BJJ Grrl

"Be gentle, kind and beautiful, yet firm and strong, both mentally and physically." ~Sensei Keiko Fukuda

Never the twain shall meet

on February 1, 2011

Went through a few drills in the cage before class. A couple people came in and started rolling. Justin came in closer to the start of class and asked if I wanted to warmup. Always! Slow and methodical, though that didn’t mean he was going too light on me. Still a lot of work on my part. Mistakes were punished. But, of course, with my body not being cooperative and having read articles about fixing your brain — especially the one about allowing yourself to make mistakes — meant at least my mental jiu-jitsu was doing well. (I’ve noticed this before, too — on days when I have some outside reason that I know I’ll roll like garbage and I prepare myself to let the mistakes go, I have more fun even when I do actually roll like garbage.) I couldn’t always figure out where I messed up, or at least not consciously, but I’d have a quick flash of “Oops! Elbow” before he capitalized on it. We went about 10 minutes before class.

Class started with mount escape positional sparring. I worked with Blue Belt Buddy, who was doing some push-and-dolphin-kick thing over and over until I finally figured out to grapevine his legs and harass his arms. (This was apparently the technique from last night.) That slowed him down a little and/or made him switch to something else, but mostly it was a lot of him escaping. Then when I was on the bottom, I worked mostly the “scrape” mount escape. Even had an upa or two, which surprised me, and one escape that chained two things together and surprised both of us when it worked. He asked what I’d done, but I had no idea, either. (So the mental jiu-jitsu was working, but I forgot to load the memory card! Doh.)

Then we switched partners, thinking we were doing the same drill. Purple Belt James came over. But Justin had us sit back-to-back to start rolling. My brain reminded me a few times that it was okay to make mistakes. I can’t remember much (of course) except that he let me play from top a lot. And that I would get almostthere before he’d hip away and escape — probably swept me, too. He was trying to play slow and technical with me, which I appreciated; my cold from the weekend was almost gone and now is trying to come back, so breathing was not so much my friend tonight.

Drilling tonight was the “scrape” mount escape. (That link, funnily enough, is to a day when I had another awful training day. Still here, though.) I realized from the earlier positional work that I haven’t been getting their hips down far enough first; I mostly tend to frame and turn without trying to move, so really worked on that in drilling.

Drilled with a new guy, the quieter of the two in the Sound Effects Duo. He’s a much smaller guy than the other one (maybe not much bigger than me? I absolutely cannot guess anyone’s weight.), so when I said that this is my favorite and highest-percentage mount escape — especially against the big guys — he perked up and wanted to know everything about it.

Another round of positional sparring from mount. My drilling partner and several others left then, though, to join the kickboxing class, so I ended up with Blue Belt Buddy again. This worked out well, actually, because we both knew what the other was going to do. He even said he was going to do the dolphin-kick move most of the time. I tried to move up for the armbar, but usually ended up getting bumped too far. Did a little better at stabilizing and keeping my hips down this time through since I had a better idea of what was coming, but not by much. Would up sitting on a bow-and-arrow choke right as time was called. (!! Although, I don’t think we were supposed to submit. But it was right there!)

My turn on the bottom, I managed a few escapes, mostly of the scrape variety. He was blocking most scrape attempts by posting heavy on the knee that I was trying to bring under; that stymied me because I had no leverage to get the arm off and it was too much weight to continue bringing the leg under. Once I managed an upa off it when I tried to bring my knee back under and he let his arm move too far underneath him, but that relies too much on the other guy making an easily-avoided error. Hmm. He let me try to work it out, though I don’t think I got too far. (Again, no memory card.)

