Sunday, December 07, 2008

NAGA Texas Championships-- results

Our team did great but I didn't write down everyone's results :(

I lost my first/only no-gi match-- it went really fast! She got the takedown, took my my back and RNC'd me pretty fast. I screwed up in 2 crucial spots and gave up about 40 seconds in. I saw stars and heard the ocean; it sucked. It also gave me a mean headache for the rest of the day.

However, I won my division in gi!! Whoooo =) And even though I just watched the footage, I'm still not recalling clearly what kind of sloppy takedown I got in which match; I don't think I got a takedown in one of them and I think I got one in the other. I do know that my first match I was up on points 17-0 and I finished with an ezequiel from mount. Second match, I'm pretty sure I did a horrible version of the Jacare-style takedown, where I drop to my knees and go for an ankle pick... I scramble around pretty whitebeltishly but usually seem to be at least somewhat in control, got a couple reversals (which of course means I was getting reversed, but I felt her momentum and went with it better than I usually do)... at one point, in mount, I get her in a solid americana and started applying pressure.. gradually more, finally I was really afraid of going too hard, and she turned right out of it! So that means my technique was all wrong! But that gave me her arm for a hell choke.

I won a sword, too. It is a "real" ninja sword-- it even says on the box "Sword of the Ninja." LOL.

So I will sleep, get up, work on the way back to Austin tomorrow, and then head to Beaumont. Don't expect much in the way of blogging while I'm doing this hearing. I finished the cross of their big expert last night and will likely be using every spare moment to prep for other witnesses.

Things to work on:
NO-GI!!! everything, esp. takedowns
Takedowns with gi
RNC and rear mount defense
timing mount from side control
keeping my hips lower in side

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Getting my mind in the game...

... is unexpectedly hard this tournament around.

I'm dealing with an enormous amount of stress at work, for one thing. I am first chair on a week-long hearing. First chair means I'm the boss at least in name. I love being in charge, but I fear I haven't done as much as I'd like. In part that's because this hearing was assigned a date extremely quickly, so we've been running nonstop to finish the investigation (still, there's so much more we could do if we had time) and get the information to our experts. Our experts are amazing, professional, and so smart.

But this whole work thing is really getting in the way of my training, haha. I guess I'm just whining.

I'm all packed, for Dallas tomorrow through Sunday morning, and for Beaumont, Sunday through Friday. If you see a redhead in a purple gi, that's me. For the hearing, I've packed my lucky suits, my silver heart bracelet, and all that's left is to be ready on the argument side of things.

Wish me luck. I definitely feel like I need it.

Gracie class 12/4

Started with three guard passes. Eric taught me a few other things but literally they went in one ear and out the other. I am lucky I remember these few techniques. I need to put in serious work time today. We leave for the tournament tomorrow at 1pm, meaning I leave the office around 12:30pm... return from NAGA early Sunday morning, and at noon I'm at the office and driving to Beaumont with my coworkers a hearing. I hope to be back Thursday night, but maybe Friday if things take a long time. I might blog how I do at NAGA- but generally things will be quiet until I'm back in training Saturday the 13th. :)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Gracie class 12/3

Short notes, WAY too much work to do for this hearing...

Tired. Worked a lot today and have class at 6am.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Gracie class 12/2 morning

I had 3 rolls then. First with a sweet guy whose name I always screw up-- Yaddick? Yarrick? dammit. He's tall and heavy, a whitebelt, and I felt a little frustrated- I get to halfguard but give up position from bad habits and end up mounted... again.

Then I rolled with Shane-- sloppy takedown on my part, end up rearmounted, but his legs are so long that I can turn around and get in guard from inside his body triangle. We had good positional battles.

Then I played with Travis, a 3 stripe blue. He was so mellow and not aggressive with me, but did execute two nice sweeps.

I ended up feeling fairly winded so I know I got a good workout. I hope it's enough for NAGA. I'm still feeling nervous about doing no-gi and gi. *sigh* I just need to stop thinking about it; just *do* it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Gracie class 12/1

Oy-- my neck is sore. Rolling with Tom this morning was fun, as always, but I am really seeing differences in style now since I pretty much only train in gi these days. He is much more distinctly no-gi in approach, and I'm at a loss for what to do when there's no gi. He also canopener's me to get me to open my guard. This frankly pisses me off-- yeah, yeah, it's good for me to know how to get out of a canopener. Yet since he's the only person who does it, I'm not practiced enough at punishing it, though I can at least get out of them. That's how my neck got screwed up in the first place, and I really feel it now.

