Friday, October 31, 2008

Gracie class, evening 10/30

Worked with Anthony, one of the nicest blues out there. Felt like class covered a ton of material. Then I got to roll: Anthony was wonderful, as was another guy with reddish hair and brown eyes whose name I can't recall. I learned ("learned") a lot from them both but dammit can't remember it! I screwed the pooch with mount escapes and transitioning from guard passing to controlling their hips.. also didn't do so hot with half guard passing. I did get one americana and one armbar. On someone. Tried for takedowns- need to work on grip fighting. Weighting a person's foot so you can tip them with the other foot (it's been lightened.)

Got to roll with Filip also... ha ha, he's easily 210 lbs, maybe 6'1"? and a two stripe blue :) When passing an open butterfly guard, pull down the pants leg hard enough to straighten their leg then step over.

Randy gave me some interesting pointers on angles and an arm control; my R arm/your L arm. we're facing each other at an angle. I swim my R arm under his bicep (b/t his bicep & ribcage) and then out again over his forearm. Don't need to grab; also can do takedown with shoulder pressure and/or sweep with leg involvement.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gracie class, morning 10/30

Tidbits I picked up:
I remembered enough of the butterfly pass principles (THANKS Donald and Richard!) to get around a super tall skinny guy's half butterfly. I wish I could remember his name-- he's very nice about pushing me but letting me get some positions. I can't tell if he's letting me, or I'm really getting them. But I did submit him twice-- one americana from mount, and one armbar from guard, whoohoo!!! I bet that part is him letting me :)

But I have a brief due for the Supremes on Monday, and today have no-gi with Tom at 1, so I better get some real work done.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gracie class 10/29

I popped into class a little late after helping Robert teach his kids' martial arts class and deciding to skip two-for-one burger night at Hut's... bummer! But Richard told me he'd be at class tonight so I wasn't going to miss it if I could help it.

Class covered some kind of sweep. Then positional sparring.. Leila and I worked on the mount (top and bottom) and guard passing.

I got to work in with Donald and Richard too... they both taught me some nice butterfly guard passes.

I hope I can remember them tomorrow because my eyes are shutting involuntarily and I keep typing nonsense as I fall asleep.

React rather than recall

Shamelessly pinched from Adam Adshead's Conceptual BJJ blog.

A lot of people think that Grandmaster chess players play/see 7-8 moves ahead at all times, when this really isn’t the case.

This common misconception of having a photographic memory that is as equally analytical as it is profound is probably quite accurate for some, but for most (including rookies like me) reacting to the situation in hand is the preferred choice.

It’s the same for BJJ, trying to recall all the moves and strategies you’ve ever learnt or have seen at will is increasingly harder to do the further you look ahead because of the chaos involved.

Whereas in Chess you get more time to think, during a roll in BJJ most of the time if you think then you’re usually too slow and have missed the boat of opportunity, that’s why I promote reaction over recalling. Not to say you can’t analyse your position or think about what you’re doing, but should favour certain moves to cut out the hesitation that trying to recall the golden ‘right move’ creates.

The biggest difference I see between guys who roll like a ball and those who roll like a brick is this ability to limit these hesitations when rolling. If you know what you should be doing from every position and/or have favoured moves it will limit your thinking time and really focus your game. Again not that you need to strictly stick to certain moves or build a competition mindset for everyday training, far from it, but having an idea of what you should and should not be playing will limit this hesitation.

For example although crude and basic:

In Guard - Always Pass

Using Guard - Sweep, Submit, get back to knees.*

From Knees - Take back, use guard, wrestle to pass guard.*

(Preferably prioritise depending what you’re going for/working)

If you expand that from a fundamental concept and make it recognisable to your game (i.e. I always favour a high guard when playing closed guard and escape north-south a certain way etc) then you’ll find that you’ll see your decision making process change for the better as you’ll know what to go for - instead of having to try and decide on a whim.

So you are actually recalling but only what you can react on with muscle memory and flight time.

Think of it this way, BJJ is a complex encyclopaedia of moves, strategies and tactics. If you try and memorise the whole of it and then try verbatim to perform it whilst hopping on one foot whilst sewing with the other, then you’re going to fail.

If you’re a really experienced veteran than you might be able to pull off an improvised attempt of a few chapters of this book, maybe a section if you’re phenomenally good. If you’re only a mere mortal and less experienced this will be limited to a page or a few paragraphs. Now, move down the scale and have only been training a few years then this performance is limited to the odd line or two.

As the experience level goes down this one man show is limited to the odd word and then down to those who can only physically recall a string of letters that make up these words.

I’m not saying that you should only train with your instinct and primal grappling ability but use what you know to develop your game. There is a time for experimenting but if you only know one sweep - refine it, work at finding the conceptual understanding of how a sweep works and you’ll be able to translate that knowledge to any sweep. If you compare this to someone who tries every sweep in the book and only knows a few but not in there entirety, a jack of all trades and a master of none type, then you’ll soon see who develops over time.

Remember you may only know a few letters but they make up words, which make up sentences and before long you’ll be a grappling savant able to react with physical verbose soliloquies that’ll bring a tear to my eye.

Gracie class, evening 10/28

Another fully-packed class.

Started with guard passing. I enjoyed this focused sparring greatly because I had a partner my size and my experience level, so I got to experiment. A few lessons learned: I'm seeing triangles sometimes, and I'm getting one leg (the one crossing over their neck) up better. The second leg is screwing the pooch, unfortunately-- I tend to swing it pretty wide to get around their arm instead of bending it and bringing my knee to my nose, then unfolding like a praying mantis... so when I get around their arm, they get out of the impending triangle. I feel like when I let them get posture there's no stopping them from breaking my guard. I just don't know what to do yet with an open guard... I can hear some of Tom's lessons rattling around in my brain, and some of Stephan Goyne's, but it hasn't fallen into place yet. I have gotten better at the knee up pass-- Richard emphasized that I need to dive my arm under theirs for the underhook.

The "womens class" tonight was a nonentity.. just me and Amber, so Christy worked us into the guys' class at the beginning. When Donald, the brownbelt, arrived, he taught us a focused class on side mount that involved 5 different positions, counters and recounters, forming a nice flowing drill. Gradually the guys drifted over and joined in. Donald emphasized that a key to maintaining effective side control is keeping their head and body/hips in a straight line; conversely to escape side, you want to continually be changing the relationship between your head and hip until you have created space (then hip out, upa, shrimp etc)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rolling with Tom 10/28

Just a couple quick techniques: pillow choke counter from side control, recounter to armbar from mount, submission from within side control. I need to not get so frustrated with myself. I'm just a beginner. I can't expect to be better than someone like Tom. Sigh.

