Friday, April 29, 2011

I did this today and I'm proud...and I feel like a jerk.

Being one of those rare jiujitsukas that has no athletic experience at ALL, every now and then, we do something and my reaction is WOW! I did it!

Tonight was nice and chill. I showed up and it was me, NiceVoiceInstructor, four blues and one of the kids. Long story short, we did this...

I was so happy when I finished. Before we started, NiceVoiceInstructor told me it was a flashy, but not-too-difficult move he was going to teach. I don't know if it's because it was his class that I first took, but I always get scared when he says things about class. Somehow I heard "I'm going to do that to you today" and my nerves went all a-flutter. He's never hurt me, never had a bad experience and my nervousness is a thing of the past...I guess I just associate him with the scariness of starting BJJ.

Anyway, I ended up drilling with a blue that sounded EXACTLY like one of my cousins from New York and it went off without a hitch. Nice finish to judo month. I'm quite proud.

What I'm NOT proud of is yelping for joy when I thought I managed to make my way out of a judo throw one of the blue belts tried on me, only to find out a few seconds later that his groan wasn't one of failure, but instead one of pain because he'd actually strained his hamstring part way through. Oops.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Will my summer gi be a Vulkan?

Clinzy has got me leaning toward the Vulkan pro light, men's. I love the idea of a gi cut for women and I like the fit of my Fenom, but I'd like another, lighter white gi and, in general, annoys me. I'm just a few clicks away from buying sho is purdy...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Variations on Triangles and a lesson from hospitals

Took today off after a day at Universal Studios (Harry Potter was great...the rest of Islands of Adventure? Not-so-much.) and decided to go by the no-gi class this morning. It's taught by KickboxerInstructor who's a very direct contrast to WrestlerInstructor, the brownbelt I take privates with. Kind of like...MacGyver vs. House...Kirk vs. Picard...Mayuri Kurotsuchi vs. Kenpachi Zaraki. 

His classes tend to focus on a basic position, then variations from there. Today, we did triangles with three adjustments.

1) Basic Triangle-I always get caught up on adjusting/not adjusting my upper body depending on the situation. I was told today, that because of my leg length, that I should be going straight for the lock...which I knew, I just need some triangle confidence. 

2) Fleeing arm, hiding armbar-Love faking. In this one, you fake like you're going to undo the arm that's been hidden to defend and instead grab an armbar on the opposite side. 

3) Standing opponent gives up armbar-Opponent stands up so you lose leverage on the choke. Take the outside arm between your neck and shoulder, turn the arm outward (seemed to work better if I turned just below the elbow and push with your hips.

4) Switched choke-I absolutely adored this one. It switches from an air to a blood choke by simply reversing the triangle. After the opponent defends, bring the top, locking leg across the back with the opposite arm, while maintaining pressure with the bottom leg and simultaneously rotating it across the back so that it becomes the top leg. While the basic triangle applies pressure by pressing with the bottom leg and turning out with the top, the switched version uses more of a squeezing motion. 

A tennis coach friend of mine got me using wipes in situations where I couldn't get to a shower (long days at theme parks, long flights, outdoor festivals, etc.) I've come to love these hospital grade, disposable washcloths. They're generally used for patients that are bedridden to help prevent infection, but I use them since I don't shower at the gym. We're at a new, much bigger gym and honestly, there are just too many random guys wandering around. I used to use the regular little wipes you get, but they don't hold up well for wiping down an entire body.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why am I drippings wis goo? (need help for a sore thumb)

Overheard a PRICELESS conversation at the gym yesterday from one of our purple belts. It was almost poetic. Let me preface this with the fact that I love animals, but I had to bite my tongue to keep from choking myself laughing. 

I used to have a rabbit. 
Carrots are orange. 
The wires to my stereo are orange. 
Now I don't have a rabbit anymore.

My left thumb has been slightly sore for about two months now...right around the distal joint. It's ok when relaxed, but when I extend or flex it, there's a dull ache. I was waiting for it to get better, but a month of judo and nothing's improved. Should I get a brace? Any recommendations?

I still feel silly for just how amped I am after a private. This clip from Ghostbusters II? That was me...

 I left yesterday wanting to hug people. Nothing too out of the ordinary question-wise...I clarified some issues I was having with people rotating out of deep half, answered a few questions on what to do with the sideways half-guard that's been plaguing me so, figured out why I'd been losing my triangles from the mount (I've been rolling out over the foot instead of the knee) and worked a bit on clearing some mental hurdles I have to getting into an omoplata and the armbar that presents itself if your opponent forward rolls out of it. 

