Saturday, October 31, 2009

I want to be Marcelo...

I want this to be me... particularly at 4:30.. and 6:00... and 7:00... and 7:20...

A funny.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blech.

Work. Jits. Home. The triad.

Work's going pretty well, actually... busy, but happily so, with interesting cases and issues. I always get along well with my coworkers, but I am especially appreciating friendships with a few particular people who always seem to have a smile, a hug, or a wry comment for me.

Jits-- half and half. The good half is the happy, fun, creative, flowy rolls I have with friends, even the fierce fights for what feel like hours, ending up in weird-a$$ positions I couldn't recreate if I tried. I'm grasping things better, even if just intellectually seeing more connections and principles. And collaborations and friendships with other peeps on the 'net-- Elyse (check out her new website here, focused on womens' gi reviews); Leslie, Triin, Mike, Seymour, Allie, Can, Robert, Liam, Neil, Dev, Conan, Steve, Peter, and all the rest of you.

The not-so-good half is my contentment with "recreational jits" and my lack of enthusiasm for competition, and my feelings of inferiority and fear. I positively hide from the competition team class now especially since they're 2 weeks out from the next tournament and every week they go harder and harder. I wouldn't mind if I felt like I had any skills, but the longer I stay out the more disparate our skill sets become and it's a bad cycle to be in. Sometimes I think jits is like a horse-- it can smell fear, it can smell a lack of confidence, and if you approach it tentatively, like as not it will throw you.

Home.

*sigh*
*sigh*

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Base and balance.

Good weekend but lacking in balance-- ate, and ate, and ate it seems. My husband was thoroughly occupied by the salsa festival in town, so I was on my own to some extent. I heard a girlfriend play guitar and sing in a small show...

Here's Maggie at Momo's.. bad picture, I didn't want flash to distract..



Then ate a fabulous dinner at the Roaring Fork.. heard a training partner do standup comedy (Doug's even funnier when he's on stage than when he's on the mats)



.. ate more, and more, and more... trained some.. helped demonstrate techniques in a womens' self-defense seminar.. trained some more... ate more.. watched UFC.. ate more.. trained more.. spent quality time with a dear friend... came home, folded laundry, did dishes, and made dinner... ate again! and now I'm in bed, cosy, anticipating some heavy rain tonight and a long week ahead till Halloween.

More disconnected thoughts:

I thought Shogun was robbed, even though I really wanted Machida to win.

I'm starting a migraine; I think it's the changing barometric pressure.

Leila swept me a couple good ones today.

I'm sleepy as heck. Two nights in a row without enough sleep-- 4 hours Friday night, 6 hours last night. Blech.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Two points make a line...

I'm so used to playing 'hedgehog fleeing tiger' that successfully submitting a fully-resisting adult male (whitebelt or no) creates unremitting and unbounded joy these days. But I better watch it, if I keep getting all excited and crowing and so on, people will think I'm stuck up, or just plain mediocre. So I will try to keep this to a bare minimum, and don't think I am unaware that tomorrow I will probably suck, or that today I sucked too.

I tapped some people out today! More than once! Each! and I didn't get tapped at nearly the rate I used to! In fact didn't get tapped at all in the morning class; only rolled with one of my friends at lunch and it was exciting, dynamic, and very very defensive for me. I am still seeing armbars left and right, up and down. I am still getting headplanted into the mat when people try to escape them. I still get swept and reversed all the time, but at least today I was always game and ready for more.

Had a lovely afternoon in this gorgeous weather. Really, really, really looking forward to my Halloween weekend trip.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today's adventures in wonderland...

Fun class this morning, focused on a few sweeps, then the pseudo-pillow series, then the leg lock series (added on a kneebar and/or banana split at the end) ... then I showed the tidbit about americanas from the new purple... unfortunately during open mat I was completely owned by Doug, the instructor, and then got crucifixed by Ely. My neck is still sore. Don't roll out of a crucifix!

Then at lunch, crazy round robins. Had to go several times against a brand new first day spazmo (nice guy though) who was TAUNTED "C'mon, she's just a girl, you can't lose to a girl!" And when in my guard he tried to armbar me, I told him "you need to pass my guard before you can attack me" he was instead encouraged to "choke her from right there, keep her from talking." Fortunately he had zero base, so I reversed him and did my best to armbar him. Nice guy, just needs to chill and not listen to the fool(s) who were egging him on. (And I should have given him/them a piece of my mind, but I've little enough to spare these days.) I had a good time armbarring a newer guy (and then showing him why and how it happened, and how to defend) and then reverse armbarred him... and I just loved the look on his face, like whole new worlds opening up.

Got to help out in kids' kajukenbo again this evening.. then picked up my car from the mechanic's, ate at the Noodle House, and came home. It's lovely cool rainy weather again, hooray. Perfect snuggling weather.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Today, my delight knows no bounds.

OK-- preface: did lots wrong on the mats today. No question. The following is not a "break my arm patting myself on the back" episode. I'll just list what I did right and hop up and down for a little bit.. then back to normal self-abnegation.

- At lunch open mat, felt a nice solid flow going and surprised myself with transitioning well from one attack to the next. Managed to lock in an armbar on my friend, a 2 stripe blue, though I failed to fully execute the techniques Phil just showed me on Friday in order to finish. However, to my delight, shortly thereafter my friend told me if I'd been a guy I would have finished him, that my technique was right on the money. Yay. (Sorry for the split infinitive there..)

[then I followed up with an americana from side, which I felt was resisted only by superior strength, and then undid all my hard work by basically inserting head and arm between his legs for a facing-feet triangle. Sigh.]

- Tonight after class, I rolled with my best training partner (same size, female, also a blue) and I feel like I did well-to-okay when I was on top-- kept going for submissions, decent control, sometimes failed to move on quickly enough, but felt pretty good especially in defending her attacks from guard.

[then, when I was on the bottom, woe was me, I was a couch, a chaise longue for her relaxation. Fortuntely she wasn't throwing any submissions though. Dammit I need to work on escapes.]

- Also after class, whilst rolling with another friend I'll call S___.... I triangled him to almost-sleep! I shouldn't have let go but I thought it wasn't going to work... when I let go, he blinked a few times and couldn't remember the last few seconds :) I ROCK.

[before and after I was tooled, tossed around like a hackysack, smushed, smothered, twistered, mounted and generally manhandled, but he's a nice guy so it wasn't too bad.]

Prance, prance, prance. And now, sleep sleep sleep-- got class at 6am!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Benchmark crossfit workout... the Fran.

