Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How do they come up with this stuff?

So my mind is just reeling... how do you people manage to create these moves? to read my posture and reactions and so on with such precision? Several times today I felt like I couldn't escape if I wanted to.. every minute movement on my part was well anticipated and taken advantage of.

Tonight in competition class it was bliss-- no hard cardio is a welcome change, as it was training session #3 for me, and I get tired of being beaten up at competition speed. Instead we discussed some basic principles of escaping side control (a forced choice for the top player of getting swept or giving up the regathering of guard).. then moved on to a new series of sweeps Donald's been working from the "Dan Dau" guard (I call it so because that's who I see play it, but Donald says it's the 93 guard. Aha, another piece of the puzzle.. more to youtube..)

I'm pretty pooped, trained 3x today, so I'm already snuggled in the bed and my eyes are droopy. On Thursday I'm cooking for a friend's NYE party and tomorrow night I have kids' kajukenbo. I need more sleep.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I really, really miss you :)

Our internet connection went down Christmas Eve and by the time it was restored this afternoon, I had fully realized how quickly I can develop an attachment to something. I really missed you! Here's my full Christmas report..

Instead of going to someone else's house for Christmas I celebrated here at home. Mitch's parents, Tito ("Uncle") Johnny and Tita ("Aunt") Norma came to visit us after their Mediterranean cruise. Yes, it's a little odd for me to call my in-laws Aunt and Uncle, but in the Filipino culture, Tito and Tita are polite terms of affection for people older than you with some family connection. I feel uncomfortable calling parental people by their first names anyway, and Mrs. Sengson just sounds too formal. Anyway, Tito and Tita were with us for a short week and really made themselves indispensible-- helping Mitch change all the lightswitches, do little repairs, teach me how to make mussel soup, make eggrolls, etc.

We did our best to display the proper holiday spirit throughout the house.

This is a Christmas picture my Aunt Pat made for my grandmother when Aunt Pat was a little girl. It's a fern leaf decorated to look like a tree. I loved it since I was a baby and my gram left it to me years ago, so it always goes over the mantle.

Mitch's brother John, his wife Ashley, and their kids Bryan and Sarah arrived from Dallas the night before Christmas Eve. We went out for dinner at Hut's.

I got up early Christmas Eve to get my jits in then headed home to get started on the dinner. My Uncle Leonard and Aunt Ginny sent an Edible Arrangement which the peeps at home sampled for breakfast, along with some fabulous venison sausage courtesy of my jits instructor Phil, who is quite the hunter..

When I got home I hopped into the shower and then into the kitchen. I love to cook. It's a zen thing... a sensual thing... and it scratches my itch to serve and please those I love. Only a few things are as much fun for me as cooking and entertaining.

Since I wasn't with my family in Virginia this year, it fell to me to make the traditional coconut cake. Thank goodness Aunt Ginny isn't stingy with her recipes. Pretty simple-- a 1-2-3-4 cake, 3 layers. (They're called 1-2-3-4 because they have 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups cake flour, and 4 eggs...) It's an old-fashioned cake, not overly sweet and very fluffy and light. What makes the cake special is two steps-- soaking each layer in coconut milk fresh from the nut, and then the frosting.

Sweetened, whipped cream with grated coconut meat from two nuts folded in.

The finished product...

Once the cake was finished it was a mellow day of getting to play in the kitchen with Sarah. She made the cornbread and helped bigtime with most of the other dishes. It really didn't feel like work at all. Everyone hung out and chitchatted and nibbled all afternoon. Here's Ashley in the eggrolls (far from the only one!)

John and Tita..


Finishing up the carrots with some butter and calamansi ..

Waiting patiently for dinner... Bryan on the computer...

Tito, Sarah and Mitch (likewise)...

Tita sampling some of her handmade eggrolls and in the background, Ashley carving the ham. (She is a personal chef of no small renown, up in Dallas-- check out her website here.)

The full spread, ready to be devoured.

Sitting down to dinner. This was a big moment for me-- while I have been hosting Thanksgivings in my house for years and years, it was my first Christmas in my own house, ever.

Then after dinner, we herded the cats into the living room to open presents.

Christmas morning early, John and his crew had to drive back to Dallas to hit the other side of their family, so we did presents Christmas Eve. Here's Tito, Tita and Mitch..



Tita Norma..

Tito Johnny..

Ashley checks out a Martha Stewart cookbook...

Me and my Julia..

