Saturday, February 27, 2010

New stripe, new sponsors...

Wooo! First I need to thank Phrost and Bullshido for sponsoring me just in time for the IBJJF Texas International Open tournament next weekend in Houston. is a fantastic resource and forum, dedicated to rooting out frauds in the martial arts. I have participated in two of their investigations.. Richard Guerra (my review can be found here and their investigation here) and Larry Sanders (review here and report here.) A big shout-out also to Nick G. from the Bullshido forums who individually sponsored me with a little jingle in the paypal account... THANKS GUYS!

Second, got my second stripe today :)

Had a fantastic afternoon of training... Josh came up from San Antonio and taught some uberuseful stuff and then we had a really fun, challenging, insightful roll together. I was bummed that afterwards when we all went to the Rockin' Tomato for pizza, I was rabbitfooding it... but all this talk about gi weight and belt weight and frankly my ass weight has me nervous.

Wish IBJJF would update the durn website :)

See you in class tomorrow!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Leave Them There!

From a nifty new (to me) BJJ blog: The Metamorphosis of Nyjah...

I was reading through a magazine one day and found an ad that said "Your competition is asleep at the boarding gate; leave them there."

I've been at my desk most of the day and I'm feeling sleepy, hungry, unmotivated-- 'til I read this.

How to Drain Your Cauliflowering Ear

I wrote this as a comment on a friend's blog (Stephanie aka Jiujitsunista writes You Want Me to Put My Head Where?!) and thought it might be helpful reference.

I used insulin needles. I went to Walgreens at the pharmacy counter and asked for the tiniest gauge needles they had; a sack of 10 syringes with super-teeny needles was like $2.50.

I also bought a box of alcohol pads that happened to have anesthetic in there too. (No harm in being a pain-weenie.)

I carefuly wiped all around the inside and outside of my ear and let the pad sit for a minute or so on the place where the fluid was filled up, so the novacaine could soak in if it was going to. (As it turns out, it doesn't numb your ear, at least not that I could feel. But the needle prick isn't all that painful either.)

Depending where the fluid pocket is, you'll need to play around with where to stick the needle. Pull all your hair back and use bobby pins so you have a very clear view and do this in front of your bathroom mirror. Take all the protective caps off the syringe, needle-end and plunger-end. Work the plunger in and out a little bit so it doesn't stick, and I left the plunger out about .5cc so there was some airspace the fluid could flow into.

You'll want to put the needle in all the way, and have the tip of the needle in the middle of the deepest part of the fluid. The hardest part is actually penetrating your skin (the top layer is tough!) Sometimes, just getting into the ear is enough to get the blood/fluid draining. Sometimes, you need to get the needle in and then pull the plunger back bit by bit.

If nothing at all comes into the chamber when you pull the plunger a bit, you may need to change the angle of the needle relative to the pocket of fluid, or maybe pull the needle out a tiny bit to get less deeply into the pocket, or ick, you may need to change where you pierce the skin entirely.

Sad to say, you'll get a good feel for that particular pocket over the next day or two, and you'll find a place and angle that reliably works. That one "stick site" will become sore but the feeling of relief and the lack of vegetableness of your ear will be worth it.

FYI-- sometimes, the fluid is bloody (even really dark red) and sometimes it's clear-yellow serum. Usually, it starts out with a droplet of blood- then a bunch of serum- then the tail end of that draw will be blood, which actually looks pretty cool as it swirls into the serum. Sorry, I guess I'm twisted.

Make sure you use an alcohol pad to pinch against the stick site again, and hold it tightly for a minute or so to stop any residual bleeding. Also make sure you bend the needle back (pressing it against the floor or a hard nonscratch surface) and then re-cap it so no one can reuse it.

Here's a video of Mike Swick draining his ear-- the relevant part starts around 2:00.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How to corner a jiu jitsu match...

Whoa, whoa, did I say that out loud? Guess I did. Sorry, it's presumptuous, I know I'm a newbie, so take this with a grain of salt. It's just my opinion. And sorry, moms and dads, there's a few Eff words in here. Caveat emptor.

This is based on (a small amount of) real experience. I'm putting this in terms of situations I've seen or heard at tournaments; fortunately, the don'ts were other peoples' coaches and the dos were learned by observing my own instructors and how they corner me and my teammates. I will phrase them in terms of absolute rules but we all know rules are meant to be broken, sometimes, in limited circumstances. Let me know what you think and feel free to add some.

1. Don't scream yourself hoarse. I don't know why this is my #1 pet peeve-- maybe because I am sensitive to being yelled at (as opposed to yelled "to" for volume's sake) and maybe because it means you will be harder to hear for the next teammate during their next match.

2. Don't insult your fighter. YES, I have heard this! How "motivating" to have your corner call you a pussy! (May 09 NAGA) or for your coach to tell you, a preteen girl, that you're worthless and storm off the mat before you're finished with the match (and then it turns out your coach is your DAD! August 09 NAGA) I think it's safe to assume that pretty much EVERYONE who bothers to turn out to compete is going to try their hardest and do their best. Insults and pleas and whining will not extract better effort from your fighter- urgency and clarity of instruction will. Insults and childishness just make you and your school look unappealing, to say the least. And don't forget, not everyone at a tournament already trains. Some people come to watch and end up getting hooked. Rep your school with professionalism and grace, you might find your newest student is sitting nearby, evaluating what it would be like to have YOU as their coach.