Check out this workout. It's 21 then 15 then 9 of thrusters (a front squat and an overhead press, women 65 lbs men 95 lbs) and pullups. A good time would be somewhere between 2-4 minutes for the whole thing. Brutal.

Miles' 5th Birthday Party

Spent the afternoon at Kari and Sandy's place, celebrating with their elder son Miles. The day's theme was camping and several tents were set up in the backyard; Sandy aka Martha Stewart Is Green With Envy made a fabulous cake complete with pond and fish, trees, tent (graham crackers!) a rocky shore (chocolate "rock" candies) and a gravel (crumb) path. (Pictures to follow as soon as Sandy sends me some.)

Miles, in one of the tents..




The birthday boy, eating more chocolate "rocks."



Mitch, enjoying some down time...



Someone else's baby...





The younger guests made pet rocks...





Bernardo aka the Mixologist promises to make some killer cocktails for my potluck Thanksgiving dinner this year. If they're anything half as good as his last year, we're in for a treat. He's making noises about tangerine mojitos and cucumber margaritas!!!! Here's Bernardo testing out the photographic features of his iphone...

Progress today...

Poor Richard was feeling sort of food poisoning-ish so he surprised a purple belt, new to our academy, with the honor of teaching class today. Oy! And Mark was well up to the task. Learned a little trick to doing an americana from side that tightens everything up and makes finishing much much easier (though I still don't find it easy to get them to pass their arm across your face..)

Also a bicep splicer from guard-- L hand on their pants knee, R hand on sleeve cuff, L foot on their hip, R foot then circles from under their forearm, outside their elbow, over top of their bicep and tucks R instep behind their armpit... then L foot leaves hip and crosses L shin across their hips with knee pointing to your L... this permits them to pass their body to your L. Once they're there, you flare your R knee outward, keeping their L arm folded around your leg, and your hands cup their tricep. Knee out, hips bridging up and tricep pulled towards your chest makes them tap pretty quick.

Rolled with Mark and enjoyed it tremendously-- tough guard to pass, but he generously allowed me to work to the top as well, and I caught an armbar from side-- he stacked me and I tried to rotate through to go belly down, but as usual got stuck on my head. He helped me finally understand where to curve my neck and where to aim my head so that doesn't happen-- then in order to save his arm, he has to follow me by somersaulting- but I still end up with a useable bellydown armbar. It was fun :)

Rolled with Jason as well, who truly seems more bluebelt than I do. Very technical, smaller guy (maybe my exact weight) and very thoughtful/analytical. He says he'll be training regularly so I look forward to matching wits with him often.

New great word...

... to add to my lexicon...

absurdiculous


Thanks Josh :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shortness.

Shortest post ever maybe. Rolled Friday with Chris, 6'5", who ate me for lunch... with big tall whitebelt, almost armbarred him, then anklelocked him. Then rolled with Phil, my instructor, first time in about a year. Liked it a lot but can't remember much except I felt like a hedgehog (all balled up, all elbows and knees poking out, and hair everywhere like spikes.) And he told me after that he was trying to be creative to catch me in stuff that I don't usually see-- as opposed to the same old triangle/armbar setups. And he said I was a blue belt, which is good.

Today, got tossed on my head during a great fun class (doing the Jordan Pretzel throw and then another spinny kind of wrestling throw that I haven't named yet..) Nausea, headache... probably a mild concussion. Positional sparring SUCKED, completely dominated by Matt, Jonathan, Daniel, Jordan... nearly in tears but why bother... just keep rolling.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My brain is like a bookshelf...

So I was reading a post on one of the blogs out there called Side Control this evening. In it, the author muses about learning techniques and having them crowded out of his brain by other techniques. (The post can be found here.) It reminded me of an analogy I've used more than once when it comes to describing my learning process in jits.

My brain is like a bookshelf, just a shelf on brackets on the wall, no ends. All the techniques I am taught are like books. As fast as I can get new tech (adding books to the left side) it seems like they're crowding older tech off the right side, where the books fall to the floor in a heap. Picture one person trying as fast as they can to put new books on the left side meanwhile running to the pile on the right! Eventually you stop heading for the right-hand pile and just keep stacking books onto the left, letting them fall off the shelf as they will.

Only, every once in a while, the shelf grows a little longer. Then you start picking up books from the floor again and adding at both ends. There's always a big pile on the floor, and when you roll with someone more gifted, more experienced, they quote chapter and verse from books like they had a photographic memory. It niggles away at you till you realize you saw that somewhere in one of those books on the floor-- so you scrabble around in the pile again.

I swear, I can't even remember technique to try to implement it unless I have been shown it (put it on the shelf, and have it fall off again) at least 5 times.

Oh well... that's the beauty of my love of books.

Had a lovely workout this afternoon that left me sweaty, light-headed, panting and utterly blissed out. Yum!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hillary way back when...

Way back when, kicking ass and taking names as a blue belt. Inspirational.

And here...

Her finals match as a whitebelt at Pan Ams.

Blue belt championships, Pan Ams, 2008.

Missing something...

Did class this morning.. worked on switching between low and posture passing, then avoiding the kimura, then attacking the turtle. Good times though I had to leave a little early to make it to a seminar I'm attending this week.

After a full day of educational, stimulating and entertaining presentations, I went back for more jits. Worked on gripfighting from the back, attacks from the back, back escapes, and then got to be chewtoy for some good friends.

Wish I didn't feel so... wistful. I am missing something. I'm having a twinge of slightly less motivation than my normal ravenous pace. Got some personal issues going on, not really feeling the drive to compete, and the phrase "recreational jits fighter" is ringing in my head. Don't get me wrong, I still live, breathe, eat, sleep, dream jiu jitsu. But there's something out there competing for my passion at the moment, something I can't fully have, and I miss that feeling of fulfillment which I used to find in jits.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mental Revelations of the Progressing Grappler

Reposted from the original, found here at the Small Axe BJJ Blog.

MENTAL REVELATIONS OF THE PROGRESSING GRAPPLER

One of the most exciting parts of teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the experience of witnessing students progress in skill and develop in mental acuity. Part of the progression entails improved physical abilities, but the beauty of BJJ is that, because of its intellectual components, one’s physical limitations can be overcome. This essay will explore the various mental revelations that occur with developing and progressing grapplers.

