Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ahem... Budovideos, we're watching you...

Another well-written plea for ... oh hell, not even PROPORTIONAL coverage, much less EQUAL coverage... let's just try for SOME COVERAGE!

Seriously. WTF.

Grappledunk raises the bullshit flag on her blog, here.

Breasts are no longer a problem on campus....

Fabulous post on Sociological Images. Yes, about breasts.

Italian Tomato Garden

From a blog called Waken.

An old Italian lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard and his only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:

Dear Vincent,

I am feeling pretty sad, because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.

Love,
Papa


A few days later he received a letter from his son.

Dear Pop,

Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where the bodies are buried.

Love,
Vinnie


At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.

That same day the old man received another letter from his son.

Dear Pop,

Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.

I love you,
Vinnie

Mike Fowler's Unstoppable Sweep...



Pinched from David Penn's blog Side Control.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Our second anniversary...

Celebrated on the frugal side, what with Mitch being laid off last month and all... Enjoyed a pizza from Brick Oven, and a homemade cake. The cake was a dense, lemon pound cake-type thing, with apricot nectar and shredded coconut mixed in. Hot out of the oven, I poured an apricot-lemon glaze all over it which soaked in and made it even more moist. [I hate that word! but it fits!]



Then sprinkled some powdered sugar...



And he dug in, after dinner.



Also made a lemon-pear cake, with cream cheese frosting, which is waiting in the wings.

I've been training and enjoying the non-pre-tournament fun. I can go as hard as I like, I am starting almost every match from standing, and I don't have to worry about getting hurt. Unfortunately I have not been EATING as though I had a tournament coming up. Instead I have pigged out on every type of indulgence possible... nachos, tacos, pizza, baked goods of infinite variety. And batter for said baked goods, pre-baking. Belgian waffles, with sausage, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Sushi. BBQ potato chips. Much evil was to be had in Georgetteland, and now there is much woe.

Woe like "WHOA!" when I step upon the scale of evilness. So, yesterday was the last day of said indulgence. Well, today, if you want to be technical about it. I am back on the wagon for Mundials. Working my judo tonight in class. Poked myself AGAIN in the eye, the SAME eye, while shooting a takedown. Damn them eyes. And thumbs.

Swiss ball training video-- Abmar Barbosa

One of my coaches, Donald Park, is always doing flippy/balancey things on these stability balls... and Liam (the Part-Time Grappler) encourages me to do the same.

Check out this performance by Abmar Barbosa... found on his blog Disce Pati. You should read the post before watching the video; it has some important comments from Abmar's strength and conditioning coach.

Donate your old gi to a worthy cause...

Found this today, via JiuJitsuMap's blog, from the WestSideAcademy website Tap or Die. Here's what West Side wants....

"Today is the first day of West Side Academy’s High School Jiu-Jitsu Program and I’m going to ask you for a favor. It’s not money. The program is free (twice a week for a year) to 30 High School students, most of the thirty cannot afford gis. Once the program gets going we are going to look for sponsorships from gi companies to help us outfit the group, but today we only have a handful of used gis and we are looking for as many gis as we can get. The kids do not care about holes or blood stains; they just want to train in a gi of their own.

So, if you have a gi you’ve out grown, don’t use, or could stand to part with, we’ll take it.

Basically, this is what we need:
Anyone with a jiu-jitsu or judo gi they are willing to donate to West Side’s High School Jiu-Jitsu Program you can bring it to or send it to:

High School Jiu Jitsu
c/o mark Johnson
1750 Lake St.
Ogden UT 84401

Or bring it by the gym:

West Side Jiu-Jitsu Academy
2238 Washington Blvd
Ogden UT 84401

Thanks for your help.

Good training and a happy life.

Mark Johnson
West Side Jiu-Jitsu Academy
2238 Washington Blvd
Ogden UT 84401
westsidejiujitsu.com
(801) 920-6500"

Do it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tiesto show at Austin Music Hall, April 23, 2010

Friday night-Saturday morning, April 23-24, 2010...

I love trance music- I roll to it, I drive to it, I work out to it. I was really excited to hear that Tiesto, a Dutch DJ and arguably the best in the world, was coming to play a show at the Austin Music Hall. I got my ticket for $30 a couple months ago, but they were selling on TicketMaster for nearly $400 last week :)



I arrived with my friend John around 8pm. I left my cell in the car, afraid I'd lose it (I surely would have) and so these videos are from youtube, not me. We luckily ran into Zade shortly after, when the place was still half empty and only a local DJ, Exceed, was warming up the crowd.



The upstairs seating was pleasantly cool and uncrowded. The second DJ came on, but I was content to chill and save my energy; Tiesto was scheduled to finish at 2am but he's played a 12 hour set in the past so I wanted to be ready. I was surprised to see so many older people, 40s and up, enjoying the scene. I thought everyone would be under 25.

One young kid named Corbin asked me if it was my first rave.
"Uh, no."
First Tiesto show?
"Yeah."
Was I rolling?
"Nope."
Did I know what rolling was?
"Can I ask how old you are?"
Yeah, I'm 20.
"I was dancing at raves when you were in diapers." [resisting urge to call him 'sonny.']

Finally around 10pm Tiesto took over the decks. John, Zade and I were on the floor of the hall by then, and I predictably got separated within the first 10 minutes. Here's his opening...







I finagled my way up to the front barriers keeping people back from the stage (reminding me of the Pan!), looking for my friends for the first couple minutes without success-- then I gave up and let myself be carried along on the wave.



Guys were nice about letting me through (I'm so short, I wasn't impairing their view!) but the girls were snotty little wenches even if you were working your way through the crowd on a parallel track to the stage. I endured stupidity beyond belief from little teenybopper girls acting like they wanted a fight (trust me, I did find myself thinking "You really don't know who you're threatening.")

These were taken from upstairs, most likely in the VIP section. Not a bad view, but for $100 a ticket, IF you bought tickets months ago?!







I spent about 3 hours on the floor -- the third row of people back from the barrier, dead center in front of Tiesto --- feeling some of the most amazing, intense beats reverberating through my chest... This video here gives a decent idea of how well I could see Tiesto and how close I was. At the end, around 8:37, you see a Hispanic guy, short hair, with a brown polo shirt w/ light horizontal stripes-- I was standing right behind him!!! I was probably two rows of people in front of this person doing the filming. I could see the sweat on Tiesto's brow, the level of water in the cup he drank from, the hairs on his freaking MAGIC hands.



I would have been about 3-5 people to the right of whoever filmed this. Unfortunate that the chicks were trying to sing along.



Um, did I mention he's freakin' HOT? Can't tell you how many people I overheard saying they'd jump him right then and there, given the opportunity...





Sociologically interesting- tons of people were filming this show with their phones! If they were behind someone tall, they'd watch the screens around them instead of trying to see the actual show. I noticed LOTS of people doing this.



The best way I can describe the physical sensation of being on the floor, where everyone is packed SO TIGHTLY against each other, is that there is no separation between you. Everyone together is one amazing organism, and the clothing you're wearing is only a cell wall.



