Saturday, October 31, 2009

One Week Out

Only 7 days from my first tournament! I'm getting really excited. And really nervous.

I was told the best thing to do is to train light this week: come to class, do the warm-ups and drills, but sit out on the grappling. I think that's good advice, especially since I am feeling worn down right now. I am on the verge of getting sick, I think. Chugging a lot of vitamin c and trying to get extra sleep.

As far as class goes, we worked yet MORE half guard stuff. We learned a couple submissions from half-guard and another sweep. It's amazing to me how many different sweeps I've learned just in the past few weeks. I actually like working from half-guard and guard, so I've been really enjoying all the new info. Unfortunately, many of them are running together in my brain. I think I'm going to look a bunch of them up on YouTube just to get them all straight.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Floppy, Dead Fish.

Paul, a brown belt at Fabios, spent some extra time after class last night working with me on passing guard from a neutral position. I grappled with him twice during class and during those rolls and while he was working with me after class, he quickly discovered that I have a dismal base. He can flop me around like a dead fish.

So, he tweaked some of my problems and gave me some more passing-guard pointers. I feel like he showed me several things that I will actually be able to remember while grappling.

It's awesome when a higher belt really takes extra time to look at a newbie's game and help them out. I know we can be spastic and annoying, but I find that I learn the most when I have someone watching exactly what I'm doing, stopping me and showing me what I did wrong and why it matters. Thanks to all you higher belts for having patience with us lowbies!!

During actual class, we worked yet another half guard sweep. I LOVE it when our classes all link together like this. If I can't get a sweep from half guard at this point there is something wrong with my brain. We've also been working on some sweeps from mount and a few from guard. So, I feel much more confident in my knowledge of sweeps. My ability to apply them mid-grapple is another matter entirely. :) We'll see how it goes.

The De la Riva cup is coming up on the 7th of November ( and I am getting excited. Also, I only have 3 more pounds to lose so I can drop into the next weight class for N.A.G.A. on the 21st. The only concern I have is that I might injure myself at De la Riva and then miss out on N.A.G.A. I already have a knee injury--one of my ligaments in my right knee got stretched when a kid did a take-down on me. I talked to my instructors about it and they showed me a couple of take-downs that will protect my knees.

Alright. Guess I'll return to the real world. Taking my son to a Trunk or Treat thing tonight. He is dressing up as Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Passing the Guard

Last night Ben and Mario made us do some pretty funny warm up drills. In one, we had to jump into guard on a partner who was standing up and climb all the way around to their back and then to the front again, only breaking guard for a few moments to shift out hips. They also made us do sit-ups hanging from guard while the other person balanced our weigt.

It ended up coming in handy for the position we worked on. It was a guard pass that involves standing up and actually picking someone up off the ground, kind of sitting on an invisible chair and using their weight as a balance. Then you break the guard and pass.

We worked a couple variations of that pass, to be used depending on the situation. I like that about the positions we learn. We usually only work one type of position, but cover several variations of it. It's easier for me to remember and it makes me think about the types of grappling situations in which I would actually use them.

Grappling went fairly well. Went against two pretty good guys and I was on defense most of the time. With the first guy, I was happy that he only passed my half guard once. And, as has been my goal, I was able to get out from under him and back to a neutral position several times. I didn't try many submissions except for a few triangles that I couldn't finish. But then again he didn't submit me either so I must have been doing something right.

The second guy was a different story. I had a much harder time keeping him from passing my guard. In fact, he was trying to help me and to make me pass his guard (from starting out) over and over again, and I got frustrated because I wasn't passing effectively at all. I think I've gotten too reliant on my one pass. I need to branch out and try other pass techniques.

Good night, but I think I'm going to take a day to rest. My body is feeling worn down and beat up.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I got to roll with Fabio tonight for the first time since I've started coming to his school. There is only one word to describe how he grapples: effortless. Everything he does is smooth, nothing is forced. He just goes with whatever I do and reacts.

Ben always says Jiu-jitsu is like a chess match and with Fabio I can really see it. Every move I make, he gets the most advantageous position, moving me into a more disadvantaged position until I am in a submission. It was really cool.

We worked on more half guard sweeps, focusing mainly on making space in order to get in position to do the sweeps. But after class, he took aside me, Steph, Jen and a younger girl named Haleigh and taught us a sweep to get out of mount when a guy is holding down both of our wrists. The sweep also leads conveniently into a heel hook. Very helpful.