THE REVELATION OF RECOGNITION:

To the untrained eye, BJJ, submission grappling, and ground-fighting in general looks like two people pummeling around on the ground hugging, then suddenly it is over. I clearly remember in 1995 when I first saw Royce Gracie fighting in the UFC. I actually rooted against him because I did not understand what he was doing nor why it was ‘winning’ the fights. I wanted to see faces punched, heads kicked, and elbows dropped. I thought it seemed strange that none of the losers was able to shake Royce. I was not recognizing the leverage, the techniques, the skills, and the advantages of mastering grappling.

The beginning BJJ student is often overwhelmed by the lexicon of art. There are various names for the same positions, submission, and series. Some of the names make little sense (e.g. Americana bears no logical descriptive value to the actual submission) while others (e.g. cross-body) are clear. As the student is immersed in the language, observes matches, listens to his instructor and asks questions, he becomes familiar with the language of the art.

The “Revelation of Recognition” is different than just a familiarity with the names of the techniques, it is an ability to observe them and predict them or see their place in the match at hand. Frustratingly, it can often be a complete awareness of where a more advanced training partner is taking you and an understanding of the impending ending. I have had countless students say to me, “I knew what was coming and I just could not stop it!” I commend them when they say this because when they begin to “see” or recognize the attacks, they are on their way to being able to appropriately defend them. That is very significant and essential to progression.

THE REVELATION OF TECHNIQUE OVER STRENGTH AND SPEED:

Royce Gracie, Marcello Garcia, Eddie Bravo, Jeff Glover, and many other highly successful BJJ practioners would not catch many peoples’ eyes when they walk through an airport. They don’t fit the mold of professional athletes. Neither are they big, tall, stacked with muscles, nor are they billionaires who grace pop culture magazines. They are men who have twisted larger, more powerful, faster men into submission and barely broken a sweat. The interesting thing is these guys are the ‘rule’ not the ‘exception.’

Where I am from, the Mid-west, people are familiar with wrestling. They have probably been forced to participate in a match or two through phys-ed classes, or at least seen a match first hand as nearly every public school has a wrestling program. In wrestling, speed and strength are very important. Given the objective of pinning an opponent, one must be able to exert force over a short time. Again, to the untrained eye, BJJ is like wrestling, so an incorrect assumption is that the same strategies of wrestling are going to be “the best strategies” for jiu jitsu. Here is how one of my students, Josh Britt, puts it:

“We always hear in class to “use good technique” but in this situation (4 hour Blue Belt Pre-test) I was forced to do so, and it really opened my eyes at how much easier grappling becomes. Using good technique over and again will cause certain positions and moves to become almost second nature. The way I think of it is like a heartbeat. You don’t have to tell your heart to pump blood throughout your body, it just does it. It’s an involuntary action you can’t control. When someone is on top of me in cross side, I am immediately off my back and up on my side. I don’t even really have to think about it, it just happens, and since I don’t have to worry about trying to get up on my side, I can now focus more on other defenses and counters.

Because of the way I have changed mentally, I feel my game has improved a tremendous amount. I’m no longer tired after sparring for long periods of time. I’m no longer using strength or force, but technique and leverage. I think when you start out in jiu-jitsu or any form of grappling for that matter, you rely a lot on strength and that’s fine because you don’t know a lot about what you’re doing. But as you progress, the knowledge to strength ratio becomes more and more unbalanced, and my whole perspective on jiu-jitsu has changed because of it. I’m more relaxed and aware of what is going on, during a match, or in training. The techniques of this martial art were developed to be used by smaller individuals against a larger opponent. No matter what size or build you are, once you realize the meaning and purpose of good technique, can retain that knowledge, and can effectively execute against resistance, the game changes completely in your favor.”

While strength, power, speed, and fortitude to hold someone in a given position play a role in submission grappling, there is a revelation that occurs wherein the progressing grappler learns that techniques when applied with the appropriate strategy, tightness, and timing can easily force a stronger, faster, more powerful opponent to submit. This is the Revelation of Technique over Strength and Speed. A student who is truly realizing this will advance in perspective. A burden will lift from his/her shoulders. They no longer have to match their opponent’s physical abilities! The battle now is to utilize the best technique, at the right time, in the right manner.

THE REVELATION OF RELAXATION:

The Revelation of Relaxation usually comes rather contemporaneous to the Revelation of Technique over Speed and Strength. It is a change in mindset wherein the student’s approach is no longer to overwhelm the partner or opponent in the first minute of a match. Nor is the approach to resist every single movement of the partner with all one’s might. Instead, at appropriate points in the training, it is the clear and conscious decision to pause, think, and breathe.

Relaxing allows one to conserve energy, read attacks, evaluate balance, and analyze strategy. From a defensive standpoint, relaxing allows one to circle the wagons, bring the elbows in, protect the neck and move away from square with the offensive player. From an offensive standpoint, relaxation allows for the increased pressure, awareness of exposures that may not have been evident at the outset. Take for example the following:

You are underneath the mount. It is hot; he is heavy; and you are strong. Instinct tells you to push, bump, and attempt to roll. The guy on top is ready, he feels your bump and snags one of your extending arms and taps you quickly with a belly down arm-bar.

Or

You have just passed the guard and find yourself in scarf-hold position. Your favorite attack is the Americana from there. You choose to relax and cover your bases. In doing so, you notice the partner is already on his side and ready to escape. So you adjust your hips settle your weight and flatten him out. Now the arm is better exposed and ready for the attack.

The realization that a training session, match, or free spar does not have to be a whirlwind of unbridled and negligent movements greatly increases the efficacy of the art being performed.

THE REVELATION OF LINKAGE:

The Revelation of Linkage is one clear common experience of people ready for their purple belt. This revelation is often not a conscious one but rather a ‘realization’ that linkage has occurred. “Linkage” is often referred to as ‘flow.’ It is the ability to move from one move to the next in a fluid fashion. To have this revelation take place, the grappler must have an understanding of the larger picture in each position and how it fits into the other positions. Additionally, the grappler will have repeated the technical attacks to a point where he transitions from one movement to the next with little thought.

Newer students often say that they feel as though their training partners are a few steps ahead of them. Once a student has the revelation of linkage and their game begins to flow, it will seem as though that student is ‘creating’ the mistakes that the newer student is making. That is the beauty of linkage; it does not relegate you to a specific ‘plan of attack’ but rather lets your game be open to options that present themselves during a roll.

