Monday, August 31, 2009

Anybelt don'ts [originally titled Bluebelt don'ts.]

Some of these are things I pondered after my lunchtime open mat, some are things I've pondered in the past.

Don't forget gratitude when a whitebelt gets you. It's a diagnostic of a hole in your game and one you're likely to pay a lot more attention to, compared to when a higher belt gets you-- losing to an upper belt is more or less inevitable but is a blinking red light when it's to a whitebelt.

Don't forget to thank your opponent for rolling-- every minute on the mat is a minute of learning.

Don't use your greater or lesser weight, strength, flexibility or fatigue level as an excuse for poor technique.

Don't feel like you have to roll with every whitebelt who asks you. Trust your instincts. There's no shame in asking to go lightly.

Don't hesitate to tap. Avoid injury. Injury bad.

Don't get so caught up in competition-mode that you lose sight of impending doom. Example: let go of the armbar the moment you leave the ground.. it's better to abandon the sub with a 1" fall than to risk having it stripped from your grip and falling a foot or more onto your cervical spine.

If you're substantially smaller and/or weaker than your opponent, don't beat yourself up for failing to outpace them or out-technique them unless you have at least a two-year training advantage.

If you're substantially smaller and/or weaker, don't go balls to the wall with your technique and humiliatingly wax your opponent unless it's a tournament. There are always those who will get mad and use their strength against you in a moment of bad judgment. Inevitably they will feel really, really sorry and they might even send you flowers while you recover from surgery.. but you're still the one in surgery.

Don't let fear of injury from spazzism stop you from rolling with whitebelts-- you will never get to practice your offense or new stuff if you only roll with your betters.

Don't let snarky attitude from anyone at your school keep you from doing your best to help others. You may be able to give important feedback or constructive criticism that helps someone else.

Don't be that know-it-all bluebelt who really knows just a smidge more than a whitebelt. Discretion is the better part of valor, etc. etc. It's better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and confirm it.

Any others? Please comment with your dos and don'ts.

Whitebelt Don'ts

Some suggestions for whitebelts...

Don't strut around in a brand-new Lucky gi when you haven't been training over 3 months.

Don't announce that you're doing jiu jitsu because you keep getting jumped by at least 3, up to 6 people. It makes you sound like you ask for it on a regular basis even if you don't.

Don't try to submit people from inside their guard. Yes, even if it's a girl who weighs 60 lbs less than you. Even if it's physically possible for you to get her arm into position for an americana. Even if she's nice by not armbarring you first and explaining later-- she's not lying to you when she tells you someone else won't hold back.

Don't nod and say okay when offered advice by a higher belt, then proceed to ignore it and shamelessly do the same thing again. [Note: not talking about repeating mistakes out of inattention or ignorance; that's understandable.] Then, when you're being armbarred as a result, don't pick them up and drop them onto the mat on the back of their neck as you strip your arm free. It might hurt them.

Don't grab onto submissions and yank them. When your opponent is talking you through how to execute the technique correctly, they're trying to help you, so it's a good idea to listen, because it means the "competitive" part of your rolling is temporarily paused so they can actually be on "your side" for a minute. If they say something like "whoa, slow down, be gentle" that means you're going too fast or grabbing and yanking. If you continue to do that, you will end up hurting someone and no one will be happy to roll with you. Or, you might get pwned by some higher belts for a while till you learn manners and control.

Don't play rude jiu jitsu when you're just training; save it for a tournament if you absolutely insist. Example: when you're doing knee on belly, it's okay for training to put your knee across their hips instead of hunting around for the solar plexus, especially if your opponent weighs 60 lbs less than you do. Especially if you also have collar and knee grips and are bowing them up into you. And, if they ask you how much you weigh, it might be a hint to move on from the position, or take a little weight off.

Don't ignore it when training partners tell you up front about injuries they're training with.

Don't reach back with one hand to break open guard. Don't complain about getting triangled when you do.

Don't go a million miles an hour or use every possible opportunity to explode out of positions.

When you have someone on your back with hooks in and one on one grips on both your arms, don't do a fast forward roll when you're closer than 4' to a wall. While bashing your opponent into the wall will probably get them off your back, it might be bad for their face and neck.