Rolling tonight wasn't that eventful. I went with all smaller or newer girls (we've had a lot showing up lately). I did get to roll with Jen, which is always a good, solid learning experience. But I've noticed the last few classes, I keep getting put with the small girls and I basically let them work submissions while I work defense.
I know that is what all the higher belts do for me and I actually enjoy helping the new girls learn what little I have to show them, but I left wishing I had gotten one or two good, challenging rolls, you know? I also wonder if Fabio is putting me with them because he thinks I can't handle the guys. Don't know the answer to that one.

Anyway, good class. Now I'm tired and disgusting. Shower then bed. :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

House of Pain!

A word of advice: Any time a Marine tells you that he's planning to put your BJJ class through the "House of Pain", take him at his word.

This past Saturday, when I came into class, the whole atmosphere was different. Neither of our instructors wore their gis. And Mario, who is normally soft spoken and friendly, was in Marine mode. He was all business.

I smelled something burning. When I asked Mario, what it was he smiled and said, "It's the heater." We live in Florida and, even though it's October, there has been no heater-worthy weather yet this year. It wasn't until my other instructor, Ben, told Mario to turn it up a little higher that I realized why.

House of Pain.

They had stations set up all around the room with a boxing ring taped into the middle of the mat. Mario went over the few strikes that we know: lead hand jabs, rear hand punches, upper cuts, hooks, etc. Then he explained we would be going through the circuit and taking turns boxing in the center for two minutes each against him. There would be no head shots, only body shots, and we would be wearing gloves and protective gear. The House of Pain would go until everyone had been through the whole circuit and had their two minutes against Mario OR until someone hit Mario hard enough to end the House of Pain. If anyone at any of the stations got caught flaking out on their assigned station, 30 seconds would be added onto the clock for the guy in the middle and everyone else on the circuits.

Everyone was intimidated. Mario isn't a big guy, but he is definitely tough. Especially when he has his game face on.

They turned off most of the lights and then we started. I was surprised that Mario was yelling at the people in the ring. "Come on, Fighter! Hit me! Come on!" I got to see most of my team mates go before I did. Mario was obviously not going all out, but he was still taking shots. I think everyone got the wind popped out of them at least once.

My turn was no different. I wanted to give it all I had, so I came out aggressive. It was my first experience with this sort of thing and it was weird to have Mario yelling at me and punching me. Once, he popped me hard right in the gut. Boom. Couldn't breath. Mario's yelling at me. "Can you keep fighting, fighter? Can you fight?" As soon as I said yes, the fight started again.

I was both surprised and disappointed by how fast I got winded. We only went for 2 minutes. By by the end of the first minute, I was gassed. It gives me a new appreciation for boxers! Not only did I get winded fast, but all the technique Mario taught us about punching went right out the window. I was trying to think about what I was doing, but everything was going so fast. That's what practice and muscle memory are for, I guess!

After everyone had gone through, Mario turned the lights and the AC on (that you Lord) and had us all sit down. He read us a story about a Marine who led men throughout the night defending an area against an enemy attack, despite several serious injuries to himself. The guy went on fighting even after he was tired because he knew his own life and the lives of him men would be ended if he quit. He also reminded us that we are a team. Everyone who trains together should be working to help each other, not competing against one another.

After that, we worked 3 similar sweeps to use when someone stands up, holding onto your legs. I don't remember if there's a specific name for when someone does that. ;) Then we grappled. Because of the House of Pain, we only got two grapples in, but I was happy with how they went.

Safe to say I was exhausted by the end of the class.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Since When Did I Start Wanting to be Heavy?

We only worked one technique tonight: a half-guard pass to side control tonight. A lot of it hinges on driving your weigh forward and keeping it on the person while you perform the pass. This whole keeping-my-weight on people has been a challenge for me.

I guess it's my instinct not to want to keep my body plastered onto someone or to put my full weight onto them, but that is exactly what I have to do. I've been striving to learn to keep all my holds tight and to keep my body weight driving into the other person the whole time. Still, my instructors are constantly having to tell me, "Keep you hips low," or "Don't rest on your elbows," etc, etc.