Gracie class, morning 10/28

Richard taught a sweep, triangle set up, and shoulder crank this morning, all from the same basic position-- a foot in the bicep and a shin across the waist, with double sleeve control. Then Richard taught me some takedowns and we rolled a bit.

Takedowns: right hand lapel control, under vs. over, wrap their arm, trip, hip throw with kick, or shins into knees backwards. From over, single leg, head pressure, reap from behind or in front.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gi reviews, part I

In this review I'll cover 4 gis for BJJ... I am currently testing a 5th and waiting for two more to be delivered. FYI, I'm obviously female-- 5'2" 125ish lbs, 34-27-36.

A note on my method: I probably should have measured each before washing and wearing them, but I didn't. I do have a good idea of how much shrinkage occurred. I have rolled in these gis for about 3 months, usually at least 3-4x a week. I always wash my gi the same day I wear it. I usually machine dry them a little with a Downy dryer sheet because I love the smell; then I air dry the rest of the way. I weighed each minus the belt on my bathroom scale, so I don't have ounces, just pounds.

1. Keiko Raca childrens' gi: Purchased here at for $130 plus shipping. I have a size M4 and it weighs just barely under 4lbs.

This is probably my favorite gi. It's very soft and fluid-feeling, comfortable in hot weather, smooth and light. The kimono fabric is almost silky to the touch. The collar is firm and surprisingly hard to get a grip on. The pants are extremely comfortable with a typical rope belt that is easy to adjust, and there are two loops, widely spaced, in the front. The pants fit well on me, with enough room for my "junk in the trunk" but without too much extra fabric at the knees and ankles. There were some loose threads but in general the stitching is tight and professional. I like the "hint" of pink it offers, and it's a nice light color, not magenta or Pepto-Bismol. The pink trim is sewn on well too. Keiko gis have a plasticky feeling to the name patches, but unlike cheap rashguards, the words haven't been flaking, peeling or otherwise damaged. My only complaint is that it shrunk a bit, so the pants are a touch on the short side, but the kimono fits perfectly. Also if I had my 'druthers, it would be available with other trim colors too (light blue? kelly green?)

Grade: A-

2. Gameness Pearl gi: I bought it here from for about $95 plus shipping. I have a size A1 and it weighs 4lbs.

This feels heavier than my pink Keiko. The kimono is slightly stiffer and feels more heavily woven/thicker, but is still quite silky to the touch. The collar is more flexible than the pink Keiko, but the Gameness sleeves are harder to grab. I'm not as crazy about the pants, which I think have less room for my rear, and also have a self-fabric drawstring that's harder to adjust. I also dislike the belt loops, which are set about 2" apart in the center (I'd prefer them more widely set.) The pants fabric is a little thicker, rougher than the Keiko ones. I like that it doesn't have the big dog patches. I do wish the trim on the pants wasn't fraying though. It didn't shrink much at all, maybe 1" in pants length. The kimono is pretty much the same size it started as.

Here's a shot of the fraying at the edge of the trim down the pants leg...

Grade: B+

3. Atama summer weight: bought for about $80 at too. I have an A1 and it's just 3 lbs.

I loved this gi during the summer; at a school without A/C it regularly reached 100-110 degrees inside, and even with industrial fans on, it was super hot. This is very comfortable in the hottest weather, but I suspect people who grip fight with really strong opponents would be unhappy. It is made with the same sort of fabric a normal karate gi uses, maybe a bit thicker, but definitely not the thickness of a BJJ gi. However, the collar is just as thick and stiff. The pants fit fine; the drawstring is also self-fabric, but is narrower so it adjusts more easily. Unlike the other two, though, these pants feel better when tied at your actual waist instead of a little below it, because they have a longer rise. The downside to this gi is the sleeve length (I used to roll them up about 2-3"). I tried to shrink it more without success.

Grade: A for the heat of summer; B- for the rest of the year.

4. GTMA pink gi: This Golden Tiger Martial Arts gi came from this little place in Madison Wisconsin. It was only $95 including shipping and they have both pink and purple gis, also available in adult sizes (even BIG adults.) It is a heavy little sucker at about 4, maybe 4 1/2lbs. They are sized a little differently than ordinary gis, so I think maybe I wear a 3? You can email the owner, Mark Severtson, with your measurements if you want to be sure. Tell him you read about his gis here!

I like the color (a light "carnation" pink, if you remember the old Crayola 64s). The kimono top is super thick and stiff, so that might be a plus for competition.I like the pants better than the kimono top. They're smooth but very sturdy feeling, and they make a nice change to the omnipresent white. The top is just a bit thick for me, which means I should probably train in it all the time. I did notice about 1-2" shrinkage in almost every dimension, but no color bleeding onto other items. (The color isn't perfectly even on the kimono, but you wouldn't notice if you weren't being picky.) The pants are comfy after being worn for a few months, but I would say the heavier padding around the knees/shins is a little higher up on the leg than I would expect/like, and these are a little flatter in the rear than I would prefer. Also, they only have one belt loop, right in the front:

I do think the fabric drawstring is a little stiff and hard to adjust.

Grade: B-

Based on these experiences, I decided to get another Keiko Raca, this time their limited edition double weave... an Atama Mundial #7... and another GTMA gi, this time the purple one.

The Keiko has already arrived; when I get the Atama and the purple one in my regular rotation I will have another set of reviews.

Rolling with Chris 10/27

Rolling with Chris requires a very different strategy from anything I use with anyone else. I can't really take him down. Playing from my back is almost a non sequitur: I can't close my guard around his waist much less get a high guard, he can power out of every submission I know how to do, and today I discovered what happens when you try to triangle or armbar him from the guard... he picked me up (with a triangle locked in!) He had excellent control, so I don't get scared, but if he wanted to, he could have slammed me.

I see myself continually coming back to the same attacks with him. From side mount/mount, I go for americanas and armbars. I did make efforts to get a choke-- but couldn't get the popover one, and he effectively blocked my elbows so no collar chokes. He schooled me with armbars and a couple RNCs (though I didn't tap to those.)

I need to find some other approach. He always begins our matches in open guard and is so strong... there has to be another way :)

A makeover with an ugly gloss...

McCain advisers have been scathing about the “sexism” of critics who dismiss Sarah Palin as Caribou Barbie. How odd then, to learn that McCain advisers have been treating their own vice presidential candidate like Valentino Barbie, dressing her up in fancy clothes and endlessly playing with her hair.

In 1991, with Americans fretting about a shaky economy, Poppy Bush visited a J. C. Penney and bought $28 worth of tube socks and a toddler’s sweat suit in a desperate effort to seem in touch with the common folk. Palin might have followed that example and popped into Penney’s to buy some new American-made duds. She is so naturally good-looking, there is no need to gild the Last Frontier lily.

