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.