Sunday, January 31, 2010

Found a new blog...

Megan blogs about her jits journey... and look, another salsera! Just had a conversation tonight (while watching the laughableness that was Strikeforce) with two of the three new girls at my academy (YES! new girls! wooo!) and I was explaining how salsa and jits are so alike.

Anyway-- check out Megan's blog Tangled Triangle where she explains some of the connections for her between dance and grappling. Cool stuff.

On the Strikeforce front (no spoilers) I'll just say I thought two fights were genuinely entertaining and fun to watch.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Women's gi review: Fenom gi, A1

Fenom Kimonos is run by Triin Seppel near Dallas. I've had this gi a few months and it's one of my favorites. It's designed for women and I think the cut and material are fantastic. I have a size A1, and I washed it with hot water and machine dried it to see how much it would shrink. The pants lost about 2" in length (from ankle bone to about 2" above) and the gi skirt got about 1" shorter. The sleeves also lost about an inch, but are still IBJJF legal. I like that there isn't excessive fabric in the back of the gi jacket. I would not go so far as to call it a "slim cut" but it is trim and fits smoothly without a bunch of extra fabric bunching up. I'll note that in these pictures I'm about 10 lbs heavier than I prefer being :(

Mine is black, obviously, and the color has not faded much at all. The pants are made of very soft, yet relatively thick and sturdy twill. I'm always impressed that they feel so smooth but they're not flimsy (whereas I'd call my Vulkan superlight "nearly-flimsy.") The gi top is likewise soft to the touch, but really thick, with a thick, heavy lapel. I like the pink embroidered cursive "F" on the lower left ankle and the left deltoid area. Other than that, I added the "Fueled by Fear" patch (Thanks Dev! And you can get your own from Dev here.)

The stitching has held up really well to frequent use and washing/drying cycles. The drawstring is made of the same fabric as the pants, and is not difficult to pull through and tighten. It doesn't twist much, but when it did (after months) it was pretty simple to untangle and re-insert with a rubberband and a chopstick.

Overall I give it an A. I really like finding gi pants with room for my junk in the trunk, and aside from that, the texture of the fabric made this one of my hands-down favorites.

Friday, January 29, 2010

500th post and I'm sick...

My being sick has little to do with my 500th post... just sayin', is all.

I hate having a cold. It's been in my nose and (sore) throat for about 2 days now. Sucks. Can't train, don't want to work, and can't seem to find the OTC cocktail that will dry up my snotty head. I have some pictures to post, mostly from my dinner-making the other night, but I'm too ensconced on the couch upstairs to go downstairs and get my camera. I'll post the step by step of pork chops smothered in onions later I guess.

It's cold(er) here today, in the low 40s, and grey/rainy/drizzly for the most part. I skipped lunch open mat because I don't want to be typhoid Mary. Instead my ad tech ordered Chinese food, so I sucked down a cup of wonton soup. I've been drinking tea all day, too. Not super helpful but maybe I'd be worse without.

I did get to roll with a fellow blue the other day and did okay. I keep talking about how I can beat whitebelts for a few days in their careers and then poof, they're past me.. so the fact that I was able to keep up with this guy (and, ahem, submit him) was really happy-making for me. My problem as always is the complete inability to reconstruct what I did right and what he did wrong so that I can hope to repeat it someday, somehow. All's I know is there was an arm sticking out, and I felt like I swooped over it, stuck my feet under him, and bellydowned it. Of course, I made up for that success by tapping to his smothering mount ... embarrassing! What a jackass I am. I was all right, I could breathe, I wasn't being subbed... so why tap?! I wasn't even claustrophobic.. I think I was just tired and irked. Stupid. He's one of the few guys I roll with who doesn't feel like he ever takes it easy on me. He has maybe 40-50 lbs on me, but frame-wise we're about the same size, and we drill together well during class. So it's not like he's a 200 lb mammoth, but he doesn't hesitate to use his weight very effectively on my ribs, cheeks, face...

I'm excited about the Strikeforce card tomorrow night. Cris Santos, Nick Diaz, Robbie Lawler, Herschel Walker.. lots of entertainment potential. If I can just dry up enough to stop mouthbreathing.

I'm also excited-ish about NAGA, which is February 20th in Fort Worth (may compete, may not, it all depends) and the Hillary Williams seminar the following day (2.5 hours, women only, just $20! See Triin's post about it here on the Fenom Kimonos blog.) Which reminds me, I found my black Fenom Kimonos gi top! It was still at the seamstress's shop getting my "Fueled By Fear" patch sewn on. I need to make up MY patch soon here.