Instead, with the economy cratering and the McCain campaign running on an “average Joe” theme, dunderheaded aides, led by the former Bushies Nicolle Wallace and Tracey Schmitt, costumed their Eliza Doolittle for a ball when she should have been dressing for a bailout.

The Republicans’ attempt to make the case that Barack Obama is hoity-toity and they’re hoi polloi has fallen under the sheer weight of the stunning numbers:

The McCains own 13 cars, eight homes and access to a corporate jet, and Cindy had her Marie Antoinette moment at the convention. Vanity Fair calculated that her outfit cost $300,000, with three-carat diamond earrings worth $280,000, an Oscar de la Renta dress valued at $3,000, a Chanel white ceramic watch clocking in at $4,500 and a four-strand pearl necklace worth between $11,000 and $25,000. While presenting herself as an I’m-just-like-you hockey mom frugal enough to put the Alaska state plane up for sale on eBay, Palin made her big speech at the convention wearing a $2,500 cream silk Valentino jacket that the McCain staff had gotten her at Saks.

At that point, Palin should have been savvy enough to tell those doing her makeover that she was a Wal-Mart mom. The sartorial upgrade was bound to turn into a strategy downgrade, as Palin pressed her case as a homespun gal who was ever so much more American than the elite, foreignish Obama, while she was gussied up in Italian couture.

Politico broke the news that the Republican National Committee spent over $150,000 on a “Pretty Woman”-style shopping spree for Palin, including about $75,000 at Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis and nearly $50,000 at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and St. Louis.

Palin advisers did their best to spin the fashion explosion during the economic implosion, telling The Times that she needed new outfits to match the climate changes across 50 states.

Republicans once more charged the media with sexism for reporting on Palin’s Imelda Marcos closet. “No one would blink if this was a male candidate buying Brooks Brothers suits,” said William F. B. O’Reilly, a G.O.P. consultant.

It doesn’t wash to cry sexism now any more than it did at the beginning, when the campaign tried to use that dodge to divert attention from Palin’s lacunae in the sort of knowledge you need to run the world. The press has written plenty about the vanities and extravagances of male candidates. (See: Haircuts, John Edwards and Bill Clinton.) Sexism would be to treat Palin differently, or more delicately, than one of the guys.

The governor who spent all her time talking about how she had cleaned up excesses in Alaska, and would do the same in Washington, also went over the top on hair and makeup. As a former beauty pageant contestant and sports anchor on TV, Palin already seemed on top of her grooming before the McCain campaign made her traveling makeup artist, Amy Strozzi, the highest-paid individual on the campaign for the first two weeks of October. Ms. Strozzi, who earned an Emmy nomination for her war paint skills on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance,” made $22,800 for the first half of this month.

Governor Palin, who used to get her hair done at the Beehive in Wasilla and shop at an Anchorage consignment shop called Out of the Closet, paid her traveling hairstylist — recommended by Cindy McCain — $10,000 for the first half of October.

In The New York Times Magazine today, Robert Draper reveals that the campaign also hired a former New York stage and screen actress, Priscilla Shanks, to be her voice coach for the convention. The expense was listed in finance reports as Operating Expenditures and Get-Out-The-Vote consulting. Apparently getting out the vote includes teaching a potential vice president the correct way to pronounce “nuclear.”

The conservative big shots who have not deserted Palin and still think she can be Reagan in a Valentino skirt are furious at those who have mishandled the governor and dimmed her star power. They mourn that she may have to wait now until 2016 to get rid of the phony stench of designer populism.

Makeovers are every woman’s dream. But this makeover has simply pushed back Palin’s dream of being president.

From Maureen Dowd written here at the New York Times.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tournament results, UFC, Gracie class 10/26, and open mat...

Tournament results: My "wing," Scott, got back from his gi round robin in San Antonio yesterday, having cleaned house AGAIN-- in fact all the guys from Phil's kicked butt, I think I heard Emmanuel landed a flying triangle, and once subbed a guy with 1 second left in the round... The only person Scott lost to was an instructor, a brown with 10 years' experience, and Scott took 3rd place in the takedown derby too. So woo-woo Relson people! :)

UFC: I feel so badly for Patrick Cote. No matter what you think of him as a fighter, it was not a good ending for the fight. I did think Silva's offer of a hand up (earlier, when Cote was on his back) was simultaneously cocky, deservedly so, and gentlemanly. Me, Mitch, Tariq, Scott, Bill and Zade went to Champions, a sports bar downtown, to watch, and we ended up discovering our waitress Kris used to train in boxing/MMA and will hopefully be coming to Phil's soon. She was very pretty, a tall slender blonde, and the table collectively deflated when she mentioned her husband. LOL.

In class, I worked on shrimping and getting my knees in, and keeping knee-elbow connection. Did some gi and later no-gi with Kirk... had one round with Richard... a little with Glenn... Kirk pointed out that my guillotine instinct does not serve me well and tried to redirect my muscle memory towards getting an underhook, which helped a lot. I also discovered that when trying to get a RNC, I was maneuvering my leg the wrong direction to catch the trapped arm. Also, Richard re-taught me the armbar from turtle: If you're turtled and they reach in, grabbing your forearm, punch your arm forwards. Assuming they maintain the grip, you have now extended their arm. With your other hand, trap behind their elbow- then hyperextend their elbow. This works whether they reach in on the same side as their base, or on the opposite side.

Then I went to a city-wide open mat, the first one, created by Darrin of Infinite Jiu Jitsu and Zade, my friend from Vandry. I was leery-- bunch of unknown guys, ego, etc. It was nothing scary. I did not roll with white belts, but did get to roll a bit with David Thomas from Austin Jiu Jitsu, who was an analytical and precise instructor, as well as Darrin (twice).

I learned two single-leg takedowns from Dave:
1. Shoot, knee to ground between their legs, scoop up knee, rotate hips to face same way they do, come to feet with their leg pinched between your own, collapse your inside shoulder against their femur and push straight down, trapping their leg under you to prevent re-establishing guard.
2. Shoot, knee to ground between their legs, put your ear to their bellybutton. Scoop their leg and put it in front of your hips; stand. Swing outside leg around and behind while pushing with head to the ground. Take side mount.

Dave also taught me a sneaky side control escape: instead of all the work involved in turning into them and getting a knee inside, lay on your side facing out. Basically you trap their top arm (coming over your body) in a figure-four, I think, come to your knees and roll them over you, ending in side mount or maybe knee in belly. I am writing him for detail on this one, since as always some detail has been lost in my fuddled brain. Like how come they don't take your back? I must be screwing something up.