Yes, this was my lunch open mat. All in about 10 minutes.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

UFC 102

Wow. Wow. Wow. Talk about some exciting fights. Of course I was really bummed about Maia's stunning loss to Nate Marquardt. I was impressed with Todd Duffee's fastest-ever 7-second knockout and thought Jake Rosholt missed several submission opportunities before getting his pillow choke (and it seemed like Leben did tap before he was knocked out cold.) I picked Thiago and Minotauro to win, and Gonzaga (whose fight wasn't televised, alas) but I was very impressed with Randy's demeanor and performance.

Speaking of Minotauro, I had to youtube his match against Ricco Rodriguez, who kneebarred two of my friends Scott and Richard here in Austin at our last tournament. Here's the Minotauro-Ricco match at Abu Dhabi 2000. Pretty sweet!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chaining attacks...

Our competition class, run by Donald Park, has been focusing lately on the importance of chaining attacks. The smooth flow from one to the next to the next makes it inevitable that you'll get them somewhere, because ideally your reaction time is less than theirs.

I have been delighted with some of my rolls lately, because I'm not always on the defense any more-- just mostly. Tom calls it "lay and pray" when I'm grappling someone 200+ lbs but it's just damn hard to stay on top, to reverse, to sweep, even to close my guard around them. I'm getting better at defense and people are telling me they're having to intentionally bring their weight or strength into it to force a submission or force me to expose soemthing. This is good news. When I do get to roll with someone closer to my size (and bonus if they're a whitebelt) then I find myself more able to move my hips, more focused on getting position, and more willing to let position and submission go to move on to the next. Donald calls it "machine gun jiu jitsu" and I see it all the time from other people against me. A classic example is Americana to armbar to Brabo from top side mount.

The other day I rolled with a good friend, a whitebelt who's probably 180. It was a couple days ago, but what I do remember is feeling like I was succeeding at the grip battle, playing a good open guard, managing to keep him from passing, doing well at threatening lapel chokes, and in the end, I got him with an armbar from guard. I think he lightened up a bit at the end, maybe from fatigue or maybe from generosity, but either way I was happy. Happy because I identified why it wasn't working and fixed the problem in what felt like a split second... and because in my head I was saying "oh, no, even that won't work, he's just going to pull out like a greased pig" but I was wrong, he was tapping.

Rolled nogi with another whitebelt who's been away for a while.. I ended up bailing from sheer fatigue after about 10 minutes solid. I was extremely frustrated because I had maintained almost constant positional dominance the whole time, but couldn't submit him... it's like a lightbulb went off in my head (thanks Mike G!) that when they're about to escape side mount, don't sit there like a lump and get put back into guard! go to N/S! go to the other side! Sometimes I'm fairly dense, you see. Anyway-- I was doing well at giving up losing positions and moving on, and uncharacteristically for me, I wasn't hesitating about smashing him in north-south. I kind of figured I had to use some of my weight to hold him still and I didn't want him escaping, so sorry about the sweat-soaked rashie plastered on your face.

But I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to get his arm without letting him go. I had the arm isolated several times but the americanas got muscled out of, the kimuras flew out the window because I was not well based, and the armbars were abandoned because I felt like he was defending very effectively and sitting up into me. More practice with smaller (still bigger) people and less experienced people so I can be in a more offensive stance more frequently is what the doctor ordered.

We went to a wedding last night at a lovely outdoor venue on a hill-- lots of great breeze thank goodness-- and had a good time. Elegant decor with crystals, candles, pink roses, and lovely water fountains and waterfalls in the outdoor gardens. Hit or miss food-- good chicken piccata and roasted tomatoes, but undercooked potato gratin... bride's cake was pink in color and orange in flavor (dry) and groom's cake was standard chocolate (dry too.)

Nothing like a wedding to bring out the crazy in people. There were several costume changes, each resulting in more skin showing than the last time... the bride's bum was hanging out of the last version I saw. She's in great shape so it wasn't unappreciated, but I did think it a little risque for a family affair. Keep in mind this was a black-tie-invited wedding; I wore a nearly-floor-length linen sheath with my hair up and long pearl earrings, Mitch wore his barong (the Filipino equivalent to a tux)...