Bryan and his Pokemon game..

John and Sarah snuggling for a moment..

My mouth is pretty much always open.

Sarah and I both received a beaded Spanish headdress from Tito and Tita.

Finally made it to dessert (the fabled coconut cake, plus my Aunt Linda's icebox fruitcake) before heading out to midnight Mass.

What a fiasco that was-- midnight Mass at the Cathedral is such a production that they advise you to arrive absolutely no later than 11 if you want a seat. The Schola Cantorum (renowned choir) was putting on a caroling concert at 11 so we hoped to enjoy that while we waited. Unfortunately due to this and that, we arrived about 11:15pm and discovered there was no room at the inn! So we just came home and went to sleep :)

Next morning was as lazy as lazy could be.

Tita Norma fixing Christmas morning breakfast... sausages, eggs, and rice, and a pot of Berry Grey tea...

Everyone knows that eggnog is breakfast of champions! Nothing like sitting down at a quiet and peaceful kitchen table to peruse some Christmas gifts. I hope your holiday was as blissed out as mine.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Nice class this morning, with a handful of purples instructing. Sweeps from halfguard, taking the back from turtle, and beating "half guard from the back"... positional sparring with Rebecca again which was amazing (I'm 30% heavier than she is and probably 2-3" taller, but couldn't get in her collar and couldn't isolate an arm. Total empathy with my guy friends now.)

After class all I wanted to do was go back to bed. I was up pretty late last night wrapping presents and only got a few hours sleep, but I am so happy I resisted the temptation and stayed awake. I got a surprising amount done on one project in particular and look forward to getting back to it after the holiday.

Lookie what Santa's been bringing :) (The book, on Slidey's recommendation, was a special request. Thanks Aunt Linda and Uncle Art.)

I will be training tomorrow morning bright and early (and I'm sure I'll be yearning for the pillow just as much afterwards.) Merry Christmas all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I'm a little sleep deprived, having spent last night up late chatting with a friend, wrapping presents, and planning tonight's big dinner... then the night before I had to go into the office quite late (which sounds awful, but really wasn't.. trust me.)

My brother-in-law and his wife and kids etc. were supposed to come in today but they had a gas leak at home and will arrive tomorrow instead. I had a great class this morning, training with Rebecca who's visiting (and hopefully moving here) from Cleveland. She's a 4 stripe blue and TEENY, about 100 lbs, and now I empathize with guys who roll with me. I only have 30 lbs on her at the moment but it felt huge. I failed to use this motivation to keep me out of the fudge, alas. Anyway, had 3 good rolls in open mat, narrowly escaping a kneebar from Doug before succumbing to a toehold; Richard swept me at will and basically crushed me in kesa. It was fun though.

I must say I am enjoying the holiday mood... this morning I hardly felt like I was at work. I got to do a few things I hardly ever get to do any more and so lost myself in my projects that I didn't look at the clock once till it was almost time to leave.

Tonight was supposed to be a big family dinner (big in the sense that I bought a damn ribeye roast for it-- to the tune of a pair of shoes-- because I didn't want to have some cheap piece of beef and worry that it would be tough or dry..) but even just me, hubby and his parents was fun. Garlic mashpots... roasted green beans with shallots in a honey/balsamic/thyme glaze... spinach salad with apples, dried cranberries and feta...

Look at the garlic and rosemary stuffed in this roast... mmmm...

And orange-walnut butter cookies for dessert. Yum. They're a little oddly shaped because I am inept when it comes to rolling and cutting out cookies, so I just made the dough into a log (irregularly round) and sliced it.

I found this little lyric by Gina over on a cool blog called The Jiu-Jitsu Fighter.

On the twelfth day of Jiu-Jitsu,
My Sensei gave to me
Twelve chokes choking,
Eleven toe holds holding,
Ten arms a-barring,
Nine legs locking,
Eight toes a-breaking,
Seven joints a-aching,
Six mats a-burning,
Five guard passes,
Four shrimps across,
Three dragon walks,
Two monkey boys,
And a butterfly I can't break free!

Hope you are enjoying the holiday spirit as well.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cerrone v. Ratliff-- WEC

Hot damn!

Hot damn!


Is it possible to kneebar someone whilst you are triangling them from their back?

I won't spoil it, I just wanted to say, just watched their fight on the WEC and I am even more impressed with both these fighters. I think Donald Cerrone is the shizzle.