Angry sweater: Dave's side control escape is found on his uber-useful BJJ techniques site and he describes it this way.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Open mat at Gracie 10/24

First I helped Scott (using the term very loosely) for his gi tournament tomorrow-- he said he wanted to practice grip fighting. Being the whitebelt that I am, I subjected him to random and pointless grips that accomplished very little besides making him constantly disentangle my hands from fabric all over his arms, legs and neck. Because I was thinking of grips, I was not thinking of base, passing, protecting my neck or anything else. When I was swept, choked and joint locked enough to get my mind off the grips, he taught me how to bait an armbar from knee-on-belly (watch for them to use their hand to push against your knee-- dive your hipside arm in that hole deeply, up to the bicep if you can, step over their head with your headside leg while keeping pressure on the belly with your other knee, and you're in position for the armbar.

Richard told me to meet Justin, a resident wrestling/takedown god, and invited me to watch his Saturday privates with Justin. What a sweetie.

I rolled with Phil for my first time ever. Of course he completely owned me. Again I am frustrated at my ... everything! takedowns! guard passing! base! posture! position! But it was fun nonetheless and I didn't give up.

I also rolled with a slender guy in no-gi who took it easy on me-- I got him twice with an Americana from mount; one armbar. He could have done better I'm sure but was being sweet and letting me work for stuff.

Sadly, no rolling at all tomorrow on my horizon... a day off! shocking!

I'll be back on the mat Sunday morning :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

No-gi with Tom and then Gracie class (gi) 10/23

Rolling with Tom: I started from side control because my escapes are sucky. I'm not doing things together; I either frame and push on the neck, or I bump, or I try to turn into him, but I need to do them all at once. Shrimping sucks still. He was super heavy on me and I noticed a tendency to panic a bit when I couldn't breathe. He corrected my RNC-- always have an underhook with the monkey paw over their forearm; push that arm down and hook it with your leg, pinch tight! then it's a two-on-one fight to get the choke. The underhook also prevents them from successfully turning into you.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Oy, tonight's class at Phil's is a nearly-impossible class to blog. For one, I arrived late because I was doing a phone interview at work of a good potential witness.. for another, I'm the lucky recipient of so much brain-dumping from so many sources, I can hardly remember it all. I should wear a wire ;) Scott mentioned the tournament this weekend in San Antonio-- a gi round-robin with a takedown division too-- but I can't go, Mitch has a rowing race that conflicts. I'm fine with missing it, I'm happy to sit and learn a bit more before going out there and flailing like a landed fish again.

When I arrived, Steve was teaching some takedowns and self defense techniques. By the time I changed, I was just able to drill 3 of them a few times.

On the side, my partner showed me some tips for isolating the arm from side control to work for an Americana... just balance issues, using my head at the right time, then shooting my hips back as soon as I got the grip to avoid being swept.

Then we reviewed a counter from the full nelson, protect your neck by making a fist and cupping it with your other hand, pressed into your forehead, whilst settling into base a bit. Step around their leg and behind it and clamp down on their forearms a little with your triceps-- step forward a bit with your outside leg and turn into them a bit so you're almost at a right angle to them, still holding their arms with yours. Kneel on your outside knee and roll over your outside shoulder, taking them with you-- finish in side control.

Then Phil taught the baseball bat choke from side.

Then class broke for open mat. Phil took me and a guy who is going to compete this weekend aside for grip breaking practice, and some poor whitebelt named Jesse got yanked (though he wanted to practice takedowns) to be my uke. When they grab your pants, you can do a single or double sleeve grip and yank your foot away.. you can also figure-four your hands and lever their grip apart. The same works for a lapel grab. Another lapel grab counter-- with the sameside hand, grab your lapel just below their hand, and then use the otherside hand to sharply move their hand off your gi. It's not exactly a strike, but it's sharp and sudden and decisive. You can also "slice" their hand off a grip if you move quickly before they're truly settled into the fabric.

Then I was going to roll with Jesse, but Richard came up and asked me to roll. I bounded up eagerly but we then got distracted when I said my takedowns suck. He spent the rest of the next hour showing me takedown after takedown using poor Jesse.

I can't tell you how much fun I had, Richard is an amazing instructor, very positive and encouraging and detail-oriented without overwhelming. He couldn't roll unfortunately but I hope to roll with him Sunday. I told him I'd bring cookies :)

Then I did get to roll with Jesse, who is also very informative. As always my side escape sucks. I got mounted a few times. Defended the RNC, americana and kimura; read his bait for an armbar and defended that well too, until the very end. I finally did get armbarred because I let go of a countering grip to try and improve it, but he took advantage and it was over. My triangle counter is nonexistent. Jesse is nice to roll with-- he's loooong but not too heavy, about 160-170lbs, and he's more experienced, but not too fast or hard for me to tolerate.

OK, hopefully tomorrow get in another hour with Tom, wouldn't mind trying for the armdrag on him.

Field Dressed....

From Dr. Alan J. Lipman's blog found here...

When I heard of Sarah Palin's unprecedented clothing and makeup costs, my thoughts went to three areas.

First--the way in which her ambition overshadows all. John Bitney, an important aide to Palin, who has known her since high school, and served in a central position in Gubernatorial campaign, has noted the persistence of that ambition throughout her career. It is unique, even among politicians I have seen, in that there seems to be absolutely no hesitation between thought and utterance--indeed, there seems to be no thought, just a fierce competitiveness and drive to win from which words emerge, ordered around a long determined and certain world view.

For Palin, there is no contradiction between saying that one is representative of average "hockey moms" and fervently going on a RNC funded shopping spree the likes of which has never been seen in Vice Presidential candidate history. Why? Because both are right. Why? Because that's what good people do--and we are good. And beneath--reflecting the absolutely stubborn and fierce determination that defines her--I'm going to have what I think is right, and do what I need to win.

Second--I thought of the hoarding mentality that can emerge when some are presented with unexpected, rare opportunity that might be snatched away--to take advantage of the moment while they can, to reap the spoils while they are before you, to use all parts of the animal. Such an impulse no doubt contributed to the splurge, and stood in such stark contradiction to the campaign's message that it was necessary to later state that the stockpile would be donated to Charity after the campaign.

Why this charitable spirit did not accompany the initial purchases went unaddressed, as did the thoughts of the Joe and Jane plumbers who had contributed to the campaign without the intention of purchasing a red leather jacket from Saks. However, they were out of sight and she was likely as determined in mind as always-- to shop with the best of them, with the enthusiasm vigor and competitiveness that is her hallmark. Have no doubt--if McCain were to win and Palin were to become President, there would be a good deal of this type of impulsive, unconsidered action--and an unprecedented amount of cleaning up of the messes left behind.

Third, I recalled a statement made last week--that Palin's handlers have to keep her from becoming depressed upon learning of negative press coverage.

I found this particularly important. When you look at Palin, you see a constant dynamic: a millisecond of anxiety--how did I get here, I don't know this, what I am supposed to do--met immediately by the instant determined response--this is what I will say, this is what I will do, and I will say it as fast as I can, even before I think about it, I already know that it is true.

