“I suddenly couldn’t breathe!”

New guy in class this morning. Tim had me roll with him for his first round. I caught a choke. He tapped and looked around a bit wide-eyed. “I suddenly couldn’t breathe!”

Yes, dear, that’s how chokes work.

There was another new guy a couple weeks ago. Same choke, only he didn’t tap, so I just held it and waited and tightened it a little bit. Tim suddenly came over and said, “Do you know how to tap?” Kid shook his head. Oops! I released and then we taught him about tapping.

On the injury front, I got dropped on my head one night. I’d locked on to a guy’s turtle and was trying to take his back; he locked on to me and rolled sideways, driving my head straight down into the mat. Ow. I tapped to that, then sat out the rest of the night. No concussion, though it did jack up my already jacked-up shoulder (which I hurt stretching in bed one morning, bleh).

Another day, I had my ankle taped up. It wasn’t actually injured; I had a massive mat burn on one side that wasn’t healing (because it kept getting scraped off), so had taped it — and of course, with jiu-jitsu, you gotta tape everything like you broke it, or it comes right off in the first roll. I rolled with a visiting guy; he didn’t ask about my ankle, but he dove immediately for an ankle lock on the taped side. Duuuuuuuuude….. -.-

I’ve still been filling in teaching in the mornings when needed. Last week, I taught all the morning classes! I still panic and get nervous before teaching and worry that I’ll do it completely wrong. Then sometimes when I sit out a round due to odd numbers, I see the guys doing the moves that I taught them (and it works!) and I feel like maybe I might know what I’m doing. (They even sometimes use my moves on me, and that also makes me happy.)

My game still feels like 1 tiny step forward, 3 giant steps back, sigh. I’ve been working on butterfly spinny-hooky stuff, and that’s going alright enough, but now my passing is garbage. I can usually have decent success with stuff on white and blue belts and sometimes with purples (when they want to play). But most of the time the purples massacre me, and the blacks, sheesh, we’re not even playing the same game. Feels like as much of a gap between me and them as what that new guy this morning seemed to feel with me. (He kept stopping to say, “What just happened?!” or “How did you do that?!”)

I’m still training 3 mornings and 3 evenings. It is kind of a lot, and by Friday night especially, I’m tired. And Friday night is nogi, so that’s not a great time to be tired, because everyone’s slippery and I can’t slow them down with grips. Still, I don’t know how long this window of time to get more training in will last, so I’m getting there as much as I can.

Big Ten

I am glad that — because my company is still working from home (some folks are still completely bunkered in their houses) — I’ve been able to train in the mornings. Besides Tim, none of the instructors and only some sporadic blues can come in the mornings right now, which means if Tim can’t be there, I’ve been able to step in and teach so we at least have class. I’ve now taught a total of 10 times in the last 3 months.

I feel completely inadequate each time. And also a bit annoyed at myself for feeling that way, because I’ve been training a long time and so I ought to know how to teach some things. But I still near-panic.

On the other hand, teaching white belts is sometimes hilarious, like when you watch one try to drill to the other side and his brain just breaks and he sits there & stares into the distance. It is also fun to see them try the thing I just taught them, even if they do try it out on me first, lol.

Even three months in, training twice a day, three days a week, is still tiring. We have Saturday morning open mats again, but I’ve only been to the one about a month ago to work with the new blue belt lady. (Unfortunately our schedules do not overlap right now, so I haven’t gotten to train with her since then.) Instead I’ve been spending Saturday mornings on projects around the house. Last weekend I painted my kitchen from an orangey-red (which was oh so glorious in the early morning sun) to the same mid-gray that’s in the rest of the house. Because it’s a vaulted ceiling above the cabinets and because I’m short, this involved me standing on a step-stool on top of the counters so I could reach the top of the wall. (No one ever said I was all that smart, lol. But it worked out.) The kitchen is now even more glorious; I think it always wanted to be gray and just didn’t know how to tell me.

Running out of jiu-jitsu

I have ended up teaching a couple more mornings (including today). I’m getting better at remembering the warm-up, at least. Though, I might already be scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of what I am actually capable of teaching at jiu-jitsu. What do I do when I roll? Er, whatever seems logical at the time…?

And because most of the morning class is white belts, I have to make sure I can articulate it in a way that they can replicate. Speak English? This early in the morning? Okay, guys, so you use your … knee? no… …elbow! This is your elbow.

I also finally made a playlist for the morning classes, which was extra good for this morning as the guy who I usually ask to DJ was not there. (There was also the one morning he played what we dubbed “The Wedding Mix” because it included I Want To Know What Love Is, which is a weird song to roll to.)

Saturday we had our first Open Mat since opening back up. There’s usually a lot of traffic in the area on Saturday mornings, so we wanted to give it some time. College students are back in town now, though (goodness, the traffic!), so Tim decided to test out having the class. Seemed to go well, and had a decent turn-out.