And I hear UFC's fight night last night had a wicked calf splicer, in Dos Anjos v. Tyson Griffin. Check out this article about it on BloodyElbow.com.

Walking me through the maze.

I'm greatly relieved that some of the intense deadline pressure at work has subsided to a dull roar, because I was really missing my daily training regimen. Since getting back on the mats to my prior preferred level (of insanity) I've really been working on hip movement and hip placement. I can't say I am successfully implementing that awareness, but the first step is awareness, they say.

Got a really, really nice roll in for about an hour on Friday evening with Christy, the 3 stripe brown who co-owns the school. She's a stellar training partner because she is so damn good at adjusting the level of difficulty to your readiness... her rolls with me are like leading someone through a darkened maze by walking some distance ahead with a lantern. If I follow properly, she'll stay the right distance away so that I can just barely not catch up, but I always feel it's possible. If I dillydally, go down a side passage, etc, she goes a little faster, and if I still fail to demonstrate proper technique, she magically circles around behind me and shows me the error of my ways. If on the other hand I have followed promptly and exhibited proper technique, she'll gradually lead me away from the common ordinary paths and show me new territory.

The analogy is far from perfect, but it at least captures the emotional content. I don't feel like she's ever rolling with ego involvement-- it's a purely educational journey. I asked between rolls for feedback, and I did get two "you're not making big mistakes"... maybe she didn't say "big" but I can't recall for sure so I assume she wasn't saying I'm mistake-free! I know I wasn't... a number of times, I knew as soon as I started a movement that I was putting my head in the hangman's noose, but if I commented on it (laughing at myself), she'd let it go and continue leading. That's another thing that tells me she's rolling with an educational purpose.

Another nice thing was, she told me she's working on the same thing I'm working on; keeping hips lower. I almost swept her once or twice, and it was because I'm able to ball up a bit underneath her. This of course is partly because she's very tall and I'm very not... but it was nice to see the effect of my mistakes from the assailant's point of view. Christy isn't much lighter than many of my training partners (I think she weighs about 170 at 6'2"?) but I was honest-to-God able to move her with my legs and core in a way that I usually CAN'T move men. A delight, I tell you.

Anyway, alas, my maze did NOT lead to NAGA in Fort Worth this weekend. My ride fell through last minute and I don't want to drive my lovely little old car such a distance alone. So instead, came to Houston with my hubby to pick up his parents (whose cruise docked in Galveston) and stay the night with their family friends. The inlaws will be with me/us for a week. It will be fun having family in town, I love them to death, but the bummer is a week-long ban on training any evening classes. BOOOOOO.

Rightio-- WEC is on now, Ratliff v Cerrone, and I really like what I've seen of Cerrone, so I'm off to watch it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Grappler paralyzed while training... please donate!!

From John Will's blog: Last Saturday, in the last round of training for the year, Haydn Clasby of Auckland (New Zealand) suffered a freak injury on the mat - breaking one of the vertebrae in his neck leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

At this stage, he is prepping for surgery, during which he will have a plate put in his neck in the hope that his spinal cord may heal. The thoughts of the BJJ community downunder are with Haydn and his family - and we are hoping that the wonderful support that has been thus-far forthcoming will continue to pour in from the wider BJJ community beyond our shores.

Here is a link if you care to make a financial donation to assist Hayd and his family to fight this real fight - no matter how small, any help would be greatly appreciated: MAKE A DONATION.

Here is another link to the Haydn Clasby support page on Facebook.

Best wishes everyone - and on behalf of Haydn - thank you for all your wonderful, much appreciated - and needed - support!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Feeling much better.

Back on the mats. Done with being sick. Done with interpersonal conflict at the academy. (There was just one person... and I've learned a new way of approaching that situation. Let's hope it works.) ALMOST done with Christmas shopping.

And, Jem's new blog is up... it's in my blogroll now. Jemima is a badass blue belt and muay thai fighter in Bangkok, and her blog, Girls and BJJ in S.E. Asia, looks to be a worthy addition to the happy online community.

Better blog posting this weekend, after NAGA!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sickie sickie...

Last night on the way to dinner I started feeling a little sore throat... fortunately it didn't stop me from consuming a lovely quantity of salmon and escolar sushi, but it definitely made me unhappy as the evening went on.