Anyway-- tonight in class they did a lot of self-defense techniques which I sat out on. I want to take it easy before the tournament, drill, spar lightly, and not get hurt. Then we moved on to side mount controls-- switching your hips to control the near elbow, going to kesa gatame, countering people who frame up on your neck and try to wrap their legs around your head. We did round robins and me on top of Donald is like... there is no good analogy. I can only repeat, it's like grappling the ocean. Did positional sparring with Rodney, open guard and closed guard work, and was very impressed with how he uses his weight. He feels like a million pounds, but he can't be more than 160-170. He's very cheerful and encouraging, which is probably easy for him since I was flailing around underneath him like a jellyfish.

I didn't get any good rolling in afterwards, either. Monday night's class has a funky vibe-- maybe I just don't know the guys well enough, but it's very quiet, not much joking. Richard showed up late, around 7, but was only rolling with the big guys and the higher belts and then left at 8. I watched Donald, Thomas and someone else and was entertained, but spent most of the time feeling somewhat sorry for myself. I don't know why I expect to do better against people who have way more experience but I guess I put too much pressure on myself.

It's dang cold outside, and I wanted an indulgence, so I stopped at Starbucks for hot chocolate. Unfortunately it was a grownup hot chocolate-- kind of a cacao-y flavor, not so much the syrupy milk chocolatey sweetness I was aiming for-- so I didn't even finish it. Took a hot shower- my neck hurts, my upper back and shoulders hurt, and I am getting scared of NAGA this weekend. But I will try to get over that!

Taking notes on BJJ techniques...

... here's something I just stumbled across, from BJJ NorCal, one of my favorite BJJ blogs on the 'net. I haven't investigated his system yet but it sounds cool.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gracie class 11/30

This morning was chilly! Good think Kirk always runs us around a bunch to warm up.

Richard began the technique portion with a review of the transition from side to knee-on-belly:

Then attacks from knee-on-belly:

Did some rolling too-- saw Jason in the gym despite his crazy work, travel and family schedule. Didn't roll with him, though-- I rolled with Leila first (and she freaking took me down... got side, got mount, and got a nice ezequiel on me- grr!) and then Tony and then I rolled with Richard. I learned a response to getting sprawled on during a takedown... the peek-through.

Then we all had lunch with Phil and Rhalan. Rhalan is very mellow and easy to talk to. Look forward to having him on the mats this coming week.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gracie open mat 11/28- shark in the water

A great open mat today. I rolled a bunch with John. He tried a lot more hip throws this time, and while my technique was sometimes appallingly bad, I survived. I tried to pull guard once, but he tried it at the same time, so I lucked out in mount. I did pillow choke him once, again with pretty bad form. I found myself occasionally in a good position, but not sure what to do from there-- it's as though I'm so used to not having any options, and only occasionally seeing one clear direction where to go, that when I can settle into mount or side control-- I get lost. I also stupidly gave him my back during a really inelegant takedown attempt-- and he almost choked me, but had my jaw, not my throat-- so I just endured, and endured, and endured, and he gave up. He's a nice guy with a good attitude so I look forward to training with him more.

There was a high school (?) dude there too... at the beginning of open mat before I'd done any rolling, he sees me come in and start chatting with people.. mind you, I'm wearing white gi pants and a tank top that has drawings of people doing triangles across the front. I'm barefoot, on the mats, and my hair is braided up-- and he looks at me (he's all of 15 or 16) and asks if I do jiu jitsu. I say yep-- he blinks and looks shocked, and says "whoa! that's weird!" So I give him a raised eyebrow and then John pipes up "dude, watch out, she has a vicious choke" and I felt awesome. :)

But it wasn't all fun and games, because then a brownbelt named Dan worked me over a little, and taught me his favorite open guard pass. He also gave me some hints on switching my hips when someone has feet on my hips, which became very useful later on.

Then Jordan completely dominated me-- taught me a new choke-- redid the Jordan Roll on me as well as the pretzel -- swept me a couple times-- tested my base-- generally just tossed me around in only the nicest ways. Got me in at least two armbars and one good choke, as well as fist in jaw, too.

Tomorrow the Rhalan Gracie seminar, my takedown lesson, and Ivelin's little get together.

I'll try to post some Thanksgiving pics soon. I gained 6 POUNDS in one day-- can you believe it?! 126 to 132! UNREAL... it's got to be water.

Cara's coming to give me a haircut at 5 and I think I may nap before class at Copa tonight.

