Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Off to NYC!

Leaving this evening... I'll be in NYC for a week, visiting family and preparing for another big work project that has me arguing in front of the Court of Appeals in New Orleans next month!

While I'm in NY, though, I am definitely getting some training in. Already lined up some classes at Marcelo Garcia's and a private with Emily Kwok!

See you in a week :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Put your money where your mouth is.

I'm proud to be sponsored by MMAOutlet.com and have been proud to consider the owner, Mike Ripberger, a friend ever since we got to know each other a bit at the Pan in 2010.


So today when I found a promotional email from MMAOutlet in my inbox, advertising a limited edition rashie from Manto, I knew how I wanted to present this to him.  Maybe not the most subtle method of putting my cards on the table, but then again no one has ever accused me of being too subtle.

Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 2:08 PM
Subject: Re: Limited Edition Manto Deadly Tigers - Only at MMA Outlet!


Hey Mike--

I have always appreciated your sponsorship, as it's difficult for women jiu jitsu fighters to get sponsorships at times, and you have always been supportive and wonderful to me and to my gym (Relson Gracie Austin.)

But I just received your promotional email about the Manto product you're selling.  I wanted you to know I am boycotting Manto because of their attitude  in defending their sexualization of women training in the combat arts.  I'm not alone in this boycott, either.

I encourage you to read my blog post on the issue, as well as several articles covering this on the internet, as well as our comments on facebook walls, including Manto's... and you are welcome to respond with your own commentary.  Sorry to put you on the spot like this, but I plan on making this correspondence between you and I public-- because I think it's important for consumers to know how leaders in the community like MMAOutlet.com feel about this issue.

Thanks again for your continued support, and I look forward to hearing your response.

For your information:
http://georgetteoden.blogspot.com/2011/10/boob-gate-nsfw.html
https://www.facebook.com/mantofight/posts/10150314960046627
http://jezebel.com/5848740/martial-arts-exec-offers-bizarre-defense-for-nipply-photoshoot
http://bjiujitsu.blogspot.com/2011/10/branding-in-bjj-what-works.html
https://www.facebook.com/MegJitsu


Sincerely,

Georgette Oden
I encourage you to do the same (or the same sort of thing) if you feel so moved. 

Update:

"From: Mike Ripberger
To: Georgette Oden
Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 12:02 PM
Subject: Re: Limited Edition Manto Deadly Tigers - Only at MMA Outlet!

Hi Georgette,
I did not go over all of those threads with a fine tooth comb, but I think I have a fairly good what the controversy is about. I understand why some people are upset. I would encourage everyone to vote with their dollars (pounds, euros, etc.) when it comes to backing the products they believe in.

If we observe Manto or any other brand routinely disrespecting women or perhaps just not representing our sport in a positive way then we will cease to carry them.

That being said, we think Manto is a quality brand that has consistently represented our sport with class and dignity for several years. Their approach to fight wear has really been a breath of fresh air. When everyone else seemed to be promoting sex, violence and skulls with barbed wire, they charted their own course producing fight wear that captured the essence of BJJ and MMA in a truly original and artistic way. We expect more great things from them in the future.

While MMA Outlet is becoming a bigger player in this industry, in the grand scheme of things we are still an *extremely* small business. To date MMA Outlet has only paid cash to one BJJ athlete to compete wearing our logo. That athlete was Penny Thomas at the No Gi Mundials. We take women in the sport seriously and as such we keep our elbows in and our hands up when sparring with them :)

Being a small company, it’s important for us to try and keep everyone happy. That includes our customers, our friends, sponsored athletes and our partners. Our goal is to help spread the growth of our sport and the brands that help connect us with the spirit of martial arts on and off the mat.

We definitely take this feedback into consideration and will continue to align ourselves in the future with companies and athletes that we feel cast our sport in a positive light.

