Thursday, December 30, 2010

Knee on Belly Defense

This week I got hit with some pretty nasty cooties, so I missed out on a lot of class. But today, since I was finally feeling well enough to change out of my pj's, I decided to go in and train once more before the school closed for New Years weekend.

Today, drilling centered around escaping the knee on belly position.

I looked for videos of the escape, but couldn't find any that matched what we learned in class. Basically, when the guy has knee on belly, you swim the foot and grab onto the guy's thigh (so the foot of one leg and the thigh of his other leg).

Then, you are going to block the knee that is on your belly with your hand and hip out the way their knee is pointing. An important detail is that, as you hip out, you don't want their knee to touch the mat. You want to push the knee in between your knees and pinch your knees together, trapping their knee. As you hip out, they will fall on their butt and you can sweep them that way, coming up into side control.

Today was a day of small breakthroughs in grappling. I have been working on taking the back without hipping out, using my legs and hips against my opponents body to kind of shimmy around in a smooth motion, without making space. The movement is really hard to explain. Again, couldn't find a video to help show it.

It's difficult to get that movement right, especially when the person is leaving you very little space. But today, I was finally able to get the movement right, so that my legs and hips gave me the momentum to go up and over. Woohoo!!

Going to Disney for New Years with my family so I will be off grid for a few days. Hope you all have a safe and fun New Years! See you in 2011! :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Donkey Kick Pass

Great, great class tonight! My sister-in-law, Stephanie, got to come back to BJJ after a long hiatus. It was so great to have my training partner back!! Woohoo!

Tonight's focus was on passing butterfly guard. We worked three passes, all having to do with getting in close and locking up your opponents hips, keeping shoulder pressure and passing to one side over one leg.

This is one pass similar to one of the ones we worked tonight:

One main difference between the pass on this video and the one we drilled tonight is that, as you are coming over the leg to complete the pass, Fabio tells us to keep our hips down until we pass the leg and THEN break our hip. So basically, you kind of sprawl on the one leg and walk on your toes over that leg, keeping pressure with your shoulder and head while you pass. After your hip clears their knee, then you break your hip toward their head.

Another pass we drilled that I really liked was the donkey kick pass. This is a similar to the one Fabio taught us tonight:

One main difference between this video and the one Fabio taught is that you isolate one leg, similarly to the first pass, and donkey kick over into full side control, with one knee at the hip and one knee at the shoulder. I love this pass, but one word of caution: When I first learned this pass last year, I hurt my toes coming down one time. So not, I keep my toes pointed, landing flat on the tops of my feet!!

Grappling tonight was great because I was able to go with some younger, smaller people, which gives me a chance to experiment with some of the techniques I am struggling with, like half-guard sweeps and taking the back. Grappling smaller people always makes me have more respect for the bigger guys who grapple me because it is hard to keep tight of small people without using muscle or too much weight.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Details, details...

So, Liam had a great comment on my last blog. He basically was saying that it is good to understand the fundamental concepts and details that go into each move--why they work and how--so that you can build a solid foundation of techniques that you can rely on.

That got me thinking about something one of my instructors, Ben, said to me before I got my blue belt. I was worried that I didn't deserve my blue belt because of precisely the reasons Liam mentioned: I don't have the details right. I either forget them or never noticed them in the first place. Ben made me feel better by explaining that I am not supposed to know them at this point. That's why I'm a blue belt and not a purple belt. lol.

Still, at this stage in my BJJ journey, I am starting to want to refine a lot of the basic things I learned as a beginner. There are still a lot of techniques I haven't even seen yet. But I am wanting to make the ones I do know work better.

Over the last few months, one of the main ones that I have focused on is the triangle. This is one submission that I always was good at catching, but not so good at finishing. The same was true with the armbar from guard. Both really basic techniques, but ones that have little details that, if you don't get them right, make it much more difficult to finish the submission.

Here's where having a great team comes into play. I go to Fabio, ask him what is wrong with my stupid triangle. He tells me. Then I go and try to do what he says on a bunch of the guys. Some of them let me try to finish it. Others escape so fast that I can only dream of what finishing might have felt like. lol. Usually, I have to go back to Fabio at least a couple of times to troubleshoot problems I ran into. Then the trial and error process starts again.

The hard part for me is that sometimes my body doesn't do what I picture in my mind! I know what I need to do, but that is only half the battle. The reason why drilling and practicing the moves in a live grapple is so important is because you also have to teach your body how to move. A lot of the stuff BJJ requires your body to do takes time to master.

For me, getting my hips to move the right way was the key detail I was lacking in finishing the armbar and the triangle. Why has been your Achilles heel, lately?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Half-Guard Escapes

In tournaments, half-guard has always been my nemesis. I have gotten stuck there numerous times. Even when I am grappling at Fabio's, I get stuck when someone pins me tightly. So lately I have been focusing on half guard escapes and have met with some success. We happened to work one escape today, which I really liked.

When you're in bottom half guard, you block the knee that is on the outside with your elbow. You don't have top pull the knee to you (I tried to do that and it doesn't work if the person is bigger than you). You can scoot closer to that knee if you feel like you need to have it tighter to your body. Once that outside knee is blocked, you hook the other leg with your legs, pinch your knees together and bridge over your shoulder towards the other leg (the one that is blocked by your knee). It's kind of like the upa escape from mount, except you have to pinch your knees around their leg as you go over, or else they will just pull it out as you bridge and get to side control.

I don't really have a favorite escape from half guard. Why? Because usually, in a live grapple, the actual escape comes from a combination of escape attempts. Most of the people I grapple with know the same escapes that I know. So, I have to go for one and have another one in mind to jump to if the first one is defended. Very rarely do I actually get a full on sweep. Most of the time, I start to sweep, they post, then I can either return to my guard or come out one side and try to take their back. Fabio mentioned that today. Sometimes the sweep is a distraction. But it only works if you actually go for the sweep and make them react.

The problem for me right now is that I forget so many of the options that I have. I have learned a ton of half guard escapes. But putting them together in a chain during a live grapple--especially one that is intense--is the challenge. For me, experimenting with the different options is key. I find out what I have a better chance of pulling off and what falls flat. Hopefully it will pay off in the next tournament I enter.

This is one I saw randomly. Haven't ever tried it, but I will soon! ;)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Loop Choke

New post on my other blog. Good things, for me. :)

Yesterday in class we worked a choke that you can apply from a whole bunch of different positions. It's really hard to describe, but I'll try. From guard, you grab your opponent's opposite lapel at the collar bone. As they try to pass your guard, you use your other arm with your elbow against the back of their neck and head, feeding that hand underneath your other elbow. As you lift that elbow up, you fall towards the side of the arm that is on the back of the neck. At the same time, you turn the wrist of the hand holding the lapel out. Choking ensues!

[After I posted this, Georgette pointed out that this is called a Loop Choke. Fabio doesn't give names to things. He just calls it another choke.] Here's a video of this choke:

I really like this choke because:
1. It chokes fast. If you put it on right, your opponent should start to go fuzzy almost right away.

2. It is unexpected. They think they are passing and then suddenly they are choking.

3. Even if they roll, you can roll with them. Half of the time, when they rolled, I was still able to finish the choke. But even on the times when I couldn't, I ended up in side control. So, worst case scenario, you go from almost getting your guard passed to being in a dominant position.

Rolling yesterday was good. I tried to do other things besides going inverted, and had mild success. There are two submissions I am really working on right now: triangles from weird positions (like jumping into them from north south or getting reverse triangles) and knee bars. Both are really fumbly right now and I rarely finish either. I've also been hunting omaplatas, which I usually pass up because I have a hard time flattening the other person out. I can't seem to hip out the right way to make them flatten. Grrrr.

