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 just...so 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 experiences...here'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 time...it 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 one...it 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 easy...fun...even enjoyable. Of course I still don't move anywhere near as well as I could, but it's not a burden anymore. Yays.