Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reporting from Pancake Town

I have not been having the greatest success in adapting, lately. There is one person in particular that I have a really hard time with and, as such, Fabio puts me with him nearly every class. I am not complaining. That's good. It is forcing me to learn and adapt. I just wish I could adapt faster.

On of the things I have a hard time doing with this particular guy is moving out of turtle. I can get to turtle to prevent being smashed in side control or half guard (those were the places I used to get stuck in all the time with this guy, so I can see some progress, I suppose). He is very strong and fast, and also is technical. It is hard for me to get out of turtle once I get there. When I try, I usually end up getting smashed or getting my limbs peels back so he can take my back, which is strangely easier for me to escape than turtle.

Anyway, I haven't been having much luck moving out of turtle when I try it against this guy, so I started deliberately putting myself in turtle with some other people I grapple who I feel I have more of an advantage against. I think it is helping, though it has only been a week or so that have been doing that.

Read a blog over at Jiu Jitsu Blues talking about starting from bad positions. He brought up some great points.

Also, estou aprendendo Portugues. Yes, I found a way to use my nerdiness to increase my obsession with BJJ. I love languages, so I am looking forward to tackling Portuguese. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Do you expect to submit me?

Ever grappled a guy that is about as solid as a brick house? Ok, now add to that a 100 lb weight advantage. And a five year skill advantage. That's Tony, one of my friends at Fabio's. I grappled him yesterday. Let's just say things didn't go well for me. He didn't use a whole lot of muscle or anything. He just submitted me a bunch of times, which is normal. It wasn't a shock to me, as this happens every time I grapple him.

After our grapple, I must have looked a little deflated (though I don't remember feeling particularly down. Just...vexed. I felt like I was handing him my legs on a silver platter the whole time).

He said, "You know, it's cool for me to see how much you've grown since you started. You don't see it, do you?"

I shrugged awkwardly. It's hard to feel good about a grapple in which you were categorically owned with very little effort on your opponent's part.

He said, "I've been grappling five years, Allie. Do you expect to submit me?"

"No!" I said, laughing.

"Do you expect me not to be able to submit you?"

Again I said no.

He shrugged and said, "You're doing good."

It was a good reminder for me. I am very competitive and, too often, I forget that BJJ is a marathon, not a sprint.

Also, I had a funny miscommunication with one of the girls I grapple. We had a seminar with Marcelo Saporito this past weekend (which was AWESOME. Another post on that later) and I learned some cool stuff. I was going to try one of the sweeps we learned in a grapple yesterday. Got about halfway through it, then drew blank on what came next. The girl I was grappling had not been at the seminar, but I started to ask her, "Hey do you remember...oh, you weren't at the seminar." She thought I said something like, "Hey, do you think you're going somewhere?" LOL She goes, "Are you talking crap?" And I was like, "Huh?" After we sorted it out and laughed, I realized I mumble things a lot while I grapple. And most people probably wouldn't ask me to clarify what I said. Again, it's kind of like the looks I do. Don't realize I'm doing it. I need to figure out a way to zip my lips!! GRRRR!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Passing Guard and Other Random Things

Very descriptive title, I know. I haven't been posting as much, because things have been so busy, but several things have been ruminating in my little brain. In fact, I've run out of space in there so it's time to clean out the bjj corner of my mental storage. :)

Somewhere over the last six months, I have slowly started to do more of the aggressive, top game player stuff. I have always felt like I "should" do that. But I actually started doing it when I A) realized I actually could and B) noticed how much easier it was to control larger people when I was on top.

But grappling in the aggressive, on-top way is not as organic to me as grappling the passive, reactive guard style that I love so much. I still do the latter much more than the former. I wonder if I always will. Don't know.

But figuring out how to work on top is slower going for me. Stuff from guard seems so natural. Stuff on top seems awkward and blundering. Take, for example, something someone said to me in a grapple last week.

This particular guy is a really good blue belt and also is bigger, stronger and faster than me. I was dancing around his open guard, holding onto the hems of his pants legs, trying to out maneuver his hips and either sneak around or slip through the middle. That works with the bigger white belts. Not so much with any of the higher belts. Their hips are too move-y for sneaking around and if I try to slip through the middle, their legs shut around one of mine like a steel trap and next thing you know, I'm swept. My friend deftly pointed this out to me by saying, "You know, sometimes you need to just stop and pass."