Thanks,
Mike"


Well said. I appreciate your perspective and your support. If more businesses would be willing to take a stand as you have, it would go a long way towards encouraging more professionalism and respect in the community. Thank you Mike :)


Georgette's Jiu Jitsu World
georgetteoden.blogspot.com

Monday, October 24, 2011

Instructional Review--Jiu Jitsu Outlaw by Abmar Barbosa


Abmar Barbosa is a well-known and successful blackbelt under Robert Drysdale with an extensive list of grappling achievements. Mainly known for his crowd-pleasing and aggressive guard, he shocked the BJJ community in the 2010 Pan Ams by running over heavy favourite Kron Gracie in the first fight of the competition, winning by 11-0. He went on to submit another high-profile figure Lucas Leite, ending in second place in that competition after losing in the final by one sweep.  Barbosa opened his own academy in Massachusetts in 2009.


Jiu Jitsu Outlaw is Barbosa's first instructional release, a professionally filmed and edited 4-disc collection put out by Digitsu in 2010.  I watched the first two discs about 20 times over the last year or so, but only recently felt like I was ready to absorb more material (and that doesn't mean I had mastered the first two discs-- more like, my mind was ready and my rolling was bringing me to more of his guard scenarios where I might appreciate his instruction.)  You can buy the set on the Digitsu website here. 

This is not an instructional for whitebelts and probably not for new blues, unless you happen to play a LOT of spider, DLR, and open guard already.  I definitely was stretched to absorb and process the depth and breadth of the techniques covered, but that's great in my book, since I know I'll be able to get more out of the series as I grow in the sport.  I definitely don't see myself outgrowing this in the next 6-8 years!

His instructional technique is excellent.  First, he teaches the movement, demonstrating a predicate move he assumes you know as background when needed. (For example-- here's the traditional armbar we all know.)
 

He then explains why we need another version and why his is better.  I found myself nodding along many times when he'd say something like "We're all taught to do the armbar/the sweep/the pass this way.. but when you do this and this, it never works."  He's right, because we are ALL taught the armbar, so we all see it coming, and maybe by mid-blue belt, we'll rarely get sucked into that standard old thing unless we're snoozing or much weaker than our opponent.  His version of some oldies-but-goodies looked sufficiently different that they would work better, but sufficiently the same that I could pop it in to that slot in my brain without too much relearning and readjustment.

Barbosa, in a white gi, demonstrated each technique from multiple angles against an opponent in a blue gi, making it very easy to tell who was doing what.  After at least 6 repetitions, the music would come up and they'd do it at "live" rolling speed, usually with a slow-motion segment, also showing it from multiple angles.   When needed, they'd show multiple angles at the same time so you could see the progress of the movement simultaneously:



The Good: Explicit instruction and almost-overwhelming level of attention to detail; explanation of why you should do things a certain way (and correspondingly, there are times when things are "up to you" -- he's great about making it clear when something is a must-do versus when it's a matter of stylistic preference that doesn't influence the tactical benefit or the execution of the move); emphasis on grips and particularities with clear verbal and visual instruction; he goes for submissions over points where possible, and for points over advantages where necessary; numerous repetitions of the movements from all camera angles, including slow-motion views plus rolling-speed demonstrations.  The cameraperson must be a jiu jitsu player, because you got the impression they were moving around the demonstration the way you'd want to move if you were there in a class and watching it live.  Abmar's English isn't fluent, but it's certainly adequate; he rarely aggravates the listener with "do this" but instead will say "your elbow comes through here past his hip," for example...  and he makes things clearer by pointing at important elements, gesturing frequently to augment his spoken words.


