Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rolling Tuesday, part 2...

I took my last class for a while from Tony, and he showed me a pillow choke from side control.

Then I went to the Gracie school. Phil recognized me and welcomed me back. Fortunately I missed the warmup, haha; jumped right into an armbar from guard.
A sweep from armbar.

I drilled that back and forth with Shama, a purple belt girl!! wow! and then we talked a bit about competing. Then Phil demonstrated the scissor sweep and we worked on that a bit.

Learned two simple chokes: the ordinary double lapel choke, and a forearm choke that is super easy.

Then I was paired up with Ahmed (?), a white belt, and a blue belt whose name I can't recall, to do an elevator sweep.

Following that, I went in to the ladies' class, taught by Christy the brown belt (again, wow! a brown belt woman!) What a wonderful experience. I can't wait to roll on a regular basis with other women! They're smaller and lighter and I finally feel like some of the techniques I am trying to learn can be put to use.

Anyway, learned a guard pass.

Also learned that when on the bottom in side control, never give them your arm by pushing on them unless you're super fast, or you give them the Americana.

A new one for me, the dump pass.

I had to leave the ladies' class early, but I look forward to next Tues. Everyone was very supportive of my goal to be in this upcoming tournament. Amber, another white belt who's done this about 4 months, recognized me from salsa at Copa, and I'm hoping to find some chicks at my level to spar with before then. Also, planning on taking a private with Christy.

Rolling Tuesday, part 1...

Rolled with Robert today... dammit, as always, triangle city. If it wasn't the triangle, it was the straight arm bar. Attempted some ankle locks, having watched Stephan Kesting's leglock DVD a few times over the last few days, but failed to get anywhere with them. Normally, Chris just flexes his foot so hard, it's like trying to put a lock on a carpenter's right-angle. I got ONE sub in an hour.. my (getting to be) standard Americana from side control, and I know he gives it to me. I am getting more creative in using my legs/feet like hands, but in general I feel like I'm flailing around ineffectually. He tells me I'll kill a girl, but I don't think so. If I did win against a white belt, I think it would be more like accidentally winning after passing up numerous opportunities.

Email to the tournament director asking for the rules, etc. I mean, seriously-- how long are the rounds? what moves are prohibited?

A tournament??

Yeah, I think I'm going to enter my first! a no-gi grappling tournament. There's one in College Station (not too far) in two weeks... it's not expensive and it's a round robin, so I will get lots of experience, I hope. I'm scared though! Shame on me, I am such a talker, but when it comes to putting myself out there... I am chicken! But I want to do it super early in my grappling life because I want to know how it goes before I think I have any chance of doing well, so I won't pressure myself. I'll go knowing I'll lose every match and that's okay.

Tom says he'll come and coach me, so I'll have someone there to give advice and so on. I want Mitch to come along too. And maybe some people from the new school? I don't know if they look at no gi as being okay or beneath them or too different or what... every time I have been to the Gracie school, everyone is wearing a gi.

I emailed the tournament hosts and they said there's usually a few ladies but if not enough for their own division, they'll just battle the boys. At first I was like ha ha, I don't have to worry about making any kind of weight class since the flier says the lowest weight class is <155lbs... but now I'm thinking if they do have a women's division, maybe I better be trying to get <125 or so. Not difficult in two weeks but that means no more lasagna (like last night) and more cardio.

My right elbow is swollen still. During the belt test I was paired up with my instructor for squats and escapes drilling, and since he's been on me in the past for not blocking hard enough, I really cracked my elbow a good one (not on purpose) trying to show him I wasn't holding back. I clocked myself right on the funnybone spot and the adrenaline was high enough that I didn't realize until later how much it hurt. It's definitely sore, and looks a little puffier than the left one.

Yesterday was fun if not much of a workout... my friend Markell is visiting from L.A. so he came to the gym with me in the morning; I did legs for 30 min and went to work. After work, Markell joined me in our judo class, where I took it very easy on the elbow. I decided not to start at Gracie until today (5-7, regular class, and 7-9, women's.) I made lasagna for dinner last night, and went to bed pretty early.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rolling Sunday..

I am blessed to have Tom training me. He is a wonderful instructor, he pushes me, knows when to taunt me and when to coddle me, he praises and offers constructive criticism, and he makes it fun. I had a good time rolling with him today and learned some crucial big-picture ideas.

95% of people will break open your guard and go backwards/away from you, giving you the space you need to work an offensive open guard. I should be maintaining one knee in their chest and levering their attacks away from me. When in someone's guard, break it open and go forward! Can opener, tuck your hips tightly under theirs, posting on one knee and one foot, control their hips with your knees, scoop under a leg and pancake them into side control. Tom says he hates playing from his back all balled up and it makes it much harder to escape the can opener or work any offensive positions. I put my head too far forward. Couldn't tell you how many times he guillotined me. In fact today was neck crank day. It sucked.

On the plus side, he said I'm getting better, and said Robert told him I am getting better, more patient. I am starting at the Gracie school tomorrow; looks like this month I'll do 4x week and consider moving down to 3x a week if that's too much.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My yellow belt test...