Gracie class 11/27

Yes, even on Turkey Day, we train :) I got there late, 7am or so, and worked in on passing and defending open guard. Glenn, a purple, and Nick, another white, both schooled me pretty good. I popped another nosebleed for no reason whatsoever. I dunno.

Last night I had dinner with Mitch, Scott my "purple wing," Ivelin and Richard, and I was starting to seriously doubt whether I'd do NAGA. Stage fright or something... but today Phil said we needed to take it easy because I had a tournament next weekend... and it was funny, like all I needed to hear was Phil's confidence to get mine back.

(Of course, he had no idea I was stage-frighting, nor did he indicate any confidence in how I would perform! but in that moment, I felt protected and even championed, like I was important or something... I'm sure there's some psychology in there, daddy-figure analysis, etc.)

Anyways, look forward to rolling with Jason and Leila and Scott. Leila because she's the best approximation I have of the likely competition at NAGA... Jason because he's better than me but willing to work with me, and not too much bigger... Scott because he plugs holes in my game (assuming I have the RAM necessary to absorb his comments).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Night of Blood (aka Gracie class 11/25 evening)

Tonight, I bled all over creation during class. Why would that make me smile so? I truly am a freak. It was not traumatic in origin (you'd think if I were ever to get a nosebleed, it would be from Shane's shin in my schnozz last week.) Instead, it started with Donald the Royler brown who scribed elegant parabolas through the air with my body-- sweep, sweep, sweep, sweep. I started bleeding after the first two and all together the sweeps only really took 20 or 30 seconds. I didn't land hard, he was very controlled and gentle, but I didn't resist them all that much once he got me going, so my head must have felt some G-forces. It stopped, started again later with my friend Jason's triangle attempt (that was almost a gusher-- a pool on my arm as I fought his embrace) and then a third time with Richard as he had me in side control.

But fortunately I made it through the technique section without exsanguination.

There were other techniques, but honestly, they apparently didn't make much impact on my brain. I did enjoy rolling with Jason quite a bit. Jacked up my L big toe because I was doing a positional sparring drill, trying to maintain kesa gatame on Ulises, and while we spun like whirligig beetles, Jordan's ankle and my toe connected :(

And I mentioned Richard squashing me like a bug. I did have one open guard pass that I was relatively proud of-- until he pointed out that I should not have committed both my arms to his bottom arm, and instead should have controlled his bottom knee, flattened it out, and passed over that. Hmmm. That did work well.

Gracie class 11/25, morning

Wow.. I felt a lot better after class than I do right now-- mainly because I just ate eight milk chocolate chip-pecan cookies. They weren't big ones, but they were homemade, so they're way richer a breakfast than I needed. I can't believe I just called cookies "breakfast."

We worked an alternating drill-- you're mounted, your opponent scissor sweeps you, you do the knee/arm trap-upa sweep-- back and forth. Another drill was doing whitebelt-killer sweeps from closed guard, then your partner does the knee-in mount escape.

Then I got to roll with Nick twice (he was so mellow today! but he's sore from the last tournament, the round robin in San Antonio, and he's tweaked his knee.) I also rolled with Shane, the tall slender guy, and while I managed to take him down, he's aggressive, and with those long legs of his, he's a real threat.

Yes, I really do try to train every day. :) That's why I say I'm an addict.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back on the mats!! Hooray!!! Gracie class 11/24

I am like a heroin addict when it comes to jits. I spent the weekend curled up on the sofa with my husband, bundled up in fleece and pretending it was actually autumn weather outside (until Sunday with the 70 degree temps) and I didn't train at all Fri, Sat or Sun. Needed the break but I am so happy to be back on the mats.

Saturday night we did attend a local MMA event-- King of Kombat. We had a good time thanks to Richard who got us front row VIP passes!

Richard, me and Mitch.

Me, making fun of the promoter guy's utterly goofy wink at me.

Me, Mitch and our buddy Zade, who swooped in on the last VIP pass and left Ivelin and the Peruvian Wildcat out in general admission.

Tonight in class: open guard pass to side mount escape and maintenance.

Also learned a defense to knee on belly and transition to a spinning armbar.

Shout out to my injured friends-- I miss training with you. I miss rolling with you. I hope you have a safe trip over the Thanksgiving holiday, be careful, eat lots of turkey, come back healthy and sound and FAT and ready to roll. NAGA is just two weeks away!

Whoa!!!! Blog of the year?!

Thanks Slideyfoot, for referring this as a possible contender for BJJ blog of the year!