... yet one guest wore a green seersucker strapless minidress poofed out with a crinoline and I swear it was a dead ringer for the Sexy Little Bo Peep costume at Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds (you Austinites will recognize the name of our famous costume store on S. Congress.) Her hair was that messy bedhead-ratty-updo thing, with a headband that had an enormous ivory bow made of burlap, kind of half veiling her face. Her purse was a canvas cloth grocery bag. Nice. The bridesmaids (twelve!) all wore lovely tasteful black long dresses, until the reception really got going, when most of them changed to uber-tight, uber-short (I could tell two went commando, that's how short) black spandex dresses. They had great legs, great bums, and a very L.A. style and attitude.

UFC tonight! Maia! Silva! Nogueira!

And now, off to breffus.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Sometimes I'd just like to scream at the Jiu Jitsu Gods.. ever feel like you make progress in one area only to lose it in another? A good friend reminded me that progress is rarely linear but it didn't make me feel better, really.

When rolling with a big dude who's not very experienced, I enjoyed elevator sweeping him to one side or another. I patted myself on the back for simply timing the transition from sweeping one way to the other. I even started playing some butterfly guard. Yay me. But then literally hours later I discovered that my mount escapes weren't working and my mount retention sucked too. I'm not so upset about that when rolling with the brown belt who has 35 lbs on me, but on a fellow blue belt I felt like I was brushed off like lint. (Fortunately, on a female blue belt my size, I felt pretty evenly matched.) Maybe my mount techniques were never that good and I just didn't know it.

I think I need to put in more time reflecting on my matches/sparring sessions and looking for the big picture principles. I wish I could tape my mat time more often.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

When frustration is a good thing...

So today's big accomplishments:

Worked hard in class, which focused on takedowns-- shooting from the clinch to double- and single-legs. We were told to get 3 reps per person, but Leila and I just kept on keeping on, usually getting in 8-10 reps. This sucked when doing Japanese doubles (where your forehead pressure on their sternum, plus hands lifting the backs of their knees, gets them down in a hurry) but the rest was great. I will note that when actively sparring to get in those positions, I found it extremely difficult to even get into a clinch with bigger, stronger people-- stupid short arms-- and also very difficult to get to double unders. I know, that's the point, to make it hard to get double unders, but anyway. At least I persisted even if I cheated a bit by trying for non-clinch, non-shoot takedowns as well.

The other great accomplishment was finding out that I was capable of frustrating a 3-stripe blue. Of course he eventually passed my open guard, but I was actually happy with my overhook-trapped-arm business (until my grips just got plain tired). I was even happier when he told me afterwards that he could tell who I've been rolling with because I'm adopting elements of their game. I was even MORE happy when he said I was frustrating to him. He said it in a nice way, so I got to prance (mentally) for a minute.

Mitch had yoga this morning and then went to the lake with friends. You know me... I was all about jits and then not so much about baking in the sun. Rare for a redhead, I actually tan, but it's not a priority for me. I like being wrinklefree knock on wood, and I like not having skin cancer. So I hid out in the dark at the movie theater with 3 good friends. District 9 was okay-- glad it was matinee pricing.

Going to take a nap now to balance out how ridiculously late I was on last night, chatting with a new-old friend.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Saulo Ribeiro's book "Jiu Jitsu University" is a goldmine of information. Best of all, his theories are presented holistically instead of just laundry-listing a billion techniques. I haven't yet gone through even half of it, but I am appreciating the prioritization he shares. I see more and more that my survival skills are improving, something I haven't given myself much credit for. Of course, I'm still thirsting for sweeps, trusting that my friend Jason is right and someday they'll just click for me. But until that day, I'm also happy to be making it harder and harder for people to submit me.

Couple random reflections...

I rolled with a very sweet whitebelt I think of as "Peanut Butter Guy." I call him that in my mind because his method of holding me in side control makes me feel like I'm trapped under a big, warm, solid bag of peanut butter. I can't feel many bones, his body mass is substantial, and it completely smooshes out all the airspace between my body and his, leaving absolutely no space whatsoever to get a knee in. Even when I bump hard I feel like he magically eats up all the space I create with his body. So-- in this roll, we started from knees. I don't have many takedowns from the knees (though David is trying to improve that situation) so after some wrasslin' around, I usually end up with him in my open guard. Eventually he passed and was in side.