For those who don't want the blow-by-blow, I passed and am now a yellow belt in kajukenbo. Just in time for me to take a month off to purely focus on my jiu jitsu. In November I'll have a better feel for how much energy/time I have left over for kajukenbo.

So, the test. First, the introduction form (no problems there.) We moved into the kenpo stance set (good) and squats and escapes. Alone, I was fine, but when we paired up, my instructor became my partner, and inexplicably, I screwed up, went from horse stance right into the blocks that go with horse, completely skipping knee-down and bow stance.

Then the daily drills. I royally screwed these up, since they were called out by numbers and not by instruction (high block, low block, punch) and I got all flustered.

Forms: I had to do H, L, short 1 and 2, and kenchi... phew!

Rolls and breakfalls: L and R shoulder rolls, fwd rolls, and shoulder rolls to a judo breakfall (where you land laying out on your side, staying down on the mat, then getting up pseudo-MMA style with your arms guarding your face) all went fine.

Sparring: Here's where it got interesting. I was prepared to do rounds each in stand up, takedowns, and grappling; apparently we were running behind schedule so it was shortened to rounds of just stand up and then combined takedowns/ground. I was very nervous about the stand up portion because I have zero experience with it and I am afraid to hit hard; I don't want to be the spaz whitebelt that breaks someone's knee or whatever.

I sparred all the testees in standup, first against Samir, the brown belt who i really good in kickboxing. It was FUN! He videoed my other rounds so I don't know what I looked like against him, but it felt good; I tried to keep my guard up, but was horrible about blocking legs (tend to use my hands) and also very narrow-minded. It seems like I only throw jabs and cross punches, kick to the back of their thigh, and roundhouse. However once I start getting pummeled, I tend to ball up and block with my forearms, which tends to look like cowering and makes everyone yell at me (even though I'm not freaking, they think I am.)

Second I sparred Sifu Tony. He likes to get me mad, and it makes me try harder. However, then I punch more wildly and girlishly (swinging like a cat clawing, instead of power punches from the center). I seem to remember grazing him in the side of the head once. It was either him or Samir, I can't quite remember yet. Fortunately they were both being nice, because I did take a number of shots to the chin from in between my arms, and a few stomach shots as well (both kicks and punches.) They didn't hurt, so I kept going and had a blast.

Third I sparred a 5th degree blackbelt, a visiting instructor named Jeff Richardson. !!!!!!! He was more instructive both before the round and during it, and I felt happy about how I did. Fitness-wise I was great, had no cardio problems, and it seems more a matter of practice and muscle memory than anything. I definitely do not give up and I don't run away. So, I learned that maybe I do enjoy the striking game.

Everyone else finished their standup before I got to grapple. The first person to spar their ground game for their test was Jace, testing for his brown. He rolled with Samir first, then Sifu Richardson, and then me (so I was honored that they allowed me to roll with him, until I realized at his level he also needs to demonstrate control against a much lesser opponent, which he did.)

I told Jace before we started that my neck is sore. We started standing up, I defended against the underhooks, but he ended up handily reaping my leg and we ended up on the ground with me in his guard. I was trying to pass his guard but apparently too far forward with my head, because he guillotined me. He was sitting up and really had a decent hold on me. Then the buzzer called time. I was happy to be a part of his brownbelt test.

Then I stayed in the ring and grappled my instructor Tony. We started from the knees, I ended up on my back in half guard. I was almost successful in scissor sweeping him but failed. He ended up taking my back then mounting me somehow trapping my elbows against my sides with his knees. Oh, so bad a position to be in. Then I got choked, big surprise.

Then I grappled the visiting instructor. Again, from the knees. He started with small joint manipulations (spreading my fingers apart) until my instructor explained that's not allowed at our school; then he went to a wristlock. ANNOYING.. but I didn't say anything, just let my instructor step in and explain again we don't do wristlocks at whitebelt either. I did so-so, although unfortunately always ended up on my back. I never know what to do from there or how to do it. Everyone yells "sweep! armbar! triangle!" and it goes by in such a blur!

But I didn't quit and I think that's why they let me get my yellow belt. I am happy to have the yellow, and am heading out to a friend's B-day party after I shower and clean up. I'm mainly blogging this for my good friend and mentor Michael, who is far away in Thailand at a BJJ tournament (and thus unlikely to be checking my blog but you never know). Good luck Michael, I hope you kicked butt and took names!

I'll post the videos when I get them from Samir.


Maureen Dowd's HILARIOUS op-ed piece, originally found here.

I don’t agree with those muttering darkly that the picture of Gov. Sarah Palin with a perky smile and shapely gams posing with a pleased Henry Kissinger, famous for calling power the ultimate aphrodisiac, is a sign of the apocalypse.

It isn’t even a sign of the apocalipstick.

How the mighty 85-year-old Henry the K has fallen from his days chasing Jill St. John and running the world to his hour briefing of a 44-year-old Wasilla hockey mom who may end up running the world.

Governor Palin knows a lot about the End of Days from her years at the Pentecostal Wasilla Assembly of God, which had preached (after a war in the Middle East about light vanquishing darkness) that Alaska would be a shelter for Rapturous “saved” Christians at the end of times when they ascend to heaven.