Definitely would be cool, but mainly I'm flattered to even be mentioned. If you agree, feel free to vote for me!

BJJ Blog of the Year 2008 Contest

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gracie class 11/20 evening

All technique moved to Relson Gracie Austin Journal.

Gracie class 11/20, morning

After class I sparred with Nick, Kirk, and a new guy named Trevor. Nick owned me as usual. Kirk, likewise, but I expect it because he's a 4 stripe blue. It was at least fun because I used Coach's shoulder-to-shin takedown and it worked-- but I needed to be faster in trapping his legs and passing. Trevor is a new-to-us whitebelt from Orlando and we had a nice match. First time, he totally took me down, got mount way high, and I was screwed. Ended up subbing me by hell choke, which I defended for a while, but I was completely unable to get out of the mount, so it was just a matter of time. Second time, he still took me down, but I ended up escaping mount, got half guard, then guard when time was called.

Then I worked with Eric, I think, a big purple with a tat of bloody barbed wire around his collarbones. Worked on sweeps-- particularly butterfly and halfguard. Either way, you want to focus on trapping the postable arm, grabbing deep under it and locking it to your body, sitting up tightly underneath them, and rolling over one shoulder as a unit while kicking up with the hook.

Getting the hook in from half guard isn't hard now-- he taught me some tricks. Scoot your hips out 2" to the side of the leg you've trapped and no matter how high up he rides his leg, you can get the hook in. If he's holding your hips, push him up with your arm in his throat, scoot your body straight up towards his head, and then scoot hips out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gracie class 11/19

Class started with some positional sparring, guard passing, and takedown drills. Interspersed with all that were, in total, 700 crunches of different varieties, if you counted honestly.


sacrifice foot-on-hip throw
from pushing, they push back, or
leg reap from pulling, they pull back
helicopter armbar

After class from Coach:
Start by circling to your right like you're a lefty
Tilt upper body like steering wheel, go for the loaded leg- slide linked hands to his ankle w/out putting head in front of your heels- drive shoulder forwardly against his knee (below it)
Trap his leg, go over the chest, cross grip the lapel for papercutter
Fist in throat choke and take down.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gracie class 11/18 evening

Rolled with Jordan-- he swept me again like last time, but I should have written down some notes, because it's all out of my head again. Probably because I rolled with Donald next, for 15 minutes or so, and it was like rolling with the ocean. You can push your hand through it and not leave a hole; it can hold your body up or down and smash through it or let it float; you can't hope to beat it. That's Donald-- super slick, super smooth, very fluid. I was mesmerized watching and trying to understand what he was doing and I lost most of it.

Super pooped tonight from last night's workfest till 1am.. looks like I have a lovely evening planned with my husband tomorrow night, making chicken enchiladas and taking a walk... then back to the office to make some phone calls to witnesses.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gracie class 11/16

Last night's UFC party at Ivelin's was a success.. everyone liked the foodies and cookies... Amber and Maggie came and were much appreciated by the gentlemen present.. and I ended up going to bed late, tired, and content.

Today's class started with a question about doing papercutter chokes from side- the key to keeping them from rolling into you and out of it is to use your other hand to pull up on the tricep of the arm closest to you, before you sink in the choke.

Then, takedowns: timing the knee grab with the lapel shove from the side... the ankle pick (keep head at the same level as theirs and get their nose past the toes) and then the Tito Ortiz clinch, with a hand over the neck, the other hand underhooking and grabbing the shoulder, and your forehead shoved into their neck. That plus a controlled tight spiral down = nice takedown.

Then, a thing from my tournament footage review with Phil: when you're mounted and they turn on their side, how and why to grab the bottom leg (to reinsert your low mount hooks)-- alternatively to take the back.

Rolled with Leila, Richard, Jack, and Kurt. Watched a TKD bb test after for about 4 hours... came home and ate some yummy chili.

REEAALLY sleepy now so headed to bed.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Takedown class 11/15

So-- Richard takes private lessons in takedowns from Justin, a Big-10 wrestling superstar and 2-stripe blue in bjj... again I am being tucked under a nice wing, because Richard is now inviting me to sit in on his takedown lessons every Saturday morning. I came in no-gi in case he wanted to roll after, but they both insisted that I get a few techniques in too. Bonus for Richard because Justin got to watch him perform the moves from a different angle and listen to Richard teach the move. Bonus for me, not only for obvious reasons, but because it was damn chilly this morning (60-something degrees) and even in a long sleeve rashie, I was a bit chattery till I started moving.