Professor Caique has always encouraged me to make sure I train with white belts and newbies. He told me they will not react the same way as a seasoned student and they will do unpredictable things. Thus, training with the inexperienced really tests your linkage challenges your flow. However, there is a lot of gratification in seeing your game become fluid despite awkward resistance and unconventional onslaughts.

THE REVELATION OF PRESSURE:

I remember training with Greg Lucas and Adam benShea when they both were brown belts and I was a new purple belt. With everyone else I trained with, even if they eventually submitted me, I could move. With Adam and Greg, there were times where I could not get to a defensive posture. Their pressure just crushed me.

I firmly believe that the Revelation of Pressure comes from the Revelation of Linkage. As you learn to link your techniques together, flow in and out of positions and transitions, you learn that certain positions afford you a higher percentage of taps. Therefore, you learn to maximize your time in those positions while minimizing the exertion of effort on your part. What you will ultimately realize is that pressure is the mechanism of maximizing suffering for your partner while minimizing your effort.

If your pressure is right, the other person will almost willingly put themselves into danger. Take for example Cent Kilos. I love to bait the head -arm triangle from this position. I have tapped several black belts with this technique and with good pressure as the secret. If you just smash someone’s chest in Cent Kilos, and they are properly defending their far arm, they have no incentive to move that arm in front of your face to provide the proper position for head-arm triangle. However, if you smash their face with ’shoulder of pain’ and drop your head-side hip low to the mat, you would be surprised how often the opponent will take his far arm out of proper defense to try to alleviate the pressure on his jaw. At that point, sliding knee across stomach to the opposite side is wide open and the attack is on.

Likewise from the guard position on the bottom, I love the arm-inside sweep/arm-inside armbar combination. I rarely get those moves if I go for it from the initial good guard position. What I like to do is break the top guy’s posture down and hug him around the neck with a Gable grip. (Once you have mastered controlling someone’s posture that way and have learned to keep your elbows tight, an amazing number of attacks and sweeps open up.) When I feel the top guy relent to trying to pull up and instead decide to drive forward into me, I then move into my arm-inside series. “I didn’t see that coming,” is a common response I get from the now mounted foe.

Pressure is wonderful because one second you can have it and then in another you can make it disappear and the whole complexion of game changes. Going from tortoise to hare then back to tortoise can stymie your opponent’s offense and cause extreme frustration.

THE REVELATION OF LESS IS MORE:

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is wonderfully organic. I think that is one of its characteristics that separates it from all the other martial arts. As of the date of this essay, no single entity has been able to mandate complete control over its techniques and restrict growth. Even today, a no-gi off-shoot of BJJ, is developing new techniques and strategies. Likewise, old standard techniques are reborn with vitality when experts submit other experts in major tournaments.

I am a consummate student of the art. I own dozens of books, tons of videos, and have watched more internet vids, read more blogs, and visited more websites than anyone I know. As such, I always hoped that I would find ‘my game’ among the next periodical, or in the next clip, or in the next tournament video.

Then came Adam benShea. Adam is a beast of a human being. He is super intelligent, built like a brick house, and his jiu jitsu is out of this world. The first time I ever sparred with him, he pulled guard, scissor swept me, did knee slide pass to side control, dug my far arm out and Americana-ed it. You might ask how I remember this in such detail. Well, he did it at least ten times in a row! I tried everything I could defend each time. I was a purple belt! Not just a mediocre purple, but one that was winning tournaments!

Later, once I was able to frustrate the Americana, he would step over my head and reverse armlock the same arm. Once I frustrated that, it was kimura time! This was months and months of training and his attacks were the same. He could recognize all the flashy crap we wanted to learn, but they were not part of his game. He was content with using the few moves he was excellent at to reek havoc.

Finding what works for your body, your game, your attitude, your mental demands and honing those to perfection is very important. Being a ‘jack of all trades and a master of none’ will only get you so far in BJJ. At some point you have to begin to develop go-to moves. It is when you make this decision that you are realizing that ‘less is more.’ There is no need for me to learn the inverted guard game. It does not fit my body, my attitude, my philosophy or my common strategy, so I will watch it and admire it, but need not spend precious repetition time on it.

THE REVELATION THAT ALL THESE REVELATIONS REPEAT:

There are probably other, very obvious, revelations that I am missing. However, the last revelation, the Revelation that all these Revelations Repeat, is the Revelation that led me to realize that all the aforementioned Revelations are real. As you progress through each belt level, you will come to recognize moves, you will refine your technique to accommodate for deficiencies in strength/speed/power, you will continue to link moves in deeper more meaningful sentences, you will explore levels of pressure from different positions to maximize your opponent’s suffering while minimizing your effort, and you will pare away techniques you have learned that don’t meet your needs. I imagine the day these progressions quit happening for me will be the day I quit grappling!

New gi...

Oooohh... the new lilac gi by Vulkan has just arrived. I ordered an A0, which fits fabulously except for my ____, which is obviously larger than your average bear's. I was saddened to see that lilac isn't all that different a color from my old purple gi--it's a little bluer perhaps. The fabric is silky soft and indeed, very, very light. The cut is very slim; it's the first time my wrists aren't swimming in enormous sleeves! So now my fear is of shrinking it. Budovideos got it to me very quickly, and included in the box was a matching gi bag. The only downsides I can note, besides the tightness of the derriere (um, that's my signal to leave the candy corn alone) are as follows: the soft porn girl on the gi bag (see below) and the pants drawstring was inserted backwards. No biggie, it was easy to restring it properly; I'm just sayin'.

Post-wearing comments below under the pictures...










Today was a very nice day otherwise... though my morning class was cancelled, I did crossfit at lunch and then open mat. That was fun; worked on my triangles when I have a loose lock and people posture up... then armbarred a friend against full resistance. (and no, Alex B, THAT wasn't my first. I have historically had trouble with triangles-- not armbars-- but anyway..)

So-- comments on Tuesday, after wearing the gi in two classes... Nice! The rear end stretched out a bit and is definitely comfortable now; we'll see what it's like after a wash. The A0, like the Atama female-fit gis in sizes F2 and F3, lacks that diaper-wadded-between-your-legs pooch of extra fabric, hooray.. the fabric is soft and thin enough to be very comfortable even though it was hot and humid today, but the sleeve width is narrow enough that people seemed not to be able to grip there so easily. I'd compare the fabric with my Keiko Raca, but the Keiko has baggy enough sleeves that I could house a Siamese temple cat or a family of chinchillas in there. Thumbs up on the lilac gi.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

There is no such thing as fall...