Still, tonight I got a compliment after a grapple that made me laugh. "Hey, you were really heavy on me that time." If anyone said that to me outside of Jiu-jitsu, I'd probably cry. But I was really happy to hear that I made someone uncomfortable with my body weight. Haha! It's funny to me how Jiu-jitsu is changing the way I think about my body. I no longer want to be stick thin. I want to be strong and in shape. No, I don't want to be mannish. But I want to be lean and strong.

After working on the guard pass, we spent the entire rest of class grappling. Fabio had us going for 7 minutes each grapple and I was happy to find that I wasn't terribly winded at the end of each one. Of course, I went with several high belts who were trying to help me, so I wasn't going all out. They were trying to help me learn to transition between submissions. "You lost the arm bar, go for the triangle. Now transition to the uma plata." I'm still really slow at seeing the transitions. I think I broadcast what I'm about to do hours before I actually do it. ;)

One small victory tonight was that I did see a transition during a grapple that I usually miss. I was going to an arm bar they did a gable grip and so I tried to do a wrist lock. I was surprised that it actually worked!

Overall, good night tonight. Can't wait to do it again tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Feeling a Little Smothered.

I grappled a guy yesterday afternoon who was relatively new to BJJ (I think. I have no idea how long he's been training) and who just locked me up and tried to beat me up with his weight the whole time while were grappling. He wasn't getting any submissions because either he didn't know how or wasn't trying to. And the positions he was locking me up in weren't working towards submissions either. Whichever way I moved, he just latched onto me and slammed his body down on top of me. If we were being scored, he probably would have won because of the fact that he was in a dominant position most of the time. Though I was able to keep him from passing my guard until the last few minutes. I kept catching him in half guard, but for some reason I couldn't sweep him and eventually he busted through my half guard and got in side control, where he remained for the rest of the grapple.

The thing that frustrated me so much was that I lost control of my emotions while I was grappling. He was being rough, but I should have been able to handle it. At one point I almost started crying. I kept telling myself not to freak out, to relax and just think. He had me locked up, but apart from slamming his body weight into me, he wasn't actually hurting me. I felt like I couldn't move under that guy's weight. He was pinning me down and locking me up and I knew I needed to sweep him, but I felt like I couldn't move. I guess I was so worked up and frustrated that my game went down the crapper.

On the upside, I did well in my other grapples. Though, I was still on defense the vast majority of the time since I went against almost all higher belts. That doesn't bother me. I expect to be on defense against higher belts. What bothered me so much was that I lost my cool, you know?

Oh well. I'm sure I'll have another chance to grapple that guy and next time, I'm going to relax and let him tire himself out locking me up. I just need to stay cool and look for an opportunity to sweep or hip out.

It was really frustrating.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dropping Weight

So, NAGA is fast approaching and I'm trying to make some decisions. Right now, I weight around 138-139, depending on the day. As it stands right now, I will be at the very bottom of the middle weight class (135lbs and above). The next weight class is only 3-4 pounds away. 5 to be on the safe side. The question is, should I bust my butt to lose another 5 pounds? OR should I not worry about that?

Class last night was awesome. We worked mainly on sweeps from half guard. I was able to use one in a grapple, but I need to be looking for them more. I'm way to comfortable being on the bottom, working from guard. I'll keep working!

Today, I have two classes, one in the afternoon and one tonight. I'm wondering if I might be training too much. Lately, I've been going to four classes a week, plus grappling outside of class with friends at my house. I'm loving every minute of it and I don't feel sore or injured. But I do kind of feel like I have trouble remembering all the different techniques I learn during the week. The steady grappling is really helpful, though.

Also, I found out there is another small competition coming up on the 5th of November in my area. It's a small name competition, but I'm considering competing. It would be a way to get my feet wet and maybe get some practice in for NAGA. Only thing is, I'm worried I could get myself injured in this small competition and then miss NAGA. And that would be really frustrating.

Decisions, decisions. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Going Mental

I had a great afternoon today. Fabio has a Thursday afternoon class and it's usually much smaller than the evening classes. Today, only myself and one other guy showed up. So I basically got a private with Fabio. Which is pretty much awesome.

We worked a lot of stuff--armbars from about every position imaginable, mount escapes, taking the back from half guard--but the most helpful thing that I am taking away from today's lesson is that I roll so much better when I'm not worrying about how good or bad I am doing. If I just relax and move and focus on what I am doing and stop thinking about what everyone else is thinking, things go so much easier!

