Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

Kind of ridiculous to be so damn happy over something essentially worthless, or worth-less-than-my-reaction.... but here goes.

I feel like I'm back in the jits-saddle again.

Couple reasons: one, I decided I won't be ashamed to ask someone to go lighter on me or to ask them earlier to show me how to do something.  There's no point in insisting on doing things the hard way if there's a better way, just because it's the "hard" way.  And I apparently don't learn things very well just by beating my head against the wall.

Two, I had some very positive experiences on the mat yesterday. I got frustrated again with my blue belt friend, though he was supportive and encouraging. Then I watched another blue belt roll with him, and they had problems too! And they're bigger and stronger than me! So it felt good to see that.

Three, then I rolled with them. I had a plan in mind, I worked my plan, I worked for and got (most of) the positions I wanted and kept calm and steady.   I felt much better afterward, like I could see that I was at least somewhat capable of working some escapes, some reversals/sweeps, etc.

Yay :) Thanks all for your encouraging words, too.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Congrats Shama and Donald!

One of my mentors in jiu jitsu, Shama, just won the gold medal last night at the Pan Ams (one of the bigger international jits competitions, this year in LA). She's a purple belt, about 115 lbs, and super-super strong.

Donald, a Royler Gracie brown who just moved to Austin recently, also won gold in his division, and was promoted to black by Royler himself while Donald was on the podium accepting his medal.

Way to go guys!!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


This morning I dyed another gi. It was originally white with pale pink trim (my childrens' size Keiko) and I thought it would be good to dye it peach-- partly because it already had some set-in bloodstains on the sleeves thanks to my easy-to-bloody nose, and they were kind of a pale peach color already. I have to say I'm not happy, again, with the intensity and brightness of the result. Instead of pastel, I ended up with dayglow. A dayglow Orangsicle, if you will. The kind of orange-cream soda color you wouldn't necessarily enjoy wearing.

So after washing and drying it, I tried bleaching it. I'd say about 2 cups bleach to about 6 gallons of hot water, soaked for about 22 minutes, and then because I'd forgotten there was already a gi in the washer (from rolling this morning) I let the peach gi sit in the kitchen sink, still soaked in bleach solution, for probably another 20-30 min. The bleaching helped a bit. I'll post better pics later; this, taken with my cell phone, shows my stack of gis on the dryer with the peach one on top. I will have two greens to add to the collection soon enough.

I have some sage green dye, and 2 gis left. The Atama Mundial #7 has those rip-stop pants, so I'm not sure they're cotton and therefore might not take the dye. Ergo, I will still have one white gi. The Atama summerweight will be tie-dyed; the Keiko Raca with red streaks just got dyed coral pink (much more aptly called a strawberry pink, I think I'll love it.) I just sent off my too-big kelly green gi to Mark at Badgerland Jiu Jitsu and hopefully will get a smaller one of those soon. I'm also getting a single weight for only $60 from Howard Combat Kimonos and I'll probably try a Fuji single weight too. Call me crazy but I like being different and I'm enjoying the experiment process. I have had a few people ask me to dye gis for them (happy to do it) and many many requests for a tie-dyed one. (I think they just want ME to wear it and be an even bigger target than I already am. Fine, happy to do that too :) )

But the real thing I've been struggling with for a few days now... my frustration.  It started when I rolled recently. This guy is a higher belt, of course bigger than me, more experienced, and very nice. He's a good person to pair up with when the class is learning and drilling a technique, because he'll explain what you're doing wrong and he doesn't hesitate to give you feedback. However, both times I've rolled with him in a sparring situation have resulted in me crying. (He didn't know, either time, I hope, because I was quite sweaty anyway, and I wasn't sobbing or making noise. I just couldn't keep the tears in.)

I AM NOT THAT GIRL. I hate crying anyway-- except for those movies that are supposed to make you cry, in which case the catharsis is wonderful. But I generally don't cry, period, and I especially would never ever imagine crying in jits, over jits, or having anything to do with jits. It just isn't (usually) that frustrating or important. I have so much FUN when I'm rolling, it doesn't (usually) bother me much to get swept, caught, crushed, whatever.