Like an undersized and combative guard in basketball, the emphasis is on the quick cut, fast and direct--not whether it is right, but whether it is quick, certain, charming, and made. If she says it fast enough, she can never be caught.

This is admirable as a scrappy basketball player and no doubt contributes to affection for her--but in a job which requires thought, it is disastrous. When so much is based on the immediate, unconsidered impulse--the fusion of what is "good" and what is good for me; nothing receives deliberate, planned thought, and all too often, as in this case, we'll just have to fix it afterward.

Like McCain, she is supremely unreflective. Restive, dissatisfied with deliberation and direction, determined to do things her own way, appearing to itch to strike out immediately on her own--as she has begun to do several times in this latter part of the campaign--she will act on these impulses. If depressed, she will act on the basis of that depression, immediately reactive, without thinking of its impact and contribution to her actions.

For Palin, there is no contradiction, no incongruity, between defiantly avowing her stance as an everyday "hockey mom", fighting for the "Average Joes" against the elitists, and marching into Neiman Marcus armed for $75,000 of subsidized shopping. Both are done with the drive, immediacy and action that are permitted through the removal of consideration or thought--e.g., buy, baby, buy.

Given this, if McCain were elected and Palin to become President, a $150,000 shopping spree might be the least of our concerns.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gracie class 10/22

I must say, positional sparring reveals my weaknesses quite well. I had trouble with [read: at times was incapable of]
-mount escape (whether low mount with grapevine or high mount) or maintaining mount
-side escape or maintaining it
-kesa gatame escape or maintaining it
-north-south escape or maintaining/improving it

Don't get me wrong, I know I'm a whitebelt and I'm supposed to not be able to do things. And some of the people who found it ridiculously easy to sweep me from the top, or who I was completely unable to sweep from the bottom, were men who were 6-10" taller and outweighed me by 40-60lbs. I get it. But I need to get the technique down so that this smaller, lighter, weaker person can actually move someone bigger, stronger etc.

Steven taught some guard pass details after our warmup. Leila and I drilled these back and forth a fair bit; the class then moved to Donald's self-defense techniques. I very much appreciate his style, which he describes as slow and methodical, but so technical that even though the opponent can see it coming, it's so well placed there's nothing you can do about it. That's my goal now :)

First, beating wrist grabs. Don't yank your hand back as you try to break through the "opening" where their fingers meet their thumb. Instead, secure your base first, rotate your hand so your thumb points towards that opening, and press into opponent with your elbow. The result is their wrist stays in the same position relative to their body. This works whether same-side or cross-body grab; also works whether they grab you with their thumb "up" (going towards your elbow) or "down" (going towards your hand, very common for adults to grab kids this way, thus very important technique to teach kids for their own protection.) Always secure your base first!

He also reviewed a headlock counter- first, get breathing room. If they go to punch you, block the punch and try to push their bicep back behind the plane of their hip, locking their bicep with your other hand. Make breathing room again and keep wrist control, sink low to get head under their arm (do not bend forwards! keep your spine erect and close to vertical) and do not make space between your bodies. Once your head is clear, stand up again very close to their back, not allowing any space for them to wriggle.

After that, which took up the majority of class, Leila and I did a little positional sparring under Phil's tutelage.

He gave her some good half-guard pass tips which got her into side control; when I tried to execute my side control escape, my hair kept pinning me down. Leila is very good at keeping her leg away from me so I can't hook it; she also is good at "running" me in a circle. Once I did get her head canted back far enough that I hooked it with my leg but I didn't follow up with anything very useful. Phil says my problem is I'm staying flat and not shrimping effectively. Instead of moving my far shoulder up and over, or just turning my hips and leaving my shoulders flat, I need to think of leading the turn with my bottom shoulder, and think of moving the bottom shoulder underneath the top one, not the reverse. Once the shoulders turn the hips have an easier job since her body weight is primarily on my torso. He also noticed I'm always trying to get my bottom knee in, but what about the top knee? And finally, to get that knee in, I need to shrimp better, and once I get my elbow on the mat, to think about connecting my knee to my elbow.

I was bummed Richard didn't show for class. I look forward to picking his brain.

Class tonight 5-8. I am loving a daily dose of grappling.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gracie class 10/21

Class this evening was taught by Coach Gib... it began with hellish drills of diving rolls which I escaped due to my pinched nerve (which produces increasingly weird tingly and fire-y feelings in my left arm) and progressed through some 900 crunches of different varieties.. then positional sparring.

Then Donald, a ?brown? belt from a Royler academy helped Christy teach the womens' class (me, Amber and Shama)... we started with a review of some self defense techniques (that bearhug escape from the under-arm grip I couldn't recall-- slap hands to mat, ankle pick with ONE hand, sit on knee to break it) and then went to ankle lock setups and counters.

Rolling 10/21/08

Rolled with Tom and his students today at Castle Hill... Nick, from Phil's, and his boss Dan, and another big guy I didn't get to officially meet. Tom is prepping them to fight at NAGA, so he is actively teaching a little more which is nice.

We started with positional drills from guard to warm up-- kimura each side, armbar each side, and guillotine each side. 3 minutes each person, then switch; then 2 minutes each and switch.

Then we learned a butterfly? sweep from guard when you have them guillotined and they stack you. If you have their head tucked under your right arm, when they stack you collect their arm against your side by tightly pinching your left arm to their tricep. Snake your R foot under their thigh like a butterfly hook; rest your L leg across the top of their R leg, above the knee. Simultaneously rotate your hips towards your left side, kick downwards with your L leg, and kick upwards with your R foot, keeping control of their head. Arch your back upwards and drive your hips forward through your wrist while looking at the sky to finish the guillotine.

We also learned an armbar counter. It works when they have your arm isolated and they're in the process of sitting back to straighten it; if it's already locked out you're too late. If they have your R arm, you're going to swing your R leg HARD across your body from R to L, rotating your torso to the L. Go underneath your trapped arm and come up with your head on the outside of their L hip, moving towards their torso for the pass. Must do this quickly. It's called a hitchhiker escape.

Then we got to roll. All started from the knees. I can't recall many details, but I know I subbed Nick once with a guillotine (it doesn't work so well for me when I have them in my guard, but if they reverse so I'm on top it's nice.) He armbarred me once (I learned if you have your arms locked together, you turn into them, and if it's being straightened, you turn away) and kimura'd me once. I tried a couple times with him and with Tom to do an armdrag and get their back; ended up with them on my back. Both Nick and Tom have a tough open guard. Twice I tried even to set up the armbar on Tom and apparently I'm too slow because he was laughing at me and easily pulled out, to which I should have triangled him, yet again I was sooooo slow!

Good times had by all. Tonight is Phil's from 5-9, yay.

Palin funnies...