Grappled one big blue belt who feels like he is made of bricks. He doesn't muscle me a lot, but when he gets in his base, I seriously feel like I am trying to break down a stone statue. I can't get anything!!

The biggest change in grappling, though, is that I am trying to make myself move the whole time instead of stopping to think. I'm forcing myself to just go on instinct and not worry too much about making mistakes. Trust me, many mistakes are made. But I am learning a lot in the process. And getting a much better work out!

Finishing up some Christmas stuff tonight so I won't be able to go to class and the school will be closed Friday for Christmas Eve. So, I'm going to get in as much good rolling tomorrow afternoon as I can! Merry Christmas to all of you and have safe travels if you will be on the road!

Here's a little something to give you all nightmares for years to come:

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's About Dang Time!

For the first time in a while, I had a great night tonight. Things just...worked. And man, did I need it! A couple of things that I was just having a mental block on finally clicked.

One thing that I did for the first time was the knee on belly spinny thing. It was the same one I injured my finger practicing the other day. Well, my injury paid off! Because I was finally able to do it in a live grapple against a bigger, stronger guy! Woohoo!

The key thing for me with learning how to use knee on belly was making myself posture up. I am so used to being low on my opponent. But with knee on belly, you have to posture up and drive your knee into them. I thought of knee on belly as an unstable position, but I am finally starting to learn how to balance and use it a little bit. Still have a long way to go, obviously.

Other things that finally worked: triangle transition to arm bar when I am being stacked and smashed (I realized I was waiting too long to make the transition and that I wasn't shifting my hips right before), defending my open guard by attacking with a straight arm lock as someone comes around to pass and a reverse triangle/kimura thingy (I don't know if these things actually have names). These things may not sound that complicated, but for some reason it has taken me months to get them to work right.

But I also cheated tonight.

For a while now, I haven't been going inverted at all while I grapple. I have an issue with my neck and going inverted was just making it worse. Well, tonight I did it. I will tell you, it felt great to be able to just react on instinct and not have to stop myself from doing stuff. I was able to just flow again.

I wonder if the reason why a lot of that other stuff worked tonight was because I felt more confident. I wasn't hesitant, like I have been, having to stop and think every few seconds.

The bad news is that my neck is a little stiff. It doesn't hurt. But I am not going to do anymore inverted the rest of the week. I'm restricting myself not only because of my neck, but because I need to develop other ways of doing things.

Fabio was telling me about another black belt friend of his who relies too heavily on inverted guard and how he is getting caught a lot now and is having trouble adjusting. He said inverted guard is great, but just like with everything else, it isn't the a perfect game and it has it's draw backs, which is why I need to make myself learn other things as well.

So, I will be back to trying to integrate all the new strategies Fabio has been teaching me. Tomorrow I will probably be back to feeling like I am not getting anywhere, but tonight proved that those feelings aren't true. There is progress being made, albeit slow. It was just great to feel like things were working for once!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Exercise Balls are Self Aware...and Very Unfriendly!

Since I have missed a lot of class this week due to putting on youth group events, I went out to do some solo barn-jitsu this morning. Captain Fail decided to join me.

I put on some music and was using my exercise ball as a "body" and just moving around on it. I decided to work on some knee on belly transitions. Apparently, my exercise ball was offended by this. I was trying to do that spinny-aroundy thing. You know, the one where they swim the leg that you are posting out with and you turn toward their head. What I am talking about is in this video around the 2:05 mark.

Yeah...I haven't exactly perfected that spinny move yet. And my exercise ball took advantage of that. I spun. It rolled. Balance was lost. Hand was posted. Finger was JAMMED!


This is more what I was going for:

Or this:

But instead, what happened was more like this:

Ok. I didn't get owned as bad as these people did. But my finger still hurts!
Beware the exercise ball! It will fight back when least expect it! ;)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Importance of Instinct

I've been working on trying to make a certain move to escape side control work for a while. It's the running man escape. This is the basic idea. But Fabio teaches a few details differently.

First of all, the main difference between this video and what I am talking about is that I am on my side, kind of in a fetal position, with someone behind me. The other main differences are that, where Saulo leads off the escape with his top leg, Fabio tells us to lead off with the bottom leg, driving your hip far forward and keeping it on the mat. At the same time, you bring your bottom arm up under yourself like, using your elbow and your hip on the mat to prevent your opponent from getting his hook in as you do the escape. With your other arm, you reach around and to block them coming the other way.

I can attest that this escape works. But I have one problem. After I do this escape, I ALWAYS pause. I just stop in a sort of turtle position and the person I am fighting sprawls on top of me or tries to attack my turtle.

Which brings me to my point. I am learning that I can't pause to think about what is next. Sometimes I get so worried that I'll make a wrong move, that I will pause and end up giving my opponent the advantage.

I know most of you have heard this quote, "If you think, you are late; if you are late, you use strength; if you use strength, you tire; if you tire, you die..."

For me, being "late" means I am always on the defense. I need to let go ! Use my instincts more! I tell myself that before I grapple, but then somehow, I go back into the careful mode once I start grappling. Grrr....

Cross Facing

What is your opinion on cross-facing?

Is it a legitimate technique or just a douche move? Is it something that you use in any grapple? Or Is it something you reserve only for tournaments? Or do you swear off cross-facing completely?

Just wondering? :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yeah, I know...

Went to watch the fights tonight. Enjoyed seeing G.S.P. pick Koscheck apart, though I did feel a little bit bad for Koschock with his eye so messed up like it was. I was there with a few BJJ buddies of mine and we were talking about tournaments and one of them asked me why I hadn't been competing lately. I told him that one reason is my neck. It still bothers me and I am having to learn how to grapple differently so that I don't put so much of a strain on it all the time and the learning has been slow. But also, I said I still don't feel like I am ready to fight at blue belt level yet. I wasn't being negative. I was just being honest about how I think I would measure up against other seasoned blue belt girls.

He told me the same thing everyone tells me. I have the wrong attitude. I am putting too much pressure on myself. I need to go out there and have fun.

His comments really bothered me. Not because he was being a jerk--my friend didn't mean anything negative by his comments and he probably had no idea how much they bothered me--but because this is something I have been mulling over for a while.

A lot of people tell me I shouldn't take competitions so seriously. But that is not my personality. To be honest, I wish it was. I envy people who can just go to competitions and have fun. Whether it is BJJ, my job, some random task at home, I have some kind of drive inside of me to want to excel. I don't want to just kind of do good. I want to do the best that I possibly can. And, yes, sometimes that means I put undue pressure on myself, but it also means that I usually accomplish my goals.

In my job, I deal with the same type of thing. I am acutely aware of where I need to improve. I probably focus too much on it. I could do with some mellowing out. But at least that means I am always striving to do better. Could I learn to direct my drive in a more positive way? Absolutely.

But I don't think the solution is for me to force myself to care less.

My husband is my exact opposite. He rarely stresses over things like I do. He's an easy-ghoing guy who laughs off a lot of the things that keep me up at night. But he is also not as easily motivated to go out and achieve his dreams. He envies my drive. I envy his ability to relax. It's why we make a good couple, I think. We balance each other out.

My point is, not caring about whether I win or lose a tournament or not caring about the fact that I am struggling to pick up a certain set of skills is not in my nature anymore that not caring about whether or not I am actually reaching any of the kids in my youth group.

I told my friend that, if I really like something, I usually become very passionate about it. He then said that I take BJJ too seriously, that it's just a hobby. He could be right. Maybe I do take BJJ too seriously. I am not a professional fighter nor do I intend to become one. I don't make any money off of BJJ and I probably never will.

My friend was just trying to encourage me. You know, give me a boost. But it still bothers me when people say I take BJJ too seriously. It makes me feel like I am doing something wrong because I care as much as I do.