At first when he said that, my cheeky thought was, "Oh yeah, like it's that easy. Don't you realize I have been trying to pass this whole time?!?!" lol But then he explained a little more what he meant. I wasn't able to pass because I was letting his hips be mobile. It was a race and I was at a disadvantage. The only reason why I was able to be effective with that jumpy-aroundy passing stuff with white belts is because they haven't figured out how to be mobile with their hips yet.

Well, that sucks for me.

But he's right. He said that what I needed to do was get in close, get tight, immobilize his legs and hips and pass in a slower, more methodical way. So...I tried.

That experiment left me with two very clear lessons 1) Something is off with my base as I pass because I am getting swept SOOOOOOOOO much when I try to be slow and methodical. 2) I am missing most of the method of my methodical-ness. I kept getting the details of different passes crossed.

I found out later that the two passes I was cross-breeding made a really ugly baby. Their union opened up a bunch of space for people's arms to get in and under me for the sweep. Also, another blue belt friend observed that I was "leading with my head too much." We blondes are rarely accused of that, so I took notice. When I asked one of my instructors about it, he said that, with that particular pass that I was trying to do, I DO need to lead with my head. However, I need to drive with my head into their abdomen and, as I come around, across their body. If I keep driving higher up their body, I walk into the sweep because I am too parallel to their body and too much of my weight is on them. I need to be perpendicular.

That made instant sense. He also sorted out which two very similar passes I was crossing and helped me remember the details of each. Yay for that.

Last but not least, there is this pass I sometimes try where I hold down the pants legs at the ankle and literally do a forward roll on top of the guy, flattening him out. When it works, I flip over into side control. But what was actually happening many of the times was that, as I flipped, the guy would follow me and we'd end up in a scramble. Well, the other day Fabio pointed out that I needed to keep my arms straight as I flipped over, holding the guys' legs down so they can't follow me.

"Oh!" I said. "Yeah, I've been having trouble with that."

He laughed and said, "I know. I've seen you do that a lot."

Face palm.

Other random observations:

1. My cat is obsessed with IcyHot and Biofreeze. I have to stay away from him whenever I use it because he wants to lick it off. Weird.

2. I am excited because there is a seminar at Fabio's this weekend with Marcelo Saporito. Saporito, who trained under Carlson Gracie Sr., is the man who trained Fabio. I missed his seminar last year because I had to work. But this year I get to go! :)

3. I am thinking about getting a ripstop, ultra light gi. Not sure which brand. Thought I'd ask around and find out which ones are the blogger favorites. So, if you have an opinion, please share! ;)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pulling Faces

So, I have this problem. With my face. :)

Ever since I first started I have made faces while I grapple. To this day, I am still taunted for the look of terror that was on my face when I faced off with Tania in my first ever tournament grapple. View exhibit "A":

During one of my first grapples with one of the bigger blue belts at my school, Jimmy, he actually stopped mid grapple to ask if I was ok. Perplexed, I said, "Yes, why?" He said, "You look like I'm killing you." He wasn't hurting me at all, but apparently I had a look of terror on my face.

Early on, my facial expressions caused problems between me and some of my close friends. When I get serious, it shows on my face. When I get frustrated, it shows on my face. When I'm having fun, it shows on my face. The bad thing is that I A) Have no idea I am making these expressions and B) Probably couldn't keep myself from doing it even if I tried.

As I said, early on this caused me problems. A few people thought I was being a poor sport, because I looked angry while I was grappling. I had to explain that I was not angry and didn't even realize I was making faces. Thankfully, my friends know me well enough not to be offended.