I took lots of notes (the other bonus for me not participating in the whole lesson) which went like this:

I also got to run some guard passing drills with Thomas, Doug, Richard and Justin... then takedowns with Richard... then butterfly guard passes and counters to butterfly sweeps with Thomas and Richard. All in all, a nice 2.5 hours on my Saturday morning, while Mitch ran errands and got lunch.

I'm cooking for the UFC party tonight at Ivelin's... hot pizza dip, hot crab dip, and 5 chocolate cookies (chocolate cookies with white, semi, milk, and dark chocolate chips)... wanted to make a rum punch but may run out of time or ingredients... and made these awesome spicy pretzels that I (DAMMIT) burned in the oven moments ago. Now the house smells vaguely hellish.

Gotta run...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gracie open mat 11/14 and random thoughts

I am currently cozied up in a corner booth at Halcyon, sipping a mug of sadly bitter mocha coffee, digesting some yummy sushi, and patiently waiting for salsa class at 9pm to teach at Copa. This will be a long post then, since I have time to kill.

Two hours of productive rolling at lunch, despite having woken up at 2:30am and not being able to fall asleep again, despite having a Cobb sandwich at Kerbey Lane (too much blue cheese) for what felt like lunch but was clearly breakfast as it was prior to 10am. Now, I'm dragging tail feathers a bit but coffee has no effect on me.

I recognized while rolling that I am predictably falling into the same positions-- he's in butterfly in front of me, we grip fight, I manage to half-assed do a knee-through pass, land in half guard, halfway succeed in controlling his hips from side, but mostly fail to extract my leg from half guard-- get swept, sometimes managing to land with half guard that goes nowhere unless you count 75% of the time, when he transitions from half to side.

Usually I can tell he's making a distinct effort to not overpower me or muscle things-- but still, he's got excellent, instinctive weight placement and my ribs are not always well-sprung enough to preclude groans during transitions.

I wish I had a better memory for exactly how he was subbing me. I think he got a triangle, a spinning armbar (from back?), and surely a choke or two. Last I lost count, it was 1-6, and then I only got one sub if you count the time I was coached through a non-RNC choke setup from back. It's frustrating, but not in the ready-to-cry way that the Friday before Atama was... (gee, only a week ago?!) I'm frustrated that I am not a better training partner; I obviously don't push him or test him. He told me in a moment of candor the other day that he only rolls with me because of his neck injury-- what was his word, incompetent? I'm just incompetent enough to not pose a threat to his neck, and small enough basically to be safe as well. I don't expect to really challenge anyone but perhaps Leila at this point, and that's only because we're a similar size, but it would be nice to be able to help others as much as I'm getting helped. Hopefully someday.

I did almost make the mount attack series from yesterday that Richard taught-- and Scott was watching when I flubbed it. I got the gable grip over the shoulder and trapped the hand on the lapel but when I scooted for inverted triangle under the head I let go the hands-- he came up and reversed me, so I should've kept the triangle, but I let it slip away.

I think jits is fabulous for a million and one reasons, but one of the top five is that it's deep in the sense you can keep learning and progressing for a long, long time and never touch bottom. So, I guess I am comfortable with the concept that I may never feel like I have "arrived" or that I "get it."

Still-- the prospect of making blue-- ahhhhh... I know, who cares about the belt color, and I really don't. It's more the prospect of reaching that skill level. I'm still not tired of being toyed with, and as long as it's still productive I'm happy. I need some sweep defenses-- half the time I'm not really on the mat but dangling above it, suspended on feet, knees, hands. But it would be nice to have a little ammunition.

I rolled with Shane again-- a slender guy, very tall. I am sure he's being nice to me because like last time, I was able to take him down (armdrag to the back, trip; single leg, trip). The only downer happened during a scramble; he accidentally clocked me with his long, hard, bony shin.

Rolled with Scott briefly who emphasized what I should have done from that north south position to kimura: when they're grabbing their arm to their belt you jerk their arm hard and fast the direction it naturally goes (to the stomach, in front and forward) and then slowly, with control, go up and back for the kimura. The ferocity freaks them out but doesn't hurt anything.

He also discussed when/which side you go for the underhook: when you're passing guard or in guard, the desirable underhook is on the same side as the free leg(s). So, if I'm on top and I have Scott's R leg in my half guard, it's his L leg that's free, so I want my R arm to have the underhook. Key when passing guard is to go for the proper underhook-- thus if I pass to his R/my L, I want my R arm to get the underhook.