Random babbling, sorry. Maybe a nap is in order. We're supposed to try a new venue for sushi tonight or perhaps Italian at Buca di Beppo. *yawn*

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More fabulous reflections from Cane Prevost...

He's with SBGi in Oregon... a beautiful little snip from his blog The Gentle Art, found here.

"When you tie on a brown belt your ego tells you that you need to be able to destroy everyone purple belt and below. And if you are not very careful that ego idea can paralyze you. The minute you are scared to roll with someone because you don’t know if you can beat them you are dead. You have just effectively put the emergency brakes on your progress.

What then are you to do? You have to throw your hat into the ring and trust that your BJJ will get you through. You may not “win.” You may not tap out the other guy. Your training will take you through and the mat will tell you what you need to know. And, if you are in with the right group of guys you will take your mugging and know that it buys you a millimeter of progress. You’ll sit on the edge of the mat with chests heaving. Sweat pouring down your face. You’ll slap each other on the back and debrief your games with smiles and laughs. And, you’ll feel good knowing that all you could do is what you did. Throw your hat in the ring and see what happens.

It’s the beautiful surrender of Jiu jitsu. You can never predetermine outcomes. You can’t guarantee victory. Character is built not by the victories but by all the tough rolls and taps you encounter along the way. That’s the paradox. Eventually you will have tapped 10,000 times or more. The rolls won’t get any easier. You’ll surrender again and again measuring your progress one millimeter at a time trusting the process."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Every roll is a conversation...

This was originally written for my friend Matt Benyon's upcoming BJJ ezine... due to the ordinary pressures of real life, his project is on the back burner, so I thought I'd share. Hope you enjoy.

By the way, if you haven't checked out his blog, Martial Farts, you def should. He just released his video blog regarding training BJJ in Japan, "Grappling Dummies 2.0," with the first episode including techniques like sweeps, attacks and a deep half guard pass. If you like it, spread the word...

* * * * * * *

Every Roll is a Conversation

I’m a one-stripe blue under Phil Cardella and Relson Gracie, in Austin, Texas, and I’ve been training about 15 months. I’ll start off by saying it’s pretty pompous of me, given my minimal experience, to write about the process of learning BJJ. I still don’t feel that I roll like a blue, and I certainly don’t believe I have a greater perspective than anyone else does on what learning BJJ is all about. All I can do is reflect on the process I’ve experienced so far.

Seems to me learning this art is a lot like learning a language, a language that meets needs on many levels. When you’re brand new, so new you don’t have a gi even, it’s kind of like tuning in to a TV channel in a foreign language. The sounds/moves are so unfamiliar, it washes over you like babble. You can’t even tell one word from the next... or one posture from the next.

As a whitebelt with anywhere from a week or two’s worth of lessons to maybe a year or so, you’re learning your alphabet. Just like a kindergartner practices the shapes of the letters and learns to distinguish one from the next, whitebelts learn the basic positions and how they interact. This is cross side, this is a cross side escape. This is an armbar from guard. This is how to counter a triangle. More advanced white belts and blue belts are learning combinations of letters into words– meaning you must learn the sounds of the letters and be able to sight read rather than just sounding things out syllable by syllable. The analogy roughly being that blues have to develop some instincts for reaction without thought: suck the arms in, don’t push off with the hands, get to your side, connect elbow and knee.

However, BJJ is far from just learning how to “speak” and “read.” If yoga or tai chi is Latin, BJJ is a living language. The reality is, every roll is a conversation. You’re both trying to get a point across, to persuade the other to your point of view. Sometimes your perspectives are diametrically opposed, sometimes you can see where they’re going and agree for a span. How does this fit in?

Most new whitebelts are like babies grunting, making sounds, only barely able to communicate with their partners by shoving or grabbing them and they’re fixated on what they want to “say,” often refusing to “listen” to their opponent (which manifests itself in that charming, rigid deathgrip and spastic movement we all know and don’t love.) More experienced whitebelts are toddlers, able to answer simple questions, indicate their wants, and somewhat able to get what they want from others. When someone asks a two year-old if they want juice (begins to lay on an armbar from guard) the two year-old can respond somewhat intelligibly (the whitebelt can tell what’s coming and react by pulling the arm back, etc.) The two year-old can usually motivate others to do things by making one or two-word statements; the toddler grappler can identify one move at a time and go for it.

