Monday, May 30, 2011

Urgent request for a Worlds competitor...

Hey, my teammate found hotel space for Worlds... but I received another similar request from a gal who is competing but whose stay arrangements fell through last-minute.

She arrives around 3 pm Wednesday at LAX and might rent a car depending on how things pan out with where she stays. She goes back to LAX Sunday at 10 pm.

Anyone out there who has room for a Worldie, please email me and I'll connect you with Rita. Thanks!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Stupid foot still messed up...

Last week, rolling with a friend, I suffered a weird toe/foot injury. You know how people go for a scissor sweep, and the person bases out by widening their knees and getting lower and heavier, so the next sweep they try is the knee push variation?

Well, I based out, but my feet weren't down (with the instep flat on the mat.) Instead, I was up on my toes/the balls of my feet, heels up in the air, but knees still down on the mat. So, when he shoved on my knee, my 2nd and 3rd toes got stuck to the (sticky, humid wrestling) mat while the rest of me went right along with the pressure on my knee. I thought at the time I had either broken both toes or just strained them... now, I'm pretty sure the bones aren't broken, I just have a lavender swelling on the top of my foot kind of like a crossways slice of red onion was inserted under the skin. And it hurts like hell to walk or dig my toes into the mat when I'm rolling. (Not that I have taken a break from walking, or rolling either..)

So I'll be making an appointment with my sports med/ortho guy. He has the best name EVER-- Dr. Joel Hurt. How do you avoid being a sports med guy if you have a name like that? Right, you don't.

Nifty little technique brought to you by Black Eagle... who is now splitting off from the parent company and becoming Predator BJJ Clothing. They're making a TON of new gis including this stellar purple-and-white Raptor version. Their Gold Weave will be called the Sinistro model... the women's gis are Predadoras... they've put in their orders (and my Predators, male versions, are on their way! Will be reviewing soon!)

Sadly, I'm working this weekend though Mitch and his parents and I are in Plano, visiting his brother and sis-in-law. Better get back to the grind. Deadline Tuesday. Then expect a coupla reviews!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Leticia Ribeiro Women Only Seminar- Austin TX, Sunday June 12th!

That's all you REALLY need to know... but wait! there's more!

AND she's bringing Bia Mesquita, another blackbelt badass, another multiple-time world champion...

AND it's only $60! That's TWENTY DOLLARS AN HOUR.... ridiculous, right? What a sweet deal! :)

Like my friend's video please!

Help my friend Laura promote women's BJJ and win a scholarship! Like this video and please repost...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

There's always time to fill in the holes.

I've been dragging my feet on being promoted pretty much ever since I received my blue belt. I've always felt like I had too many holes, not enough game, for whatever level I was at, whatever stripe or so on.

Trust your instructor, everyone says... but what if I don't trust the *system*?

When I started BJJ, everything I'd read and heard told me that there was none of the McDojo, blackbelt-in-3-years, train six months per belt bullshit in BJJ that I knew was endemic in other arts.

Now, with some time, I am not sure. Granted, it's nowhere near as bad as some other martial arts with kids getting blackbelts at age 10-12. But here's the problems I have with some of the ways it seems some people (okay- I) am/are promoted in BJJ. (I'm not trying to make blanket generalizations about everyone, every school, everywhere, all the time.)

1. A pro and a con of BJJ is there is no list of techniques that you have to be proficient at to progress from one belt to another. Some schools do it this way (Roy Dean for one) but at my academy and many others, your progress is measured very individually. This is great, to accommodate differing physicalities, ages, attributes, interests etc. This sucks, if you feel like you got promoted too soon and aren't being held to the same standard as others. This sucks, if you feel like you should be able to hold your own against other people of similar size and similar belt.. or greater size and less-experienced belt.. but you can't.

2.  I think (in my experience, which is very limited) it might be that some girls get promoted faster than boys.  Or another way to say it would be that boys are better at certain techniques when they're promoted than girls are, at the same promotion level. This is maybe also true for older jiu jitsu practitioners as compared with younger ones (meaning people who are 40+ when they start compared with those who start around ages 18-20).

There are probably many reasons for this, but I suspect a major one is that there are lots more average-sized men than there are small people/women/older people doing jiu jitsu, so smalls/women/older people don't get as much practice with techniques almost working. Men have all kinds of training partners about their size, women usually don't. Men have greater room for error... whereas it seems women have to get the technique EXACTLY right for it to work. So we have a harder time "homing in" on the idea. I think this is especially true when learning sweeps and reversals, to a lesser extent but still true in things like escaping. As a result, average guys learn fairly quickly that "this" sorta-kinda worked, so they keep trying "this." Women/smalls/olders have experiences where "this" doesn't work (they're in the same "sorta kinda right" place but lack the same capability to make it work despite less than perfect technique) so they stop trying it. It probably was close to working, but the difference between "kinda working" and "not working" seems to depend on physicality that is maybe not available to smalls/women/olders.