But with him, it's been different, and I've racked my brain trying to analyze why. Partly I think it's because he doesn't smile or make any positive/friendly facial expressions. He appears quite implacable and unemotional. Kind of reminds me of the liquid-metal man in the Terminator-- you know, the highway patrol cop one? Super-serious, never cracks a smile, just keeps on coming after you like a machine. It starts feeling scary and even personal, which is illogical, but that's what my gut feels. After the third judo footsweep thing, in a row, in which I was obviously not getting how to avoid it or how to counter it, and in which my f-ing ankle felt like it was being hit with a hammer each time, I felt like it was perhaps incumbent upon the higher belt to stop a moment and instruct me. Since he didn't, I stopped, and asked what I was doing wrong. "Don't get in that position. Counter it." OK, thanks, obviously I don't know HOW.

At another point, after he successfully head-snapped me, he brought up his knee and  stopped just short of kneeing me in the face. I was really scared, tried to laugh it off and told him I didn't want to do the vale tudo MMA stuff. He responded by telling me I wouldn't have that option "on the street" so I had to be ready for anything. Yes, this is true, but since I'm not used to having training partners simulating "fights on the street" in class, I was pretty scared.

He started mixing up his takedowns, but each one was equally successful, and within 4-5 minutes, I realized that I was both crying *and* mentally giving up. I wasn't quitting, I was getting up every time and coming back, but I was already certain I was getting taken down again, and I wasn't thinking offensively any longer. That totally SUCKED.

There aren't really any people who CAN'T take me down, so I'm not complaining about being taken down again and again. I don't mind that. I can't quite put my finger on why THIS time it bothered me so, but I definitely felt frustrated, even intimidated. The only thing I was proud of was not quitting and not asking him to take it easier on me. Maybe I should have made that request?

Then another day I rolled at lunch open mat. 45 minutes with a good friend and fellow blue belt. 45 minutes of being crushed in sidemount, in which all my escape attempts failed and left an arm exposed, resulting in americanas, armbars, and even a mounted triangle. 45 minutes of my attempts at mount escapes resulting merely in easily-passed halfguard, failed halfguard sweeps, failure in general. Oh, and don't forget-- we started every match from our feet, so there's also 45 minutes of not getting my grips, not breaking his, not getting takedowns, and getting taken down. *sigh*

At least he had to shower up at 45 minutes in, so I next rolled with a visiting blue belt from another city, a really nice guy. That resulted in 15 minutes of again being crushed in side, mounted, and two nice gi chokes, unusual ones I haven't dealt with much before involving the tail of my own gi. (I admit I did feel some detached interest in seeing what he did with the tail, so I didn't defend as much as I might have, even though I know it's never good when they start undressing you. Or themselves.)

He did give me some hints on bettering my transition from side to mount (something he called "going fishing": your headside arm is under their head, hipside knee tight against their hip, hipside hand digs down under their near elbow/tricep and pulls the arm up and over their chest, to be pinned there with your chest as you switch hips, sitting on the headside hip and now facing their feet. I don't recall what exactly the hipside hand then does but it would logically want to control their hips maybe by grabbing a knee? and I believe the transition to mount, when you're pinning their arm that tightly with your chest, is pretty easy; it felt like his hip was high up against my shoulder.)

To top it all off, I rolled with another good friend and as always was dominated. He gets air on a scissor sweep. When he let me pass his open guard, an area I'm intently working on these days, I did get mount and I was mildly successful in trying for the Donald choke and the ezequiel (shocker) and in not getting reversed, for a little while anyway.  I was grateful for the chance to work on stuff and not get "stuffed" the whole time.

I know this all sounds like a bag of wind. I don't want to whine, I just want to understand where I'm going wrong. I feel like I'm training hard, I'm trying to learn the techniques and apply them, but somewhere there's a connection I'm not making. My tentative conclusions:

- I'm letting people settle into mount/side control and not trying to work my escapes quickly enough.
- I'm putting too much emphasis on not wasting energy thrashing around (which is what lots of the side and mount escapes end up feeling like) and I'm playing too much a waiting game. I often catch myself giving up my back and I think that plays into the same phenomenon.
- I'm not focused enough on thinking-- about their moves, my reactions, and grasping patterns. Therefore later instead of realizing specifics I need to work on, I'm left with the vague generalization that I'm getting crushed. Not terribly helpful.
- I don't have a plan or roadmap for what I'm trying to accomplish, takedown-wise. I have six techniques running around in my head, but what comes out is 1/6th of each mixed together which is worse than nothing.

My ultimate conclusion is that really, I'm not a blue belt. People watching me and my friend rolling this morning exclaimed about his underbelted-ness aloud because that's true, he seems like he's better than the belt he wears, but no one points out that I am not a blue belt because they're being kind. I am not rolling like a blue belt, I'm not thinking like a blue belt, and I'm definitely not excited about competing as a blue belt.