3. [Edited in 2014 to add: I no longer agree with this one, but left it in for history's sake.  Now I think it's great to get inside the other competitor's head, the ref's head, etc.] Don't interject comments aimed at other people. First, when adrenaline is pumping, your fighter might not be hearing clearly, or might only hear snatches of what you say. You've probably already noticed you need to repeat things a couple times to get them to sink in. If you make comments aimed at someone else, your fighter might get confused and you're wasting your breath anyway, because definitely no one else will listen to you in a match. Also, you better not yell at refs or other coaches. Just tacky.

4. Be loud. I don't care what you're normally like off the mats-- shy, softspoken, sweet, whatever-- your job is to support and encourage and provide whatever you can for your fighter for these 4-5-6-10 minutes. You better be loud enough for them to hear. That doesn't mean screaming at top volume-- either position yourself properly on the mat border, or enunciate and project adequately. Do NOT rely on your girlfriend/SO to relay your instructions unless you just lost your voice and there's no alternative.. it adds seconds of delay while she (ok maybe he) looks quizzically at you and says "a real naked what???"

5. Don't get mad if it seems like we're ignoring you. Be louder, repeat repeat repeat, be clearer in articulation, or be clearer with your directions. Trust me, we're NOT ignoring you. Either the adrenaline is making the blood rush in our ears like the sea in a shell, or our ear is plastered against their chest, or maybe we can hear you but you can't see that our leg is trapped so we can't do what you want... or maybe we're just parsing "turn towards them!" Because I tell you, "towards" is confusing when they're on your back; it seems like either way you go they are right there. Be specific-- say "turn to your right!" and definitely not "turn towards their left!" It's hard enough for me to figure out which is their left leg when I'm calm, much less in a match. This past weekend I was in a triangle and my corner said "step over her head" about 20 times, then he realized I was in that cluefree fog... so he clarified "Step over with your right leg!" And then, though I was not coordinated enough to execute, I was at least on the same page and gave it a try or two. Which brings me to:

6. Be encouraging especially when we fuck up. When they land the sweep, when we unbase ourselves and tip over, when we pull mount or when we put ourselves into a triangle, reassure us that all is not lost and start the business of unfucking us.

7. Ask if we WANT a corner. I have a few training partners who really don't want someone else yelling at them. Maybe your fighter is already being cornered; why have two voices yelling potentially contradictory stuff?

8. Don't corner your own child/spouse/significant other unless it cannot be avoided. This should be self-explanatory.

9. Don't give away your fighter's moves. This is tough and takes lots of experience. Not sure I know how to tell anyone how to do this or avoid this mistake. I hear it all the time-- in fact I love it when it's my opponent's coach doing this. Oh yeah, you're going to triangle me? not now, you're not! Or you're going to try for a single leg? I'm ready to sprawl, thanks for the heads up! One thing I love about my corners from my school, so far, is that they'll phrase things in terms of suggestions, and they'll focus on telling me what my opponent is about to do, while trusting that I will know (approximately at least) what to do to counter it, or how to take advantage and capitalize on it.

10. Do use the same terminology we use back home. Don't invent new "secret language." This is tough if you're from a sister academy and get pressed into cornering duties-- how will you know we don't call it quite the same thing? You won't.. just keep trying different similar phrasing, or break it down into movements instead of names.

11. [Most of the time] Don't tell us to do something brand new we don't do at home. Exceptions would be escapes we haven't worked before that you are willing to walk us through step by step. Bad would be judo takedowns we've never done before that, if fucked up, will likely result in US getting taken down and landing in a disadvantageous position. 'Nuff said.

12. Know your fighter. If you don't, ask them before the match what they plan on doing, what their strengths are, if they're injured, what they don't do well. You don't want to get them set up for a bottom half guard sweep to discover they suck at sweeps, or that their knee is tweaked and it won't work.

13. Don't make ad hominem comments under your breath, you never know when video cameras are rolling or other coaches are listening. In short, be professional and be your fighter's #1 fan and rooting section.

14. Make plans for communication amongst your team. Have a schedule in hand and try to note which of your fighters are in which divisions on which mats. Higher belts should be prepared to corner lower belts if there's a conflict and you're already cornering someone or competing yourself. Maybe everyone carries cell phones and is prepared with cell #s if texting is your thing (it is mine.) Try to coordinate so that everyone has SOMEONE watching their match and hopefully cornering it. And it's nice to have a central location where you mass together for camaraderie and the easing of nerves.

15. If nothing else, sound confident and optimistic about your fighter's performance and keep them aware of time left, points disparity, and strategic positioning. IE-- you're up on points, relax, they're gassing, there's 13 seconds, you have other matches, save your energy.

16. Come prepared for those fighters that aren't. Maybe wear a colorful team tshirt or whatever-- something so you can be spotted in a hurry if need be. Bring bandaids, athletic tape, second-skin spray, ibuprofen, bananas, gatorade, water, and maybe if you're awesome, some ziploc bags of ice in a cooler.

Thoughts? What did I miss? What do you love about your corners? what appalling stories about other peoples' corners can you share?

No man is an island...

I know, I want to post about cornering and hear your thoughts on that. And I want to tell you about my training the last few days, my reflections on competition, and my thoughts about the Texas International Open IBJJF tournament coming up on March 6th, for which I just registered. But I'm running late to crossfit, and was just reading a tiny bit of a blog... when this jumped out at me.