So taking myself as an example: I got my blue belt after grappling about 7 months, and of that only 4-5 months was at a recognized jiu jitsu academy, taught by a blackbelt, with any kind of purposeful curriculum. By my accounting, September 2011 will mark 3 years of jiu jitsu for me... but I'm JUST NOW getting some of the stuff that is considered the most basic for whitebelts. How did I get a blue belt without ever having ONCE triangled a fully resisting adult opponent (of either gender) to submission? without ever having cross collar choked, from mount or guard, a FRAO? without ever having once swept a FRAO?

I have a little bit of a top game. But my sweeps and reversals and guard game lag way behind. I am not blaming my gender, I'm not trying to escape responsibility, I accept this is my fault. But I do reflect on my rolls with my teammates, and I think I learn jiu jitsu in a different order than average guys. And therefore, maybe I wasn't promoted because of proficiency in the same array of techniques as the guys. Maybe I was promoted because of time-in-service, or effort, or whatever... but I know I'm not as capable of executing as guys my same rank.

Does that mean I'm not "as good as" the guys? maybe so.  Probably so :)

Or maybe I can look at jiu jitsu like... a circle. Imagine a circle divided up into a thousand little squares. (for argument's sake.. there's probably more than a thousand.) Each square is a technique, a movement, an elemental concept of jiu jitsu. Triangles, sweeps, armbars, hip movement, grips, base, connection-- "It's in there!"

Maybe some people start out learning on square one and proceed sequentially. By the time you get to 75 or so you're a blue belt. Some others, maybe women/smalls/olders, or maybe just me-- might start at one, skip to ten, then 17, then 150, then back to 33. They get their blue belt and maybe they've dabbled in 75 squares' worth, but they're scattered around the circle.

The point I'm feebly trying to make is that it doesn't really matter what order you learn your squares in. Eventually, we'll all be black belts. We'll have all the time we need to carefully color in all the squares. Some of the squares are best learned in a certain order; sometimes we'll do better in competition jiu jitsu if we have learned the first fifteen in order, or at least have the first fifteen somehow in there. Maybe women/smalls/olders (or people who learn at home in the garage watching DVDs, or people who learn from instructors with widely differing educational philosophies) don't "perform" as well against more traditional opponents, early on in their games, because of the factors I discuss above. But I suspect that at the "end" (when we're all multi-degreed blackbelts with years and years and years on the mats) we will all have covered all the squares on the great circle of jiu jitsu, and whatever order we did it in, we'll have filled in all the holes.

So it shouldn't really matter when we get whatever belt, as long as we keep on training.

What do you think?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sexy, sexy.

OK, first off, I'd like to say that I think Joshua Bell is sexy. You've heard about those lists married people have, of the 5 famous people that they'd be allowed to sleep with, right? Some ladies' lists feature people like Brad Pitt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Statham. Not that there's anything awry with such a selection (Mr. Statham in particular, my eye's on you..)

But my #1 is Joshua Bell.

And I wouldn't even sleep with him. He's not the HOTTEST guy on the planet, though he is mighty cute. I'd just want to have him play for me. Huh, what? He's an internationally acclaimed virtuoso on the violin. With that in mind, read this thrilling article on a very surprising social experiment played by the Washington Post, in a busy subway station during rush hour in 2007. Many thanks to Mallory for pointing it out to me :)

Just a taste of beauty...

Second. Todd Tanaka, team Relson Gracie in Hawaii, teaches a sexy heel hook counter to a straight ankle lock. Thanks to the peeps at DSTRYR-SG for pointing it out!

So, I'm off to open mat again... guard guard guard! :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Roast chicken and sex.

Before I get to the title-reference of the post-- check out Dan's thorough review of the new Black Eagle Predator MKII gi... I'm so excited, I can't wait for mine to arrive. Sounds like it's well suited for competition, and for people who use gi lapels to wrap up stuff like necks, arms, presents...

Second, peep this nice interview with Fredson Paixao over on where he discusses his advice for fruitful drilling. I bet it's nothing like what you usually do, or what you're usually told. Thanks, Dan, for the interview. Dan Faggella writes about training methods, skill development, and goal systems in combat sports at

Third... I just don't have time enough to examine all the amazing resources available on the web regarding jiu jitsu. I try, I promise. But every once in a while I take 5 minutes to revisit favorite sites and see what's new.. today was SubmissionControl, and I discovered some history along with a very simple, ordinary closed guard sweep to mount that I've never seen before. Here, learn the Macarrao sweep, invented by Rolls Gracie, from his student, a coral belt master, Marcio "Macarrao" Stambowsky. Pretty hot stuff.


Roast Chicken for Two, a Recipe-- reposted from the article on Slate, yesterday, by Michael Ruhlman. Though I don't yet have children, I am married, and I love to cook. But the article is a lot more about maintaining a happy marriage than it is about cooking. I loved it and hope you will too.

"Step 1: Preheat your oven. Step 2: Wash chicken. Step 3: Have sex with your partner.