It's a blue day for me in jits.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles

Sensory Learning Styles
Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic Learning Styles in Grappling
by Charles Smith, whitebelt.org


People learn in many different ways and no two people learn in exactly the same way. As a coach you can help your players train more efficiently if you teach in a way that takes into account the various differences in their learning styles.

In this article.. I cover three basic styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

Visual learners want to see how something is done. Auditory learners prefer to hear explanations and like to talk their way through things. Kinesthetically oriented people want to get lots of hands-on experience so they can feel how something is done. I’ve covered each of these sensory learning styles in their own article, linked at the bottom of this page.

As you read the articles keep in mind that everyone uses a mix of learning styles. Some people have one dominant style, and use the others only as supplements, while other people use different styles in different circumstances. There is no right mix. People’s learning styles are also quite flexible. Everyone can develop ability in their less dominant styles, as well as increase their skill with styles they already use well.

Note to Coaches:

The key for you as a coach is to present information in a multi-layered mixture of styles. Don’t get stuck teaching in just one mode. Make sure you’re doing all you can for each style and pay particular attention to how you can blend the styles together.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you should help your students discover their own learning styles and how to make the most of them.
Visual Learning Style

First we’ll look at the visual learning style and how best to teach people who use it.

The visual style of learning is one of the three sensory learning styles along with auditory and kinesthetic. Like the other two, visual learning relates to the fundamental ways in which people take-in information. As you can guess, visual learners learn predominantly with their eyes. They prefer to see how to do things rather than just talk about them. It’s the old monkey see, monkey do kind of thing. Since about 60% of people are visual learners you can count on working with them in every class you teach.

Visual learners prefer to watch demonstrations and will often get a lot out of video taped instruction as well. You can sometimes tell you’re dealing with a visual learner when they ask, “Can I see that again?” Other types of learners would ask if you could do it again, or explain it again, but visual learners will often say they want to see it. It’s just a little sign that the person you’re coaching may be a visual learner.

There are two important guidelines to follow in coaching for visual learners. The first is to make sure you are showing the movements as completely and clearly as possible. If you’re demonstrating a technique and part of the movement is hidden from view, you’ll want to find a way to rearrange things. You may have to get pretty creative, but the main thing is to position yourself so that everything you’re doing is available for viewing.

You also don’t want to rush or cut corners during a demonstration. Players need to see exactly how things should look from beginning to end. Coaches will frequently cover the key part of a technique with precision, but then get sloppy with the rest. Remember, monkey see, monkey do. Visual learners are going to do what they see you doing. They’ll subconsciously pick up on the sloppy movements and begin copying them - often even if you tell them not to.

Those are the two main guidelines for visual coaching: Show everything clearly and show everything exactly as you want it to be done.

Based on those ideas, here are a few things you can do, and not do, to improve your coaching for visual learners.

* Always take the time to show the technique from a number of different angles and encourage your students to move around and find the best viewing angles.
* Do not force your students to stay in fixed lines while you demonstrate. This always results in some people blocking the view of others.
* Give your demonstrations toward the middle of the floor, not near a wall. That way people can get all the way around you.
* Every now and then throw out a banana. Monkeys like bananas.

Auditory Learning Style

Auditory learners pick up new ideas and concepts better when they hear the information. In this article we’ll look at the auditory learning style and how best to present information to people who favor it.

Recognizing the Auditory Style

Auditory people can often follow directions very precisely after being told only once or twice what to do. Some auditory learners concentrate better when they have music or white noise in the background, or retain new information better when they talk it out.

Since hearing and speaking are so closely related you’ll often find auditory learners using they’re voice as well as their ears. They’ll often repeat what you’ve said right back to you. It helps them process the information. They may also remember complex sets of information by putting them to song or rhythm. Singers are usually skilled auditory learners for example. That’s why they can memorize a song after hearing it just a few times. Auditory people may also ask, “Could you explain that again?” Other types of learners would ask you to do it again, or show it again, but auditory learners want to hear it.

Once you start watching for the signs you’ll see just how many people prefer the auditory style. I believe the experts say that about 30% of Americans are auditory learners. That makes it a good bet you’ll be working with them in any decent sized class.

Organization Techniques

As with the other styles of learning it’s best to let people arrange themselves around you for instruction. Don’t force your students to stay in fixed lines while you demonstrate. Lines always result in some people not being able to hear as well as others - or feeling that they’ve been pushed to the back and can’t ask questions.