"While I am an avowed romantic who firmly believes that no man is an island, I also find myself thinking more and more at this age that perhaps the ideal goal of a relationship between two people isn't a merging of two individuals. On the contrary, maybe the healthiest long-term relationships accept that, even between the closest people, infinite distances exist and the key to happiness is to not only wholly love someone but also to be comfortable with the great expanse that inherently lies between you."

So-- you can read it in its original context on MetroDad's blog... and then tell me what you think.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hillary Williams seminar 2/21/10

Many many thanks to Triin Seppel and Fenom Kimonos for organizing a great opportunity for women to train with Hillary Williams.. and thanks to Alvarez BJJ for providing the space!

There's something special and unique about being able to train solely with other women and if you haven't experienced it (and you're female) you need to make every effort to do that. Several times during my tournament matches, I was astonished at how much easier it was to move womens' bodies around in space. (This is not to say it was easy to pass their guards, or that they weren't strong as heck!) But compared to men, the lesser mass and the different distribution of weight really does make a difference. Too, there's the emotional side of things.. to be surrounded by women of varying ages (from itty-bitty girls to teens to ladies my age and older) all pursuing a common (for us) yet uncommon (for the world) goal was... affirming? reassuring? uplifting and invigorating.

Because she has plenty of experience teaching jits, you'd never have known this was her first official seminar. Hope we get her back for many more. She's patient, careful, and doesn't scrimp on detail. People learn in different ways; some are visual, some are aural, some are kinesthetic. The longer I train jits the more kinesthetic I find myself, but I still depend heavily on hearing a verbal description of the movements. Nothing frustrates me quicker than hearing a litany of "put this here, then move here, and you'll do like this." Especially when people mix up body parts. I can't always remember what I saw, but I can recall the description later if I get stuck, and if the description is "here there and like this" I am screwed. However, to Hillary's credit, her explanations were very clear and thorough. And she agreeably let me feel it when I wanted to. Foolish me.

DOUBLE DOUBLE plus good on her for emailing us all a list of the techniques and some details to remind us of what she taught. Damn, this girl is good. Not only a full time premed student and world-class competitor and ref, she also found time between a six-hour drive home, her own training, and a midnight homework deadline to email us our technique cheatsheet within 12 hours of the seminar. And she's CHEAP! (Hop on this bandwagon while she still is. In the not-too-distant future, she will be even busier and more aware of her own worth, so book her now. And no, I don't get a cut. Just IMHO.)

As far as the techniques went, I'd say she did a nice blend of basics, well-suited to the audience (about half and half whitebelts and blues, with a handful of purples.)

Along with two new-to-me chokes, she taught a series from guard with options to the back, a triangle, and an armbar. The lapel-under-the-arm-over-the-back was new for me and as she pointed out, useful to attack from the guard when people lock out their arms on your hips.

Her moves were chained well, flowing from attack to counter to recounter. She explained the biomechanics and threw in several mini-techniques like grip breaks too. I'd say the only thing I'd change would be a tiny bit less drilling time-- however, I think my answer is colored by the fact that many of her setups were things I've seen before, whereas that might not be true for everyone. Plus I realize the drilling time was influenced by her methodical walk around the room, observing, tweaking, explaining and helping. The seminar size was just right, by the way-- somewhere in the high twenties, I think. Plenty of room, and we were encouraged to change drilling partners after every sequence, which was nice.

Of course I was rocking my Fenom gi and Dev's patch, because we all know I AM "fueled by fear." (Get your own here.)

After two-ish hours of technique, Hillary got a few rolls in before hitting the road. On her way home to Arkansas, Hillary trained with Braulio Estima, who was teaching a seminar on the other side of town... though apparently the night before, someone made the mistake of trying to fight him (and shot at him!) You can read all about that here.

By the way, the lovely photos above were taken by my husband Mitch, by jitsuka Meshel, and by Jen from RARMAI Creative Services.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

NAGA results..

Scott Reed took bronze in nogi and silver in gi... he's a big tough bluebelt with a great guard..

Bruce took silver in nogi experts...

Kambiz, one of our whitebelts, took gold nogi, I think, and silver in gi, getting a killer feet-in-the-air judo throw on his amazed opponent in finals and earning appreciative compliments from refs and crowd alike.

Our brown belt instructor in San Antonio, Josh, brought a passel of kids and every one of them medaled in their divisions.

Jonathan, another whitebelt, took home the gold in his gi division at his first tournament...

And me? Videos are up on facebook, but the short version...

Bottom line-- gold in intermediate nogi (I had one opponent, won on points.) Silver in expert nogi (they didn't have enough girls signed up so I was offered the chance to jump up a level, and I got to fight Kelmy the Killer who wiped the mats with me last year at NAGA... I did better this time, but she got me with an americana in the end..)

And then my gi division was weird-- there was only one other gal blue belt. I had the option of going up to expert, fighting Kelmy and some other advanced chicks, one of whom weighed 190something... or being in the combined teens-and-adult intermediate/blue belt group. I opted for the latter (frankly, Kelmy's americana tweaked my shoulder and for about 40 min I was not even sure I'd fight again.) In my gi division, there were several teens that I felt somewhat guilty for mauling, not that it stopped me ("Ow, you're on my lips" So move your lips out of the way of my choke!)... and then there was finals. Finals was the hitch in my day.