A few of my friends in class have noticed this trait and are now taking full advantage of it. They think it is hilarious to do things that frustrate me because I get my "frustrated face". Or they joke with me when I get into "go mode" and have my game face on. One guy, who is way better than me, even started humming while he was grappling me and sweeping me a lot just to enrage me. It wasn't real anger, to be clear. I knew he was just messing with me because I get so animated (we'd had a conversation about my expressions the night before). So I hammed it up and acted like I was in rage mode and started going MMA on him, throwing body punches. It really didn't help me much but it made me feel better. lol

It is all in good fun, but it does make me wonder how I come across to people who don't know me very well. To be honest, my mind goes somewhere else when I grapple. I am not focused on my face. lol.

I don't really know what I can do about this. Honestly, I am not meaning any ill will toward my grappling partners. I just make horrible faces. lol. Have any of you ever grappled someone like me who "pulls faces"? What did you think of them while you were grappling?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Steroid Testing

I saw this video on Facebook today:

While I do think it might be inappropriate to call somebody out like that, I think Caio has a valid point. Most major sports test for performance enhancing drugs. What do you think? Should bjj athletes be tested for steroids after major competitions?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tornado in Lakeland, Florida!

Yesterday was a first for me. I saw a tornado. Had one pass right by my house. It was storming pretty badly outside and I was actually sitting at my computer reading some of your blogs and things start pelting my window. I thought, "Man, this is a pretty bad storm."

I was just about the check the weather (I had not seen the news or anything that morning) but then more things pelted the window and the wind got really loud outside the window behind my desk." My cat started freaking out and ran under the bed. Then I lost power. I looked out the window and, though I didn't see the actual funnel cloud itself, I saw the rain spinning around my house in circles. We get a lot of funky rain in Florida, but circular rain is not normal! The trees were bending like crazy.

I knew it was a tornado. (Yeah...I'm super smart. lol) So I ran into my room, grabbed the thick comforter off my bed and ran into the bathroom, where I jumped into my tub and balled up in a turtle position, piling the comforter above my back and head. Everything was very dark. It was a very loud, very scary few minutes.

(This was a picture of a tornado that touched down in Kathleen, which is not too far from me)

When things got quiet, I got out of the tub and walked to my front window. Debris from he trees was everywhere. I started trying to call people -- my husband, my son's school, Stephanie-- but my phone would not work. My phone would not text or place calls or anything. I could not get on the internet either. I did recieve a few texts from my husband, which I couldn't respond to.

He was warning me that a tornado had been spotted at Bartow Hospital and was headed my way. lol. Thanks hon.

Finally, after a while, I was able to talk to Stephanie for a few minutes before our phones crapped out. She and Chad came to the house and told me the tornado had taken out several powerlines down the road. A crew was already on the scene starting to fix them. I decided to drive to my son's school since I could not reach them on the phone. And, after that, I decided I would drive to Fabio's to see if he was ok because we had heard reports that the tornado had downed a building and flipped over planes at the airport right across the street from Fabio's.

Looking back, it probably wasn't the best thing to do to go driving around. Down the street from my house, the roof of a barn had been ripped off. I saw huge oak tress snapped in half. One of them had fallen on a roof. Another had fallen on someone's truck. A few trailers I passed had siding and roof pieces ripped off. Smaller trees were snapped in half like toothpicks. On the main road I saw a metal business sign--a big one--with the sign part bent all the way backwards. Billboards had been blown down. Debris was everywhere. Emergency responders were driving all over.

(This is a picture at the airport across the street from Fabio's)

At my son's school, everything looked fine. Steph had said she could come to get Noah a little later if all was well. So, I drove on to Fabio's. He was fine too.

The worst part for my family--which is definitely small compared to some of the things other families in our area are dealing with now--was that we were out of power for yesterday and last night. But it came back on in the middle of the night, so it wasn't that big of a deal. We had Chad and Stephanie and my niece and nephew over and grilled out, then played word association games with the kids via candle light. That was actually pretty funny. The kids didn't quite get the game. Someone would say something like, "28." Next person said, "28 days later." Next person said, "Zombies." Then it got to my son who says, "Poop!" lol Oh well. At least it was entertaining.

I am thankful we and our house are fine. I haven't heard any reports of any deaths so far, so I am thankful for that too. Hopefully we don't get anymore tornadoes this season!

Stephanie also blogged about these weather phenomenons, if you want to see more pictures and hear more details! :)