If you can't get both hooks in from turtle, get one and a knee; with the hand on the hook side, reach in and grab opposite collar, and that accomplishes the same control job as double hooks. Worked a little on that flippy roll from back with reverse seatbelt too.

Attack from half guard: Be completely on your side, get up on your elbow then your hand, scrunch down under them-- either sweep by driving forward and catching their posting arm or dive under them and roll when they sprawl back too much, I think.

After work I went back to Phil's and since my dinner date with my husband was in an hour, I decided not to roll-- instead, Phil watched my tournament footage and wrote two pages of notes, 19 separate things I need to work on, and he prioritized 4 things to start with. I really jam on his attitude- very professional, demanding but with humor, encouraging and pushing, and always with the goal of helping you develop a unique game. And he seems to dig my competitive attitude.

OK-- about time to bounce. I'm pooped. Hoping to do a takedown class tomorrow morning with Richard but if that doesn't happen I have plenty of work to do, footage to render, gardening to handle, food to make for the UFC party, and working out to do (it's been a full week since I really lifted.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gracie class evening 11/13

I missed two hours (and all the technique) because of the execution. (Denard Manns is no longer an issue.)

But I did learn a few things from rolling with Scott:

1. Nifty choke/flip from rear: without hooks in, get reverse seatbelt grip (R arm overhook, L arm underhook) with your hips slightly offset to the L of theirs-- about half a butt cheek offset. Dive inwards, tucking your chin, so it looks like the top of your head is going through the space between their head and shoulder-- dive, roll, tuck, flip them over you with your arms, and your R arm should tighten around their neck as you go. You land with them in between your legs and finish the choke.

2. How to switch from one ankle lock to the other just by switching which knee is between theirs.

3. Getting back mount from the armdrag. (Pull your hips away from theirs as you jump and put your feet in the backs of their knees.)

Rolled a little with Scott, Richard, Terry and Jason. Jason owned me as usual. Sulk.

Gracie class 11/13

This morning we started with a much longer warmup than usual, so the technique portion was a little shorter.

I rolled with Richard after class. Still sweep city (as in, I get swept, under the rug, to the ceiling, and back again, over, and over, and over... but I haven't yet swept him..) and in the end I tapped to a Jacare-style skirt choke that I totally saw coming but was trapped and couldn't escape. Jammed my poor thumb HARD into the mat at one point-- blood everywhere! Boohoo.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Atama Open pictures

Me, Shama, Scott, Ivelin, Emmanuel, & Filip-- Relson Gracie Austin.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gracie class, evening 11/11

Class tonight: two judo takedowns (a standard seoi-nage, the counter, and the re-counter, kouchi-gari.)

Then a scissor guard pass:

Then I opted to skip the womens' class-- no one comes regularly outside of the womens' class so they tend to be relatively soft, and I just didn't feel like messing with it much. I did practice guard passing and sweeps with Brandy for about 15 min because I think it's important to encourage women to get into jiu jitsu. But then I worked with Jordan on a few fun things.

2. The Pretzel: This can be an open or butterfly guard pass, or a takedown from the clinch. I lost track of exactly how to do it, but it starts with a cross-body armdrag, and you interlock your two arms around their one, then roll over your shoulder that started the armdrag.

3. A new choke that's making the rounds.. unfortunately the details escape me, but I've emailed for clarification.

Jordan is fun to roll with, he's very strong and doesn't take it easy on me when he's got dominant position, but he moves methodically and allows me to think about things as they're happening, plus he's patient about stopping in the middle to explain how something works. That Jordan Roll was great fun-- he did it to me and I was like a little kid after a roller coaster-- "do it again! do it again! show me!" And he has excellent control, even when he did the pretzel to me as a takedown from clinch, it barely hurt at all.

LOL... lately I notice how often during rolling (or normal existence) jits people have pops and clicks and grinding noises, which are dismissed as "normal"-- it seems we shouldn't have noises be normal! But inherent in the activity is the development of these constant minor injuries. Likewise, the concept of acceptable pain-- the pretzel as a throw definitely crimped my bicep, but I was fine with it.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Atama Open- my matches

All these ladies were very nice; all had about a year to 18 months of training, so I feel pretty good about how I did. The real credit goes to my instructors and training partners, in no particular order: Christy, Leila, Shama, Phil, Robert, Tom, Nick, Richard, Randy, Kurt, Moss, and Eric. Double kudoes to my corner and instructor Phil who was the most amazing coach during my rounds!