One more round of rolling. I was briefly off the mat with a coughing spasm (lovely) and ended up without a partner initially. I would have sat, but Justin came over to roll with me. We started standing, just messing around. He was playing like he was going to judo toss me hard. I had a flash of “It’s okay to make mistakes” and went for a takedown. I’m still undecided as to whether or not that was an appropriate takedown attempt in that situation. Either way, he stuffed it and then judo-tossed me for real, lol, though not hard. He lets me work out of things, though this sometimes creates a stalemate when both of us are waiting for the other to move — him, because he’s letting me work; me, because I can’t find the opening and am waiting to hit in during a transition. So in these cases, I try to move, and then usually wind up picking the wrong thing. But, hey, it’s okay to make mistakes, right?

I did keep trying to hit the hitchhiker escape early (and he gave me plenty of opportunities to try it!), but always ended up stuck, unable to rotate my head under that last little bit. This happens often, actually — my feet are stepped out, my hips are turning, my shoulder is loose and rotating, but my head/neck is still wedged back under their butt cheek, whether they’re pushing down with their hamstring or not. I did ask Justin eventually if I was just not starting that soon enough; he said I wasn’t. On the way home I wondered, though, if perhaps I’m also not hitting it fast enough, as I know I tend toward being too slow. I’ll try to remember to ask him later.

That was the end of class, and it was welcome — my throat was getting all scratchy again and I started coughing as soon as the round ended. (It was fine during the round, except that my breathing was restricted and painful.)

This month is supposed to be Side Control in the kids’ & women’s classes, but we’re going to detour to cover this mount escape while it’s fresh in my mind.


I don’t know how to word this without sounding dumb, but since it’s okay to make mistakes today (lol), here goes: What do you think (or what should you think) when someone says “You’re really technical”?

Every time I hear it, my brain says, “So what he means is that maybe you would have manhandled your partner if you were 50lbs bigger. But since you’re small, that just means you’re squirmy.” I guess I feel, too, that it indicates that I’m lacking in aggressiveness or follow-through and am too passive, too soft, or too slow. The comment generally comes from a higher rank against whom I spent a round defending and escaping, though only barely and only after significant amounts of framing, shrimping, wiggling, sliding, bridging, and other slow and incremental methods of moving. That is, I don’t feel like any technique I used worked terribly well and I was left pulling in bits & pieces of little things to keep up.

It also probably goes back to me seeing myself as a grizzly on the mat, too, when I’m really just a hamster. (Er…no. I need a better mascot. Julia gets a nickname contest — I need a mascot contest! Er, except I have nothing to give away.)

It’s getting late, and I keep trying to explain this better, but I need to give up on it now. Since we’re working on my mental state, however, I’ll leave the question out there. What should I be thinking instead when I hear this?

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18 responses to “Never the twain shall meet

  1. Kintanon says:

    I need a vid of that mount escape you’re talking about, not sure what it is based on the description.

    I tend to equate “Technical” with “Tricky” or “Clever”. I also consider to mean I’m moving with purpose as opposed to just trying to flail my way out of things.

    I’m kind of surprised you don’t have a nickname yet though… I’d have nicknamed you little grizzly by now or something similar.

    Good mental progress btw. Time for me to get some sleep.

  2. The people that I think of as “technical” are doing nice clean executions of specifically BJJ techniques- especially ones that I’m percieving as complex and multi-step. They seem to know what to do and how to do it. They appear to have a plan. They aren’t just flailing and writhing randomly.

    As one of the “flailing and writing randomly” lost souls, I really envy the technical grapplers.

  3. clinzy says:

    I agree with SavageKitsune – technical means you’re executing clean technique and you have a plan. It definitely doesn’t mean that you would have won if you were 50 lbs bigger. I’ve rolled with you and I’d say you’re pretty technical. I think most women, especially smaller ones, tend to be more technical because that’s what makes the techniques work for us. We can’t manhandle guys to make a sweep or mount escape work, which means we have to rely on the proper technique. Since you’re executing those, viola! Technical!

  4. ChillyWilly says:

    First, good job on Monday.

    Second, you want to strive to become a technical grappler. It is a compliment.

