Monday, January 31, 2011

So glad to be back!

I left class smiling like a fool.

I left work WAY later than usual (gotta love end of month reports). If I made it to class, I'd be 30 min late...I went anyway. It was great! We worked a butterfly sweep I hadn't touched on in...probably a year. My hooks have gotten better, but I'm still not so hot at anything that involves getting my head to the mat.

I got two compliments on my new, purple nails and was kind of disappointed at my triangle from the mount. When I first learned this, it was working left and right...thinking back, that was likely because I was working on opponents with longer arms. I was rolling with the new fire fighter lady and she's quite a bit shorter than me, so when she doesn't want to give up a limb, it's rough to get it. I saw the triangle failing and tried to switch to an armbar, but was a bit fuzzy on some of the detail. I need to drill.

Glad to be back on my "moss drink"...odwalla super food, flax oil and protein powder. Yays:)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Troll...related blog post

Maybe it's the butter paneer I just finished, but I desperately wanted to think of a clever, troll related title for this entry...something about a bridge or three goats or something...but I got nothin'.

They seem to be extra active lately, from a particularly crazy one my best friend has been dealing with to a potential one that just popped up on one of mine, they seem to be extra frisky, bigger and smellier than ever.  I'm sorry I missed this one live, but here's a great response Meg over at MegJitsu gave to an anonymous one that decided their opinion of her appearance was somehow related to her posts.

So I've been told, Anon, so I've been told. You should see me first thing in the morning, appalling! Happily, I make no claim to beauty and strive to be a courageous, capable, genuine and loving woman. Lucky, too, that while I fall short, a good gi serves me well, regardless :) Apologies, brother, but I'll have to delete your comment in a day or two; your earthy language is lowering the tone. Thanks for reading!

I love that she both addressed the post and didn't let it stand.  Addressed the accusation but didn't allow it to dominate. Addressed the impact of the troll but didn't let it drag her down. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why I'm not bald. (a BJJ haircare regimen)

This one's for Shakia...

I can't say my hair hasn't suffered stylist has been miffed at some of the breakage in the crown, but all in all, my hair's fared well in the world of BJJ washings, combings, rollings, hair snaggings and all the other beautiful things that happen.

First, my hair. Here's a close up of it. That's me with about 4 months of new growth. The texture isn't changed much by chemical treatment. I just texturize for mangeability. (I'm a 3C-4A in the world of hair typing.) I did have relaxed hair at one point in time (though not while training), but the same basic ideas of protective styling, moisturizing and hair-friendly products should'd just likely have to stay away from heat styling.

Lock and load baby...lock and load. My hair...can be a banshee of sorts if left untamed. Even in a pony tail, some very bad things could happen if someone got a foot or hand stuck...and my hair wouldn't be the one tapping. So when I go in, whether it's for a full class, open mat or a lighter private lesson, I always pull it back, braid it, then twist it around itself so it's in a tight ball near the base of my head. No looseness. I still wonder how some women/men with long hair roll with loose ponytails. I'd be terrified of getting put in side control. Maybe it's a good motivator to stay out.

This is the rough part. I wash before and after each class. Yes, even if I'm just running to a meeting between classes. It's tedious, but my hair is a sponge and I can't imagine the critters it could be picking up even from my school's regularly cleaned mats. 


I only use SLS free hair products. That means a wash before and after isn't too hard on the Banshee. Worse come to worst, I do a conditioner wash before class and put in a light, quick absorbing leave in (sad Fructis Curl 'n' Shine is so hard to find these days) before braiding, focusing on the edges and ends. Post-class wash is a different story. I use Dial anti-bacterial as my normal I-didn't-find-any-open-wounds-today body wash, and I run a little bit across all exposed surfaces of my hair.. Then I go back and do a full shampoo wash and condition.

I've seen the most success from switching to Curls products. Not sure if it's the fact that their organic or what, but I know they've made a difference. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top 5 " I doing?" Moments...

I haven't had any in a long while, and I'm guessing the days of asking "Why am I doing this?" have passed, but I wanted to recap a few of the ones that stick out...

1)  My second roll, I don't remember what position I was in, but I looked over and saw a guy's foot, with a pair of dice tattooed on the top of his foot. Tat aside, I have a foot phobia, and that one was WAY too close to my face.