Sarah was motorcading around Manhattan even as a “greed is good” Wall Street experienced an End of Days vibe while a world gone sour on America descended on the United Nations.

After losing its moral superiority abroad with phony evidence for attacking Iraq, the U.S. has now lost its moral superiority in the financial arena. Once more, W. took the ball, carried it off the cliff and went biking.

It’s hard to imagine that John McCain and Sarah Palin still want advice from the Unwise Man Kissinger. It’s sort of like villagers in those old movies who bring in the wizened witch doctor to shake a stick over them.

Doctor K prolonged the war in Vietnam to help Nixon get re-elected and then advised W. on Iraq that the only way to beat an insurgency and save face is to stick it out, no matter how many American kids and foreign civilians die.

Sarah speed-dated diplomacy on Tuesday. She had her very first national security briefing from the director of national intelligence and then went to a meeting with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. He thanked her for the help of the Alaskan National Guard in Afghanistan and told her about his young son, Mirwais, which means “the Light of the House.” Then she met with President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia.

Finally, Sarah huddled with Henry in his Park Avenue office, next to pictures of Ford and Reagan. The two made an odd couple: the last impure Rockefeller Republican and the first pure Rovian Republican, grown totally in the petri dish of cultural crusaderism.

Summoning his old Harvard teaching days, Kissinger surely looked for a common didactic starting point: She has seen Russia. “Goot. I haff seen it, too.”

(A senior Palin campaign aide told CBS News’s Scott Conroy that the governor’s foreign-policy experience was atmospheric, akin to the way someone from Miami might obtain a feel for Latin America. “It is very much being able to look off the tip of Alaska,” the aide said. “Metaphorically, I’m talking about.”)

Kissinger probably explained détente and Metternich to Palin, while she explained the Iditarod and moose carving to him.

They talked Russia, which is relevant.

Republicans, who have won so many elections painting Democrats as socialists and pinkos, have now done so much irresponsible deregulating and deficit spending that they have to avoid fiscal Armageddon by turning America into a socialist, pinko society with nationalized financial institutions and a financial czar accountable to no one and no law.

And Governor Palin spends so much time ostracizing reporters who might quiz her on NATO or the liquidity crunch that her press strategy is beginning to smack of Putin’s — but less lethal.

Even if she blows off the First Amendment — and lets McCain’s Rove, Steve Schmidt, demonize the press even though she disdains women politicians who whine — Bill Clinton is still a fan.

Besides talking about what a great man John McCain is on “The View” and “David Letterman,” Bill praised Palin at his Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York and will receive her there on Thursday.

“I come from Arkansas. I get why she is hot out there,” he said authoritatively, adding: “People look at her, and they say, ‘All those kids. Something that happens in everybody’s family. I’m glad she loves her daughter and she’s not ashamed of her. Glad that girl’s going around with her boyfriend. Glad they’re going to get married.’ ” He said voters would think: “I like that little Down syndrome kid. One of them lives down the street. They’re wonderful. ... And I like the idea that this guy does those long-distance races. Stayed in the race for 500 miles with a broken arm. My kind of guy.”

On “The View,” he said he understood that some women might vote for Palin on the basis of gender, even if it was against their economic interest.

“You can’t tell someone else that the ground on which they make their voting decision is irrational,” he said primly.

Well, actually you could, if you weren’t still sulking and plotting for 2012.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Weekend plans...

Well, tomorrow I test for yellow belt in kajukenbo. I'm comfortable with the forms, the self defense techniques, and the groundfighting part. It's the standup and takedown sparring that I am nervous about-- but as they keep telling me, they will hold me to white belt-going-yellow standards. I hope I can live up to even that low level!

I baked cookies and have some cantaloupe to bring along, so if I can't beat them, I can feed them.

Tonight's salsa class was small and my feet are sore. I'm off to bed...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday roll...

More no-gi today with Robert-- as always, trying to pass guard, getting out of triangles and armbars, and at not getting into them. Attempted an armbar counter that involves wrapping around their ankle; the first time it happened, it was because he was kindly going slowly to give me time to think... and I looked around and thought maybe gable-gripping around his ankle would be good. Unfortunately it wasn't the best ankle to go for-- but I learned, and the next time I did it with the "over my head" ankle, which worked just fine.

I tried out the blackout choke for the first time, but Chris is so big (or I am so small) that it only worked because he let me do it. Sub101 has it up on their site here. However, it was so tight, I didn't even have to get my other leg over his chest or pinch my elbows together before he was ready for me to stop.

I'm at a loss for how to evaluate how well I'm progressing. Sometimes I check to see how long it takes before he lets me tap him, or how long I can go before I get tapped... today he was checking the ratio of my taps to his. Sometimes I think it's good to measure how many unique submissions there are. For example, I got my first tap from an armbar from mount (and learned that it worked more easily when my torso and his were more aligned as opposed to being perpendicular to each other) but wanted something else, and only went back to the armbar as a last resort for my second tap. Whereas I think I tapped to a kimura, an armbar, and... what else??