As predicted, warming up on Tuesday with several days predicted to be in the upper 80s. Just in time as I'm almost finished switching out the tanktop collection for the sweaters. Dammit.

Mustaches cure cancer...

OK, that's an exaggeration. But look-- both my parents died of the stuff (cancer, not mustaches, thanks) and I'm pretty keen on cancer research as a result. There's this Mustache-a-thon going on right now to rustle up donations for Memorial Sloan-Kettering's oncology program, and my buddy Steve is rustling up the facial hair. Go take a peek here on his blog and then please make a donation. It's tax deductible, yo, and a good cause.

Note: the link above has been edited to reflect his new blog location :)

My weekend..

It's been a nice weekend so far. On the plus side, the weather has been delightfully chilly, grey, and autumn-y. Spent some time this morning taking winter clothes out of the guest room closet and rummaging around in my sweater collection. This, of course, means that we'll be returning to hot weather any moment now.

Spent yesterday doing (of course) jiu jitsu-related things and hanging out with friends. Shipped out a gi and a custom back patch to Chris at Happy Kimonos to get tiedyed. The patch came from NHB Gear and should look pretty sweet with the tiedye... they hunted around to find the exact font I wanted and I will post photos as soon as I get it back. Hope to have it in time for the next tournament, which I believe I will do on November 7.

Jits was fun-- Phil brought in a new wrestling mat which effectively added about 1/3 more mat space, and class focused on attacks from top half guard. Learned a nifty shoulderlock from that position, when your opponent reaches up for a cross-collar lapel grip, and since it was a Coach Giberson class, we had plenty of positional sparring time. Got to roll afterwards with Marc and Lawrence (who has a VERY tight and controlled game especially considering how little time he's been training... nice transitions from side to N/S to side.. yikes, scary good.) Then I drained two cauli ears for friends and had to leave without being Ahmed's chewtoy.

Went to Anthony's and let his dogs out (he was in San Antonio for the WEC fights). Met a girlfriend at a cafe for tea and some girl time, and then later Mitch, our friend Tariq and I went to her house to watch the WEC. No fight spoilers but I will say my favorite fight was Cerrone v. Henderson... one of them has rubber joints!

Today is a little more domesticated... jits, of course, at which I will hopefully burn off some of the pizza and snackies from last night [insert sad face here.] My stomach is NOT used to eating fatty greasy bad-for-me food and it's not happy. I'll be taming some of the chaos I have created around the house [insert saintly yet impatient husband face here] by folding laundry, putting away clothes etc. And cooking-- it's a big cooking day. Chicken umbriago... spaghetti sauce with Italian sausage.. sour milk spice cake (sounds bad, is not) and apple cake (gotta use up that bowl of slightly-wrinkled apples) and maybe a pumpkin gingerbread. And clean out the fridge.

Next weekend we have a houseguest, a lawyer friend in town to take the State Bar's criminal specialization boards, and I might be going to Houston just for Saturday, as there's a Girls in Gis training day up there. Then the next weekend after, there's the Capital City Salsa Festival, with some international salsa stars doing classes and performances, and the UFC (Lyoto Machida v. Mauricio Rua)... and then Halloween right around the corner :) Busy times, busy times.

Enjoy what's left of your weekend! :)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Brilliance and not-so-much.

First-- Fabio Gurgel rolling with Leo Vieira in 1997... for perspective, Drysdale wasn't even training yet, and Comprido was a blue belt..



That's obviously the brilliance part of my title. Especially liked the cartwheel pass to back mount at 1:16... and then at 1:22 the back escape to side mount... OK, I'll shut up now, I basically love the whole thing. Of course.

Returning to your regularly-scheduled programming (the not-so-brilliant part)... been working on some of the tweaks Donald made to my butterfly pass last week; working on hip movement and armbars and threatening chokes to bait reactions.. trying to be more aggressive and prosecute my attack series instead of just balling up on the bottom a la inverted smash. Not always with the success but at least always with the having fun. This morning, got to roll with Tommy and Doug, who destroyed me with gentlemanly grace... then at lunch, again with the nice big bluebelt whose name I can't recall-- and again sweep city! My problem is in trying to pin people down (i.e. while passing half guard or whatever) I end up putting my weight on top of them instead of next to them. Gotta remember that!

Tomorrow's a two-fer. Teaching salsa tonight and then to bed early since the irregulars are meeting at 6:30am. Groan.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Advice for your first competition.

I've been getting this request a lot lately-- must be that time of year. Though I pretend no expertise, I can at least suggest what has worked for *me.* PLEASE add what I have missed by commenting, thanks!

Start competing early in your career. I did my first tournament as a whitebelt with about 6 weeks' worth of real training. I hardly knew what a triangle was; the only thing remotely resembling a takedown in my "vocabulary" was to pull guard, which I did poorly. I didn't have a guard game, either, so that would have been funny had I ever succeeded. But for me (ubercompetitive to a fault) that early experience had the benefit of me putting less pressure on myself to win. Try not to wait until you feel like you're ready to compete as that (for me) never happens.. go early, tell yourself that it's diagnostic, no pressure, and approach it like a tourist or an anthropologist, exploring new mores and customs of a foreign people.

Here's some of the Relson Gracie people with me, at my first tournament. (Scott looks like he has scary-long arms, but it's an optical illusion, or so he claims.)


What's your game plan? This cracked me up... during the ride to that first tournament, a teammate asked me the same question, and of course I was clueless. He distilled it succinctly: what's your favorite submission? When in doubt, go for that. If you're not in position to go for it, then try to get there. As it turned out, my first tourney was a local round-robin nogi thing hosted monthly by some MMA school. There weren't enough girls for their own division, so I (and two others) competed in the 155 lbs-and-under division. I picked "guillotine" and his suggestion was in the back of my mind the whole time. In every match with a guy (most of whom were wrestlers) I got my butt kicked, but I didn't spaz.

Here's me and the two chicks at that tournament...


In a match against one of them, I won by guillotine. So, it helps to have a plan, even a very basic one. Keeps some nerves at bay, gives you some direction and focus. Of course, this changes as your abilities change; if your first tourney is as a blue belt, you might ought to have something more advanced than "one submission." But you don't need crazy complexity either-- Roger Gracie's plan is "pass, mount, choke." If it works for him...

Start preparing early. Get your cardio in gear a month or two before the tournament, assuming you're maintaining a good fitness level generally. I won't pretend to be the font of info on this topic, too many good sources out there on the web like Stephan Kesting's GrappleArts, Jason Scully's Grapplers Guide, Caleb's Fightworks Podcast, and workouts like WOD from Crossfit, P90x, etc. But make sure you give yourself time to make weight sensibly and taper your training.