Finals with Kristie, I think, an adult blue belt. And takedowns started so mellow. I was positively stalking her, like the proverbial ocelot. And then she pulled guard into a Shama special armbar, which she didn't have.. my elbow was past her crotch and I was fine working for the pass. In fact, a standing guard pass had worked so well previously that I stood up. Amazingly, she came up with me (whoa! girls are little!) But apparently in the standing up process I slipped deeper into the armbar, and as I realized it, I set her back down, she went belly down or I tipped over or something like that, and I felt the armbar hit, so I said "Tap!" Then I discovered that she was wearing a cup. I swear she was wearing a cup or perhaps she had a really prominent pubic bone, but my verbal tap was inadequate, as she immediately powered into the armbar, popping the crap out of my elbow and causing me to rawr "TAAAAAAP!" like... like... an ocelot.

She later told me all the girls she trains with are triple jointed and she didn't think I really was tapping.


Anyway she's really nice so I'm sure it was an accident. And she said she wasn't wearing a cup either.

Josh was elemental in my success, with great cornering and confidence-building. Mitch did a great job driving me around, putting up with my grumping and stressing, and filming matches patiently. And I feel like I'm back in the saddle again!

Lookie my tiedyed pants!!!!!!!

So-- these are my $.02 gi pants off ebay.... which I bought when I thought I would try tiedyeing them as an experiment. Only they turned out to be my favorite gi pants of all time, so I didn't want to ruin them. (They're Krugan's, velvety soft, perfectly fitting... *waxes rhapsodic*) Therefore, I sent them to the professionals- my sponsor Chris Lane at Happy Kimonos.

And didn't they come out FINE!

Man, he even went to the trouble of taking off my school patch (which was over a tear in the knee, hence their low price on ebay.) Wish I could have worn them today at NAGA but oh well, there's plenty more tournaments in the future.

Next, they're tiedyeing a whole gi for me. Wait till you see THAT one!

Friday, February 19, 2010

On weight...

So last night I had this 2-3 hour long massive attack of cold feet about this tournament. I mentioned already that I'd even thought whilst rolling "if I break that hand I won't have to compete.." but this time, last night I mean, my subconscious took over. How? I was SO GOOD at dinner (vegetables, no rice, and only half the blackened ahi) and then went home and got all wiggy... so...

I ate cheese. And tortilla chips. (Odd combination forced by the utter dearth of quality CRAP FOOD in my house. Who wants an apple when you're freaking out?!) Suddenly I looked up and I'd eaten a piece of stupid cheddar about 4" x 3" x 1" and probably 30 tortilla chips. And this STUPID smile started bubbling out of my subconscious as I thought "oh, no, no way will I make weight tomorrow!"

Ahem. I woke up on weight. DAMMIT! Granted naked and on a bathroom scale. So I went to the gym, weighed in the lightest yoga capris and athletic bra on the digital scale-- 2 lbs over. Hunkered down on the stationary cycle and read about half the Beneville "Passing the Guard" book I got for Christmas-- that took about an hour. Then I did crossfit for an hour (and oooh, I was occasionally faint, which I felt was a great sign.) Then afterwards I weighed again. Eight tenths of a pound over weight. Got in the sauna at 160 degrees for 25 min... cold shower... another 20 min ... cold shower. Dried my hair, put on another superlight pair of pants and athletic bra... one tenth of a pound over, but I was still sweating a bit. Whatever, as if I could have stood that stupid sauna for one more effing minute. NOT.

I avoided thirst on the drive to Ft Worth by sleeping half of the drive. Arrived at the hotel a little spacey but I was still peeing and it wasn't orange so don't lecture me. However it speaks of my spaciness to note that I got on the (DIGITAL SCALE!?!?! shit that's going to be accurate, dammit!) scale wearing sneakers and yoga pants and tshirt and the biggest heaviest sweatshirt I own, which comes all the way to my knees... and I was still underweight. At least according to the guy with the pen and that's all I cared about.

I promptly downed about a quart of zero-calorie vitamin water which made me want to puke... when I quashed that notion, I ate some quinoa salad with feta and tomatoes, and some leftover blackened tuna and leftover cornbread... mmmmmmmm nothing tastes as good as food and drink right after you make weight. Though next time, I'm walking around at 10 lbs lighter than I am right now, so pfffft on "making" weight.

I did find it helpful to keep visualizing the ways my matches would start, nogi and gi, and envisioning my responses, and mentally practicing my takedowns and my series and my finishes.

And dammit, why am I still awake!? GOOD NIGHT :)

New blog, I like it!

Check out BJJ Tips. I like it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gameplan and strategery for tournaments.

I've been thinking about this subject a lot lately. BjjGrrl (Leslie) wrote a post about it today in fact. It's just that tournament time of year, I guess.

I'm far from expert in this arena, having competed at a grand total of 4 tournaments and trained for 17 months overall, but here's my perspective so far. It will be interesting to see how it changes over time.

First, why go to a tournament? Ahem-- why compete in a tournament? You might go and watch just to see how things work, to learn, to film for teammates, etc. But why compete? Just to try it out and see how things go is one possibility. The opposite end of the spectrum might be to win medals. Somewhere in there will also possibly fit things like repping your school or measuring your progress. It depends, probably, on how big of a school you train at as well-- I'd imagine smaller schools might encourage competition more so you can experience different games and body types/sizes. My academy is so freaking big, I can go six months and not roll with a good friend (who trains the same classes I do) just out of sheer randomness, and there's a wide variety of games burbling around too, but we're lucky that way.