This starts getting more like a conversation and less like a crude shouting match dependent on strength (“volume”) as blues get stripes and turn into purples. The transitions between moves, the chains of attacks, the conversions of defensive “answers” into responsive “questions” (on the offense) are the hallmarks of a blue’s improved fluency in the language. Conversations actually take place in blue-land, from what I see and hear (not based on my own expressive skills or lack thereof). Purples and better blues, I think, add to that working vocabulary and express opinions with increasing sophistication. Their fluency in the language increases their persuasive advocacy skills; they know your motivations and can couch their “perspective” in terms more appealing to you. In other words, they can read your base and sweep you because they know which way your body already wants to go.

Roberto Pedreira put it succinctly this way: “Learning happens with least expenditure of cognitive effort and best retention with minimal reinforcement when it is ‘just in time,’ that is, when you learn what you need to learn when you need to learn it.” (From his blog the “Global Training Report.” Because, I think, whites and blues are more holes than game, whereas purples are more game than holes, learning must accelerate as blues move up in the ranks and turn into purples. Higher blues and purples are better able to identify the holes and comprehend the fixes because they stand out more and are more easily communicated– the same way we, when learning a new language, are better able to ask “How do you say such-and-such” in that language-- if and only if you can at least ask the base question in the language!

Of course, better purples and browns have mastered proper grammar and vocabulary, and are beginning to express their own personal flair– their “voice” is expressed as their game. They are expected to be able to adjust their “speaking” style and “word choice” according to their audience. They're probably learning another dialect as well-- doing things on their "bad" side. Filling out the ranks, black belts have a distinct sound all their own, able to articulately respond to questions and artfully phrase their own while jockeying for argumentative ground politely but undeniably.

How does metaphor help us? When I roll with someone more experienced, I don’t beat myself up quite as much for failing to understand everything they’re “saying” or for being caught speechless/being swept. When I roll with a noob, I remember what it was like being inundated by strange words/positions and (sometimes) I try to “speak” with more basic "words." I try to focus my rolling time depending on my goals– work on adding vocabulary? Using the words I already know in different contexts? Hearing the similarities between words and analogizing responses? Working on grammar/transitions? Or perhaps a strict focus on “pronunciation” (for me, light rolls, focusing on precision and dexterity.)

Of course, what do I know... I'm still a toddler grappler. And grateful to all the grownups who keep telling me the same stories over and over again.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rainer Maria Rilke

I love the way he wrote.

Extinguish my sight, and I can still see you;
plug up my ears, and I can still hear;
even without feet I can walk toward you,
and without mouth I can still implore.
Break off my arms, and I will hold you
with my heart as if it were a hand;
strangle my heart, and my brain will still throb;
and should you set fire to my brain,
I still can carry you with my blood.

* * * * * * * * * *

No experience has been too unimportant, and the smallest event unfolds like a fate, and fate itself is like a wonderful, wide fabric in which every thread is guided by an infinitely tender hand and laid alongside another thread and is held and supported by a hundred others.

* * * * * * * * *

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A little of this, a little of that...

My training has been a little spotty lately, in part due to a ramped-up workload at the office, visiting friends from out of town, and some other personal issues.

I love training at my academy because it's big. There are so many people there that no matter your size, experience level, or goals for training, you'll find other people like yourself. If I want to roll with someone my size, I have options at all belt levels up to purple, and there's Donald for my truly self-punishing moments when nothing but the gentlest trouncing will do. Another benefit of a big academy is that I have fewer chances to get into a training rut with the same group of partners. It's true, I tend to gravitate towards people I'm friends with (though that is hardly a limit, as I feel like I get along with everyone well and could ask anyone to train with me without hesitation.) However, now and again I'll realize I haven't rolled with someone for a month or more. That's fabulous, because then when we do hit it, they have the perspective to be able to point out things I am doing differently. All you parents who draw lines on the wall to mark your child(ren)'s growth know what I'm talking about.

Another reason I love my big academy is that we have enough upper belts to teach a TON, I mean TWO THOUSAND POUNDS of classes. Most of our classes are taught by black belts or at least a 4 stripe brown. A few are occasionally taught by a purple, but that's not the norm. This is not to say anything negative about our purples, all of whom are righteous in use of tight technique *and* who can eloquently get their points across no matter your learning style. Just that having a plethora of upper belts around to teach means we offer classes 2-3 times a day, 7 days a week, 364 days a year... well, except for 2009, when we even had people training on Christmas Day. The level of addiction is obvious :)