In my prekid days, I lived with my wife in a shaded little bungalow in Palm Beach, Fla. The evenings were balmy, and I thought nothing of getting dinner rolling, then coaxing my wife into a little preprandial fling. What better way could there have been to pass the time while the charcoal turned to burger-searing embers? There was no better appetizer, and the meal afterward was remarkably satisfying. The conversation that followed had an uncommon ease.

Now that I'm a parent, the evenings are filled with something more than warm breezes. Family life can feel like a gale-force event. Forget creatively trying to pass the time. Just sitting down to dinner seems to eat up the clock. But not long ago, on a tear on my blog about the way food companies try to convince us that cooking is too hard to do on our own and that we're too stupid to succeed, I dashed off a recipe that included a hard-earned suggestion. I had learned by now that to recapture and maintain the excitement of my relationship takes plan­ning. In this case, though, not much. With a little invention, a simple roast chicken—one of the great staples of cooking life—becomes something entirely new.

Roast Chicken for Two

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 425˚F or, if you have ventilation, 450˚F, and use convection heat if it's available.

Step 2: Wash and pat dry a 3- to 4-pound chicken. Truss it if you know how, or stuff 2 lemon halves in its cavity. Season it aggressively with kosher or sea salt (it should have a nice crust of salt). Put it in a skillet and slide it into the hot oven.

Step 3: Have sex with your partner. (This can require planning, occasionally some conniving. But as cooks tend to be resourceful and seductive by nature, most find that it's not the most difficult part of the recipe.)

Step 4: Remove the chicken from the oven after it's cooked for 1 hour, allow it to rest for 15 minutes, and serve.

Properly executed, such a dish is extraordinary—economical, satisfying, not overly caloric, fun to prepare (in fact, worth making sim­ply to pursue Step 3), and potentially a valuable recipe in your weekly cooking routine.

I'm not speaking with tongue in cheek. I'm actually—strongly and earnestly—recommending you make sex a part of the routine of cooking. My idea proved very popular; it was gleefully retweeted. Perhaps it is a novel idea, though I daresay it received attention only because of our lack of imagination and the general prudery embedded in the American psyche. One commenter, apparently quite enthralled by the notion, has gone so far as to pair specific sexual acts with specific cooking techniques on a blog (a little on the obsessive-compulsive side, but nothing to fault).

Perhaps people have been so quick to embrace this idea because they sense it is both a literal and a figurative expression of important, possibly universal truths: that the act of cooking and the act of nonreproductive sex share similar traits and have similar results. Cooking, like sex, is good for your marriage.

Humans are the only animals to cook their food, and aside, perhaps, from the bonobos deep in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we are the only animal that has sex for fun. Virtually every other behavior we engage in can be found in our cousins lower down the food chain. Examples abound in the natural world of primates who express emotions, use language, act aggressively among themselves, show sympathy, and even exhibit what behavioral psychologists call theory of mind—that is, are aware of another animal's consciousness and possible motives and actions.

Humans are animals, so it is not a surprise that nothing we do or express isn't also done or expressed elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Cooking—and having sex for fun–is what makes us human.

To deny ourselves either diminishes the creatures that we are, and to practice both with greater frequency and competency deepens our humanity, which leads to a more fulfilling life. All good things. Roast chicken and sex: They're good for you!

Studies suggest that stress is countered by the smells of food cooking in a home, which are received by the brain's limbic system (the ancient part of our mind, which stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system); in other words, the smells of cooking relax us, put us at ease, though we are rarely conscious of it. Did you ever wonder why, at every party, the kitchen is the most crowded room? Why it's a pleasure to walk into a home when a roast is in the oven or a Bolognese is simmering on the stove? Bills are easier to pay when short ribs are braising. A working kitchen is a natural stress reducer.

Too often, couples with kids, couples who are busy working and busy taking care of those kids, use what little free time they have to go out, to go to a party, to do any number of social activities that further prevent them from connecting. Most evenings, by the time our kids are in bed, Donna and I are too tired to do anything more than watch an hour of unchallenging television. Not the best time for cooking, or for sex.

Which is why I recommend a midweek lunch at home at least twice a month for couples with kids. Once the kids are regularly gone during the day, carve out two hours (more if you can swing it) to rendez­vous at home. The home itself will be strangely, wonderfully peaceful. Neither you nor your partner will be exhausted; instead, you'll still be fairly fresh and energetic—it's time for lunch, after all. Whichever one of you is the cook, make something simple. My most frequent choice is a salad of arugula or frisée with fat bacon lardons, a poached egg on top, a fresh baguette with butter, and a very good pinot noir or Shiraz (this is the time to have a decent bottle: when you can really appreciate it). Donna will open the wine, set the table, light votives (we always have candles—even in brightest summer, there's something about live flames dancing). If Donna finishes getting ready before I do, she tosses the salad and we talk while I poach the eggs.

And then we sit and we eat slowly. We can't eat slowly enough. And we talk, really talk, about ourselves, not the kids. We make plans for the future. We discuss our work and what we hope to do. The conversations have proven to be so fruitful that I've taken to keeping a pen and pad at the table, to ensure I don't forget any good ideas that arise in this very relaxed and fruitful environment.