I’d suggest giving your demonstrations toward the middle of the floor and not near a wall. That way people can get all the way around you to find the best place to listen from. You may have to encourage people to move around you since so many of us are conditioned to being in neat little lines.

Likewise, it’s also a good idea to let people ask questions as soon as they have them. Requiring people to raise their hands or otherwise wait for permission to speak usually squanders the moment when a student is really hot to learn. You’ll just end up back tracking to answer the question anyway, so let people speak up when they want to and rely on informal means to keep things under control.

Expository Techniques

Auditory learners will try to do what you say - exactly what you say. You need to speak clearly and completely or they’re going to head off in the wrong direction for sure. Assuming you’ve got decent speaking skills, the thing to pay most attention to is giving a detailed verbal description of what you’re doing. In other words, you’ve got to put everything into words.

Saying "do it like this" is not enough. It’s talking, sure, but it’s not saying anything. "Do it like this" means: Ignore what I’m saying and watch instead. Instead of saying "put your hand here." Say "put your hand on the inside of the knee." Instead of saying "push hard," say "push hard enough to pin their leg down." Instead of saying, "move over here," say "move over next to the far leg." See the pattern? Avoid saying things that assume the player can see what you’re talking about.

Questioning Techniques

Getting verbal helps a lot of auditory learners. When they can both hear something and then say it out loud for themselves it helps them process the information. Most auditory learners like to ask questions too, if given the chance. You can get things started, and give everyone confidence that you like questions, by asking some questions of your own.

I would caution one thing though. Don’t make people feel like they’re being tested by putting them on the spot. Address your question to the group as a whole and don’t slight anyone who answers incorrectly.

One of my favorite ways to tell someone they’ve got it wrong is to use a melodramatic voice and body language to say:

“Good answer! Good answer!”

Then pause a moment and say:

“It’s not the right answer, but it’s a good answer!”

“Good answer.”

If you ham it up people get the idea that the answer is wrong but there’s no reason to be embarrassed.


Verbal interaction is probably one of the weakest areas most coaches have. Perhaps it’s because most of us grew up being told to keep quite in school. Now that we’re the teacher we subconsciously induce our students to do the same. Bad, bad us.

If you’re really having trouble with asking questions, one of the simplest ways to start is a technique called echoing. It works like this:

Coach states: “Grab the near collar.”

Coach immediately asks: “What do you grab?”

Athletes echo: “The near collar.”

Coach echoes: “The near collar.”

Echoing is crude, but it works to get people’s jaws moving and that’s a start. Keep it light hearted and try it for a few months. (No, it doesn’t work overnight.) After everyone’s mouth is use to moving start branching out into real questions.

Like I said, echoing is crude, but it’s a start.

By the way, echoing can also be used as a motivational technique. People have to pay more attention to what you’re saying if they know they have to echo what you say.

Meta-Learning Techniques
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you should help your students become aware of their own auditory style and give them suggestions for putting it to use. What I call rapping is a simple way to start.


Rapping is a simple procedure auditory learners can use to help themselves learn a new technique. Using short phrases, students quietly talk their way through the new movements they’re learning. Each step has it’s own little key word description that acts to jog the memory. The player should be able to put together the key words for themselves from the description given by the coach. Once the student starts to get the movements down, they can say the words in rhythm to help smooth out their timing and pace.

Coaches can encourage rapping by asking students if they’ve got the rap down and “let’s hear it.” And hey, maybe you can beat-box for ‘em too!

Or not.


Now that you’ve got a grasp of the auditory learning style I think you’ll find you can more precisely target your coaching for a number of your students. If you haven’t already, I’d recommend taking a look at the other two sensory learning styles, visual and kinesthetic, to round out your knowledge.
Kinesthetic Learning Style

About 10% of the general population are kinesthetic learners. They prefer to learn by getting their body into action and moving around. They are “hands-on” types who prefer doing to talking. In this article we’ll look at the kinesthetic learning style and how best to present information to people who favor it.

Recognizing the Kinesthetic Style

While only about 10% of the general population are kinesthetic learners, it’s a good bet a lot more people in a grappling class are. Only people who enjoy lots of hands-on work tend to keep coming back to something so physical.

As a coach you can count on all of your players to engage in kinesthetic learning. They may not be kinesthetic-oriented by nature, but grappling will eventually shape them into skilled kinesthetic learners.

Let me point out a few indicators of the kinesthetic style.