And I know all that because, crazy that I am, I was there for my 7th training session of the week o.0 (I haven’t done that in years!) We had a new lady trying out class last week, though, and she wanted to come in again on Saturday, so I went in to train with her. Thankfully it was just training with her, and not getting slobberknocked by all the guys, too. Sitting down after class was still a big mistake, though, as it took a lot to get moving again.

We always get folks moving to town and bringing their jiu-jitsu with them. I love it because it’s new games to learn from and new perspectives. There’s a new purple dude who is excellent fun to roll with and a blue belt guy who likes to invert. I was rolling with the purple belt a couple weeks ago, and when we finished he said, “So what guard do you like to play?” Me: “Um, er, uh, I play, um, kind of, er, …butterfly?” (And immediately realized I had not touched butterfly at all that round. Doh.) Then we crawled off to our next partners.

But that got me thinking. If a purple belt meeting my game for the first time cannot tell what kind of guard or game I like to play, what does that say about my game? It probably says that my game is all-over-the-place and doesn’t seem to have any purpose to it. Which… yeah, is what it is. I tend to wait on what my partner wants to play, then engage with that. The most “active” I am is in trying to stay safe with white belt boys; I want no part of them doing anything smashy to me, so I do not wait around on them and instead just shut them down as much as I can without hitting their hulk-smash button.

Now, though, I’m trying to go back to playing MY game. It’s butterfly and open and spider and some full guard. It’s the squirrelly, hook-heavy, flippy, spinny, armbarring stuff I used to do. I think I used to be semi-decent at those things, but I let them go and tried to learn new things (like half-guard, blergh — though it actually suddenly seems to finally be working recently) and tried to “work with” my partners, with the end result that I’ve become a hodgepodge of half-hearted techniques and no actual plan when I roll. But, back to working MY game, and then perhaps seeing if other things can fit in or branch off from there.

I’ve already had one encouragement that I might be back on track: I rolled with the same guy just last week, and this time he complimented my jiu-jitsu for being smooth and flowy and said it was fun to roll with me. Squee!!!

As for learning new things, I now have my personal computer sitting on the floor in my home office and playing the How to Beat the Bigger Stronger Opponent series. I’ve watched all of Emily’s two series before (gi and nogi), but I haven’t really watched Brandon Mullins’ series, so trying to see what I can pick up maybe.


Our academy sits in a great location — a few blocks from downtown, right on the corner of Main Street and another major road, on the first-floor corner of the building. There are two sides of windows for all the car and foot traffic to see in, letting the classes themselves advertise the classes.

On the other hand, we’re on the west end of the building, so the sun blasts through those all windows in the evening. Everyone tries to avoid that front corner (and the whole front half toward the end of class) because it’s hotter and the sun is in your eyes. For years we have hinted to Tim that he should maybe do something about that, and for years he has said that he’ll consider it, but nothing really came of it. (He did hang a couple of flags on one side, which helped over there a bit).

Recent world events, though, have added an extra impetus to cover those windows from things that would glare through them, shall we say. After a short stint using brown paper to completely block out everything (but which also meant we could not see out), our windows are now covered in a gray wrap that blocks out the worst of the glares but also lets us see out. Bonus: the whole academy is much cooler during the evenings.


Sherri got her blue belt! Wohoo! Now I can feel slightly less pathetic when she smashes me into the mat.


I had to fill in as instructor for the morning class the other day. I somehow forgot half the warm-up exercises so cut that short, then miscalculated how long rolling would take so cut drilling too short, too, and we rolled 2 rounds more than usual. Oops. Probably worked out, though I doubt I’ll be asked to fill in for a while, lol.

Gather ye trainings while ye may

Because I’m still working from home — and because I’m soft & out of shape (& a masochist) — I decided to start going to morning classes this week as well as evening classes on MWF. When I have to head to the office, there’s all the logistics of packing and hauling everything as well, and it’s inconvenient. But now, I can get back home, shower, and be at my computer by 9; grab lunch from the fridge; and grab gear & head out again at night. I figure I can at least get myself in better shape while I have the opportunity.

Mornings are mostly white belt dudes right now. Some warmup, lot of drilling, and then a round or two. I am still conscious of being older and so very out of shape, so not rolling hard or as often as the kids. Rest of the day I am beat. It’s the good kind of beat, though, from doing something worthwhile.

Evenings are more varied with people. Getting some good rounds with the higher belts. I want to roll all night, but I know my hamstrings will hate me in the morning. I’m sleeping like a rock every night.

On the other hand, by this morning I could hardly move. I did go, but it was pathetic. I am taking tonight off because I’m getting my hair done, but I probably need it anyway. Hopefully next week I’ll survive a bit better.

Bonus this week: Travis got his black belt at the start of Wednesday night class. He’s been the instructor on Wed nights since I started going to those, so well deserved.