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Grumble, grumble...

I didn't hardly get to roll AT ALL today. Noon class at the gym was fine-- the usual cardio/weights/plyo crossfit type stuff.

I watched Robert's kids' kajukenbo class (which is hilariously fun and really restores your faith in the goodness of humanity), came to my office, and worked. Why not go home? Because I promised Mitch I'd meet him for burgers at Hut's tonight, and he's rowing Town Lake 6:30-8pm. So.

So. I'm obviously addicted. I love it! (I even found a LAVENDER gi on line yesterday and I might have to order it. Killer!)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday roll...

Today I lucked out and got 90 minutes of rolling with Robert. It was gi, so I was hot, but I was only conscious of that for the first 5 minutes or so. His guard is tough to pass, I keep getting triangled, and he likes kneebars. What else can I tell you? Oh, I tapped him once-- thanks Tom, you're right, Americanas are much easier from side control, though that isn't to say they're easy. Of course I tapped many times myself, usually to an armbar, but not once (I don't think) to the ankle lock or kneebar. I did successfully forward-roll out of the omoplata, which he turned into a kimura, boohoo. I have yet to manage a RNC on this booger. I need to remember to stop trying for it when I'm on his back and wait until I have him sitting between my legs on the ground- otherwise, he just shoots each leg backwards to get rid of my hooks and then rolls me around his torso. Don't know if that makes sense?!

OH OH OH-- almost forgot-- I "invented" something, surely it's been done a million times, but I've never seen or read it, and it came to me by accident. I was in rear mount, sitting on the mat in front of him, defending an RNC. He had each of his feet grapevined around each of my legs. Somehow, I maneuvered his legs with mine such that I ended up crossing his at the ankles, yet sandwiched between my own legs, so he didn't notice my ankle lock until I started putting pressure on him.Let me clarify-- I don't think I invented the ankle lock itself! I meant I maybe invented the means to force them into crossing their ankles. Robert is far too clever to actually cross his own ankles (and now that I did it once, he'll probably never let me get away with it again.)

I did almost get the armbar on him too.

Tomorrow, looks like I get an hour with him in gi at 9am, and hope for another session of no-gi with Tom at 7pm. I definitely come home hungry! But I'm trying to lose weight, so I'm trying to have discipline. Today I had half a banana, about 12 oz. of grilled chicken breast with lemon and capers, some spinach salad with pears, raspberries, blue cheese and pecans, and two oatmeal-raisin cookies. Yeah, yeah, not perfect, but good regardless.

10 Ways in Which Sarah Palin Is Exactly Like George W. Bush

Taken from this hilarious blog:

1) Like Bush, she is completely against a woman's right to choose (in fact, she exceeds Bush in that she is against a woman's right to choose even in cases of rape or incest;

2) Like Bush, she opposes stem cell research to prevent fatal diseases in men, women and children;

3) Like Bush, supports the teaching of Creationism alongside Evolution in public schools;

4) Like Bush, does not believe that Global Warming is man made;

5) Like Bush, has supported abstinence-only sex education methods that have proven ineffective;

6) Like Bush, has virtually no foreign policy experience prior to running for national office--(in Palin's case, despite a 72-year old, chronically ill running mate)

7) Like Bush, has engaged in conduct that has resulted in current government investigation of her actions;

8) Like Bush, has made statements which indicate lack of knowledge of basic elements of the office they are running for (Palin, July 2008: "What exactly does the Vice President do everyday?");

9) Like Bush, has been sequestered to prevent her being asked questions that she has not yet been prepared to answer;

10) Like Bush, talks like a reformer--yet in her actions (i.e., relying on lobbying, supporting the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it) acts in the most typical, all-too-familiar fashion.

Monday night roll...

Lucky me, I'm still on Tom's rotation even though he's training for NAGA in two weeks. He was definitely kicking things up a notch last night-- harder, faster, and with some new tricks up his sleeve. It was exciting and fun, I felt his increased energy and tried to respond in kind. The difference was like comparing running on a level surface with running downhill, where you feel like gravity is pulling you so fast you're almost flowing over the ground. I did make an effort to roll (literally) more, but I kept getting my back taken much more than usual.

My previously-sore, previously-pinched nerves are still jangling. My friend Maggie found a website tutorial on anatomy and I think I've located the pain as coming from my rhomboid and levator scapulae muscles. They're bugging me so much, they wake me up at night. On another note, last night his knee met my nose abruptly-- it wasn't bad at the moment, but later we both saw blood on the mirror next to the mat, and it turned out to be mine! I must be a strange and unusual female to be so nonchalant about stuff like that.

What did I learn?
I remember how to get out of a can opener, but keep forgetting to transition into the armbar.

I learned how he gets my "extra" arm out of the way for a triangle, so I'll try that next time. (aha... I roll with Robert today... maybe I try on him.)

I learned a counter to the guillotine-- assuming they're laying on the ground, with your body crossing theirs, you pin their guillotining arm with your own, squeezing your elbows together hard, and angle your body back over their shoulder (it's a nasty shoulder crank, it would make me tap!) If they don't tap, you walk your body around over their head, and it forces them to let go.