When you’re giving a demonstration the people who always ask you to demonstrate on them so they can feel the technique, are very likely kinesthetic learners (and masochists).

You’ll also see the kinesthetic types following along as you demonstrate - moving their arms and legs in imitation of what you’re doing. Moving is so fundamental to kinesthetic learners that they often just fidget if nothing else. It helps them concentrate better.

Organization Techniques

If you talk for more than ten minutes during a technical demonstration you’ve gone way too long. Kinesthetic learners need to get to the action as soon as possible. Even visual and auditory learners can’t keep track of 10 minutes worth of non-stop details. Three minutes is my rule. If I can’t demonstrate something in under three minutes I usually break it down into smaller chunks. Say what you need say, don’t say anything else and then get to work.

This is a very important point that relates not just to kinesthetic learners but to everyone in general. It has to do with the relationship between short-term-memory and learning. Check out the article entitled Chunking to find out more.

Meta-Learning Techniques

One of the most important things you can do regarding learning styles is help your students become aware of their own preferences. Be sure to talk to your students about kinesthetics.

Kinesthetics simply refers to an awareness of changes in pressure, momentum, balance and body position in general. It’s all about feeling what you’re doing as you do it. Kinesthetic learning is not particularly difficult to understand but because so many people regard learning as something you do by reading books or listening to lectures, they often haven’t given a great deal of thought to physical movement as a means of study.

For some people, taking a grapping class may actually be the very first time they become consciously aware of kinesthetics, so make sure all of your students know what it is and that they will need to make extensive use of kinesthetic learning methods to succeed. Even predominantly visual and auditory learners need to make use of all the kinesthetic techniques they can.

Teaching Technique

Essentially, kinesthetic learners need to feel the particular details of what’s happening during a technique. As a coach you want to give your player a very tactile sense of what to do. Provide them with precisely targeted physical contact by setting up situations where the player feels one thing if they move correctly and something else if they move poorly.

For example, if a player is incorrectly leaving his arm out where it might get pulled into an arm bar, have the player tucked in his arm and point out that he should feel his elbow tight up against his own ribs. Then emphasize the way the position feels by pulling on his arm so he is forced to engage his muscles. Tell him to pay attention to his own muscles working away inside his body.

Once he’s got a feel for the proper position, do some repetitions. As the player works on his technique stop and check the arm to make sure it’s in tight. Tug on it a few times to reinforce the correct feeling and then continue on. After several reps stop checking the arm but keep an eye on it as the player keeps going. If that arm goes slack again slap the piss out of the guy and repeat the whole arm-pulling exercise again. After a few training sessions the player should be keeping his arm in on his own.

Finding a way to physically check a player’s body position is the key. Push, pull, lift, press, whatever - do something that the player must physically react to - then get them to pay attention to the kinesthetic sensations.


Understanding kinesthetic learning is an absolute necessity for grappling coaches. I typically base my own coaching style on the requirements for good kinesthetic learning and then supplement it with the other two sensory learning styles: visual and auditory.
* * * * *
This article is from whitebelt.org, which features book, video and grappling gear reviews as well as many fine articles on coaching and training in the grappling arts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

two more thoughts on hair

NOT this:

Maybe something like this in the back? or too short?

Thinking about cutting my hairs shorter...

It's not that I actively want shorter hair, I don't. I love my hair and I loved it more when there was more of it. In other words, a year ago, before jiu jitsu destroyed it. (see these next couple of pictures) I have probably lost half my hair-- breakage due to ponytail rubberbands, braiding, getting stuck in triangles, getting yanked, straining to pull out of guillotines, getting stepped on and torn out during standing guard passes (no joke!) etc. It's breaking my heart and I almost feel like cutting in shorter might save it from strain.

Some possibles...

I wouldn't dye mine, just my gis...

Colored BJJ gis-- dyeing gis-- pictures and results

Tired of white gis and wishing there were more affordable options out there for colored ones, I decided to dye them myself. I bought Procion MX, a fiber reactive dye far superior to grocery-store Rit dye (because you don't have to do it in hot water) from Dharma Trading Company online. I also bought all the other stuff you need-- urea (nitrogen) to make the powder dye paste up (dissolve) better, calsolene oil (lowers surface tension of the water, reduces streaking), soda ash (fixative), etc etc. They also sold textile detergent that keeps the dye from resettling on other colored areas (like in tie-dyes, or on the rubber gaskets in the washer) and an industrial-strength fabric softener since the dyeing process stiffens the fabric a bit. For you BJJers out there I highly recommend this fabric softener, it turned my Gameness gi into silk :)