If the food has been delicious and satisfying and the conversation easy and engaging, one of us will make an obvious glance at the clock. Time is not unlimited—a child needs to be picked up from school at some point, there's more work ahead. Nor is the next move guaran­teed—hoped for, more than half-expected, but not certain. Perhaps one of us is stressed about a work deadline, or an unavoidable conflict has arisen, a much-sought phone interview that could only take place in the middle of things. But it's that look at the clock that announces intent. And Donna will say something like, "Meet me upstairs?" And then I know that this lardon salad with poached egg and baguette will have its much-desired and perfect conclusion.

Within the hour, life will be as it was, with kids and errands, busyness and work. The midday interlude will fade with the smell of the bacon. But its effects leave the mind and body nourished. I feel good, really good, on these days and think to myself, We have got to do this once a week, at least.

But we don't, because work, travel, and schedules conflict. This midday union is a time commitment, but it's also really important. Just because it's deeply pleasurable doesn't mean it's an indulgence. Think of it as a business lunch, important business for the two of you. Schedule it.

Much is made about families eating meals together: everyone in the house at the table to share the evening meal as often as schedules allow. I believe in this. I believe that the meal is best if it's prepared with fresh food you've cooked yourself. But less commonly noted is the value of a couple—parents—cooking and sharing a meal alone. This is every bit as important in the cooking life of a household.

The chorus of voices espousing the importance of food and cooking is growing for a reason. We've realized that cooking is important in ways we never dreamed. I believe that cooking is fundamental to our humanity, that even those who do not cook should spend time around people who are cooking. The work of gathering, preparing, and shar­ing food makes life better in profound and far-reaching ways for all the people engaged in it, cooks and noncooks alike. Indeed, to argue otherwise would be akin to saying that our sexual lives are likewise unimportant, optional, unnecessary. Yes, we can get by without sex, and far too many likely do; for really the first time in history, we can get by without cooking as well, by eating out or buying all our food precooked, but this, too, is an unhappy and self-diminishing choice.

Which is why I recommend that all couples roast chickens together.

From Man With a Pan: Culinary Adventures of Fathers Who Cook for Their Families, edited by John Donohue © 2011 by John Donohue. Reprinted by permission of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. All rights reserved."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One of my favorite chokes...

Stephan Kesting sent out this great video of Marcelo Garcia laying out the essentials for one of his favorite submissions, the north-south choke. I get to this position a lot, but don't finish as often as I'd like. (I do think it's easier to finish in nogi, but that's no excuse.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Not going to Mundials.

My knee feels great when I'm rolling, except when I go butterfly with that leg, or try to catch halfguard with that leg... it's when I stop rolling, sit on the side a while, and then try to walk that it bugs me. Or if I watch a movie, sitting relatively still for 2 hours, and then try to walk. Or lay in bed, or on the couch.. ditto. So I'm not doing Mundials this year. I'm still training, though when it comes to conditioning, I'm steering clear of impact/plio-type stuff. That's the closest I can comfortably come to resting.

Lunch open mat today was excellent. I wore a brand new gi-- a navy blue, mens' cut, size A0 Vulkan ultralight, courtesy of I'm a little heavier than usual right now, but the gi fit very well and was super light and comfortable. I think it will be my new competition gi.. time to get it patched up with some Hello Kitty!

[Speaking of fun patches... do a google search for "morale patches"-- they're used in the military for just that. Saw some funny ones...]

Super fun technical roll with Coley, this uberathletic and scary-talented 21 year old blue belt-- I was working on being less smashy and more fluid, trying to surf his body when he'd change positions. I had his back for a little bit but couldn't make anything happen from there as his lapel defense was super solid. He nailed me with a shoulderlock inside a triangle, I was working on disappearing my trapped arm but got stuck with my elbow pointing at him. Next roll though, got him in a lucky bellydown armbar. I was psyched to be 1-1 with him, not that I really ever keep count or anything, but I felt like that was a phenomenal outcome for me.

This weekend, I shipped a gi, belts, rashguards, tshirts, patches and stickers out to Andrei in Canada, who is graciously bringing them to Moldova where he'll be spending some time this summer.

I'm pretty pooped from open mat. Going to bring a friend recovering from knee surgery to the grocery store this evening, then head home and start tidying the house; the inlaws will be in town from Memorial Day weekend onwards....

Hope you're enjoying a beautiful day.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Jiu jitsu math...

Cleaning out the inbox still.. came across this reassuring and insightful advice from one of my instructors, Donald. Hope it helps you.. I'm sure it will help me if I remember to put it into action more often!

"On Mon, Feb 7, 2011 at 3:48 PM, Georgette Oden wrote:

today's jiu jitsu math:

georgette + donald's armbar = little phil passes
georgette + donald's ricksonesque halfguard pass = john reverses her
georgette + donald's happy place from knees= jhgsfhexuynerucl2498kjhkzmx!!!
georgette + rickson's mount escape = john doesn't move, georgette doesn't move
georgette + rickson's mount escape = christy cross collar chokes her"

Donald responded:

"re: your math, you're dividing by big numbers there. Hardly ever comes out to something elegant, when you do that.