There is no dancing, really. The melody line creates synchronous undulation with all the bodies, from pelvis to shoulder, because it can't be helped; everyone is a similar groove, like a hive of bees all doing the same figure-8 dance to describe where the good nectar is... When the music shifts (as it does over, and over, and over all night long) from the melody line to the more intense bass bridge, the crowd begins jumping up and down. When the beat pounds you into motion, the millimeter separating your skeleton from your neighbor's goes out the window and you simply MUST jump.

You jump as if you are connected to the ceiling with a bungee, as if you and your neighbors are all shrimp impaled on the same kabob.





After three hours of that, I was a little tired. My feet and legs were fine-- I was still loving the music and the intensity of the experience (which was a lot like being caught up in a religious ecstasy, I suppose)-- but I was hurting in other ways.



You're jammed in so tightly, and people are more interested in filming than in just absorbing, so on both sides of me and behind me there's arms upraised, holding phones. I'm just the right height to be a tricep rest or an elbow rest. Men's nasty armpits are eye level. (Do I not get enough of that in jits?) People are resting their sweaty arms on my shoulders and my head-- then the weight of their arm, sticking to my hair with sweat, is pulling my head back and down. My hair is getting stuck to the people around me and one clown asks me to put my hair in a ponytail for her convenience. Sorry, babe, I can't move my arms- suck it up. The crowd is organic and sentient, slowly swaying and moving like the sea, and it was a potentially crappy undertow. Hooray, there was a short, rotund, solidly-planted man right in front of me so, with my fingers inside his belt loops on either side of his hips, I clung to him like a limpet on a piling when the tide's going out.

My neck got really, really sore, so I decided to take a break, get a drink, and maybe go upstairs for a change of pace. I wormed my way out and upstairs, where I immediately spotted Zade. He was also separated from John early on, so we decided to have a soda and catch our breath. As we chilled out, we got more tired, and eventually decided we'd had our fill of people watching and hive-behavior. We left the building at 1:30am, enjoyed a refreshing walk to Zade's car in the (cold) rain, and I was asleep in bed before 3am.

I'm bummed I can't get more nights like that :)









So amazing.... not from Austin, it's a few years old, but amazing nonetheless...



And, backstage in Austin, 4 years ago...



I gotta wonder: is there any good jits in Ibiza?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Guide to Dyeing Your Own Gi

Are you tired of white or cobalt gis? Are the bright yellow or scarlet options too shocking for your taste? Pepto-Pink makes you puke? You can dye your gi yourself-- how about hunter green, chocolate brown, dark red? I've dyed several of my own and others, with varying results, so here's what I have learned. Of course double check the process and times with the Dharma website instructions and go with what they tell you! This is just from my memory!

First-- if you want a tie-dyed gi, DO NOT ATTEMPT AT HOME. Go straight to a professional like Chris at Happy Kimonos, who did one for me that you can see here.

OVERVIEW OF MATERIALS NEEDED:

Procion MX is a fiber-reactive dye far superior to grocery-store Rit dye (because you don't have to do it in 140 degree hot water-- warm works just fine-- and because they have a million more colors.) I bought it from Dharma Trading Company online. Generally speaking, it will not dye other items in your wash, or bleed, because there is a chemical reaction during the dye process which locks the dye to the cotton fiber in the fabric. When the reaction finishes, the dye is no longer "fiber reactive" so it won't color other stuff. NOTE: I still think it's a good idea to wash your newly-dyed gi by itself a couple times to be on the safe side. I have never tested the fiber-reactivity by washing something white in there on the first go. If you do, let us know what you discover! :)

Dyeing a gi is a somewhat involved process but if you can read and tell time, you will be fine. Allow about 3-4 hours from start (with a clean gi) to finish (either hanging it up to dry or putting it in the dryer.) Depending on how heavy your gi is (therefore the quantity of chemicals you will order) it will cost you about $25-30 to dye a gi and you will have enough of some chemicals left over to do another several gis. Or, if you prefer someone else dealing with all this, you can also get Happy Kimonos to dye yours a solid color.

The Dharma Trading website is great, it walks you through all this, but consider this a preview so you know what to expect. The dye comes in a little plastic jar and is a white powder till it hits water.



It doesn't always dissolve smoothly into water, so you will "paste" it with a smaller amount (like 2-3 cups) of warm water first, then stir that into the big tub of water before you put in the gi. To make the dye paste up better, you'll dissolve some urea (nitrogen) into the 2-3 cups of water first. Also, you'll add a couple teaspoons of calsolene oil to lower the surface tension of the water- this reduces streaking. Another chemical you'll buy is soda ash which works as a fixative to stop the dye process. And, you should have at least 12 cups of table salt on hand per gi-- cheapest thing to do if you will maybe dye more than one is buy a sack of salt at Sam's (they have it for water softeners and saltwater swimming pools, maybe $5/20 lb bag.)



Dharma also sells textile detergent that you'll use to pre-wash the gi and wash after the dyeing process. If you're going to dye a brand new gi, the pre-wash is really important because the gi may have a fabric treatment or starch in the cloth from the factory. For us paranoid types, the detergent also theoretically keeps the dye from resettling on other colored areas -which is really only relevant in tie-dyes; you don't have to worry about patches, stitching etc because the dye only colors cotton, not nylon. Dharma Trading has one version, Synthrapol, which smells like crap!!! and their house brand which is cheaper, smells infinitely better, and works just as well. They also sell an industrial-strength fabric softener since the dyeing process stiffens the fabric a bit. I highly recommend this fabric softener, it turned my Gameness gi into silk :) If you're really paranoid about fixing the dye, you can also get some additional fixative, which I used once. Didn't notice much of a difference.

DYEING:

The dyeing process is fairly easy as long as you are methodical about it. Here's my process as I have tweaked it over time. Read all the instructions on the Dharma website at least twice all the way through before you begin.

You actually dye the gi in saltwater. First, I mixed 12 cups of non-iodized salt in a big rectangular rubbermaid storage tub about 2/3 full of tap water as hot as I could stand it with my hand (it cools but you still want the water warm at least so start with it hot.) I stirred with a long-handled wooden spoon to dissolve the salt, then added the calsolene oil. I also kept yellow rubber gloves (like for household chores) handy, and wore an apron.

I mixed the urea (which looks like styrofoam pellets and smells like pee, 'cause that's what it comes from) into about 3 cups of hot water in a glass bowl and dissolved it; then added the dye powder to the water and mashed it against the wall of the bowl with a fork 'till it was as dissolved and smooth as I could make it. Then I poured this solution through a sieve, lined with cheesecloth or a cheap throwaway thin piece of cloth (like a handkerchief or old linen dishtowel), into the saltwater dye bath. This is important to avoid speckles of undissolved dye which can add a confetti appearance of red, blue and yellow to your whatever-color gi. Not good :)

Once the dye solution is in the tub of water, I added the gi and stirred well, continuing to stir the fabric every minute or so for about 20 minutes dyeing time. I made sure I turned the fabric over from top to bottom, switching relative position of the pants and gi top, for even color. I even tugged on the drawstring a little bit to make sure the dye was well into all the crevices. I would imagine you can't stir too much. When the dyeing time is up, you next need to fix the dye.