The Bad: Occasionally, his spoken instructions are hard to hear because his head is underneath his partner's body or is turned away from the camera, where the mike was, but at worst it's only a few seconds and since there are repetitions from different angles, you won't miss much.  Wish he would have done each technique once or twice at the start without (much) explanation so we could have the big picture, then broken it down with increasing levels of detail and rationale.  This was more a problem with the more complex movements not easily visible from one viewpoint that were new to me-- so maybe if they're not new to you, this won't bug you at all.  I didn't notice that 'till disc 3 though.  Oh, and sometimes his names for things, like the Vidal pass, didn't connect for me so I wished I would have known more about why the name was given so I could remember it better.  (Later I discovered that he got his black belt from Felipe Vidal and Robert Drysdale, so that helped somewhat, but not much.)  Not a huge complaint of course, and it means I will probably come up with some whacko name for the pass myself. And I noticed on a few of the techniques on the DLR guard disc, the camera angles weren't quite as pleasing-- the focus was wholly on the specifics of the move, so it got a little close in, and I wished it was from a slightly wider angle (I kept leaning as if I could peer around the edge of the monitor and see the "rest" of the figures on screen.) Last, he emphasized that all these techniques are ones he's used successfully in competition; I wished he had included footage of the movement in that context.  I know that is a hairy pain in the rear to put together though, and it's already 4 discs of stuff.  No biggie.

The Ugly:  Oh, gawd, the music.  Thankfully none while he taught each move, but it came up during the rolling demonstrations and then I had to mute it.  It was that annoying (you hear it in a clip below, sorry!)  Some nasally-voiced fool repeating "arms, arms, arms"-- wtf, lol...

Disc one is Closed Guard and covers:

Knee-block armbar (includes a nice knee-pick sweep option)
Modified ezequiel chokes, 2 variations
Modified flower sweep and MFS to armlock, 2 variations
Elbow-over armlock
Modified pendulum sweep
Overhook sweep fake to a bellydown armbar
Collar choke and arm lock from mata leao arm control

Here's a brief example of his teaching style-- the armlock from mata leao arm control.  He's already shown countless details on getting to this position, and now it's time for a variation when the collar choke isn't comfortable for you or your opponent is countering it effectively.  This is just the first of many times he shows it.

video


Palm-to-palm control to arm lock (similar leg movement to the Brazilian legs drill we do)
Underhook lapel control to arm lock
Abmar's pendulum sweep

Disc two is Spider & Barbosa Guard- nearly two solid hours of technique here:
Spider guard (SG) movement drills 1-3 (really, there's more like 5 or 6- reminding me why wall-walking is important and how shameful it is that I STILL can't do it)
Foot on Bicep (FOB) sweep-- includes two important details I didn't know
Lasso sweep to armbar


Triangle from SG-- works on standing opponents, not just kneeling ones
Lasso with reverse De la Riva (DLR) sweep (Sweet!!)
FOB sweep to armlock-- with welcome details on how to finish any armbar with varying leg positions, to avoid common escapes and counters
Lasso sweep defended to an armlock
Rolling FOB sweep -- sweet!! plus shows you recovery from a mistake in your FOB sweep
Rolling FOB sweep to triangle, after they counter the rolling FOB sweep
Roll under chin strap sweep (over my head, for now)
Single hook spider to sweep
Barbosa guard (BG) to inverted triangle-- the Barbosa guard looks like them having double-unders on you, and he turns their apparent advantage into their apparent hell.  Nice work.
Sweep fake to submission combination (includes crucifix, clock choke, and some other niceties)
BG back take
Abmar's hurricane sweep
Counter to a heavy stack pass

Disc three is Passing the Guard:
2 double-under passes
Arm control double-under passes, 2 variations- one leads into an inverted head-and-arm triangle
Double-under backstep pass
"Vidal" pass
Collar-grip butterfly passes, 2 variations.  I think the second variation, below, is super slick.  This music is repeated throughout the 4 discs.  This is an example of how he demonstrates after the instruction phase, slow motion and at normal speed--

video

Shin trap butterfly pass
Leg over butterfly pass
Knee clear butterfly pass
Modified X pass
Z guard pass
Quarter guard pass

Disc four is De la Riva Guard: I thought this was taught in an unusual order-- until I considered that I am fairly noobish when it comes to "exotica" like deep DLR, reverse DLR etc.  I train at a Relson Gracie school that doesn't really address these kinds of guards, so perhaps if I was more familiar with these things, this would be the obvious order for them to be taught.
 