Read about conditioning here.
And cutting weight here.
About overtraining, and peaking...
And about tapering.

A word on weight. Guys are usually pretty up on the benefits of weight classes.. 10 lbs can make a big difference in terms of who you compete against. Women often are not so aware; after all, most of the time at "home" in our academies we're rolling against lots of people who weigh 20, 40, 60 lbs or more than we do, so at times the thought of rolling with someone "only" 10 lbs more than us is like candy. However, ladies, don't underestimate the benefits of being in as low a weight class as you can comfortably. At NAGA for example, we start out officially having two weightclasses... 134.9 lbs and below, or 135 and above. I used to think "shoot, I'm aiming right for 134." But then I got to the tournament and saw that where possible, the tournament people would further subdivide the group. Now I aim for more like 120-125 because I know there are a good number of ladies at that range... whereas the ladies who walk around at 150ish cut for 134.9, and that weight really does come right back in a night of eating and relaxing. When I walk around at 130 and fight a girl who walks around at 150, it sucks. (Of course, at smaller tournaments they might have to combine weight classes, in which case you'd kick yourself.) The amazing thing about BJJ is that it's changed how I see my own weight. It's no longer a number to be hated, and it's fixed some body image issues... now, I am a functional body, and being muscular, capable, strong, even "heavy" is the goal. It adds a dimension beyond just being "in a smaller size."

Try to simulate an adrenaline dump ahead of time. Adrenaline is the chemical released by your body in time of attack-- the fight-or-flight reaction is designed to maximize your output for survival's sake. A massive adrenaline dump can make you weak, nauseous, light-headed, spacey, or shaky. How do you simulate them? Train intensely at home-- do shark pits (you stay in the middle, sparring a fresh new partner every five minutes without rest between, for 4-5-6 matches in a row.) Push yourself beyond your aerobic threshold. Try to envision yourself in the tournament setting and really visualize your success-- see, hear, taste, feel yourself getting the adrenaline dump and working through it smoothly. This is a good article laying out the thesis that mental practice can be as effective, if not more so, as live real practice. Take advantage.

Know the rules ahead of time. Some tournaments follow the IBJJF rules, others are more liberal about what submissions are permitted at which belt levels. NAGA rules, for example, allow cervical cranks and heel hooks in nogi at blue and maybe even at white. Be prepared and know if some more advanced submissions might get thrown your way so that you know what they look like and when to tap. (I am told that some subs, like heel hooks, put strain on ligaments that are not well-supplied with nerves, so that the pain comes almost simultaneously with the bad injury. Not to scare you, but knowledge is power.) Also know if they care about the color of your gi, the measurements of sleeves etc, whether rashguards or mouthguards are required, and so on. How long will your matches be? How long do you have to hold a position to get points? All and more... in the rules.

Stuff to bring.

Your mileage may vary, but I always bring something to eat (tournament food usually being the crappy football-stadium variety-- nachos, hotdogs, chips, and if you're lucky, unripe bananas.) Many people suggest something with complex carbs, simple carbs, and protein. I have seen people bring PB&J sandwiches on whole wheat bread, or loaves of bread and honey bears, or string cheese and fruit. I personally bring a snack mix of dried fruit, nuts, yogurt-covered raisins, and sunflower seeds. I also bring plenty of Crystal Light packets and a water bottle. I don't like drinking sugary things like gatorade or soda-- too many calories! Conversely, for after the tournament, I bring something indulgent like cookies, because usually I'm cutting weight for the month or so prior, and it feels great to have all your matches over and enjoy something "forbidden."

Bring a friend or loved one. This could be mate/spouse, parent, friend, or even a teammate. It helps to have someone who isn't competing because you won't have to deal with their nerves too, but obviously is not essential. They need to bring a book/magazine, because tournaments can get boring to the non-obsessed. They should be prepared to spend hours sitting and not knowing what's going on, because you will be busy watching, talking, disappearing, etc. But they should also be prepared for the last-minute rush of "hurry, get the camera, I'm about to go!" And they definitely shouldn't expect preferential visitor status, as you likely will have more adrenaline than you know what to do with, and not enough mental space for taking care of anyone other than yourself.

If possible have them bring a video camera and plenty of batteries, tape etc to catch your matches (and if you love your teammates, to get theirs too.) Have them watch some matches on youtube ahead of time so that they know what to expect. Help them set up at the edge of the mat where you will be rolling. The easier you make it on your support person, the more likely they will be to come back next time. (And budget to take them out for dinner afterwards, too.)

A cell phone is handy if your coach/corner person will be responsible for cornering many matches throughout the day. Try to keep them posted on where your division will compete and when. At big NAGA tournaments like ours in Texas, they have 12, 14 even 16 mats running at once, all day long. It will help your coach stay on top of the situation to text them "John is on deck, mat 5." Bring your charger too.

Flipflops and a jacket/hoodie. Something easy to slip on and off your feet-- keep them clean for the mats we all rub our faces on at some point, yeah? And sometimes, rarely, you'll get chilled, so the hoodie may come in handy.

Nogi clothes (shorts, rashie, athletic bra) and a separate set of everything for gi divisions just so you have something clean and dry to put on. Ladies, wear bike shorts or boy shorts under your grappling shorts. Nothing's more mortifying than watching video of your nogi matches later, and not only seeing your thong showing but hearing bystander boys comment on it. And you might consider if your school has a distinctive team tshirt, wear it so that you and teammates can rapidly spot each other from across the space. At Relson Gracie Austin, we have red, green or camo shirts and we definitely have visual impact when we are clustered together.

Ipod/mp3 player of music you love. Actually, I always say this, but I bring it, don't listen, and stress about losing it, so decide on your own factors. I am afraid I'll miss my mat calls, and I'm running around watching friends, hooking up with friends from other schools, and generally not needing the music to pump me up. However, I have seen people who can benefit from getting into a "zone" enhanced by mood music, so... know yourself! Maybe a book or magazine wouldn't hurt. Even a little pillow if you think you might get nappy.

I also bring some extras in my gym bag for other people as well as myself... athletic tape, ibuprofen/sodium naproxen, liquid bandage spray for mat burn or blisters, bandaids and antibiotic salve, breath mints, spare set of contacts and lens solution, a handful of hair elastics, business cards or a little notebook so you can jot down contact info, a small digital camera.