You do this with the soda ash, but you can't just chuck it into the tub. You have to dissolve it in hot water too. And, if you pour the fixative onto the gi itself, you will have major permanent dark patches, so you have to keep the gi at one end and pour the fixer into the water at the other end. It helps to have another pair of hands for this, just to keep the gi pinned at the far end of the tub for a few minutes.

It's also a good idea to start making the fixative solution while the gi is still dyeing. If you just dump the ash into the hot water, it will become a lump of concrete, no kidding, plus the chemical reaction the soda ash has with the water produces a fair amount of heat, as I discovered the first time (my spoon wouldn't penetrate the lump in the bowl, so I put my gloved hand in to scrabble at it with my fingers... dadgum thing was RED HOT.) So you have to have the glass bowl half full of hot water and then gradually sift the soda ash into the water while stirring constantly. When you get as much of the ash dissolved as you can, you or a friend slowly pour that solution into the dye bath while they/you hold the gi bunched up at the far end of the tub, using your long spoon, tongs or whatever. Stir the ash solution into the dye bath and begin again if you need to dissolve more ash-- I think I had about 2 cups of ash and maybe only 1 cup fit into the bowl of water.

Once the fixative is in, stir the gi around well, top to bottom, and stir every couple minutes for about another 30 minutes of fixing.

Then a trip through the washer, and you're done. The hardest part of the whole process is getting the wet gi out of the tub without splashing anywhere, then dumping the dye solution into the sink, then getting the gi over to your washing machine. The Dharma website actually has instructions for doing this inside your washer, which would have been great for me except I have a front loader and I don't think that would've worked so well. I never had any accidents, spills, or major splashing, so it is totally a do-able job.

My first two dye jobs ("baby blue" and "citrus yellow") came out stronger and brighter than I hoped/expected, at first, but they have mellowed out very acceptably and then stayed at that nice color for over a year now. Actually, I followed the instructions on the blue to the letter, except put 4 ounces of dye powder in instead of 3.2 oz... when I did the yellow gi, I saw in the first couple minutes that it was waaaaay brighter/darker than I wanted, so I immediately mixed up some fixative to stop the process. Instead of dyeing the yellow for 20 minutes it was only 4... but the fixative made it appear even darker for a minute (think high school chemistry titration reaction) so I only put in about 1/5 the amount of fixative and basically stopped fixing it after about 5 minutes. I was hoping it would "relax" the intensity of the color, but it didn't much. Surprisingly, the yellow gi has not had bleeding or fading problems.







However, with time, the blue and yellow have both lightened up a little, the blue more than the yellow. The blue is a perfect baby blue color now, and is only a little uneven, which I attribute to my insufficient stirring and agitation.

None of the patches were cotton, so they didn't take the color. The yellow gi had cotton thread for the embroidery so the white embroidery became yellow. The red trim still looks good though.

One Gameness gi that I dyed ended up looking pretty uneven-- my friend's charcoal grey. (That's how I learned to strain the dye paste, because his got confetti'd... and for unknown reasons, it became blotchy a week later to the point of calling it "postApocalyptic camouflage".) I am not sure why-- I suspect he bleached it just to torture me. The good side effect though is that next time I dye a gi I will be anal retentive about stirring, timing, and chemistry. Mrs. Kolz (my sophomore year chem teacher) would be somewhat proud.

I still have sage green and emerald to try out. I also want to try dip-dyeing a gi... dangle the ends of the legs in a dark blue and let the color creep up... then fix it, wash it. Then, dip the shoulders only in a green, and let the color creep... with white in the middle... maybe I'm carrying this too far??

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Budovideos responds on Fightworks Podcast....

Jake from Budovideos.com responds to the concerns regarding fair coverage of women's matches at major tournaments on this week's Fightworks Podcast, in an interview with Caleb. Caleb pointed out the blog post from yours-truly that raised the issue and Jake was kind enough to thank me on air.

Basically, though this is not a quote, Jake's answer was they weren't prepared with another camera to do a split screen. At the Pan there were up to 10 matches running at a time, so they had to pick. Because men and women happened at the same time, they had to go with the more popular choice, and there are more people who want to watch men do BJJ. But he agreed it was a pretty good chance that they'd show some women's matches at Mundials because there, they don't run men's and women's finals at the same time.

I want to extend my most sincere appreciation to Caleb and the Fightworks Podcast for getting an answer and to Dave and Jake of Budovideos.com for helping promote coverage of women in this beautiful sport.

If you have strong opinions about watching women's BJJ at the Mundials I encourage you to let Budovideos.com know!

Pan Ams, part three-- even more footage....

I am a little overstimulated, having been processing and rendering all the footage from the Pan. I am still not finished, in fact, and have a couple more clips to do. It's a nice problem to have. I did take a break for an hour to dig weeds in the garden-- at least it didn't rain while I was out there though I am somewhat muddy nonetheless.

If the footage on the last post wasn't enough, you have more here. First, I am so sorry I didn't get more complete matches! Here's a look-around for context. The first match you see is a glimpse of Nyjah Easton fighting Michelle Nicolini for the light featherweight women's gold. Then you see the corner where the Alliance people are cheering (who, I don't know.) Then I pan around a little so you can see some of how coaches, friends etc are reacting.

video

Ryan Hall, who recently got his blackbelt from Felipe Costa, v. Henrique, a top Marcelo Garcia blackbelt, in their division match-- the battle of the 50/50. You'll notice I wasn't actively filming-- just set the camera on a table and turned it on.. as a result you can't always see perfectly. Sorry!



Otavio Souza defeats Andre de Frietas in their middle-heavyweight finals match.



Gabrielle Garcia (Alliance) defeats Tammy Griego (Gracie Barra) in the heavyweight brown/black women's finals. I had to pause filming briefly in the middle so missed some of the action; finish is in part two.

Part one:


Part two:


Lightweight brown/black women's final match-- Luanna Alzuguir v. Cristiane Souza. Unfortunately I had to stop filming briefly in the middle of the match.

Part 1:


Part 2:


Kayron Gracie v. Abmar Barbosa in the men's middleweight finals... I had to move while filming, fortunately during a brief timeout while the guys adjusted their gis, so I deleted the motion-sickness-inducing-Blair Witch Project-moment, hence a brief blank spot in the middle.



Let me know what you think.

Pan Ams, part two....

Hey all... more about the Pan. Less big picture/preaching, more pictures and video.

But before I get to that, wanted to point out one of John Will's recent posts that neatly described why, I think, I have to see things in class on five separate occasions before they sink in. He refers to these as "sticky lessons." As usual, spot-on brilliance. At least I'm not alone :)

But anyway... You might want to know what to expect at a big tournament like this, and the photojournalist in me likes making a record of the experience. Nothing can prepare you for the noise and urgency. It's like a big NAGA that's four days long, but far more organized, and the emotional intensity in the air really ups the ante. In the early morning, it's very still, almost peaceful.