Here's my first match:

The second match went the whole 5 minutes and I think it's too long to post here so you'll have to check it out here on YouTube.

The third, the finals round:

I definitely need work on takedowns, guard passing, triangle defense, and taking the back without getting reversed, for a start.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Short version: won my division (white belt adult women in gi) at the Atama Open in Houston.

Longer version: 2 subs + 1 win by points = gold medal.

(Hell choke and americana)

Longer still version tomorrow or even Monday, w/video.

The rest of our team likewise kicked a$$-- Ivelin, Scott, Shama, and I (and I think maybe Trey and Travis too) were all in the medals. Emmanuel was 4th in his division. Scott put Bill to sleep "twice" (there's a story there) and Ivelin choked his opponent out cold in the finals of his no-gi division with a nice tight anaconda from guard.

Headed out to celebrate now :)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Gracie class, evening 11/4

So-- how do I feel getting ready for tournament #2? Tom keeps harping that I need more self-confidence. I find it funny-- I have never been shy of that, and I think my willingness to put myself out there shows I have at least some. But I can't help but have moments of utter fear. I am not so much afraid of losing matches as I am afraid of making stupid mistakes. There will always, always be better grapplers than me.. but I want to lose to other people because they execute faster, better, with more balance and technique. I fear that I will lose because I forget to do simple things or because I put myself in harm's way. I should lose to other people, not to myself.

Gracie class, morning 11/4-- GO VOTE!!

Richard taught this morning.. we started with drilling armbars from guard, back and forth, emphasizing getting your ear to their knee, curling the heel that's over their neck down to the mat, and pinching knees together tightly. Also, just control the arm you're barring, and get your wrist blade on theirs.

Then we drilled armbars from mount.

We rolled after that. With Kirk I worked grip breaks and more side control escapes (I used the term "worked" very loosely, much more like *I* got worked over..) He also pointed out I'm still in spazzy panic mode in open guard-- like pushing and struggling to get away, when I should be thinking of a move to attack them. Then with Tommy, a blue (2 stripes? 3?) I struggled to pass a variety of guards. Then with Shane we started from standup. He was obviously letting me work but I appreciated it.

Then Richard showed me my mistake on the armdrag that left me vulnerable to the ankle pick/knee bar.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Gracie class 11/3-- also, GO VOTE!!!!

So tonight at Phil's it was "scissor sweep and what you can get from that" night.

Whooo... my head is bursting at the seams. I got to roll with another white belt who owned me all over the mat, then got some help from Juan, a 3-stripe blue. He taught me some things about grip fighting, how to practice for a points tournament (always be aware of points and position first), and we worked on scissor sweeps quite a bit. He was so generous; poor guy wanted to roll with Richard but spent so much time with me that he hardly got any time with Richard.

Tomorrow's a big day-- please vote! I already did early voting, so I will be in Gracie from 6-8:30am and 5-9pm.

Thank you Stephan and Donald, a.k.a. Achilles Heaven

Ahhhh... the sweet, sweet taste of victory.

Today I got an ankle lock on my friend Tom. Imagine the biggest grin on my face, that's about half how I felt :) I am so happy because this time part of it wasn't a gift. I think I surprised us both. I was certainly surprised! It was like my body knew what to do without consulting my brain!

The title pays homage to the two men responsible for my ankle lock-- Stephan Kesting and Donald, a brown at the Relson Gracie school here in Austin. I was all psyched up to use Phil's easy-peasy open guard pass but Tom stayed on his knees the whole time. He likes to shove my head down because I don't fight off his neck control, and eventually takes my back. Eventually I turn into him (need to remember to turn into him and go under the arm!) and end up in guard. He opens guard immediately, but I generally wrestle around with legs ineffectually, his feet clinging to me like prehensile little pains in the ass.

Today, I scooped up under his ankle that was around my hip and going towards my back. I got the outside, underneath leg angled properly, with my heel in his hip and ball of the foot down on the mat-- got my inside, top leg right with the shin against his privates, instep under his bum-- laid down on my side, arched and looked away... I think, looking back, that I probably didn't surprise him at all, but I was thoroughly surprised that my body seemed to identify what I needed to do without me thinking it through in words, for once.

The rest of the roll: I need to work on takedowns from the clinch. I have to try to go for more triangles. Screwed up my armbar counter to side control-- instead of mindlessly trying to regain guard, when their head is up high, frame on the jaw, catch the head with your leg. I also need to work on triangle counters and armbar counters.