Things are coming along. It's slow progress, but steady, I think. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wish I could get one of these!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Last night was a great night on the mat at Fabio's. I didn't do anything amazing, but I had a lot of fun and learned a lot.

I rolled with a purple belt, one who used to be an instructor at Summerlin. He was doing all kinds of crazy gymnastics all over the place. At one point, he was working a submission with his belt. I laughed the whole roll, except when I was trying desperately not to get choked out or folded in half.

I'm trying to just stay relaxed while I roll and just try stuff. I can't tell you how many submissions I tried and had to abort last night because I didn't get them exactly right. But, right now, the movement is really what I'm focusing on. I want to be able to solidly defend myself and get into a dominant position. The submissions kind of show up after that.

My instructors are tweaking my submissions all the time. It amazes me that one tiny detail can mean the difference between a competed choke and a bunch of wasted time and energy. Hopefully one day all those details that I try so hard to remember will come as second nature.

One thing I seem to fail at is triangle escapes. It's really difficult for me to break out once someone has me in one of those. We worked to different escapes last night and, when my partner was really trying to hold the triangle, I couldn't get out. Oh well. Keep working. :)

Also, I am still dropping weight steadily. I'm losing about a pound a week. I'm only 4 pounds away from my goal of 134! I have over a month left, so I am confident that I can get there if I just keep watching what I eat and keep up with my cardio and training.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Advice for First Time Competetors

No, I'm not giving advice. That would be funny. And dumb since I've never gone to a tourney. But here's a blog that has a lot of great advice. Enjoy!

How Fast?

How fast should I be progressing?

When do I not have an excuse anymore for my sloppy guard passes, poor base, non-tight position holds and crappy submission attempts? I've been taking Jiu-jitsu only two months. That's what everyone says. But when will my status as a beginner no longer cover over the fact that I'm not very good.

I'm not good yet. In five or six years, I hope I will be able to say that I am good at Jiu-jitsu. Right now, I feel like I know the very basics and that, in a real street fight, I might be able to defend myself enough to get away. But against other people who know Jiu-jitsu? Even against other white belts who have been taking class about six or seven months or more? They all own me.

Phil, one of my good friends that I practice with all the time, has only been taking class a little longer than Steph and I. Now, granted, he does outweigh me by a lot. Almost 80 lbs. But he is better than me not just because he outweighs me, but because he is picking up the technique faster than me.

I think he is better at just using his whole body on a person. He keeps his weight on them while he's passing from one position to the next. I leave too much space. That's what the higher belts were telling me at yesterdays practice. I leave too much space.

So I need to tighten up. But more than that, I just need to lighten up. I know I am being a perfectionist. I want to be good NOW but getting good takes time. So I need to just relax (how many times have I said that in this blog?) and just try to learn and grow.

On the positive side, I am noticing that my defense is getting better. It pretty much has to since everyone that I roll with at Fabios is better than me. But I desperately need to work on sweeps. I've been saying that for a while and haven't gotten any better at it.

Ok. I just posted this blog and then scrolled down. Two posts ago, I was talking about how I just got a stripe and now I am complaining about not being good enough. One stripe isn't amazing, but it shows I am making progress. So STOP COMPLAINING ALLIE!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Balance is something I always stuggle with. And I'm not just talking about my base.

I was in the hospital yesterday and the day before for an allergic reaction that was so bad my throat and lungs started to close up. But today, instead of relaxing and taking it easy, I went to an afternoon BJJ class. And I intend to go to the evening class tonight.

Why? Because there is something wrong with my brain.I am out of balance.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Nerd alert. I'm really excited. I got my first stripe today in Jiu-jitsu. Steph and Phil also got one. Woohoo! It felt really good. I know one stripe on a white belt doesn't make me epic or anything, but it's nice to know that I am at least making progress. They took some pics in class, but I don't have them yet. Here are a few we took at my house.


Also, I hurt my knee today doing a take down. Obviously that's something I need to work on before NAGA. I'll add it to the list. ;)

Oh, and also, I'm down to 139lbs! Yay! Only 5 more to go before I reach that goal I set. The cool thing is, I haven't been insane about the dieting. I'e been watching what I eat, but I've been a doing a ton of exercise what with all the classes I've been going to and the jogging and strength training. So, even though the weight loss has been going at a glacial pace, I feel like it will be something I can maintain even after NAGA, since I'm not depriving myself of food. Yay!