Deep DLR sweep with lasso control
Roll through sweep
Roll through sweep to the back
Knee stomp sweep to the back
Reverse DLR roll under sweep to the back
Rev. DLR roll under sweep, defended
DLR dental cloth control (and variation) to the back (another name that doesn't gel for me)
Rev. DLR pass to collar choke and to triangle
DLR pass to mount- I tried to upload a snip of this technique too, but it didn't work.  I'll shorten the video clip tonight and see if I can add it later.
And last but not least, the DLR footwork pass.

All in all I like the instructionals because I enjoy bringing in a little "exotica" to try to mess with my teammates' minds.  DVDs like this help me expand my understanding of the game and show me a different perspective on the guard in particular.  The production isn't fancy, just hours and hours of solid technique that will keep me busy for years.  I'd compare this favorably with my Stephan Kesting DVDs without a doubt (which have historically been the highwater mark for me.)  You can buy the set on the Digitsu website here.

Many thanks to the folks at Submission Control and Digitsu for providing me with the DVDs for this review!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Boob-gate (nsfw)

Manto, FightChix, Fightergirls, and other companies too numerous to list make money, in part, by using images of women grapplers, women MMA fighters, and female athletes generally in their advertising.

This is something I have no problem with.

They even make money off of gorgeous-looking, sexually-appealing women in skimpy clothing and suggestive poses. I have no problem with that, either.  I wish there were more ads featuring rippling male abs, bulging male biceps, and taut male bums, for that matter.

What I have a problem with is advertising that sexualizes training or competition for men or women, or ads that demean women generally.  So when Manto posted a Bardot-lookalike and a Loren-lookalike play-fighting, foreplaying, and snuggling---


--- I was turned off of Manto forever.  That photospread caused a fair bit of controversy after they posted that picture on their facebook page and tweeted it as well.  It's published in a Polish men's magazine.  In the English tweet, it was subtitled something about "two girls fighting over a Manto t-shirt" and said something about "breast control."

Logic, people-- they're both wearing the same Manto t-shirt.

Oh that's right, you're not supposed to look at the t-shirt.

My good friend Mark helpfully translated the bottom line of text from Polish, which reads ""the moments of breath in the bedroom."   Hmm.

Comments by Manto and an owner thereof, Alberto Marchetti, included:

"The 'mma themed' photoshoot was organized by one of mainstream's [sic] men's magazines for which [sic] we were asked to provide gear and mat space. We had no creative control over the photoshoot."

"I wouldn't have apologized, the photo shoot is not intended for women, it's for men. Men don't need to apologize because they like sexy women! It's the 21st century! If women's skin offends u too bad for you!"

 "In my opinion women are portrayed in the media the way they want to be portrayed. There are publications that talk about successful business women just as there are ones that talk about the sex appeal women have on men, but then again how many women do you see buying Business Week at the news stand? They have a choice, no one is forcing them, $5 in their pockets, but which magazine will they buy to read on the plane?"

I found this pretty appalling and said so on my facebook wall and in comments on Manto's.  I was so proud that apparently many men, as well as women, agreed with me.   

Other companies have found a way to use sexy babes without sexualizing our training.  Here's an example-- FightChix.  Granted, I hate their silhouette image -- c'mon, do anyone's boobs point up at the ceiling like that?? and no, I mean on the shirt, not in it...  But even though this is a very sexualized image, it does not include sexualized training or competing.  It's just a sexy girl, standing up in a tshirt, in what may be a hotel lobby.  Whatevs.