2) The first time I...expelled gas in class. It was during lifts and I was the only one left drilling. The room was silent. I was partnered with Mr. Rebar-for-ligaments. My instructor turned to some of the guys on the wall and smirked. I just...kept going.

3) When I went deaf after class for a minute. Freaked me out. Made an appointment with the cardiologist first thing in the morning.

4) The first time sweat fell in my mouth. Someone else's sweat that is. It was a white belt teen and it took all I had not to start flailing like a maniac.

5) My first time in north-south.

I'm guessing this happens most often with people who are out of shape, women and those who aren't used to that much personal contact.

Monday, January 24, 2011

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 switch.

...on multiple levels. First off, I've been off training for about a week now because I've been sick. Considering we've got more visitors at work, it may be another couple of days before I get to spar again. Then, the sickness itself is driving me nuts. Any time I catch a cold, it balloons into sinusitis, which means I can't lie down, not even to sleep. It also means I can't sleep more than three hrs without waking up choking, even with all the meds I've got flowing through my system. I've gone about seven days now without really hitting REM sleep. I'm starting to lose the ability to distinguish between being awake and asleep.

Then there's stress in general. I swear I have PTSD from my first job out of college...any time I even think I might be stressed, it causes me anxiety (which usually turns out to be worse than the stress itself). Being overworked sends me into a nasty cycle even when well. I work more, but feel like I need the same, if not more free time, so I shave off sleep. When I shave off sleep, I don't get to do my morning workouts, or prepare meals like I should, so I start eating badly, working out less and neglecting all kinds of healthful things.

All that said, it's good to know that by Friday, I'll be back at the gym, sweating and working on all the great stuff I learned at my last private.

BUT...things aren't all doom and gloom and craziness. Though I can't handle full on workouts yet, I'm learning that toward the end of being sick, doing some bodyweight work really helps me shake those last bits of a cold. Squat creeps and shin boxes are coming along nicely. I'm really starting to see how the latter helps with your open guard. I can't wait until I get like this guy and manage to stay in one place.

My knees are progressing beautifully if I may say so. Don't get me wrong...they're still crackly, but I don't have pain anymore. No more burning or aching. I can stand from a squat with no pain (and less fear) and my range of motion has increased (in good ways). I shoulders have issues now, but BJJ as a whole has done good things for my knees.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thyroid Tea

I've been extra conscious of my enlarged thyroid ever since I started training. Even though my endocrinologist says it's fine to practice chokes, the idea of the already puffy gland being squashed on the regular makes me nervous.

Well, after my brother touted the effects of parsley tea on his sinus condition, my mother decided to give it a shot and said her gland (also enlarged) had gone down significantly (apparently it's known to help regulate thyroid function). I've been drinking it the last couple of days, and maybe it's just a placebo effect, but I am noticing a difference in size and my overall mood. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Great (non-BJJ) interview...

Just finished interviewing Ed Wang, 5th round NFL draft pick of the Buffalo Bills. REALLY nice guy, great interview.

...I think I have a slight crush now...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I think I FINALLY have a solid translation of BJJ into Chinese.


Literally "Brazillian Wrestling". I think it's as close as I'm gonna get. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Top 50!!

Was very happy to see Tangled Triangle listed here: Top 50 Jiu Jitsu Blogs

Once again, I'm not a girl...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Beauty and the BJJ Beast

BJJ's pretty rough in general, but it's taken a serious toll on certain aspects of my beauty regimine. I've had to find new shampoos, lotions, deodorant...all kinds of changes to accomodate the way it's changed my life. Here are some of the products I've switched over to to keep myself from turning into a gnarled ball of mantastic-ness...


Showers. So. Many. Showers.

Even high end body washes generally contain SLS...the stuff that makes your body wash (and facial cleansers, dish detergents, etc.) foamy. The ingredient stuck in my head after my chemistry professor once said that it's added purely for marketing purposes. It actually decreases cleaning power and just makes you THINK you're getting cleaner...not to mention the stuff dries the living daylights out of your skin (which is why they've been stuffing bodywashes full of everything short of chicken fat these days). I started using SLS free I use Burt's Bees, which, all but that stinky raspberry mess, I love.