Mitch and I got there so early on the first day (we were paranoid about being late) that we had time to go out for breakfast. Well, since I was also paranoid about making weight, HE ate breakfast. I ate... vegetables.





By 9am it's hopping and was like a hive until at least 8pm. The barricades were a godsend, really, because they gave competitors and staff a little breathing room. The crowds continually push the barricades closer and closer, and the staff keeps pushing them back, and the screaming... there's nothing like it.



Strangely, though, the energy has an anonymous quality to it. It's as though everyone there is screaming and looking at so many things going on at once, no one was paying any attention to my match.



Granted, I heard my opponent Nina's corner's voice loud and clear, so I knew at least once other person (besides my husband and the referee) was watching... but it felt like there was an excellent possibility that no one else was paying us any mind. Anyway.

Still photos really don't capture all of the vibe so I took a couple quick little videos of the general scene. Just panning around the room a bit so you get a feel for the situation-- this was late in the day on Saturday, things are winding down, probably around 8pm. The deep, deep voice you hear over the PA system is the (famous) Tony Torres.

video

This was earlier on another day I think. The female voice with the accent is what you will be listening for as she is usually calling the divisions and specific names. Notice how difficult it is to distinguish her voice!

video

And here's a little view of what's behind the scorer table, which is where your corner and friends will be standing. It's a long way to the center of your mat, which is why it can be hard to hear them, and why they will be utterly without a voice within an hour or so.

video

I mentioned in my review for the Fightworks Podcast that the tournament was well-run and efficient. Coming from the NAGA perspective this couldn't be more of a contrast. The IBJJF staff tells you days ahead of time what time your division will be called and holy cow, they're accurate. Over 2800 competitors this year (the largest Pan yet!) and you figure most competitors bring at least one other person with them, whether family, friends, coaching, etc.. so you know it's a sizeable crowd. The largest division, one of the lighter-weight bluebelt men's, had 100 competitors in it and took 8 matches to get to gold. Here's the wall with the brackets posted on it. These are NOT the brackets for the whole weekend; nope, just for THURSDAY.



UC Irvine's Bren Events Center was a nice venue with plenty of space, clean bathrooms, and good seating for viewers. I was bummed they jacked you on the parking (normally $8, and on the first day that's all they charged. Second day they clued in and raised the rates to $10/day for the rest of the weekend.) Only complaint was it was absofreakinlutely too cold inside. Definitely bring a hoodie. And credit card, for the cool tshirts upstairs, and cash, for the Silvio's BBQ and the acai bowls outside.

So you wanna know what a random match looked like? Here's some purplebelt dudes filmed at random. Dunno their names.



And here's some blackbelt dudes. Again, random selection. The guy in the black gi is Antonio Passos.



Here's another sweet match of his, vs. Joao Faria. Check out Faria's flying triangle at the start.

video

As a teaser... I plan on a part 3 with more fun matches: Luanna Alzuguir v. Cristiane Souza (light brown/black womens' finals)... Ryan Hall v. Henrique (just a division match but a long 50/50 guardy-sweepy battle)... so stay tuned!

Life outside of, and not on, the mats....

It's been a while since I posted some food porn. Or anything else aside from jits porn. So...

Omelette for breakfast, anyone? (I detest eggs, so this was all for my husband.) Mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, orange bell pepper, garlic, red onion, jalapenos, sausage (from a wild pig Phil killed!), and cheese.






And my antique roses are going bonkers with all the rain. I've decided my garden works best as a Darwinian cottage garden. Low maintenance, rambling, full of good-smelly-things, and if you survive, more power to you. If you don't, I'm not stressing. My antique roses are called "antiques" because they're often found around old houses, cemetaries, etc. after decades of neglect but still going strong. Some of the roses I have in the back yard are strains over a hundred years old. All are intensely fragrant and all bloom all spring, summer and fall. No pruning, just a little compost dug into the soil, and some water here and there.

This one has flowers about 2-3" across that start out butter yellow and fade to white as they age. The whole plant is about ten feet across, maybe eight feet tall. The hazelnut, pear, apple and orange mints have gone wild underneath.




Best of all they've thrived despite jiu jitsu, the jealous mistress.




Saturday, April 17, 2010

My match at the 2010 Pan.

I welcome your input and commentary! My opponent is Nina Beeson, a blue from Alliance Atlanta. Match was scored 0-0 with 1 advantage each. Let me know what you think-- and of course, many many thanks to my Chief Cameraman and husband Mitch :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

The fabulous tie dyed gi...

This is a work of art and I might have to wear it to bed. At least tuck it under my pillow! Check out this beautiful baby... I sent Chris (at HappyKimonos.com) one of my favorite gis, an Atama "female fit" F3. I had a custom back patch made by the great guys at NHB Gear to suit the local frame of mind... and look what I just got back!

So here's the back, minus the Atama patch, before mine was sewn on.



This is almost how it looks now-- I kept the "Keep Austin Weird" patch (my design! if you want one let me know!) but the Happy Kimonos one went on the front.



The front:



The pants:



Seriously, these look even better-- sharper, brighter, crisper-- in person. I washed the gi twice with the special Synthrapol detergent used for freshly-dyed fabrics.. it keeps any extra dye that comes out in the wash from resettling on the fabric or muddying the colors. Downside is it smells funny so then I rewashed it with lavender detergent and now it's in the dryer with 3 dryer sheets. I am going to ROCK this gi in class tomorrow! I can't wait!

On other fronts... still no reply from Budovideos.com on the coverage issue.

P.S. Saturday afternoon-- I did indeed rock this gi today. I must admit it gave me no superpowers-- Zade, the new blue belt, still looping choked me. But I don't care-- it's especially appropo given this weekend is the Reggae Festival!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dear Budovideos.com,

This was sent via the website contact form tonight.

Hi Budovideos,

My name is Georgette Oden and I write the BJJ blog "Georgette's World" at georgetteoden.blogspot.com.

I average around 3000 unique hits a month and many of my readers (and I) have been commenting on the complete dearth of your coverage of the womens' matches at the Pan American Jiu Jitsu Championship.

I realize we haven't heard your side of the story, so I'm offering you this opportunity to educate us about this decision. It does seem a little odd that, as people have noted, there was no camera time for any of the women competing. Perhaps you would like to share with us the factors that led your company to focus only on the men and their results. I'll be posting this same comment on my blog and promise to post your response in full without editing.

We sincerely hope that womens' matches at Mundials will get something close to equal coverage.

Thanks!

Eagerly awaiting your response,

Georgette Oden

DVD Review: Roy Dean's No Gi Essentials

Oooh, how fun.. another Roy Dean production. I really enjoyed watching this 2-disc set, which he sent me for review.

I'll start with a description of my biases/background: I already have his Blue Belt Requirements and Purple Belt Requirements. I primarily train in gi, though I do roll nogi once or twice a week. I'm a sport jiu jitsu player, with no aspirations for MMA.