In an apparent attempt at countering the sexy imagery, FightChix's subtitle on their website is "Empowering Women Worldwide."  I'm not sure how empowered I'd feel walking around with this phrase hovering over my derriere...
But as far as the visual images go, I have no problem with even the sexiest of FightChix's photography.  It doesn't make it look like you're supposed to be ready for sex while training.  While it clearly appeals to the "fighter's babe" more than the "babe who is a fighter," at least in my opinion, sometimes fighters started out as fighter's babes!  And we're all worthy of respect.
That, however, is why I do have a problem with some of their logos and slogans.  WTF?!  Trust No Bitch?  Shame on you, FightChix.  I am joining Abby in my expression of distaste and my boycott of the brand.



Fightergirls, a company started by fighter Debi Purcell, uses hot sexy women in its photos, but it's hard to find a suggestive pose on their website.  This is about as sexual as they get, advertising their capris.  She's tough, though feminine.  She can clearly handle herself.  She doesn't need to show her lady parts, and she has better abs than most.  Double thumbs up.


E-zine Jezebel covered the controversy and found Manto's "mansplanations" bizarre.  Megan blogged about it over on Tangled Triangle.  In fact, I first noticed Manto's crap because MegJitsu posted about it.

So what's the difference?  Women who train can be sexy, sensual, desireable creatures, but when we train, just like men, we're not there for sex.  We are there to learn, to kick ass, to progress, to do a million and one things depending on our goals for the sport and for the day-- but we're not there to get laid.  So WTF with the boob control, Manto?

It pisses me off that dumb knuckledraggers (every academy seems to have, or have had, at least one) look at the Manto pictures and say "how come we don't have those girls at my school?"  I mean really.

Number one, if that blonde came to your school, she wouldn't be dressed like that, she wouldn't be all lushly made up with bedroom hair trailing over a shoulder.  She'd be there for self-defense or learning a new skill, she'd come wearing clothing that fully covered her physique, and she wouldn't be HAPPY if you demonstrated back mount with a handful of her tit.

Number two, I bet there ARE girls (or at least one girl) at most of these guys' schools.  And they come in, do their business, make friends, and go back to their lives.  By saying you wish Miss Bardot was at your school, you're insulting the ladies who are there.  What, you need to have a buffet of sexy babes to make your school better?  Why does that make your training better?  Are you some kind of Playgirl centerfold?  Maybe you should worry about making your school better by being a better training partner first!

Number three, sex should not be used to influence and shape the image of the women that are engaged in a mostly-male sport. It's annoying and demeaning, not in the least because there will always be boneheads who turn to the (lone?) lady in their academy, utter a Beavis/Butthead laugh, and say something about breast control (or whatever the wording was.) They are already stupid, but gain bravery to express that stupidity from all the clowns defending the Manto pictures as "funny," "normal sex drive," "sex sells," or it's "justified because there are women who hook up with guys in their academy," etc. ad nauseum.

A later explication by Meg so fully and perfectly summarizes how I feel about this, that I am just going to quote her:

" Of course sexualised images of women and men are currency across many sectors and are ogled for pleasure and fun by men and women. What concerned me in this particular case, was the broadcast of such a sexualised portrayal of female grapplers as a public communication by a brand which, in part, markets grappling kit to women. 

As an aspect of brand identity, this was not acceptable to me. For me, as a grappler and consumer, I want to support brands with my hard-earned dosh that emphasise the skillfullness of grapplers (male and female) and positively reinforce respect for athleticism and hard-won skill and technical abilities on the part of practitioners. 

I believe it is clear I am not the only person, female or male, that agrees with this. Others may not, that's fine. A brand can manage its identity as it sees fit, also fine. But as a consumer, it is also fine that I position myself in relation to any particular brand's identity. The emphasis on a sexualised portrayal of female grapplers pitched at a certain male gaze in that public communication is not the sort of brand identity I want to associate with. So I, and others, let Manto know that was the case. . . . 