I learned several incredibly valuable somethings from PBG that day. I was doing my usual- just wait under side (invertedly smashing, LOL) until he transitioned. He went for knee on belly, and inadvertently his knee pressed into my solar plexus. Even though he probably used 20% of his weight and strength, it really sucked and I got mad! The valuable lesson? I learned that when I stop being lazy (in the guise of being "efficient" with my energy) I am fully capable of bumping, humping, and agitating sufficiently to not only escape the peanut butter side control, but I reversed him... (and I'm ashamed to admit, in a fit of pique I got knee on belly on PBG and really went for it. I ended up tapping him out just from knee pressure.) It took more energy than I usually spend, but less than I thought/feared, and I ended up on top in a good position. I shouldn't have been motivated by emotion, but that may have been the extra oomph I needed to try what I thought would be nearly impossible. So thanks, PBG, I needed that. It was also a valuable lesson to see that I need to watch my emotions and keep things professional. I'm embarassed to admit I got pissy that way.

I rolled another time with a friend I haven't been matched against in a long, long time. As usual, he's bigger, taller, stronger. I was cautiously feeling out the takedown game; it was nogi, so I was trying for armdrags, looking for duck-unders, and considering shooting for a double-leg. I apparently was dilly-dallying longer than he wanted, while successfully surviving his attempts to get grips.. so he did a taekwondo-style thing, where you (excuse my cruddy description) kind of cross their waist with your one leg while scissoring their lower legs out from under them with your other leg. It happened so damn fast I couldn't really tell you what the mechanics were, but I've seen him do it before to someone else and it's effective. Unfortunately for me, I came down in a heap like a ton of bricks and jacked up my knee and ankle. I started to cry a little, mostly from fear that it was seriously injured, but got over myself when I realized how upset he was. In a few minutes, my knee felt good again, but class was over and we didn't get to finish our roll. To my dismay, now my knee is fine but that ankle is swollen and audibly pops/clicks with every step. I went to class this morning, but started a migraine about 45 minutes in so I took some imitrex and went home. Hopefully the extra rest helps; I will be in class tomorrow because the ankle doesn't hurt much, it's just puffy.

While I was in class, I did get to roll a bit with a woman who's relatively new to jits. She's strong and agile, but definitely a newbie, and it's refreshing to see what my technique can do against someone my size but less experienced. Yay, this stuff really does work! (On the down side-- she unintentionally kneed me twice in the eye while trying to hold side mount. Boo.)

I learned a rolling armbar from turtle the other day and it's my new fascination. I need to work on getting the farside hook in faster and smoother, and I need to polish the momentum-gaining "dive" under their arm in order to force them to flip over when I do.

I am all in favor of headgear now. Been wearing the Brute "Shockwave" for about a week and it makes such a difference. Because my left ear has been cauly-ing for two weeks before that, I wouldn't be able to roll at all without the headgear. The swelling was frighteningly located inside the ear towards the ear lobe/ear canal area, and I was draining the ear two or three times a day, about a cc each time. It is healing, slowly, and there's a lot less blood each time. Most of the swelling happens overnight, I notice, probably because I'm rolling over on that side by accident. I probably will not wear headgear regularly once this fully heals... it's just too hot and I don't like diminishing my hearing... but it's nice to be able to keep on training.

I am most disappointed in the latest Keiko Raca childs-size gi. I had an older M4 and love it but for the color (I dyed it orangesicle by mistake.) I ordered another in plain white from and it sucks! The gi top is now being made of a tissue-paper-weight material and if I sneezed on it, I'd rip it. I'm returning it this week.

So-- competition. I think I'll be shooting for some tournaments in late fall. Last year Atama put one on in early November and it was fun, so I wouldn't mind doing it again. NAGA has a December one in Dallas, and I think this last NAGA shows they're capable of making it run relatively on time (if they have 16 mats at once, that is.) I love that there's so many kids grappling, but geez, it sucks to start your matches at 6pm! Anyway, if I can inch forward in progress and let go of my fears (or at least step around them) I'll be competing again in a few months. I read a quote the other day that motivated me. It said:

Life begins where fear ends.

And that's true. So here I come.

Monday, August 17, 2009

NAGA and Testosterone and Niece

In not-quite-that-order...