Most of what I see are equations with Georgette + bigger person who is of a higher rank. In most people's books, anything + bigger person of higher rank = FAIL.

As you well know, techniques like what I showed you take a LONG time to work out. If you expect to do them on ANYONE of skill within the first week, month, 6 months, you've got another thing coming. My recommendation is to stop trying them when you roll, you're just going to muddy the waters and screw up your instincts re: timing, distance and application in a live environment. This is exactly what causes people to jury-rig techniques and make up new set-ups to compensate for poor execution.

While it may be counterintuitive to not try new moves when rolling, you should think about it like this: How are you supposed to know what to adjust / fix in a new technique when you aren't yet 100% doing the technique in a vacuum? Sure way to lose the original technique in the process, IMO.

I'd really really really recommend that you drill it A LOT with a non-resisting opponent. Then, take a LIGHT white or blue belt and do technical training (e.g., have them try to pass your guard at 50% from a specific position. . . . one where you have your foot on their hip, have an angle and have the elbow grip already perchance?) Then, you can start adjusting the right pressure and angle. only after doing this, will you be able to do the move live against a white & blue belt."

He wrote more stuff that was specific to the moves.. but this general advice is pure gold no matter what the technique, the belt level, etc. Thanks Donald.

PINK gi... in Turkey!

I must be getting old. I tried to clean out some of the 1000+ emails in my inbox, which date back over a year... and found one from a cool chick named Sara. I don't remember if I ever posted this stuff!! So if I did, oh well, review :) And if I didn't-- Sara, I'm so sorry. I wanted to brag on your non-Dharma Trading dye job and traveling a year ago and I'm just a slouch on timing :) Shoutout to the pink Fenom in Turkey!

Here's her report, last year...

"We are in TX right now, but my husband is a part of Corvos Fight Team out of Istanbul, Turkey. It's a Brasa team, and the instructor there is a purple belt so Felipe Costa has been the only one to promote anyone there. My husband is a white belt (one stripe) and I just started training with him while we are in the states.

While we are in the states we are using the Gracie Combatives DVDs because there isn't a BJJ gym here in this little town in deep East Texas. We have small children, 2 and 4, and we couldn't both participate in a class at the same time anyway unless it was in our living room! We have puzzle mats in the living room and we roll after our kids are in bed. And this is temporary. When we get back to Turkey my husband will go back to the BJJ gym there and his teacher's wife and I are planning on training together. She's actually a Muay Thai girl, but I can't remember her rank at the moment. It's pretty high. But I think I'm the only girl in all of Turkey that would be willing to train with her, so I will probably get a crash course when we get back!

Our kids are learning a little at a time, and our son, who can barely talk, even asks Daddy to "roll" with him and sometimes he'll point to the floor and say "Joo joo!" He'll either say, "Roh! Roh!" or "Joo joo," and he even has his action figures and our daughters Disney princesses roll and do "joo joo." We love it. It makes us chuckle every time.

BTW: My husband and I are both Americans, we just live and work in Turkey.

I read your instructions on how to dye a gi, went to the Dharma website and started going through the purchasing process but the shipping cost was just way more than our limited budget could handle. So, brokenhearted, but still determined I went to Wal-Mart and bought their store powder dye. They had two brands that had the same exact instructions, were the same exact price, and the color dot looked the absolute same. One brand called the color flamingo pink, and the other just said pink. There were more packages of the Tulip brand, so that's what I bought. The dye has sodium carbonate mixed in already, so thanks to your instructions, I was much more comfortable with using it. The instructions said to use 1 pkg of dye with 1 gallon of water and 1/4 C of salt. (I also used iodine free salt because of your instructions.) I knew 1 gallon of water wouldn't be enough for my gi to sit in so I bought four. I measured out 4 gallons of water ready to dye one evening and got rather frustrated because I knew the water level was still not high enough. I went back and bought 2 more packages of dye and started over. I used the hottest tap water I could from my kitchen sink, 6 gallons of water in a large plastic tub (I think it's about 2 feet high,) inside of my bathroom tub, 6 packages of dye, 1 1/2 C iodine free sea salt, and a pair of large rubber kitchen gloves. I had to stir the solution for the first 15 minutes and I got a work out! I used my gloved hands to stir because I didn't trust anything else I had to be clean enough for the job. I kept turning the kimono and the pants over and over, pushing it down fully into the dye... I couldn't really stir because there just wasn't enough room to really "stir." After the first 15 minutes the instructions said to let it soak for another 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Honestly, I think I stirred it once after that first 15 minutes.

When time was up, I followed the instructions and rinsed it a few times with cold water, then washed it in warm water and went ahead and dried it in the dryer because it was too bright and I was hoping the dryer would fade it a little. It looks really pretty, especially against my husband's blue and black gis! Really sharp. He says it fits me. I'm really glad I did it. I really felt confident doing it because I felt more educated after reading your instructions. Thanks for writing that!"