Essentially, nipples and boobies in principle don't freak me out . . . and I think women's bodies are rather glorious. However, for me, that does not translate to into a willingness to hang with a brand that uses such a sexualised portrayal of female grappling in its brand-building. Doesn't mean others shouldn't or can't and clearly any brand can manage its identity as it sees fit, but equally a brand doesn't exist apart from its community of customers, a community which may include many perspectives, and a brand can reasonably expect to lose custom, just as it may attract custom, through its chosen identity. That's the market at work."

I agree with Meg completely.  I haven't ever purchased (or reviewed for free) material from Manto, and I promise, I won't be sending my hard-earned "dosh" their way, ever.  Nor will I use my precious time to review their stuff.  Manto is off my list, forever.  Not that they care.  

But I want to steer you towards a new company out there that I can get behind.  Fluffy Lamb Fightwear.  Seriously-- they have cute stuff.  I bought some at the last UFC Fan Expo in Houston and I've been wearing it since.  Instead of skulls, barbed wire, gargoyles and boobalicious babes, they have a frowning sheep as mascot.  The kids' designs lack the tongue-in-cheek flirty bylines present on the adult versions, but neither is anything approaching rated-R much less X.  The whole story is posted on their website, starting with an expedition in Nepal, but here's the short version:


"While most companies sell MMA apparel with the intent of being 'bad' or 'menacing', Fluffy Lamb takes a different approach. We think the toughness doesn't always have to come in a package adorned with skulls and aggressive messaging.  Enjoy the irony of the Fluffy Lamb!"

Here's a couple of the designs they sell on their website.  I have the pink "no petting allowed" one and another not shown here.  I love the material which is very soft and stretchy; I got a medium and it's a nice fit, babydoll in style but not overly tight or too short.  It also doesn't get distorted or twisted in the wash/dry process, like some cheap shirts.






So, that's my rant of the week.  Sorry it took a while to post-- I was out of town and insanely busy for work.

I'll be in NYC next week for a week of family time and training and hopefully not too much eating.  I plan on hitting Marcelo's, of course, looking forward to meeting Emily, seeing Marcelo again (I'm bringing those brownies!) and seeing Jamie and Kamjohn, and Matt Serra's to visit my bud Mike D., and if you think I should try for any other academies while I'm there, pipe up! :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Female Champions

Charlie Liu at SubmissionControl will be posting part two of his Female Champions  series tomorrow... if you want to know more about the purple belt force of nature and daughter of Megaton Diaz, Mackenzie Dern, then check it out!!




The first installment of that series honored Leticia Ribeiro as the First Lady of BJJ.  Read it, and watch the videos, here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Perfect tournament round.

Stealing Leslie's assignment from Kintanon (well, I should start with the first one, which was a grand map of my comfortland in jiu jitsu... but I will do that another time.  When I'm not trying to procrastinate going to bed, and instead have a good solid hour or two for thought.)

The assignment was, what's your ideal tournament round?


1.  Takedown: sasae tsurikomi ashi

2.  Land in half guard (and pass) or in side control.

3.  Americana or armbar on far arm.

It seems so easy when you write it down on a piece of paper.  Not so easy when you're actually doing it live. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Grappler's Quest, Houston 10/8/11

Some videos for your viewing pleasure...

Brownbelt super fight, TJ Waldburger (brown tshirt) v. Marc Stevens (black and white rashie)...


Blackbelt super fight, Bruno Bastos (short sleeve rashie) v. Rafael Lovato Jr. (longsleeve rashie).



Purplebelt womens' absolute semifinals-- Ariadne Burkhart (white gi) v. Monica Carrizales (blue gi).



The other semifinals bracket-- Kelly Fasholz (Bruno Bastos; white gi) v. Lora Hallock (Paragon, black gi).



For bronze:  Lora v. Monica.



For gold: Kelly v. Ariadne.



I really want to blog about the soft porn Manto advertisement but I am away on a business trip.  Might get it up tomorrow night.  Yes, I have the hotly-contested photo itself.  Check back soon.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Improvising in jiu jitsu.