The dyeing process was remarkably quick and simple. It took about 12 cups of non-iodized salt per gi, in a big rubbermaid storage tub... rubber gloves... about 20 minutes dyeing time and another 30 of fixing, then a trip through the washer. Both the blue ("baby blue") and yellow ("citrus yellow") came out stronger and brighter than I hoped/expected. Actually, I followed the instructions on the blue to the letter, except put 4 ounces of dye powder in instead of 3.2 oz... when I did the yellow gi, I saw in the first couple 2-3 minutes that it was waaaaay brighter/darker than I wanted, so I immediately mixed up some fixative to stop the process. Instead of dyeing the yellow for 20 minutes it was only 4... but the fixative made it appear even darker for a minute (think high school chemistry titration reaction) so I only put in about 1/5 the amount of fixative and basically stopped fixing it after about 5 minutes. I was hoping it would "relax" the intensity of the color, but as you can see, not so much.

None of the Gameness patches were cotton, so they didn't take the color, fortunately. The other gi was an off-brand with cotton embroidery, and the white took on the yellow. The red trim still looks good though.

I still have sage green, peach, and Chinese red dyes to try out. I shamefacedly admit I will probably buy another one or two cheapie gis so I can experiment with tie-dyeing a gi. :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

New grappling application for iPhones- $.99 till March 27

From Stephan Kesting....

The application itself is called "Grapplearts Submissions."

It's designed to work on both the iPhone and the iPod Touch so that you can learn grappling anywhere.

With it you can learn the steps to apply an armlock submission while riding the bus, or review the key points of a leglock while waiting in line at the bank.

It's also a great training tool, especially since it's easy to take with you to class.

Grapplearts Submissions became available on the iTunes store only a few hours ago. My initial thought was to give it a high price and make it exclusive. I figured somewhere in the $10 to $20 range because of all the information in it. Most of the development team disagreed. They want to see the app get super-popular, and thought we should initially keep the price low.

I was outnumbered, and so we reached the compromise of releasing it at the nominal cost of $0.99, but only for the first week. After March 27th we're raising the price.

If you're interested, you can open iTunes manually and search for "Grapplearts Submissions" in the iTunes store.

Please note that this is a big application because it has LOTS of video instruction. That's why you need a wifi network if you want to download it to your iphone directly.

If you don't have a wifi network then just use iTunes to download the app (search for "Grapplearts Submissions" in the iTunes store) and then synch your phone, just like you do for your music, calenders, etc.

Thanks for reading!

Stephan Kesting

P.S. Remember that the Grapplearts Submissions app is $0.99 for the first week ONLY. After March 27th the price goes up!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Slow cooker BBQ pork spareribs

Shout-out to Michael in San Fran :) This is what I mean by barbeque-- not the stuff they like in Texas with the smokiness and the dry rubs and the fatty ("wet") brisket....

I have a bunch of BBQ sauce recipes, but I was in a hurry (too tired after training and wanting to go to bed) so I just used KC Masterpiece bottled sauce (the low-sugar version). One recipe I like, though, is this:

* 2 cups water
* 3/4 cup light corn syrup (necessary for the texture too so don't skip or add more sugar to eliminate this)
* 1/2 cup tomato paste
* 1/2 cup white vinegar
* 3 teaspoons molasses
* 3 teaspoons brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 1/8 tablespoon paprika
* 1/8 tablespoon garlic powder
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until thick, STIRRING OFTEN. Remove from heat and bring to room temp, place in a sterile jar with a lid and let stand overnight in the fridge before using.


Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Put two slabs of pork spareribs on a jellyroll pan (like a cookie sheet but with 4 short sides ~1" tall) and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. 15 minutes each side.

Put 1/2 c water and some good squirts of sauce in the bottom of the cooker; layer ribs and more sauce, and top off with a good helping of sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours. Cool to room temp and refrigerate overnight-- then lift off solidified fat. You can either eat the meat off the bones, or debone it all and shred it for sandwiches. Sometimes you need to cook the sauce down a little bit to make it thicker, sometimes not.

Super simple, super easy, and it makes the house smell SO GOOD :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Drysdale on visualizing the win...

Pinched from a thread over on NHBGear.com-- a Q&A directed at Robert Drysdale....

What goes through your head before a competition? From the night before too the second before your match?

