Friday, July 30, 2010

On the way home from seeing Inception...

...(nice little notes of jiu jitsu in it btw), it hit me that I'm now one of those people that does combat sports for fun. Crazy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Man Talkings

Since my first day on the mats, I've noticed that practicing BJJ has given me deeper insight into the male mind, body and socialization. 

I've noticed that over the last few months, I've heard more about the emotional states of some of the men in my life...all of which have been relayed through sports analogies and experiences of physical challenge. For example, last night, my father, after me telling him about my night in class, began to explain to me some of the processes aging athletes go through, explaining that even though he knows he can't jump as high or run as fast as he could when he played college basketball, there's still a part of him that thinks he can. He doesn't think that will ever change. (That explained something that had confused me...when I was in high school, one of the deacons at my church--he was at least 70 at the time--challenged one of the kids--17, state champion--to a "foot race"...swearing, quite seriously, that he would win. I'd been confused for years.)

All that made me realize that women...we speak the language of emotions fluently and readily. Articulating thoughts, causes and transitions between emotional states almost effortlessly. Men? Most need a translator. I don't know if sports is the only might be, but it definitely seems to be the most common. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fairy Dust and Kittens

I'm starting to love liquid meals. As much as I love to cook, I tire quickly of the everyday grind of preparing meals to survive. Almond milk, Odwalla Superfood and protein powders are my best friends these days. I love makes me actually WANT to eat right.

Tonight I made a point of starting from side control at each restart and with each partner. I figure I'll spend the rest of this month and August doing this (I hope it's not an annoyance to my partners). I still had to fight to get out of scarf hold tonight and this was after making sure I was using nice, big hip escapes. I'm starting to think I need a bit of a bridge beforehand...timing man...timing. Either that or I need to focus on some escapes that don't involve getting a knee in. Today though, I was rolling with tiny people, so hopefully, next class, I'll go with some bigger guys and it'll be a bit easier. My original plan was to spend a month focusing on one offensive, and one defensive principle...which should have been getting off the bottom, and triangles. kinda forgot about the triangles though.

I think I may have embarrassed a new guy tonight and I feel kinda bad. We'd just finished class and when I walked into the cubby area, I heard this...sound. The first thing out of my mouth was "What's that? It sounds like fairy dust...fairy dust and kittens." Once I realized it was a phone ringing, I figured it was one of the girls who was also standing near by...but no. New guy checked it quickly and closed it while some other guys laughed. Oops. That was one of those situations where I wasn't sure if apologizing would have made it worse or not. But I guess if he checked it, he couldn't have been that embarrassed.

It's making me sad that doing two classes a night affects my job performance negatively. I would have loved to stay for both, but I couldn't. I just don't get to sleep until 12 and since I moved my work schedule back to make the earlier class, I'm getting up early, and six hours of sleep a night just doesn't cut it for for healthier Megan.

Monday, July 19, 2010

First roll with the new belt

Surprise surprise, no new magical powers came with the belt. 

We went over a pass from my least favorite family...standing full guard passes. They always feel like so much work for me (my back is SHOT right now), but I got some good technique tips that made it a lot less work. I'm one of those people that can't squat (bad ankle and hip flexibility...I can only squat with feet turned out) and I get all paranoid and awkward when it's time to put that second foot up. I'm starting to feel the move though. 

While I was drilling, Master DaMatta mentioned that I'd had issues with my grips on the test...I really want to get a handle on the theory behind them. It's generally hard for me to do things if I don't understand the logic behind them. It took me looking up the mechanics behind a manual transmission to properly learn to drive stick. I can be a very difficult student in the short run. 