I learned you can't really get an Americana from mount, they just roll you over. It's gotta be from sidemount. And I need to work on my base, desperately.

I learned that my "standard neck thing" from mount (pressing my forearm into their throat) is useless on its own really, but serves to get them to turn onto their right side and occasionally give me their left arm, which would be ideal for the armbar if I was a little faster. (The @&%$! mats at Castle Hill get so slippery when we roll no-gi that I often lack the traction necessary to get in position for the armbar. Maybe I need to start wearing socks?)

I also learned not to rely on my forearm crush as an alternative to the armbar, but to use it as a means for getting the armbar. I was apparently close to tapping him, had nice tight control of his shoulder, and was really controlling his head with my left leg hooray! but I gave up too soon!!! DAMMIT.

Anyway I get to roll this morning, then kajukenbo tonight. Can't wait to do the Gracie school full time.

And on a separate topic entirely: work is going crazy. Have a phone conference with my judge in a case this afternoon; hope to get it put off from October 6th.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Some very nice grappling, found on YouTube while I was supposed to be working!

Here Genki Sudo vs. Caol Uno... as titled, it is amazing. I was ooh'ing with the rest of the crowd especially around 5:35..

And here is Genki against Vitor Belfort at Abu Dhabi 2001..

And I notice there's a NAGA tournament here in Texas next May... might be something to shoot for..

Sarah Palin?!?! NO WAY IN HELL.

The great article below can be found here.

White women, no way
Once pro-Obama, but now swoon for McPalin? Who the hell are you?

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Friday, September 19, 2008

Every white woman I know is positively horrified.

Wait, that's not exactly true. It's more accurate to say that every thoughtful or liberal or intuitive or open-minded white woman I know worth her vagina monologue and her self-determination and two centuries of nonstop striving for equal rights and sexual freedom and exhaustive patriarchal unshackling is right now openly horrified, appalled at what the addition of shrill PTA hockey-mom Sarah Palin seems to have done for the soggy, comatose McCain campaign -- that is, make it not merely remotely interesting and melodramatic, but aggressively hostile to, well, to all intelligent women everywhere.

Truly, among women in the know and especially among those who fought so hard to bring Hillary Clinton to the brink of history, nausea and a general recoiling appear to be the universal reactions to Palin's sudden presence on the national stage, stemming straight from the idea that there's even a slight chance in hell such an antagonistic, anti-female politico could be within a 72-year-old heartbeat of becoming the most powerful and iconic woman of all time.

They say: You've got to be kidding me. They say: This is what we get? This could be our historic role model? Two hundred years (OK, more like 2000) of struggle, only to have this nasty caricature of femininity try to hijack and mock and undermine it all?

It cannot be true, they say. The universe must joking, would not dare dump such a homophobic, Creationist evangelical nutball on us, this anti-choice, God-pandering woman who's the inverse of Hillary, this woman of deep inexperience who abhors birth control and supports abstinence education and shoots exhausted wolves from helicopters and hates polar bears and actually stands for everything progressive women have resented since the first pope Swift-Boated Eve.

But now, the truly bizarre part. Despite this defiant outcry, a great many pundits and reports have suggested that, just after the Palin VP announcement, a sizable chunk of predominantly white women nevertheless abandoned their tentative support for Obama and leapt into the lyin' arms of McCain, presumably simply because of Palin's gender and PTA momhood.

And thus did the harrowing wail go out: WTF? Could it be true? Are cadres of formerly Obama-leaning white women really so enchanted by Palin's gender and motherhood status that they openly ignore the fact that she basically wants to shove women's rights back about five decades? Can it be so simple, crude, sad?

Let us analyze. Let me, being a straight white male and therefore only capable of gazing in awe at the spectacle that is the indecipherable female intuitive response, foolishly attempt to decipher some of it anyway, and explain why in hell some women might jump to Palin, despite the fact that she essentially hates them. Shall we begin?

"She's one of us." This was the resounding quote from many deer-in-the-Palin-headlights fans, a bizarre, dangerous sentiment that echoes the blue-collar Midwest's blind love of George W. Bush, simply because he came across as the kind of simple-minded aw-shucks guy you'd want to have a beer with, never you mind that giant silver spoon sticking out of his mouth or that giant daddy's-boy chip on his droopy shoulders.

Is this all it is? Does "one of us" merely mean white women really believe Palin could, if McCain didn't survive his first term, effectively lead the most powerful, flawed, complicated nation on the planet merely because she's a hard-workin' mom with moxie, that she's managed to raise a gaggle of strangely named kids who hunt and don't believe in evolution and get pregnant before they're old enough to buy a pack of Marlboros?

Or does it mean they agree with Palin about not giving a damn for equal pay, or honest sex education, or separation of church and state, or alternative energy, or a woman's right to choose, or their own daughters' rights if they get knocked up after being raped or incested? Nah, that can't be it.

Maybe we're just not used to seeing the female voting demographic depicted this way. Truly, it's usually men who are the knuckleheaded ones, who will flip their vote merely over a single inconsequential issue ("I like everything about Obama except he supports gun control, and I love my guns, so I guess I gotta go for McCain"). Women, according to the eternal mythology, are no such dupes, and choose more wisely, from deeper intuition, instinct. Right?