If I am honest, it is more than just a hobby. It's not a job, so I can't really justify all the time that I spend on it to anyone. Maybe I let it be too much a part of my life. Maybe when I'm three or four or five years in, I won't be as obsessed as I am now. I doubt it, but we'll see.Truth be told, I think it would be wise for me to cut out one class a week. With the added "classes" in my barn, I am training every day except Wednesday and Saturday.

Either way, I am getting to the point where I want to just tell people that this is how I am and that they can take it or leave it. When I set my sights on something, I am intense. I am driven. I will keep pushing myself because I DO care. Sometimes I will be on cloud 9 and sometimes I will swear to you that I have discovered a new level of fail. Should I be this way? I don't know. But that is how I am.

I dunno. I'm committing the blogging sin of late-night-grumpy-rambling. I promise I am not as much of a jerk as I sound like, right now. I will probably read this in the morning and decide it is too melodramatic and end up taking it down. But I had to get this off my chest. Good night.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm Lucky

I'm lucky to go train BJJ at a gym with an understanding instructor. Most of the time, I am pretty easy to deal with (I think). But there are certain times when I'm not. Very specific certain times.

Boys, you may want to stop reading now. I'm just sayin'...

Anyway, I cried in class on Tuesday. I was crying because I was frustrated with my inability to do anything remotely correctly. I was just getting flat-out owned. After three grapples, I was almost in tears. By the time I got to the wall, the almost disappeared and the guys had a full fledged crying mess on their hands. I tried to keep it quiet, putting my head down on my arms. But everyone knew I was crying.


What is funny is that I also got owned the night before and it didn't bother me at all. In fact, I was laughing while one of my grappling partners knee-barred me for the umpteenth time in a row. So why couldn't I keep it together on Tuesday?

Come on, do I really have to say it? Aunt Flow came to visit. Or, her visit was pending, I should say. Whatever. I was an emotional basket case.

The hard part is that, I knew rationally that I was crying for no reason. I knew that I was only crying because of Aunt Flow. But even knowing that, I still couldn't stop.

Fabio came over and sat down and asked me what was wrong. I told him I was just being stupid and that I was frustrated. He encouraged me. I went home. The whole thing was really embarrassing. I mean, come on. Crying?!?! There's no crying in Jiu-jitsu!

I hate it when my emotions get away from me like that. I feel like I'm "that girl", you know? The wimpy girl who cries when she gets frustrated. I don't want to be annoying or make everyone feel uncomfortable because I can't handle a couple of crappy grapples. I was even considering not coming to class on those days when I know I am an unstable time bomb waiting to burst into a weepy puddle of fail.

When I came into class today, I decided I was going to try to explain myself to Fabio. But before I could even really begin to explain, he stopped me. He told me he already knew. He has a wife and a mother. It's no secret to him how women get when Aunt Flow comes around. He said it was good for me to be in class and learn to keep going, keep fighting through my emotions and frustrations. It would make me stronger. He said it didn't bother him because he understands that it's just one of those things that happens.

I breathed a sigh of relief and had a great day of class. Just knowing that my instructor understands and doesn't hate me and my teary face makes me feel free to learn to deal with those emotions without the added pressure of worrying that I'm a burden.

I DO want to be able to handle my emotions without crying. Maybe I can just count to ten. Or maybe I can turn my tears into rage juice and own anything that touches me. Ok, that last one is unlikely. But, hey, I'll give it my best go.

I know you don't read my blog, Fabio. But thanks anyway for being awesome.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Boxers vs. Lone Grappler

Due to the insanely cold weather (30 degrees! When you live in Florida, that's pretty much the equivalent of -30 degrees) our younger barnjitsukas did not attend class. Those of us who are really hard core (a.k.a. stupid) put on sweatshirts under our gis and headed out to the barn. Since it was old people's night, we decided to do something a little out of the ordinary...

Boxer(s) vs. Grappler!!!

This was one of my favorite things that we used to do at Summerlin. I know very little when it comes to striking, but it's still fun. My friend Phil wanted to practice defending strikes and so he had us gals take turns trying to punch him. We did some stand up and some with us punching him on the ground. No takedowns because our mats suck and we are sissies.

We were really just messing around most of the time, but it got intense for short spurts. Here are some pictures from the night!

The Weigh In: (Ok. There wasn't an actual scale there. And we didn't really have weight classes. We just wanted to do the whole staring each other down thing).

Phil and Steph
Kara and Steph
Me and Steph

Some Fighting: (My phone camera really sucks. Sorry.)

Us Being...Us:
This is me freezing.
These are my friends riding the short bus.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fun For Everyone?

One of the purple belts at my school, Yeti, likes to use me as a test dummy. I am small(ish) and a baby blue belt, which means that if he is really trying, there's not much I can do to resist. When I say that he uses me as a test dummy, I don't want you to get the wrong impression. He never hurts me. But I have to laugh at myself when he pulls off some sort of crazy sweep to a triangle and then says, "Wasn't that cool? I just saw that on Youtube and wanted to try it."

LOL! Glad to be of service!

And really, I am glad. Because it is a cool sweep to triangle. And while I have no idea how to do it myself, I have no doubt Yeti would help me learn it if I asked. I didn't ask because at the moment I have smaller fish to fry.

One benefit, though, is that now I at least know that sweep to submission exists. Now I can start learning how to defend it. Plus, it was kind of a fun, flippy sweep. Kinda' like when your dad used to flip you up in the air and catch you. Except when you get caught, you get choked. lol

As humbling as it may be to know that Yeti can watch something on youtube and come in and pull it off on me, it's useful for my him to try things on me because he is learning and I am learning at the same time. Fun for everyone.

But what if it's not so fun for everyone?

This past week, I had a private lesson with Fabio. It was fantastic, as always. The major focus was learning how to replace inverted guard with other attacks, sweeps or taking the back. Learned a LOT. More on that in another post. I was eager to try out some of these things.

Fabio had the same idea in mind, so he put me with one of the girls in class twice. The first time was a normal roll. I did what I normally do; grappled enough to keep her moving, catching submissions but letting her work out of them. Then the second time Fabio put me with her, he told her she was only allowed to pass my guard. If she passed, she had to go back and start again. He told us my assignment was to do all the things I had learned.

I did. And it was great practice. But the only thing was that my partner looked really frustrated about mid way through. I was tempted to stop the drill and let her pass and work like before. But I didn't. I kept on trying out my shiny, new techniques. I never hurt her or even finished any submissions. But I think she was frustrated because she spent the entire five minutes getting pulled and pushed and squashed and swept. Hey, I'm not a purple belt. I can't pull these things off as smoothly as Yeti! lol At the end, I felt a little selfish. But at the same time I learned a lot from my clumsy trials and errors in the roll.

Here's the thing. There are only a few people who are A) small enough and B) new enough for me to try out new techniques on with any success. All of them are either girls or teenage boys. Most frequently, I roll with the girls. With some of them, I don't have that same experimental rolling relationship that me and my purple belt friend have. They don't enjoy being test dummies.

So my question is, should I still test? I want to be a good friend and training partner. But I also want to be able to try things out.

I can always try them out of people who are at my level. But to test these things out, I need to be able to practice it without a ton of resistance. Kind of like drilling, you know? And, well, people at my level or higher resist!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Body Surfing

Last night, I grappled a guy named Derrick. He is one of the senior blue belts at our school and one of the most flow-y, talented grapplers I know. He moves a lot and I am always exhausted after grappling him, but in a good way.

When we were grappling, he kept sweeping me. Sweep. Sweep. Sweep. Most of the time, the sweeps came as I was trying to pass his guard and come into side control, or when I was in half guard. After the roll was over, he pointed out some of the mistakes I was making.