This is probably the biggest deal. I stopped getting full on relaxers a few years back and had just settled on some products before starting jiu jitsu. Well, everything went out the window after I hit the mats. I just wash my hair WAY too much to use what I'd been using...I mean...3x in six hours today because of my lesson schedule. It's usually only twice on days I train, and that can play havoc on anybody's hair, but especially on Black hair that's highly curly/texturized (natural oils have a harder time traveling the entire length of the strand) and more fragile than most would expect. My best friend lately has been cashmere extract. That's right. Eau du Goat Fur. Its basically a protein treatment. I use the one from Curls, who makes a line of products that can be mixed and matched depending on how curly your hair is or isn't, regardless of race. All their stuff is amazing for hair that's just not straight.


I've said it before, and I'm saying it again. I'm vain about my hands. I always get got compliments on them since I have had a natural French manicure and never "had" to use polish. Those days are long gone with the constant clipping and filing, so I finally started wearing polishes. Well, those were chipping after one session. I recently found a base (Sticky) and a top coat (Shiny) by CND that hold up to my normal week's training (and hopefully don't cause skin cancer like their gel nail method). This pic is of my nails after 5 days of normal life and about 4 hrs of class/sparring. 


This isn't really a product, and I had tons of Khussa pre-BJJ, but they've come in handy at work. I first saw them on a bunch of women walking around Montreal and spent a month trying to find some once I got back to Florida. I have them in a bunch of different colors, and the fact that they slip on and off means I can practice squat creeps in my office without unbuckling/unhooking/untying anything. 

Skin again

After undergrad, I went on this home-made beauty product kick. I was making lotions and facials and hair products and facial scrubs...all kinds of stuff. I quit it overall (crazy expensive), but I still use a couple of recipes. The idea of putting the long list of chemicals you see on most lotion bottles on my body twice a day creeps me out a tad, so I use my own blend. It's just monoi de tahiti, shea oil and vegetable glycerine, but it's the only thing I've found that moisturizes AND doesn't end up getting sweatted out all over the mats. I'm not scaly and the guys aren't slipping their way into side control. Everybody wins. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011


About a month after I first started training, I told my brother (also a fan of the anime, Bleach, at the time) that training at my club had me feeling like I was a Shiningami (I'm pretty sure I'm Kotetsu...and not just because we're the same height). Even half a world away, I could hear the sound of the face-palm. It just came on while I was posting, and it got me thinking about it.

Part of it is the ranking...and the training...and the ubiquitous Japanese-ness, but I think it's more something that's a pretty common trait to anime series. You frequently find a band of very differently able characters, working together to develop their strengths and combat weaknesses. Somewhat particular to Bleach, though, is the back-story of the characters and of the different squads...characters leaving, improving, bonding through training, finding hidden talents, hidden weaknesses, betrayal, the crazy talented/powerful new guy that's blowing all the usual characters out of the water...all the stuff of BJJ stories.

I really want to finish it (I'm TERRIBLE at finishing watching series). This one got me through grad school. I owe it to myself to finish it out.

I'm too bloated to train...

Ran across this on Julia's it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Don't think I'm testing for my blue...

and surprisingly, it's got me a bit down. I didn't start this for a belt color, and to be honest, I'd rather be held back than be promoted too early, but the idea of seeing the people I enjoy training with most move to the advanced class...let's just say it's likely going to be a long six months.

Tonight was my first class this week. Late meetings at work all...week. I'm so tired I'm tired of hearing myself say I'm tired. I'm the opposite of a social butterfly. A hermit beetle if you will. After a week of visitors and presenting and dinners and spreadsheets, this beetle is drained at levels she didn't know possible.

New drills and I learned to come to the side of my hip a bit when drilling arm drags. But yeah...I haven't had serious gi/mat burn in a good minute, but tonight I was on top, drilling the technique of the night (deep half sweeps) with a blue, and I don't know what his skin was made of, but my right ankle was on FIRE to the point I expected to look down and see it bleeding. It wasn't, but still...dude had a death-lock on my leg and was shredding it every time he came to the top. I thought my ankle was the only casualty at first, but I was driving home and my knee felt like someone had taken it apart and put it back together...wrongly.