I thought this instructional was very well done. It definitely meets a need and fits into a gaping hole in the BJJ instructionals world. Given the title, I expected it to be focused solely on the most basic of basics for nogi; I was pleasantly surprised to see followup techniques, counters, and recounters. Some of the moves seemed more advanced, some bluebelt/purplebelt-level techniques, and he did mention some MMA-specific applications.. so I think it could be a useful stand-alone reference for MMA fighters and intermediate level nogi players. I wish I'd had this series when I was a complete nogi beginner, but even as a 3-stripe blue, I found lots of useful stuff, including techniques that will transition to gi pretty well. MY FAVORITE PART is that he shows the move and then shows it in live rolling. I think this should be part of every instructional! Only Royler's sweeps and takedowns DVD, to my knowledge, does this too. I was very, very impressed.

You can get the set for $44.95 on Professor Dean's website. You can also find it at Budovideos for the same price, but I'm mad they didn't show a single womens' match from the Pan Ams so I'm not linking to their site. Finally, you can rent it for 72 hours, $9.99, here on Youtube.

I know Slideyfoot wrote an exhaustive and thoroughly professional review of this set, but I haven't read it yet on purpose. This is just my point of view :)

The first DVD is divided into eight sections: Welcome, Essential Movements, Essential Grips, Takedowns, Armdrag, Kimura, Guillotine and Rolling Analysis.

The welcome section is more like a movie trailer, with highlights from the live rolling sections found later on. Essential Movements covered just that-- things like bridging, shrimping, shrimping then needling through to get to your knees, transferring weight, and pivoting. He also discusses some common errors, such as failing to tuck your elbow underneath your body when you shrimp and needle through. What I really enjoyed was seeing these movements in isolation, then with a partner, either in a drilling context or in live rolling. As it turned out, this helpful tool is repeated throughout the DVDs. I noted that in discussing pivoting, he used a female student (yay!) and I even saw a different way to get an armbar from top-- she basically kneeled on Roy's ribcage from side control, while Roy was up on his side, and then pivoted, put her leg in front of his face, and armbarred him. I don't usually think of kneeling on my opponents, but I'm too nice anyway. Since seeing that, I have tried the technique a couple times and found it to be extremely effective.

Next, Essential Grips. This has been one of the hardest adaptations for me going from gi to nogi. Roy explains that without fabric to grip, commanding your opponent's joints offers the best control, and examines how you change your grips to control all the major "joints" -- wrist, elbow, shoulder, feet, knees, hips, and head.

He methodically instructs you in hand placement, the level of tension you should feel, and your goals with different grips-- then moves into a brief strategic lesson. Wrist grips, for example, are not for controlling the arm but for sensing and feeling its direction. Combine a wrist grip with elbow control, however, and you have a more powerful tool. The shoulder, "valuable real estate," is valuable for passing if you have the underhook. As an example of the benefits of wrist control from guard, Roy shows the pendulum sweep to mount to a twisterish position that I'm going to review a few more times before trying. Last, the DVD touches on the possibilities of binding two limbs together-- the Brabo choke (aka D'arce) is used as the example here. Again, combinations of close-focus camera work, slow motion, and live rolling, all from a multitude of angles, fully illustrate the instruction.

The third segment is focused on takedowns. Roy starts from a common tieup.. lets say the headtie. He fractalizes into an ever-widening spread of potential outcomes. Headtie to single leg to running the pipe to kicking out the leg into an armbar, or an ankle lock, or a hip toss. Or, the overhook, to uchimata, to harai goshi (I think!) to armbar. Armdrags go every which way, with responses to common counters, what-ifs, and instructions on recovering failed techniques. It's obvious that Roy has judo and wrestling skills to draw on, if you didn't know his bio already. On the plus side, he doesn't limit his demonstration to just "that" technique, but usually follows through to an ultimate submission. My only criticism is that some of the closeups are just too close up to be useful, but that's just being picky.

Sections on kimuras and guillotines follow. I found this to be really useful for a gi player transitioning to nogi, since a lot of what I do on offense tends to be gi-dependent, and it was really nice to see the "translation" of standard offenses with the different grips. I liked that the submissions were shown as elements of chained attacks, combined with sweeps and other submission attempts, as well as lots of what-ifs again... if they base out with an arm, go to the triangle, the omoplata, the armbar. Likewise, the standard trinity of hipbump sweep, kimura, guillotine is shown.

The last section on the first DVD was uberuseful-- rolling analysis. Roy rolls with three players of different ability levels and physical attributes, and does a voiceover critique of himself and of them. I was a little sad that his first roll, with a woman, is explicitly labeled a "warm up roll," but it may simply have been due to the paucity of upper belt women in his school. It was heartening to see him let her into the game (she taps him several times, legitimately though he was obviously not going at full intensity.) Regardless, his commentary is very insightful and there are many slow-motion replays to illustrate his points, both corrective and complimentary.

The other rolls analyzed thus are with higher level players- a senior blue and TJ, a purple who appears as uke in many Roy Dean instructionals. It's refreshing to see TJ resisting and playing his own game. It's great sparring footage and I'm sure because of my own noobie level of perception, I'm missing half of the fun. I believe I will get more and more out of watching this as I progress in my own training. I can't emphasize enough how good it is to have this "insider voice" commentary while watching the rolls. Probably it is my second favorite element of the DVDs.

Disc two ranges from more basics to more advanced material, divided into sections: Guard Options, Mount Options, Side Escape, Opening the Guard, Leglock Techniques, Leg Combinations, the highlight/trailer section again, and more Demonstrations.

In Guard Options, again Roy starts with a basic whitebelt attack (an armbar from guard) and branches out through a variety of counters to recounters... what if you're stacked? can openered? There's a very appealing-looking double armbar from high lock that I can't imagine will work against more seasoned training partners, but I'm still going to give it a go. Another basic position-- the overhook from guard-- is covered in similar detail, looking at triangles, armbars, and omoplatas in transition, as well as recounters to standard defenses like the limparm.

Mount Options seemed a bit off at the start, since it begins with Roy in side control demonstrating the transition to mount. The series goes from "Shoulder of Justice" to mount, S mount, armlock, while still holding the neck, and then a transition to pillow choke. Numerous details here about improving your pillow choke, and a followup from a slipped pillow to the back and RNC. I really liked the camera movement especially here because it was very revealing. He also shows the transition from pillow to americana and a standard armbar from the benchpress, with useful emphasis on pivoting and weight transfer. I found the armbar counter to an upa mount escape very helpful, but again, some of the ultra-ultra closeup footage was more hindrance than help. Still that's only a few seconds of the DVD so not too big a deal.

The next section, Sidemount Escapes, was interesting, as it went beyond what I recall on Dean's Blue Belt Requirements. The bridge and shrimp and escape to the knees are very similar, but he added some extra fun-- escaping to butterfly then sweeping to mount and a mounted triangle, armbar, bellydown armbar series. Further, if your opponent sprawls when you go to your knees, Dean demonstrates a variety of ways to counter different styles of sprawl, culminating in a kneebar. The camera work again is excellent, offering a birds-eye perspective that really helps you see the kneebar entry. Dean emphasizes arm position in escaping side mount and I think he covers basics that someone who doesn't have a jits background might not know very well. Again, a worthwhile stand-alone instructional.