He said I get myself into a tight little ball, for one thing. I do tend to do that. When I am on the bottom, it works out because my arms and legs make a nice frame to keep space. But when I am on the top, i make myself easier to sweep. He told me that, when I feel like I am being swept, I need to make myself as big as possible.

I am like this:

I need to be like this:

He said also that I was using my shoulder to pin him at the neck, instead of just using my shoulder to block him from turning into me. The result was, I was gripping onto him and making it easier for him to take me over.

What I need to do instead is be more mobile. Me? Need to be more mobile? Big shocker I guess what I have been doing is, when I am grappling bigger guys, once I get into a good position, I want to hold onto it. But getting rigid and gripping them actually works against me.

Derrick said that, because I am small, I need to be able to surf on top of my opponent.

I need to feel what they're doing and adapt, move my hips, adjust my balance, shift my weight. The way for me to keep a position is not to pin someone down, it is to be mobile. When they move, I have to adjust. Otherwise, I'm like a big weight on top of a lever. If I don't move, he will get leverage on me and I will go over.

Monday, November 29, 2010

If You Have Kids Who Believe In Santa...

...then they will love this.

A friend of mine made a video message "from Santa" to her daughter and she told me her daughter loved it. I made one for Noah too and he absolutely flipped out. He said, "Mommy! Santa actually knows me! He really knows me!"

If you have kids who believe in Santa, this is a really cute little way to make Christmas a bit more special for them!

Can't wait to get back into class tonight. Feeling like a tub of whale lard. Haven't grappled since last Wednesday! My neck is all stiff and achy. I have found that it hurts a lot worse when I am NOT grappling as opposed to when I am. Guess everything is more stretched out when I'm consistently grappling.

This is a snap shot from my Thanksgiving. That is my husband with his back to the camera, dueling his Mom on Toy Story 3 on the Wii, with his older brother and the kids jumping in front of him trying to make him lose. Don't ask me why my brother in law is wearing sunglasses indoors, at night. My husband was very upset that he lost that round. This just supports my theory that boys never grow up. They just get bigger and fart louder (and smellier).

This week, my main focus is still on hip movement from the bottom. I need to be on the move more, since I can't go inverted; take the back, sweep, return to guard. Attack, attack, attack! Being out of class has given me some time to peruse the internet and find some nasty little treats I can't wait to try out in class. Hopefully at I'll be able to at least mimic them! ;)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Getting Girls to Engage

How do you get girls to engage? No, I am not talking about getting girls to get engaged. I am talking about getting girls to engage in grappling.

We've had good luck getting girls out to the barn and, even better, getting them to keep coming back. But I am finding that it is difficult to get some of them to want to grapple. I've also found the same is true for some of the younger boys we have coming out to the barn.

They sit down on the mat and stare at their opponents, clearly terrified. When they do engage, they are tentative and deferring, not resiting when they are swept and just laying there when someone is in mount or side control. It takes every ounce of self control I have not to start "coaching" them from the sidelines. Usually, they only want to do one or two grapples each class.

I can remember feeling like that when I first started. My first grapple, the teenage guy across from me said, "Attack me." I just stared at him. He was like, "Come on. Attack me. Get into a dominant position." I remember thinking, What the heck is a dominant position?!?!? But it didn't take long for my competitive nature to take over. I was spazzing like a champ in no time. I couldn't get enough grappling.

Some of these girls are different. If they didn't keep coming to class, I would think they didn't like grappling. I never push them to grapple. But I would like to figure out some ways to encourage them to be more aggressive. I know everyone has different personalities. And I have no problem if they want to take things slow. But should I be challenging them more? Or is this one of those things that just takes time?

I know part of it is that they know very few things at this point. All we have taught them so far is what the basic positions are, one main guard pass, the rear naked choke, an armbar from mount and the americana.

That's another thing. I am so tempted to overload them with techniques every class. I think to myself. Oh, we really need to teach them the basics of side control. But wait! They don't know anything about taking the back! And then there's guard. We haven't gone over anything from guard! AHHHH!

For me, training has been going...Ok. I am still not allowed to go inverted because of my neck. And I am still not adapting well to doing other things. I see some glimmers of progress. A random sweep here. A break down of posture there. But it is really slow going and I find myself cheating sometimes and going inverted. Then Fabio gets onto me. "Porra, Allison, I saw you go upside down like five times that round. You need to stop." lol

I noticed the other day that I am starting to pick up some Portuguese. There are a few people at our school who are Brazilian and Fabio talks to them in Portuguese. I was grappling one of those guys and he went for a gi choke on me. I heard him talking behind me in Portuguese and I can't tell you now what he said, but I immediately said, "No, it's ok if he chokes me. That doesn't hurt my neck." Both Fabio and the other guy looked at me. I shrugged. Fabio sighed and said, "You need to be careful. No chokes for now. We'll see how it goes later." lol! Ok, so maybe I'm not actually picking up Portuguese, but I can at least tell what they're talking about sometimes!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Instant Turn Off

Despite the upcoming holidays, I'm in a bad mood today. This post is going to be crabby. Sorry. Just need to get something off my chest.

There are few things that instantly repel me more than arrogance. I know we all say dumb stuff sometimes, but I really dislike it when I hear people talk about how they want to fight people. I'm not talking about fighting people in the ring, in an organized competition. I'm referring to guys who talk about how they want to beat some guy up because they talked crap or because they looked at them wrong or whatever. Some guys seem to be looking for offense just so they can have a reason to get into a fight.

Example: Koschek on this season of Ultimate Fighter. I know that he's probably hamming it up for TV or whatever. But he isn't making himself look awesome. He's making himself look like an idiot.

It's even more annoying when I see this kind of attitude in young guys who sometimes come through the gym. You know, the ones who know a little bit; just enough to get themselves into some real trouble. They're still newbs (like me lol) but they don't realize they're still newbs.

So, macho guys, let me tell you how girls view your I'm-going-to-pulverize-anyone-who-looks-at-me-wrong attitude. We are not impressed. We think you're meat heads who don't have enough intelligence to solve problems with words. You're not as awesome as you think you are. Grow up and learn how to act like adults.

Now I am going to grow drink my coffee and transform back into a non-rabid human being.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another One Hooked

Last night, we had six girls and Phil (the lone ranger--lol) at my barn doing Jiu-jitsu. Three of them had never done jiu-jitsu before. We would have had three other boys, but one couldn't get gas money and the other two didn't do their chores and weren't allowed to come! (This made me laugh because I am an evil youth pastor).

This is us attempting to be scary. I generally fail at intimidating expressions.

One of the girls who came last night one that I have been trying to get into jiu-jitsu for about six months. I tried everything. Begging. Bribing. Sweet talking. Nothing worked. She said she didn't like closed spaces. I let it go for a while, but when she recently moved in with my husband and I due to some circumstances going on, I picked up my jiu-jitsu nagging right where I left off. I was convinced that if she tried it just once, she would be hooked. Finally, after questioning her further, I found out the real reason why she didn't want to try it.

She had a stepbrother (who I also know) who had trained jiu-jitsu for a couple years. Being an older brother, he frequently tortured her with what he learned. Didn't hurt her, but wrapped her up like a pretzel and kind of bullied her. This kid is well over 200lbs, and the girl is about my height, so she felt helpless and it really bothered her.

When we started doing jiu-jitsu out in the barn, I told her she could come and watch if she wanted, no pressure to practice. I told her if she wanted to try some moves, she could do them with me only if that would make her feel better. So, she came out.

We were waiting for the rest of the group to get there and she asked me if I could show her how to get out of something that her boyfriend does to her that really makes her mad. I said I would try. She told me he gets down (he was in her guard, but she didn't know what guard was) and would pin her arms down and then tickle her. She said he was too strong for her to get off. I have had people do that to me in class on MANY occasions, so I knew several techniques to show her, which I promptly did.