Tonight, I have Gracie class from 5-8; the Atama Open is this Saturday and it's my second tournament. I'm feeling pretty excited... no pressure no pressure I keep telling myself.

Creative heel hook entry..

Sweet transition from standing/back to grab the heel hook, by Jorge Santiago.

Thanks to Jason H. for the link!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Gracie class 11/2

This morning's class was really good. I finally was brave enough to ask a question, and the class ended up being all about my topic. Plus, I brought milk chocolate chip-pecan cookies still warm from the oven... plus it's less than a week till my second tournament... plus Richard worked with me for an hour after class... plus unlike every other weekend, I didn't gain weight even though we went to the Salt Lick last night, and had Sandy's great cream puffs with homemade ice cream, berries and chocolate fudge sauce... plus my chicken tortilla soup turned out great... so I guess it's just generally this weekend has been a happy one.

My question? I said I wanted to learn to pass open guard (thinking specifically of the tricky Randy and his "spider monkey" self.)

Gracie class 11/1

In the end I got my brief done yesterday-- emailed it to my boss for his review-- and Mitch decided to take a nap, so I was free to go to the Gracie school for the noon class. Then this morning I forgot about resetting the clocks, so I'm up an hour earlier than necessary, which gives me a chance to blog about the class, and to scarf down the last Runts from halloween. Breakfast of champions.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy Halloweenie!

Yeah, yeah, so it's the day after, so what?

I had yesterday off entirely. Well-- speaking of my physical labors only; I still had to work (and work a lot, which is partly why I didn't go to the gym at all.) I have a brief due on Monday, and I underestimated how long it would take.

So, I worked, and worked, and skipped class, and worked more. Helped do two witness interviews.

We have a friend from Conroe TX staying with us this weekend because he's taking the State Bar's certification exam for a criminal law specialization today. We had dinner with him at Chuy's last night (which means chicken fajita nachos. Boo.) Mitch stayed home, so I taught salsa at Copa by myself. It was fun-- Ivelin came with a black cape, a funky hat, and a mask. Zade and his friend Tom stopped by dressed as drunken sailors, but they weren't drunk yet. I danced a fair bit, and then agreed to check out a party with Ivelin.

It was the single biggest, craziest block party I've ever seen-- kind of like footage from spring break in some college beach town, except no beach... this party was so big, people were arriving in cabs and you couldn't park for blocks. Vendors sold food, glow sticks, and who knows what else.. I wasn't costumed as anything except for a salsa teacher. The night's best comment-- a guy walked up to Ivelin and asked if he was dressed as Pimp Zorro! Truly comic. Lots of skinny, fat, and in-between. One girl had a totally cool look-- black and white checkered scarf tied over her head (think pirate), a white blouse with a black leather half corset (laces up just around your waist), a belt with bullets all around, tight grey capris with a scimitar hanging from the belt loop, black tights, and amazing high heeled lace-up boots. She didn't look like she rented it, it looked like stuff she owned and wore regularly... it was truly attractive. Unfortunately one guy-- well, just think "man who recently gave birth" without a shirt on... and he was wearing a DIAPER taped around his waist (no pants!) with packing tape. *SIGH* I told Ivelin it was like watching a train wreck, you can't tear your eyes away from the disaster.

By about 1:45 I was getting chilly and a little bored... the DJ had shut down his music because a band was about to get started, but I didn't care to stay. Got to bed about 2:30 and woke at 6 this morning to get my car's tires rotated, alignment, etc. I need two new tires, wahhh!

So I'm home now, made a pot of chicken tortilla soup, gonna work on this brief some more, and then I'll hit the gym. I hope I can find someone to roll with today, I miss it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Gracie class, evening 10/30

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

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

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

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gracie class, morning 10/30

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

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gracie class 10/29

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

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

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

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

React rather than recall

Shamelessly pinched from Adam Adshead's Conceptual BJJ blog.

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

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

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

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

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

For example although crude and basic:

In Guard - Always Pass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gracie class, evening 10/28

Another fully-packed class.

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

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rolling with Tom 10/28

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

Gracie class, morning 10/28

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

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

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gi reviews, part I

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

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

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

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

Grade: A-

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

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

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

Grade: B+

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grade: B-

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

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

Rolling with Chris 10/27

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

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

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

A makeover with an ugly gloss...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Maureen Dowd written here at the New York Times.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 24, 2008

Open mat at Gracie 10/24

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 23, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

Then Phil taught the baseball bat choke from side.

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

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

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

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

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

Field Dressed....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gracie class 10/22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gracie class 10/21

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

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