Gracie class 10/20

Covered a lot of material tonight... started off the class by going off to one side with Phil and 4 brand-new guys. Phil announced it would be a "fundamental" lesson for new people. He taught how to stand in base (get up from your back when the opponent is already standing over you) and how to deal with them in various positions-- when to put your foot on their hip and kick up, vs. feet on both knees, hooking behind a thigh to circle with them, etc. The key to remember is that the foot on the ground connects directly to your head via your elbow and hand.. the other side foot is cupping their knee. I also reviewed the forearm choke from mount and guard with them, and then Phil told me to join the bigger class.

Phil then paused for two promotions-- he awarded a stripe to Mike, the purple, and Travis, a 2-stripe blue. Then the class shifted to self defense techniques.

We practiced two self defense movements from Sunday's class-- bearhug counters. Be prepared to curl a foot behind their ankle which prevents even big people from picking you up. If someone hugs you over the arms, do a bicep curl, step behind their leg, activate your hips to lift them up on your hip, and last minute, cup under their thighs to direct their legs up and over in a circle. Ideally you land them in front of you in the same place every time. I forget the details of the under-the-arms bearhug counter. Perhaps it's because I coughed myself awake at 2:30am and I'm finally getting sleepy again. We also covered a headlock counter... when they pull you back against them, protect your neck and go with it, blocking their forward foot with your leg (don't hook behind it, protect your knee, just slide alongside it) Step a quarter-turn towards their back and use your shoulder against theirs to push them down, then go for the armbar.

We also observed the browns practice throws in response to club attacks.

When we broke to roll, I was lucky enough to have Richard Power invite me. He's a 4-stripe brown who initially watched me and Leila roll 3 weeks ago. He was extremely mellow and kind, and he let me work for some submissions. He had me in kesa gatame (couldn't hook his leg and forgot to frame BOTH arms against his chin to reverse him) and mount and half guard and basically owned me in the position game. I love grappling with people so much better than me and I hope he enjoyed it enough to give me more of his time. About 30 min of rolling with Richard and I was ready to go home.

I get to do class every night this week since Mitch is rowing. The academy has improved their shower (no more soggy wet mats but instead a nice solid ramp leading away from the shower; hope they have a good drain underneath because I'm sure water will come out with people draining off, and where will it go?) This is what happens when you have owned an old house... you start paying attention to random stuff like that.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gracie class 10/19/08

Class started with 2 hours of self-defense techniques, which Phil explained are requirements for your black belt. We covered responses to lapel grabs, bearhugs from behind (under and over arms), side grabs, and wrist grabs. Whereas kajukenbo focused on the striking/kicking elements, of course jiu jitsu emphasized joint locks. I drilled with Leila and had a great time.

The most intriguing technique to me: DON'T grab someone's lapel without getting sleeve control! Because whether your arm is bent or not, they can create some interesting shoulder and/or elbow and/or wrist cranks out of it. A big thank-you to Josh, a visiting brown from the Relson school in San Antonio, for his excellent explanations.

Towards the end we were released to roll, so Leila and I paired up. Her guard is super strong and she's tough to take down regardless if you start from feet or knees. It's ridiculously difficult for me to pass either her closed or open guard. However, with effort I was able to reverse her; I am reduced to muscling out of americanas, so I need to focus on technique instead. I was having a hard time passing her half guard, but I guillotined her using some of the tips from Giberson the other night. I almost got an Achilles on her as well, but her darn feet are so little and I was so loose, she slipped out. I need to rewatch Kesting's dvd on the subject and try again.

After she left, I hung around hoping for more rolling, chatted with Christy a bit about my thoughts on Soneca's moves, and watched/listened to the visiting 4-stripe brown, and watched Scott and Richard roll. Mitch arrived around 1:00 and we left without me getting any other sparring in. Mitch's rowing all this week to get ready for his race on Saturday.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Helio Soneca seminar 10/18

Friday night and Saturday morning, I attended a no-gi seminar taught by Helio "Soneca" Moreira at my old kajukenbo school. Friday night was 3 hours of fighting from the top/guard passing and Saturday was 3 hours of fighting from the bottom.

I have to say in all honesty that I was not terribly impressed. I know, I'm a white belt, what do I know? So I preface these comments with a big dose of "your mileage may vary" and an acknowledgment that my opinion is almost certainly colored by my lack of skill, experience, speed, explosiveness etc etc.

That being said:

Pros: I liked Helio's attitude, humor, and focus on detail. His guard is amazingly strong. I liked his focus on the omoplata-to-kimura combination as an alternative to the more commonplace triangle, which seems more suited to stubby-legs like me. I enjoyed getting a chance to play with the omoplata.

Cons: At my level of experience I think I will just get triangled doing the guard passes that he made look easy. It's just that he leaves one arm in and I always get triangled when I do that so there must be a secret I'm not getting.

His triangle setup was not working for me. In his version, from closed guard with double wrist control, you pull on their wrists so they pull back-- give in on one wrist and punch their hand towards their belly. Once you have stuffed their hand, bridge your hips off the ground, open your guard, and use that side leg to swing around and over their shoulder, across the back of their neck.

It didn't work for me for a few reasons: I don't have the upper body strength to stuff a hand that someone doesn't want stuffed; assuming I do succeed, their elbow is angled outside my femur which makes it really hard to clear my leg. Plus, my core strength sucks, and it's hard to shoot my hips up in the air to get under their head.

I found it very interesting that Helio claimed to have been using the Rubber Guard since he was twelve, denying that Eddie Bravo invented it. I don't have an opinion nor do I think it matters, there's nothing new under the sun anyway. Helio's version starts from closed guard with double underhooks, their hands already on the mat.

Anyway... some pictures. That's me, and Ivelin (from Vandry and Gracie) to my left.

Possibly the only way I could RNC someone-- if they're letting me :)

Helio wants me to teach him to salsa dance. He looks like he has dipping down pat already.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"My Own Private Focus Group"

From this piece by Timothy Egan of the NYT, October 8, 2008...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. —- I didn’t hook up people to electronic monitoring devices, nothing to measure leg trickles and blood-sugar spikes in response to off-key talking points.

I had no magic maps, no demographic weighting formulas. I simply went to the heart of one of the fastest-growing, most Republican counties in the land — as red as rib-eye steak on the e-coli side of raw — and wandered aimlessly, like John McCain in Tuesday’s debate.

Here in Colorado Springs — the Vatican of evangelical political power, home to the Air Force Academy and a community where optimism usually matches the sunrise glow at the base of Pikes Peak – you can see what will happen in less than a month.

My friends: it’s not good for Senator McCain.

“As a small business owner, it’s very hard to watch a lifetime of hard work and savings just wither away in the last two weeks,” said Jan Martin, a native of this more-than-mile-high city, and a lifelong Republican. “The debate on Tuesday night has, if anything, bolstered my opinion.”