Do you stay calm? do you pump yourself up? do you clear your head? or are you thinking about positions?...ect

Thanks Robert
Good question and one that I've (and every fighter I know) been struggling with for years. Doubt of your victory is the biggest problem. Try to learn how to control your thoughts. Push the ones related to defeat out of your head and try to picture yourself in winning situations. Doubt is something that will always "try" to trouble you. It's just a matter of you being able to control your own thoughts. It's something you perfect over the years and something everyone who fights struggles with, TRUST ME, everyone, no matter how calm he may seem. This is what's helped me a lot: I try to think of my brain as a computer that's programmed before a fight. Now the key is, what will you program it to do? To win? or to lose? I remember having this incredibly talented student in Brazil that always lost in competition. After talking to him about his thoughts prior to his fights, he told me that he always pictured himself getting tired, finished, his opponent passing his guard or taking him down, etc. So that told me all I needed to know about his problem. His "computer" was being "programmed" the wrong way! It's not as easy as it sounds but, like I said before, you get better at it with time. Call me crazy, but I remember some fights where I've pictured myself winning the match in a certain way and the match going that exact same way I wanted it to go. Before you guys think I'm nuts, I must say I'm the most skeptical person on the planet and believe in none of that "The secret" best-seller book. My explanation for it is that your reactions in the fight will happen in accordance with your thoughts. It is as if you would not hesitate when that moment came, because you've already done it a million times in your head before. I'm not sure the brain really knows the difference between "visualizing" and "executing".

Monday, March 16, 2009


Life and BJJ...

Shamelessly pinched from Mike Colon's BJJ blog, found here.

"Here are the top ten things I've learned from BJJ that are applicable in business, relationships, and life in general.

1. Don't resist too much; roll with the punches. Resistance will tire you out and throw you off of your game. Remember that there are many solutions to every problem.... find a new angle.

2. You don't have to be bigger and stronger to succeed. Technique and experience are far superior than force.

3. You will always learn more from losing than from winning.

4. Play safe but not too safe. Injuries will set you back in your progress but fear will take you out of the game completely.

5. If you work uncomfortably harder than your competition, in time you will find yourself comfortably ahead.

6. Match yourself up with strong competitors; they will push you to get better.

7. Absorb everything you can from people who have proven themselves but be careful in taking advice from a rookie.

8. One private lesson from an accomplished instructor is worth at least 10 group lessons.

9. First, become an expert in one or two tactics. They will give you respect and open doors for you to diversify.

10. Be patient; Enjoy the journey and the progress that goes along with it. Focus on being the best you can be for each level of experience."

Speaking of colored gis...

... I've decided to dye some/all of my white ones. I ordered some high quality fiber reactive dyes from Dharma Trading Company, specifically Procion MX, and I'm looking forward to a grownup version of dipping Easter eggs.

I'm definitely dyeing my A1 Keiko Raca "Chinese Red" (because I washed it with a red tshirt by accident, resulting in some interesting red streaks.)

As far as white gis I have a Gameness, an Atama, and a summerweight Atama, plus the Helio Soneca (can I take the patch off the back and replace it with a Relson one after dyeing?) and the white-with-pink childs' size Keiko. I know I need one gi to be "regulation" so that I can compete in Pan Ams/Mundials someday. Not sure I need to have a regulation gi anytime soon since those days are at least a year off, plus I'm about to buy a Relson Gracie official gi in official blue.

Additional colors are on the way-- peach, baby blue, sage green, light yellow. Yes, Easter eggs. Or Jordan almonds.

I'll post results as they come up!

I like this trip...

I'd like to try this judo backtrip, but I haven't been able to set it up in sparring yet.

Get sameside collar grip and sameside cuff grip, straightarming their arm down, pulling them towards you and you going backwards a bit. You're wanting their other arm with a crossbody grip. Usually it seems like this starts with his arm going over your headside arm onto your shoulder/tricep. Once you have broken his posture down a little so that he's leaning forward, let go the sleeve, reach up under your headside arm, and strip his grip from your gi. Then straightarm THAT arm down, still holding/stiffarming his collar. You're moving him so that you can end up standing next to him, facing same direction as he is, with your OUTSIDE foot lined up next to his INSIDE foot, and you "steal the base" by sliding your inside foot along the mat in a straight line behind his heels so that your pelvis collides with his thigh. It's something of a sacrifice trip I think. You end up taking mount and still having his arm--setup for armbar is pretty easy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Look at these amazing COLORED! WOMENS! gis....

Dammit. I was all set to wow the womens' BJJ world with my designer gis... then I see on Cailin's BJJ blog that I have totally missed out on a source for colored gis ...