But if you're going to a tournament with at least some hope or dream of performing well (not even necessarily winning matches) then you would do well to put thought into how you will try to make this happen. The sound advice of my friend Ulises, as we drove to my first tournament (when I'd been training about 6 weeks total) bears repeating:

What's your favorite submission? Go for that! And if you're not in position to go for it, get into position for it, and go for it then.

Eerily like Roger Gracie's "pass, mount, choke" no? And definitely not terribly focused on points. There's nothing wrong with a points focus, it's just different. They do nest together well though. My first 3 tournaments all I could get through my animalian brain was "get on top and choke them out!!!" So it worked out pretty well points-wise, on the way to getting the subs. But it's handy to remember that you need both hooks in to get back points, for example. And it's great to have a corner who tells you points differentials and time left. [Oooh... another topic for soon-- what makes good corners! But anyway.]

Of course as you develop greater skill and dexterity, so do your opponents. You can't just expect to muscle someone into giving you their arm for an armbar; best have a plan for tricking them into giving you the arm, and several backup plans for the before and after. In other words, you can genuinely threaten them with a choke that will legitimately tap them if they don't defend; when they do defend, you transition to the sweep, and as they base to counter, you toss the armbar in the mix. Duh. I know, lockflow, chained attacks, whatever you wanna call it, we've all heard it. But if you're like me, you hear it *all the time* as you're being flooded with information from different instructors, higher belts, training partners, all of whom want to show you their favorite thing... to say nothing of all the extra materials available on the internet, on DVD, in books... How do you go about picking "your" thing(s)?

I wish I had the perfect answer. LOL. I don't. I notice about half the time I see a new move, it's high school infatuation all over again.. just look at my posts on judo and specifically on seoi nages. I get all googly-eyed and promise myself I'll drill it and work it until it's mine. Which lasts until I see the next new-and-sexy move-- unless it's one that obviously requires longer legs or greater upper body strength. Then I have a habit of trying it 4-5 times and giving up. (Only, hopefully, to discover later that with increased mat time, it is easier because of the invisible extras that are more present, like hip movement etc.)

How have I gone about picking "my" game, such that it is? For example, takedowns. I tend to be stupid physically, lacking in gross motor coordination, so things that are simple to grasp are the things that stick with me the most. I hate drilling takedowns (mainly because I hate being taken down, even though yes, I know how to breakfall) and I hate sparring takedowns, but I force myself to do both because I'd rather it happen in the friendly environment of my academy than on the mats at a tournament. I have played around with stuff but what tends to stick for me are pieces of a chain that has a beginning, a middle and an end. In other words, not a big variety of techniques that all depend on different grips, but about 4 things that work without a lot of pawsing around. I like simplicity; when I recall Donald saying "never let them settle their grips on you" it's a bright-line rule I can apply across the board.

I have measured the techniques (takedowns and others) that are taught to me with the following factors:
* is it simple?
* does it look like something I can remember even in the heat of the moment when adrenaline kills any semblance of motor coordination skills?
* if I screw it up, does it leave me in a worse position?
* can I fit it in with anything else so I have a followup?
* does it depend on physical attributes I feel comfortable using?

So I'll tell you right now, I won't be pulling any flashy flippy trickstery stuff on Saturday. I stick with things that don't unravel under stress. I also prefer to maintain dominant position. When someone tells me they're losing position by going for subs, I pay attention to how they learn *not* to do that and try to incorporate it.

When I'm getting ready for a tournament, I guess I look back over the last month or so of rolling with an open mind. I try to figure out roughly what are my go-to moves, what am I finding myself in position to do most often, and what am I successfully landing. That right there tells me what I probably should do at the tournament. I definitely tone down the "learning new tricks" thing a month or so beforehand. Maybe some tweaks are cool-- new concepts even-- but whole new attack series are likely to just fuddle my brain.

And now a greater challenge-- dinner out, with family friends, the night before weighins, in lieu of class (though I hope to make it for the last hour of open mat.) Yeah, I trained already twice today, but dammit...

"Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated."
--- Russell Warren

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Competition mindset...

First of all, Liam (who writes the Part-time Grappler blog and who also happens to be a clever cartoon artist) kindly analyzed some of my previous tournament footage and suggested I work on keeping better posture and more thoracic straightness during my takedowns. Simultaneously, one of our wrestlers pointed out a mistake I was making with my arms during my shots... and voila, I feel like my shots have improved worlds. I'm still hesitating a bit, but I get way deeper and way more threatening than I did before. So yay-- and THANK YOU to Liam, and Randy, and Vidush...

But today's topic: I find the whole "fire in the belly" (about competing) thing really hard to analyze and comprehend. Not that I have to-- I'm happy to accept it and just go tear up some chicas-- but I'd like to so I can better manipulate it to my advantage next time.

Just watching the last tournament in Austin seems to have tipped the scales for me. I turned a corner and felt like hmm, I can do *that*.. maybe not better than them, maybe a little worse, but definitely not a LOT worse. And now I have a fabulous excuse not to compete (yes, this stupid effing cold... 3 weeks I was battling a lingering, rattling, low-grade occasional cough... then two nights ago I started getting stuffy. Blamed it on a cat allergy. Uh-uh. Came home to cat free zone and despite all the mucinex DM and claritin in the world, still stuffed up.) And despite the excuse, I'm loving that I am actually looking forward to competing.