I ended up rolling with two of the big guys. Woohoo! It's frustrating, but I still prefer it. One was a big, heavy blue...great technique and I, so tired. He wasn't even trying and flattened me easily. Great reminder of how far I had to go. The second was a big wrestler-kid...about 6'3", 200lbs or so, pure muscle, 20 years old. I was tired, but was ready to give it my best shot. He was going no-gi though, so I was a little lost submission wise. Unfortunately, he was shot too, so it was a pretty boring roll, but it gave me a chance to try out some submissions that I feel pretty shameful about...namely armbars. I just spent so much time focusing on triangles (because I have a natural advantage) and lately, chokes (because they were so hard for me) I now have this HUGE armbar problem that I need to work on. I kept applying them...from guard, from the mount...he kept defending. Too bad I don't know any counters to the defense yet. I am proud though, that I was at least able to get through them technically.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


...AND passed:)

Liam was really was more celebration than examination. I got there an hour early, feeling silly for worrying about my arrival time. When I got inside, I saw a bunch of other white belts already on the mats by the boxing ring working on the test. The kids were still testing, and I'm glad I got to see it. 

Honestly, I didn't do as well as I'd hoped. I had to go straight into a guard pass from a take down. It was sloppy, but the guard was passed and side control was achieved. I got through the sweep that was terrifying me fine and what tripped me up? My favorite, hook sweep. Funny how the two moves I worried about the least caused me the most issues. I had to do it twice, but not before Master DaMatta told me to stop, calm down and just focus on technique. I know from public speaking and performing that I have a tendency to rush when nervous, but I thought that this time, I'd be most intimidated by everybody watching me. Nope. As usual, that didn't phase me one bit. My problem was that I lost hold of myself. I let my breathing get out of control and my mind disconnect.

But it was great! I'm proud of myself in a way that I can't say I ever have been...especially when I look back to who I was when I started, proud of myself for just learning a drill. My belt represents such small gains in the world of jiu jitsu, but it's still a far cry from the newbie white belt I was six months ago...happies:)

It was great to get to sit and watch everybody else test too...all the nervousness and confidence. It was really a great experience. I realized today that I'm the underdog in class, which is way weird for me. It's definitely humbling, but also motivating. Instead of the belt gauntlet, we each got thrown after our belts were presented. I was nervous, but thankfully didn't have to fall too hard. 

I got a lot of them, but three congratulations really jumped out at me and I don't want to forget them...

"Good job. It was really awesome seeing you here today Megan. You've come such a long way with the technique. Really awesome." (I gotta admit, it felt super snugly hearing this from Parrumpinha)
"Good job beautiful."
"I knew it from the beginning"

So yeah...I'm TOTALLY amped to prepare myself for blue belt, and I know that more than anything, I want to be a technique much so that I'm calm enough to demonstrate it during a test:)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fine...I WON'T learn a half-guard sweep...

I was talking to a friend of mine (she's a psych person...very helpful in working through mind trips) about my feelings regarding personal standards and my belt test this weekend. She asked whether or not my feelings regarding how I'm going to do were objective and I replied that I was getting very positive feedback from the instructors. I realized another group I've surprisingly come to trust regarding that feedback.

Yes, I trust my instructors to teach me, point out areas of weakness and issues that crop up, but in the back of my mind, I do feel like most men teaching women...especially those where women are in an already taxing environment, are prone to putting heavy emphasis on being encouraging (not that this isn't an essential part of any player's growth). This could all be in my head, but it's there nonetheless. The group I'm talking about has almost nothing invested in making me feel good...teenage boys. I've found they give very honest, no nonsense feedback and aren't too concerned with the feelings of the 30 year old woman that has a hard time with forward rolls. 

So it hit me last night, that I don't know any good ways off the bottom of half guard. I get there and have zero options save holding on for dear life and trying to respond after it's passed. So tonight, I cracked open Jiu Jitsu University, confident I'd find some magical sweep to close my half guard hole. What did I find? I found out that I shouldn't be learning magical sweeps to close my half guard hole. I should be working on recovering full guard...great. That concept is rough for me. Sure, it's simple, but my mind has become very forward oriented. Once I'm in half, I start thinking of mount/side guard escapes and then getting to my knees/recovering guard. The idea of "backing up" into a better position just doesn't come naturally yet.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fun gi-tying vid...