Wrong. Maybe this is our simple summary, the blaring headline we should be reading in the wake of recent events. "Easily duped Palin supporters prove: Some white women are just as dumb as men." Is that all it is? Maybe so.

Ah, but there is good news. It appears the bloom is already off the McPalin rose, the baby bump she gave McCain is already gone, as everyone from here to Wasilla is sick to death of hearing about her. Every day that goes by it comes clearer that the Sarah juggernaut is no juggernaut at all but merely an increasingly disturbing PR stunt, and a bit of a disgrace for John McCain himself, whose once-noble aura of integrity and class has essentially vanished.

A potent backlash is coming fast. Actually, it began almost immediately, just after the Republican National Convention, when the GOP cheerfully announced they'd raised a whopping one million bucks in the 24 hours following Palin's speech, so inspired was the heavily drugged conservative base by her teleprompter-reading skills (she didn't write a single word of her own speech, of course; it came from a former Bushite, well before she was the VP pick).

Well, gosh. Really? A million? Wow.

But then Obama's campaign issued a statement of their own. Turns out they'd raised a bit money in the exact same time frame, a rather impressive outpouring of cash from all those on the left who could be heard screaming "oh my God no way in hell" to their TV screens as Palin's finger jabbed at the heart of all that's right and good with the world. The amount Obama raised in the same 24 hours? $10 million. Well now.

How much of that staggering amount came from the newly galvanized, infuriated female populace from the left who see right through Palin's shrill charade and damn well recognize an imposter in their midst, it's impossible to tell. But I think it's a damn safe bet to assume, they are legion.

And let me tell you, they are pissed.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Drilling Saturday...

Note: how sad, on a Saturday night, I come home from a BBQ with friends and still think about bjj.


I love how teaching someone else can cement something in your mind, or reveal weaknesses in what you thought you knew. Today my kajukenbo brownbelt friend wanted to drill armbars and triangles from the guard. It would be more accurate to say he wanted me to learn what I need to learn by pretending to teach them to him, as definitely I was learning how to do them by the process of teaching him. The armbar is familiar, and it helps that I've been picking up bits and pieces of it from everywhere. But the triangle was my sticky wicket, because I just had a hard time figuring out what to do with the other arm! By the "other" arm I mean the one that isn't in front of their head, the one that isn't between my legs. The bent leg is on top of that shoulder, and if you start in guard, I haven't really grasped how you get from guard to having your leg next to their neck. The version of the triangle from guard on Submissions101, my go-to resource lately, isn't terribly helpful because they just stuff the offending arm down and behind the leg that goes up and over the back. That's not easy if you're not super-strong in the upper body.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Rolling Thursday

Yesterday after my usual class at the gym, Chris and I did about an hour of no-gi and I had a great time. I did manage to tap him, though I am certain he let me. It was an armbar from mount. Otherwise, he spent the hour neatly foiling all my other submission attempts, letting me work on my body-triangle defenses, letting me practice my pathetic attempts at armbars from guard, and (small victory here) not being able to quite get any chokes or neck cranks on me.

I escaped his omoplata pretty well the last time we'd rolled, but this time, he held onto my hips and I couldn't somersault out of it. In my attempts to wraggle free, I posted out on my other arm, and he did some nifty thing behind my back that turned it into a kimura. He demonstrated for me, but I can't visualize it, so that's my latest curiosity.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rolling Wednesday

I had a great roll with my friend Tom yesterday. I don't expect I'll get many more from him for a while, though, since he's going to the NAGA competition in Vegas October 4th, so he'll be busy dropping weight and training with people who actually challenge him. He's trying to go from 165 into the fly or feather weight division (139.9 or 149.9, respectively) and will also (crazy man) compete in the absolute division i.e. no weight classes. Yikes! I was very interested to check out the womens' divisions and who knows, maybe I'll try competing next year assuming pregnancy/childbirth doesn't interfere.

Anyway, the roll. I worked most of the time on passing his guard, still getting triangled, armbarred and guillotined on a regular basis. From my closed guard, I'm better at escaping his can-opener tendencies, though I needed some encouragement to go for the armbar, as I'm always afraid of clocking him in the head. In fact, I did once, because I use both hands to control his wrist(s) and don't reach up to push his head down.

I'm practicing for the belt test next Saturday. Kajukenbo belt tests have sparring-- stand up and on the ground-- and I'm scared. It will be interesting for sure. They bring in black belts from other academies and just charge into you for 5 min rounds.

Then at my grappling class (in the kajukenbo school) we worked on triangles and armbars from the guard. This weekend I'm practicing all my forms and techniques for the belt test, and Samir and I will spend an hour drilling back and forth. I'm sure that will help.

Hopefully I get to roll with Robert today before kaju class.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some gratuitous Palin/McCain bashing...

Got this from a friend who got this from her sister and none of us know who to credit...
* * * * * * * *
I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight.....

* If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're 'exotic,

* Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story.