It's a community thing-- the Hillary Williams seminar is the next day, and I know lots of girls who will be at NAGA too-- but it's also a little blossoming of that dark, bloody, hungry side of me that wants to rough someone up. I don't want to be mean per se, I want to be clean and elegant and efficient and unstoppable. [However-- if it comes down to it, I'm perfectly ready to be more like Jordan. I'll kneel on your arms and fist-to-throat you if you let me and I won't feel regret, either.] Grrrrr. Girls don't have many excuses or chances to let this side of us out. Yeah, if your man wanders, you can tear the floozy's hair out; if your kid's trapped under a car you can She-Ra it up with one hand. But some of us (all of us?) have a streak of narrow-eyed, curled-lip, snarling menace deep inside... and isn't it lovely to get it out on purpose? For some reason the mental image I have is showing up at a fancy cat show and between all the plush Himalayans and the posh Russian Blues comes this hungry, lean, marmalade alley cat. She wouldn't come running at the sound of a can opener but she can catch a squirrel and string it up right quick.

Last time I did NAGA (last May) I was a squirrel.

Saturday, I'm the cat.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love jits.

After some consideration, I'm thinking I'll do nogi as well as gi at NAGA next weekend. I'm pretty happy with the takedowns I've been working. I'm getting swept a lot less, but I'm sweeping other people; my mount retention has improved immensely too. All in all I'm happy with where I'm at (which surely means I'm smoking crack!)

Hope you had a nice Valentine's Day. I don't know why people get so mad about the holiday-- nothing says you have to do the traditional chocolate-flowers-dinner out route. Yes yes yes you should show your loved ones they're special all year around. What's wrong with having one day that's extra special?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Great jits gis for only $65

Recently read a review of the Razorback jiu jitsu gi and though I can't remember where I read it, I do recall the author really thought it was a great deal for the money. So thought I'd repost the source... only $65 for a decently-made, comfortable, quality gi. That's a steal.

free climb a 5.7 in under 5 minutes....

Thanks John for posting this on your blog...

Sadly, but predictably if you're morbid like me... Dan Osman died in 1998 at the age of 35 in a rope jumping/free falling accident in Yosemite where the ropes crossed and actually melted. Read about it here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


OK, lots to ramble about. First it was damn cold today. Hailing even-- or big sleet, one of the two. Second, I have thus far kept my promise to do my crossfit class every day at noon. (I did skip jits this morning, had a sore throat and went to bed late so thought getting a couple extra hours of sleep was worth it... however I did go to class tonight..) Third, after rolling with a friend I was complimented on being "like an anaconda" (big, big grin).. I don't think I'm as threatening as a snake, but she did say that when she exhaled I got even tighter so that was nice! And and and! when I got side control on my buddy in class tonight so he could work his techniques, he said I was heavier than lots of guys he knew.

Now if that ain't a kick in the pants-- when a girl is delighted to be called "heavier" than most guys :)

I did pop a nosebleed tonight while rolling with one of the slightly spazzier newish guys but it wasn't really his fault *and* I accidentally knee'd poor Shama in the face while trying to pass her damn guard so I'm sure I karmically deserved it.

I have no idea if I'm dropping weight. I really need to monitor that. Damn people in the office with their twizzlers, too. Tomorrow's another 3-fer so hopefully that punts 2 or 3 pounds.

I really enjoy Atlanta Alliance's blog. I don't often have time to watch their technique videos but check this one out. . . it's labeled a counter to that night's technique, and I believe the pre-counter technique is right at the start. Looks like when you're on the bottom of side control or maybe halfguard (they're facing your feet, and maybe wrapping up your hips?) you can upwrap the top side of their gi and use that leverage to take their back? So then the rest is the counter, involving threading their near leg with your arm and torquing them over; I think it's something similar to baiting them to unlock halfguard by making them think they can sweep you and then you strip your leg and take side... anyhoo interesting..

What do you think about this ouchi gari?

Here's a short little Mario Sperry takedown...

p.s. I totally need to pick 3-4 takedowns and drill the shit out of them for the next week and a half. Or I could just be intransigent and make all the chicas pull guard so they get no points and I get pass points. I'm just saying.

Don't skip crossfit!!!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Fire in the belly, lead in the chest.

So, we had a local jits tournament last Saturday and our school cleaned up! :) Yay us. Lots of my friends competed and everyone did well. One friend already had an injured finger and now it's broken in some weird twisty way that makes it look like a piece of celery sliced and ice-watered as garnish. Blech. Yay vicodin for him. I maybe mighta shoulda competed too, but I felt like my chest was still congested and wasn't really able to catch my breath, so I just videotaped. Which means now I have a pile of raw footage that needs uploading, conversion, and more uploading. But I'm totally happy to do it.

Anyway... watching somehow, don't ask me, put the fire in my belly again. So despite all the contraindications, I'm looking very seriously at competing at NAGA on the 20th. At least in gi.