Deep half...I'm starting to get it, kinda. It's starting to get my out of some of those ugly situations on the bottom that I tend to find myself in. I'm still SO bad at bumping. I've started using my legs more (I used to be all arms, and all fatigued), but I'm starting to see that things rarely turn out as planned, and the one sweep I KNOW is working less and less. Glad to see progress though.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Me and my tight hips.

OK...Got the goals, now for a plan to achieve them. (Thanks to Rick for the reminder)

Flexibility and Breathing: Shinbox Switches. I'm going to have to be religious about them. Morning, at work, after work, before bed. 50. Breathing deeply in and out with each movement.

Eating better: I'm going to spend even less time in the middle aisles of the grocery store and more on the perimeters. Getting a copy of "The Flavor Bible" has helped me make some serious headway in preparing vegetables in ways that best presents their flavor (tonight is roasted broccoli with basil, chives, garlic, lemon and shrimp and a little parmesean...very fun). It's a good challenge that works out my cooking muscles too.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Back back, forth and forth like...I'm totally one of those people who takes FOREVER to warm up to people. It's not because I'm scared to trust, I really think it's more of a question of "why?" I chalk that 100% up to my being an INTJ. If you don't know what Myers Briggs is or have never tested, check it out. I really believe that if we all knew our type, life would be a lot easier.

In the last month, I've gotten quite a bit of interpersonal feedback that's really made me happy. I've had two people come out and tell me they felt like we were getting closer (and I agreed...rare for me since I seem to be somewhat prone to people feeling connected to me before I feel even somewhat close to them), another tell me I'm a nice person (considering I'm a 6' tall Black woman that doesn't smile a lot, "nice" isn't something I hear a lot), that I have "balls of steel" (I love JazzHands) and had an hour and a half conversation after class with another lady about all the difficulties of training and adjusting to the environment. My breathing may have gone to pot, but it was definitely a good month.

I'm actually starting to miss some of the teenagers. Since school started back up in August, they've been showing up less frequently...which I figured would happen. Their honesty and playfulness was always refreshing.

I really want to go into 2011 taking a couple of ancillary, yet important things about jiu jitsu more seriously. I think I have a good plan for actually learning the game in a way that works for me, but I've neglected my flexibility and respiratory endurance. There are SO many simple exercises I could be doing at home and in my office...they'd even improve my work day...I just haven't been. I'm going to amp things up after I'm done working on all this Chinese New Year stuff. just hit me that in a year of blogging, I have not once...not one time, put up any of my favorite band's music. it is. Also relevant to the journey.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My triangles are finally untangling...

...a little too much though.

I just did NOT get them when I started. They really are pretty odd when you think about them. The motions of adjusting and locking in and of themselves feel quite normal now...which is great, because I get to move on to other issues with them. These, I believe, come from my greatest asset in triangling: my long legs.

My 36" inseam gives me lots of leeway in getting my legs in position. That leeway's been coming back to bite me though. Since I'm able to get my ankles crossed from longer distances, I'm prone to get myself into triangle starting position without shooting my hips up, something that wouldn't even be an option for someone with shorter limbs. I'm noticing that this is giving people plenty of room to defend in all sorts of ways...arms in, knees, all kinds of stuff. I'm even noticing this in my triangles from mount.

I'm finding that I need to either learn to adjust after my ankles are crossed and the arm is isolated (seems like a bad idea), do it right, and shoot my hips properly, or start working on going straight for the lock, which isn't easy, but I can pull it off on all but the biggest of guys.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Feeling horrible about my armbar defense...

Did a private on it a few weeks back...felt good about it. For whatever reason, it was like I'd never been been shown the basics. It MAY be because I was busy thinking many other things and positions. At least I got my triangle defense to somewhat work...once. Jiu jitsu is coming together so...oddly for me.

We got a lady firefighter tonight! But yeah...I don't think I'd care as much if it hadn't been while WrestlerInstructor was watching.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

BJJ has made me lazy.

I don't do my morning or after-work workouts anymore. I don't even stretch before bed anymore. Not sure how this happened.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Why am I so tired????