You have to check out CatFight Gear and tell me what you think. I see another gi or two or three in my near future!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The essence of jiu jitsu...

At least according to Roger Gracie and BJ Penn--

Pass, mount, finish.

What do you think...

This, by the way, is what I'm talkin' 'bout...

Fabulous bit to motivate me...


by Cesar Gracie

On more than a few occasions it has been asked of me what I look for the most in a student. In my early years of teaching I might have answered that strength, physical endurance, speed or agility were traits to be looked for when determining who would excel or become a future champion. However as the years passed, I realized that there was one trait that exceedingly surpassed the aforementioned ones: Perseverance.

Perseverance is not something you can easily identify or hastily confirm. Only the test of time will determine if someone possesses it and there are no shortcuts to attain it. There have been many who demonstrated incredible natural talent, leaving me impressed with a sense that for them, future great accomplishments were a certainty. However these "certainties" almost always went unrealized.

Then there are the students that seemingly never quit, to whom failure in training and loss in competition is merely a minor setback, to be learned from and not defeated by. Day after day they can be seen improving and applying themselves. Though their progress is not spectacular, it is constant. After some time has passed their skills become formidable and the reality of their accomplishment is undeniable. With average ability and common qualities they gradually cultivate their minds and bodies into a machine. A machine that delivers when called to do so.

Focus has been a word often referred to as what we need for success in any venture. And to an extent, focus is something we can all apply in varying degrees. However focus applied over years or throughout one's career is truly remarkable. The ability to keep focused and persevere through life's distractions separates the champions from the mediocre and the significant from the trivial.

Of course there are those that will take up a discipline for the sake of recreation or are motivated by secondary goals, such as physical conditioning or a variety of other reasons. For them not much should be demanded and less expected. If they achieve their own personal objectives, it is enough. However for those that aspire to the next level, they should first count the cost. Not doing so will merely be a waste of their time and of their instructor?s. We have all at one point or another imagined ourselves in an exalted position, the champion of our domain. The question is have we ever imagined the sacrifices?? Have we really thought about the endless training hours that are required of us? Have we even considered how much time and effort it will take for someone to help us in achieving our goals? To learn something that is worthy of your time cannot be done overnight and in challenging yourself to accomplish something great is gain within itself.

As a teacher of jiu-jitsu it is my job to see that everyone that trains under my guidance receives excellent instruction. But when I see that a student is committed to improving and willing to put in the time and effort to learn, I go that extra step to encourage them and I pay more attention to that student. If they can persevere then they are worthy of that. However, to request an instructor's lifetime of knowledge is no small thing and neither will be the sacrifice.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On the way to Dallas....

Headed to Dallas for a short-notice hearing in my Harris case.

Trained this morning briefly, trying to make myself available as much as possible to Shama, our female purple, as she preps for Pan Ams. She's fighting at 115lbs and I'm the closest to her size and strength at the academy (though I'm fatter, and she's stronger!) I rolled with her a while and of course got my butt handed to me. In fact everyone at class this morning was a purple, and everyone handed me my butt except Travis-- and that's because he's the only one I didn't roll with at all. Kevin utterly smashed me, crushed the breath out of me, leg swept me, and nearly brought me to tears-- but it was good. Every once in a while I need someone to get really mean with me because I need to be emotionally resilient too, especially when I'm physically not capable of anything beyond defense and survival. I will never whimper (like I did in that one match at Atama against Laura!) again! If I can help it! lol...

I should be back from the hearing in time for class tonight.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I'm pooped. Trying to lose weight, another 10 lbs or so to go by April 4. Had a good weekend but ate too many rich things-- watched my purple "wing" Scott win his gi match at a local MMA fight, then went out to celebrate at a steakhouse, yum! And Sunday was a BBQ at a friend's house, where I contributed turtle brownies, again yum! So I have been working out as hard as I can, and I'm a little fatigued. Had a great day so far-- this morning's class was part 1 of a guard attack series ending (so far) in a nice sweep... then after my lunch crossfit class, I did an hour of nogi and was happy with how I'm doing defensively, not so much on the nogi offense. Dammit, there aren't many chokes from mount in nogi! I tried for an ezequiel-like thing, tried for a couple pillow chokes and two guillotines.. no luck.

Anyway, off to class again now. Looking forward to eating dinner tonight-- last night I had vegetarian tamales, and I think tonight is salmon, brown rice and asparagus, maybe with a spinach salad.