The contraindications: for one thing, I can't catch my breath. I could blame this on my spotty crappy training schedule for the last month, or I could blame it on the chest congestion most doctors would call fluid in the lungs. (M'kay, I'm no medical professional, and the wiki on rales tells me I'm probably a bit over the top with that, but whatever.) By spotty training I mean I haven't done my noon crossfit class in a month. I have at best trained once a day 6 days a week. Last week, I did not train at allllll Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. So I'm back in the saddle training at least 2x a day, not missing any crossfit classes, getting on the mats at all opportunities. Except I skipped tonight's class since I did morning and lunch. And wheezed like an old accordion. *sigh* I did my best to be aggressive and not just ball up. I liked the series we worked this morning, and Richard showed me a little tweak to make the armbar come on that much faster :) My only gripe is it doesn't work (for me) in nogi. I really need some nogi help. LOL, I need help in so many directions. The thing I do best is pass guard, or ball up and hedgehog. I need to be a wildcat! not a hedgehog.

Other contraindications include my well-padded derriere that actually might not make weight, poverty (but that could be amended by my super sponsor up in Wisconsin, Badgerland Jiu Jitsu) and fear. But funny enough, the lead in my chest and my excessive derrierage seem to moderate in favor of competing. I dunno, I guess they make me feel like I did when I was a whitebelt again.. look, I don't expect success, I'm just going to go outgrrrrr those chicas.

So I pitched my sponsor for entry fees... might get my gi pants tiedyed by Happy Kimonos in time... and I'm already signed up for the Hillary Williams seminar the next day, so I know I'm going up there. Just drop about 10 lbs and I'll be happy.

Hence my unmotivating supper... spinach salad (an entire box of spinach and baby red lettuce) with a little feta and some no-sugar vinaigrette.

G'night ya'll.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Random youtube blips...

OK, I gotta process all the footage of my team (which won the team trophy) at the Century Grappling Championships yesterday here in Austin (aka the Fight to Win Tournament) but in the meantime...

7 second submission-- bellydown armbar... I wanna be that when I grow up!

And the same guy, Ken Primola, vs. Tony Tipton (one of the better 170-180 experts in Texas)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Eye candy...

And I mean it in the non-demeaning, non-leering way... just wow, nice tight technique. Kyra v Megumi, finals, under-60kg division, ADCC 2005. Wish I had a high lock like this.

And quarters, same tournament... Kyra v. Erica Montoya...

Come to Jesus...

No, no, no... no religious proselytizing here.

My good friend Lynn sat me down for a 'come to Jesus' last night because I'm not doing what I need to be doing to accomplish a variety of my goals. I do a good job talking, and thinking, and wishing, but lately my action has been lagging.

So officially I'm committing. Decisions and follow-through action, and I know that everything is either taking me towards my goals or away from them. I am cutting myself a little more slack due to this godawful cold-- every deep breath spawns a series of hacking retching coughs-- but as soon as I'm back to normal breathing capacity:

-- Robert's crossfit class, every weekday, at noon. Bar none.

-- Jiu jitsu: the full class (not skipping the warmups, not sitting out rolls) and taking advantage of nogi opportunities as well as gi classes. Ideally seven days a week, but with the petering out of our M/F morning class, my Fridays might be missing out on any training other than crossfit, unless I can scoot from crossfit to 1pm open mat in a reasonable amount of time.

-- Healthy eating: Whole grains, 5 veggies, 2 fruits a day. I don't really have a problem with meat consumption, I only eat it 2-3 times a week as it is. Sugar is a problem. Not sure how to quantify cutting back on that just yet but I will put effort there too.

Hope you have a delightful weekend. UFC, wooooo, what a card, I'm pretty keen on several of those fights. I could care less about the Super Bowl, but for getting to see friends and hang out and enjoy their enjoyment. Good friends in town for a bike race and a debate tournament, too. So all in all, good times, if I can just stop coughing.

Oh, and post-dyeing report: the charcoal Gameness I did for a friend is disturbingly streaky. Bought them a replacement gi, and going to try redyeing. I will post pictures when I get that done.

One more thing... semifinals, European Championships, faixa preta, pesado division... Fabio Gurgel v. Marko Helen. I had to watch it a couple times to tell just wtf he got him with.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


This is what __________ taught me during two privates on escaping cross side... fortunately it's also what Cane Prevost (SBGi Oregon) likes... only he's got video and description of it...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Not really sick, just coughing a little bit and feeling sorry for myself. Didn't train at all today. Wonton soup for lunch, frozen pizza for dinner. Uber healthy, I know. Now I'm tealess, sitting in bed, chilly, mopey, listening to 80s music on youtube...

I got a lot done at work today, which was good because I had a lot that needs doing. I got caught up on most of it and will be devoting myself to some research and reading for the next couple of days.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Kesting's homework...

Stephen Kesting is pretty darn good at leading the way in jits if you ask me. His latest email "assignment" to this mailing list I am on is: list at least two "answers" to each of the following questions. Care to repost this on your blog, or in the comments? Or at least feel free to snark in response to my attempts! :)

Closed guard submissions: numerous gi chokes, triangle, armbar
Closed guard passes: knee-through, low pass, double-under
Closed guard sweeps: pendulum, whitebelt-killer
Open guard submissions: reverse armbar, omoplata
Open guard passes: torreador, cartwheel
Open guard sweeps: scissor, push, elevator
Half guard submissions: americana, pillow choke
Half guard passes: Relson's pass, others I don't have names for but do regularly
Half guard sweeps: old school, diveunder
Side mount submissions: americana, papercutter
Side mount transitions: N/S, mount
Side mount escapes: elbow-knee; needle through to knees
Knee mount submissions: baseball bat choke, armbar
Knee mount transitions: ummm.... mount, N/S
Knee mount escapes: oh I'm bad at this. Shrimp like hell, or on lighter peeps, flip them over with your arm under their base ankle.
Full mount submissions: chokes, armbars
Full mount transitions: not really sure what they mean.
Full mount escapes: elbow-knee back to guard, upa roll
Rear mount submissions: Fredson, 4-finger, RNC, armbar
Rear mount transitions: to mount, ????
Rear mount escapes: roll into guard, slide down and out
Turtle submissions: toehold (to person turtling), kneebar (from inside turtle)
Turtle transitions: uhhhh....
Turtle escapes: roll to guard, ??