OK...I know it's because this was my first day of working AND training in like, 2 weeks. And I know it's because I've been pushing myself harder. The funny part is that I just told WrestlerInstructor about my "episode" of low blood pressure induced hearing loss (from way back when I first started) one class ago and today, it happened again.

But yeah...I think the day is finally here. I got the feeling today, after a couple of conversations, that my blog has been discovered by people I actually see in person. If it has...hey guys! See ya Wednesday:)

I did a great job eating today! The return to protein shakes feels good. I learned that wheat germ in brown rice is actually really good, and that I can tolerate the absolutely obnoxious markup on Minute Rice's single serving containers. Sure, I can do it myself, but I get so fickle about what I can tolerate, I'd end up throwing away the difference in spoiled baggies of rice.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Back to being good...

I did a decent job this holiday season...didn't totally stuff myself, but did let the reins loose some. So, next week it's back to chicken breasts and protein shakes (it's been a month since I had one!) and fish and greens and green tea and all that fun stuff. My first official lunch of the new year...chicken paillard on herbs (I have monster basil and parsley plants that were in desperate need of trimming).

I'm open to anything new with chicken breasts or turkey burgers (they get real old, real fast), and this is an easy way to switch things up and add some flavor. I added a little sour cream and some bread crumbs on top, then baked. Funs!

Michael Vick and the Puppies

This is probably only the second time I've weighed in on something non-BJJ related on this blog but this topic is driving me in...sane. No...not the topic. People's responses. I'm going to keep this as short as possible about a few points that I've come to notice over the past few months.

  •  People sure seem to care more about dogs than people. I've yet, in my lifetime, to see any atrocity that affected actual human beings, even if committed on a wider scale than what was committed in this case, cause this much anger in this many people for this long a period of time. Not saying people can't care about both simultaneously...being outraged over the mistreatment of dogs isn't mutually exclusive of being outraged over the mistreatment of humans...but things sure seem off balance.
  • Do people REALLY care about all dogs? I have yet to hear one person...not one person mention making penalties for abuse against dogs more severe...this being the only way to protect future abuse of all those other dogs out there that are still alive and in danger. I'm beginning to question whether people really care about other dogs, or just famous ones or maybe just breeds they own.
  • No they? The president of the Humane Society has supported the idea of Vick owning a dog again and is being accused of selling out. I don't support "selling out", but even if he did, this man's job is to save ALL dogs, not just seek vengeance on someone we may not like. This is likely a good opportunity for him to reach more people and generate more funds for a cause he works for.
  • What happened to American values? This goes along with the previous two points, but since when are we cool with the idea of singling an individual out AFTER they've served a punishment we've sat happily with for years? I don't believe the legal punishments for abuse against animals are severe enough, but once decided, they should be applied universally, regardless of income, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or background. 
  • Do we only care about animals that do what we say? I am sick...and tired...of people condemning the torture of these dogs while chowing down on steak that came from a cow that was likely tortured itself. Don't get me wrong...I'm no vegan...balancing my love of animals and enjoyment of meat is something I fight with daily. However, I don't classify some animals as more deserving of special treatment than others. If the Chinese want to eat dog, more power to them. We eat beef and it's sacrilege in most of India. Just make efforts to make their lives and deaths as painless as possible. I believe all animals should be treated equally. Not just the ones that I find cute. 
  • Christians are hurting my feelings. As a practicing Christian myself, this one gets me more than any of the others. Today I saw a post that began "I'm a Christian but..." and then a rant on how wrong Vick was and how he should be punished. Straight up...there is no "but" in Christianity. Once a "but" comes out of our mouths, we're off base. Period. Christianity isn't just for making us feel good and it shouldn't be used as a tool to wield over the heads of those you feel you're morally superior to (that's where that whole judging thing comes in...not just saying someone is wrong, but instead deciding on a sentence)...that includes pedophiles, dog abusers, mass murderers, bad drivers and all those other people we tend to feel justified in condemning.
  • Emotions are not action. Being upset at Michael Vick doesn't do anything but raise your blood pressure. It doesn't help one dog. Not even if you're really, really upset.
Honestly, I find people's reactions much more disturbing than the original crime. Why? Because those reactions reflect what we value, and what we value affects what happens on a large scale in this country.