NAGA was cool. 16 mats running continuously meant that when I arrived at 3pm, the kids' matches were almost all finished and nogi womens matches were getting underway. I watched a frickin' hilarious match between two beginners who were on the large side-- catfight the whole way. Neither could get a takedown because whenever a hand came up looking for a grip, the other girl slapped it down. *slap* *slap* *slap* *slap* *slap* It would have been funnier if they'd realized how silly it was, but they were too inexperienced to realize the humor, so they kept at it, both of them getting madder, madder and redder, redder (hands, arms, even faces.) Hilary Williams was reffing and it was nice to see her back in the States (though she obviously would have preferred to stay in Brazil.) She removed the cast from her formerly-broken thumb on Friday and she'll be back on the mats pretty soon.

I was happy not to be competing in one sense-- that being my still painful cauliflower ear which still gets drained twice a day-- but sad in another, especially when I watched the intermediate (blue belt) matches. My biggest competition would have been another redhead who I first met last November. She's my only opponent I didn't submit-- just won on points. She's gotten better, though I think I have too. It would have been nice to see who's best but there's plenty of time for that.

Then my brother- and sister-in-law brought Sarah and we zoomed off to Austin. Played the standard car games (punchbug, 20 Questions, the alphabet game) and the hours went pretty quickly. Picked up Mitch at home and went to a friend's to watch Strikeforce (Wahhhhh! I was rooting hard for Gina!)

Yesterday, brought Sarah to jits (she was intrigued by the thought of me vs. those big guys) and then to the Testosterone Festival. I got a kick out of watching dopey bikini models learning how to RNC in the background of the jiu jitsu matches, but Sarah was bored after a while so my husband took her home to the swimming pool. Ricco Rodriguez, former multiple Abu Dhabi champion, former UFC heavyweight champion, who tapped out Noguiera, was there and fought in a few demo matches. Alas, one against my friend Scott ended poorly, with Scott screaming in pain from what I thought was an excessive kneebar. Scott pulled out of his fight next weekend as a result and I am pissed. He doesn't have time to go to the doc yet-- he's a new hire and his company is doing layoffs so doesn't want to stick his head up-- but I am worried about his knee. People were saying lateral miniscus tear but what do they know.

Gonna bake some cookies or something with her this afternoon, then trying an experiment for dinner-- spaghetti squash. Can you believe I've never eaten it? And then jits tonight.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sweeps! and armbars!

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Looking back over this week in my rolling journey, that's what stands out. Lame to be so excited over something as simple as an elevator sweep, but until recently I just never thought to do it. Whodathunkit would be so easy to get someone on top of you to be underneath you? It doesn't always work of course, but imagine my freaking delight... *big grin* Also lame to be a blue belt and still preen about tapping whitebelts. My only excuse is they're bigger than me, and not just in off the street. I don't for a minute forget that at heart I'm just a whitebelt myself; gorgonzola on my best days.

The halfguard reversal when you only have the overhook isn't working so well, unfortunately. I think I'm short enough that when my shoulders are underneath theirs, I can't torque their trapped leg out enough. But I will continue trying. I also almost took the back from bottom halfguard twice now so there's another thing to be pushing for. In general I have been better about taking the back or at least seeing it and pushing for it. However, once there, I get a little one-track-minded about getting both hooks in and I missed the opportunity to get the choke-- he had his two hands fighting my one, I was about halfway across his throat with the other, and still I was scrabbling around for the second hook. Sheesh.

When I roll nogi, especially against the not-really-big guys (160-190 lbs), I end up on bottom with a (slim) chance of fighting from closed guard. I'm having some luck with overhooking, looking at reverse armbars and omoplatas. I am getting better at nogi submissions from mount, specifically pillow chokes and baiting armbars with knee on belly. I still prefer gi, but it's hot enough that I'm doing about half and half these days.

Speaking of gis, I'm disappointed to note that one of my favorite gis has become the unfavorite, due to me dyeing it peach. The color just looks like kaka. Not the dye's fault, I just don't want to be a dayglo Orangesicle. So I ordered another one just like it (the Keiko Raca child's gi, size M4) in white, and that's what I'll send Chris at to tiedye. He's also going to do a pair of pants for me-- white pants, with a spray of pink tiedye at the bottom. I can't wait.