Fears of competition, some foul language/concepts, and Marcelo.

So despite this stupid cold, I've been training every day. I tell my peeps and most everyone's been cool with training anyway, probably because I'm dousing myself in antibacterial gel at every opportunity and partly because they're apparently as addicted to training as I am. I feel great while I'm rolling but then I come home and sit on the floor of my shower and just let the hottest water ever beat down on me. I'm getting used as chewtoy by some very creative, technical, fun people and it's nice on one hand-- I feel useful or helpful. On the other hand, I feel like I'm not getting as much out of it as I should be. More on this below.

So our coach and head instructor arranged for our academy to receive free entry to a local jits tournament this Saturday. (Long, political story but he always makes sure we're done right by.) This means that I should have no excuse not to compete. I still might-- but I'm not thrilled by the prospect. You're shocked, I know. Right now my cardio feels like crap, I can't seem to get my breath ever, and that's a little troubling. On the plus side, the last time we had this tournament, there weren't enough women to have any divisions besides "women." So competing together were: a 260lb whitebelt from Houston, one or two blue belts around my size, a 120 lb white belt, and a 180 lb purple belt (who competed in gi and no gi, absolute and weight class, men and women. Uh huh. That's Tammy Griego of Gracie Barra Albuquerque, who just won her division in the Abu Dhabi Pro Qualifier and will be competing in the ADCC in April. And Tammy has in the past defeated our academy co-owner brown belt. She's tough.)

The funny thing is I am much happier at the thought of competing against the big whitebelt, or any size of purple belt, than against blues my size. And happier if I competed on the spur of the moment, without training for it, when I'm sick and out of shape and fat and blah, blah, blah. This means I am a gigantic puss. Tell me something new. I'd love to say "Oh, I'm just not competitive" but the reality is I am a Leo, and in Chinese horoscopes, a rat with strong water influence. Not that I usually put much faith in that astrology stuff; on the other hand, almost everything you ever read about Leos and (water) rats is true of me.

Ahem-- for example:

You are highly imaginative, charming and very generous. You can sometimes be quick tempered and overly critical. Positive Traits: charming, protective, competitive, compassionate, communicative, dynamic, familial, thrifty, skilful, sober, upright, attractive, idealistic, prosperous, experimental, calm, sensual, loving, talented, adaptable, open-minded and brilliant entrepreneurs. Negative Traits: possessive, picky, defensive, excessive, addictive, fickle, stingy, bumptious, bossy, exploitive, anxious, argumentative, opinionated, overbearing and self-obsessed.

Uh-- sound like anyone you know? The only thing I disagree with is "stingy" because I'm far from it. I'll give you the shirt off my back if I can, if you like it, if you need it, if you want it. Life's too short to be stingy, you might die tomorrow and you can't take it with you. Share now and be happy.


I'm just TOO competitive to compete right now. Make sense? I would probably find it easier to compete if I'd always lost, if I was anonymous and low-profile, if no one I knew was watching my matches. The next time Richard, our 4 stripe brown instructor, says something about me being NAGA champion I'm going to deck him. Knock. him. out. I can't bear the idea of getting waxed by some bluebelt chick and having people look at my instructor and then at my belt and shake their heads.

Still, I am tempted. I haven't competed in almost a full year. Maybe it would be fun. Maybe I should just walk in fat and rolypoly and say eff it... who cares. *sigh* I know, I know.

Anyway. Been looking at highlight reels and getting excited about some matches this weekend on UFC 109. Chael Sonnen the "Republican" deserves to get napped with his face in ballsack. (sorry, did you want advance notice where the foul concepts would be popping up?) Wasn't excited by any of the Demian Maia highlight clips I saw, and didn't find any of Rolles Gracie. In lieu of that I decided to share this fun, long video of Marcelo highlights. The human backpack, gotta love it. And I dig most of the music on this too.

So back to what I should be getting out of rolling. Problem being, I ain't got no plan, Stan.

I'm loosey-goosey when I roll, mainly thinking pass, dominate, choke/armbar. If I had to say anything I do is any better than any other thing, it would be passing guard. Ish. Of course I can make anyone look like the King/Queen of Sweeping, so perhaps I should put "Dustbunny" on my resume. But I'm halfway mediocre at passing guard. And last night Vidush's pointers helped me base a little better, finish americanas a little better. So yay. But really? I'm frustrated that when I watch something like the MG highlight, I'm immediately motivated to abandon all other focii and simply work on taking the back, always and forever. (It would be nice to have ONE thing I do well.) And that motivation lasts about an hour, then I forget, until the next idea floats through my ditzy brain. And the next, and the next.

Maybe it's the decongestants?

Monday, February 01, 2010

The joy of being a woman...

Reading Val Worthington's blog entry about her experiences leading other women grapplers at the third Grappling Camp for women really made me crave being there. So excited to have some new chicks training at our academy... and excited about Hillary Williams' seminar this month after NAGA...