Well, Sara, the gi looks awesome. I'm about to shoot you an email and get an update. Hope you've been well.


Update from Sara!

"No worries. We actually do have the Bullyproof DVD set and we have
started some of it with our kids already. They love watching it and
practicing the things they see. They especially like that there are
children doing the games on the DVD's. My daughter is 4 and she likes
the fact that she can identify with another 4 year old girl on the TV.
It IS great.

I actually just got home from a women's seminar at the gym where my
husband trains, Corvos MMA Academy in Istanbul. It was great. The
instructor there is actually now a brown belt. He was promoted by
Felipe Costa this past fall. We learned some basic self defense and
did a few Gracie techniques. Burak is a great teacher and was very
careful with us and very respectful toward us. He is planning on doing
some more seminars like this in the future and even challenged us that
next time he will test us! So I'm hoping maybe in the next month or
two he'll make good on that promise. If you are ever in this part of
the world, you should stop by. Christian Graugart did. They would love to have you!
There is actually a girl who is a regular there and I had a great time
training with her today. Her name is Suzan and she is quite good.

The color on my gi has held on really well. I honestly think the
details I got from reading your dyeing instructions were a great help
and have probably made a difference. And the Fenom gi is still super
soft. I really enjoy using it."

Finally, sending gis and belts to Moldova..

Thanks to a cool blue belt in Canada, some gis are making their way to Moldova. Andrei Tarasenco of Gracie Barra is leaving on May 24 and graciously handcarrying gis and belts.

I figure the easier thing for financial donations will be to set up a Paypal account, so I have inquired and will post results on that shortly. Christian, the BJJ Globetrotter, just racked up $285 for them by holding a charity BJJ seminar in NY! Read about it here...

Hope you have a lovely weekend on deck.. I'm off to open mat now. Stupid knee is still sore, but haha, of course not sore enough that I feel I can't train.

Good luck to Mike D. at the first Big Apple BJJ tournament, hosted by Shaolin this weekend!!!!! :) :) :)

Edit: Slideyfoot just posted a VERY thorough rundown on side control escapes including a lot of crossreferenced material from other points of view... if you ever get stuck on bottom cross side, I highly recommend his post on the subject..

Thursday, May 12, 2011

It's all in your freakin' head...

Congrats to Australian purple belt Kit Dale for his Brasileiro win (and thanks to Matt at the Grappling Dummy for the find).... Kit's no slouch, having taken gold recently in the Abu Dhabi Pro World Cup. Check what Kit had to say:

"On the way there I remember running scenarios through my head, and getting into a positive frame of mind. This is very important with high level competing, as the game is 98% mental and 2% physical, it is easy to have your head ravaged with negative thoughts, creating negative emotions. This can make or break a competitor, so I put a lot of emphasis on controlled thoughts. If you can control your mind, anything is possible. But if you let your mind control you, you’re in a whirlpool of uncertainty and pain."

This is SO RIGHT! If there's anything big-picturey that I've learned in my competition experience (I have done 12 tournaments in about 2.5 years of training) it's that your MIND is 90% of your match. I don't think it's 98% but that's just me at my stage of development. 10% of any given roll is your physicality, your physical understanding of the movements and your ability to feel and discern timing and biomechanics, and your muscle memory; 90% is your mental attitude. (I think that perhaps at a lesser-experience place, maybe the percentages shift even more, maybe 70-30?)

Anyway, go read Kit's account of the tournament experience and watch the video on there of his finals match... some judo, some spider guard, two nice sweeps (who says scissor sweeps only work on whitebelts?) and some situp guard :)

More from Kit on the benefits of being observant in the pre-match time period:

"While in the back going through my mental preparation I noticed my opponent in the corner with his coach going through some interesting scenarios on the matts. The thing that struck my mind were that the positions he was going through were my favourites from passes to submissions; this said. . . That I had already got him on the back foot, knowing that he was practising worst case scenarios and defensive tactics gives me the picture that not only is his coach thinking in a reactive manner but he is engraining it into his student. So while he is focussing on what to do, if this happens and what to do if he does this, I am focussing only on what I will do; how I will dictate the match, and if for any reason I start thinking negatively for example; (what will I do if he takes me down) I immediately block that thought from my head and reinforce positive thoughts, for example; (I will take him down or I will sweep him this way). I believe that using the power of thought (quantum physics and neuron linguistic programing) is the best way to attract what you want into your life whether it be money, happiness or in this case success."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Yes, yes I have many reviews to write. Short version here but more to come.

Hemp gi: been wearing the crap out of it to test it fully; one loose thread in the seam of the pants and wanted to see if it would disintegrate. Far from it; I really dig the gi.

Dom gi: Love the jacket because of the peachy microfiber lining. The pants split from the rear down the leg, near the inside seam, despite the "ripstop" fabric. This was after 5 full training sessions, at the start of the sixth (THANK GOD while I was still in the changing room.) I squatted down in a deep knee bend to put something in my gym bag and it went riiipppp. I'll be emailing Dom a picture and see what their customer service is like.