Last Saturday during a round robin drill, whoever was in the middle got to pick the starting position. My partner, a one stripe purple, picked being mounted-- and no one was more surprised than MEEEEEEEEE when I took their back and almost choked them out before time was called. *prance, prance* Aside from that I find myself playing a lot more guard, especially 93 guard and/or butterfly. Not effectively, don't get me wrong, but I am trying to be always attacking, and it's been fun. The window of opportunity for me to roll successfully with a whitebelt guy has expanded as well: there are now approximately 72 mat-hours in the life of a male wb in which he has passed beyond the spaz noob stage (and therefore my life and limbs are relatively safe) but has yet to learn so much that I can't beat him. No offense to new wbs, really... but trust me, I'm so damn happy to have enough technique to beat your misapplied-but-superior strength. I'm happier than any other bluebelt ever will be, so please, understand why I don't play catch-and-release like the other blues will (or should, or do). I am tickled to be able to land real live submissions on you. Please forgive me for enjoying these 72 hours, yeah?

On a more personal note... I am working incredibly hard on sorting out some personal life issues. It sucks to be 37 and feel like you're, at best, 25. The whole concept of opportunity cost sucks. I wonder if it wouldn't be easier if I just stfu and put on blinders and moved forwards without always endlessly considering the hypotheticals... but that isn't keeping me from said endless consideration. They say you don't make changes until your pain thermometer reaches a 10; not even a 9.5. Well, when things are pushing you to change, but they're not quiiiiiite there yet, it's just plain painful. I want resolution *now* dammit. I am endeavoring to learn patience; to live the questions now until I can live my way into the answers. But it's nowhere near that easy. Ever the hedonist, I push to fit as much living and experience and pleasure as I can into every twenty-four, "just in case." Having both parents pass away when you're young will do that, I guess. Word of advice-- you can't control your heart no matter how old you are. [grumble, grumble]

So, while I'm hemming and hawing and thinking and plotting, I cook. I have been eating really yummily lately, too. Buttermilk biscuits and honeybutter. Pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes and basil and garlic. Penne puttanesca with shrimp. Sesame-crusted salmon with sweet & sour spicy chutney and brown rice and green beans. And I can't forget Scott's birthday cake, a sour cream fudge layer cake, chocolate ganache between the layers and chocolate butter icing all around. Gracias to the sous who helped me, of course. And gracias to Mark for all the help with my new netbook. Can't say enough good things about ubuntu!!!!

Wish me luck, ya'll, on these decisions and thoughts and stuff. Makes jits seem easy.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Relson's seminar.

Fabulosity. After, dinner out with Relson at the churrascaria. My buddy Mark from Dallas and one of his teammates came down for the weekend. Good times were had by all. I'll post pictures here and on facebook soon.

This weekend looks fun... more open mat and more seminar tomorrow with Relson; been suffering with cedar fever and sinus issues lately so we'll see if I make it. Dinner at Silas' restaurant with Maggie, Lawrence, and the guys. Hoping to sleep late on Saturday and enjoy a lazy morning. Mitch will be in Houston for the salsa congress there so I'm on my own with Mark and Cuyler.

Wish I could attend Girls in Gis on Sunday-- ladies, have fun, I'll be thinking 'bout ya!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Quit while you're ahead...

This morning's class focused on knee on belly. Then at night, Christy focused on some mount escape/mount retention stuff ... to my pleasant surprise, I was able to bust out of Leila's mount a few times. Not sure if that's because she was giving me only 50% resistance but probably so. Nonetheless I took it and ran with it. Should have quit right there, though. Instead, for the next positional sparring drill (back mount) I picked Ian.

Ian is a doughty blue belt I have nicknamed "The Terminator." In social settings, he's funny, animated, full of personality. On the mats, at least with me, he's straightfaced, serious, and unemotional. I took his back 3 times; 3 times he shucked me off like I was lint and either got mount or at least escaped to a scramble. He took my back 3 times; 3 times he choked me with alacrity. Back and forth, without a word on his part. I wanted to ask his advice, but sensed my silence was more appreciated, so I just tried to pay attention to what he was doing and mimic it. Epic fail, but at least I tried. When we finished, my jaw was sore from biting my lapel (at least he only Fredson choked me once!) and I was so frustrated that I landed a satisfying kick on one of the heavy bags when I got off the mat. Wasn't personal-- Ian was doing his job. I just wasn't getting it. Christy commiserated and offered a few words, but it's just one of the many things on my list that needs work.

At least Vidush, another bluebelt, was sympathetic. Apparently we are both stymied by Ian. I wish someday someone would speak of me in such reverent terms for something other than my baking.

Monday, January 11, 2010

2/5 to another sweep, and 3 hrs from stew..

Sunday's class was toned way down to accommodate some noobs, so we did scissor sweeps, push sweeps, and then the "over-under."