I did have a great time though-- my ubertalented girlfriend Maggie asked me to shoot some pictures for her upcoming album. I always enjoy her stage presence and her sound so I was delighted to assist, and she had a great show at the Cactus Cafe. Mitch and my buddy Lawrence came too, as moral support. Here's Lawrence showing off his iphone which contains all Maggie's albums to date.

Until she decides which pictures she wants for her album, I can't share more, sorry. But just know she looks awesome and sounds even better. If you live here in Austin keep an eye out for her next show. Think Fiona Apple-y, hmm... maybe more Norah Jones-y...

Got home and went straight to bed with a pot of tea and a good book. (I'm reading "Spy Dust" on recommendation of Mark, a really nice nonfiction look at intelligence gathering in the modern era.) Unfortunately, woke up at 5am (as usual) with a worse sore throat, so I'm having to bail on training today. Why share when you can keep something like a cold all to yourself.

It's not stopping me from watching the UFC tonight though.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Comprehensive list of all BJJ Blogs...

Thanks to Slideyfoot :)


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Seminal youtube matches to watch....

But before I get into the topic of my title...

I'm reluctant to write the rest of this post for two main reasons... one, because karma/kismet will intervene and cause the exact opposite (of what I'm about to write about) to happen, and two, because I don't want the people involved, however peripherally, to read this and think I'm saying anything at their expense.

With that said...

I'm pretty damn excited and happy about some (small) signs of progress lately!

For one thing, Phil's been emphasizing attack chains.. whether sweep to choke to sweep to armbar, or choke to choke to choke to sweep.. or take the back from half guard to elevator to armbar or choke... so that's been on my mind. I realized that I play a very ineffective guard game, but glimmers of a grander plan dance at the edges of my peripheral vision and if I look at something else, my mind's eye can sometimes see their vague outlines. I was delighted to discover that some of it is sinking in; proving correct my theory that I need to see something at least five separate times before it clicks. (And/or proving someone else right that you have to learn 80% of the move before you can go back and learn the last 20% that you really do need to make the thing work.) Now how effing SAD is this: I got my first collar choke to submission today! I'm a freaking blue belt! WTF! But I wasn't using them properly before; they were solo acts without any backup. This time it was part of a concerted effort combining legs and core and attempted armbars and sweeps. Yay. And not against a whitebelt!

For another thing-- they're right when they ("they") tell you that at some point, skill/experience can overcome size and muscle. The other morning, I did some positional rolling with a new whitebelt -- so new that he didn't know submissions ("I have watched some youtube videos") and didn't have a gi yet. He was easily 200 lbs and still I was able to achieve and maintain positional dominance for about 5 minutes!

Last, an omoplata variation that seems a little easier for me to get, thanks to Donald the other day... and I have been seeing them more and more, thanks to a little drill Doug ran for us on Wednesday morning.. and a review of some sweeps shows me they're occasionally popping out of my body without warning-- like, I'm not even thinking about them, but when the time comes, they just... happen. People sweep themselves and I'm like the banana peel they slip on. It's fabulous!

OK-- title land. How many times do you youtube famous BJJ people but there's 80 million of them and you don't know which ones to watch? Shouldn't we make a list?

I'll start-- Terere v Roger, Mundials '04... and of course Marcelo v Ricco Rodriguez...

Please post a comment with some seminal matches for a solid bjj education!

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Globalization of BJJ

John Will, phenomenal BJJ black belt in Australia, demonstrates comic skill as well... this from his blog.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Fight to Win tournament Sunday 12/6

What a team! Phil Cardella, our head instructor and fearless leader, front and center in red. Josh Lauber, just to the left of Phil, teaches at our sister academy in San Antonio. And that's Christy Thomas, co-owner, on the far left.

Couple people didn't make it into this picture, including Steve, Austin, Tommy, and Kirk, a one-stripe purple, who teaches some of our morning classes. Today he beat a blackbelt!

Silas brought home the gold and silver..

Steve Crissler, one of our blue belts, puts on a mean cross collar choke.

Tommy McKay, the blonde, is one of our 4 stripe blues..

Colin in the black gi, one of our whitebelts...

Scott won all his division nogi matches by triangle. In nogi open he was 1-1, losing only on a hotly-contested decision. His shorts are a little blinding.

Here's April, who trains with Dave Thomas here in Austin, on the right, matched up against a girl from Urban Jungle in Houston who outweighs her by 105 lbs!

April's blog is Jo Preacher, found here.

Later, she did have positional advantage over a blue belt for a while... I think she got submitted that match though.