* If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

* Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.

* Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

* Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.

* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first
black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive
that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law
professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with
over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human
Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a

state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the
Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs
committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

* If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council
and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as
the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to
become the country's second highest ranking executive.

* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2
beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real

* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your
disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

* If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the
proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

* If , while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other
option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen
daughter ends up pregnant , you're very responsible.

* If your wife is a Harvard graduate laywer who gave up a position in a
prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community,
then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent

* If you're husband is nicknamed 'First Dude', with at least one DWI
conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age
25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska
from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jeff & Lauri's wedding...

Mitch's college friend and sailing buddy, Jeff, married Lauri last Friday in a lovely, intimate ceremony. Unfortunately, their photographer bailed at the last minute because of a sick child! So I was honored to step in (and extremely happy that Mitch had brought his new Nikon D40, since Jeff called to ask me to shoot the wedding after we'd left Austin!)

So here are some pictures-- we had the 18-50mm and the 50-200mm, and only the pop-up flash, but I still think they turned out acceptably well. Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the church to get good "kiss" pictures, but what can you do?

Here's the cute little chapel-

Her dress was a gorgeous shade of champagne, in duchess satin...

Jeff, getting his younger son Dylan into his tux... isn't he a ham?

It's the little details that count..

Her something-borrowed and something -old, a love knot ring she and her father had given her mother when she was a little girl... and her something-blue was her toenail polish :)

Lauri made it easy to take a stunning bridal portrait!

Jeff's older son, Justin..

And of course, Dylan wanted to climb on anything available...

Getting excited!

The chapel was softly lit with candles..

Look at her ring, it's beautiful.

Her parents..

And his-

The look on his face when he first saw her enter the chapel..

Jeff's son Dylan, and Lauri's daughter Alexa...

Dylan, clowning a bit..

And Lauri, given away by her son Taylor..

The ceremony was short and sweet...

Here's my only kiss shot! Boo hoo...

Then we all piled out of the church..

And headed over to the Prairie House for some barbecue!

I wasn't the only one eager to get at the cakes!

Lauri's cute flip-flops

A gaggle of little girls..

Yours truly on the other end of the lens for once..

After dinner, Jeff and Lauri exchanged a very private toast.

Then, the cake. You can see a little bit of fear in her eyes...

And no wonder!

After dessert, Jeff and Lauri called it an early night, since their flight to Mexico left early the next morning. We had a fantastic time sharing their special day.


I have officially given notice to Tony, the kajukenbo instructor at the kajukenbo academy. (The class Robert teaches is at my regular gym, or I should say "was"-- due to declining enrollment, it was cancelled, so Robert gave me and two others to HIS instructor Tony.) It wasn't easy, because I genuinely enjoy the camaraderie I feel there, and I will miss the personalities. But this month I have felt even more torn between jits and kaju, and the result has unfortunately been that I don't put my heart into either. With work ramping up, I can't afford to do 5 hours in a row of any martial art, so I needed to pick one.

I haven't officially joined the Gracie school yet and since I'm committed to kaju until the end of September, I feel weird about skipping class to do jiu jitsu, so for the next two weeks I'm still not getting formal jiu jitsu training. That doesn't stop me from dreaming about it though. Yes, I armbarred someone from guard in my sleep last night and it wasn't my husband. Is that cheating? ;)

On that subject-- Mitch deigned to allow me to show him some things yesterday... I explained position before submission to the best of my whitebelt ability, demonstrated an Americana and a Kimura, and allowed him to do them to me. He's still not interested in being my demo dummy really; when I gently did a guard pass he got irritable. But hopefully his interest will grow sufficiently that I can practice on him a little bit. In the meantime we have worked out a happy compromise that gets him rowing on the lake more often, so he'll miss me less when I'm rolling.

Lucky me, I still have Robert, and Tom, at my regular gym, so I can still roll around even when the kaju class isn't doing ground work. Yesterday would have been judo day in kajukenbo, but I stayed home sick (I have a cold) and still ended up working all day to get my brief finalized for my supervisor's review. I'm still working from home this morning, though I have to be in to the office this afternoon to make sure it gets fed-exed out to the Fifth Circuit all pretty.

I'll drag myself in to my noon class at the gym because I have put on some weight (doubtless from the wedding cake at Jeff & Lauri's wedding last Friday.. and the Belgian waffle with Mitch's brother and family on Saturday... and the cheese ravioli with pesto and shrimp on Sunday... and the *second* Belgian waffle of the week yesterday!) It's only 3lbs but that's a lot when you're short. Anyway, I have kaju today from 4-8, but there's also jits at the Gracie school from 5-8, which dovetails with their women's-only class from 7-9. And I'm picking up my long-time friend Ken at his hotel tonight at 8 to go out to dinner... he's in town for a conference and I haven't seen him in years. (He already knows I'll come with my hair all frowsy.)

The real bummer is, I have to do defensive driving and soon, so I had to decline Tom's rolling invitation at 9:30 this morning. Boo!

Friday, September 12, 2008

This morning's roll..