Before I tell my story, check out this post by Mauricio Zingano about his and his wife's experiences competing in ADCC the last 3 go-rounds. Found it on reddit, and I agree with some commenters-- changes on the part of both parties could have resolved a lot of this. But the metaissue for me, as a competitor who has had to cut weight for almost every tournament I've ever done, is-- what would it be like to have to make weight 3 times or more over a span of 3 days after a transAtlantic flight (flying always makes me retain water like a beast)-- or shoot, make weight multiple times over 3 days regardless? That's just tough. Unless you're naturally in that weight category, which invites the question-- is it fair to "force" someone to compete at the bottom of a weightclass, or is it fair to your opponents to cut and fight at the top of the next weightclass down?

Also-- hooray! Pandora isn't limiting the free listening to 40 hours a month any more! :)

But back to my story.

I have not been training too much since work is crazy busy. Maybe once a day, even had to skip a day or two. But I got to roll some nogi with my good friend Tom yesterday. He was instrumental in getting me into jiu jitsu and he always demolishes me, but with a good spirit. He's not much bigger than I am, AND he's got stomach cancer, so you'd think with the chemotherapy he's been enduring for months now that I might have a chance!


But you'd think wrongly. He's a badass. If I don't roll with him regularly, it's very diagnostic for me to drop in and roll with him, because I can mentally compare myself and how he felt to the last time and see changes that, with a shorter intervening timespan, would be invisible. Yesterday was no exception.

I've always naturally been a top player, and he used to fuss at me for not being more aggressive off my back. I've been back at the drawing board scribbling furiously for the last 9 months or year or so, attempting to take my sub-white belt guard up a notch or two. It was a great feeling to play yesterday and realize that I was on my back AND identifying and flowing from submission attempts and sweep attempts. I also am seeing something eye-opening-- that (at least from this bluebelt perspective) it seems it's less important that every move I make culminate in a fully-fledged sweep or submission but at least DO SOMETHING. Used to be I wouldn't start to do something unless I was sure what I would do next.

If it were a cooking situation, my whitebelt/new blue self would go like this: I wouldn't start to do anything in the kitchen until I had a recipe in front of me and had read it through once.

But now, with a little more cooking under my belt, I know more or less what's in the pantry, and even if I don't know what I will make for dinner, I know it probably will start with me getting [a pot/a pan/a mixing bowl/or a cutting board] out and then [reach for an onion/some garlic/ or olive oil] and so on.... I can improvise with most whatever I find in the pantry because I have more than "recipes" in my head-- I have cooking skill. So I know how ingredients work, what techniques go with which, which spices go best together (in my taste!)...

In grapplespeak, this is-- even if I don't know what I will end up doing, I can [brace my forearm on their throat/get an underhook/get an overhook/get wrist control] and then [move my hips/break their posture/sit up into them] etc etc.

It's all about having a bigger vocabulary of principles and seeing the flow chart of how they each can originate from different approaches and flow further on into a number of different possibilities and outcomes. It's improvising. I feel like I'm finally "getting it." Everything I do doesn't have to be carried out to the ultimate finish and in fact it isn't, most of the time. But if I don't do something as a first step, they're GOING to do something worse to me. If I get my first step going, it deters them, and even if they foil my first step, their reaction invites MY reaction, and it's a cascade of beautiful (or not-so-beautiful!) chess moves all over the board.

I know, I know... this is the most obvious recitation of jiu jitsu. But it's all exciting and wonderful to me.

Also, thanks to Jodi at CombatSportsReview for making me reread Kintanon's great post on Hip Control.

Headed to Houston tonight for the Rener seminar, then tomorrow is Grappler's Quest (no I'm not competing are you crazy) and UFC. Be back Sunday. Working like mad to be ready for my hearing, which will have me in lovely El Paso all next week.