    I think you are overanalyzing and not considering the big picture. Do you think I’m technical, or “squirmy”?

    You have to accept that you aren’t going to crush guys who outweigh you a lot. I’m sorry, but its the truth.

  5. Shark Girl says:

    I agree that technical means thoughtful and well executed. It’s definitely a compliment. Given the situation described (higher belt that you struggle against) I think the person means that other people might not be able to defend against his moves, but your technical skills serve you well. I also wonder if the comment illuminates more about the person saying it.

  6. NinjaEditor says:

    I think it means “If you were 50 pounds heavier, you could just bench press me off you, but instead you’re doggedly working technique.”

    I haven’t been paid this compliment yet, but I think it is, in fact, a compliment. Someday you will be able to manhandle guys because you have spent so much time working on technique.

  7. Kintanon says:

    “Someday you will be able to manhandle guys because you have spent so much time working on technique.”

    Faulty thinking here. None of us will ever be able to “manhandle” people 80lbs heavier than we are. We will defeat them soundly through guile and trickery by nullifying their strengths and playing to our own. Get the idea of manhandling anyone out of your head and instead focus on outsmarting them and you’ve already won half the battle.

  8. ChillyWilly says:

    Kintanon has it right.

    I’m two belt levels above big mike and arkeif, and yet they give me problems. I will catch them, but its no where near manhandling. Why? They outweigh me by 60-80 pounds and have a significant str. Adv.

    Bjj doesn’t make you god.

  9. leslie says:

    Thanks everyone. So once again it’s a matter of getting my head straight. (Figures!)

    Sorry I haven’t responded until now — I’ve been in bed sick, and will probably spend today there are well. Bleh.

  10. Kintanon says:

    Ok, made three videos of me rolling with bigger guys. One I’m giving up 45lbs, the second 70lbs and the last 85lbs. They are, in order, a blue belt, a 6 month white belt, and a 1 year white belt. None of them are exactly super spazzy, but they are all strong and I’m able to demonstrate quite a few little tricks for controlling larger people. I’ll have them up monday.

  11. “The Trickster” – That should be your mascot. Tricksters have a long history in mythology for outwitting bigger stronger opponents. They use intelligence and technique to win. They also leave their opponent feeling like a silly little fool most of the time. Thereby defeating them physically and mentally. To me, this sounds more like you than a grizzly bear. Maybe this mascot will help you focus on your strenth – which is technique. Good luck with reinventing yourself!

  12. leslie says:

    @Jody: I was thinking of something a little more… cuddly? 😛

    • Cuddly… Hamster? No, they just run in circles. 😉 Cat? No, they just cover up poo. 😮 Dog? You could lick them into submission… 😛 How about Rikki Tikki Tavi? He’s cuddly and vicious… What mascot are you leaning toward? Sorry, I don’t know why I got stuck on the mascot thing. It just seems to be very important. I guess because it’s tied to your self image.

  13. leslie says:

    @Jodi: Rikki Tikki Tavi was always one of my favorite stories. Little mongoose who kills the big evil snakes 😛 And he’s cute, and he has a battle cry! I am liking this 😉

  14. Kintanon says:

    Leslie “The Mongoose” Dove? I like it.

  15. leslie says:

    @Kintanon: Lol, I’m not sure it’s nickname worthy, but definitely mascot worthy.

    And In case anyone hasn’t read “Rikki Tikki Tavi”, here’s a link to Project Gutenberg. It’s a short story by Rudyard Kipling. As I re-read it today, I decided that it’s quite appropriate, especially Rikki Tikki’s reaction after fighting Nag:

    “…spent half the rest of the night shaking himself tenderly to find out whether he really was broken into forty pieces, as he fancied.”

    Sounds just like how I feel after rolling with some of these manbeasts. 😛

  16. Kintanon says:

    How ’bout “Fuinha”? That’s Mongoose in Portuguese.

    Lesilie ‘Fuinha’ Dove?

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