesa Gatame
2) Reverse Kesa Gatame
3) Seated Mount-I've been attempting the escape from JiuJitsu University (pg 62) but just noticed that I've been staying on my back while trying to escape AND completely ignoring the choke defense.