Jiu Jitsu Style magazine: I will be reviewing this shortly!

DVDs: Gracie Bullyproof (been playing these games with innocent neighborhood victims, muahahaha); Abmar Barbosa; Tony Pacenski's Sao Paulo Pass System; Roy Harris; Whitebelt Bible by Roy Dean; and hopefully later this summer, the Gracie Women Empowered set too... (salivate!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Three P's

I have posted before about how much I like Cane Prevost's insights about teaching and learning jiu jitsu. Well, he's recently posted another concise exploration of what the Three P's model means and how it came to be. I suggest you give it a read. He calls it the Fallacy of Technique. It reminds me of my bookshelf analogy.

I usually think of my brain (as far as jiu jitsu goes, anyway) as being like a bookshelf affixed to the wall, without sides to it. I go to class and each technique I'm taught is like a book being handed to me.. I scurry and scurry, putting books on the shelf as quick as I can. But the dang shelf seems short, and for every book I put on the left side, one is falling off to the floor on the right. It's like an old I Love Lucy-type of physical comedy. Occasionally I get a second to run to the pile of books on the floor and fumble through them-- rediscovering old delights-- and every once in a while I realize the shelf has gotten a little bit longer, so I can add a book from the floor pile...

But really, it's a question of knowing which books to try to add to the shelf, and which ones to just flip through whilst in the library. It totally makes sense that each of us groove on different genres of reads... likewise, different techniques click with us according to our varying attributes and mindsets. And the techniques we think we've "invented" (the ones that occur to us naturally) are the ones (it seems) that stick with us the best. Which feeds into exactly what Cane is talking about in his post.

Genius :)

Monday, May 09, 2011

Stunning lack of competitive drive.

I was about to preface this with "This is how I always get" but that sounded a little funny, as this is only my third spring in jiu jitsu... pretty small sample size. Nonetheless it's accurate. I "always" get fired up to compete after being off the mats for a week over the Christmas holidays... and fired up to work hard and lose all the extra pigs-in-blankets, champagne punch, fudge and lemon poppyseed cake blanketing my derriere. So I jump in with both feet in January-- train 7 days a week, galloping towards the Pan. I'll do 2-4 tournaments on the way to the Pan, then (last year and this year) come to a shuddering stop in the first match there. After that, I'm kinda.. meh. Like right now for example.

Yeah, my knee's fine-- a little fat-feeling, a little stiff when I first get out of bed or have been sitting for a while, but it's not hurting and my doc says it's A-OK. (In fact I'll confess, it felt all right enough for class Sunday morning... it was too late to drive all the way to Dallas for the tourney though. And I did lunch open mat today.)

But I have a choice to make pretty quickly-- Mundials or stay home and visit with the in-laws. What does it say that I'm actually TORN?

A) Her in-laws must be pretty cool;
B) She doesn't want to compete much at all;
C) All of the above.

Yeah, pretty much C here. My husband's parents are very sweet people, totally the antithesis of the "in-law" image popularized in modern media. My MIL is quiet, easygoing to a fault, and a good cook. My FIL is quiet, with a wry sense of humor and a drive to FIND and FIX things which need fixing. (For a visual and aural image, picture a hybrid of Yoda and Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid.) More stuff gets done around the house and garage and yard when he's around than you could possibly imagine. They make no demands (except a half-kidding 'make a grandson!') And they're coming at the beginning of June for 2-3 weeks, for my husband's birthday and to see his brother and the preemie twins up in Dallas.

So there's that-- we could miss 5 days of their visit, and we already have plane tickets. But I am just not jamming on the idea of competing. So I'm analyzing just what exactly drives me to compete. Haven't made up my mind yet, going to talk to the hubs tonight.

Anyway, had a good open mat today-- first rolled with a whitebelt, then a purple, and last a visiting blue belt chick . She's come before so I already knew I was in for it. We're fairly evenly matched size-wise, but I feel like she's a year or two ahead of me-- I haven't yet answered her counter to my halfguard sweep, or her both-feet-in-one-bicep sweep (though she's taught me how to foil her TWICE now. And I WILL remember it for her next visit.) This time we rolled a while and I felt good about it.

Check out this super motivational and awe-inspiring highlight. Filched from Jodi's Combat Sports Review, an excellent blog I always enjoy reading. Here's her comments:

"It's not so much this video that I find inspirational, but the person. His name is Panom Yeerum. You may know him as Tony Jaa. Chances are you’ve never heard of him. He was born an elephant herder in the poverty-stricken and war-torn northeast region of Thailand. His inspiration to study martial arts was Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li. Jaa used that inspiration to overcome many obstacles and become an accomplished martial artist, gymnast, and stuntman. Not only does he hold the record for the longest uncut fight sequence, he also appears to defy gravity and to have rewritten the laws of physics. In this video you will see him in action, no strings attached (literally) and on fire (literally)."