After the very first technique I showed her, she said, "Ok, Allie. I will be doing Jiu-jitsu with you from now on."

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeees!! I knew she would love it! She stayed for the rest of the "class" (I don't know what else to call it) and talked about Jiu-jitsu all night. It was so funny because, afterwards, she came up to me and said, "I don't want to bother you, but do you think I could come out here and learn more than just two days a week?"

Clearly she fails to realize how obsessed I am with Jiu-jitsu. I said absolutely. It would be great practice for me to go through all the basic positions and submissions again. You can never practice those enough.

The other two new girls are hooked too. We started warming up at around 5:30 and the last few stragglers didn't leave until almost 10 at night. It just brings me so much joy to see these girls light up as they realize that they CAN do jiu-jitsu and that it DOES work.

Can't wait for next class on Sunday. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Triangle Escapes

I needed last night's technique. When I get submitted, it is usually by triangle. So, when Fabio said we were going over triangle escapes, I was really happy. I forget so many of the little details that make triangle escapes work. This time, I am writing them down step-by-step so I can reference them! By the way, I am making up all these names for these escapes. I don't know if they have other names.

Escape One: Stack and Block.

- When the person goes for the triangle, immediately look up and brace the elbow of your trapped arm on their pelvic bone, at their hip/led socket. Wrap your other arm around your own arm for more support.
- Stack toward their head, bringing your back knee up behind their butt and hip to block their hip movement.
- At the same time, swim their head with your free arm. A variation is using the bone in your forearm across their jaw or neck. But that's not as nice. :)
- Break your hip towards their head, always keeping your hips lower than your head as your hips come around.
- You should break free.

Escape Two: The Reach Around
- Begins the same as the first one. Look up. Brace your elbow. Support with your other arm.
- Instead of stacking, bring your free arm around to their opposite hip, breaking your hip toward their head at the same time.
- When I practiced this one, I found that the more I hugged the person's leg with my head, looking up at the same time, the easier my head and arm came free.
- This one was the hardest for me to do against a resisting partner.

Escape Three: Pressure Break
- If the person pulls your arm across their body, don't fight them trying to pull back. Go with them to that side, locking your arms in a gable grip and bracing on the ground. Always look up.
- This will put their bottom leg flat on the ground with their other hip facing up.
- Put your far hip right on top of theirs and drop your hip into them.
- Their legs will open.
- If they don't go after your arm trying to armbar it, come around the back and establish side control.
- If you think they will go for your arm, slide their top leg off your neck when their triangle breaks and slide your hips over both legs, rotating around to the front while keeping pressure on their hips.
- As you rotate around the front, swim their head.
- Your arm will be out of danger then.

Rolling went a lot better tonight. I am starting to see slow progress in adapting to not being able to go inverted.

Went with Rhino, a big, strong blue belt guy who is really technical. He is one of the biggest guys in the gym, but he never crushes me when we grapple. A few times, when he was sweeping me or something, I noticed him being careful not to roll on my spindly little limbs. He somehow manages to look out for me while he is grappling the crap out of me.

I did laugh at one point though because I tried this guard pass where I bring both legs together with my arms, shove them down to one side, break my hip around and then basically push the person's upper body flat with my hip as I come up. Usually, it works. When my hip hit his torso it was like slamming my butt into a brick wall. He was sitting almost upright. My "hip pressure" did nothing. I started laughing and he just kind of smiled and shrugged his shoulders. He's a good guy to practice things with because, if a technique works on Rhino, it will most certainly work on a smaller guy. If it doesn't...well, it probably needs some tweaking. ;)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dealing With Perfectionism

I hit the wall this week. Had a crying spell in class, which is always embarrassing. None of the guys cry. lol. Had a talk with Ben, a brown belt at our school who used to be one of my instructors at Summerlin. Without even realizing that what he was saying was having an impact, he straightened me out.

But I wish I didn't need straightening out so often.

Practicing Jiu-jitsu is like standing in front of a mirror that shows you every strength and weakness of your character. Take me for example. Jiu-jitsu has taught me that one of my strengths is determination. When I see a challenge, I want to get through it no matter how hard it is or how long it takes. But, on the other hand, Jiu-jitsu has shown me that I am a perfectionist and that sometimes I am the one putting unnecessary challenges in my own path.

I did a brief google search and found this Check List for parents to see if their kids struggle with perfectionism in sports:

Here are the top eight signs of perfectionists. They:
1. Generally perform better in practice than game situations.
2. Want to excel badly, which makes them anxious and afraid of failing.
3. Are afraid of making mistakes.
4. Worry too much about what other people think about them.
5. Try too hard to ensure their performance is “perfect.”
6. View performance as either good or bad, with no middle ground.
7. Harbor unrealistic or very strict expectations about their performance.
8. Are fearful of letting others down if they make mistakes.

I can check off every single one of those items. The question I have is, should I try to change this aspect of my personality and is that even possible? I think it is ironic that I feel like I have to "fix" this part of me, since that feeling is very possibly related to this whole perfectionist thing in the first place! LOL

The negative aspects of being a perfectionist affect more than just my Jiu-jistu performance. I psych myself out in a lot of things. At my job, in relationships, with my body image, on big projects that I undertake. A lot of people might be tempted to say, "Just relax. Don't put so much pressure on yourself." But that's kind of like telling my dog, "Don't chase that squirrel." Anyone who has the same personality as me will know that it is not that easy. You can't just flip a switch and stop thinking this way.

Like everything else, it takes time.

Here is where being a Youth Minister comes in handy. I know how to change destructive habits. I TEACH on how to change destructive habits. lol It is a process that happens step by step and begins with identifying and getting to the root of harmful attitudes.

For example, I know that I shouldn't go to extremes when trying to change my perfectionist habit. Being a perfectionist isn't all horrible. For one thing, my personality drives me to succeed. That's not a bad thing. Also, my personality drives me to not only succeed, but to do things well. Also not a bad thing. Perfectionism becomes only a problem when I take it to extremes and put unrealistic expectations on myself.

So what can I do? To answer that question, I thought about what I would say to one of my youth struggling with this same thing. Here is what I came up with:

1. Realize that your performance doesn't determine your worth. My family and friends are not going to love me any more or less because I win every tournament I enter. They will be happy for me and maybe they will admire it. But my worth to them does not rest in what I do, but who I am.

2. Accept that you are imperfect. This may seem like a no-brainer, but for me it is a big deal. Logically, I know I am not perfect. But then why do I set expectations as if I should be? I have to understand that I am not perfect and that this is OK! That doesn't mean that I don't try to improve. It just means that I accept the fact that I have strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else and that this is ok.

3. Set realistic goals. Self-explanatory.

4. Make your own decisions. Part of being a perfectionist is wanting badly to please others. For me, this translates to anxiety over how other people perceive my performance. In Jiu-jitsu, I am constantly looking for re-affirmation from my coaches and friends. I ask for lots of advice. I worry about whether or not they are upset or disappointed in me. In this case, what I would tell my youth is that they need to decide what their own goals are, not look to everyone else to make those decisions for them. And then they need to be able to stand on their own convictions and not be slaves to what everyone else thinks about them. Simple, right? In theory yes. In practice? Heck no.

5. View mistakes in a positive light, instead of tearing yourself apart. There is a difference between making a mistake and being a jerk. If I am a jerk and I punch someone in the face, then I should feel guilty about it. If I make a mistake and i don't execute a sweep correctly, I didn't do anything morally wrong. I just have things to improve on with that sweep. I think people who struggle with perfectionism connect their success to their worth in character. This is not healthy. Having good character does not mean you don't make mistakes. Having good character means that you do your best and admit when you make mistakes.