Kamal Shalorus, the Prince of Persia, trains with us, and we happily got together last night to watch his second WEC victory. Cool beans.

Then, for dinner, decided to experiment. On the theory that, with some adjustments, whatever you can do to chicken can be done to cow, I decided to make beef stew with a wine base, not tomato-based.

First I sauteed bacon and a slivered onion in the pot. Added garlic for a minute after the rest was getting brown.

Took that out and browned about two pounds of chuck roast, cut into 2" chunks. Threw in some flour (a MUCH smaller amount this time! like 1/4 cup!) and ground some pepper in there too... stirred it 'round till nice and brown. Poured in hot beef stock and deglazed the pot. Added thyme and bay and parsley.

Then some red wine.

Been cooking it low and slow ever since.

It's not tender yet but it will be. Tomorrow's dinner with buttered noodles and glazed carrots and green beans.

For dinner tonight-- a quickie pizza. I ate some wonderful bread at Whole Foods yesterday with sea salt and garlic and rosemary, which inspired a pizza bianca crust, splendidly dotted with ham, sausage, jalapenos, tomatoes, caramelized red onions, and black olives.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Can I make these "my" series?

Sometimes I wonder if my instructor is watching us more closely than we imagine, or at least watching me... then again, I'm probably following a very similar path along with 500 other lemmings like myself, so his prediction as to what *I* need is much like what we all need... anyway, I asked myself at the end of lunch class today whether I could make these two series into "mine" because they are so like what I am already trying to do, except they're more professionally packaged and linked together.

I totally forgot to think about most of what I wanted to think about when I got to open mat. I went with my buddy Juan, who's probably got 100 lbs on me. He's super kind about it, but still. At least I remembered gripfighting and hip movement. I think someone should make a gi with a clear pocket on the forearm so you can put notes in there to remind yourself.

Reef tank is coming along well... the black grids on the side walls/front wall are called "frag racks" and you hold "frags" or coral fragments there until you find a good place for them. (Then you use underwater epoxy to glue them to the rock, and assuming they're happy with those conditions, they'll grow into place quite beautifully!) It will take this tank about a year, 18 months or so to really show in full glory.

Breakfast of champions.

Today in class, I want to work on a few things. As always-- hip movement, gripfighting, and takedowns. But specially today, I want to think about the armbar setup Phil showed last, with lots of knee pressure, and the no-legs triangle (which might work well in conjunction since they use alternative grips) and the baseball bat choke if my guard is getting passed. And sweeps where possible.

To facilitate, I made some blueberry muffins.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Near disaster...

Inspired by a friend's example and my Christmas gift (thanks sis-in-law Ashley!) of Julia Child's MTAOFC, and full of energy I should have expended at lunch open mat (but didn't make it!)... I decided to throw together some chicken tonight. Something simple-- I had chicken thighs, shallots, garlic, thyme, and mushrooms... some dry sherry... sounds great, right?

Just so you occasional commenters know, I can write about the food I make but that doesn't guarantee I always make it well!

Tonight's a great example. Sauteed some mushrooms first in olive oil.

The mushrooms caramelized splendidly so I added the shallots... mmm good. Dredged the brined chicken with flour. Took out the mushrooms etc, put in the chicken. Nice crispy golden, smelling yummy. Flipped those puppies over.

Eventually threw in some garlic, the thyme, and a little piece of bay leaf. Smelling so good I could hardly turn my back on it! And then-- I made my first mistake.

Mom always told me read your recipe twice before you start and check your ingredients. Hmm, no recipe, just playing... but did I check the chicken stock? nooooo... there's usually plenty of frozen homemade stock but after Thanksgiving and the Christmas party and Christmas and so on, had about one cup! Poo! Took the chicken out, deglazed the pan with the stock and threw in about two cups of sherry. Ahhh, back on track.

Put the chicken and other goodies back in the pan. And that, like Lyle Lovett says, was when she made her second mistake. I totally know better, but I dumped all the flour I'd used to dredge the chicken into the pot. If that were a couple tablespoons, I'd have been okay. Nope-- it was more like 3/4 cup. As soon as it hit the pan, I knew I was screwed. It almost instantly congealed into lumpy wallpaper paste, slurped up every available molecule of liquid, and sat up and begged for more.

What's a girl to do-- I gave it more sherry to weaken its will, and then followed up with water (no hangovers please.)

I'm happy to report that though thicker than usual, the sauce has resolved to behave itself... lumps gone, and surprisingly, not pasty-tasting at all.

A quickie for lunch...