Bring some cash, credit cards, and/or checkbook, whatever you're comfortable with. Vendors set up booths, you'll want a tshirt or two, and sometimes they have GREAT prices on gis. I got my Kyra Gracie gi for less than 50% of the normal price at the Atama Open last year.

Day before, day of: Big big tournaments like Mundials, Pan Ams etc will weigh you in moments before you get on the mat, in your gi etc. Smaller, less formal tournaments just set up a bathroom scale, not even a digital one, and let you weigh the day before in whatever clothing you want. If at all possible, assuming you're cutting weight, do weigh-ins the day before. This gives you a night of eating and drinking as you like so you are full of energy at the competition. Weigh-ins are funny sometimes-- you'll see guys in the parking lot running around in sweat suits, you'll see men stripping down to their tighty-whities to squeak under the wire, etc. You won't have to do a Gina Carano and strip behind some poorly-held-up towels though. Just wear some thin athletic shorts and a lightweight tshirt and take off your shoes if you're nervous about weight.

Get a good night's rest the night before- at least get to bed early and try to sleep.

Do whatever pre-competition routine works for you-- for me, that's get some warm-up rolling in at my affiliate academy in the town of the tournament in the morning, preferably against someone on the smaller side and NOT a spazzy newb. Don't go against someone who will demoralize you or beat you down, and don't for God's sake get injured.

Show up for the rules meeting and be patient. Tournaments NEVER run on time, but you can't count on it. Our NAGAs start around 10am and last time, my first division didn't get on the mat till around 5pm. That's a monster tournament, but still, interesting and scary. Try to plan a little warmup for 5-10 min or so before your divisions get called. On the other hand, don't freak if you can't warm up. My division got called with zero lead time, so I walked on the mat totally "cold." Didn't matter.

A note on stretching to warm up before your rounds. Read this article which summarizes some studies showing that static stretching in the hour right before competition hurts power, maximal voluntary contraction, balance and reaction time. So brush up on some dynamic stretching for day-of warmups, and leave the static stretches at home where they will help increase the range of motion.

Be friendly! This is maybe the most important thing. Don't get all tweaked about competition... it's a great diagnostic for weaknesses in your jits vocabulary, but it's not the end-all be-all. Stay in touch with people in your division after the tournament. If you continue competing, you'll be seeing them again throughout your career. How cool will it be to say "I knew you when you were a whitebelt!" Especially if you say it as a blackbelt! Realize this is ONE tournament of many and the most important part is having fun while learning. Also, networking is always a good thing. Who knows when you'll want to train in another city, trade instructionals, get advice? And this goes for your referees, too. They won't have time to stop and chat usually but it's nice to be recognized. My NAGA matches are usually reffed by Hillary Williams, badass purple belt and bronze medalist at Abu Dhabi this year... and it genuinely feels good to see her at NAGA and get a friendly smile. Makes you feel at home!

On that note, OWN YOUR MAT. Although you ought to be the epitome of friendliness, you are still laying claim to the mat when you step on it. It's yours, not theirs. Own it. Shake everyone's hand well before your matches get started, if you can tell who is in your division. As my friend and mentor Kirk puts it, laying hands on your opponents in a friendly, nonconfrontational way helps demonstrate your dominance. Even these little subconscious things have influence so don't be afraid to utilize them. Don't overshare-- I saw a girl in the bathroom at a tournament and she was scared to death. We chatted a while, I cheered her up and gave her a pep talk. I was honestly tickled to discover she was my first match of the day because I knew she would be at a disadvantage. So-- share your worries with a teammate, not the random nice person in line. Never let them see you sweat.

Write about your experiences! When all is said and done, don't forget to write some notes. Maybe to yourself, in a notebook... maybe for the world to read in a blog, where you can help some other person by extension. Definitely watch your matches on video. Write down problem areas and bring them to your coach/instructor. If you can get them to watch them with you and post-mortem, even better.

Ugh. I can't even watch, but here's a couple matches from MY first tournament.



What do you think-- what have I missed?

Triangle.

Got my first triangle choke, to submission, against a fully-resisting guy in live sparring, this morning. Have triangled the female of the species before, but not a guy, and not a fully-resisting guy.

Yes.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Braulio Estima v Leo Leite -- 2001

I know I've posted this before but it hasn't gotten any less fabulous. *sigh* Can I be this when I grow up?

Rawr...

Yesterday, the biggest click ever. I don't care that it was a whitebelt, though it will feel better when it's someone more experienced-- but he was passing my open guard, I was on my side/hip with the top leg over his back, and some ghost of jiu jitsu past inhabited my body, causing me to switch from leg on top to hook under femur and then elevator him fluidly, like the proverbial knife and buttah. Seriously he flipped over like ... like whatever gets flipped- flapjacks? whitebelts?

And then today-- a baseball bat choke from knee on belly, from Donald's series. Not something I'm used to doing, but it was floating there in front of me like it was outlined in yellow highlighter. And I had the opportunity to teach a few details of the kimura from side control today, then Jim (a 3 stripe brown) showed up later and independently confirmed everything I'd said. *Preen, preen.*

And then at lunch, gripfighting and takedown wars. Not so much with the resounding click there-- though I had to laugh, twice I tried to jump guard on Christy (who's about a foot taller than me) and instead jumped "half guard." Not like pulled her down into half, but jumped up onto her leg like a crazed shih tzu, and clung there like a monkey on a tree trunk. She laughed (nicely) and didn't crush me, surprise surprise. I did imitate an anklebiter dog at one point, rolling with a nice guy (a purple?) whose name I don't recall... we were gripfighting, and somehow someway I ended up on my knees, nose to his kneecap, so I figured what the heck-- grabbed his legs at knee level and just drove forwards, shoulder to shin, till he timbered. It was messy, inelegant, and flamboyant, but felt sweet nonetheless.

Then, the kids' martial arts class I assist at... herding the cutest cats on the planet. We're moving into a judo unit and the whole footsweep thing is fascinating them. Some get it very instinctively (Kai, Mischa) and then some struggle a little more (Oscar, V, Big 'Un). Don't ask-- some of them have funny nicknames (like the 4 yr old Julia, nicknamed Mami.) I just follow orders. And let me tell you-- when Robert, the instructor, wants to take you down, you are going down. Conversely, if he doesn't want to be swept, trying is like trying to reap a treetrunk. But it was great fun.

Stopped in at Whole Foods very quickly for a 10 minute meal with my husband... mmmm, raw salmon and veggies and wasabi.