In jiu-jitsu, I have been learning to let my mistakes be more like mini-lessons. I pick one from each class, for example, a failed sweep, and try to figure out why it didn't work. I refuse to beat myself up about it but instead turn my attention to figuring out what I can do next time to make the sweep work.

6. Don't back down from challenges. Perfectionists like to hide from major challenges because we fear failing. That is why, in my opinion, it is so important to meet those challenges head on. The reason is, you will fail sometimes and then you will realize that failure is not the end of the world! :)

Anyways, that is my long-winded, pep talk for myself. I go around and around with this, but over the last year and a half, I have seen a lot of improvement in changing my self-destructive attitude. The reason why I know I am getting better at it is that, even though I still struggle with it, I don't beat myself up. It took me 28 years to get this way. It will take me a while to learn to handle stress in a more healthy way.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hip Movement -- I Have To Commit!

I've been trying to get more hip movement going when I am on the bottom. So...I guess I could rephrase that as: I am trying to get more hip movement when I grapple. :) The main thing I struggle with is getting stuck half way through a move. Someone starts to pass or move, I hip the way I am supposed to go in order to either take their back or get a sweep, and then...nothing. I get stuck. And passed.

But I think I am beginning to see where my problem is.

We worked takedowns the other day (I am not switching topics. This applies the above quandary)and, at first, I had the same problems I always have. I was too tentative. But this time, I was actually getting to spar against a girl my size instead of a giant man beast. So, my confidence grew. I started committing when I shot in and had a lot more success.

Later, after class, I was complaining to Fabio about how frustrated I was because of something I MUST be doing wrong with my hipping. I was not getting sweeps. I was not taking the back. At best, I was able to defend my guard.

He said he did notice one thing I was doing at one particular point. I was trying to take this guy's back and I hipped out...but not enough. He said I hipped out once, a little bit, then tried to go. It didn't work. He said I needed to commit and really hip out.

I wasn't committing. It was the same problem I have when I do take downs. I do the technique a little bit. But a little bit isn't going to get the job done. I have to really go for it.

Which means I have to abandon my guard. Ooooooh....No me gusta.

You guys know about my love affair with guard. I can't seem to get myself to let go of it. Or, er, of the person inside of it. But I have to if I want to be successful! If I am going to sweep, I need to commit to the sweep, not kind of try the sweep while I'm still trying to keep guard at the same time. That doesn't work!

I just have to take the risks. Sure, sometimes it STILL won't work. And then I'll be stuck in some yucky bad place that I have to squirm out of. But it sure as heck isn't going to work if I don't commit to it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Teaching Noah

A few friends of mine came over to the barn tonight to grapple and Noah, my son, was begging to come out with us. I decided to give it a shot. We did some basic warm-ups, drilled and arm-bar from mount and Noah "grappled" with me and with my friend Phil. In all, he was out there for about thirty minutes.

He absolutely LOVED it.

I will say, though, it is hard to explain how to do BJJ moves to a five year old. We had to get really creative. Like, when we were trying to teach him how to hip out, I had to make him pretend like something was chasing him at his feet in order for him to learn to use his feet to push his body backwards. He never quite got the real motion of the hip out in drilling, but he did do it randomly when he was grappling with me.

It was really fun. And hilarious. I have a video of Phil trying to teach Noah how to do jumping jacks. Pretty much the entire class went like this. It was awesome. And yes, he is wearing a ninja costume with a whitebelt on it. He doesn't have a gi, but he really wanted to wear something "like mommy's". This was the closest thing we had. lol

He did end up getting it eventually. And he was so excited. It made me happy. :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

How Do You Measure Success?

Tonight was a small class, so I ended up rolling with some people I don't normally grapple. One is a white belt guy who has been grappling about a year and is very strong. The whole grapple, I had to fight to keep myself calm. I kept trying to pass his open guard, but he kept doing sipder guard and yanking my arms a lot. He was pulling on my sleeves so much that I spent literally the last minute and half of the grapple with my gi top up over my head.

I would try one pass, break his grips, start to pass, get muscled around, sit back in my base, come to the other side, start passing that way, get yanked around, sit back in my base. Rinse, wash, repeat. Much of the time with my gi over my head. I started to get claustrophobic at one point and had to silently tell myself, "You can still breathe. You're fine. It's nothing. Keep going."

I passed only twice in five minutes and did not retain mount or side control for very long before he heaved me off and I would have to perform evasive maneuvers to keep from getting squashed. The whole grapple, I only went for a couple of submissions, and mostly they were threats in order to distract him from flinging me around more than solid attempts.

Afterwards, I felt like I hadn't done well. I felt like I should have been able to pass more and maintain the few dominant positions I had gotten to. I asked Fabio after class if he had seen that roll. He nodded. He told me I did good. I asked him another question, telling him that I had felt frustrated and he said, "Porra, Allison, I am telling you that you did good."

So I dropped it. And thought about it.

Some of you guys on here talk about how sometimes victory is not in submitting someone or dominating someone, but in surviving. I think I am finally starting to believe that. I am a small(ish) girl. That guy is bigger and stronger. When I started BJJ, he would have trounced me like a bug. Last night, he couldn't trounce me. He couldn't submit me. He couldn't get into a dominant position on me. And I was on offense, albeit a lame offense.

To me, that if progress. It's not mind boggling, genius level progress. It's more like short bus progress. But I'll take it.

I think I have to learn to notice the small steps forward, and not set my sights on perfection. I could get down on myself and lament over the fact that I didn't dominate that guy like I wanted to. But instead, I am trying to accept the fact that, with guys like that, it is a victory if I don't spend the whole five minutes eating mat.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cutting Weight -- Is It Safe?

Once, a friend of mine was cutting weight for a competition he planned to be in. He had to drop a lot of weight and ended up cutting 28lbs in two weeks, then 12 more two days before he was supposed to fight. Unfortunately, my friend couldn't get rid of the last pound. And, he got sick in the process. By the end, he was actually spitting blood.

He has cut weight before successfully. A lot of weight, like this. And was able to rehydrate before his fights and do perfectly fine. This was the first time I know of that things didn't go as planned.

But it all worries me. And it got me thinking: When does cutting weight become dangerous and how can you do it safely? Or better yet, should you do it at all?

Here's my personal (uneducated, largely inexperienced) opinion. I have only cut weight once and it was a minor amount. Only six pounds. I did it over the months leading up to the tournament and ended up staying at that weight ever since. But now, I have decided to just fight in the weight class where I actually am.

My reasoning is as follows:

1) Cutting weight is no fun. I like to eat.
2) I know that cutting too much weight weakens you. I like being strong.
3) Cutting weight is no fun. I like to eat. Did I already say that?
4) I think it is more fair if you fight at the weight that you actually are, instead of cutting weight for a tournament and then re-hydrating the night before the fight and coming into the actual fight several pounds heavier than you were at the weigh in.

I do have a couple of exceptions to my "no cutting" policy. If I am one or two pounds above the next weight class, I will drop down. One or two pounds is no big deal to lose in a healthy way. But much more than that, and I don't really like it.

What are your thoughts? Do you cut? What are the advantages and disadvantages? When does it become dangerous?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Submitting Whitebelts

I wasn't planning on doing another post today, but I just read an excellent post by Georgette about the struggle she has--and that I think a lot of us have--about whether or not we should use our training time with whitebelts to work things we can't work with more experienced people.

I am no authority on the issue. I have the same back-and-forth conversation going on inside my head when I grapple newer whitebelts. Should I catch that submission or let them work? Should I sweep or let them pass? Recently, though, I had an experience that has changed the way I think about training with whitebelts.