So Jan Martin, who also serves on the city council, will cross party lines in less than a month and vote Barack Obama for president, she said. She’s not leaving the Republican party — she’s deserting the nominee.

But…but…what about Bill Ayers? That radical! Obama served on some charity boards with him — he must be a terrorist sympathizer! And what about Sarah Palin’s claim, with a knowing wink, that Obama “is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America.”

The sludge of insinuation is loose, but has no more staying power than the Chicago Cubs in a playoff series. (And I like the Cubbies.) All the desperate demagogues of talk radio and Fox News, summoning the kooks and fringe lunatics for one last blast of scary Barack Hussein Obama talk, are melting in 2008’s bonfire of economic vanities.

You want scary? How about this: two trillion dollars. That’s the amount that Americans have lost over the last 15 months in their retirement accounts.

“The financial crisis is point number one,” said Pastor Brady Boyd, head of New Life Church, 250,000 square feet of concentrated Christianity. “These attacks against the candidates are just irrelevant right now. Why are you all attacking one another when we’re dying out here?”

The pastor oversees a mega-church with 10,000 members. When I was here four years ago, Pastor Ted Haggard, the onetime head of the National Association of Evangelicals, boasted of his conference calls with Karl Rove and his deep affection for George Bush.

But then, Pastor Ted was a very bad boy, caught up in a meth and male prostitute scandal. He left New Life and went off to get rehabbed at some place that was supposed to make him right in the head.

Pastor Brady Boyd is a different breed of evangelical. His political suggestions this year, delivered in a sermon on Sunday and repeated in our interview, were simple.

“The only advice I give is pray, fast and vote, and that can be for any political party,” he said.

This year, the church hasn’t even heard from the McCain campaign. “What’s happening to us is less allegiance to the Republican party, and more to our core principles,” he said.

Which gets us to the second message to come from Colorado Springs: on election day, there will be no repeat of 2004, when people woke up to the surprise that “moral values” was the leading issue of the campaign, according to exit polls.

Down the road, Focus on the Family is still in a bit a of dither over what to do about John McCain. James Dobson, the founder of what is essentially a political action committee for evangelicals, had said earlier this year he would never vote for McCain. Never. Not under any circumstances.

Now he’s changed his mind. Sort of.

“While I said I will not endorse either candidate this year, I can say I’m now supporting John McCain,” he said in his October newsletter. However, “the senator continues to embrace issues that concern me.”

Dobson’s Web site contains outdated-looking scare alerts with headlines like “American Airlines extends special benefits to homosexuals.”

Dobson is yesterday. Boyd is tomorrow, saying that the environment, the poor, and helping those in his church who’ve lost a job or a house are things that matter to his congregation.

Abortion? Homosexuals? Bill Ayers?

“To be focused on those things at a time when people are hurting would really be to the detriment of families,” said Boyd.

Obama will not win Colorado Springs. John Kerry got just 32 percent of the vote in this county in 2004. But if Obama gets 40 percent — which is what Democrats expect based on the surge of newly registered voters and independents who are following Jan Martin’s path — he will win this state, and the election.

That leaves the circus of Sarah Palin and the sad specter of a snarling John McCain fading as they embrace the slippery bonds of the last century.

Gracie class 10/15/08

I couldn't have asked for a better class.

It came on the heels of a meeting with an attorney that was not pleasant. I think I handled it calmly and without backing down, but ended up having a migraine shortly thereafter. What better way to deal with a migraine than do jiu jitsu? (Of course I took some imitrex first..)

Turns out the class was all about gi chokes, so I hung out and watched until the blissful warm glow of imitrex took over. All these can also be done when you have them in your guard so I paid close attention since nothing else seems to work in the guard for me.

Giberson also showed me and Anthony, a very helpful guy with more experience than me and nifty green eyes, some tips on guillotine from mount.

I got to meet Stephanie, and drilled a bunch with Leila too. She seems equally happy to roll with me-- we're a good match size and skill-wise and we both give it 100%. Phil came over and coached us while we rolled a bit, discussing side control escape to guard and then talked her through a mount escape I wish I'd executed during the tournament... bump and bridge, get on your side, trap their leg with yours and scrape your bottom leg past it, then reverse to free the other side, and regain guard. Pretty logical but when I was at the tournament, logic was not found in my brain. At one point she had me in half guard, and I was trying to make space so I could dive my knee over like Phil taught yesterday... she clenched and straightened her legs really tightly and in the process, caught the top of my kneecap and pulled it downwards over my knee. I don't know how to explain it, but it hurt like fury and I must have squawked a good one, because she stopped right away and looked panicky. It popped a little bit, but went back, and now it's pretty much fine.

When Leila and I rolled, I noticed I didn't really have a plan for getting her down from the clinch. Sometimes I just dragged her down to the ground. She has a very strong core and it's hard to pass her open guard and get side control. Holy heck, when I'm in her guard, it's nearly freaking impossible to pass it, she has extremely strong legs and she's good at breaking down your posture. At one point, I couldn't pass her closed guard and I couldn't make space, so I just stood up with her still clinging to my waist with her legs-- we both laughed, she let go and we started again.

We ended up rolling into, and up, the wall. I got an armbar from mount after having to think a bit about setting it up with my arm going the right direction. It took a good seven minutes and we were both breathing hard. That was it for both of us, she has midterms and I had dinner plans.

Turns out my knee is fine, just has a little bruise on top, and my pulled groin muscle is fine too.. but I jacked up my left big toe. I think it was when Anthony and I were drilling, I got reversed during a choke and bent my toe backwards towards my ankle. I should have iced it last night; now it's a little swollen, stiff, and the joint between toe and foot is painful.

Palin, McCain stir up storm of ugly racism

From Andrew Greeley's piece in yesterday's Chicago Sun-Times...

'South Pacific" is a morality play for our time. Sarah Palin is the Ensign Nellie Forbush -- an All-American girl as racist, this time a racist with her eye on the White House. She can stir up crowds to shout "Kill him!" at the mention of the presidential candidate of the other party a couple of weeks before the national election.

In the restaurant, before I walked over to the theater, all the conversations were about the election -- New Yorkers speak loudly in their noisy city for fear they will not be heard. The common opinion was that they didn't know enough about Barack Obama to make a decision about him -- as if there were not two books about his life. That plea implies that they don't know enough about him to accept his strange name or his skin color. It is, of course, impossible that they could ever know enough. He isn't one of us.