So today is the Texas Testosterone Festival... -- "bringing together under one roof all the possible interests of men." My husband is helping coordinate so I can't make too much fun, or believe you me, I'd be making it. Bikini models and a Playboy Bunny, homebrew beers, chopper cusomization demos, poker tournament, fantasy football, jiu jitsu tournament (tomorrow), an MMA seminar by Amir Sadollah (who was robbed by Miragliotta), and get this.... the Dallas Desire (a team playing in the LINGERIE FOOTBALL LEAGUE... wtf!!!) Alas it breaks my heart to miss all this fun today, as I am about to drive to Dallas to watch some matches at NAGA's Europa Championship tournament.

Then I pick up our 12 year old niece Sarah and come on back home. She's spending a week with us and we're going to have a great time! We're planning a trip to Schlitterbahn, some time in the swimming holes around Austin (as well as our pool).. maybe a movie, a trip to Innerspace Caverns in Georgetown.. I will continue training and she's welcome to join in on a kids' class if she wants (though I predict I will have to skip some evening classes, boo.)

Lately been having some tension and conflict at home due to the immensity of my addiction to jiu jitsu. Wish us luck and send us your prayers as we sort through this difficult issue.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A little sore...

My grips are quite sore, and my knees and left shoulder feel a bit tweaked as well. Yesterday I rolled nogi with guys at the following weights... 250, 210, 190, 185 and 170. It's sad when the guy who has 40 lbs on you is the lightweight :) It was fun, though I definitely played inverted smash a bunch. I actually got an elevator sweep on the biggest guy (didn't hurt that he was also the least experienced) and I am reminded that it's better to try for sweeps on smaller, lighter people till you get your technique down, because you really need as-perfect-as-possible technique to loft the biggest people.

I'm telecommuting today, waiting on some car repairs, and excited to get back on the mats. No one showed up to teach class this morning, so I have to go a whole 21 hours between jits fixes. Boo.

I'm super proud and excited to announce a new sponsorship-- is going to tie dye a gi for the Red Menace! I can't wait to show pictures. They'll do your own gi, or source the gi and dye it, to your specifications. Check this out!

This weekend, I'll be cruising to Dallas for NAGA Europa, but I doubt I'll compete. I am just not in the mood to be bottom of the blue belt barrel right now... I am enjoying playing around and experimenting as opposed to drilling anything like a go-to series, which is what I'd need for competition. When I was a whitebelt, "pass mount choke" worked. Yes, it also works for blackbelts like Roger. Since I'm in that awkward in-between stage that will likely last years, I'm going to chill and watch and hobnob with friends. Then I'll pick up our 12 yr old niece, Sarah, and cart her back to Austin for a week of fun. Sunday is the Relson Gracie tournament here in Austin, for which I will be timing and maybe making brackets.

Still 100+ temps almost every day. Love summer!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

No mayo, thank goodness....

Shamelessly reverse-engineered from Food for Fitness, the cafe next to my gym... exact amounts still to be played with.

Caribbean Tuna Salad

yellowfin tuna (I used two thick steaks) cooked medium rare or to taste
red bell pepper, diced
shredded carrot
red onion, diced
cilantro (I skipped it)
chili mangoes, diced
olive oil (I skipped this too)
orange juice
lemon juice
mangoes, diced
cashews, chopped
salt, pepper, ground cumin and coriander (skipped the coriander)

In addition to the changes above, I only had plain dried/sweetened mangoes, and none fresh, plus I added a healthy dose of cayenne pepper and some turmeric. I also didn't have cashews, so I tossed in some pecans. It was very good but I suspect even better when the flavors blend.

Leticia Lalli v Patricia Lage

Charles over at AthenaMedusa brought this nice match to my attention. Watch her hunt the toehold around 1:08. I might just start watching for this when I'm rolling.

Super tight.

I rolled on Sunday with a teenager and got to experience what it must be like for most of my training partners to roll with me. He was smaller, lighter, and yet tough... he ate chokes for lunch (perhaps I flatter myself here). The whole experience made me wonder if the development of my sweep game wouldn't profit from drilling more with him. I get the sense that sweeps will work just fine against bigger stronger people *if my technique is solid* and until it's solid, I'm stuck. The only problem is, he's not a great uke, because his defensive instincts haven't developed- his base is floppy and he overextends his arms. Oh well. This means I should be rolling/drilling more with our female purple, who is about my height but lighter by about 20 lbs. I also wonder if his gi is an issue-- he still uses the light cotton taekwondo gi and I feel like lapel chokes aren't as successful.