I have a female, whitebelt friend of mine who trains at the gym. She's doing really well, growing by leaps and bounds. But from the moment she started, I struggled with the idea of submitting her. It was not just her, I struggled with the idea of submitting any of the white belt girls that come to the gym.

She and I talked and she said that she wanted me to go for things on her so that she could grow. Ok, I thought. I'll go for some more things. But I kind of didn't. I still felt guilty, like I was taking advantage of her by going for things. I moved a lot more and got more dominant positions, but I still didn't submit her very much.

Then, we recently went to a tournament. Her boyfriend, who also trains, was talking to her before her match and he said something that really took me aback. He said, "Remember, these girls aren't Allie." I wasn't sure exactly how he meant it, but I think he meant something to the effect of, "Remember, these girls aren't going to be nice to you like Allie is."

This girl fought and she did really well. But the girl she went up against was a very aggressive attacker. As soon as my friend escaped a submission, the girl would go for the same submission again, keeping my friend on constant defense. My friend never got submitted and never gave up any positions, but the other girl won by advantage.

The thing is, the submission the other girl kept going for is one that I know and use on other people. I just never used it on my friend.

When we got back to training after the tournament, my friend asked me to start submitting her more. She said she needed to learn how to escape things. I felt horrible because, this whole time, I was kind of doing her a disservice by not catching submissions on her. This is something Fabio warned me about. Her boyfriend warned me about it too. I just didn't listen. She could have learned to work out of that submission that she was faced with in the tournament, but because I held back, she had never seen it before.

Now, I know that this isn't the kind of story that applies to everyone. My friend has an excellent attitude. She know that if she wants to grow, she needs people to attack her. Some people don't have that attitude.

Also, I know that no matter what, there are always going to be submissions that she could have been caught with that she had never seen before. She fought well, but sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. That's how it is. I know. It just bothered me because I love that submission and haven't done it on purpose because I didn't want to be a jerk. And now I managed to be a jerk anyway. lol

Anyway, moral of the story for me is that I am going to go for more submissions on white belts. I'm not necessarily going to finish them and I certainly won't be a jerk and crank anything. Bu I am going to at least catch them, though, and make them work out of it. Same thing with sweeps. That is what the higher belts do for me.

Thoughts from Last Week

My life has been stuck on full throttle for the last week, so I neglected to post here. Since I know all three of you that read this blog are just dying to hear what I've been up to (Hey! I can see you smirking at me! Stop it!) I've come up with my Top 5 Jits Thoughts for the Week!

1. The Gym Feels Like My Home Away From Home-- With everything else crazy going on in my life, Fabio's is the one place where I feel like I can go and just completely relax. Well, relax in the I'm-fighting-not-to-get-choked-out sort of way. What I love about being there is that everyone who is there is there to have fun. We can just relax, grapple and laugh. Priceless!

2. Home Away From Home At My Home?-- We "christened" the mats in my barn by rolling on them for the first time last week. It was awesome. Me, Stephanie, Phil and his girlfriend Kara, who has been training for a few months now, all grappled. We even went through a mock technique lesson just to get used to teaching. We haven't brought in the newbies yet. We are working on a waiver and trying to work out some insurance issues too. But we think by next week we should be starting with the kids. I'm excited, but still nervous. Also, a guy who had a wrestling school in the same shopping complex as one of my fellow youth pastors is closing his doors and selling his mats. I might get to buy real mats!! We'll see, though.

3. Side to Side Guard-- I went to open mat on Saturday and rolled with PP, a purple belt at our school, who told me that my guard needs some work. I am doing too much back and forth movement and not enough side to side hip movement. If I get more side to side going, I will get a lot more sweeps and will be able to take the back easier. That is my focus for this upcoming week: side to side hipping in guard!!

4. My son who is 5 asked me this week when he was going to be allowed to start training "wa-jit-su". This is not the first time he has asked. A few weeks ago, we asked him what sport he wanted to play this year: football, soccer, basketball? He said "wa-jit-su". I'm kind of torn on the issue for several reasons. Might do a post on that later.

5. I got my MRI for my neck on Tuesday and am STILL waiting to find out the results. Grrrr. Patience is not my forte. I am wanting so bad to be able to roll like normal again. I know, I know...I need to be careful and wait it out. BOOOOO! :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pouco Casa de Dor para Iniciantes.

Maybe the title of this post should be "Newbie's Pouco Casa de Dor". My Portuguese sucks. Mainly because I don't speak it. :) But the sentiment is there: Newbie's Little House of Pain.

So, now that the barn is actually starting to look a little bit like a gym, a few of my youth who have never done jiu-jitsu before want to come learn at my house. These particular kids don't come from well off families and can't afford to go to Fabio's. There are also a few youth who used to go to Summerlin but don't have regular transportation to Fabio's and so have quit bjj since Summerlin closed down. They want to come too.

At first, when Phil, Stephanie and I talked about it, I was concerned because I feel that I am still a beginner and not really fit to be teaching. Phil had more confidence in us and said he thought we would do fine teaching the basics.

I think we could teach basic positions and submissions. But my worry is that, since I still get details wrong on some basic moves, I would be worried that I would either leave out important details or teach bad habits. Also, there are a LOT of things I have never even seen before at this point. I have a feeling my answers to a lot of these kids questions would be, "Uhhh...I'm not sure...maybe try this?"

I went to both Fabio and Ben and asked them about it and to my utter shock they were completely supportive of us teaching these kids. In fact, they said it would be good for us and would sharpen our own grappling skills, because it would force us to learn the details better in order to teach them.

Even typing this makes me nervous. To be honest, I don't want to be responsible for teaching the foundational techniques to these kids yet. I would be much happier if I could convince one of the higher belts at the school to come and teach. They would have to teach for free because of the situation--I would be able to pay them a little bit but the kids wouldn't.

I don't know. It's not like we'll be trying to teach flying armbars or anything. If we do teach, we'll start with just positions and control and a few basic submissions. I just don't want to teach them the wrong things....

Monday, October 25, 2010

Barn Renovations: Phase Two

We have finished most of the preliminary cleaning of the barn, though it is nearly impossible to keep it clean until we weather proof it. Because our funds are extremely finite, we opted to go with the cheapest type of mats we could find. They're 2x2 connector floor mats. I've rolled on them before at another school. They're not the most pleasant mats I've ever grappled on. Hard, with the concrete floor. But when we wear gis it's not that bad. When we put them all together, it looked pretty darn good.

The plan is to use these during the winter and save up for real mats. Several of my youth from church are wanting to come over to the house and grapple. I figure some hard floors will convince them to contribute money to the cause if they want to grapple in more comfort.

Also, we started padding up potential hazards, like beams and sharp corners. Our "padding" is pretty ghetto. Just some foam sleeping mats that we wrapped around the pole three times. We tested them out with our own bodies. They work. lol

Our ghetto safety padding, complete with duct tape.

Stephanie working her inverted flexibility.

Another issue we've run into is that the siding on the barn is pretty flimsy. So we're having to create barriers where the mat is near the wall so people don't roll out into the yard.

The next step is to continue to get rid of all the safety hazards, work out some inexpensive ways to weather proof the bard and install some fans that we can mount on the over-head beams.

Long term, we'll do insulation, dry wall and air conditioning. The big price tag is connected to the air conditioning. And I don't want to close up the barn until we can do that because I'm worried it would get moldy inside with all that fantastic Florida humidity. We'll see. I'm going to ask a friend of mine who is a contractor to come out and tell me what it would cost me to make the place livable.

But at least the barn is functional now. Tomorrow we're going to hang a punching bag, put in an elliptical machine, a treadmill, a small weight bench and a few weights, some resistance bands and an exercise ball. The place is starting to form into a nice little home gym.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

You Now Have Permission to Fail

This past weekend at the Miami International Open Tournament was AWESOME for so many reasons.