It is all part of a plan cooked up by John McCain to turn the major issue in the election from the economy to the character of the Democratic candidate. At this stage of the contest, I don't think "kitchen-sink strategy" (as in "we'll throw the kitchen sink at him") will change the outcome of the election. I don't believe the polls that suggest a possible Obama landslide. Playing the race card explicitly merely guarantees what I have thought from the beginning -- racism in this country precludes the possibility of a sepia-colored man becoming president. However, the last-ditch attack on him guarantees that McCain and Palin will be blamed as the candidates who were content to hear crowds calling for the death of Obama.

Ensign Nellie Forbush (the incomparable Kelli O'Hara) finds redemption at the end of South Pacific. She turns to her true love and escapes the obligation to wait for the enchanted evening on which he might suddenly might appear across a crowded room. For Sarah Palin, such an easy escape hardly seems possible. How can she ever justify silence when she heard a cry for lynching?

McCain increasingly acts like an angry, befuddled cancer survivor and treats his rival like a field n----- who is just barely human. He does not talk to him, will not shake hands with him, will not even look at him, walks behind him when he is speaking to distract the audience. Obama's languid, legs-crossed security on the bar stool must infuriate McCain all the more. Who does he think he is? He has no right to run for president and McCain does. Has not he served his country all his life? Has not he traveled the whole world? Has not he been involved in every major event of the last four decades? Does he not know everyone who is worth knowing? And what does his rival have to offer besides intolerable arrogance? Black skin and glib language? Is not Obama the one who is playing the race card? Therefore he must be exposed as what he is -- a pushy fellow with a glib tongue who has no right to challenge a great American like John McCain.

McCain has little time left. He has been been cheated in other elections. Troubled and distracted, he has forgotten his strong words about honor. When one is faced with a shallow man who is running on the basis of his skin color, one can hardly worry about personal honor.

Now the furies are gathering.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rolling with Tom 10/14

Actually a misnomer... I got to roll with a new chick today too! Sidney is taller, longer, and probably stronger than me but she's really sweet and makes it fun. Tom is, as always, bigger-harder-stronger-faster-smarter *and* more experienced. I enjoyed feeling a little more evenly matched the rounds against her. However, I am also enjoying rolling with him more and more each time, because I'm thinking more and seeing more, I think.

Gracie class 10/14

I'm incredibly hard on myself. While I was at the tournament and shortly thereafter, I was high as a kite on endorphins and adrenaline; you couldn't have pried the smile off my face with a crowbar. But once I got home and watched my footage.. and watched it again... and watched it a third time... I crashed. Part of it was fatigue.

Not fatigue from the tournament, since most of my rounds were short (I did tap early and often!) and I'm used to rolling for a longer time than 5 minutes. Tom has told me my cardio is through the roof, so at least I'm good in one area. No, the fatigue was from overcommitting the rest of the weekend. Saturday we had to bail on IHOP with the team and scoot home- shower- drop off Ivelin- and meet Jeff and Lauri for dinner. They came in town to celebrate Jeff's birthday so we met for Tex-Mex. That reminds me, I need to review the Rio Grande restaurant for yelp-- in a word, mediocre. Anyway, after dinner and the strongest margarita, plus a migraine pill, we walked around downtown, sat in a bar to watch a UFC rerun (McDonald-Maia), and people-watched from a coffeeshop. I departed early, around 12:30, and left Mitch at Antone's watching the famous Larry Harlow. Then Sunday morning I got up at the relatively late hour of 7, and spent the rest of the day feeling sleepy.

I skipped class Sunday to go to brunch with our friends. I rolled very lightly for an hour with Zade, he of the screwed-up shoulder. Monday, I skipped crossfit because Robert is on vacation. Honestly, I got into a rut of not working out. I just felt lazy, and what usually prompts me (desire to do jiu jitsu) wasn't working because I felt ashamed of how everything I'd been taught seemed to flit out of my head during the tournament.

But yesterday I did drag my butt over to the academy for the evening class and I'm glad. Christy was teaching, there was no conditioning, and we hopped right into technique. Then during the womens' class, I drilled with Brandy, and we worked sweeps 1-3, two standard guard passes (knee through, and dump) and then a little bit of the triangle.

Watching my footage is painful, but I need to spend some serious time on it and take notes. When Mitch gets it sufficiently compressed to put up here, I will do both, and I'll make it a learning exercise. Last night I showed a little to the gals in my class, and I see myself holding someone in my guard and I even have tricep and head control!! So why I sat there and didn't armbar/triangle him, I don't know.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


That's how I did at the tournament-- I WON A MATCH! hop hop hop! I couldn't believe it!

Me, after all my matches were finished and I literally let my hair down...

The best news is that I am not injured at all and I didn't injure any of my opponents. It was a phenomenal and extremely fun learning experience and will become more so as I spend time on the mats learning from my footage, but I'm still ecstatic to have won one round!

Mitch is working on making my video footage. Here's some pictures...

My team from the Relson Gracie school: Ian, Ulises, me, Scott (my mentor, coach, corner and wing to tuck under, if that makes sense) and Emmanuel...

The rules meeting before it all started...

Scott cornered all my matches and took first place in his division...

The two other ladies-- Sarah and Melissa-- and I all grappled each other *and* the guys in our division, the under-155-lb people.

Don't ask what I was doing in either of these pictures. I can't tell, and I probably had zero clue when I was in the moment, either.

Friday, October 10, 2008


As in, I hope I'm peaking properly for this tournament. I am happy that I took yesterday off too-- I slept about 11 hours last night and genuinely felt "raring to go" today.

I still move a bit too much when I first get guard- he says I need to sit still and think for a moment first. I refreshed my memory on side mount escapes. Worked on getting the back a bit.

Fortunately, my black eye still looks fairly menacing, and I hope it still looks nice and dark tomorrow. I'm taking tonight off of salsa, just going to have a nice dinner with my saintly husband and then go to bed early. I have been watching an excellent instructional on leglocks, again by Stephan Kesting, for most of the day today. Ankle locks are permitted, so I'd like to have that in my arsenal if possible. I started watching Demian Maia's DVDs The Science of Jiu Jitsu today. The language barrier is one thing, but the more annoying is the organizational structure or lack thereof. I don't play spider guard yet, and since this is a no-gi tourney, I'd like to skip through the gi-only techniques, but his menu pages only number the chapters, giving you no choice but to watch at least the beginning of each.

Tomorrow, we leave the house by 6:30, meet the "wrecking crew" (LOL) at Gracie by 7... weigh-in is from 8:30-9:30, and matches start at 10. I expect the tourney to take all day tomorrow. Then we have dinner plans with friends, and Larry Harlow's playing Antone's tomorrow night. A full day of jits may not leave me much energy for salsa dancing but I will give it my best effort.

Sunday I hope to load videos of my matches onto YouTube or at least up here.

Oh, and I got some new shorts! Check them out:

Please, wish me luck.. ideally I win my division, but at a minimum, pray that I come home in one piece, healthy and able to keep training, and with lots of lessons learned.