And then check out this ninja roll (backtake from top, feet-facing side control) courtesy of Leslie at BJJGRRL...

And last... a sweep or a back take, counters to the torreador pass... I found this on my very own ;) From a Pedro Sauer affiliate in Honolulu..

Saturday, May 07, 2011

crap my knee.

I woke up this morning with a knee roughly approaching the size of a ruby red grapefruit, and about as likely to bend in the middle.

So I alternated warmth and ice, took some ibuprofen, and tried to walk around some to loosen it up. Lately I seem to notice this knee being a little stiff and fat-feeling in the morning, and usually it works itself out in a few minutes. Not so much this time. I finally had to make the call about an hour ago- Dallas or no? And since my teammate Courtney wasn't depending on me for a ride, I decided to bail. It doesn't hurt much, just feels... weird. A combination of tight and loose, opposite of where things are supposed to be tight or loose.

Good luck to my teammates Rebecca and Aaron who will be competing tomorrow!

Thursday, May 05, 2011


And saving the best for last.....

Yes, that's right... Allie's writing a BOOK!

Coming out in 2012...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Gis for Moldova

Sorry, too busy at work to investigate this option, but a friend in DC (Hi Home Improvement Ninja! update your blog!) suggested I look into crowdsourcing or crowdfunding to get some charitable donations going towards the Moldova project.

Anyone out there have a few minutes to look into this?

How about maybe doing donations through Paypal??

Tonight I will be culling my gi collection and packaging up at least two to head to Rumania!


Your assignment, should you choose to accept it...

Found this reposted on Side Control's blog. Check it out.

"Here's your assignment.

Ok, check this out, I recently had my students focus on this because at some point you have to become a Master at your go to moves. Most people will become really good at their go to moves "over time" but I've been focused on cutting that time to a mere fraction of the normal time it takes most people.

Over the years I've proven it with my students and at first I proved it with myself as my own test subject.

As a motivation for my students you've probably heard that at tournaments I have what I call 'Money Moves', these are moves that if my students pull off they get paid. Like the UFC bonues but I was doing it before Dana White. :-)

For example, The Kimura Kid made $450 at the pan ams for his submissions.

When I want my guys to focus on X choke from the mount I'll make that a money move for a tournament and during the training I only allow the X choke from the mount(if they get to the mount).

I also will do position specific LIVE drills from the mount to force them to work on it.


Here's my Sunday assignment for you, I want you to pick one sweep and one choke from positions that you get to the most and only use those 2 moves for the next week, if you like it I want you to push it out for 2 weeks.

So your assignment right now is to write down what your one sweep will be and what your one choke will be.

Then think about the positions that you need to get to for the move and which of your teammates you're able to attain these positions on.

Then make sure that you get to work with them, you can also ask your instructor if you can get paired up with them because you want to work on a specific technique set and they are the best partner for you.

That's it. Saturday afternoon let me know how the week went.

Have fun.

Lloyd Irvin aka The Grappling Renegade
Forever The King Of Leglocks"

Hahaha the joke's on me...

Once registration for the Dallas Open closed, the IBJJF updated the competitor lists... now there's *3* of us in middle heavy... and *2* in middle.. and *4* in light, which is my weight class... so I didn't need to register in middle heavy after all! Oh well, what the hell, jiu jitsu is for the smaller person, right? So let's go see what it's like in middle heavy :)

A friend pointed out a new (to me) gi company and I notice they sell chocolate brown gis.. also pink (of course)... and pink and white... and 3 versions of camouflage. Anyway-- check out Yamarashi Kimonos.

Work is really keeping me busy, so I'm not training intensely for the Dallas Open. I'm just going to "wing it" so to speak... wish me luck. Training is going well though; last weekend I attended a Cleber Luciano seminar at my husband's academy and learned a nice counter for a darce-- a sweep into an nontraditional armbar. When I got a chance to roll with Cleber, he showed me one little tweak for escaping side control that made me do the facepalm thing as it was super simple and obvious, yet I didn't do that (yet.)

I'm feeling kind of blah about jiu jitsu right now. I think it's because my ego is getting in the way of my progress. I find myself feeling like I don't need to push myself quite so hard, and I'm tempted to buy a new (clean, tidy, fresh) blue belt because I'm getting tired of people commenting on my shredded ratty looking one. I don't feel like I'm rolling to the level of my belt, if that makes sense. I'm feeling kind of pouty and resentful about the whole making weight thing; I've been going through an "I want to cook" phase lately, sorting out recipes and cookbooks and stuff like that... but I always have this debate in my head about what I "should" and "shouldn't" be eating, and I feel deprived and grumpy. So then I go eat what I shouldn't eat, and get fat, and have all the bad and none of the good. I should either shut up and train and eat healthy food only and be strong and not fat, or I should shut up and train and cook and eat whatever I want and not worry about weight classes. Not hybridize the two.

And Donald's out of town this week and next, which will make it a full month I haven't attended a comp class. Blech.

One last thing... kinda funny (though I hate Britney Spears' music)-- this from Afghanistan...