Tomorrow, an ethics seminar... class 3x... I'm sleepy already but promised a chocolate-chip banana bread for my friends Kirk and Richard tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Hot and humid!

Man, it's hot and humid out. Hello, it's past ten o'clock at night and it's 84! Blech. Maybe I will stay indoors tomorrow and make use of the AC instead of prancing around outside. Says it will rain tomorrow-- hope so.

Today was a challenge; did well in morning class for the most part, had some nice flowy rolls going, but noticed that a weakness of mine is that transition from mount to seated mount; instead of moving my front foot, I get it trapped underneath people. I tapped myself out doing that to the sore ankle one match and had to ice it a while before I jumped back in.

Crossfit at lunch-- ahhhh. Been a while since I attended because work's been crazy, and it felt great to get a "pure" workout in.

Had a block party to attend at home this evening, which combined with the sore ankle and still squidgy elbow made me skip the regular night class. Hobnobbed with the denizens of my 'hood (lol, what a juxtaposition.... it's clearly an upper middle class vocab-snob hood for me to use a word like denizen...) but then scooted back to the academy in time for Donald's comp team class. I hear the regular class was brutal, all side mount escapes and beating the underhook, but comp class wasn't exactly a walk in the park either. I'm getting a little hoppy with my seoi nages and when they're defended, they're not functional (though tonight's technique was a followup using your inside leg to reap/trip their ankle that I found eminently useable.) Drilled a choke/armbar/sweep attack series from guard which I am soooo frustrated with. Girl who ends up in guard all the time should be a terror attacking from there. I am more girl scout than terror. Sulk. Then we did guard pass defense, a guard pass, and putting the two together for a while. Nice.

Then I noticed that my partner Leila's white gi was looking.... greenish. Greenish in the places where my Chocolate Love gi was rubbing. My not-green, why-is-this-happening-when-my-gi-is-brown, chocolate gi. So... took her gi home, washing it now. Hoping I don't have to buy her another gi.

Speaking of which, I have the new Vulkan Pro Light freaking sweet lilac-colored gi on the way to me, in an A0. Expect a review soon. And I'm watching Stephan Kesting's latest instructional, "Grappling Concepts," as we speak, for review soon.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Chewtoy.

I get used to feeling like a chewtoy at the lunch open mat twice a week. Usually there's a handful of purples and browns roaming around, and usually when they want a rest from more challenging rolls, they'll come find me if I haven't approached them yet. I don't mind; I see my place in the foodchain, and I'm happy to serve my function, because I'm finally getting to the place where someone, anyone is below me. This means I have some people I can try... well, okay, I'm supposed to be trying new stuff on them; really, I'm just happy to be working on old stuff with them so I can get it to work reliably. Maybe that's what would be new about it ;-)

Anyway, today was a little different.. a virtual plethora of blues, all friends, and I got to roll with Jason who doesn't usually come to open mat. It was fun because I was both toy and teethed-one. Yay.

Busting out the chocolate love tomorrow.. that's right, the chocolate gi will be out and about.

No bites, please.

Thanks Viro!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Chocolate brown.

Ended up taking a friend's request for a chocolate brown gi to get me off my duff and re-dye that Keiko. (I dyed one of my Keikos peach and it was bad. Orangesicle bad.)

So here's his gi, before...



And mine...


His, during... it's pretty easy, just takes about 90 minutes from start to the "insert in washing machine and don't drip on carpet" stage. Fortunately this was another drip-free dyeing experience.


And his, after. The stitching and embroidery doesn't take the dye, as they used nylon thread.




And here's mine. The original pink trim and lettering looks pretty cool, I think. But there's some tiny red spots on the left chest-- I think the dye didn't fully dissolve in those spots. Dammit. Oh well.



Pet peeves.

I'm waiting for the wash to finish-- so I can post a whole series of pics related to dyeing my friend John's gi-- and poking around on the net, reading.

I just wanted rant for a moment about punctuation and grammar. It's obvious most people don't care because they shamefully abuse those standards of common decency with their writing. I recognize I'm probably one of the only anal-retentive editor-types in the BJJ world, and if you want to skip this post, by all means do it, and don't bitch at me for being anal, that's just how I roll.

DON'T use apostrophes to pluralize! When you speak of more than one athlete, they are athletes, NOT athlete's.

DON'T use apostrophes to make pronouns possessive! When you write that this book belongs to "you", say this book is yours, NOT this book is your's. Likewise, if talking about something belonging to it, like, oh, I don't know... the dog's foot is dirty... say "its foot is dirty" (the foot belongs to it)... which is closely related to another pet peeve... if you say "It's" you are using a contraction of "it is." You can correctly say "It's dirty" only if you would also say "It is dirty."

[/rant]

See, this is what happens when I only get to train once in a day.

The fights!

Daniel Jolly and Aaron LaFranco and Daniel Moraes all won! In San Antonio at the amateur MMA fights, Jolly by decision after 3 tough, tough rounds, 30-27-- took the guy down a bunch of times, mounted him, took his back, and almost RNCd him... Aaron by tko in the first round, mounting him and slamming him around a fair bit... and at the No Gi Pan American Championships in New York, Daniel Moraes took gold! The middleweight division there was the most crowded division of the adult blackbelt, and Moraes shared a bracket with notables like Mike Fowler, Edson Diniz, Rafael dos Santos and Bruno Tostes as the most known competitors.

So we're all super happy. Drove down to San Antonio with Mitch and Lawrence and met up with other Gracie peeps... screamed myself hoarse... and all went out for sushi after (yum!)

Me and Mitch..


Here's Aaron, about to unleash, on the left...


Aaron celebrating victory while his opponent is helped to his feet...



Here's the start of Daniel Jolly's match-- he's on the left:


Jolly wades in with some quick, heavy hands..


Mounted on top of, and beating, the poor guy..


The RNC..


I'm surprised his opponent resisted the RNC as long as he did, but was saved by the bell..


The only view I could get of Jolly's hand being raised was on the big-screens..


Me and Jolly, after the fight and full of endorphins...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Some random pictures..

...cleaning off the memory card and figured I'd throw these up...

The cinnamon crumb cake muffins I made for class this morning...



My phenomenally talented friend and creative singer/songwriter Maggie Walters.. (you can check out her stuff at her website.)


And then my garden, which is relatively bedraggled after a long, hot summer and jits-related neglect. The first couple are from overhead, on the upstairs deck.