While I eat a quick bite at my desk, I was skimming a few blogs. Aliveness 101 is now part of my required-reading list, right up with Cane Prevost's, even though the latest post is from May 2008. Anyway, here's a useful bit that I need to spend some time thinking about. (Sometimes I think I absorb material better if I have to pick it apart and conceptualize it as though I were going to teach it... it's not a fun game to play, but it does help.) The following is NOT by me... it's snipped from Aliveness 101, SBGi founder Matt Thornton's blog, and it reprints commentary by Cane on an SBGi forum. The original is here about 3/4 of the way down.

"The Posture – Pressure – Possibilities model:

The last drilling concept I will talk about is a newer method of organizing a class that was created by one of the Portland Gym coaches, Cane Prevost. We call this method the Posture, Pressure, Possibilities model, and it is pretty fantastic in its simplicity.

Here is a post that Cane made in our member’s forum where he explains in detail this Coaching model:

“I always use the I method exclusively in my classes. I’ll never teach anything in class that students don’t get to try against resistance that same class. I’ve always done that. What I’m doing differently now is that I almost never start with techniques anymore.

I found that it works way better if I build a foundation first. My teaching progression for most classes now is posture then pressure then objective/purpose. In that order.

If I have a particular technique I want to introduce I’ll first find the posture and work that separate from the technique. Then once everyone is good with the posture I’ll add pressure. I try to do an isolation round of sparring for each part.

Once everyone is able to work good posture and pressure I’ll begin to add objective/purpose which for me is often expressed in a technique. That way they don’t learn a technique in a vacuum. They have a foundation to hang it on. I found that doing it this way I get way more students able to use the technique when I isolate it in sparring than I used to. The difference has been remarkable.Here’s an example from this week to illustrate-I wanted to teach some escapes from back mount when top guy has hooks in. Where I started was posture. I showed them how to ball up and protect the neck. The top guy got a harness without hooks and the bottom guy just worked on posture. Once everyone could posture properly I isolated it by having the top guy hold the harness and roll them around a bit. All the bottom guy had to do was keep the ball. After the isolation round I corrected posture a bit and showed them a simple way to remove a hook if the top guy got one in. Then we isolated again. This time the top guy was trying to get both hooks in. If the top guy got both hooks in he “won” and they’d go back to neutral and start over. The bottom guy was just supposed to remove the hooks as they got in and resume the ball.I then went back to isolation stage. I could have taught an escape technique here but I wanted to break it down more and introduce a pressure first. I had them roll onto their side, still in a ball. The top guy has both hooks in. After they roll onto their side I had them remove the bottom hook and sit on the leg, still in posture. No escape yet. I didn’t prioritize which side they rolled to even though there definitely is a better side when the top guy has harness. I didn’t want to give too much detail. I often found that if I give too much detail right off the bat students get lost in the details and lose the technique. Anyway, I isolated again. This time the top guy started with both hooks in and harness.

The bottom guy was supposed to roll to one side and remove the bottom hook and sit on it. I told them to not go farther into the escape yet. I wanted them to stop there.Finally I went back to intro stage and showed the escape from back. I showed them how to slump to prevent the RNC. I showed them how to trap the bottom arm in the harness and to fall to that side. I showed them how to remove the hook and drive their inside shoulder to the mat and use the ground to peel their opponent off their backs. They picked up the technique easily because the isolation we had been doing earlier contained most of the movements for the technique already. They understood the technique because they had a posture and pressure to hang it on. I went to isolation stage and had them escape from back mount when the top guy had hooks and harness. Every single person was pulling it off or making serious threats with it right away. It’s a lot of prep work to show one technique but I can see the results. I know that more people will retain it too.

More importantly the class is taught in a progressive way with the most important stuff first. That way students can turn off their brains when they get full and still leave with useful info. Beginners will remember the posture. Students with more experience may not remember the technique but they will remember the posture and some pressure and they’ll be able to pose a threat with those. More experienced students will remember it all. That’s been my solution to teaching to a mixed room of new beginners to advanced students. I’ll actually tell students in class “OK, I already taught all the important stuff, you don’t have to remember anything from here on out.” I learned that from a beginner. He told me that’s what he did anyway because he just couldn’t retain it all. Other beginners have told me how helpful it is to know they don’t have to try to remember it all. When they come to my classes they know all they really have to know is that first thing I show them. Anything more than that is just gravy. In any case everyone is able to leave with a piece that works for them and everyone improved their back game regardless of experience. Even those who knew everything I showed got better from all the isolation sparring."

I think this is just amazing.