Opening the Guard starts with baiting some attacks, like the triangle or the armbar, and also covers standing to pass the guard as well as a dump pass. If you use the "Gracie Gift" pass, the one baiting the triangle, your safety depends on using your elbow to stop their leg from coming up and over, a detail that is sometimes overlooked. Counters to regaining guard are covered as well as a half-butterfly pass going into a kneebar.

Leglock Techniques begins with a straight ankle lock. Rather unconventionally, Dean finishes this by using his "elbow pit" to secure the foot instead of the forearm near the wrist, then rolling his shoulder back to use his lat muscles- then he switches arms, angles his wrist to be thumb-up, and leans back for the finish.

I was surprised and disconcerted that the next technique covered was a heelhook. I'm almost paranoiac about my knees, and the idea of a beginner grappler learning heelhooks put my head in a tizzy. Dean mentioned casually that it is a powerful technique with the potential for injury but I really wish he had put heelhooks last, if at all, and strongly emphasized the risks. I have read that the heelhook is dangerous because injury occurs almost simultaneous with pain, and I would think this information would be especially important in a DVD-instructional setting. In any case, he demonstrates a heelhook entry from standing, then switches sides to an inverted inside heelhook with a recounter to a kneebar. 'Nuff said.

Leg Combinations, the following segment, begins with an armlock counter to the ankle lock that I liked a lot. What to do in an ankle lock war, plus a heelhook as a counter, comes next. Ick, that's my paranoia again. This segues into heelhook as a counter to the scissor sweep, an MMA setup for an inside heelhook, and a kani basami (leg scissor) takedown. It all looks very controlled and reasonable when Dean does it, but it still gives me the willies. Finally, we finish up with a series- armbar from guard, to stack defense, to a kneebar- which I enjoyed and would like to try.

That's it for the technique instruction. The DVD concludes with footage from demonstrations, some flow rolls, and "Subleague" (footage of the Roy Dean competition team in action.) The demonstrations are beautiful examples of technique from brown and purple belts.

Production values: I give this an A because the camera work, angles, and audio quality were excellent. I was only occasionally annoyed by the super-close ups or it would have been an A+.
Breadth: B. Maybe this is just my own bias, but I wish there would have been more about guard passing, halfguard, sweeps, beating the turtle, taking the back, and kneebars-- and I would have been fine without a single heelhook.
Depth: A. Moves in chained series, counters, recounters. Really excellent.

I think this is best suited for experienced whitebelts with some mat time under their belts on up through advanced bluebelts. If you're a brand-new whitebelt, get Dean's Blue Belt Requirements first and play with that a while.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tiedye teaser....

Courtesy of HappyKimonos.com... here's a sneak peak at my new gi!!! I can't wait to choke someone while wearing this....

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lessons from the Pan Ams, so far.

I'll post pictures, videos, and my personal tournament review later this week. Right now, here's the lessons I have been mulling over for the last 4 days or so- in no particular order. I definitely welcome your comments and suggestions of course.



1. Think advantages. Often we think purely in terms of position then submission; later we advance to thinking about pursuing and holding positions for points as well. Now I see the need to also push for advantages. Go for subs and sweeps even if defendable. You'll see in my video I load up an Achilles lock and sit for a split second, considering going for it. I don't go because I am sure she'll defend it. I now think I should have gone, made her defend, and collected one more advantage.

2. Guard works best if you can get points on the board early. I don't know if I can clearly express my thoughts on this but I'll try-- SO MANY PEOPLE (male and female) pulled or jumped guard! They bypassed the whole gripfighting/takedown scene and went straight to the floor. From there, no one has any points at the start. The guy (sorry, gentlemen, that's a gender neutral "guy") on the bottom has no points and can only get some by completing a sweep; the guy on top can only get points by passing. Advantages can only come from near-passes, near-subs, near-sweeps. And the guy on the bottom is the only one who can get a submission unless you're good at ankle locks (the only legal leglock up until brown); otherwise you might get the advantage but give up the pass AND top position. Previous to this Pan, I really thought playing guard sucked, and would rather my opponent pulled guard because I thought I had a decent pass and top game. I thought it was better to beat their guard and get on top.

Now I see what REALLY matters is getting the takedown so they're already working from a point deficit. Then, if you somehow screw up and lose top position, you just have to get guard, and fight to keep it. (It's damn hard to get a pass, because not only do you have to pass, you have to hold a dominant position for a LOOOOONG while, not just 3 seconds. Depends on the ref, but realistically we're talking 5-6 seconds, minimum.) If you get your guard, they don't get points, you keep your point lead, you pursue subs/sweeps, and you win even if you can't land either. But if you just start by pulling guard, either you better have a solid sweep/sub game, or you will depend on having an unpassable guard and winning on advantages. I dunno-- maybe I'm just repeating what's obvious to everyone else? but it's my first time to put it all together in an (in)coherent way.

3. As far as offensive strategy goes, guard plus sweeps is more high percentage than pass plus top game. Pretty much restating what I said above in #2, and thanks to Mark Stites in Dallas for pointing this out to me as well. You cannot count on passing. You cannot be offensive while passing (I'm just now realizing that passing is a defensive posture) while the guard player obviously can instigate all kinds of offense from the bottom.

4. Takedowns are key to gaining points and a strategic advantage early. I can't emphasize this enough. I saw it over and over in matches from whitebelt to blackbelt. Get a solid takedown (ideally ending in top position, but hell, even a hard fought seoi nage ending in a scramble mess with you on top) and get your points. Better if you can knock the wind out of them, scare them, mess with their mental equilibrium.

5. Flatten them out from top halfguard, top side control. This will get you an advantage.

6. Defend subs invisibly so you don't give away the advantage. If you can ignore a submission attempt or at least appear to ignore it, you have a better chance of not giving up the advantage. Especially watch your facial expressions. Lots of smart corners push refs into giving advantages and one thing they, especially the Brazilians, will do is comment on how much pain or discomfort you're in. It's hard to defend sweeps invisibly but I think you can subtly resist a choke or joint lock, even if just by hiding how much you're countering it.

7. Work the tournament: money, stress relief, insider access, free entry fee (sometimes), free tshirts, free lunches and snacks. Of course the lunches will not be low calorie, so if you're competing and need to make weight, bring snacks like sugar snap peas, carrots, etc. If the refs are going to compete as well, you can share your snacks and win their affection and appreciation too.

8. 90 second drill: When you're home doing timed rounds, have someone call out when you're 90 seconds from the end. Imagine you're down 3 points (or whatever) and that in 90 seconds you need to score. I heard someone call this out to their fighter and it galvanized them into not leaving anything on the mat. That particular fighter didn't win, but I liked the concept; anything your corner can say to you that will have meaning for you and NOT for the opponent is a good thing. In other words, corners, please don't sound desperate! Don't say frantically that we're behind by 3 points, say "3 points, 90 second drill!"