The best part though, was flow rolling. I've tried it before with a white belt, but...and I didn't realize this...but you kinda have to know what you're doing to pull it off properly. It really is a dance of BJJ. I tried it for the first time with WrestlerInstructor and we ended up going at a pace that he called "a light jog". Apparently flow rolling can get up to paces of sprinting. By the third round, I noticed myself using strength and bam...there it was.  I saw the line between technique and strength, plain as day.

One thing I do love, is getting multiple perspectives on the same technique. KickboxerInstructor teaches the MMA class right before my usual lesson time and was able to give some input. His build is different than WrestlerInstructor (he's  got long limbs like I do) and comes from a different background, so the way he describes moves is different. There was a sweep from...I guess it's bottom kesa gatame, except you have control of one leg. He made sure to emphasize that you have to get this sweep before the guy settles his weight, and that you need to keep their COG pushed farther down near your hips. Getting different input from two higher belts is always great. 

I always enjoy the big concepts I walk out of them with. This round...

1) Controlling the shoulders from the top-I've always focused on the hips, but we worked with me on top more and I'm more aware now.

2) Stepping back over the back leg-I always forget that's an option.

3) Negotiating chokes from the back when on your side. 

4) Not loosing control of your weight when you have the back mount-I have a tendency to ride too high, let myself fall to the mat and then end up left at a disadvantage for keeping the back

And judo...judo month trudges on. I have to admit...I clock watch during judo sessions. I'm just not as naturally interested in it as I am BJJ and interest is important in pushing through 90 minute drilling sessions. If I'd stumbled in to ATT and they'd taught me this first, I doubt I'd have had the drive to drag my scared, trembling body back in. However, If I can learn  2-3 solid trips/throws, I'll be happy.

At least my breakfalls are getting better. I took my first O-goshi from a very large blue, and like Georgette said, it's easier with somebody who has a better idea of what they're doing. I was concerned because he's one of the few people at the gym that's taller than me,  and going over his shoulder is a way to go. No wind getting knocked out of me and no neck strains. My skeleton still feels jarred though. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The 100-day, chin to toe challenge

One of my speaking partners, a taichi and gong fu guy, just IMd me that he's starting this stretching program and I think I'm going to join him.

The goal is to be able to get your chin to your toes in 100 days. I'm not sure if that's even an option because of my build, but I'm game. If I can get a good method for achieving side splits too, I'll add that on.

I've made progress with my hamstrings and the bend at my hips is deeper, but my calves still burn. If anyone's interested in joining, I'm going to do this and straddle stretches. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

My lemonade addiction's been exposed.

So I have this problem.

After every class I get a mean craving for something cold and citrusee. At the old location, I would pass Chick-fil-a on the way home and got into the habit of picking up a large lemonade after class. Realizing it probably wasn't the best idea to be knocking the things back three times a week (sugar overload!), I cut myself back to once. Then I started putting lemon juice in my water, which killed the cravings almost altogether.

Well, a few months back, I fell off the wagon. I'm back to once a week...sometimes twice. So I went by tonight and got my usual $2.17 ready. The young man at the window looked at me, smiled, and belted out a "Wow! You really like this lemonade!" I laughed and explained it was my after gym ritual. He replied that he wanted to get into working out again, saying his weight had sneaked up to 205 lbs. I invited him to come visit the gym, explaining how much fun I had doing jiu jitsu. He said he just wanted to lift weights.

So tonight was my first class in week two of judo month. It was rough. Really rough. The concepts weren't really that bad, but after an hour fifteen of setups and throws, up and down the back is EXHAUSTED and I feel mad uncoordinated. I really expected to be better at anything working from the feet, but I found myself longing for the days of being stuck in the dreaded bottom half.

We went three rounds at the end of class...I did one with a blue I haven't rolled with in a while, another with the brown I take lessons with and  a third with another big blue that's always asking for gi info. I was lethargic in every sense of the word. Physically burnt after judo (I still don't get how you end up so tired just walking and kicking and bending) and mentally still drained after training people and visitors at work. Here's how they went...

Blue #1: I found myself on the bottom way more than I should have. It was mostly my own fault. When my brain gets lazy, I lose aggression and tend to pull people on top of me. As much progress as I've made getting comfortable with the top game, I still prefer the bottom. And por lo usual, I was giving up my arms like crazy.

Brown: I like rolling with him because I get more tailor-made rolls, but then, when, like tonight, I blank on things we've covered in our lessons, I feel like a dork. We worked on...I don't know what guard this is...shame on me...but it's basically half guard with the bottom person on their side. I didn't even recognize it as the position we'd worked on last lesson until well after we'd worked on it. Then I pulled back on like, three omoplatas. "You had that Megan. You had it" Mow. He did say though, that I'm posting better and I'm much more aggressive. I think...and I won't know this until my next shot at sparring...that I've overcome my omoplata hesitation. Being called out on it is a great impetus to just go for them.