And another bit, same source:

"Some notes on reverse engineering a game:

1- What posture does a move work from?
2- Why does it require that posture?
3- What posture can be used to counter it?
4- How can we drill this counter?
5- How does this translate into my own game? "

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Because I can't stand watching the Rose Bowl...

I'm actually blogging while my Longhorns play in the national championship. Don't get me wrong, I'm a football fan like I'm a Catholic: Easter and Christmas, culturally, as a social thing more than a true-believer thing. But it seems like I should be more distracted by our current predicament (24-6 Alabama with 12 left in the 3rd) given the importance of the game, which is kind of like Easter and Christmas rolled into one.


Dammit. Nothing more to blog about. At least we're 13-24 now with 14 min left in the 4th.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Congrats Thien!

Congrats on your blue belt.... :) All the way Down Under! The tentacles of the Red Menace know no bounds....

Monday, January 04, 2010

Thoughts while I'm not training today...

I am really enjoying the Beneville/Cartmell book (Passing the Guard, Vol 1, 2d ed.) which I received for Christmas (Thanks Uncle Art & Aunt Linda!) I just wish I could be reading it on the side of the mats, and intersperse each technique with actually doing it. I feel like a lot of the techniques (ahem: in the first 52 pages, of this awesomely-detailed 300+ page tome) are already present to some extent in my game. However I am quite sure they're not tied together tightly or implemented smoothly and with good timing.

And yes, you read that right-- I didn't train today. It sucks, but morning class didn't happen, and I decided to go to crossfit at lunch instead of the academy. Now my shoulders are quite unhappy with me (lots of handstands against the wall and pushups on the Swiss ball). I didn't go to the night class either... but tomorrow is a 3fer, yay. So I thought I'd turn my antsiness to some productive use.

There's a Girls in Gis get together in Dallas on Sunday January 17th and if I can get up there and back, I'll go. Which means I have a bunch of new gals to roll with, so it would be nice to have some sort of organized game plan. Just like how I think a tournament should be (but isn't)-- a relaxed and fun test of one's game against others, without the stress and anxiety of "repping well" or whatever.

I started this big complicated chart of my top 5 moves from each position, but when I started filling it out, I realized it was silly. If you roll with Scott you can be damn sure you'll be triangled. Leila, armbarred. With me, I will try to choke you. There's no real pattern to the chokes; in the meantime, you have an excellent chance of sweeping me, and my takedowns are for scheisse. But don't let me near your neck.

Fun video, saw it on BJJ Norcal's blog here.

Update on grappler with broken neck:

I hear Haydn (in New Zealand) suffered his broken neck whilst being stacked...

More info here.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Cookin' right along...

After rereading this post, I think the title ought to be "Captain Obvious." But since so many of my posts would have to be titled as such, I left it alone.

In trying to implement my resolutions for 2010, I have been focusing on a few things in my rolls lately. For one, although I never turn down training with bigger, heavier people, I am purposely allowing myself to prefer the smallest lightest guys I can find (as women are of course rarely an option.) Even if they're complete noobs. Of course, I like drilling new technique with a higher belt better.. and of course some of our instructors frown on me doing anything like "teaching" when drilling or rolling, which gets really frustrating at times.. but I also notice a little more leeway in that regard of late.

For another, rolling with newer people gives me options of trying out new techniques... thanks to tutoring from Mark, my (much more experienced) Dallas friend, I am now entirely more able to roll backwards over my shoulder, so yesterday with someone small and in their first month of training, I was able to half pull off one of the sweeps Donald taught the other night from the 93 guard. And to half pull off the no-legs triangle as well. Wooo!

On other fronts... thought I'd share the 'nana bread with you since I have been getting some requests..

Heavenly Banana Loaf Cake *by my Aunt Pat

Preheat oven to 325.

2/3 c margarine
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp sour cream
2 lg ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 c chopped walnuts
optional: chocolate chips, caramel bits

Cream margarine and sugar together. Add egg yolks, vanilla, sour cream and mashed bananas; mix well. Add flour, salt, soda - stir till just combined. Stir in nuts, chips. Beat egg whites to soft peak stage with hand mixer-- fold in to batter. Bake in large loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3)-- I usually spray it with Pam and/or line bottom only with parchment paper. Bake 1 hr 20 min at 325. Let rest in pan 10-20 min before turning out and slicing with bread knife.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Holiday weekend...

A little salsa dancing on New Year's Day night...

Mitch, Glen and Mark..

Then the next morning before Mark and I went to train, a little from-scratch hot chocolate with the world's best (fair trade, organic) cocoa (Thanks Amie!) and milk and cream, yum!