If I wouldn't be annoyed at having to do this after class, I'd never carry a bag again. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Olecranons and guard passes

This past week of family reunions and vacations has played havoc on my eating habits, so it's back on fish and greens for dinners and fruit protein shakes for breakfast. Tonight is arctic char in a lemon-white wine and thyme sauce with roasted asparagus.  Eating better really puts a damper on my cooking adventures. It's forced me to be more creative in one sense, but in others, it's limited me a lot. I'll just find a way to get by on my once a week projects. I've also picked up Odwalla's Superfood to mix with Shaklee's Physique after class. It actually does seem to help with the soreness/muscle repair. The Superfood is a little sweet for my taste, but good considering I'm getting wheat sprouts and barley grass in me. 

We recently combined gyms with a boxing school. They had BJJ classes, so we got an influx of a bunch of new students. A lot of teenagers, and they're hilarious and quick learners. One of the girls is about my size too, so I have somebody I get partnered with regularly who I don't squash:) I've noticed though, that a few of them tend to try to pass full guard by digging their elbows into their opponents' quads. This worked on me out of sheer annoyance and pain for a while, but I think I've developed a tolerance for it. Last night, after 15 seconds of a guy jamming his bones into my legs and my not letting go, he looks up at me and asks, "doesn't that hurt?". I responded with a smile, "Yeah, but not enough for me to let go." I let him keep going for a bit until he tired some and swept him, but I think that only worked because his base was a bit off. 

I feel like I'm ready for the belt test. A friend of mine made a very good analogy a couple weeks ago when I felt like I had the moves, but didn't feel good about them. He said "You have the C, now you're aiming for an A." That really helped me get a handle on my nerves and put the test in a perspective that I understand. 

Oh yeah...almost forgot...I was drilling omoplatas and my instructor walked by and asked..."are you pulling these off live? Because they're perfect." I sighed and answered "no". I've gotten to the point where I'm trying them, but loosing people out to the side. He gave me some advice on what to do. I haven't had a chance to try it on anyone, but I think I'm making progress in briding that technique/application canyon.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Five classes this week and a nice compliment

I can honestly say I never thought I'd do that many in the same week. It's not like I've never worked out 5 times in a week...I used to do it every day, but BJJ is just so different. I went to the early morning class today and we went over some half guard issues...good for me, because I tend to get stuck in half guard loops while rolling. I also pulled off a sweep while sparring...a legitimate one, without someone going easy on me. Yes, it was on a newer white belt, but I'm still proud.
I did my first no-gi class last night too! I had a blue belt tell me that I "moved well" twice. I'm guessing that's a good sign that I'm not just flopping and falling all over the place. Compliments from higher belts that aren't your usual partners are really nice. No-gi is...slippery. I accidentally elbowed another blue belt in the eye trying to free my arm.
What I learned this week...
My wrists...are so weak. Always have been. I wasn't able to open jars without hammering them to death until starting BJJ. Since I started doing pull ups, they've gotten better, but I still have a really hard time with chokes. I'm doing two for my test and while the one from side control is fine, the choke from mount...kinda iffy still. I'm just not able to curl my wrists toward me enough.
I'm still barely thinking about submissions while sparring, and I guess that's ok. I learn them, I drill them, but when rolling, I'm too busy trying to escape/sweep/get a dominant position to implement them. I'm finally not stopping after getting guard. I'm focusing immediately on breaking posture. I'm now stalling and resetting after getting the mount though. I'm assuming submissions will come one day. I did, however, try an omoplata today on a newer white belt and failed miserably. Not controlling the arm enough.
I also learned to keep my mouth closed. Breathing can be hard with a mouth guard, but the drop of sweat (not mine) that fell onto my tongue has convinced me that I have to find a way...have to.