Girls’ Grappling Mini-Camp, RVA 2010, Part 1

I took my camera, my video camera, my notebook, and my computer, and fully intended to record absolutely everything. But very quickly I found I needed all my attention to focus and to do, so the secretarial duties were abandoned. Now to see what this brain retained…


I got the Karate College schedule late Thursday night. Both Renzo and Matt Serra were scheduled for Friday morning. Sweet! But, since I didn’t have the schedule before, I hadn’t planned to go and still needed to pack for Grapple Camp. If I’d known earlier, I’d’ve packed most things the night I was home nursing my toe. Instead, I spent the morning packing and then drove over later in the morning while they were still teaching. Unfortunately, Matt had issues with his flight and couldn’t make it, but Renzo, Paul Creighton, and Bob Gracie were there, so I got to hang out with them for a little while.

While I was manning the merchandise table so Paul could get a break, Chrissy texted me to let me know that there would be training at 4:30 if I could make it there in time. Sweet again! So when Renzo finished his last seminar at 1, I hung around for a few minutes more and then split for Richmond. However, I’d forgotten that Radford is an extra 15 minutes south, but I’d planned my departure for the cutting-it-close time from my own house, which, combined with vehicles overheating and slowing down traffice because the shoulders were closed from construction, meant that I got there about 15 minutes late. Chrissy, Alaina, Val, and Klint were already rolling, and Mike was waiting.

Once I got changed and ready and started trying to limber up (three straight hours in the car!), they switched up partners and set the timer for 5-minute rounds (I think). Got to roll with Val first. That was fun. She let me flail around ineffectually for a minute or two before effortlessly taking my back and choking me. I want to feel like that some day, where it’s just “Oh, hey, yeah, so we’re doing some jiu-jitsu and I’m just gonna float around here and then drop OMG pressure!” *snort* I am amused when people can easily control me like that, where I seem to do their bidding, where slight movements put me in really really bad spots. I think I’m amused mostly because I see the possibility of one day being like that.

Then with… er… everyone else, in some order. A lot of the same, actually, where no one seemed to have much trouble getting me to do whatever they wanted. Klint did some Jedi-mind-tricking and Force-levitating stuff. Mike as usual was really excited to show me something, though I don’t remember what it was. (Rats. I do have vague recollections of possibly working it during the weekend, though. — Wait, I remembered: half guard to omoplata, going underneath. Justin and Will had worked this on me last week.) Also don’t remember what Alaina did to me. Remember small bits of practicing my “mean crossface” on Chrissy, from on top in half guard, and her commenting that it was indeed mean (yay! and “Sorry!”).

We girls piled back to Chrissy’s house to get clean and presentable, and then met quite a few of the other campers at a Japanese steakhouse. Tori was there, and I didn’t have to crash my car into hers to talk to her, lol. Dinner was the start of meeting people who I only knew before by their online personas, including Val (though our first meeting was actually me getting choked earlier, lol), Susan, and Ashley (Girls in Gis).


Saturday started bright and early at 8:30 a.m. with a Crossfit class run by Val. I, of course, am too stubborn to believe that I might need to sit out from something like this, so I taped the heck out of my toe and jumped right in. The class started with Val showing some Crossfit movements and discussing some of the philosophy behind Crossfit and why she does it (which, of course, only makes you want to do it more).

Then we did two WODs. The first was a Tabata (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off; 4 minutes total) of jump squats. I did have to do regular squats as the toe was still unhappy about having to push off of anything. Val is relentless as she calls out the time, but she also manages to convince you that you can in fact continue, even when your legs are burning. Second WOD was 21-15-9 of dip press (?) and situps, for time. For the first, hold dumbbells at shoulder level; drop your level a little bit and then explode up, catching the weights at the top. The trick is to use your legs, not your arms. Since it was the first day and we were all eager, about half of us did the Crossfit workouts.

Emily started off the first gi session with a jogging warmup that involved “getting to know you” games — find someone with a different haircut than you & ask them why they came to camp; find someone of a different belt color & ask them one interesting fact about themselves; make a group of 5 (our group of four shamelessly pinched Susan away from her group of 4, causing them to run and steal two more from another) — and some relay races. Warm, happy, talking, laughing, cheering: a good start.

Then Val and Emily wanted to roll with everyone at camp between the two of them. We rolled amongst ourselves, too. There were 22 campers that morning, though I think we ended up with an extra round or two. 3- or 4-minute rounds. I got to roll with Tori then for the first time ever. Chrissy also paid me back for my mean crossface from yesterday with an inescapable mount, lol. Also with Ashley, the purple belt from Texas who runs Girls in Gis — that was awesome. She’s quick and precise and persistent. Lots of rolling with lots of girls; don’t remember a whole lot. I was trying sometimes to work getting to deep half, that deep half sweep Will showed me last Saturday, and the half-passed position and sweep.

(P.S. Richmond is very humid. Walking outside felt like pressing through a viscous wall of air. Bleh. Inside wasn’t too much cooler. All weekend we were hot and soggy.)

Next was some technique. What was cool here was that Val would show something and then Emily would add to it, or vice-versa. I should be able to remember most of these since we also drilled them as part of the warmup the next day…

Started with grip-breaking and grip-fighting techniques. Which way to grab, which way to turn. A few rounds of grip fighting.

Taking the back. Bow-and-arrow choke from there.
I think we started this one from them being on their side and you at their back. Maybe. Bottom hand goes under their head, top hand comes under their top arm and in front of their face; grab the bottom hand. Lift them up first, to get them completely on their side. Top leg pivots to be parallel to their back. Now drag them over to take their back.

Choke: Top hand reaches back for the near lapel; pull it out and rotate it inward. Other hand now grabs, with the flat part of the lapel going neatly down the center of your hand; much tighter grip. Let them fall toward the gripping hand, kicking the leg out of the way and using the free hand to grab their pants.

Half-guard pass using the head.
In top half, underhook the far arm and overhook the near arm. Place your head on the mat next to their head on the near side. Now look around and up, toward where the top of their head is pointing. This drives your head into them and moves their head out of line with their spine. Now pass. (This is the same principle that Adam’s been working with me in half-guard pressure, but I think this may work better for me based on the relative size of partners.)

Head and arm choke. Head and arm choke escape.
(I think the choke may have been in the afternoon. Escape probably definitely was. Maybe.)

Choke: From side control, use your head to root around their armpit and control their arm. (Truffles!) Knee-on-belly switch to the far side, or mount then dismount. Set the choke in at about 60% intensity, so you can keep a constant pressure without burning out your arms. Now think, “Finish,” and wait for the tap. They pointed out that this choke is a slow choke and that people will try to fight it for a while, so you may have to wait for a little while until they concede. The thinking also helps you settle down and put pressure on them, rather than relying on your arms to squeeze it out. (The alternate and tournament-appropriate phrase is “Die, b****, die.”)

Escape: As they’re switching across, answer the phone to buy some space. You need to separate your near shoulder from your neck. Next bring your inside knee up toward your nose and shoot both hands out to grab behind your knee. Kick forward with that knee while hipping away from them to release the pressure and create space. You can often come up to take their back from there.

We might have had some open mat time before lunch, but I can’t remember for sure. If we did, I rolled.

Break for lunch. The poor man at the wrap shop — he had just sent his helper home, and then 10 or more of us walked in.

To be continued….

2 thoughts on “Girls’ Grappling Mini-Camp, RVA 2010, Part 1

  1. I like the recollections. I like the head-and-arm choke escape; might try it tonight if I can remember it. And I like the new look of the blog.

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