9. Grip crossface instead of arm-behind-head crossface. Might be old news to ya'll but it was nifty for me. I think I've been confusing that 'arm behind the head and shoulder dug into the throat' (some call it the Shoulder of Justice) with a true crossface? Anyway, you grab, thumb in, at the collar near the tag, then use the knife edge of your forearm held vertically to shove their jaw away from you.

10. Don't let go of what you get. In many of the higher belt matches, say purple and above, I saw players hold on to grips I would have let go way sooner. One that sticks in my mind was an overhook from guard -- that blackbelt must have kept the overhooked arm for at least five minutes. I wondered what they could have done with a free hand, but eventually saw that they were able to make something happen with the grip they kept. I'm sure like any rule, there are plenty of exceptions-- and you only find out when to hold on and when to let go with experience. But generally I was surprised by how long they held on and what they made happen with the grip they kept.

11. Lots of wraps and grips. People started untucking their opponents' gis and their own far earlier in the engagement than I expected, and wrapped stuff up with wild abandon. Didn't matter what direction, with what, but if there was loose fabric, it was getting wrapped around something. My impression (probably incorrect) was that people started wrapping without necessarily having a distinct plan in mind. Some wraps, like gi lapel under the arm and behind the neck from guard, were pretty common and versatile. Some others, like gi skirt doubled around a forearm, were more improvised and maybe free-form. And the grips... people grabbed stuff and held on, and never ever seemed to have a free hand. Hands were always busy grabbing fabric. Always.

12. Remember your exact position and grips during a ref stoppage. Some referees told me they viewed it as the players' responsibility to remember where they were and to seek that same position upon restarting. I know that when we got to the edge of the mat and had to be recentered, I was so hopped up on adrenaline I couldn't remember much more than the big picture- I was in her guard, I think it was open? and I think I had her knees? But the blackbelts were meticulous; when the ref stopped them, they froze, and it seemed they were conducting an inventory of grips and relative positioning before they would move. Good idea, I think. Don't let yourself get rushed.

13. Time awareness. To some extent this is a corner's responsibility; to some extent it's the players'. At the Pan they have lovely big flatscreen TVs (see below) at every mat with a huge display so there's no excuse for not keeping on top of your time... except for when you're so busy, you can't look up.



My match was the fastest six minutes on the planet-- I thought maybe we were halfway through when we were done. Everything I was doing seemed to take hours longer than normal. I wish I'd had someone to tell me to hurry up!

17. Don't let go unless the ref sees the tap. Saw a guy fighting who got an armbar, his opponent was visibly tapping out of the ref's range of sight. I thought the ref wasn't able to see it and made the mistake of saying aloud "He's tapping!" but not terribly loudly.. and you have to understand, people are SCREAMING at the top of their lungs from behind the bright yellow barricade (below), which is about 10' away from the edge of the mat and maybe 20-25' from the middle of the mat, so it takes a LOT to be heard.



Anyway the guy obviously felt and saw his opponent tapping, so he stopped and let go-- but the ref didn't stop the fight. Many people expressed opinions that it was a traditionally Brazilian tactic but I am not willing to generalize that way.

18. Know the rules about legal subs. Should go without saying. Couple people got DQ'd for locking a leg and then crossing the foot over the hip; worse was the guy who got DQ'd for throwing on a kneebar (which was illegal up through and including purple belt.)

19. Bring spares. I was going through the bull pen where you get weighed in and have your gi checked, where I saw a Texas girl named Jill.. she was freaking out because her gi top had been rejected. It was canvas like the pants, somewhat quilted, and it failed because the gi top is supposed to be woven like, well... like all gi tops usually are. They give you something like 5 minutes to get a replacement, and it was going to take her coach more than that to get another gi (though they are sold upstairs, that's a long way away.) I whipped out my spare gi from my bag and handed it to her. She was about a foot taller than me and usually wears an A2, but my F3 fit her just barely enough to pass muster. Another guy had to buy a new belt because his was too frayed. Better not have blood spots or dirt on your stuff; that will cause failure too.

Notice here, the girl on top-- the skirt of her gi has Dev's "Fueled by Fear" patch on it! Voila, Dev, you've proliferated :)



A word on color: the IBJJF rules say gis must be white, blue or black. Rules don't say what SHADE blue, and I was wavering about dyeing my gi. Well, I can report that I saw 3 distinct shades of blue and no one reported problems. The traditional cobalt blue; the Keiko/Koral navy blue, and even a kind of medium cadet blue all passed without question. Just fyi.

20. Interaction with the referee and scorer: The higher the belt level, the more players interacted with refs and scorers. The better players constantly monitored the points given by the refs, questioned and pushed for advantages, and made eye contact with the scorer to (I thought) make sure that points were being attributed properly. The players also had no hesitation telling the refs about illegal grips by opponents, or when a timeout was required to retie a gi, get a hand or foot out of a dangerously encumbered position, etc. As a side note, I have always thought that quickly readjusting a gi was better than taking your time, as it made you look eager to get on with the fight. However, I see that everyone pretty much takes a reasonable amount of time and doesn't hurry. There is a benefit to being eager and very fit, cardio-wise, but I think the greater advantage comes by getting an extra 4-5 unhurried breaths in.

21. NEVER let them settle! The reason it's so damn hard to get a pass or a sweep is that they fight you to the bitter end. Even if they're all the way around and on top of you, you simply MUST keep thrashing like a beached fish because it keeps them from getting the points. I watched this happen time and time again. Yes, it burns calories but who cares. If you feel yourself getting swept, spring up from the mat in whatever way possible the minute you touch down, as though it were red hot. They won't get the points unless you let them come up in a dominant position.

22. Standing guard passes are all the rage: The most common guard pass I saw, from whitebelt up through blackbelt, was the one where you grab their lapels and stand up with them, then pressure down on one knee. The most common counter was to lay back and down, underhook an ankle, and sweep.

23. The definition of insanity: they say insanity is trying the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. Well, sometimes that's true in jiu jitsu though not always. I thought of this when I was watching a blackbelt match in which the guy kept trying that standing guard pass. Over, and over, he went to this pass. It wasn't working, and he never varied. Now I understand pushing and being persistent; I understand going back and forth between two passes so you tire out various muscle systems on your opponent. But I don't understand apparently only having one tool in your toolbag. Hammers don't fix everything, sometimes you need a screwdriver. Bring a toolkit, eh? And a side note: know which of your tools are quick-acting and which take some time; when you have 1 minute left and you're down, don't implement a long, slow pass. It's time to try something speedy.

24. The mats are slippery. They're brand new and while they don't look it, they will definitely feel it. Try putting a swipe of solid/dry deodorant on the soles of your feet. It's not to stop your own sweat; it gives you a little extra traction without leaving a residue.

So those are my big picture ponderings. Perhaps more to come. And here are my friend Mark's notes from last year's Pan... I agree with all of these as well!