Blue #2: I'm starting to get the feeling that this guy likes to pick me up and train for the sake of handling weightier opponents. He's used me before to weight train half guard bumps and I notice him tonight trying a lot of sweeps that require weight bearing. But yeah...ugly roll. Ugly, ugly roll. I was flopping over into positions and kinda just muddling there. Even my beloved spider guard, I was barely even grabbing the sleeves. In my defense, this is the guy that says "Hey Megan, wanna go for a light roll?" and I feel myself fighting harder than I ever have before. The scary part? I know he IS holding back. I've seen him roll with the monstrous guys in the gym and it's bru-tal.  I was happy though, that I quickly set up and attempted a tri-pod sweep from a failed triangle without hesitating. Didn't work since I didn't commit to holding that anchored foot with my hand, but glad I got to that point.

So yeah...I feel like I'm in a period where I'm overcoming a lot of mental walls...walls that have been blocking my way to even techniques that I know perfectly. Honestly, if I can just clean up and apply all the stuff I already know, I'll be ecstatic.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

FlowFit Win!!

So I started doing Scott Sonnon's FlowFit...a couple weeks after I started training. It's touted as a great way to learn movement, increase your strength, improve your cardio, regrow hair, win friends and influence people. A year and a half in and I love it even more. It's quick, effective, requires no equipment and can be done in a relatively small space.

This is the follow-up video. Apparently a derivation of Russian Systema and very similar to Ginastica...SO not there yet, but one day...

It's basically a string of seven movements that you do in a repetitive sequence for 14 minutes each session. They're designed to improve your movement in six different "degrees of freedom". Each of the seven movements come in four different skill levels, so you can adjust the difficulty as you go. I started at level 1, which involves the use of a stool. Well, I got to level two of most of the movements in a few weeks. Two of them though...squats and bad knees kept me from doing them without nasty pain the next day. Well today, after months of stretching to deepen my squat and get my heels to the ground, I reincorporated tripod. It's still messy, but it's there and I'm proud. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tall Tales

Yeah, so my height's been working against me lately.

I think the strong, stubby-legged people have gotten together and started plotting against me. It seems that all of a sudden, I'm getting caught in their half guards, but WAY up to my upper thigh...almost at the hip even. My thighs are far from thin and I have a good three feet of leg to free if I get caught. The two half guard escapes I know seem almost pointless. Let's just say that my last round, I spent two solid minutes trying to get my left leg free from the death-grip of one of the ladies. I shifted my weight eight ways from Sunday to try to find leverage to get my knee out. 10 seconds before the end of the match I got it to the mat.

Then there's judo. I've discussed this with other en-heightened people, and everyone seems to agree. Falling takes a long you go down in slow motion or something. I've watched other tall people fall and yeah, it looks like that from the outside too. Osoto gari? ...feels like it takes 15 minutes to hit the mat, and then the speed your head is traveling by the time you get there? My days of physics are done, but I'm sure I've got a few feet per second on shorter people. Even if I don't, my neck sure feels that way.

Speaking of judo, my exuberance over judo month has quickly turned to lamentations of discomfort. I know it takes time to properly apply break-fall technique, but my body...I'm not sure it can take too long a learning period. I thankfully was partnered with FireFighter lady yesterday. Neither of us can takes the shock of our full weights hitting the mats well, even from a "soft" throw, so we agreed to drill the setup without the actual throw. It was pretty bad since we both have a fear of falling. I was tensing up and she was gripping my back and collar, taking me down with her. I'm just hoping both of us make it to May in one piece.

But yeah...much props to the ladies that train judo. I don't see how their bones handle it. I've felt beat up from jiu jitsu, but the shock to the spine...that's new. We went and spoke to our new, lady-black belt and she told us of her days in Brazil as a blue belt, jumping head first over a low volleyball net to get over fears of falling.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

I kinda like being an adult.

I'm gonna plaigiarize myself a bit for this post...

Perhaps the most surprising thing about jiu jitsu to me is the fact that I like the teenagers. Genuinely like them. They're my phone and...on my Facebook...and I'm actually cool with it.

 My younger brother came to visit two weeks ago and afterward told me that his first reaction was "Is that my sister talking to kids? Really?" My mother told me years ago that she'd hoped, when my brother was born three years after me, that he'd teach me how to play. Youth...other than not being old...I've never taken that much enjoyment from it. As a child I never understood the energy and exuberance of other children. They seemed irrational and all too eager to spend their time on things that made very little sense to me. Oddly, I enjoyed my childhood...though I think it was more of a really long, pre-adulthood.

Well, a few nights ago, I was drilling armbars with one of the boys and he asked how I was doing. I told him work had been crazy and I was drained. He replied that he wasn't looking forward to that stage of life. I revealed to him that I enjoyed being an adult...being a kid was cool, but that I definitely wouldn't go back. He paused briefly on his right hip, looking at me. "Really?" "...yeah."