And chocolate chip-walnut-caramel banana bread to bring to the academy!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy new year! Resolutions?

2009 absolutely raced by, and contained some pretty big ups and downs for me... but it got better and better as the year went on, and ended with a splendid bang. I really enjoy cohosting a party, too-- all we had to do was cook (fun) get dressed up (fun) show up and party (fun) and go home. Of course that makes me sound like a crappy cohost, since I didn't stay to clean up-- but really by almost 2am I was almost asleep on my feet. I'm a lightweight and usually asleep by 11, you see. Also, I had done some cleaning up already (though, because the messes I cleaned were caused by ME that probably doesn't count.)

Nonetheless, Joseph and Susan, the couple who hosted, are so sweet and generous that I'm pretty sure they'll forgive me. Who knows, they might even come over for breakfast this morning and pay me back :)

I made champagne punch and some appetizers for the buffet... and bite-size Dutch apple pies. I thought the apple peeler/slicer/corer thingie was so cool I had to take a picture of it.

Joseph trains with me at Relson Gracie. He and Susan have a beautiful home. Having a fire in the fireplace was the perfect touch.

Half the people at the party were jits folk, and I didn't get a chance to speak much with the other half. I made one new friend, a straight male who works as a fashion consultant! (amazing, right?) And of all the people at the party, *he's* the one who almost got to moving the coffeetable and rolling in the living room. However, we managed to restrain ourselves and play nice :) Here's Mitch, Susan, Joseph and Filip... I can't recall the names of the guys in the background.

Some of the jits peeps-- Filip, Mark from the Marcelo school in Dallas, Ian, Vidush, Scott, Joseph, me, and Andrew (who runs, a pretty cool MMA blog.) My husband trains as well, and later Silas showed up when his restaurant closed down, but they missed the photo op.

Scott and Becca, who is recovering from ACL surgery..

Scott accessorized his sharp suit with some white tennies...

The champagne punch was a little strong. We forgot the champagne at home and we realized our error literally five minutes away from Joseph's place (which is thirty minutes from our house). Fortunately, a handy liquor store solved the problem. First time putting pink champagne in the punch-- no complaints from the peanut gallery.

Filip has failed miserably to scare off Melissa even though she's known him for a few months! She fit in well with us, so she's obviously crazy.

After raucously counting down the last seconds of 2009 and enjoying the party vibe for another hour and a half, Mitch, Mark and I retreated to home base. I was sooooo sleepy, I barely brushed my teeth and took out contacts before hitting the pillow. But here I am bright and bushytailed, awake since seven this morning. So far no one has shown up for breakfast besides Mitch and I think I'll be heading to the academy around noon to get my roll on.

In looking back over this last year, I wish I could point at one area of my game that has improved, or one skill I have seen improvement in over any others. I'm rather frustrated in this regard. I think I'm maybe 1-2% better in general, overall. This is not impressive considering my starting place-- but I don't care. Imma keep on training, because it's fun. Again, I asked Santa for sweeps for Christmas, but it's too early to tell if I got my wish. I honestly think the bottom line for me is that I don't take it seriously enough. I put in tons of hours on the mat, sure, but when I'm not on the mat, I'm not thinking about jits. I am not putting in sufficient mental effort. Other people can remember their rolls, even weeks later. They know in their heads "oh, last time I rolled with this guy, he liked passing this way, so I'm going to check that by changing this detail." Shoot, I can't even remember what I had for dinner last night. I feel like I need more RAM.

So-- this year's resolutions.

1. Regularly read Cane Prevost's blog The Gentle Art with thoughtful attention. He's a BJJ coach under Straight Blast Gym (SBGI) in Oregon. His analytical structure and focus on principles instead of recipes is fabulous and I love his 20 week BJJ curriculum.

2. Collect myself for five minutes before and after every class or open mat. Try to conceptualize one goal for the class ahead of time (hip movement? passing?) and try to summarize and digest some lessons afterwards (Don't let Scott control your head!)

3. Stop the yo-yo weight bullshit. Just because it's pretty easy to take the weight off again is no reason to pitch healthy eating to the curb for a month here and a month there. Ideally would like to lose 10-15lbs (of fat!) which means, specifically, committing to attending crossfit at least 3 times a week; continuing to train daily; eating at least 3 vegetables and 2 fruits a day, and cutting back on the processed carbs, sugars and indulgences with cookie dough. *blush*

4. Roll with Christy once a week where possible. She's a good training partner. I need to follow her through the maze on a regular basis.

Love you guys. Hope your NYE celebrations were fun and SAFE... What are YOUR resolutions?