First and foremost, I love hanging out with my team. A few of us were talking on the trip down to Miami that BJJ must have some kind of addictive powers because most people who do BJJ are obsessed with it. We say it's a hobby, but actually, it's a lifestyle.

What amazes me even more is the way schools become like families. I've played team sports all of my life. Softball, volleyball, lacrosse and racquetball (yes...I was on a racquetball team in college. Yes that makes me nerdy. Don't be hatin'! lol). I've loved every sport I've played. But I have never been involved in a sport that has consumed me like BJJ has. Neither have I been on a team that was so close. We're all so different, but somehow it And I think that it's the same all over the place. Jiu-jitsu clubs are like second families. I wonder what it is about the sport that brings people into such close friendships.

At this tournament, I was a nervous wreck for all of my teammates. As soon as we walked in, my heart started pounding. I was taking video of everyone, so I was running around the gym from mat to mat, trying to watch everyone and screaming my head off in support. We had a lot of wins and some tough losses. Everyone did great.
My favorite guys/gals to watch were the ones who were competing for the first time. Let me tell you, they moved AWESOME!! I was really impressed.

The losses had a big impact on me, though not in an entirely negative way. Some of our best grapplers in the school lost matches yesterday. While I was either sad for the fact that they didn't win or pissed off at the ref or something, it was very liberating at the same time. These are guys who are way better than me. They can wipe the floor with me. But they lose too, sometimes. It was like someone was talking over a loud speaker saying: You now have permission to fail. lol

I talked to Fabio about it a little bit; about how I worry sometimes about disappointing him at tournaments. He said that a loss at a tournament doesn't mean anything to him. What means something to him is seeing someone who has the heart to go out and try. For some reason, at this tournament, that actually got through my thick skull.

Maybe the reason why it sunk in was that I had no pressure myself at this tournament and I could just enjoy it and learn. I could see the tournament without all my nerves getting in the way. Before this, I was pretty much forcing myself to do tournaments. Now, I am actually looking forward to the next one. The pressure is suddenly gone. I am sure I will still be nervous. But now I actually think it will be fun.

That alone made the trip completely worth it.

Some pictures from the weekend:

Got to meet Hillary Williams.

And also got to meet Cyborg. Watched him roll, too. Freaking awesome.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I'm leaving today with the team to head down to the Miami Internaltional Open. Still ticked that I can't compete. But excited for the whole atmosphere of the tournament and to see my teammates compete. A friend of mine, Erica, is competing for the first time and I am really excited for her. I think she is going to do really well and I will be cheering like a maniac on the side lines. :)

Also, I am excited about starting a new project at home. We have this old barn on our property and it is just going to waste. So I talked to my husband and we are going to turn it into a Jiu-jitsu gym/man cave. Woohoo!!

It's going to be a lot of work. The barn isn't weather proof at the moment. Plus, there is no AC or heater. Since we live in Florida, that's not too big a deal for during the winter months. Just training will keep us warm enough. But during the summer? Yeah...alterations will have to be made.

The other things was that the barn had become kind of catch-all for all the yard work stuff and all the junk we didn't use very much. It was full of leaves that blow in through the ventilation openings in the roof.

So yesterday Steph, Phil, Gumby and I started the cleaning it out. We were some of the main "crew" at the old Summerlin school. Josh and Reese, two others who trained with us at Summerlin, said they would want to roll a couple of nights a week once we get the place up and running. All we would have to do would be to harass Ben and Mario into coming and then we'd have almost our whole old Summerlin gang back together!

Here are some pictures of what we've done so far. We have a loooooong way to go. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Noah's Declarations

This isn't about Jiu-jitsu. It is about a mother getting some blackmail video to use against her son when he is a teenager. Enjoy. :)

Clearly I am adept at raising independent children.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why You Should Take Jiu-Jitsu Injuries Seriously

I may finally be able to get my MRI! I went in to see my primary doctor this morning and she is going to set me up with one. She is in agreement with my chiropractor friend and thinks it sounds like a disc issue, but won't be able to tell for sure until the MRI. She also said there are several options for physical therapy.

Hearing about physical therapy and all of that and possibly having to miss out on more training makes me want to just ignore it. I know that makes no logical sense. If there is a problem, it won't go away. It will get worse if I don't do something about it. But I hate being patient.

All of this has made me view BJJ in a different way. I think, without realizing it, I was looking at BJJ as a sprint when really it is a marathon. When I talked to people, I would always say I was in no hurry. But when I was forced to start taking some time off for one thing or another, it really bothered me. And not just because I love the sport.

Here's the honest truth about what was going through my mind. I share this because I know there are a lot of people out there like me who will go through something similar. It makes me look bad when I type it out bluntly, but whatever. It's what I was really thinking and I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that I'm not the only one who has ever thought this way.

I started BJJ and fell in love instantly. Because of my level of obsession and because I have great instructors and training partners, I got my blue belt relatively quickly. The whole time up to that point, I was getting stripes and the people that had started training with me were getting stripes too. I knew BJJ wasn't about the belt, but it felt great to get confirmation that I was actually doing well at the sport I love.

When I hit blue belt, my desire for that feeling didn't abate. It became more intense. I was worried I wouldn't keep advancing at the rate that I had before, that I would start hitting a plateau or something. It wasn't so much that I wanted more stripes. I just wanted to keep being a "quick learner".

Then Summerlin, a shoot off school of Fabio's where I had trained twice a week on top of my other training, closed. I was down two classes. Then some responsibilities at my church made me start missing more training time. And then this injury came along and made me take it easy even during the classes I was able to make it to. Finally, I had to stop rolling completely for a while and I may have to do that again before this is all over.

At first, I didn't take my neck injury all that seriously. But after talking to a few people in my gym who have had serious neck injuries and ignored them--and are suffering now because of it--and after hearing even more stories from some of you fellow bloggers who have had to go through surgery, I realized I was playing with fire.

It forced me to examine the reasons why I was so hell bent on continuing training when I knew I needed a break. I started asking myself why it was so important to me that I be a "quick learner" and that I didn't "fall behind". What did it matter if I got stripes quickly or if it took me months or years? Who was I trying to keep up with? What reason did I have for rushing through training?

I am doing BJJ for fun. Whether or not I advance quickly will have no impact on my livelihood or my family. It will just keep my ego happy. It's just stupid.

I realized I needed to stop acting like a stubborn child that wanted to get her way regardless of what reason and reality said to the contrary. It's time for me to realize that me trying to force myself to train hard all the time so that I could get better faster will end up hurting me long term.

I want to do this sport for years. I want to be able to keep rolling for as long as I can. And that means respecting my body's limitations. If I am injured, I need to take it seriously. What is a few weeks off in comparison to having to quit forever because I pushed an injury into something really serious?

Even as I type this, I know I will have to fight against that stubborn, impatient side of me that wants to just bulldoze ahead and keep rolling like normal.

Yesterday, it took almost all the self control I had not to do the inverted moves I normally do. It irked me that when I was being muscled by a guy and I knew I could simply go inverted and return to my guard, that I had to find another way. I had other ideas, but I had to stop and think and I couldn't do that fast enough, so he passed my guard. I hated that. Because of my own stupid pride.

But I preserved my neck from getting re-strained. Which is more important than keeping someone from passing my guard in a class grapple that doesn't count for anything outside of my head.

I just have to keep perspective. What is more important: A couple of months of taking it slow? Or a life long ability to keep grappling? What is more important: some dude passing my guard or being able to grapple well into my fifties?

It's great that I want to get better at a sport that I love. But I have to be smart about it. Or else I'll end up cutting short my journey and regretting my stubbornness in the long run.