1. After doing the Pan Ams, local tournaments are a cake walk.
2. Jumping to guard is what all the top guys did.
3. Attacking and keeping on the offensive = win.
4. Collar chokes seemed more commonly used and effective than armbars/leglocks.
5. A 5 minute match lasts 30 seconds.
6. Everyone is doing Crossfit, and top guys train BJJ 2 times a day.
7. Waiting/stalling/procrastination/apprehension (when one should be attacking) = loss.
8. Train the techniques you want to do until it becomes instant muscle memory. Thinking = loss.
9. Tournaments/competition are nothing to be afraid of, they show you your weaknesses.
10. When the match starts: attack like a rabid ape, engulfed in flames; jump on your opponent then Stop, Drop and Roll on his face. (but skip the Stop part :) )

Then his notes from his Mundials, for good measure... with my comments in brackets..

Here's a few things I noticed from the Mundials...

A lot of this overlaps with the Pan Ams, which only reinforces what's stated.

- Lots of guard pulling and very little, if any, Judo throws.

- Lots of toe holds for the advanced guys/girls. When I say "lots" I mean a shitload! They were attempted constantly. Kyra Gracie got one.

- DQ's were rampant. 1/2 were for poor sportsmanship. The other half was from the guard. With the guy on the ground wrapping his outside leg over the opponents front leg across the knee. It's instant DQ. The other leg (inside) is cool, although I was warned about that such maneuver in my match. So it's better not to attempt 50/50 or any funky leg spaghetti unless you're totally sure it's legal.

- Most subs were by collar chokes. With the remainder going toward armbars, toeholds and triangles. Good idea would be to build long endurance grip strength. Matt had to hold onto his collar choke for a solid 60 seconds with a tough Brazilian trying desperately to pull it off. Matt got the tap :)

- Learn half guard: bottom, top. upside down, inside out. You'll be here 99% of the time during your matches, especially if you're fairly equally skilled with your opponent.

- Matches are longer than Pan Ams, cardio is important. I rarely saw people gassed bad and get crushed. I believe everyone probably does Crossfit type stuff. Plus at this high level, the grappling tends to be more fluid and active, with very little "crushing" attrition type battles. Matches which stalled were often inside the fullguard; some people, even black belts were penalized points for stalling in the guard. [I saw this too. You get a warning but they're serious, and while you get a penalty, the other guy gets an advantage. If it happens again they give the other guy two points! Which can easily be the reason you lose!]

- The best guys i.e. Marcelo, Cobrinha, Megaton etc... never got all caught up in guard vs guard break battles us noobs do. They always seem to be perfectly balanced right between passing and the opponent ready for the sweep.

- The best guys were happy, relaxed, playful and smiling all the time. No anxiety, worry, or sense of fear. They chatted with fans, and sat down in the warm up area. Marcelo even laid down and snoozed for a bit. One big anxiety problem is that the competitor is worried if his name has been called. He is constantly on watch for his name, while at the same time trying to calm himself. Matt was all amped up and wanted
to fight and kept constantly asking if his name was called. He seemed really nervous and anxious. I finally told him to go sit down and I would listen for his name so he could relax. I think this helped, he wandered off to do his thing, while I managed logistics. Next Pan-Ams/Mundials we should assign a logistics guy to keep track of
things, and keep the competitor relaxed, while doing all the listening for his name being called. This would really help out a lot. [This is another reason why I like working the tournament. You get a feel for the noise level and how hard it is to hear names, you get to know the ring coordinators and they you, and you have another layer or two of protection against this anxiety.]

-Neither Marcelo nor Cobrinha warmed up. When they were called, they might swing their arms around a bit, and do a couple jumping jacks and they were done. Both of them seemed to be so ultra-mega confident and cool, their opponents were shitting themselves. Marcelo's first opponent was shaking his head in disbelief and joking with Marcelo before the match...It lasted 1 minute. Victim #2, whom certainly saw the prior onslaught lasted 3 minutes. Valiant, but on the losing end from beginning of the match. Which leads me to my next point. [I saw lots of people not warm up. I personally don't warm up. I think it's a waste of valuable glycogen to go all crazy. Maybe some deep knee bends, a few pushups, shake it all out. But that's it.]

- The toughest guys, attacked, and never lost ground from their first advantage. Marcelo would sweep a guy and that was it. Cobrinha would trip up a guy and he was screwed. Kyra Grace would pull guard and her opponent would never recover. Roger Gracie, once he got mount, the crowd would clap furiously because they knew the end was near. Roger mounted and X-choked all 7 or 8 of his opponents.

- If the match was not ended because of a sub, it went to points. The VAST majority of points were from sweeps. Especially from some form of guard. If he pulls guard, you must escape, and pass IMMEDIATELY or run. As you pass, you're in danger of being swept. We saw this constantly as sweeps are used as the counter to a guard pass. It would seem a guy who could sweep effectively from anywhere would win way more often then a guy whom could do a good guard pass. Sweeps are almost always available to you, whereas a guard pass opportunity may never happen. In my view (from things I noticed at the mundials), a good guard defense with badass sweeps will go a lot further than a
good passing game. Plus when you sweep, if you land in a position of value (mount/knee on stomach) you get points for that as well. A guard pass may only last for a second, you may get your 2 points, or if they turn to their side or get to their knees, you lose those points. In the end, it sucks to pass, and it's better to sweep. [I was SO BUMMED to find this to be true at the Pan!!!]

- If you do pass guard, you must absolutely pass 100% and land in a position of value. Sidemount was rarely seen, mount was way more common. Knee on stomach happened very very little. These guys are VERY tricky and just as you are 99.9% through your guard pass, you're back in 1/2 guard. [This was true from blue on up. Either halfguard or inverted guard or, very commonly, turtle. If they turtle you get no points. Sucks.]

- Learn 1/2 guard. I said it earlier. I'll say it again. Get GOOD at halfguard. You can pull halfguard from standing and attack. Your opponent will pull halfguard on you when you gain superiority. Learn it well. We saw it constantly. One example was Marcelo's brown [now black] belt Henrique vs Ryan Hall (famous guy Ryangle from Lloyd Irvin, founder of 50/50 BJJ). Their match went on for 10 minutes straight..in half
guard. They went back and forth trading sweeps. The point counts on both guys were way up there like 10 or 12 points each. They pretty much locked in on each other and rolled back and forth. Ryan won by one full advantage point because he was able to threaten a position of value early in the match. During the whole match, no "typical"
position was ever attained ie. side mount, guard, north south etc... just simple halfguard. Often the halfguard was one of them on their asses wrapped up around the other guys leg (whom was usually squatted or partially standing). These guys would do all sorts of crazy gi or arm wrapping things around the half guarded leg to effect a sweep. After being swept, the other guy would return the favor! [Same at the Pan except Henrique and Ryan are now black belts, they were locked up in 50/50, and neither got sweeps. It was lame really, just two guys on their rumps, neither able to come up enough to get even an advantage much less a sweep. But I digress. And I'll post the footage from that match soon.]

- Learn how advantage points work. You can use these early to build a lead so that if your opponent rallies back and gains all his major points to match yours... you still win. [Matches were often decided on advantages and many matches had ZERO points.]

Thanks to Mark Stites of Faixa Preta in Rockwall TX (one of Marcelo Garcia's very few affiliate schools) for the great input...