This exchange made me think of something I'd read about the painter Cezanne and so-called "late bloomers". 
The article examines fertile periods in a few artists’ lives, contrasting those that met with success while young and those that didn't see fame until their twilight years. Cezanne is an example of the latter, and the piece says this about him "The freshness, exuberance, and energy of youth did little for Cézanne." 

I think people...especially Americans...put entirely too much value on youth. At the wise, old age of 31, I've learned that as an adult, fun must be seriously pursued. Maybe that’s what’s so special and so deceptive about youth. When you’re young, fun and a lack of responsibility become synonymous. We're conditioned to believe that fun should just fall into our laps at random, and it frequently does. But does that mean that we must choose between building lives that are structured purely for fun and ones that leave us in a desert devoid of all pleasure? Maybe for some people, fun is all around us, just begging to be picked by any random passer by that hasn't breathed too many breaths. For others though, that may have never been deceived into thinking that fun and responsibility were mutually exclusive. They may just know that it's something that builds as we build it, that grows as we invest in it. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's Judo Month!!! My psoas are tight!!

And I'm friggin' sore!!

Me 18 months ago...well, not know what I mean

Georgette, thank you for the reminder about Stumptuous. I'd started reading a while back but it had fallen off my regular blog reading list. I went just now and right on the home page I found this article about yoga for fighters and tight psoas. Before I started, I could do double pigeon and almost get my head to the ground. Now? Sitting up straight is a bit of a challenge.

I TOTALLY forgot we were doing a month of judo at the gym. I was super excited when I found out last month and totally glad we're doing it. This grip thing is so mysterious, it makes me want to learn more. As soon as I finish writing this, I'm going to see how much I can put down on paper from memory.

We did two rounds from standing, just grip fighting and the other from our knees, pure jiu jitsu. Why...oh I hesitate so much??? Side control and bottom half are my mortal enemies and I know exactly what to do, but what do I do when I see someone coming for them? I freeze and start thinking. I'm getting better at setting up submissions from spider and what do I do? Hesitate to get my lasso in. The thinking periods are getting shorter though. I was way too down on myself after class. I don't know why I ignore perfectly reasonable factors for reduced performance...first day of resistance band training (my shoulder are so weak!), longer than normal warm up. I think I'm getting better about that yet.

And this week, to get back on track, I'm doing a week of brown rice with black beans and wheat germ, chicken baked in a smoked paprika yoghurt crust with panko, salmon croquettes and Parmesan roasted broccoli...and to keep me on track, a weekend project of churros con chocolate. Something near and dear to my heart.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The "Strong Chick" has started weight training...

I got about 3 hrs sleep last night. Why? Well, I was up at 4am to take David to Miami International (an absolute GEM of an airport). My brother is, right now, on a plane to Japan after a last minute trip here to put some distance between himself and the evolving situation there for a while. We both always swear we'll NEVER book another early morning flight and yet again...

All the rush and panic and fear and fun and relief and sadness just settled down and hindsight has kicked in. I'm sitting here, coming off...about six months of adjusting to a murderous new project at work, working to get a brand new Chinese New Year celebration off the ground and just general wonkiness in other areas of my life. Taking a look back at my diet and workout habits, and they're a complete mess.

Surprise surprise, they're endorsed by Rashad Evans!

Inspired by David's recent love of resistance bands, I ordered a set myself, setting up a schedule to do half an hour of fitness work every weekday morning. I'm a total non-gym person and despite the fact I'm at the gym 3-4 times a week and there are weights and tons of machines right there, I STILL prefer working out at home. I was really surprised at how much "weight" you can get on set goes up to 254lbs, but they have sets that go up to 388lbs. I'll be good to go once I get over the fear of one popping and taking out one of my eyes.

I used to be SO...GOOD about this. I'd get up at 5:30 to do 45 minutes of cardio. I'd come home and do an hour of weights and another half hour of cardio plus stretching. Where did I get all that energy? Have I just gotten old? I know I was driven then by a deep loathing for my job, but seriously...what happened?

I think part of it is age...not just getting older, but prioritization. I'm not super concerned over being skinny really changes very little (save attracting a larger quantity of change in quality). Back a bubbling and hopeful 22 years old, I was driven by the promise of a life turned on its head by a flatter stomach and smaller jean size. Now? I know that it's nice, but that hand to hand combat with my genetic makeup...well...the energy could be better spent elsewhere.

That said, I hate to be one to just burn time, so I started again today with a Pilates DVD I used to do once a week. It's been months and guess what...I can do the whole thing without any adaptations now! I love jiu jitsu.

Oh...and my left thumb has been sore for weeks...whether I use it more or take a break...achiness.