Also on Sunday, rolled with a really friendly whitebelt guy. Class was mellow, focusing mainly on mount escapes and attacks from guard, and I had plenty of energy. Normally I won't roll too much with whitebelts at the start of open mat, preferring to wait till they're pooped out... but this time I felt brave. Unfortunately, I discovered more of what Christy calls "tacky jiu jitsu"-- he was working for a cross-collar choke, but my chin was down tight so his arms were across my face. His solution was to shake me front and back vigorously, causing his knuckles to bang into my lips/teeth over and over. Much like getting rabbit punched in the face, it sucked. I finally squawked and he quit-- so is that cheating? Should I have tapped? or given in and lifted my chin to get choked?

Monday morning I rolled with a purple who trained in Brazil a while. His game is so tight, I felt like I was a too-big foot in a too-small shoe. I'm making the mistake of going to guard more than I should-- he passed, got side, and sucked me up and in so I felt vacuum-sealed. I think I defended well, but wasn't making any headway on an escape-- resolutely kept getting my knee in but his grips were rock solid and I wasn't effective at making space. I eventually tapped -- he was transitioning to a N/S position and hunting the kimura, but the bottom curve of his cup was spang in the middle of my eyesocket. Blech.

I'm sore again-- sore fingers from gripping, sore wrists from defending armbars, sore traps/lats from fighting for a cross-collar choke. But it's the kind of sore I wouldn't trade for anything.

In another morning class, been working a sweep series beginning from the lockdown. I think I'm grasping the biomechanics of sweeps better. Dammit, I should be, as that's about all I think of. Reassuringly, I was able to get several different sweeps against a much heavier opponent who is really brand new... hooray. Perhaps progress peeks around the corner.

I skipped class last night and am home sick today-- allergies. It's bloody hot outside, what can possibly be alive enough to cause allergies? Hopefully I'll feel better in time for tonight's class.

Gi update

Just a little update on the gi collection and how the dyeing process has held up. To date I have 13 gis; the ones I dyed myself are marked with a *...

pink Golden Tiger
magenta Atama (the Kyra Gracie, F2)
coral pink Keiko Raca *
purple Golden Tiger
green Hsu
baby blue Gameness Pearl *
peach Keiko Raca kids' M4 *
yellow Helio Soneca (unbranded, from his seminar) *
mallard blue Fuji
white Atama F3
white Atama Mundial #7
white Lucky
white Atama summerweight

I also dyed a friend's gi bright red, and plan on doing one for another in red soon.

The gis I dyed (using the Procion MX dye from Dharma Trading Company) have all stood the test of time very well. I faded the coral pink one a bit (had to put some bleach in the wash to eradicate a particularly stinky opponent) but the rest are unfaded despite occasional bleaching. I have noticed slight variation in color intensity, but only if I'm really looking for it. The color doesn't bleed in the wash, even the bright red, thanks to the superior chemistry of the fixative process.

I still haven't tiedyed a gi, durnit. For one thing, the gi pants I bought on Ebay for $.99 (to practice tiedyeing with) have become my favorite ever so I don't want to mess them up. FYI, for apple-bottomed grapplers out there, they're Krugan's; even though they're A1 and appropriately sized length-wise, they have plenty of room in the rear for my rear, which says a lot. And maybe because the pants were old enough that their former owner sold them rather than patch the knee, the fabric is heavenly soft. Still plenty strong though-- for $5 I had the knee repaired and patched with my school patch, so they rock on.

For another, I found a place that will tiedye your gi for you (or sell you one which they dye) to your specifications. Check out Happy Kimonos here. I'm pretty tempted to go that route... it would be simpler for sure. I'll keep you posted!

As for fit... I tend to prefer the Atama female-fit gis, the Mundial #7, and the Hsu, with the Krugans pants for nogi. The one I dyed yellow, a no-name I got at a Helio Soneca seminar, was sooooo big in the jacket that I'm having it altered. The Golden Tigers are still feeling a little big in the jacket too-- might get the front lopped off a bit so it doesn't dangle in front of my thighs so much.