Rolled with Robert in gi this morning.. he's a personal trainer, my instructor in kajukenbo, and teaches my conditioning class every weekday at noon. He's huge and strong and just the sweetest, gentlest, kindest soul. So rolling with him is like rolling with a big, unclawed grizzly bear. He's recuperating from back surgery and so I am apparently great rehab. :)

We started from knees, and I attempted the start of 2 of the 3 sweeps I learned last night. One is a straightforward butterfly sweep, the other involves trapping one leg and sliding it back under them as you push/roll them to that side (a push sweep). Neither worked because I found him rather the immovable object, and apparently despite my own ego I am not the irresistible force. (If you're curious, the third sweep was very similar to that last one, but it starts with your bicep clocking them on the side of the jaw as you wrap your arm around their head/neck, and I wasn't very confident I could pull it off any better than the first two, so why clock my friend in the jaw, I reasoned.)

Most of the time, I worked on passing his guard (closed and half)... I was moderately successful except when he kept my wrists up by his clavicle or really pinched his thighs tight around my hips. Usually what I use is the knee-in-butt-crack, shoot-the-other-leg-back, pin-one-thigh-down pass, which most often got me in half guard. Half guard with him is an okay position for me, as it's one of the rare times our size differential works to my advantage; I can usually get out of his half guard much easier because my stubby little legs fit in the spaces better. Once I used the stand-up pass Eduardo taught me in Berkeley, but I was cautious because of Chris' back; he was giving me sleeve control too.

I was pretty successful on offense this time because he was giving me stuff if I got close to right. I got two Americanas, one on each side, one from mount and one from side control. I almost got a straight armbar from mount.

I was thinking more strategically (BJJ is chess with pain, right?) which is good-- when he'd get one lapel, I was good about controlling his other arm; he didn't lapel-choke me once, and even though he kept pulling my gi skirt out, it never went anywhere either. However, he was able to keep me on the defense, and I never even set up much of a choke on him.

I'm still not so hot on controlling him from the back-- couldn't sink the RNC or even come close before he rolled on me, and from there my stubby legs just couldn't keep hooks in much less close around his waist (body triangle you say? HAHAHA) He did some nice armbars from back control, but when I try the same on him, as I've said before, it's like a kitten on the table trying to turn the table upside down by pulling on the leg.

Anyway it was a great 75 min of cardio and resistance training ;) and a good start to my weekend. We're almost out the door now to head for Jeff and Lauri's wedding in Dallas so I better close the laptop for now.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Yeah, that's me, I'm sore. I love rolling with big enormous people, it guarantees that anything I can make happen is a technique move, not a strength move. However, trying to keep my hooks in on a 6'2" 220lb man is tough; ditto the RNC; ditto closing my guard... ditto everything. And forget sweeps from the mount-- even my neck strap muscles are sore.

Sorry I didn't finish editing the last post on San Fran-- life just accelerated beyond all predictions the last few days and only now do I have a minute to take a breath.

For one thing, Mitch and I had a "talk" about how I'd been spending an awful lot of time on BJJ and martial arts, and how he was missing me. *Smile* Isn't he sweet! Of course he's right, and it was compounded by two weekends in a row out of town. If I could figure out how to get the pictures I took with my cell phone *out* of Sprint PictureMail and *into* my blog, you'd see how adorable my best friend Heather is with her daughter, the exceptional 3 yr old Hannah. And you'd see a little bit of San Fran, though I wasn't smart enough to take pictures of my training mentor Michael or any of my instructors or rolling mates. So anyway, I have been making sure Mitch knows he does come first in my life, even ahead of BJJ, which you know means a lot.

For another thing, I've been swamped suddenly at work. I had some big deadlines before, don't get me wrong-- but they were manageable and doable even with the constraints imposed by my ramping-up addiction to training. But now I have even more! Fortunately some of my deadlines have been foisted on other people, but I'm still swimming upstream as hard as I can paddle. (I do think the judge will have to grant a continuance, as defense counsel wants one too.) More on that in another post or two I'm sure.

Right now I'm forced to attend to work more assiduously than usual, so it's cutting into training time. I head to Dallas this weekend for a friend's wedding on Friday night, but I may get in a class or a private or both while up there. There's a Carlos Machado school in the metroplex, but I don't think he teaches group classes... and of course there's the 10th Planet school in Waxahachie. We'll see.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Monday, September 01, 2008

BJJ Tour of SF, part 3 of 3...

I'm kind of pooped right now, but wanted to say I had the BEST time in SF. My final day of jits started at 9am with a private at the Ralph Gracie school in Berkeley-- Eduardo Fraga is a great instructor. Then his group class wore me out, in a good way, and I especially enjoyed rolling with one of his white belts who was just fantastic. I wished I could have put that guy (can't recall his name right now!) in my pocket and taken him home.

Then we scooted over to Oakland for my private with Stephan Goyne. Man, he is a great teacher. I am so fortunate to have Michael W. as my friend and BJJ tour guide, and perhaps I will come back to SF to have another long weekend of training some time. I did get to spend a fair bit of time walking around the city with another tour guide, Elia, one of Denny's students. That was probably the highlight of my trip.

Thanks, guys.